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episode #360

Interview with Alan Lazaros: Optimal Sleep Habits, Getting Results and Using Pain to Break Old Habits!

May 27, 2024 in Podcast


This week I interviewed CEO of Next Level University, Alan Lazaros!

We discussed his personal journey from adversity to success along with:

  • His seven fundamentals of optimal health: sleep, hydration, nutrition, training, mobility, breath work, and supplementation.
  • Optimizing sleep quality for brain health and overall well-being.
  • Aligning your potential, influences, beliefs, values, skills, choices, behaviors, and habits to achieve desired results.
  • Using pain and leverage to break old habits and develop new ones
and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was!

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the GET, LEAN, Eat, Clean, Podcast.

Alan (4s):

We're either afraid to be too much or too little. Everyone's afraid of success or failure. So, we stay in this little box, right? So the people who have very high potential are afraid 'cause they don't get along with people 'cause they just make everyone insecure. So it's kind of like the torture genius type of thing. But anyways, okay, so everyone has different potential. I'm never gonna beat LeBron James at basketball no matter how hard I try, okay? His potential in basketball is higher than me. Okay? So that's number one potential. You have to own what your real potential is. My business partner, Kevin, natural bodybuilder, the dude's a mesomorph. He's, he, he builds muscle faster than me. I'm an ectomorph. I have these giraffe legs. I'm supposed to be a marathoner. I just happened to want to be jacked, of course, 'cause I was so skinny growing up.

Alan (46s):

All, right? So potential is number one. Number two is influences. And this is from the bottom up in the iceberg. Influences are not just the people you spend time with, although that's huge, it's what you let into your brain. So right now, my voice is influencing you, whether you're aware of it or not. If I'm in your earbuds or if I'm in your car or on YouTube, I'm influencing your choices right now. Be super careful with who you allow to speak into your life.

Brian (1m 17s):

Hello and welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. I'm Brian Gryn and I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was, five, 10, even 15 years ago. Each week I'll give you an in depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long term sustainable results. This week I interviewed CEO of Next Level University. Alan Lazaros. We discussed his personal journey from adversity to success, along with His seven fundamentals of optimal health, Optimizing sleep quality for brain health, and overall well being. Aligning your potential influences, beliefs, values, skills, choices, behaviors and habits to achieve desired results using pain and leverage to break old habits and develop new ones.

Brian (2m 3s):

And his one tip to get your body back to what it once was. Really enjoyed my interview with Alan. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All, right Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn. And I'm Al Roan. Welcome to the show.

Alan (2m 20s):

Thank you for having me. I, I always try to say this because I was on the other end of podcasts nine years ago. That's when I first started listening to them. And they inspired me. They motivated me, they educated me, they helped me so much. And so now, nine years later, being on other podcasts, I definitely don't take that lightly. Having the opportunity to speak into other people's lives, I think is a big responsibility. And so, thank you for having me.

Brian (2m 45s):

Yeah, well I appreciate that. What do you like being on? What end? And do you like getting the questions asked or asking the questions?

Alan (2m 53s):

I, I do enjoy both. I've done hundreds of interviews in on my podcast. We actually stopped having guests probably around 800 'cause we have a holistic show. And, what we found is we would interview guests about one thing and then it would leak into the other stuff. and we were misguiding our listeners because people who are an expert in one thing often think they're an expert in other things. And So, we ended up just, just canning that. But I love both. The reason I love being asked questions though, is number one, you get to serve, which I think is huge. Number two, I get to practice my craft of effective communication. 'cause I have a lot of stuff going on up here as a computer engineer. And I, I have a really hard time getting my brain to communicate with other people in a way where it lands for them.

Alan (3m 37s):

And so that's what I'm most excited about is learning. 'cause I learned through conversation and then also adding value and learning how to communicate answers to questions maybe I've never been asked.

Brian (3m 49s):

Okay. Well, one question I do wanna ask so people can sort of get to know you a little bit more, is like your backstory. I know you have next level university right now. That's, I I believe your main focus. But sort of what led you to that, to that, you know, to building that and, and you know, from where you started.

Alan (4m 8s):

So I have a short version. I have a mid version and I have a long version. Yeah. Which version do you think?

Brian (4m 17s):

Well, why don't we go, why don't we go mid.

Alan (4m 20s):

Mid? Okay. I'll, I will try my best. I tend to be long-winded. The first thing to understand before I share, number one, it is important to know who you're talking to because I grew up without a dad and I've been looking for kind of unconsciously, I didn't know this until my thirties, but I've been unconsciously looking for a male role model my whole life. And I think paradoxically, I think I've ended up becoming the male role model that I really needed. And in some ways that was actually my dream. So I often joke, I'm, I'm 35, I'm hoping to hit puberty at 36. But my story starts in adversity for sure. And, and the, the thing I always clarify is it's kind of like rewatching a movie like you saw as a kid.

Alan (5m 4s):

And I used to listen to podcasts and I used to hear these people and they had their stories and they were so articulate and they understood it all. And. now I've become one of those people. So I wanna make it clear because I always wished it was clearer to me back then when I was listening. I didn't have this stuff figured out until later. This is, this is, I understand this in hindsight. Whereas at the time I, I was just going through it and growing through it. So if it seems like I have it all figured out, it's, it's like watching a movie you saw as a kid and the, the jokes, now you get 'em. Sure. I always use Finding Nemo as an example. I saw it when I was a little kid and then I saw it again as an adult and I was like, oh, that's interesting. Okay, Now, I, get it. All, right? I get that. So it's kinda like that with my story. So anyways, okay.

Alan (5m 44s):

Started off in adversity. Father passed away in a car accident when he was 28 years old. I was two years old. I had an older sister who was six. My mom was 31 at the time and she was a stay at home mom. And I had a stepfather from age three to 14. So my stepfather's last name is actually Lazarus. My, my official, my birth father's last name, my real last name is actually McCorkle. So my birth father was part of an Irish Catholic big family. Jane, Joan, Jim, Joe, John, Jane, Joan Jeanette. Six six Js Yeah, Irish Catholic, big family, my mom and popup. And so when my stepfather came into the picture, we kind of didn't talk to my birth father's side of the family.

Alan (6m 28s):

And I never used to talk about this. I, I started doing therapy in my thirties and I started to reflect on all this and I kind of get it now. Whereas back then, I never talked about this. I don't even think I knew that this is what happened. So again, hindsight's 2020 So. we are not talking to my birth father's side of the family. My stepdad is around from three to 14 and I call that part of my life boats and bs. He had motorcycles and snowmobiles and we had a yacht, deep sea fishing and ski trips and vacations. And my mom and stepdad partied. They liked to party. They, they were big on fun, sort of hunting, fishing, all that kind of stuff. And my stepdad worked for a company called Agfa and they did computers in hospitals during the nineties, during the.com bubble.

Alan (7m 17s):

So for anyone who remembers the nineties, it was very economic boom times. Everybody was winning in the nineties. And when he left my family, it was early two thousands. And when I was 14 years old, he left and he took 90% of the income with him and my stepmom, I mean my mom and my stepdad did not get along and that's a polite way to put it. So things on the surface looked really good, but beneath the surface, not good. But I was Xbox Dreamcast early Christmas presents. We did well financially. So I go from that to, my dream was to go to WPI, which Polytechnic Institute, it's like a mini MIT in Massachusetts. It's one of the best technical colleges in the world, but it's 50 grand a year.

Alan (7m 57s):

And I went from, I can't wait to try to get in to, even if I do get in, I don't know if I'm gonna be able to go right. So I'm 14 stepdad leaves, takes 90% of the income with him and takes his entire extended family with him. And I haven't seen any of them since. I have since talked to my stepdad on Facebook messenger a little bit. Same time my sister moves out with her older boyfriend, Same time, same year. My mom and her sister, my Aunt Sandy get in a fight ostracizes us from that whole side of the family. Haven't seen any of them since either except for one cousin.

Alan (8m 42s):

So didn't know this, but by the time I'm 14 years old, I kind of lost three families. Fortunately my birth father's side took us back with welcome arms. But they were kind of seeing, it was like they were seeing a ghost. 'cause I looked just like my dad, John. And so I went from that to Now I, get free lunch at school. 'cause our income is so low, it's just me and my mom in this big house. He got the, my stepdad got the yacht in the apartment building. We got the house and the dog and it was, how am I gonna do this? Free lunch at school shopping at Salvation Army, struggle bus, financially. And I did the only thing I knew how to do, which is now my trauma response, I realize, which is aim, hire, work harder, get smarter.

Alan (9m 26s):

And so fortunately that was my drum response, straight A's through high school, get something called the President's Award, which is signed by George Bush behind me. And you basically have to get straight A's all report cards all through high school. And at the award ceremony, I got a ton of scholarships in financial aid, which was awesome. So I got to go to school and I got into my dream college and I went to computer engineering. And then I went and got my MBA. That was my dream. It was either gonna be lawyer politician president, or it was gonna be engineer MBA Fortune 50 CEO of a tech company. Like my hero, Steve Jobs, my old hero, no longer my hero in many ways. So fast forward, fast forward, fast forward. I get my MBA And.

Alan (10m 6s):

now I'm off into corporate. And I went from broke college student to very well off very quickly. I worked for a bunch of different tech companies, iRobots inside of Technologies, Oz Development eventually landed a company called Cognex, and I do inside sales engineering there. Then I get promoted to outside sales, Now I, manage my own territory and the checks are coming in. Paid off 84 grand worth of college debt in a single year. Had 150 grand in an investment account in Vanguard with all ETFs and, and tech stocks a lot. Bought a lot of Cognex as well. And I'm doing well financially. But from the outside looking in, the part I haven't told you and that's relevant to this podcast is I wasn't taking my health seriously.

Alan (10m 50s):

I was nothing like I am Now I. I didn't have a physique, I was drinking too much. And too often high school friends, college friends, corporate friends. You're probably wondering what's the long version of this thing.

Brian (11m 2s):

Thank God I get to the mid.

Alan (11m 3s):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Literally. So I'll, I'll get to the, the chase here, but at the end of the day, I'm trying to sum up 35 years in. In 35 minutes here. Well,

Brian (11m 12s):

You're young. So I've had 70 year olds on there. But yeah,

Alan (11m 16s):

So I was everything for everyone. Nothing for myself. Doing really well financially, but successful from the outside in, but not from the inside out. And so then I get my car accident. So when I'm 26 years old, I end up in my own car accident, end up on the wrong side of the road. Thought it was a Mack truck. Ended up being a ated pickup truck. And fortunately the airbags deployed in a car. 2004 Volkswagen Pass. I used to call it the tank. This car definitely saved my life. and we were okay physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I usually show the car in my speeches because it's just absolutely smashed in. And that car definitely saved my life. Thank you. Volkswagen German engineered steel trap of a car.

Alan (11m 56s):

But after that I was just filled with regret and I knew I was taking my health and fitness, not seriously. I knew I was letting myself down. Did I live a life true to myself? I was just regret, regret, regret. Poor choice, poor choice, poor choice. Trauma. I haven't dealt with trauma, I haven't dealt with trauma, I haven't dealt with, I had, I never talked about my dad before 26. I never talked about any of this before. 26, right? And so Now I, I often say I used to be successful from the outside in. Now, fortunately I'm fulfilled from the outside, from the inside out. And that's, that's really where I got into personal growth, personal development and fitness.

Brian (12m 32s):

Hmm. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that.

Alan (12m 36s):

You're welcome.

Brian (12m 39s):

What would you say, I mean, obviously being through all that, what would you say like the biggest takeaways or some of the things that you learned that you sort of apply now in your, you know, in your still young life of 35?

Alan (12m 52s):

So the, the biggest takeaway is your choices, your day to day moment to moment choices. I just, I had a drinking problem. It took me five years to quit drinking. I've now been sober for over, over four, maybe five actually at this stage. But I didn't realize that I grew up in an environment that was a lot, a lot, a lot of alcohol because when you're young, you don't know any different, right? It's kind of just you, you, you, my mom and stepdad's friends, they all party too. So you just, law of attraction, right? Like attracts like, so birds of a feather flock together. So my mom and stepdad like to party So. they go to parties and then their friends like to party So, they go to party.

Alan (13m 36s):

So it's just this whole everything and everyone I knew to that stage drank. And I'm talking drank. So I adapted that habit without knowing it. And college, same deal. It wasn't until 26 when I really woke up from that. So the number one thing that I learned from all that is I just made really poor choices. And, and I don't think I made worse choices than most people when I, people always say, well, what do you mean you ended up, you know, you did well in high school and you, you know, you had a good career. I'm not trying to beat myself up. I just, if you were to look back at your past and be honest with yourself, like really candid, you made a lot of really poor choices.

Alan (14m 21s):

We all did. No one knows what they're doing in high school. No one knows, no teenager makes good choices. Like I think it's important to, I, I don't want anyone to live in regret, but I think regret is the best teacher. And so you gotta look back and rewatch the movie of your own life and say, you know, honestly, I didn't really know what the hell I was doing. I grew up in an environment where I wasn't well guided and I gotta take responsibility for my own future and I gotta make better choices. Whether it be be fitness choices, like, like your podcast Eat clean, GETLEAN, Get, Lean, Eat Clean. Did I get that wrong? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's, when I first researched your podcast, I thought, yes, exactly.

Alan (15m 3s):

This is about making good choices. That's, that's what all podcasts should be about. Of course I'm biased, but if I had made better choices, my life would've been better. And, and I've proven that because I started making good choices after nine years ago. And it's compounding into just such a more magnificent life. It's harder on the day to day, but it's more magnificent. On the, on the macro

Brian (15m 26s):

And, what kind of choices did you make around fitness that sort of influenced, influenced you and created like a snowball effect?

Alan (15m 33s):

The first thing was to just get to the place where, where I was proud of my own physique. I was the tall, skinny ectomorph, 160 pounds skinny fat, just not very frail and, and very insecure about it. So the first thing was just getting exercise. That was like the main thing. Weight training in particular. I, back in 2014, I was watching the, I don't remember the exact name of it, the Superman movie with Henry Cable.

Brian (16m 4s):


Alan (16m 5s):

The one where he gets out of the, he gets outta the lake in this one scene. And I was at IMAX and I was with my buddy and I was, I was drinking at the time and he got out of the lake, the, the character in the film. And he's jacked. I, I mean just muscular is how healthy, the epitome of male health. Granted he's superman, I get it right. But deep down inside me, I'm thinking I could be that one day, but I'm letting myself down. I, I really believed I could, I could do it. And so after that scene, I actually went in the bathroom, I pretended to have to go to the bathroom. I didn't have to go to the bathroom. I actually cried in the mirror to myself and I poured out my Mountain Dew with Captain Morgan in it.

Alan (16m 46s):

And I decided after that I have to make changes. And I just started small and I started lifting weights and I started following fitness influencers, which Now, I realize is be careful, right? Yeah. And then I eventually became a fitness influencer and I was a fitness coach, fitness competitor, fitness model. Actually. I've done 41 photo shoots in my skis, for lack of better phrasing. And I'm Now I. I've done all kinds of coaching. I did mindset coaching, peak performance coaching, business consulting. Now I'm a business coach primarily. I have 23 people on my roster. My youngest client is 18, my oldest is 63 from all different countries, all different backgrounds. But at the end of the day, I, it all started with how do I get weight training going?

Alan (17m 29s):

And then once that's locked in, how do I start my nutrition and my macros? Okay, calories, macros, micronutrients. Okay then once that's locked in, okay, how do I get my hydration going? And so I created this framework called the Seven Fundamentals of Natural Fitness because I, the fitness industry, if you've studied it, is a lot of drugs, especially in the bodybuilding side. Way more than anyone can fathom. I know a lot of these people. And I was always natural, like natural, natural, natural. No synthetic hormones, no, no steroids, none of that. So I have the pyramid of the seven fundamentals and this is the whole game in my opinion.

Alan (18m 9s):

It's simple, but it's not sexy. And so the bottom of the pyramid is sleep. So I have an oral ring, I track my sleep every single day. My score today was in 84.

Brian (18m 19s):


Alan (18m 20s):

My girlfriend's score and thank you. My girlfriend's score was in 90, so she slept, slept in today. Yeah. I know you have an OR as well,

Brian (18m 27s):

Right? you know, well I don't have an A ring, but I've done wearables, I've used them before. But I feel like once you, I, my opinion on wearables is like, I feel like once you get a feel for 'em and you sort of know where you're at, I feel like you're your be your biggest, you know, your best judge of, of whatever you're trying to optimize. But yeah,

Alan (18m 48s):

It's just like tracking macros. Once you do it long enough, now you can intuitively do it, but until you do it long enough, you don't really know what's in what, right? Right. So sleep is number one bottom of the pyramid. So sleep, hydration, nutrition, training, mobility, breath work and supplementation, supplementation's the top of the pyramid. 'cause it's the smallest part, it's the least relevant until you have the other six dialed in. Supplementation isn't gonna help. Right. And so that's really what it is. I, I started with sleep, hydration, nutrition, training, mobility. And then when I say breath work, it's how you breathe. And then supplementation would be last. And I think most people start at the top and they go to supplements.

Alan (19m 31s):

And then you see these athletes that are selling supplements and I get it. And some supplements are great. I have BCAs in my water right now. Right. So supplements aren't the problem. It's just that's the way that these athletes make money. And that's okay. I I was the same, but just, just understand. Go ahead.

Brian (19m 48s):

Yeah, I was just gonna say, I've actually found that, you know, being in health and wellness for like 20 years now almost, I've actually got taken been less on the supplement end than I would probably was early on. But I do think they can play a role. But I, I think there's also a lot of guessing out there. And I'm a big believer in like, testing first. Yeah, yeah. And then, you know, basing a program off that

Alan (20m 14s):

Science is everything, the scientific method, just, everything's an experiment,

Brian (20m 20s):


Alan (20m 21s):

You experiment with a supplement. If you, if you, and here's the problem with experimentation, how long do you do it, right? You try this new pre-workout and you get nauseous the first time, that doesn't mean you can it, you gotta give it a couple more tries. If you get nauseous four or five times in a row and you don't get used to it, then maybe, maybe it goes. But I'm big on experimentation. I'm, I'm a big science guy. Yeah. I call it stem biff, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, business and finance. And the inner work for me was the problem for anyone who, who can't tell. But after 26, I finally started doing the inner work stuff. And believe it or not, that was more beneficial than some of the outer stuff as well.

Alan (21m 1s):

So if you want to go into that, it's, it's your call.

Brian (21m 4s):

Well, I wanted to touch on, you know, you talked about sleep. We, I talk about sleep a lot on this podcast, so people are probably sick of it, but I I I do think it's like the number one pillar that people should focus on and prioritize what, yes.

Alan (21m 18s):


Brian (21m 19s):

I think what, you know, and, and I also think it's probably the most neglected thing, especially when you're young, right? Like, you feel like you don't need to, even though you're supposed to sleep more when you're young. I feel like I have nieces and nephews. I don't have kids, but like, I mean they, their sleep habits are just not, not very good. What, what do you do to optimize, you know, your, your sleep score for your aura? Yeah.

Alan (21m 42s):

Thank you for the question. And, and I am all for the unsexy topics. I think that we all need to learn less shiny stuff and study more fundamentals. That's just my, my my favorite thing in the world. So the way we have an acronym called me, I'll go through 'em. So, so right before bed, Emil and I, my, my beautiful girlfriend and I, we go through an acronym. It's a big one. So mask is the first one. Mm. So mask meeting. When's your first meeting? So last night before bed. Do you have your mask? Okay, I got mine. Sleep masks meeting. When's your meeting? Hers was 11, mine was 10.

Brian (22m 20s):

Like when's your first meeting? The next day. When's

Alan (22m 22s):

Your first meeting? The next day. Okay. Yeah. I actually canceled by 10 o'clock. So my first meeting was actually with you 11. Okay. So mask meeting eyes, meaning did you take your contacts out? Okay. I've never shared this before publicly. This is interesting. Yeah. Hey, the next is ss, which is Scooby snacks, earplugs. We call 'em Scooby snacks 'cause our pets try to eat 'em.

Brian (22m 45s):

Oh yeah, I can

Alan (22m 47s):

Relate. And then the next one is alarm. So do we have an alarm set or not? AKA Don't set an early alarm. My first meeting doesn't start till 10:00 AM so I do 10 to 6:00 PM every day is my service. I call it my service window. And I let myself sleep as much as possible. Obviously sometimes I need to set an alarm if there's like a special trip or meeting or whatever. Sure. But for the most part, I try not to ever set an alarm, which is a very much blessing at this stage of my life. Yeah, it's not everyone can do that. I get it. The next, the next is you, meaning are you here? 'cause she sleeps better when I'm there. The next is aura.

Alan (23m 27s):

Do you have your aura ring on me? Say yo. Oh, next is pillows. Do you have the right pillows? And then this is ridiculous. Next is score. What score are you going for? We literally set an intention last night before bed. I set 88. I only got an 84. She said 92 and she got a 90. and we, we screenshot our aura and we send it to each other each morning.

Brian (23m 51s):

That's very

Alan (23m 51s):

Cute. What we're optimizing for is brain health and the most important thing for brain health bar none is sleep.

Brian (23m 59s):


Alan (23m 59s):

And she used to have memory challenges, so I've really worked hard to protect her sleep because her brain neuroplasticity has gotten, so her memory's improved. I bought her a book called Memory Recovery when we first started dating and it's unbelievable what's happened five years later. And then the last one is fan and there's one more temperature. What's the temperature? Yeah. Like did we, did we put, set the temperature right. And then is the fan on? and we also have a deep sleep playlist that we use on our Alexa, which I hopefully she doesn't go off. But yeah, So, we, we do not mess around with sleep. And if you saw my girlfriend, she's the most radiant, healthy fit, inte. It's unbelievable.

Alan (24m 39s):

But really it's always the stuff behind the scenes. No one sees, like, I've never even shared that acronym before with anyone but me and her. But if you were to meet us on the street, you'd say you guys look so healthy and vibrant. You might not say that, but you would think that. And I, trust me, I didn't always, I used to look like shit. Am I allowed to swear? I'm so sorry. Yeah,

Brian (24m 59s):

Yeah. You're

Alan (24m 60s):

Good. Okay. I, I'll Okay, my, my apologies. That's, I used

Brian (25m 2s):

To look like that's, yeah. I've had worse set on this program.

Alan (25m 5s):

Okay, well I wanna be respectful. If you don't have an explicit show, I'll, I, my apologies.

Brian (25m 9s):

No, it's all good.

Alan (25m 10s):

But I used to look like crap and I wasn't vibrant and I was drinking too much and I wasn't getting good sleep and I was hung over and I wasn't exercising and I wasn't eating right and my life sucked. I had a lot of money, but my life sucked. And so your wellbeing is your life. And that's why I was excited to come on the show because I don't get to talk about fitness as much as I used to and I adore it. I think physical fitness is the, is the most important thing in the world. Would you rather have an unbelievably athletic physique that's vibrant and alive or a million dollars and if you choose the million dollars, you're in trouble. That is a mistake. And what's ironic is if you have a vibrant, physical, wonderful, energetic fitness structured oriented regimen towards your physique, you probably will end up a millionaire just because the habits for fitness are the habits for business.

Alan (25m 59s):

And so you see these business owners that, that burn themselves to the ground, like Steve Jobs to build these billion dollar companies, but then he dies at 57 'cause he never took good care of his health. Now I obviously know he didn't die for that exact reason. But if you look at the guy, you know, he never took care of his health. And I've studied his background. I never used to share this stuff be, but I used to take a look. I used to see like, you never exercised consistently, you never weight trained. Right? And so of course that played a factor. We all know health and exercise increase our longevity and it's awesome and I think it's the most important thing in the world.

Brian (26m 36s):

Yeah. Well I'm assuming that the, the CEOs and the individuals that you're working with now that is part of like your program with them, I would assume since you're coaching them, that making health a priority is gonna, you know, affect everything else. So you might as well, right?

Alan (26m 52s):

A hundred percent. Yeah. I have one, one guy I work with in finance, his name's Bradley, and we have him tracking habits and his habit, his very first habit is 30 minutes of exercise. He never misses, he never misses. And he used to, before we was coached together, we've coached for years now. But he missed, and that's the cool thing too about being a, a coach is you have all the accountability because how dare I tell you to exercise when I'm not, right? Yeah. So being a coach is actually a, a great cheat code.

Brian (27m 23s):

Yeah. Right. I do find you talk with clients, it, it sort of reinforces habits for yourself. Yep.

Alan (27m 29s):

Yeah. My favorite part of it,

Brian (27m 32s):

I actually had on my show, Marcus Colius. Do you know Marcus? You can feel like you guys would get along.

Alan (27m 38s):

I might recognize him. I don't know.

Brian (27m 40s):

You might. Yeah. He he does. He works with high level, you know, performing entrepreneurs and he does, he's worked with alongside like Anthony Robbins and Nice. He was like, you know, if you hit the, he's like, if you just hit the snooze, you lose. Like, 'cause like if, if like he was saying if you do set an alarm, you, you should just get up when it tells you to get up. Because if you're hitting the snooze, you're sort of giving yourself permission to like, yeah, put it off. And then that sort of sets the tone for the day. I thought that was a sort of a good cool

Alan (28m 10s):

Point. It's all about keeping the small promises to yourself. That's exactly what that is. You promised yourself you'd get up and then you don't. What does that do to your self-esteem and your self-belief and your self-worth self-esteem is built behind the scenes. I used to try to, otherwise it's ego. I used to try to fake self-esteem. It was all fake and it was ego. Yeah. Go ahead. What

Brian (28m 31s):

Were you gonna say? Yeah, no, I was just gonna say before we got on, we talked about your sort of your, you were talking about the results based like Oh, iceberg. Yeah. Yeah. The iceberg.

Alan (28m 42s):

The iceberg, yeah. So I'm so grateful that you brought that up. I created this two days ago. Two days ago. But it's, it's not necessarily a fully new concept. I think it's new in the way that I ordered it.

Brian (28m 56s):


Alan (28m 57s):

So imagine an iceberg, and I'm gonna have to close my eyes for this. So I remember it all one time someone asked me, do you have a photographic memory? And I was like, I don't know. And they're like, close your eyes. And I was like, they're like, can you see the whiteboard? I was like, yep. They're like, that's a photographic memory. Oh cool, cool. Talk a big game. Now let's see if you can remember All, right? So there's a picture of an iceberg and only the tiny tip of the iceberg is showing above the surface. And that says results All. right now I'm gonna start from the very bottom of the iceberg and work my way up. So we're gonna go all the way to the depth, the very bottom of the iceberg. Okay? The very bottom is potential.

Alan (29m 39s):

This one, I'm gonna, I'm gonna unpack 'em each one by one potential. I used to wanna believe everyone had the same potential. Some of us are very gifted. I think everyone's gifted at something, but some of us are really gifted at a lot of stuff. If you are scared to be gifted, you are, if you're scared not to be gifted, you might not be. For me, I was always scared that I was gifted and I know that I am. And I've never been able to share that until like therapy in my thirties. We're either afraid to be too much or too little. Everyone's afraid of success or failure. So, we stay in this little box, right? So the people who have very high potential are afraid 'cause they don't get along with people 'cause they just make everyone insecure.

Alan (30m 20s):

So it's kinda like the torture genius type of thing. But anyways, okay, so everyone has different potential. I'm never gonna beat LeBron James at basketball no matter how hard I try. Okay? His potential in basketball is higher than me. Okay? So that's number one potential. You have to own what your real potential is. My business partner, Kevin, natural bodybuilder, the dude's a mesomorph. He's, he, he builds muscle faster than me. I'm an ectomorph. I have these giraffe legs. I'm supposed to be a marathoner. I just happened to want to be jacked, of course. 'cause I was so skinny growing up. All, right? So potentials number one. Number two is influences. And this is from the bottom up in the iceberg. Influences are not just the people you spend time with, although that's huge, it's what you let into your brain.

Alan (31m 4s):

So right now, my voice is influencing you, whether you're aware of it or not. If I'm in your earbuds or if I'm in your car or on YouTube, I'm influencing your choices right now. Be super careful with who you allow to speak into your life. So influences number two. Number three above that is beliefs. Based on your potential, which is your gifting and your influences, you're gonna have beliefs. I had some really messed up beliefs that where I grew up, it wasn't until after 26 I started to unpack some of that stuff and go, are these limiting beliefs? Are these empowering beliefs? What are my beliefs?

Alan (31m 43s):

What are my values? What do I believe? Okay, after that, it's values All, right? So, so far you've got potential influences, beliefs and values. Here's the problem. We want results, but they're outside of alignment with our core values. If you have a core value of cooking and eating big meals with your family, you will never have an eight pack. It's okay, having an eight pack I've done it is the worst thing ever. It's awful. It's so bad. It's unfathomably bad. How hard it is to keep that. I did a fitness show, I did three fitness shows. I was cocky in the first one, lost humble in the second one from the loss. And I won my, overall, I won the whole thing.

Alan (32m 26s):

And I had an eight pack and it was, I was fearful, scarce, hungry, 24 7. It was awful. And then the third one, I, I lost again because I got cocky from the second one. The point is, is I've been ripped outta my mind, really low sub 10% body fat, super scarce, freaking out. And I've also been no abs at all. And I'm telling you right now, if you have a core value of barbecues and fun and enjoyment and going to the movies and eating snacks and, and family and barbecue, like you're not gonna be ripped. Just give yourself permission to not be ripped. Okay? So you need the right potential, the right influences, the right beliefs, the right values.

Alan (33m 6s):

Next is skills. Weight training is a skill. HIIT training is a skill. CrossFit is a skill. Juujitsu and Muay Hai are skill skills, marathons, triathletes, it's all skill development. Basketball, football, soccer. Okay. Skills. Then you have choices after that. It's your day to day moment to moment choices. So I had a choice to can this or show up? I have a choice today to work out or not. I have a choice to do my protein shake in the morning. Or not every single moment to moment choice. That moment when you're sitting there and you're like, Ugh, I don't wanna stretch. Ugh, I don't want to stretch again.

Alan (33m 49s):

How boring is stretching the most boring thing ever? Hate it. Do it anyway. I think it's empowering. You're never gonna wanna work out, just do it anyway. Okay? And then after that's behaviors, just like tasks. Like, I gotta get a gym membership, I gotta get a personal trainer, I gotta, and then you've got habits, that's where you lock it in habits, but you don't create habits until all the other ones are aligned. And so if big, if people used to come to me and they'd say, I want, I want, how do I get a six pack? And I would assume they were gonna do all those things and I'd just tell them how to do it. And then they would never do it. And I'd be like, why aren't you doing it?

Alan (34m 29s):

I don't get it. Oh, if you want an eight pack, you have to align your potential. Do you even have the potential to have an eight pack? Maybe you have a six pack under there, right? We don't all have eight packs, okay? So you have to align every time you want a result in life. Everybody, every time you want a result in life, you have to want every sacrifice that comes with it. People say, I want a business like you. I say, no, you don't. I have a 21 person team and, and they're global and I have headaches that you do not want. And that's okay, but you can't want the results I have and not all the sacrifices underneath it. Okay, so picture a result.

Alan (35m 10s):

Let's say you wanna lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. You need to see if you have the potential to do it. Most likely you do. What are your influences? Are they health, healthy and fit? Okay, what are your belief systems? Do you believe you can do it? Do you believe you can do it while eating junk, right? There's a misbelief. What are your values? Is it conflicting with your values of spending time with your family? Okay then what are your skills? Do you have the skills? Is it CrossFit, kayaking, boating? What are you doing? Okay. Then you have to align your choices every single day. Behaviors, tasks, trainer, get a trainer, whatever. And then habits locking in the habits and locking in habits is the hardest thing ever.

Alan (35m 51s):

And it's not just about locking in habits, it's also about getting rid of the habits that are blocking you. If you have a habit of drinking alcohol every day and you want an eight pack, forget it. Absolutely forget it. It's just not congruent. And so the only way to achieve goals is alignment and congruence. And unfortunately all the things we want as a result are outside of alignment with most of the stuff we actually do, say, think, feel, and believe beneath the surface. And so hopefully that, that iceberg is, so whenever I coach someone, I go right to that iceberg and I say, listen, you want to be a billionaire, that's great, but do you want all of what comes with that beneath the surface that no one else is gonna see?

Alan (36m 31s):

And by the way, most billionaires end up divorced and it's for a reason. So just be careful,

Brian (36m 36s):

Right? Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. I I, I love that because I think from the outside, especially like with social media, you just see results, right? You don't see what it took to actually get to that. And sometimes on social media, these results could be necessarily not true. But either way,

Alan (36m 56s):

Little Photoshop results.

Brian (36m 58s):

Yeah. Right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. What would you say like to, to, to, to develop a new habit is like a topic that comes up a lot because people have old habits can don't necessarily go away so quick. How do you think an individual, whether it's health or business, can start developing these new habits sooner rather than later? Because even though they've been doing something for 30, 40 years, how are they gonna actually get to where they want to go, you know, without all sort of, you know, everything else in line that,

Alan (37m 35s):

Yeah. So I'll use an example that I, one of the hardest habits I've ever had to break was drinking alcohol. And I think the reason underneath it was everything that came, that was attached to it. So all my friends drank. I, we, we would go to weddings, we'd drink, am I gonna drink at my own wedding? So I, and not to mention my personality is very intense. So you have to know yourself in, in habit breaking as well. Like, I dial everything up to 11. Everyone can tell I'm not, I don't have like a another gear. This is, this is my actual energy. I'm also a computer engineer, so I'm very direct. So please don't don't,

Brian (38m 13s):

Oh, you've been fine. Okay. I appreciate it. We like direct

Alan (38m 16s):

All, right? I like it. Good, good, good. Yeah, I just, I, I've been very villainized in the past for telling hard truths very directly. But I actually care. I wanna see you, you win. So to, to break a habit, what I had to do was I had to replace it with something I cared about more and I had to use pain to my advantage. So the pain of drinking, of not drinking became less than the pain of being outta shape. And the reason why is because I changed my association. So I started hanging out with Matt, Nate and Kevin, my business partner Kevin. They were all bodybuilders. They were all in great shape. I mean ridiculous shape, like freak of nature shape.

Alan (38m 58s):

Okay. I, they're, they're my max is Matt's warmup, so he's doing a war, right? That kind of thing. So I just put myself in the arena where if I drink at all, I'm screwed. I can't hang with these guys, right? And So, they can drink all they want and still crush me in this 'cause this is their arena. And so I kind of got the, I got it to be more painful to drink than not to drink. And that's what you have to do. You get leverage on yourself. I do this all the time with my clients. We call it a commitment device. What I say is, I'm gonna charge you double for this session. And if you don't track your habits and exercise every day until our next session, you never get your money back.

Alan (39m 41s):

I've done this dozens of times. No one has ever failed.

Brian (39m 45s):

I like that

Alan (39m 46s):

We will do more to avoid pain than we will to gain a six pack. It's human nature. It's called loss aversion. You'll do more to make sure no one steals from you than you will, even though there's a thousand bucks at that next client that you're not prospecting. We, we, we are very much wired to avoid pain at all costs. So you have to put yourself in the pressure cooker of making it more painful. Two types of people. One person says, I wanna run every day for my good health. That person's not gonna run every day. Other person signs up for a half marathon in 90 days, invites their, all their friends and family and their spouse.

Alan (40m 26s):

They're gonna run every single day because they don't wanna let the team down. Yeah. And so you, I'm very grateful. I don't wanna let my clients down. I don't wanna let my NLU team down. I am responsible indirectly for the success of 42 people. I 43 people, Now, I, don't wanna let them down. So Now I have all the accountability. How dare I tell you to exercise when I'm not exercising? So you have to create these feedback loops of pain, micro pain for macro success versus the pain that's gonna come from regret later when you, when you let yourself down.

Brian (41m 3s):

Yeah, that's a great point. And and to your point, like booking a marathon or booking a competition can really put people into action. 'cause they don't wanna go into that like feeling like they are, are embarrassed or they didn't succeed at it. And that can really push them to do it.

Alan (41m 26s):

A hundred percent. When I did fitness competitions, the last things you, the last thing you wanna do is show up on stage outta shape and get laughed off stage. Unfortunately, I did that two outta three times. No, I wasn't, I wasn't that outta shape. I think I came in fourth and then third, but

Brian (41m 44s):


Alan (41m 44s):

Not, so I thought, I thought I would win. I was, I was delusional, but I did win my second one. And the irony on that is I thought that was the one I was gonna lose. So I was playing scared and actually humble. So I actually won that one. Whereas the other ones I thought I'd win and I lost. That's a, that's a paradox, but you've gotta put yourself at risk and not so much risk that you crumble under the pressure. Because if you say I'm gonna do a marathon in 10 days, you're screwed because you haven't trained. And I did that on a whim. I did a full marathon in, in three days notice, dehydrated. I was trying to make weight. It was a whole story. But it was, the half marathon was actually pretty easy. The the full marathon was awful. I lost six pounds in, in one marathon.

Alan (42m 25s):

Oh my God. And I was crawling metaphorically. I was, I was running, but barely across the finish line. It was horrible. But the point I'm making is, you, you can't put yourself in so much pressure that you buckle, but you have to have enough pressure where you're accountable.

Brian (42m 39s):

Yeah, makes sense. I always say if you don't, if you have a kid and you don't want 'em to do something, expose, well, I don't know. Like for example, like I was exposed early on. I think I had, I've had one cigarette in my whole life. Okay. And I was a freshman in high school, I'll never forget it. And I got sick, like ba like dizzy, like just nauseous. That was it. Never touched it again. That's the end. That's the end.

Alan (43m 5s):

I wish I had gotten sick. My first clove back in my day it was cloves. Ah, okay. So cool.

Brian (43m 12s):

Yeah. Yeah. So I sometimes, yeah, sometimes when you sort of shock yourself and or you, you have such a bad experience, you just don't wanna do it again. A

Alan (43m 21s):

Hundred percent. I, I had sushi and I got sick and I don't even know if it was linked to the sushi, but I, I love sushi. It's like my favorite food in the world. I haven't even had it since. Mm. It, I just have this aversion now, right? And so sometimes you can do that to yourself, but that takes a lot of guts and a lot of people make fun of you 'cause they think you're masochistic. But honestly, you gotta look at their lives, right? You gotta look. It would, it would be nice for me to say getting fit is easy. That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Getting fit and staying fit is the hardest thing ever. It's, it's unreasonable. That's why no one does it. 80% of Americans are overweight, but yet everyone's talking.

Alan (44m 2s):

You gotta get back to like the truth. I'm very big on the truth. I've, I've been very much a social coward in my life and I'm done with it. I just wanna tell the truth. Being fit is ridiculously difficult. That's why half these influencers are on drugs and still photoshopping their stuff. Yeah. No one, no one is in isn't in insecure on the beach. I don't care who you are. I was in the best shape ever. I won a fitness show and I still had some insecurities, right? My calves are a little not that. Okay, so just, you're not alone. You're so not alone. It's not even funny. I coach so many people, there's not a single one of them that isn't insecure behind the scenes. They just hide their insecurities publicly because people are bullies, right? So you're not alone. And, and if you do the simple things that are hard to do and you're consistent with them, you'll have great results and you'll build self-esteem.

Alan (44m 49s):

But there's no shortcuts. Shortcuts are for the birds.

Brian (44m 53s):

Love that. Yeah. This is great. Alan, I asked this question to everyone that comes on. What, what would you, what one tip would you give an individual who's look to maybe get their body or their minds back to what it once was like 10, 15 years ago?

Alan (45m 14s):

You know, I love the question. I get that question, not that question specifically, but I get a question often. Like, if you could give yourself one, one piece of advice, and I love it. I think it's a good question. I'm not, I'm not against that question. I used to ask that question in fact, but the answer's hard because there's so many. But if I had to give one, it's the unsexy one. Ha. I've been habit tracking for nine years. I used to carry around these little black notebooks. They're actually over here in the corner of my office. And now we use Google sheets and all my, I track all my habits of all my clients and my whole team tracks habits now. And I've been, I've been tracking habits for nine years and it's kind of a meta habit because it's a habit about habits,

Brian (45m 57s):


Alan (45m 59s):

But if you were to, I always say you have to take something away before you know it's value. It's like if you work out with AirPods and then you forget your AirPods, you are like, oh, this is the worst. Now you know the value of the AirPods right now, you know why you spent two 50 bucks

Brian (46m 13s):

On those things. Funny. It's funny you say that 'cause I'm like old. I don't know if it's old school, but I don't, I don't wear earbuds when I work out. I'm just Now I just don't do it. But everyone else does. So it's like everyone else is in their own world. And then I'm in my own world because no one else is gonna talk to me. So it's like sort of doing, yeah. Anyways, but

Alan (46m 31s):

That's funny, funny. Yeah. You don't, you don't need earbuds because everyone else is in theirs. Yeah.

Brian (46m 35s):

That's funny.

Alan (46m 37s):

Yeah. The, the only place I don't like to talk is the gym. you know, Emelia and I do sign language. What's what's number, how many sets? Yeah. Down, up, down. We literally don't talk, but we work out together every single day. That's we, we, we do cardio every other day and then weight training every other day. We're actually, I I used to not share this 'cause it's, it's ridiculous when people think you're arrogant. But So, we haven't missed a day in two and a half years. Yeah. So we've been tracking, we started a little fit challenge way back. But again, back to the original question. Habit tracking. Habit tracking, just, just what's the one keystone habit? The one habit that you've never been able to conquer? For me, in 2023, it was writing. I couldn't write to save my life.

Alan (47m 19s):

I would do it for a week and then fall off. I'd do it for three days and I'd fall off. I'd do it for two days and I'd fall off. And I, in 2024, I said, I'm writing, this is the year of writing, I'm gonna go a whole effing year and I'm not missing. And I said it to all my team, I said it to Emelia and I haven't missed yet in 2024. And I've in 20 minutes a day, it's not two hours. There's no way you can sustain that. It's, and even the exercise thing, it's only a half hour. I've tried more than a

Brian (47m 45s):

Half hour. What are you writing for? Are you writing a book or, or,

Alan (47m 47s):

Yeah, so I have a blog on my LinkedIn. There's 17 blogs. It's articles. And I'm eventually gonna combine those into a smart, into a book. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. They're, they're, it's helping me communicate more effectively. 'cause my engineering brain is, is mathematical focused and it's hard for me to communicate. I used to think,

Brian (48m 8s):

I'll say I wrote a book The Step Later System. I wrote a kid's book years ago, 2017. I wrote a kid's book. Nice. That was really easy. 'cause you know, But, it was fun. That was more like healthy habits for kids. And actually you had my nieces and nephews as characters in the book, which was good for you. Yeah, it was fun. I always say if you just wanna feel like, like LeBron James for like a year, just write like a kid's book and then just go sign it at elementary schools and you'll feel like you're like, like an all star of, you know, anyways. And then I wrote a adult book on like, you know, healthy habits and fitness called a Step layer system. But I will say it was my ideas, but I did get help with that. I, you know, I helped with like a ghost writer just to help me.

Brian (48m 50s):


Alan (48m 50s):

I haven't

Brian (48m 51s):

Editor take those words and put it on paper, but

Alan (48m 53s):

Yeah. Good for you. Good for you. It's, it's a hell of a thing. I'm writing it all myself, but I, my editor Jerry Ann is, is helping me. She's much, we call her the grammar goddess.

Brian (49m 3s):


Alan (49m 4s):

Yeah. She knows the grammar really well. Apparently you're supposed to write out, so like one through 10 you have to actually write it out. But anything above 10 you can do the number for. And for me as a computer engineer, I would just use the numbers.

Brian (49m 18s):


Alan (49m 18s):

So in my blog from zero to 10, she's like, well you gotta do zero to 10 and actually write it out. It's weird. But anyways, to answer your original question, one tip, habit tracking. I don't care if it's one habit, three habits, six habits, I'm actually at doing 22 habits a day. I don't recommend starting there. I started out very small and I just let it grow. I let it grow and pick. You have

Brian (49m 39s):

A tool that you use? Do

Alan (49m 40s):

You? I use, so I use Google Sheets. We also have an app.

Brian (49m 44s):


Alan (49m 44s):

We have an app at NLU, it's called Optimal.

Brian (49m 46s):

Oh nice,

Alan (49m 47s):

Okay. Yeah. It's called Optimal. People can reach out if they want the app. It's free. There's a paid version obviously, but you, I think up to 12 habits is free

Brian (49m 56s):

Optimal. It's

Alan (49m 57s):

Called, it's called Optimal OPT. Yeah. you know, optimal, I think I read the, you had the word optimal in your description on your podcast.

Brian (50m 7s):

Yeah, I like that. I like that. So just start tracking, start small and you just check off the boxes every day. Check.

Alan (50m 15s):

And, and we do zero, 0.5 and one. So red, yellow, green on the app. Let's say it's 30 minutes of exercise. If you do none of it, you get red. If you do 15 minutes, you get yellow. If you do a half an hour, you get green.

Brian (50m 33s):


Alan (50m 34s):

And, and if you do Google Sheets, I can send you a Google sheet tracker too if you want. And there's something called TPO, total Productive output. AKA did you, it's just a percentage. Here's what you said you were gonna do. You did 80% of what you said you were gonna do. And a lot of people, they freak out with that 80% of a well-designed today is better than a hundred percent of an undesigned one. Right? So you gotta overcome this failure bias, this whole, well 80, 80 is a B. That's not good. No, no, no, not with habit tracking 80% of your habits is good. And not only do you improve your execution of the habits, but you also improve the system. So you're improving the improvements now.

Alan (51m 15s):

You're compounding the compounding. And I'm telling you, you won't even recognize yourself 5, 10, 15 years later.

Brian (51m 21s):

Love that. So where's the best place for people to find you? Alan

Alan (51m 27s):

So. we have a website called next level universe.com. That's universe, not university, because our podcast is actually next level University. That's everywhere you find that. Anywhere. I have, I'm on LinkedIn, I'm on Instagram, I'm on Facebook. Those are the only three I use. I think at this stage. You can email me, Alan, a LAN, at next level universe.com. If any of this intrigued you, you want accountability, you want coaching, you want habit tracking, you want to do any of that stuff, let me know and just please provide context. 'cause like all of us, I get a lot of spam.

Brian (52m 5s):

Yeah. Okay. I'm checking out your website now and your app. That's awesome. Thank you. Love it. Well, Alan, this was great. Tons of great tips and I'm, I'm glad to have you on and I'll definitely put Links in the show notes for everybody to, to find Alan and, and seek out assistance. 'cause we all could use assistance in coaching. And thanks for coming on the podcast.

Alan (52m 30s):

Brian, thank you for having me. This has been awesome breath of fresh air. You're very clearly a humble dude who's putting in work. I appreciate it. Keep inspiring, keep motivating. I think the, the world needs more of this. I, as a kid, if I had a podcast like this, things would've been a lot different. you know what I mean? So thank you.

Brian (52m 48s):

Well, thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for listening to the GETLEAN E Clean podcast. I understand there are millions of other podcasts out there, and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes@briangrin.com for everything that was mentioned in this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again and have a great day.

Alan Lazaros

With a powerful combination of technical expertise and business acumen, I am a Business Coach, Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker specializing in helping businesses maximize their growth, impact, and profitability online.

I lead a global team of 21 people, and I’m quickly approaching my 10,000 hours of speaking, podcasting, training, and coaching individuals from all walks of life.


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