Need some motivation for healthy eating? We got you covered on this inspiring, but hilarious, episode of Full Belly Laughs. Comedians Megan Goetz and Andy Lane come back for game night with Brian Durkin. They discuss how they try to maintain a good routine when it comes to creative endeavors. Brian sits down for another chat with Harrison Lichtner about how to keep up healthy habits in the gym and at the dinner table.
Full Belly Laughs Podcast Episode 107 Show Notes
Megan and Andy share their qualms with maintaining good habits. Besides the challenge of living well and eating healthy, it’s also tough to stay true to your creative passions. After working a long day at an office job, how does one summon the energy to create in the evening? These comics shed some light on the grind and how to keep working towards your dreams and goals.
Brian chats with nerd turned nerdy weight lifter about how to stay energized in the gym. Workouts can feel old after a while, and this trainer can help you make the routine not feel like a routine. If you’ve ever struggled to maintain a routine of healthy eating and working out, this is the interview for you.
Routine for Healthy Eating and Living with Harrison Lichtner
Brian Durkin sat down with Harrison Lichtner on this episode. Here is the transcript of their conversation.
Episode 107 Interview Transcript
[Brian]: I want to live better. It’s the new year. I am trying to —
[Harrison]: — stay away from my gym. It’s so crowded this time of year.
[Brian]: Yeah for sure.
[Harrison]: Find your own space.
[Brian]: I guess. I got these dreams that have now trickled down into goals, but I don’t have a plan. How do you get a plan? How do you get into a routine.
[Harrison]: Okay. How do you get a plan? Like I said, when I first started off I had no flipped idea what the hell I was doing. I didn’t own any workout clothes. You saw my coat. That’s literally the Tenth Doctor’s jacket from Doctor Who. I had this massive duster coat. And I would just be this fat, sad, pasty boy walking along the sides of roads. What I would start doing is walk for a half hour. And eventually I would start to do is jog for a minute and walk for five minutes.
[Harrison]: Jog for one. Walk for five. And eventually I would keep doing it where it would go like jog for three minutes walk for one. Eventually I would jog for thirty minutes without stopping.
If you start doing something you will get better at it over time. Almost guaranteed.
[Brian]: How do you get over that initial hump. Let’s say I go walking two nights this week. And let’s say I pack my lunch three times. How do I keep that going? It’s like I did it this week, but … eh … I did that last week. I can eat out all this week.
[Harrison]: Like I said, I hate to keep coming back to this. That’s the personal in personal training. You’ve got to find something that motivates you.
[Harrison]: When I first started working out my main motivation was just shame. Like I showed you that picture of me as fat Gandalf. I don’t know if you’ve got a website or something you want to put it on.
[Brian]: I can if you want me to.
[Harrison]: I’ll happily shame myself for the good of humanity. But it was shame. I would look in the mirror and I would hate what I was. And I would hate what I become. So it was just that shame of wanting to get away from what I was. That kept me personally moving.
[Brian]: We kinda highlighted an aspect of this earlier. You don’t want to be too forced on your weight number.
As you improve you will actually go up, but you’ll be less fat and more muscle.
[Harrison]: That’s another thing. If you’re as heavy as I was and you’re only goal was to lose weight, then that was a great motivation for me. I would step on the scale everyday and watch myself drop from 275 to 260 to etc etc etc. Within one year exactly I was down to 195, and it felt great. And as I learned more about weight lifting in general, and what my own personal goals were, then I stopped caring about that number as much. But in the beginning it was a tremendously huge motivation for me: ust to see that number drop over time.
Like I’ve said I got that photo of me as fat Gandalf, I realized I don’t want to be the fat guy at Comic Con dressed as Fat Batman or Fat Gandalf. That’s also going to slip. I’m a huge nerd and I love doing cosplay and Comic Con type stuff.
[Brian]: That is a stereotype of cosplay.
[Harrison]: Oh yeah.
[Brian]: You don’t want to be the “Fat Blank”
[Harrison]: And just at Comic Cons in terms of that stuff, I carry one of those little sample spray bottles of deodorant. I would rather smell like cheap body spray then of my own awful body odors. What’s more polite to my fellow congoers? Axe or this nastiness?
[Brian]: It sounds like that the shame and the weight number are a good initial spark, but how do you keep yourself in check and make sure it doesn’t become a negative thing. You become over obsessive about the number. Not focused on the true overall goal of not being healthy. You don’t want to get to the point where you got to 190, “Yeah but I should be 150.” Do you know what I mean?” It’s tough.
[Harrison]: It’s definitely tough.
How did you know when you got to that place realize that now it’s time to adjust my goal?
[Harrison]: At that point I had realized how much I enjoyed the weight lifting side of going to the gym. For me it was like, “Oh now I want to see these numbers — in terms of the numbers on the machines of the weights I was doing — I want to see those numbers go up.” Hell and be damned whatever the number on the scale does. I want to see the numbers that I’m actually lifting go up. So at this point eight or nine years, geez, over ten years into my own fitness journey, I’ve kinda given up on the actual number on the scale. Or even my own body shape. And I just love seeing the numbers of what I’m lifting go up. And a lot of times in terms of that your own body will keep you in check.
As you start working out, and as start running or lifting or whatever, working out actually release endorphins. And it actually produces … the word antidepressants kinda sounds weird, but the body actually starts to produce its own antidepressants in its own right. And you’ll actually in certain ways get addicted to working out. Where if I don’t go to the gym for four days in a row, I just feel useless.
But as far as overworking yourself, and stuff like that, I can give you some wonderfully horrible examples.
[Harrison]: This past year, actually the past six months, has just been this awful series of me injuring myself in the dumbest ways possible. Mostly probably thanks to over lifting without giving myself enough rest.
That’s another huge thing that people doing really talk about in terms of working out and dieting and fitness. You want to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Because that’s when the body repairs itself. And if you going into the gym with only three or four hours of sleep under your belt, you will hurt yourself because you will be exhausted.
[Brian]: I’ve done that. I’ve also gone in without eating properly beforehand.
[Harrison]: Exactly. That’s a thing that a lot of people don’t take into consideration. If I’m training somebody new I’ll text them ahead of time, “Make sure you drink at least 12-16 ounces of water a half an hour before the workout.” Make sure you at the very least a banana on your way to the gym. At least something.
Within the past six or eight months I’ve pulled my lower back twice, sprained my shoulder.
[Harrison]: The biggest dumbest one was I sprained my knee in a Nerf war with a bunch of friends. That had nothing to do with working out really, but I’m sure if I hadn’t done leg day a day or two before, I’m sure it would have been fine. But it was still recovering and it twisted the wrong way. And I was on the ground in front of a picnic table with an array of Nerf darts around me, cursing the most vile curse words you can imagine. And then later one I got vertigo. It’s been this horrible run of me running myself into the ground, and I suffer from bipolar 2, anxiety disorder, manic depression. I’m on a couple fun medications to keep that all in check.
[Harrison]: If you don’t get enough rest your body will tell you. If you overwork yourself, your body will tell you. The two phrases I despise in terms of working out is one: “no pain no gain”. And two, I hate this. I hate this on a t-shirt and I want to punch people.
“Pain is weakness leaving the body”. No. Pain is the body’s way of saying, “Don’t do that again.”
[Brian]: Yeah. I understand the “no pain no gain” one.
[Harrison]: And it rhymes. That’s why people like it.
[Brian]: To play devil’s advocate, working shouldn’t be easy.
[Harrison]: No no no.
[Brian]: You shouldn’t do one lift that doesn’t challenge you, and be like, “I’ve worked out.”
[Harrison]: I personally know it’s been a good leg day when I have trouble walking to the car afterwards, but that’s just me.
[Brian]: I think that’s what “no pain no gain” is trying to communicate. I’m with you in the sense that if there is legitimate pain, then you are probably not doing that lift in the correct form.
What I always tell my clients:
[Harrison]: “There are two different types of pain. If you kinda got a dull achy soreness, then that’s fine. If it’s a short stabbing sensation, then no. We want to stop doing whatever it is we’re doing right away.
[Brian]: It’s hard to get into a habit. It’s hard to get into a habit and routine with distractions. To what we were talking about earlier, do you find it to be a good strategy to always evolve your goals and plan. It sounds like you need to check in with that to keep the routine fresh.
[Harrison]: That is one of the harder things. If you just do the same thing every single time you will get bored, and you will stop seeing results. Because you will get bored. You’ll stop putting as much effort into it. And your body will adjust over time. So you want to try and constantly try and mix it up.
I have a pretty set routine insofar as my workouts. It’s spread throughout the week. It’s a four day workout plan: legs, then back, then chest, then arms. But I do different workouts every single time. Like I don’t do the big giant leg pressing every leg day. Some days I’ll mix it up and do things that sound insane. Like my favorite one is called the Bulgarian Split Swat. And that is a very low weight exercise, but it’s a very high balance exercise. And it really forces you to work every single muscle in your leg. Where at the same time instead leg pressing this massive extraordinary number, I’m only holding a thirty-five dumbell in my hand. It doesn’t feel rewarding like psychologically while I’m doing it.
But afterwards I’m like, “Oh wow. I feel that now. That feels really awesome.”
[Harrison]: The major thing is keeping yourself entertained. I have a playlist on my phone that’s over 500 songs. And it’s the most eclectic group of songs you could possibly imagine. It will go from Hamilton tracks to Britney Spears to Katy Pery. This is going to sound weird, but there are Star Wars remixes. It’s insane. They Might Be Giants and Britney Spears should not exist on the same playlist, but they do for me. So find something that makes your pumped up psychologically. If Toxic is your jam, then throw on Toxic. Blast that noise.
[Brian]: Yeah for sure.
[Harrison]: If John Williams, Oh my God, throw on the Jurassic Park theme and feel like a T-rex doing leg presses.
[Brian]: I like what you’re saying, but you could put on that same playlist to motivate you to pack your lunch.
[Harrison]: Oh yeah.
[Brian]: It doesn’t just have to live in the gym.
[Harrison]: Yeah pack your lunch to The Ride of the Valkyrie.
From what you’re saying, it sounds like the secret to maintaining a habit or routine is for the routine to not feel like a routine.
[Harrison]: Exactly. That’s a much better way of phrasing it, instead of my ten minutes of rambling. Like I said that playlist I have is the same playlist that I use every time I go to the gym. But it’s 500-some songs long. I almost never hear the same song within the same week of working out.
[Brian]: Oh cool.
[Harrison]: Sometimes I’ll get a fixation and I’ll listen to the same track twelve times in a row. Otherwise it’s all set on shuffle and random, so I never know what I’m going to hear next. It could be the theme from Gravity Falls. It could be Peacock by Katy Pery. It’s the dumbest thing in the world. I’m just revealing my own insanity at this point.
The hardest part for me: I love doing the weight lifting, if that hasn’t been apparent, the cardio afterwards can be so boring.
[Harrison]: So again to motivate myself on that I just got a whole sh*t load of podcasts. There is Wi-Fi in my gym, so I’ll watch Netflix. I’ll prop that up on the elliptical, or the stationary bicycle and watch Next Generation as I’m trying to get in my five or ten miles on the bike. But yeah whatever keeps you entertained. It’s almost to the point of distraction from the fact that you’re doing something boring as hell as just pumping away on a bike.
[Brian]: Sure. Let’s say you’re in a headspace where you’re starting to feel the grind of the routine, but you’ve also lost your motivation to seek out the thing to mix it up. You’re feeling really defeatus. Do you have any advice on how to get over that hump?
Sometimes it’s just as easy as switching up your environment that you’re working in.
[Harrison]: If you don’t feel like going to the gym, then don’t go to the gym. Do a bodyweight workout at home. Just do a setup of push ups, planks, squats, and go a jog around your block.
[Brian]: How would you do that on the nutrition side? Let’s say I’m not really motivated to pack well and eat healthy this week.
[Harrison]: Well luckily there has been this huge uptick in healthy eating options in terms of eating out. I don’t know if there is a muscle maker grill around [West Philly], but there are two around me. They do these really healthy wraps and stuff like that.
Chipotle sounds like a terrible option, but there are ways to eating relatively healthy even at Chipotle.
[Brian]: Really? How so?
[Harrison]: Get the chicken instead of the steak. I do love the steak. Don’t get me wrong. The chicken is so much more healthy for you.
[Brian]: What about the sofritas?
[Harrison]: I personally have no idea what that’s made out of, so I can’t speak to it properly.
[Brian]: That’s fair. (laughter) I always get it because they’re the only ones that have it, so I feel special.
[Harrison]: (laughter) Feeling special is very important.
So don’t get the steak?
[Harrison]: Steak is very very delicious, but it’s also got way more fat in it. Don’t get the double meat. Make sure you’re getting a whole mess of the lettuce on there instead of just getting a shovel full of cheese. Avocado, the guacamole, I’m not a huge fan of it. A lot of my friends are so I’m insulting them when I say this: as a plant it’s got a mess of fats in it.
[Brian]: Yeah but isn’t it supposed to be a healthier fat for you.
[Harrison]: Yeah but I do kinda hate that phrase “healthy fat.” Yes but it’s almost the same token as high fructose corn syrup versus the cane sugar. It’s still not great for you. Your body still needs fat to survive and operate properly, but not that much. Also you’re still getting a burrito with a whole mess of chicken and stuff on it.
So it’s like, “Draw the line somewhere.”
[Brian]: Got it. So if you got the veggie burrito, then the guacamole is probably fine because you’re not getting the fat from the meat.
[Harrison]: Exactly. And eating vegetarian is its own challenge. It’s easier these days because so many places these days cater to it. Especially since my one friend, she’s not really vegetarian as so much as she’s allergic to food. She’s got Celiac Disease. It’s not that she’s gluten intolerant, it’s that gluten will actually kill her. And on top of that — hopefully she won’t listen to this — she’s gotten a little more paranoid. She’s avoided nuts and meats and etc. She tries to compensate for that by eating a whole mess of soy products.
And the soybeans are legitimately the only plant that has a full protein chain in it. She still getting enough protein, you wouldn’t know it to look at her. She’s only like 95 pounds. And again that’s the Celiac Disease. That’s not a body goal to look for. She legitimately can’t eat most foods.
[Harrison]: There’s the plenty of healthy options these days. Like I mentioned before we started I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a vegetarain Chinese place in Center City Philadelphia that I’m just in love with. If I could eat General Tso’s Tofu the way they prepare it on a regular basis, I would go whole hog vegetarian no question.
There’s so many options if you’re tired of making the same things for yourself.
[Harrison]: Blue Apron, the mailing food service — I don’t know if you have sponsorship with them or not.
[Brian]: We did a little thing with them early on, but any of the mail order food services. Doesn’t have to be Blue Apron.
[Harrison]: Exactly. My cousins had some mild success with Blue Apron. They got vegetarian options. What I like about those is that they will mail you something different almost every single time. It’s a nice concept. I don’t know if it works for most people’s budget. But if you do a litle bit of exploration on Google or Yelp, you will turn up plenty of healthy food options in your area. I say that in my immediate area, where I live, I live at the apex of 95, the turnpike, and route one. I like to joke that I live at a rest stop. It’s like 90% places like Ruby Tuesday’s and Wendy’s and places like that. It’s a little bit more challenging. You have to go a little more off road to find the mom and pop healthy shops.
[Brian]: I feel like living in the city proper it’s relatively easy.
[Harrison]: Tremendously so.
[Brian]: Yeah you’re right. When you’re stuck in strip mall America it can be pretty brutal.
[Harrison]: That’s exactly where I live. My town is literally sandwiched between three malls. We got Neshaminy, Oxford Valley, and Franklin Mills. I’m saying this in Philadelphia, the light pollution is stupid. It’s so dumb. “What are stars, daddy? Papa, what’s that glowing orb in the sun? That’s the sun!”
Stay in Touch with Harrison
He’s got a hilarious Instagram where he takes pictures of a rubber duck in random places. It’s totally worth a follow.
Do you have any pro tips on how to maintain a routine for healthy eating and living? Please drop us a line using our Contact Form. We’d love to add your knowledge to the show.