jon mclernon bowl of life podcast

Episode 53: Why Brain Driven Weight Loss Works and Fad Diets Don’t (Coach Jon McLernon)

 

On this podcast episode, Sarah talks with Coach Jon McLernon. Coach Jon is a weight loss coach and emotional eating expert who has lost 100lbs.  From nanotechnology researcher, to Navy marine engineer, to globetrotting nomad, Coach Jon spent most of his life running from his true calling, until one question changed his life.  Now he’s on a mission to help others lose weight for good by learning why brain driven weight loss works and fad diets don’t work!

With Freedom Nutrition Coaching he marries the Science of Metabolism with the Psychology of Behavior Change and the Compassion of Human Connection to create life-changing transformations with his clients.

Episode Transcript


Bowl of Life (00:00):

Today on the podcast. I talk with coach Jon McLernon. Wow. We just had such a fascinating conversation. He is a behavioral psychology based nutritionist and emotional eating expert. And we talk all about brain driven, weight loss about how our brain controls so much of our thoughts, our behaviors, our habits, and how we can compassionately re wire those things to move into, you know, a better journey to where we want to be. I loved this conversation and quite funnily enough, even just, you know, thinking about the whole brain and treating ourselves with compassion, that actually, this is the third recording of this intro because I kept forgetting to hit actually the record button or the microphone was off and I’m sitting here, BB, myself up actually, and like, oh my gosh, that, why do you keep doing this? It’s so silly. And you know, all that negative self-talk and I literally just got off the podcast where we were like, you know, you gotta treat yourself with compassion and can’t talk to yourself like that.

Bowl of Life (01:13):

And the brain controls so much. So yes, this conversation is needed in all areas of your life, whether it is from weight loss, or even just beating yourself up about small things. Like what, why it didn’t have to do that. So you’re going to love this conversation because Jon is so smart about all this stuff. He knows so much about the brain. I literally was just amazed and just, wow, just very cool. He mentioned at the end of the podcast, a freebie, he wanted to make sure everybody knew about, about crushing your cravings. So we’re going to link that over in the show notes. You can find all the show notes at our sponsored blog, bad to the Bowl.com forward slash 53. All right, let’s go meet Jon it’s time to adapt to a plant-based palette, minimize waste and respect our environment. Hello, we are Joe and Sarah Hayes, and we are the hosts of the Bowl of life podcast, where we are encouraging you to join the plant forward food movement.

Speaker 2 (02:15):

It’s time for vegetables to move from the side of your plate, to the center. And we are here each week to help you do that.

Bowl of Life (02:21):

So increasing your vegetable consumption and limiting your animal protein sounds like a win-win to you go grab a spoon or fork, and let’s dive in to learning more about how you can be plant forward. Hello, and welcome back to the Bowlet life podcast. Well, today I’m so excited to talk with coach Jon Mclernon. Jon is a behavioral psychology based nutritionist and emotional eating expert and founder of freedom, nutrition coaching. Jon is so passionate about helping others heal their relationship with food and by extension killed herself. Jon is not a fan of fan diets, new slash I’m, not either I don’t work and he focuses on brain German weight loss, which we will hear more about today. So very cool. So Jon, welcome. Thank you so much for coming on today.

Jon Mclernon (03:12):

Hey, thanks for having me. It’s it’s I love having these conversations, so I’m eager to dive right into it.

Bowl of Life (03:20):

Yeah, yeah. We were talking off air, you know, and we were both, you know, you said you’re a talker and I’m a talker, so this is a good match. I would rather I’m starting a podcast. Right. So, and we can dive into that. You know, you told me you got some future plans for, you know, that as well. So first off, I want to know a little of your back story. I always liked that kind of hear that a hundred thousand foot view of what makes you so passionate about helping others heal the relationship with, with this?

Jon Mclernon (03:56):

Yeah, so I’ve, I’ve had quite a varied background. So all the way back from like nanotechnology researcher university is studying chemistry and marketing psychology, actually to Marine engineer in the Navy. I’ve been a four time entrepreneur with two failed businesses and also globe trotting English teacher. And I’m married to an Australian wife and I’m from Canada by the way.

Bowl of Life (04:20):

Oh my gosh. I love their accent.

Jon Mclernon (04:22):

Yeah. Well, I say that I have to send her back every, every once in a while for an accent refresher.

Bowl of Life (04:30):

I love it.

Jon Mclernon (04:32):

Yeah. We’ve been together for about 17 years now. And so occasionally the Canadian sorta rubs off on her a little bit. So it was, it was during our travels. We spent three years traveling around the world and it was actually during that time that I went from kind of being an athlete to any morbidly obese. And it was, it was a result of a trauma that I suffered 10 years ago while we were actually living in South Africa. And that really began my, my weight loss journey in earnest because, you know, prior to that I would’ve thought that anyone who was overweight was just lazy or undisciplined and looking back, I said it was actually quite an ignorant perspective, but it was the only thing I knew back then. I was an athlete. It wasn’t that difficult to, to stay in shape and I enjoyed being active and so on.

Jon Mclernon (05:14):

But, you know, after going through through trauma and after like turning to food as a coping mechanism, because really, you know, I had no tools to deal with my trauma. And I found myself kind of wading into this murky world of, of weight loss and diet culture. And so after a lot of failed attempts at losing weight, and it was really a lot of time and energy wasted trying to find answers in all the wrong places. I finally hired a coach who, who Shaun a glaring light on the problem that was like staring back at me. And that was really my relationship to myself, you know, because of all of my, my failed attempts to lose weight, I became very angry and really spiteful towards myself and towards my body. And it was like, I was, you know, I was repeatedly trying to punish it into submission.

Jon Mclernon (05:55):

And so he worked with me in a way that I did not expect, especially from another male coach, but he worked with me to really heal my relationship with myself and by extension with food. And it was, I would say it was really the seismic like paradigm shift because this idea that I could actually treat myself with love and compassion as a male and actually lose weight. And so really it was, it was so monumental that, that I realized I also had to shift my approach to coaching and working with others because I saw so many people that really trapped in the struggles that I was in.

Bowl of Life (06:27):

So, so after you had worked with him, is that when you kind of were like, okay, I’m going to go into like health coaching and learn more about it. That kind of inspire that.

Jon Mclernon (06:37):

Well, interestingly, prior to working with him, I was, I was involved in it. So I I’d been involved in the supplement industry for a period of time. And, and I’d actually had a bricks and mortar supplement store with another, another business partner at the time. And one of the things that we did was a form of nutrition coaching. And to be fair, part of it was of course, to see how supplements would fit into sort of their health plan. And it was a way to bring in some recurring revenue and so on. It wasn’t really a bad idea from a business perspective, but really our, our style of coaching was very much rooted in sort of the bodybuilding physique style of coaching, which has macros and cattle calorie counting and getting people ready to look good in front of the mirror or on show or during photo shoots and things like that.

Jon Mclernon (07:17):

Not really connected to real life. And, you know, so that was what I first knew as, as like a nutrition coach. And so what tried that approach on myself, like it really, it really didn’t work. It just couldn’t stick and, and coaches just I’d hire a coach and it’s like, they didn’t get it. And I just, you know, they’d just be like, well, why aren’t you following your macros? Or why aren’t you, you know what to do? Why aren’t you doing this? I don’t want to scream. I don’t know. I don’t know. I know what to do. Like I’m, I’m, I’m pretty well-educated here. And so that was one of the reasons why I felt like so, so frustrated even with myself, because, you know, I’m university educated as well as, you know, extra certifications in nutrition. I’m a level two precision nutrition master coach. And so I’m like, how could I be like this educated and still be like stuck and struggling, unable to figure myself out. Wow.

Bowl of Life (08:08):

Yeah. Yeah. And then it’s like, even you’re beating yourself up more, right?

Jon Mclernon (08:12):

Yeah. Yeah. And it was you know, I wonder like where, where does that behavior even, even come from? You know I was on a, on a call last night with a client of mine. And we just started talking about the night and I asked her, you know, she’s got this very wonderful, supportive husband and amazing husband. And I said, you know, how would your relationship with your husband go, if you were to speak to your husband, the way that you speak to yourself. And she said, you know what? I wouldn’t have a relationship. Yeah. And I was like, oh, that just gets me right in the heart. You know? And it’s like, why, why do we do that? You know, why do we do that to ourselves? You know? And so I share that just to, to highlight like, you know, anybody out there that is considering like weight loss.

Jon Mclernon (08:55):

And I want to be fair and say, look, if you’re happy at whatever size where this is totally fine, but many people like myself, I was not happy because my life was so painful and difficult when I was morbidly obese, walking upstairs as hard tying my shoes, hard, cutting my toenails sorry, crew, but like wiping my bum things that we would just kind of take for granted were really hard to do. Everyday life was hard. And, and that’s why I wanted to lose the weight because I’m like, I just, you know, I want to be able to function in normal life again and not feel like everything’s a struggle finding clothes that fit, you know, not, not feeling I’m going to drown in a puddle of sweat every time I step outside, because it’s so hot out. I mean, thankfully I live in Canada where we have like pretty cold winters, but, you know, so, so I just share that because there’s, there’s a real struggle, maybe even around this idea, should we want to lose weight? And I think for many people, it is a health. It needs to come from a healthy place and a healthy desire. And for me starting out, it really hadn’t in the beginning. And so it really took this coach that I worked with to, to show me a different way to approach this. And it’s really influenced how I work with people moving forward.

Bowl of Life (09:57):

Yeah. Yeah. So is that how you kind of, what kind of led you into kind of the you describe it as brain driven, weight loss?

Jon Mclernon (10:07):

Yeah. So this is, this is a term that I’ve coined. I don’t, I’m sure someone out there has probably used it in the past. I just haven’t heard it before, but

Bowl of Life (10:15):

Never heard it

Jon Mclernon (10:15):

Actually. Yeah. So I’d like to, I’d like to ownership,

Bowl of Life (10:20):

Can we hear enough about mindset, but I really liked that brain driven, you know, it sounds very scientifically approached.

Jon Mclernon (10:26):

Yeah. And it really like, I come up with that idea because I want to shine a light on the fact that, well, you know, yes, obviously what we eat and how we choose to be active or not, they are going to influence our weight and our health, but it’s actually the brain that drives our decision making and the brain drives our actions. And I feel like so many efforts to create change and create weight loss, take this outside in approach. And, and they fail to acknowledge that it’s actually our internal environment from like our emotions, our mindset, our psychology or habits that most powerfully influence our behavior and ultimately our results and all of those stem from the brain, because you know, many of our actions, they take place at the subconscious or unconscious level. And because like a variety of factors, not at least to which the brain loves to form habits from repeated behaviors, our behaviors are driven by our habits, our emotions, and our beliefs really could I say acting in congruence with our sense of identity. And so if we want to create permanent weight loss, we have to create permanent change. And the only way we can create permanent change is by establishing a new pattern of behavior habits, a sense of identity and all of this takes place because the brain has this amazing property called neuro-plasticity and that’s the brain’s ability to rewire itself, which is just so fascinating.

Bowl of Life (11:45):

Yeah. That’s so, so cool. So, so how do you go how’s that even that’s so hard, right. To rewire your brain well,

Jon Mclernon (11:53):

And maybe I could give you an example you know, anybody who has had a friend or a family member suffer a stroke and, and that individual maybe has relearned how to walk or relearn how to talk or things like that. It may not look exactly the same as it did previously. I don’t, I don’t want to undermine the difficulty of somebody going through a stroke, but when a stroke happens, a part of the brain dies off and is never coming back. So to relearn that skill, you actually have to create new connections in the brain and for the brain to be able to do that. It’s just, it’s just phenomenal. It’s unbelievable. And so that’s really a high level example of neuroplasticity in action, really. There’s this term out there that says neurons that fire together wire together and what that’s referring to really, every time we repeat a behavior, we strengthen a connection in our brain and the brain. And the more, the stronger that connection becomes, the more likely we are to continue that kind of behavior. And that’s a double-edged sword because that can work for us or it can work against us. So when we develop a healthy habit that works in our favor, when we develop an unhealthy habit that works against our efforts.

Bowl of Life (13:00):

So, so is that way you, you work with clients then to create those more like healthy habits then kind of rewiring the process.

Jon Mclernon (13:09):

That’s definitely a part of it. Cause I would like each client individually share with me like what their goals are. And from there we kind of aim to turn them into something a little bit tangible, because if you were just to say like, I want to feel better, it’s like, that’s a good idea. I would like to feel better, but really what do we, what do we mean by that? And, and I really tried to help the client clarify what is they want, because if we don’t, it’s like saying, I want to go to, I want to go on a road trip and it’s like, cool. Where do you want to go? I don’t know. I just want to go on a road trip. Well, it’s really hard to sort of plan something out, but what we can say is this, the fundamental pillars of a healthy lifestyle there, you know, nutrition, activity, sleep and stress management.

Jon Mclernon (13:48):

Like those are really the, the heart of it. And this, I don’t see that ever-changing, you know, when we get those factors dialed in, we can optimize metabolism, digestion, you know, nutrient density and relationship with food and each one of those things. And I don’t want to say like, nobody’s like nailing all of these in perfect balance, but also nobody’s equally failing at them. So if we can get an idea of where someone’s at presently with regards to these factors, we can kind of establish a way of kind of measuring and tracking progress and map out a little roadmap for them.

Bowl of Life (14:18):

Yeah. So it’s definitely deep diving into more, you know, their why, like, you know, you say always that, you know, it’s kind of a doorway, not a destination type of situation.

Jon Mclernon (14:29):

Yeah, absolutely. I say weight loss is a doorway. It’s not a destination because the truth is well, well, weight loss is it’s generally going to improve the health and quality of life homes. Anyone that undertakes it, it’s never really about the number on the scale. It is about quality of life. That the number is really just a placeholder for a future that we feel will enable us to live in. So a future where we feel comfortable in our own skin, where we can wear almost anything and feel great where we can, you know, live life more fully, whether it’s not feeling out of breath when we’re hiking beautiful mountains or getting down on the floor to play with kids or grandkids, it’s, it’s like, it’s the freedom to do the activity you want instead of the one you wish. And so I would say like weight loss gives us an opportunity to experience life more fully, but it’s also important to understand that happiness will not lie in seeing a certain number on the scale.

Jon Mclernon (15:21):

If you see that number and you achieve it. Yes. You’re going to feel a sense of accomplishment for a day or two, but really happiness lies in being able to live independently on our terms. And I would say, ultimately, it’s also about leaving behind a former identity. That’s kind of almost like slowly suffocating you and replace you with one where, where you genuinely appreciate and love your life. And you don’t ever really have to worry about going on these like crazy fad diets and you, you know, buying, you know, overpriced supplements and things like that again. And so really about like being able to live on our terms.

Bowl of Life (15:53):

Right. Yeah. And you know, but like so many people are so attracted to those fad diets. Why, why as human beings are we,

Jon Mclernon (16:03):

Because, because we want to believe the promise, right? We, we want to it’s it’s it’s why do people buy lottery tickets that they know in their heart that the chances of that actually succeeding? Like in other words, I’m actually winning is very minimal, but we want to believe that, right? So the way that our biology works, I say we have a famine biology in a feast world and, and listen, our modern world is a feast world, but throughout human history, that never was the case. So we had a biology and we still do, that’s really wired to conserve energy because calories were not abundant the way they are now, calories were scarce and they had real famines. And so we had to be able to survive periods of food scarcity. And so we’re wired to only move when necessary. We’re wired to only seek for food, kind of when necessary.

Jon Mclernon (16:50):

And because of that, it’s not that we’re lazy, it’s that we’re we’re efficient. And so now we are so efficient that we could sit on a coach and order from, you know, I don’t know, Uber eats, just skip the dishes or wherever and food. You don’t have to like, just touch a button on a smartphone and stuff, and your needs are met. You don’t even have to move. That’s how comfortable in one sense or easy that life has become. So when we’re confronted with the reality, that weight loss is actually difficult. It’s, that’s a hard one cause we’re like, why don’t, why do we want to put the effort into that? Because I would say there’s there’s like this tension within ourselves. So we as human beings, we have a nervous system. That’s hardware to seek out comfort, to minimize discomfort and to minimize energy expenditure and also to, to store fat for future famines.

Jon Mclernon (17:42):

So this nervous system wants to avoid pain, suffering and difficulty and weight loss is difficult, but the side of the coin is there’s something that makes us human. You might call it your soul. It’s hardwired to, to want to grow to flourish, to develop, to learn, but that that’s uncomfortable because it means moving away from the familiar in order to grow. And so we kind of find ourselves moving back and forth or, or it could, we see oscillating between this like dynamic tension. It feels really good to stay in our comfort zone in one sense, but there’s this innate pull to do and be better. And maybe I could, I would say I would argue that we are, we’re probably more emotionally, mentally stressed than at, than ever before, in one sense, because of the digital media environment that we live in, but yet on the physical side, life has never been less physically stressful.

Jon Mclernon (18:42):

And so the more sort of emotionally stressed, we feel the harder it is to voluntarily leave our comfort zone. So if we can meet all of our basic human needs without ever having to remove our bump from a seat, like the primal part of our brain is going to push for that. And very often it will overwhelm the prefrontal cortex. That’s the part of our brain that’s, long-term thinking and logical processing. And so that, that emotional part of our brain very often wins, especially when we feel emotionally distressed. Because if let’s say everything has a pandemic, for example.

Bowl of Life (19:19):

Yeah. No. Wow. Yeah. Just thinking about that and yeah, like you said, it’s just so easy to put yourself out of that comfort zone and it’s so true that our bodies do just naturally want to okay. You know, state law, we’re not, we’re not, we’re not in a fight or flight mode. Yay. Stay here, stay here, stay in the lane.

Jon Mclernon (19:39):

Yeah. It’s, it’s natural to want to be comfortable. And you know, I say to people like, I don’t, I don’t believe that you’re lazy when she, to people say I’m just lazy. I’m too lazy to do this. And it’s like, well, no, you just wanna have a good reason because if you had a good reason. So when I work with people there, there’s kind of two things that we do. The first thing is we want to establish I call it your emotionally compelling reason. So we recognize that our emotions are a more powerful driver of her behavior than logic. And I don’t want to get too sidetracked, but you might wonder why do politicians focus on stirring people up emotionally and kind of almost disregard facts because emotions are what pushed people to action far more powerfully than logic and reasoning.

Jon Mclernon (20:23):

And so it’s, it’s difficult to sort of overcome, so we’re not really lazy, but it’s like we will overcome that sort of emotional desire for comfort when there’s something that sort of tugs on our soul. So for example, I have a, I have a Simon new data. He’s five and a half months old. Thank you. He’s this beautiful little boy. We feel very blessed and you know, his just when he laughs he gets his little tummy laughs and I just melt. I’m like, I’m done, you know? He’s, he’s so close to crawling. He’s trying so hard. You know, he just can’t quite get his two legs going sort of back and forth yet, but he’s like, I don’t know, days away from crawling and

Bowl of Life (21:04):

Then it’s off.

Jon Mclernon (21:07):

And so, so I’m 39. I’ve had two motorcycle accidents. So I have some hip issues for example, but I’m aware that like my little fellow here, he’s going to grow, he’s going to want to move more. He’s going to want to be more active and he’s going to want me to be present in his life. And you know, I feel that so powerfully, I want to be a present active dad in his life and I’m not getting any younger. So I feel this pull a part of me is like, you know, I just want to be lazy. I could get fat again. By, by just sitting there and do nothing. The one, the one thing nobody tells you what being, having been morbidly obese is that like fat cells are the gift that keeps on giving. They’re just there. They shrink, but they’re there waiting to be refilled.

Jon Mclernon (21:47):

So they’re there for the rest of your life. So I actually kind of live with that biological reality that if I start eating in a very undisciplined fashion, I can regain weight very quickly. So, and I want to share this because I want people to understand sometimes they’ll see my, my story of say losing a hundred pounds and think like, am I must be on easy street? And I’m like, well, no, I still have urges and compulsions and things like that. I just navigate them differently now. But it’s like, I give an example, let’s say I was in Costco and you know, you pass by some of these giant Costco size bags of things and you go, oh my gosh, I just love to eat the entire thing. And then look at my little son in, in, in the cart or in his stroller or whatever. And I go, but I want to be as dad and that one wins. And so that’s my emotionally compelling reason why I want to keep struggling on, because you know, weight loss is, is challenging. You know, it’s even more challenging is keeping it off.

Bowl of Life (22:38):

Yeah. Right. Yeah. It’s always a constant, well, like you said, it’s that constant talking to yourself and what is my reason why, and, you know, keeping that at the forefront of your mind. I think I heard a doctor once actually talk about that. Like people had came to his weight loss clinic. This was a very top doctor, like in the plant-based world. And they said the same day, well, I want to lose weight or lose weight. And he’s like, and I just kept asking them why, why, why? Because we have a why it’s not going to happen.

Jon Mclernon (23:12):

Yeah. Yeah. And the one thing I want to highlight as well. So I, I try to establish one other thing. And that is a short-term goal for people as well.

Bowl of Life (23:21):

Okay. You’re motivated by those short term goals

Jon Mclernon (23:25):

Because we might actually have this big overarching like life purpose in a sense that really, you know, when we think about it kind of lights us up, but there’s also the possibility of, well that’s 10 years down the road. And so I’ll just, I’ll just sort of push it off because I have lots of time to get there. And so we want to S I asked my clients, I’m like four weeks from now. What’s the change you’re most excited to see what, what do you want to see in the short term? And, and really it’s about them uncovering, well, I want to see at least this happening. So I know that this process is working. And so it’s kind of, you want to have a short-term objective. That’s what you keep moving towards. And then the, this bigger purpose is bigger. Why it lends meaning to the actions that we do.

Jon Mclernon (24:10):

So to lose weight, for example, it’s not that glamorous, it’s a lot of simple things repeated, you know, I have another coaching colleague who says, be brilliant at the basics. It’s not glamorous to, you know make sure you’re getting lots of nutrient dense veggies and lean proteins you know, limiting your sugar intake daily activity, managing your stress and sleep. Like those fundamentals are never going to change. And so, but we would feel like we’re just doing a robot doing these meaningless actions over and over again, unless we have a bigger purpose to it. And then it’s like, that purpose gives meaning to these basic simple unglamorous actions.

Bowl of Life (24:51):

I liked that way of thinking about that. That’s yeah. You know, you get these small wins, but it’s on the way to the big purposeful, equal metal.

Jon Mclernon (25:02):

Yeah. And, you know, I like to think of like the, the road to success, the way that our, our sort of primal brain would like it to be as like this, this paved like super highway, you know, the 16 lane super highway where you can, or like the Autobahn in Germany where you can just get on and go, just put the hammer down. Yeah. Right. That’s

Bowl of Life (25:24):

Fast.

Jon Mclernon (25:25):

Right. That’s very attractive to us. But I said, the reality is the road to success is a lot more like this sort of ancient Roman empire cobblestone highway, where it’s laid like one brick at a time or one stone at a time. And it’s kind of a little bit bumpy along the way. And so it’s not one grandiose action that builds our future, but it’s a series of tiny actions with a cumulative effect. And so if we can create a pattern of habits and behaviors, so maybe I’ll take, could take one step back and say, well, if, cause we already have every one, every one of us has probably hundreds of habits that we don’t even think about it because that’s the whole point of a habit is that it’s a behavior we’ve repeated enough times that it goes from our conscious brain to kind of our midbrain or unconscious brain.

Jon Mclernon (26:11):

So we can, you know, for example, if there’s a, if you’ve driven to and from a place maybe to, and from work many times over, you might drive there one day and be like, how did I get here? I don’t even remember driving here and here I am safely here. Your midbrain just took over. You did that on autopilot. Like that’s the power of forming like habits and patterns of behaviors, but we can, we also have these unhealthy unconscious patterns of behavior as well. You know, I don’t remember how I got to the pantry with my face halfway through a bag of chips. Yeah, you did that on autopilot. So one step in changes, we have to start to bring some of these unhealthy habits into our conscious awareness because it’s in the space of compassionate awareness that we can create change. So I say like awareness is the first step to change, but really it has to be compassionate awareness because if we become aware of our unhealthy habits without compassion, that can be a negative downward spiral. We might beat ourselves up for all the terrible things we think we’re doing. So I really, I focus on compassionate awareness. So we bring those behaviors into there. That’s where we can start to make some corrections. And then in turn, we can develop these new healthy habits and start to practice them enough times that they start to move back into our unconscious mind again. And in that way we’re actually crafting or engineering a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t feel like it takes so much effort to do because we’ve, we’ve established these habits and behaviors.

Bowl of Life (27:31):

Yeah. I like that. I like that a lot because you’re right. You know, habits, right. They, so like, actually I was just talking about this. So when we recorded this, it’s very hard and where I live in Michigan and kids have been here jumping off the boat in the lake and stuff. They’re like, I didn’t open my mouth. Why did I get water in my mouth? I’m like, it’s the same thing. Right? I said, well, you didn’t realize, you thought you really wanted to close your mouth, but you opened it And your brain was like, no, do this.

Jon Mclernon (28:07):

Yeah, absolutely. It’s actually a natural. It’s funny. I used to be in the Navy and we do like overboard training and things like that. And if you have to say, for example, abandoned ship, which something went horribly wrong in the Navy, if you’re abandoning ship. But you, you, we know that the moment like your something, your body touches cold water, there’s an impulse to open your mouth and take in a huge breath of air. And that’s often what causes people to drown is this subconscious or unconscious reflux to open your mouth and take an air because that’s still happening as you might sink under water a little bit. And so if you’re aware of that before you jump, you take a breath and you hold your breath when you jump.

Bowl of Life (28:46):

Yeah. Wow. Yeah. Which, yeah, I guess, yeah. It’s a thinking about how I swim or dive into the water, I guess I hope in trains like that, but it is a training and yeah, just like anything else in life, right? Like rewiring and approaching that with compassion to, like you said that road is, is bumpy. No matter, you know, if you’re on the weight loss journey or if you’re on some type of other journey that you’re doing, it’s, it’s not it’s life, right. It’s not easy. So how do you keep the compassion going? That road is bumpy, right? There’s going to be rocks. There’s going to be pebbles that get in your shoes and there’s going to be something that comes up. And how do you keep that compassionate awareness going?

Jon Mclernon (29:31):

Well, it’s, what’s really important is it to understand the compassion is not a get out of jail free card. And I think that’s where we sort of misunderstand it. So, you know, it’s like if you come home and you’re slugging a bottle of wine and saying, I’ve had a hard day, you know, if I was to encourage you to keep drinking that wine, I’m kind of actually pushing you towards being an alcoholic, even though in the moment. So that’s called enabling. So compassion is not going to GOP jail free cupboard. It’s actually about recognizing our humanity in the struggle that we’re not alone in this and that it is human to struggle. It is human to make mistakes. And I like to say to people look where you’re presently at. You got there because you were doing the best you can with the present tools you have.

Jon Mclernon (30:13):

So I like to all behavior makes sense. You know, logically sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but if we understand how the brain works, all behavior makes sense. So somebody who struggles with emotional eating logically, you would know that, Hey, I shouldn’t do this. Isn’t in fact, you might even say things like, I know I shouldn’t do this, but, or I can’t seem to stop doing this. That’s the emotional brain overpowering the logical brain. And so if we’re just aware that this is, this is part of being human is have these struggles, we then are less likely to say, beat ourselves up and fall into a pattern of negative. Self-Talk where we can just understand, like, this is why this behavior occurred. And so, you know, I’d say there’s probably a number of reasons why, and I’m speaking from personal experience here because I used to be really, you know really abusive towards myself actually, when I look back and go, wow.

Jon Mclernon (31:05):

Like I was really cruel to myself in the privacy of my own thoughts. And it was about this really distorted version of, of self, my frustration with my struggles and so on. And we’d say, well, why, why do we, because many people are able to show compassion to another person, but we really struggled to direct that compassion towards ourselves. And so, and it goes back to remember, I mentioned, like asking my client, if you, if you were to treat your husband the way you treated yourself, would you have a relationship still? And the answer is no, we can be abusive towards ourselves and we simply have to take it like we can’t run away from ourselves. And so we actually end up using ourselves as a punching bag or even kind of almost like an outlet for all of our difficult emotions rather than, than necessarily dumping them on other people as a male, more commonly, but not always, but we may also view like self-compassion as weakness.

Jon Mclernon (32:00):

And so we’re afraid to show weakness also like awareness, meaning that we’re going to become aware of things that make us imperfect. We’re going to be aware of problems we have of struggles we have. And so that could become connected to feelings of worthlessness or lack of self-worth. And so, because normally what we’re doing in the case of somebody that’s struggling with emotional eating or, you know, in my case, it was really, it was actually binge eating is trying to bury these things in food, trying to make them disappear. So to bring them into our awareness might also actually bring to our awareness, some painful memories or feelings, shame for our behavior and guilt. And so the other thing is we might also be afraid that if we show ourselves compassion, that will no longer have a reason to change. And so it’s like, well, no, I have to force myself to change.

Jon Mclernon (32:52):

And that’s connected to, again, I’m so dumb or I’m so worthless or I’m so weak that the only way I can make myself change is to really beat myself into submission. And then I’d just like to ask people, how is that working for you really? How is it working for you? And they always say, it’s not going to go, let’s try a different approach. You know, when I, when I learned how to treat myself with compassion, when I was allowed to make mistakes and then learn from them, I call it wrestling with my demons in the light, you know, see my mistakes for what they are. I was really able to. And that was in the presence of another coach. I, I, I have to say like, know the name of Scott quick. And I think he’s actually from Michigan as well. I think so I might be wrong if he, if he was ever to hear this, he could correct me because it’s been four years since I’ve worked with him, but he, you know, he didn’t like, let me off the hook.

Jon Mclernon (33:45):

Right. But, but he gave me the space to talk about these things, Hey, what’s going on here? Let’s now let’s try to understand why this happened, you know, and let’s take away the story that is because you’re dumb or you’re weak or you’re worthless, or these let’s move that story away and let’s understand like, here’s, what’s happening. Here’s why you did it. Obviously it’s not a helpful behavior, but if we understand really why it happened, we can now find alternate solutions because many of our destructive behaviors are in a simple sense, an attempt to solve a problem such as remove an uncomfortable feeling. Yeah.

Bowl of Life (34:19):

Yeah. And I liked that the space, you know, like you said, you know, working with a coach gave you the space to work about, to work through that, to talk about it in, in a space where you could talk about it. Right. which is exactly kind of what you do in your program, right? Like what makes lifestyle 180, you know, a little bit different, sorry. Just tuned out.

Jon Mclernon (34:41):

Yeah. Yeah. So I do, I have a flagship program and it’s called lifestyle winning. It’s a 180 day program and it’s actually an evolution of, of previous programs. It didn’t start out as that. Originally had a program, I called it 80 days to awesome. And it was a really good idea, but what I found out was I was putting too much into too short a window of time because I thought, because so many weight loss programs out there, they sell this like 12 week, 90 day sort of

Bowl of Life (35:10):

Quick fix. Right,

Jon Mclernon (35:11):

Right. But I’d find that like getting into that two to three month mark, we were just really getting to the good stuff. We were really starting to get momentum. And I was like, well, now what now, now what? And so ultimately I realized that the type of work that I do, that we need a little bit more time to, to do this. And so I expanded into this 180 day program. So just to create a little bit of a contrast most weight loss programs will involve like strict food rules restrictive meal plans, expensive supplement regimes. It’s kind of like the equivalent of forcing someone into a temporary, straight jacket and trying to unnaturally force weight loss to happen. Okay.

Bowl of Life (35:48):

Right. And I know I’ve talked about that with friends. Like, whoa, what happens when you go off of that diet? They, you know, like, are the flood gates open then?

Jon Mclernon (35:57):

Right. You’re not, you’re not empowered. Right. And very often, you know, it’s still, it surprises me. I hear about like, cause we have some up here, I’m sure you have these programs down there too. Like you go to this weight loss clinic and they put you on this, you know, four or $500 a month supplement regime on top of like whatever, you know? And then when you don’t follow the rules, it’s like judgment and shame and, and coercion. And it’s like, this is terrible coaching. This is not how you help people create permanent change. We’re not dealing with children here. We’re dealing with adults and adults have a strong sense of autonomy and independence. And so my, my goal is to actually empower people. And so I would say like lifestyle media at its core is kind of three things. We marry like the science of metabolism, the psychology of behavior change and the compassion of human connection, because we actually like, I want to empower each person I work with to be, to have a hand in reverse engineering, their own healthy lifestyle.

Jon Mclernon (36:55):

So it’s not me telling them what to do, but I treat it like it’s two experts collaborating towards a common goal because the client is the expert of their own life experience. I’m only just getting to know them. They’ve, you know, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, even 60 years of life experience. Right. And so when we collaborate, like I bring my expertise in nutrition, science and change psychology. But it’s like, when we treat this, like I’m treating you like an equal partner in this process because there’s going to come a time where we’re not going to work together anymore when our work is going to be done. And I don’t want people to leave my program and be like, okay, now what I want them to leave empowered. I know what to do, but now not only do I know what to do, I’ve practiced putting into action. I’ve learned how to shape these practices and principles. I’ve created this lifestyle that actually works. So it’s not me coach Jon imposing my idea on them, but it’s, let’s put this principle into practice and let’s shape it, how it works for you. And so it’s a really, it’s quite a unique coaching process because in one hand there’s a bit of structure and a framework to it, but there’s a lot of individualization and a lot of human connection in there.

Bowl of Life (38:07):

I love that because I love that you acknowledged that, Hey everybody, wow, we all have these different experiences. We’re bringing to the table. We all have these different lifestyles. Your household looks different than my household, you know, like empower somebody through that. That’s great because like you said, you know, after the 180 days are up, they’re going to have to be on their own, you know, in their own house with maybe a family member, kids were picky or something, you know, it’s going to come up, but those bumpy roads, they’re going to come up and navigate that. 

Jon Mclernon (38:45):

And I think about like helping people develop a skillset, like developing skills and along the way, I also, you know, I give people a little bits of information along the way, a little mini lessons. And I try to time it in the right way because it’s like, if you just Google, like how to lose weight, you’re showing like a hundred million search results. Good luck.

Jon Mclernon (39:09):

You’re just overwhelmed. But it’s like this little piece of information that this irrelevant time means that, okay, I’m going to take this and put this in action because this makes sense right now at this stage in my journey. So now it’s going to stick with me. And so it’s like a little bit each day or every second or third day, a little less than here that shows them, okay, this is why we’re doing this. And that’s part of empowering people. Not pretending that I must retain all the secret knowledge that you’re not allowed to have. No, I want to share everything. I know we’re not everything I guess, because that’d be a lot for most people, but I,

Jon Mclernon (39:41):

Yeah. But as much as, as they need, I want to, I want to share like my ex my, the combination of like life experience experience working with people as well as of course my formal studies, but I want to share as much as I can with the individuals when they leave, they don’t feel like there’s this huge gap. And I see, like, I want to, like, obviously this is my business. It’s how I earn my living. But I say, I want to create referral business, not repeat business. So I want to do such a good job of working with somebody that they just, they can’t help, but want to tell other people about it. That’s ultimately the goal. And you know, I also say some people, I actually have a lifestyle when I depart too. Because some people will get to the end of life. So when eating the goat, you know, I want to do more. I don’t think the work is done. I have some people who’ve worked with you for two, even three years. They continue to work with me because if we go back to weight loss as a doorway, not a destination, it’s like, okay, well now there’s more that we want to do. All of a sudden this new world is opened up to me. I don’t want to just retreat back into my old behaviors now. So it’s actually really quite an exciting and interesting process.

Bowl of Life (40:45):

Hmm. I love that. Not retreat back into old behaviors. And that’s just really, that’s really cool and just really cool how you’re just empowering. I love that word. You used how you’re empowering people because Inc a weight loss journey, a lot of times people feel, do feel disempowered. You know, they don’t feel like, oh, I gotta follow these rules and do this and that. And going through it and not excited at all.

Jon Mclernon (41:12):

Right? Cause one, maybe there’s a lack of meaning because there’s this idea that like, I just have to temporarily suffer through this program until I can lose the weight and that I can go back to living my life. It was like, that’s a recipe for failure. And so it’s like, if we work with our brain, this is why I take this brain driven approach, right. Because it’s like, the brain is the driver of our behavior. So when we work with our brain, rather try to fight against it. That that’s what creates the possibility of permanent transformation. You know, we look at like, so when I was morbidly obese, I adopted the identity of the jolly fat guy. And so I was the jolly fat guy who loved to eat and inside I was crying and miserable. It’s like the, the clown that like cries, you know, smile painted on their face.

Jon Mclernon (41:56):

But, but I adopted that persona. Now one that became my identity, the jolly fat guy who loves to eat, who has this huge gargantuan appetite, what I would act that identity out in public. And, and so I, I remember I wrote this dear old Jonathan letter to myself and I wrote, I wrote to Jonathan when he was 330 pounds. And I wrote, here’s the things I miss about leaving you behind. And here’s why I’m happy to move forward. And I, I cried when I wrote that letter because I was ready until my former self, but it was me creating closure between this former identity that I used to hold the jolly fat guy and the new me, this, this transformation that’s occurred where now, you know, I’m not perfect. I don’t look like a fitness model and that’s not really my objective, but I’m, I’m a hundred pounds lighter.

Jon Mclernon (42:47):

I’m far healthier than I used to be. And I’m moving forward. I’m never going back to that entity again. And so, you know, there’s actually an element of even grief in here that we might not, that very few people would ever talk about, but there’s, there’s a sense of grief leaving behind that old identity. And that’s sometimes why people self-sabotage and go backwards because there was parts of being 330 pounds that were good. Like it was kind of fun to be the jolly fat guy in public. It was kind of, you know, in one sense it was kind of fun to be able to eat whatever I want and almost recklessly and not even care. And so there’s, there’s these elements of being that person that, that wasn’t entirely negative. And that’s why sometimes it’s difficult to entirely leave it behind because yes, we so badly want to leave behind all the difficult parts to difficulty tying my shoes or cutting my toenails or wiping my bum or, you know, things like that.

Jon Mclernon (43:38):

We want to leave those parts behind, but we don’t necessarily want to leave some of these other parts behind that are connected to that identity. And that’s what makes it really, really a difficult process. But when we have something empowering and beautiful to move towards something that lights our soul up, even more like me wanting to do this work and wanting to be like an active fit, healthy dad for my son, you know, I want these things more than I want to be the guy that’s powering through an entire large pizza by myself, you know?

Bowl of Life (44:07):

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, wow. Yeah. And so do you help people do that as well through lifestyle 180 kind of that old self? And I think too, just to kind of mention this, I think sometimes we also struggle with like, okay you know, to use your example before you had gained the way you were also somebody else before that, you know, so it’s like, well, which, you know, like I’m going to shed this person, but do I really want to go back to that person before that too? You know? Cause I think a lot of times we think that, oh, well I want to go back to that one person that I was at that one time, you know? And it’s not, if you really think about,

Jon Mclernon (44:49):

Yeah, well, no, that’s real, I’m glad you brought that up. That’s really powerful because there was also because I rapidly gained weight after going through trauma, like over a span of like six months was it was quite a rapid weight gain. And that came from like binge eating and, and medicating my trauma with food in a sense. But a part of me was almost like dissociating or disconnecting from this binge eating guy because I still hadn’t even let go of this idea that I was the athlete. And that in itself like brought a boat, this is internal tension and struggle. I used to be an AF this, this is what I was, you know, I used to have like a 38 inch vertical leap. I used to build a dunk basketball, two handed at six foot one, you know, I’m remembering these things I used to be able to do and really again, mourning and grieving, these lost abilities that, that I used to have.

Jon Mclernon (45:42):

And so it was like a part of me really struggled to let go of that part of my identity. But I almost like I had to, to really move into the jolly fat guy identity, you know, and then there’s an element of now, like I’m moving into a different identity again, but really we as human beings, we do this, we, the process is going to happen regardless. But really like, for example, in lifestyle, 180, what we’re doing is we’re now taking the helm of this process. We’re not just letting life like force this process onto it. We’re now taking our destiny kind of into our own hands. And that sounds like kind of lofty language, but know, I say really, I want to help people create life-changing results. I want that. And why not? Why would we not shoot for that? You know? And it’s like, if you can lose the weight and keep it off for good, well, man, that’s going to change the rest of your life in the best possible way.

Bowl of Life (46:30):

Oh yeah. Wow. Well, this has been such a great conversation. We had, I hate that there’s so many good nuggets here. I’ve been like writing notes, like crazy like stuff here, but are so yes. Speaking of that and not wanting to end the conversation, where would people want to connect with you to carry on the conversation for as her?

Jon Mclernon (46:53):

Absolutely. Well, you can always check on my website freedom, nutrition, coach.com. I have a relatively new podcast and is called wellness unplugged. Yeah. And it’s really about having raw, like unfiltered human conversations about the, the true reality of trying to create transformation, because I feel like social media puts a lot of shiny filters on things and distorts our perception of reality. And so unplugged, you know, it comes from this idea of, you know let’s say a music artist, they’re now just playing an acoustic guitar and just, just singing and you’re hearing them unfiltered and undistorted. And so I really want to create those powerful and meaningful conversations. And maybe the third thing is I’d like to, I have a little ebook out there and it’s called crush your cravings. And it’s really the first step in helping people get a handle on sort of the emotional eating and the nighttime eating and stuff like that they’re struggling with.

Jon Mclernon (47:48):

And so if anybody would like a copy of that we’ll put this in the show notes too, I imagine, but you can go to this link. It’s no FN diets.rocks. So no effin diet, Stott rocks. It’s a bit of a cheeky. It’s a plan. The initials are freedom, nutrition they’re FN. And so no FN diets became a bit of a cheeky rejection of sort of diet mentality. So yeah, so no FN diets.rocks forward slash crush dash your dash cravings. And if you enter email address and your name and I’ll send a copy of it over to you, and it’ll explain, you know, things like the four-step method to, to, to get rid of your cravings fast. And that’s a nice little acronym that we don’t have time to go into, but you’ll find it in the book, you know, how sleep you can actually, in a sense sleep your way to a lower weight, which sounds crazy, but it’s, it’s, it’s possible to use sleep in a part of your fat loss journey.

Jon Mclernon (48:37):

And you know, I’ll tell you some of the inspiring stories like my, my dear, like one of my favorite clients, her name is Rhonda, how she lost at six years old, lost 50 pounds and went from, you know, barely being able to walk across the room to being able to walk five miles and do really getting her life back, you know? And so I’d love to share that with you. And one more my YouTube channel, which has a whole bunch of characters. So I use my vanity link again, no FN diets.rocks forward slash YouTube. So,

Bowl of Life (49:06):

And diet.rocks is where people need to head then. And we’ll definitely link all of this in the show notes, if you’re driving don’t know bother, right.

Jon Mclernon (49:15):

Yeah. Oh, you know, and it’s, it’s been a real pleasure chatting with you and you know, hopefully we’ll get a chance to connect over on wellness unplugged because I know that you have stories that are worth sharing as well. And sometimes it’s nice to be on the other side of the mic where you get to share more too. And so it’d be my pleasure to, to bring you on some time as well.

Bowl of Life (49:34):

Wow. Well, thank you. Yes. I would love to any time and just thank you for coming on and sharing this today, all about the brain and how it drives and how it is related to weight loss as well. And just thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. This has been such an amazing conversation

Jon Mclernon (49:53):

And thank you so much for having me in having this platform to, to share this with people. I really, I really appreciate that.

Bowl of Life (49:58):

I loved that conversation with Jon, and I know I say that after every podcast, but it’s so cool to be able to connect with so many amazing people now across, you know, the whole world we’ve had people on from now, Canada and from Europe. And of course in the United States, all over. So just very cool how the podcast has you know, enabled me to do that and then to be able to share it with all of you. I loved the conversation because I love talking about your why. And if you didn’t know, I come from a marketing background and was a huge fan. I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek, who was huge about that. What is your, why? So often when I would talk with businesses, our team would talk about, you know, what is your, why, what is your business? Why, why do you exist?

Bowl of Life (50:50):

You know, you got to humanize that story. And the same goes for us. As we’re looking at different things in our life, what is our, why? What is our, why? You know, is it want to be there for our kids? Is it, you know, we want to be there for a dog. We want to, you know, what is that big overarching, why? And then it’s having the small goals that help you get to your why life is a bumpy road. We gotta treat ourselves with compassion as we go towards that. Why as well, Jon just had so many amazing things to say about all of that. And if you want to connect with him more, we’re going to link all of that in our show notes. As a reminder, you can find all our show notes over on our sponsored blog, that the Bowl.com forward slash 53. Again, that’s bad to the Bowl.com forward slash 53. All right, guys. Thanks for listening.

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