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Building Healthy Habits with Nate Sleger

Building healthy habits with nate sleger on the holistic health bites podcast

Episode Description:

Nate, a former personal trainer, transitioned his focus from fitness to psychology and habits, aiming to support individuals in their pursuit of lasting health changes. Together, we explored the profound shift from merely chasing a number on the scale to prioritizing the development of healthy habits. We discussed our favorite resources and recommended books on habit formation while emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and remaining open to new ideas for our personal growth.

Throughout our discussion, we stressed the significance of immersing oneself in a positive environment and taking small, manageable steps toward health goals. We both acknowledged the challenge of waiting for motivation and instead encouraged the initiation of progress through those essential first simple steps.

Nate and I also had an engaging conversation about the power of celebrating small milestones on the journey to better health. We highlighted the importance of immediate rewards and celebrations to reinforce these positive habits. Moreover, we touched on the idea of using physical postures or gestures as in-the-moment celebrations, adding an enjoyable and motivating aspect to the process.

Additionally, we emphasized the value of having a coach or a robust support system to provide guidance and celebrate these incremental victories. For those seeking further assistance in building and maintaining healthy habits, we recommended exploring Nate’s podcast and ebook as valuable resources.

To connect with Nate:
E-book: https://www.beginwithin.fit/ebook
Podcast: https://www.beginwithin.fit/podcast

Episode transcript (unedited)

Andrea Nicholson  

In this episode we are going to shift gears a little bit. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the fitness side of things as well as the importance of building habits.

I am joined by my special guest and friend, Nate Sleger.

Nate Sleger

welcome, Nate. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you.

Andrea Nicholson  

Thanks for having me. Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about you, your business, kind of how you got into this and how like fitness and habits became your thing.

Nate Sleger

Absolutely. Just stop me when I talk too much.

Andrea Nicholson  


Nate Sleger

I was a personal trainer for many years and found out that everything that I thought I was going to be doing to help people improve their fitness, which really is their health, right?

I was wrong. I was wrong. My approach was, I thought, man, I don’t want to tell people what they need to do and they’re going to do it and they’re going to get healthy and it’s going to be awesome.

Right. was so excited about sharing all the things that I knew about. And after little while, I realized that’s not how this works.

It wasn’t working. My clients were frustrated. I was frustrated. so, you know, here we are like 15 years later.

And I’ve learned for one that habits are super important. And basically what I did is I just said, okay, I’m enough with exercising.

Let’s stop learning about that. Let’s start learning about psychology and habits and motivation and how to really help people make change.

Because if I can do that, if I can help support them in that, they’re going to ultimately be successful.

Andrea Nicholson  

So I love it.

Nate Sleger

Today we have a company begin within. We have a podcast and it’s all about helping people to move forward in a healthier direction as easily as possible by focusing on habits.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love it. And that also helps them then keep that going, right? Because that’s the sustainable side of it.

They don’t only get the results, but they can keep them.

Nate Sleger

Got it. Yeah, I think for me, I want it. Whatever it is that I teach, whatever my clients learn from us is it should change their life permanently.

It should be things they can’t unlearn after they’ve learned it. So it’s not about, you know, the secret workout, the secret diet, the, I know this, this, this is the one thing.

It’s more about learning about yourself and learning about how to get yourself to do the things that. That you should do already.

If I’m most people already know what they need to do. It’s just getting them, getting them to do it.

Andrea Nicholson  

That’s actually doing it. Yes. Yeah. So what are some of the things that you think people do that make it harder than it needs to be on themselves?

where are people going wrong when they’re trying to do this stuff on their own?

Nate Sleger

I think the answer I would give, I heard it in the question. I think just making it harder, making it.

To come. And I think that there’s a couple reasons why that sort of happened in the health and fitness industry, but over-complicating it and trying to do it perfectly, which is connected to over-complicating it and not giving themselves space to fail and learn and actually grow in the process and get to know themselves better.

Actually appreciate themselves more through the process instead of trying to hate themselves into healthier place.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, you definitely cannot heal a body that you hate. So I think that is a very valuable place to be is to really recognize that you’re doing these things for benefit.

So if you hate the journey, if you’re resisting every step of the process, you’re not going to stick with it.

So you really do have to find the things that work for you, that you like, that you enjoy, that you can at least talk

All right, if you hate it, you’re just not going to do it.

Nate Sleger

Absolutely. Yeah, and I think especially with exercise, that is huge. And that as a trainer is one of the big changes that I’ve had to make was, this is the best way to do it.

This is the way you got to do it. And being more humble about the process from the perspective of being an instructor, a teacher, a trainer, and saying someone who is just simply moving more than they used to is going to be healthier than they were before.

And so I got to forget about the dumbbells, kettlebells, all the stuff that I think, oh, this is so great.

You got to do it this way. And just say, hey, can we get you to move more? Take a walk.

Just walk and get the mail every day. If you weren’t doing that before, now you’re a healthier person. So just being humble about what actually is healthier and really.

This is an incremental process. It’s not like any of us change overnight. I haven’t. And so I have to allow that space for everyone to do this incrementally one step at a time.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, and then to also be patient with the results. Because you go for a walk one day, you’re not miraculously going to have this perfect ideal health because you did it once.

Like, that’s the bet, the bet beauty and the benefit of building habits is who you’re becoming. It’s really not even about the end point.

But it’s about the person that you’re becoming when you get there and the identity that you now have when you’ve added all these habits and routines to your life.

So it really is about the psychology of it and about stepping into that new person.

Nate Sleger

I think that’s a great way to approach it. Yeah, I agree. I think we get to a place where we are putting more value on the inputs than the

Then the outputs, we’re taking pride in the fact that we are putting forth effort, we’re taking action, we’re doing something instead of getting so obsessed with the results.

The results come when we do this enough, when we change enough, they’re going to happen. But realizing that the inputs, if I’ve become a person that continues to make healthy choices, then that’s really the, that’s the battle.

Becoming that person that makes the healthier choices and not necessarily what the scale says. Like that, again, I know for a lot of people, that’s the thing though, don’t tell me not to worry about that because that’s what I’m worried about.

It’s going to happen. We have to become the person that makes the choices that the person you want to become is making.

And that’s the exciting part of the process.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, because you could achieve that. I deal with the number on the scale and do it in a terribly unhealthy way.

But you could also be doing all the right things, taking the right actions that are actually improving your health on every level and not necessarily see it on the scale, but it’s the much better benefit than doing whatever to get to the result at any cost.

process really does matter because there’s a lot of stuff going on inside your body that doesn’t necessarily translate to what the number on the scale is directly eventually.

You’ll get there, of course, like you said, it takes time. But if you’re doing it in all the wrong way just to hit that metric, first of all, you’re not going to like it when you get there.

You’re going to be miserable across the entire way and you’re not going to be able to keep it. Something else will come up.

Some other disease or condition or something will happen that will make you back like faster than anything else and you’ll end up worse.

So you’re much better off if you can shift that mindset and make it all about becoming a healthy person.

Instead of… of some arbitrary number on the scale for sure. But I’m with you, I hear that from a lot of people that are like, but that is the thing I care about.

it’s like, that’s what we need to fix then. Because that is not the healthiest thing to focus on.

Nate Sleger

And there’s a lot of reasons for that. Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think the idea of, I don’t want to say who I am and just change my body.

I want to change who I am. And everything else is going to change with it.

Andrea Nicholson  

So what have been some of your, I don’t know, favorite resources or mentors or, you know, how did you get inspired to focus on habits?

you know, was there a driving force behind that?

Nate Sleger

The driving force for me was just utter complete failure and feeling like there’s got to be something better as a, as someone who’s helping others.

And I think for me, a big epiphany came when I… I started to treat the clients I was working with the way that I treated myself.

So I guess it’s the golden rule, which is so ironic because here you are. I’m a personal trainer and I’m like, how did I get where I am?

But let me help my clients get there a different way. so once I started to really treat them the way that I was treating myself in terms of like patients in terms of really putting the focus on the areas of life that were going to impact my health the most and realizing that it wasn’t necessarily about the time that I was spending in the gym, for example.

I knew that. I knew that for myself, but I was just like, client, you, Susie, you’ve got to get to the gym.

Just get to the gym. That’s the thing. But I knew for myself, if I was just going to the gym but eating really unhealthy foods.

I wasn’t going to be a healthier person that I wanted to be. So I realized that really it was more about nutrition than it was about the gym.

The gym is important, but there were other ways to get the movement, not just being at the gym. So when I finally was, I kind of just like released the whole like focus on like, this is the way, this is the best way you got to do it this way.

And really opened my mind to helping people way out. I would want to be helped the way I was sort of helping myself in terms of health and fitness.

That’s when it started to shift. And that’s when I got really excited about the psychology of things and started to read.

some of the books that I recommend and talk about a lot, there’s a book called Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.

There’s a book that everyone’s heard of now, right? Atomic Habits by James Clear. And then there’s a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Dewheg.

Those three, for me, transformed the way I thought about. And so I’m like forever grateful to those, to those authors and everyone who supported them and the research that they drew on in order to bring those, those books forward from And us, those were huge.

Yeah, books I would recommend. If someone hasn’t read all three of them, do it. They’re all awesome in their own way.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, I would completely agree. Those are my favorite three habit forming books as well. And I just, I love the way that all three of them explain the process.

Even though they’re all talking about the same things, they explain it in different ways. And so you can pull these little tidbits out of each one that work for you that resonate with you that makes sense to you that.

Give you that small action step that you need to take today to move your life forward. And those would be my top three recommendations as well.

Nate Sleger

So I think that’s fantastic. Awesome. Yeah. And I think just in general, and I know that you’ll get this being in the process of or allowing continued education to be part of the process for all of us and getting healthier.

I mean, people listen to this podcast, they get that. They’re going to be successful because they’re the type of person that is seeking out education from someone like you, an expert.

And they’re here on a regular basis to listen and to keep growing. When someone is doing that consistently, I’m so confident that they’re going to figure it out.

And then then you are right now is huge in. Feeling motivated and getting what you need to continue to grow and having the exposure to new ideas that help you kind of to see the blind spots that you just wouldn’t you wouldn’t find by yourself.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love the quote I always forget who said it but you become most like the five people you spend the most time with.

And so if you want something in your life find a way to spend more time with people who have that or who are on that same journey and are maybe a step ahead of you.

Because just by being in their vicinity it will get you there faster as well. So if you’re trying to lose weight or plan for a 5k or whatever hang out with people that are already doing that.

And by the very nature of associating with those people you’ll do more of the things that are helping them do the thing.

And it’s just amazing. I think yeah having that support and being surrounded by people who get it who aren’t sabotaging you.

know don’t hang out with people that hit every happy hour and you know all All the drive-thru is and want to eat out for every session or every lunch break or every party or every celebration.

Find people who would rather meet at the park and go for a walk or go for a hike or do something active or something that’s in line with your goals.

Nate Sleger

Yeah, yeah, and we live at a time now where you can spend time with people on social media, podcast, reading books, we can connect with just about anybody that we want.

Which is, it could be super dangerous, right? We know that and it could have a very negative effect on us if we’re not careful.

I like what you said though of just like being more conscious about the people that we allow into our inner circle and realizing that whether we’re scrolling on social media or listening to a podcast or reading something like those are people, we’re allowing them in.

So they’re gonna influence us, they’re gonna have an effect on us and so it’s… If it could be dangerous, but at the same time, it’s exciting because whoever you want to learn from, they’re out there putting stuff out for you to just gobble it up and now make it part of part of you and part of your journey.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, and I love that you just said that because that’s exactly what I was going say is I like to update that quote just a little bit because back when that was said originally, it was you really kind of had to have people in your life in person.

That is truly about your colleagues and your neighbors and the spouse and family and people that you spend the most time with in that realm.

But today, it’s really the five people or the five influences that you spend the most time dealing with or listening to so that could be a podcast that could be a trainer that you hire or a professional that you’re working with.

could be a business coach, it could be your neighbor or your spouse or you know it’s the five biggest influences in your life.

And that’s one of my favorite parts about technology is we have access to all of them and we get to choose.

And so I think choose wisely and you can absolutely change your life if you choose your best five people.

Nate Sleger

Yeah, yeah, I like that. Definitely.

Andrea Nicholson  

What would be some tips that you would give for someone who maybe does have a goal in mind and they’re just kind of like, oh, it feels like there’s a thousand steps.

Where do I begin or how do I formulate a plan? What would you kind of tell someone who was struggling with getting started?

Nate Sleger

We’re talking about motivation then, right?

Andrea Nicholson  

Just really any goal. So it could be a fitness goal, nutrition or just anything.

Nate Sleger

Yeah, my first bit of advice and I think this happens all of us. We want something but maybe we see the path to it but it just seems overwhelming.

Well, I’m not sure what to do first. My first bit of advice is always make it so easy. At least that first step, make it so easy that you have absolutely no concern whatsoever about your ability to take that step.

Zero, you know 100%. I can do this. I got this. And that’s the step to focus on. Right? So it’s not the 5k.

Like that’s my goal. My goal is just to like get my sneakers on. That’s it. Just focus on that goal every day.

And if you, you know, you have good reasons for wanting to do the 5k, you’re going to, once those shoes are on, you’re going to go.

I know you will. But make the first step, the one that you really focus on to get going, make it so easy that you’re just like, this is almost ridiculous.

It’s so easy. Of course, I’m going to be able to do it. And you’re going to be fine. Because once you take that step, motivation,

And follows action instead of thinking that action is going to follow motivation. That’s somehow laying in my bed in morning that I’m just this motivated guy and I’m going to attack the day.

It doesn’t work. At least it doesn’t work every day that way. It works. It just focus on one little step at a time.

Once you take it, you’re like, yeah, I’m headed down the path. Here I go. I get some momentum going and motivation builds.

So make it easy. That’s my, you know, it doesn’t like the sage advice or anything.

Andrea Nicholson  

It’s just simple and practical.

Nate Sleger

Make it easy.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love it. I love it. And I love that you talk about, you know, waiting around for the motivation and that that really follows the action.

I talk about that both with motivation and with willpower. Like stop waiting for willpower and motivation. Like there are some bad penny on the sidewalk that you’re just going to find.

They’re not just going to happen upon you. I mean, yeah, you might have a day here and there where.

You do have more motivation and you’re, you just can’t wait to go do whatever it is you. You want to do or that you are able to resist the temptation in the break room or whatever, but for the most part, they don’t just come.

Motivation and the ability to withstand things or having more willpower come from taking action, come from focusing more on the end point than, you know, in the moment.

And so I love the practice of making it simple. I think the challenge for a lot of people, and maybe you can tell me a little bit about your experience with this, is because it’s so simple, it’s also really easy not to do.

Because you’re like, really? Well, good is it going to do if I put my shoes on? Yes, I could do it.

I will do it. But do I really have to do it? I could do it. And like getting people that even take that simple step.

Do you struggle getting people to take that simple step once they identify what it is?

Nate Sleger

I haven’t. I think it, I guess an answer to the question I think that it’s, and you touched on this too, is connecting that step with the bigger, the bigger focus, the bigger picture.

For the bigger why, the fact that we talk a lot with our personal training clients or nutrition coaching clients, the idea of becoming a healthier person.

That’s our focus. Whatever goal someone brought, whatever result they want, weight loss, getting stronger, whatever it is, it’s about getting healthier.

It’s about becoming a healthier person. So connecting whatever that real easy step is with the fact that when you take it, you are now a healthier person than you were before you had taken it.

And realizing that it’s the first step in a process. There’s more steps down this path, but we’ve got to take that first step.

So connecting it to the fact that you’re a new person. you put on those shoes, when you touch the treadmill, when you put your feet on the floor, 30 minutes earlier than you did yesterday, you are.

I’m going that. Anyone who’s doing that, I will celebrate them all day long for just taking one simple step.

So, and I think maybe that’s another little piece is celebrate when you do take it. And if it feels ridiculous, it’s okay.

Ridiculous feels fun. this is so silly, but I’m going to sell. You know what? put my shoes on. Text me about it.

I will tell you you are amazing for doing that.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, I think that’s a big one. And I am definitely guilty of this as well. And I have to remind myself that that celebration is huge.

I mean, it may seem like the dumbest thing. I mean, even if it’s bigger than you just put your shoes on, even if you did something that was actually a significant step.

We somehow downplay all of the good things that we do. we really, really need to celebrate every bit of those things, whether you avoided doing something that you wanted to avoid doing, or you did it.

The thing that you really want to do, we need to celebrate those. of course, we need to celebrate appropriately.

You know, don’t celebrate not eating a donut by going out for ice cream. You know, we do have to celebrate appropriately, but I think that is such a huge overlooked piece of it is really truly having gratitude and being proud of the things that you’re doing for yourself.

Recognizing just how important that really is is vital to this whole process. So I think I’m with you. We need to cheer for each other for even those little things like you put your shoes on today.

Even if you didn’t actually go for the walk or the run, if you just took the step and put your shoes on and that was your goal, we need to celebrate that.

Nate Sleger

Yeah. Yeah. I think you don’t want to think about that. I’ve learned too from from the research that others have done that they they’ve shared is the idea of.

Of celebration and rewards, especially with fitness have. Over the years, gotten a little bit off track because the old way of thinking about it was, after I work out all week, I’ll celebrate my success with a reward, whatever it is.

And what we know now is that that doesn’t really work. It has to be right away. And I use the example of training a dog.

I have dog, and I know that if I want him to learn something new, I got it. He needs a treat immediately after he does the thing I want him to do.

Otherwise, he’s not going to get it. He has to connect that action with the treat. And this is our brain’s work similarly when we’re trying to develop habits, right?

The treat or the celebration has to come as quickly as possible after we do the thing. And if we wait, we miss the opportunity to kind of wire that in as a very positive.

Positive experience putting on my shoes or eating the broccoli or whatever it is, putting the pan on the stove, this small step of preparing my meal, whatever step, like the celebration has to come as quickly as possible in order for it to get wired in.

So there’s no like, at the end of the week, I’ll do this thing when I stick to it, like we need to do it in the moment as quickly as possible in order for it to really benefit us.

Andrea Nicholson  

I think that’s a really critical component there. So what would you recommend for someone? what is a celebration or what is a reward that you could kind of do at any moment?

Nate Sleger

What would you do for that? Yeah, you’ve got to do it at any moment. So what I have found and I think the research is there too, especially like BJ Fog, Tiny

Um, can lead our, lead our emotions. So taking on some physical posture that makes us feel good, can provide that little jolt of positivity, that little feeling of celebration of goodness of, you know, really good in any moment.

So a couple of ways that have been recommended to figure out what’s a good celebration for me. And I’ve been doing this.

don’t do you do we have the videos available? Okay. Um, you already know what mine is. Like I have this little fist, fist pump.

Andrea Nicholson  

Like, I love it.

Nate Sleger

So, um, you can just picture your, your sports team winning the game in the final seconds of the match.

Like, what would you do? What would be the thing you would do in that moment? Right? posture would you take on?

What would happen with your hands, your face, your body? That’s a celebration. If you, if you can just imitate that posture.

Yeah. You can feel just a little jolt of like, oh, yeah, that feels good. You can feel good anytime you want.

Another one would be if you had a waste basket across the room and you just wrinkled up a piece of paper and tossed it and it went in on the first try.

What would you do? What would be that? you know, yeah, little fist pump. I five somebody, you know, who knows, whatever it is, everybody’s unique and individual.

But just kind of like playing around with it and then, you know, trying it in real time to put my shoes on.

Yes. How did it work? That I feel good about it. Do I feel kind of silly? Silly is good.

Like silly feels fun. Fun is good. So we’re able to give ourselves just these good feelings right in the moment and it helps us to continue to take the steps that we naturally want to follow that little one that we were focusing on.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love that. I think that is such a great thing. I love the analogy of like, what would you do?

We can all think of our team or our horse or whatever thing you like to watch, whatever competition. We can all think about what we would do if we were winning.

What would you do if you won gambling or you can all think of that. So I think that’s a great way to look at it because we all have the thing that we tend to go to.

And so, yeah, just do that. Sure. Or parents.

Nate Sleger

If your child sports team on or your child sport the winning goal, can can or whatever, what would you do in that moment?

Like, you know, we can, we can figure it out. We would do something.

Andrea Nicholson  

We’re not just going to sit there. Yay. Yay. we’re going to do our posture is going to change.

Nate Sleger

And that is a posture that can help us in this process. It’s pretty cool.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love that. I think that’s a great reminder. And I definitely know people are not doing enough of that for sure, because we are building up for those likes when I hit this I’m going to go buy new shoes where I’m going to go but I’m in a ticket SAL Geralt.

He’s big reward. And then you don’t associate it with the thing that you did to earn that. And yeah, it needs to be in the moment.

Not that you can’t also do the big thing, but you need to do the little thing in the moment, for sure.

Nate Sleger

Yeah. Yeah. And it could just, you know, sometimes just little affirmations, those type of things like something, you know, everybody is animated like person that loves pumping their fists like I do.

Um, was know, you know, whatever, yes, that. fact is yeah.

Andrea Nicholson  

before you think that maybe that’s You can write it down or you write it on your calendar. There’s lots of different ways to do these things, but definitely keep it easy.

Do it immediately. I think those are all great pieces of advice. Any other last tips or things that you’d like to leave the audience with?

Nate Sleger

Yes, I would say, and you’ll relate to this as well, Andrea, the part of the value of a coach, someone helping you, is that they provide some of that celebration.

Obviously, they’re providing the guidance and help in designing the steps that are going to get you where you want to go.

Sometimes we underestimate the value of that, is that individual is going to help you celebrate every step of the way, if they’re doing it really well.

And that is priceless, to have somebody in your life that basically exists, to celebrate you.

Andrea Nicholson  

Yeah, I think that’s amazing advice and I do hear that a lot of times. I’ll get emails from people that, you know, join my coaching programs and before we even started, or like, that was what I needed to get going and I have all this new excitement and more like just committing to someone else that they’re going to take this step.

Sometimes there’s all the thing they needed to do. And then I’ll like, know, and with keep ass kids. with you how about getting us opportunity energy workers in the community love of them.

The people community that they’re going to have, they not give the double when talked Gone and were really attorney department, all of your…

Or have it information with us and your resources and tips and tricks and all the things.

Nate Sleger

You also have an amazing podcast. Do you want to tell everybody about podcasts? Yeah, absolutely. It’s called The Begin Within Health Show.

And I’m on there now twice a week. Once a week is just a quick kind of fitness hack, something that typically I find myself repeating to my clients over and over again.

So then I share that. Those are on Tuesdays. Usually five to 10 minutes and then Thursdays I interview an expert.

And our goal always is to get as much as we can from that expert, but then distill it down into a very usable step or two that we can take and apply it to our own health journey.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love it. That’s such a great model to give the actionable steps in both the short episodes and the longer ones.

I love it. Any resources or anything else you’d like to share with the audience before we close out?

Nate Sleger

Yeah. They are welcome to check out my ebook. They go to beginwithin.fit. e-book. And that will redirect them back to the podcast and some of the episodes that touch on five different areas wherein we build these habits.

five different areas of life that will help to support a health journey like the ones we’ve been talking about.

Andrea Nicholson  

I love it. And of course, we will link all of that up in the description. So you’ll have easily clickable links and all the things to go find all of that amazingness from Nate.

So thank you so much for sharing all your information with us today. I always appreciate having these conversations with you and I’m sure we’ll do it again.

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