Turning 40 and Realizing Mental and Physical Health Are Inseparable
After his college soccer career ended, Marc Paisant proceeded down a path that led to his being more than 100 pounds overweight and struggling with his mental health. Marc shares his journey to prioritizing his mental and physical health through discipline and intentional progress. He discusses the epiphany he had about the importance of self-care and how it transformed his approach to work and personal life. For years, he would work on either his mental health or his physical health, but that didn’t get him where he wanted to be. Today, he’s learned that prioritizing both his mental and physical health together allows him to live his best life.
Marc Paisant is a Certified Personal Trainer and the creator/host of the Relatively Normal podcast. He is also the host of the 6AMRun.com podcast. In his show, he shares his experiences with ADHD, anxiety and depression. He shows that no one is alone and there is always someone willing to listen and assist when it comes to coping and managing all kinds of stress. He is an advocate for therapy and counseling and talks about his years of therapy that he has used to manage his mental health.
As a former collegiate athlete, Marc uses physical fitness to assist with his mental health. He has learned that both can be combined and used to help work through any life issue. His goal is to inspire others to ask for help and to end the stigma when it comes to mental health and awareness.
Marc Paisant was a childhood and college athlete, which meant that there was always someone hassling him to work out. As a skinny kid who struggled to put on weight, he ate a lot. But once he left college and slid into the young-adulthood, he realized that there was no one to make him work out, or to hold him accountable. He was also at the age where he thought his metabolism would never slow down and he could still eat anything he wanted. And, he was working a sedentary job, spending 40 or 50 hours a week meeting expectations.
The weight started to accumulate 10 or 15 pounds at a time but he convinced himself that if he was still wearing clothes that you could buy at the store, it wasn’t a problem. Except for the pain in his knees, the swollen ankles, the way his back hurt when he got out of bed and he was sweating all the time. That’s what gaining more than 100 pounds will do to a guy, even if in his early 30s.
He remembers looking at the scale and thinking: “how did you let this happen?” Thus began his fitness journey, which started with running and eventually encompassed changing how and what he eats.
At every point in his life, Marc didn’t like the body he had. He either wanted to be bigger and have more muscles, or be smaller and have less fat. But one day he realized that he didn’t get to choose the body he rides around in, and since he can’t swap it out, he’s spending a lot of energy hating something he can’t change. But that perspective came much later – only recently, in fact. And it came with the help of both a therapist and a personal trainer – two coaches who helped him take control of both his mental and physical health.
“I started to combine my mental and physical health. And it’s like, ‘you know what, Marc, you’re alright. You’re a good dude. You’re cool. You’re fine the way you are.’ And I started listening to that and it’s taken me to places mentally and physically I’ve never, ever been before. I’m in the best shape of my life as a 43 year old, mentally and physically. And that’s so weird to say for someone who played college soccer.”
In this episode:
- How Marc found himself more than 100 pounds overweight and how he started his journey to physical fitness.
- How being a people pleaser may have hampered his happiness and success.
- How he gained some perspective on work/life balance and how he manages to find it now.
- How focusing on mental health or physical fitness one at a time didn’t get Marc where he wanted to be.
- How Marc transitioned from wanting to be like everyone else to wanting to be “relatively normal” and how that shift made all the difference.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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Stephanie: Hi Mark. Thanks for being here. I'm so happy to have you on The 40 Drinks Podcast.
Marc: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited about this conversation.
Stephanie: Me too, me too. As I get into these conversations, I love that I get to meet strangers and then jump straight over the Hi, how are you, finding common ground stuff and just jump into like, tell me really gooey things about your life. It's just the coolest thing, so,
Marc: Yeah, you put a screen and a mic in front of people and they will tell you anything, me included. So thanks having me.
Stephanie: It's true. Let's just jump right in. Why don't you start by just telling me a little bit about your formative adult years.
Marc: Yes. So, graduated from college. I am a Clemson Tiger, and after that moved directly up to the DC area to be with my girlfriend, now my wife, took a job and did the whole, I'm trying to get used to the world type thing. Like, oh no, these bills are mine now. Oh no. I should go to sleep at a good time. I probably should eat healthy. But yeah, I didn't do any of that stuff. Through my twenties, it was just filled with going out too much, spending too much money that I didn't have, not worrying about anything mentally just figuring I'd be okay at the end, gaining a bunch of weight after being a college athlete. Then, I got married, had kids. Checked all the boxes, had a job, bought a house, and still something was missing. I turned to therapy, a lot of therapy, and some physical training and a lot of running, a few surgeries in there to help me with that and move back down to this area. I'm in Georgia now where my wife, my two kids, nine and seven, a dog, a cat, now another cat. all live in a nice single family house. My kids go to good schools. My wife and I work and, this is me. This is me now.
Stephanie: Well, it sounds a little bit like the American dream, my friend.
Marc: It does sound like that. The one thing they don't tell you is that each American dream is unique. You can't just rely on what you've been taught or what somebody else has done, but you kind of gotta pave your own way. So that's what we're trying to do right now.
Stephanie: Yeah, I'm really interested in the fact that you were a college athlete and then you graduate college and like every other red-blooded American 20 something, you just popped off to life in general, having fun, doing things following your nose, and a lot of things get left by the wayside. And for you, fitness was a big one.
Marc: It was, and the thing that got me the most, and looking back, this was huge, is that my entire childhood, teenage years, my young adult years in college, I always had someone to make me stay in shape. I always had someone to set my schedule. I always had someone to keep me accountable. I never did that for myself, I wasn't the person that stayed after practice to run more. I wasn't the person that stayed to shoot more baskets or anything like that. So I was just on their schedule. Once I graduated, I wasn't on anyone's schedule. And I thought that my metabolism wouldn't slow down. I thought I could still eat everything. I thought those calories were just gonna go away by me living. Um, and that wasn't the case. So, combine that with a job that now I have to be somewhere between 40 and 50 hours a week, that people are judging me on my performance. Yeah, that was , that was eye-opening for me. It kind of hit me hard and I paid the price for it, but, you know, every day I'm, I'm thankful for it because it kind of gave me the guidance to be the person I am right now.
Stephanie: Sure, sure. With regards to the weight gain, it was big for you.
Marc: It was huge for me, no pun intended, I was always a skinny kid. I could not put on weight. My brother and I both played soccer and basketball. I have a twin brother and he played soccer at the Naval Academy and we were always at a practice. We were always at a game. We were always at some sort of training session. And even when I go to the gym, when I got into high school and we'd actually have gym sessions, like I could not put on weight. I was the skinniest kid ever. And I ate a lot. Like to this day, I have no idea how my parents afforded the money that my brother and I ate. So with this mentality, I'm thinking it's just going to be like this for the rest of my life. You know, I gained the first 20 pounds in my senior year of college, and I really didn't think much about it 'cause I wore big clothes anyway, so the stuff still fit me. But then I started gaining, you know, another 10 pounds here, 15 pounds there. And I'm like, well, if they make the clothes, and this is how I tricked myself, if they make my size clothes, then I'm fine. And the waist goes from having a three in front of it to having a four in front of it. And you're like, they still make my clothes. But then you're realizing my back hurts to get out of bed. I have swollen ankles all the time. My knees hurt to walk, I'm sweating all the time. Maybe I need to start focusing on that fitness aspect because at this point in my life, I'm talking about, you know, late twenties, early thirties, I wanted to have kids with my wife and I wanted to be around for them. I wanted to be able to play with them. I wanted to be able to be a good dad and I couldn't have done that in the body that I used to be in.
Stephanie: You said you total gained about a hundred pounds.
Marc: I gained, this is giving specifics 'cause at my playing weight in college I was, I'm six five, I'm pretty tall. But at my playing weight, I was anywhere between 1 95 and 2 0 5. I was a skinny person.
Marc: At my heaviest that I, and this might not be my heaviest, but it's the heaviest I weighed myself was 3 21.
Marc: And I remember looking down on that scale and just thinking like, "How, how did you let this happen? How like this, this isn't cool, Marc. Why would you do this to yourself?" And um, that kind of put me on a path to where I am today.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Well, interesting. I didn't realize you were so tall. I am relatively tall for a woman. I'm five nine and the thing about tall people is they can hold weight better than shorter people can, and it's not as obvious and you can hide it in places. So I bet there was a, a period in time where it wasn't that big a deal because you're six foot five and skinny. So, you know, there's a long way between that and being at Whoa weight.
Marc: You don't know how many times I heard, "Oh, you, you carry it well." Well, when I was six five and 270, or 280 and 290, and again, if I was an NFL football player and I worked out every day and I had those numbers, that's one thing. And let's be honest, like as a man, it's a little easier for me just throwing jeans in a collared shirt and for people to say, "Oh, you look nice." I understand that I'm not, I'm not blind, but I used to really be upset by that comment, I would never show it, but I used to be upset by that comment because that's not a person telling you, "Oh, you are big," or "You're overweight," or "You need to lose some weight, you need to take care of yourself." That's a person saying, "Oh, you know, you got some extra weight, but it's all right, you're tall." And looking back, you're like, no, that's probably not a great thing to say to somebody, but people are being nice. I understand that.
Stephanie: Right. But it's a pretty backhanded comment when you're on when you're on the receiving end. the receiving end
Marc: Yes. yes. Oh, you're a big guy, but no, no, no, you wear it nice. I tell my wife now, I'm like, "If I ever get to a point where I'm getting close to that or you see me like, you need to be mean, not mean, but you need to be direct with me. You need to tell me this. If you love me, I might be upset at first. I might have my feelings hurt, but that's your job." And she's like, "If I tell you that, you're gonna be so mad." I'm like, so be it. Like, so be it. You're saving my life."
Stephanie: Right, We're partners here and if I need some help, it's your job to help. Even if I get defensive.
Marc: Correct. And I will, I know I will. I'm sensitive. I'll Oh, we're human. But gimme a few hours. Gimme a day or two and, and I'll come talk to you and say, you know what, you're absolutely right. So
Stephanie: you're in your early thirties, you are somewhere near your highest weight, and you realize that it's time to get a handle on this and bring it back under control. What kind of things do you.
Marc: I love this part of it because it's ultra embarrassing, but it's also, it brings kind of levity to the story. So I get to a point where two of my counterparts at work are both getting in shape. One is already in shape, but he's like going to the gym and the other one is losing weight and I want get in on it. And, you know, they're motivating me. So my dad was a runner and my brother ran and I'm like, "You know what? I wanna be those cool guys in the short shorts and the tank tops and the cool Asics and New Balance and whatever, I wanna be a runner." So one day at work, we lived in an apartment. I stopped working at 4:30, I stopped working and said, "Go for a run." 'Cause in my brain I'm still feeling like that college athlete. I said, "Go for a run." So I start running and I'm in honestly, I'm in like basketball shorts and a t-shirt and some Nike running shoes, which did not provide the support I needed. I learned this later. But I run a half a mile, and so I'm pretty tall. There was a stop sign at the end of this road and I put my hand on the stop sign and I hunch over like I have been running for hours and I am so out of breath. I'm surprised no one called like the cops or the fire department or the EMS, somebody to help me because I can't breathe. I cannot breathe, and I have to walk back home. And this is the time where I'm like, what happened? What? Hold on. And I walk by this bus and it has the mirrored windows on it, and I look at myself while I'm walking. And I just, I'm in disgust of what I see. Like I'm very upset with myself and, and I'm saying that lightly. There were words said that I cannot say on your show.
Marc: But I told myself, you know what? I'm gonna run by here every day. I'm gonna run by these mirrored windows, my reflection, every day. And I'm not going to stop until I like what I see in the mirror. And that's true, I did that and that was the route I ran almost every day. I started this right after Christmas. I started this January 17th, 18th about that time. And by September of that year I had lost 75 pounds and I had changed my diet, changed my eating, thanks to my wife. She downloaded this app for me and everything I ate, I would report it and the things I thought were healthy. She's like, "Check the sodium count on that, check the fat count on that." I'm a big guy, eat a full, you know, foot long sandwich. And she's like, "Check the calories on that." Like, totally changed my perspective on food and my portions. So that was the first part of this journey.
Marc: I say all the time that running saved my life, I believe it did because it allowed me to actually get down to a weight that was manageable. I know my blood pressure went down. I probably was pre-diabetic and I also know that all my joints felt much better with the weight off. Like, my ankles aren't swollen. Cause I had ankle surgery in college and you know, I go to the gym now and I'll pick up a 75 pound weight or a hundred pound weight and I'm like, "How did I carry this? how did I carry this around?" Like, this is terrible.
Stephanie: You lost like a 10 year old.
Marc: Yes. Yeah, I did. Yeah, absolutely right. I did like a piggyback every day. II can't do that. Like my back, I haven't had back issues in over a decade, my knees feel great, everything feels great. So yeah, I think running definitely saved my life.
Stephanie: One of the things you said to me when we first connected was you wanted to accept the body you were given.
Stephanie: Tell me how that fits into this, you know, up and down.
Marc: This goes back to when I was a kid and my brother and I we're twins, but we're fraternal, so we have a different body type. You can tell that we're brothers and you really can tell we're twins when we're together, 'cause we're pretty stupid together. We share a brain. We're pretty dumb get together, but on the surface, you see two of us and I'm just this thin, skinny, can hula hoop with a cheerio, hide behind a mic stand, all the jokes. I've heard all of them. And my brother is like, muscular and built. And just for people who can't see this, he has a full head of hair. I am bald right now. I'm thinking as a kid, I want what he has. Like, I want that. And as I get older, he stays fit, he's in the Navy, you know, the comparisons stay there.
Marc: And every part of my life, I just didn't like the body I had, I either wanted to be bigger, I wanted to have more muscles, or I wanted to be smaller and have less fat. Like, and no part of my life did I really like the body I was given. I mean, you name it, had the five head as a kid, I started losing hair when I was in high school and college, flat feet, like everything, every negative thing you can say about a body I thought I had. And so this would entail, I'd wear multiple layers for no reason, shirt over shirt, jacket, you know, try to layer to make it look good. And, I'm going through the process I am in now in my fitness journey and, you know, there's loose skin on my body. And I've come to accept that. And I just remember thinking like, I didn't choose this body, this is a gift. I was given this body and I can't swap it. You know, people can have plastic surgery all this stuff, but I can't swap this, so what is the point of hating this thing? What is the point of not being able to enjoy this body that I'm in? And this didn't happen, I'm 43 now, this literally didn't happen until 18, 24 months ago, two years. This has been a, this has been, now, this has been in my forties,
Stephanie: Right. And you lost the weight in your early to mid thirties, so that was another seven or eight or nine years before you were...
Marc: Exactly. in, you know, a part of this story that I don't tell a lot is that I had a surgery. I, I had a bone in my foot I had to get taken care of. And, and when I get back to running, my main focus is just like lose weight, lose weight, lose weight. And, I'm eating a thousand calories a day. I'm burning 2000 calories a day, so I get down to 206 pounds.
Stephanie: Enough. Yeah. Stop.
Marc: I even had friends that were like, "Okay, like, we get it, but enough. Enough." And in my head, I couldn't get skinny enough. I couldn't do it because I'm still like hating the body I'm in and hating the person I used to be, hating myself for getting big, hating myself for overeating, hating myself for quitting. Everything is like culminating. And it wasn't until Covid hits and I gained some weight back because I think that was the trend during Covid. But, at the tail end of Covid my wife and I start getting back in shape. And I finally tell myself, "You've had a therapist for your mental health. Like, why not do the same for your physical health? Like, you don't know what you're doing half the time. Like why not get a personal trainer?" And I got one and it totally changed my perspective on how to look at my body, how to manage my weight, how to look at the numbers on the scale, or not look at the numbers on the scale. And I started to combine my mental and physical health. And it's like, you know what, Marc, you're all right. You're a good dude. You're cool. You're fine the way you are. And I started listening to that and it's taken me to places mentally and physically I've never, ever been before. I'm in the best shape of my life as a 43 year old, mentally and physically. And that's so weird to say for someone who played college soccer, you know, that's weird to say.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It's wonderful though. Tell me a little bit about the personal trainer and how they helped you shift your thinking. What was that about?
Marc: Well, first, Brian is very mean to me, and he makes me do things I don't wanna do, so much that I signed up for a second six months with him. But you know, I went for my, you know, the physical, they, they do the kind of the, the first day where they kind of gauge where you're at. The only endurance I had was running. Like, I could go out and run a 5k. Like, can you a, like, you want me to bench press something? Like, no, I, I can't, I didn't have that .
Stephanie: You want me to pick up a gallon of milk?
Marc: Yeah. It's like, it's like how much, like when they ask how much can you bench? My answer was just no. Like, no, I don't do that. The guy who's the manager puts me with a specific trainer and says, I'm gonna put you with him because you're a former athlete. And I know why he did it now because, well one, because Brian told me like, he should have never told me you were athlete. Cause I'm about to ruin you. I'm like, that's not how you probably wanna start. But, I understand what you're saying. Like he, and he doesn't mince his words. Like he's a great guy. We're friends now, but you know, one of the things that he told me, he's pushing me and there's things in the gym he's having me do that I can't get through full sets of, So if I was doing it, I would've quit. I would've stopped. And that's the great thing about trainers, because therapists will get you to think about things that you don't want to think about, talk about things you don't wanna talk about. Physical trainers will test your limits, how you won't do it. Like one more is something that a lot of us won't do to ourselves. So that's why I got him. And the biggest piece of advice, and I wouldn't even call his advice that he told me, I remember the first few months that I was seeing, um, some, some definition and, and some changes in my body. I went to him and I talked about the scale and I said, "You know, I started with you at this weight and now I'm this weight and I don't understand." And he said, "Don't, don't look at that. Don't look at the scale like it will, it will mess you up. It will take you away from your goal." He's like, "Just come here, continue what you're doing." He saw the hard work I was putting in and he's like, "Don't worry about that scale at all." And that was the first time in my life that someone who was talking to me about weight and talking to me about physical appearance said, " Don't look at that scale," and it talk about like paradigm shifts and all the cliche reframing, everything you can think about. It totally changed the way I looked at physical fitness.
Stephanie: I agree completely. The scale just messes with your head. So what kind of things did he want you to replace that with to measure your progress?
Marc: You know, I think the biggest answer and the only answer to that is feeling. Like, literally feeling. How are you feeling? Because for a guy who pushes me past my limits, like he is very good to ask me how I'm feeling the days we're working out. I tweaked my shoulder a few months ago, and he's really good asking me, how's the shoulder feeling? Wanna make sure, like, it's weird that someone, it's not weird, but to me it's weird that someone would just want to know how my body was reacting versus, what numbers were telling me, or what a BMI was telling me. There's numbers we have to worry about, like, of course you wanna look at your cholesterol, your LDLs, things like that, your blood pressure, wanna look at your heart, your oxygen, all that. Those are specific scientific, you know, doctor numbers we need to look at. But when it comes to how we're obsessed with that scale and how we're obsessed with BMI, when those two things do not tell you how your body's feeling, like the scale doesn't tell you that your proteins and your amino acids and your, and your muscles and your bone density and everything. Like, it doesn't tell you that your hair is coming in better because of the collagen and the protein and like, it doesn't tell you any of that.
Stephanie: Yeah. It doesn't tell you, that doesn't tell you it's easier to wake up in the morning or to get out of bed.
Marc: Ah, yes, yes. Or to even sleep or just to you get better sleep. Like it's, it's amazing. And I, I'm upset with the fact that it took me this long into my forties, but I'm also excited in the fact that I learned it, period. And that's what I'm trying to help other people with.
Stephanie: It's just such an American thing, this whole body image and body and what we're supposed to look like and how all the things we think are wrong with us, 'cause they don't look like a picture that was put in a magazine or on a TV show. I mean, it's really, really challenging. And it really does require a solid core personally, right, to withstand those mass media images. But now that you are working, I won't say on the other side of it because I'm sure it's a lifelong, endeavor, but what's your favorite part of your body?
Marc: Oh my God. Um, uh, uh, well, I will, I will answer your question, but I, I, I wanna say this, um, I didn't really start understanding how awesome my body was until I really started focusing on core, and if there are males listening to this, I just want, I wanna talk to you real quick and I'm gonna answer your question. Like, don't just do the bench press. Like, I understand that's the cool thing to do. Like core and lower body, and I'll go ahead and say it like I never had a, a butt, I never had a backside ever. And I could sit here and tell you it's my shoulders, it's my abs, it's my chest, all that stuff. I was doing R DLs last week.
Stephanie: I don't...what's a RDL?
Marc: Romanian, deadlift, straight leg deadlift. And I was recording myselfjust to see my progress and to maybe post it to my website, all that good stuff. And I looked at the, the video, I'm like, "Wait a second, is that, is that a butt? Is that, wait a second." And I like immediately like, like sent it to somebody. I'm like, "Hey, do I. I do, don't I?" And it, so you got it outta me, I like the fact that I actually have a butt that fits in jeans, so there you go. Your audience can, can enjoy Marc Paisant mentioned
Stephanie: I don't know about the audience, but I am like savoring this. This is amazing. Good for you. Congratulations. It's interesting. I've said this before, but the last couple of years I have been managing, I always have to think about my words. I have been managing, chronic illness, chronic Lyme disease. And so it's had me debilitated and I can't do anywhere near what I want to do. And if we're focusing on physical fitness, one of the things that I did for five or six years before I got sick was aerial circus. So the, the, the silk ribbons. And, and I loved it. I wasn't great at it, but I just loved to do it. Um, oh, that's an everything.
Stephanie: Yeah. And so my goal at some point is to get back to that someday, but you get so down on yourself and your body and you feel bad about everything. And there are days I, I have to sit and just say, "You know what, these are the legs that carry me. They are carrying me through this. And they made it up these stairs and this is the body that has been a goddamn warrior over these last five years." So it's interesting, it's the negative to the positive. It's, you know, you gotta look at it the positive way. And you gotta give yourself, props for
Stephanie: every last achievement that you've clawed and fought for.
Marc: Yes, absolutely. What I know what I call it and what a lot of people call it, is giving people their flowers when they're here. And I'm good at doing that with other people, and I was bad at doing it with myself, and I'm still not great at it. You're not gonna get me on this show, and I'm not gonna hype myself up for 30 minutes or 45 minutes. I'm not gonna be that guy. But at the same time, it's like I look at how much progress I've made and. I look at how I've actually stayed with this, and it's like, Marc, you're a badass. Like you're pretty cool man. I was up at 4:00 AM this morning to get to the gym at five and before I didn't know 4:00 AM even existed. Unless I was up the night before. Like first time I was like, "People come here, that's ridiculous." But now it's like, I have friends that are there at 5:15 with me. And the funny part about that is I didn't even set my alarm. I was planning on going later in the day, but I just got up and my body was like, "Hey, you wanna go work out?" I'm like, "You know what? Hell yeah, let's go work out." So, yeah, that's a pretty cool thing that I'm able to do that now. And it starts my day off on a very good foot and I feel awesome that this has become a part of me. This isn't what I, this isn't something that I do, or something that I have fun or hobby, like this is a part of my life. It makes me who I am.
Stephanie: Yep. I love that.
Stephanie: You've said a couple of times that throughout your years, you've done a bunch of therapy and I wanna hear a little bit about you being a yes man and a people pleaser and where that came from and how you've managed that.
Marc: You know, I don't know exactly where that came from. You know, as a kidI always got a lot of joy in seeing other people happy. Like I always did. I was that kid that would give you the shirt off my back, even if it was the last one I had. I was a happy-go-lucky kid. I just thought the world is awesome. Like it's great to be here. Other than the fact that I wanted to be, you know, bigger and stronger and faster, I was absolutely goofy, fun-loving kid. And I love to make people laugh.
Marc: And people who were close to me as I grew up realized that, you know what, you're masking something a lot of the time when you're just saying yes to people, when you're just making us laugh, like we never see you sad. Like, that's weird. The times you are quiet, we think something's wrong with you. So as I'm growing up, I'm seeing how happiness of other people makes me feel. So there was never that internal thought to make myself happy. There was always, if I make this person happy, if I say yes to their request, yes to their demand, if I can get this done double time, then they'll be happy, then I'll be happy.
Marc: And for anybody who's in that cycle right now, I cannot tell you how just absolutely infuriating and how draining and just how much that negatively affects you. So, as I get into the workforce, I say yes to everything. I don't push back. So think about that for a second. Someone can say, "Marc, you're doing a great job." I can say, "Thank you, I appreciate that." Or someone says, "Marc, you're doing a bad job." Thank you. I appreciate that. Even if I wasn't the one doing a bad job, even if I had a chance to defend myself, even if I had a chance to say, no, you're not understanding this, this, and this. It was just, okay, okay. I thought my voice didn't mean anything.
Marc: And what turns out is that I was holding so much of that in, holding so much of my own voice in that would burn out at jobs that I would have terrible relationships with close people. At home I would be ultra depressed where I was put on antidepressants. It's one of those things where if I could go back at a certain point in my life and just tell somebody "no" once is to see how it feels, maybe I would do that. So with therapy, I started young, I started in college, 'cause I felt like a small fish in a big pond. And then as I get into my older years, I get fired from a job that I thought I shouldn't have gotten fired from, but looking back, I definitely should have gotten fired from this job. It was a toxic environment, it was the best thing that happened to me. But I remember just being at a new job and like doing really well, but something was just bugging me. I just couldn't get through my days. I had an anxiety attack for the first time in my life, which was really weird while I was driving, which is really weird for me, and I said, I gotta do something.
Marc: And thank god, for Dr. Nedler who's in Virginia that we found each other and he was, very empathetic, sympathetic, a great listener. And people are like, "Oh, he's a therapist, he's supposed to be." Not all therapists are like this. Let's be honest. We're they're, they're human. But for someone to just like, take the time to check in on me to make sure the appointments, were a good time for me to let me know that I could tell people no and the world wouldn't end, I was like, "No, you're kidding. Like if I say, oh no, this whole place is gonna burn down." He's like, "No, Marc, you can have your boundaries." And I was like, "What? Say that again. Like, what word is that? Like, I I haven't heard that before. Like, are we playing a sport?"
Marc: He's like, "No, these are the things you need to work on." And he would be honest with me. He would give me work to do, give me homework, make me write down stuff that upset me, make me talk about the things I would say to people, to him. And slowly but surely I started, now I did slip up. The last job I had, I did slip a little bit. That was my, my monkey brain coming out. But I had a good friend who, who thinks a lot like me, who called me out and, and we had a few conversations. So, but that happens. So, do I still think of myself as a people pleaser? Yes, I do, but I won't go out of my way to just appease people anymore. Like, I want people to be happy. Like I want, that's part of the reason I do the things I do. Why I coach, why I mentor why I do my podcast, but if it doesn't add something to my life and you're just using me, like, no, I don't say yes to that anymore. It is a process. It is a process.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And we always have slip ups. Like you said at that job, you got lost for a minute and you went back to some old ways, but someone around you was able to point it out to you and you knew how to get back. You'd already climbed to the big mountain. Now it's a, it's a much smaller mountain to climb. Yeah. All right, so you've got this mental health journey,
Stephanie: which is therapy sort of on and off throughout a lot of years. And then you've got this physical fitness journey that you started in your mid thirties and have been following for a while. But you said to me that they were on sort of separate paths. You were usually focused on one or the other at any given point in time.
Marc: Yes. And, it would be times where I would really take my mental health seriously, even doing my show, I would take it seriously and I would say, "I need to make sure I take time today to journal. I need to take time today to meditate or to be mindful in the things that I do," and I would just go for a quick run. I would just go for a two three mile, one go quick run, come back. All right, got my workout done for the day, so I figured I'm good. And then there'd be other times where I would go for runs multiple times a week, feel really good, but jump right back into work or jump right back into, you know, the kids need me to do something and not spend any time on me. So I was either in really good physical shape or really good mental shape and at no point did I realize that they were connected. And I know that sounds really weird to some people, I know that does, but the mind body connection is crazy. It's true. It's amazing. It's awesome. I mean, how many times have you been ultra stressed and you just like, my shoulders are really sore? It's because you've been tense all day.
Marc: I'll give you an example. I used to give myself stomach aches so bad I had to go to the hospital 'cause I was so anxious. And even with those, I didn't realize that they're connected. I always thought, oh no, I must have eaten something. Oh no, I must have something wrong. And once I started with my personal trainer, I was really mindful about the stuff I was doing at the gym and, and about the times I was going to the gym. And I was really mindful about, is this going to bring me more stress or reduce my stress? I could tell you right now, if I go to the gym at six o'clock on a Monday, like it's going to give me so much anxiety 'cause everyone goes then.
Marc: But if I walk in, take my time at 5, 5:30, 6 o'clock on a Tuesday or Thursday, and I get to take my time, go to the sauna and just relax for a minute and have that me time and then go lift some heavy weights or go run and then do the same thing and come home and be relaxed. Like I did that the first time and I'm not saying everything went perfectly in my day, but it was stress free. Like any escalation call, any fire that needed to be put out, like I was clearheaded and I was relaxed and the end of my day, I didn't have that overly tired feeling that you get from like working really hard. I was like relaxed and my body was ready to go to sleep and I was like, there's something here. Because I wasn't the person just walking through the gym and just doing stuff mindlessly. I was mindful about the things I was doing and. I remember having a conversation just like you and I are conversation with my therapist at the time, great lady who was in Georgia, and I was explaining to, I was saying to you, I'm like, something like this just feels different. Just feels like that warm feeling. Like something like it's a cold day outside and there's like hot cocoa, a piece of warm apple pie, and just like a perfect circle of vanilla ice cream on top of it, and you have this blanket over you and you're gonna watch the worst romcom ever. Like everything about this just feels it. Just yes, yes. I don't wanna admit that I'm watching this movie like Sleepless in Seattle. Like, I don't wanna admit it, but it's like I'm engaged and she's like, you're growing as a person. You're finally listening to your body. You're finally listening to your mind, like you're finally listening to what they're telling you. You're not fighting anything and you're just taking it for what it's worth. And you're accepting the person you are and you're using your mental health. You're using your runs. You're using your weightlifting. You're using that to relax, and then you're going home and you're taking the time to do your affirmations and do your breathing because you wanna prepare your body for the next day.
Marc: And first of all, I told her you're very good at what you do. Like that's awesome. I appreciate that. But then just remember thinking like, I wanna stay here, like I wanna stay in this spot. But you have to realize like that there's, you can't stay there. Like you have to keep progressing. But that just means you have to be intentional with your progress. You have to be intentional with your maturity. In my forties now have to be intentional with my recovery, intentional with my sleep, intentional with the food I put in my body. And that, again, plays into all of this. So discipline, I think is the word that comes to mind as I got into this point in my life, 'cause I never had it before. Um, you know, Yo-yo dieting and yo-yo lifting all that stuff is people want to be motivated all the time. I wanted that sign somewhere. Oh, this is what I need to do. Those signs aren't there, like you are there. So you have to work on that discipline. And that's what I did.
Stephanie: So this is interesting. I wonder if this has any connection with that. One of the other things you mentioned to me in our original correspondence was something about getting a handle on your work life balance.
Stephanie: And as you're talking about going to the gym and taking time for your meditations and your affirmations and taking some downtime for yourself to be thoughtful about just, any of a thousand things. But, I think in my own mind, and I can hear some of the listeners thinking and saying, but I don't have time for that.
Stephanie: And so you are somebody who struggled with work-life balance before. So I'm wondering, did some of this discipline, did some of this getting a handle on being a yes man, did that help you reduce some work burden that allowed you to take some of this time for yourself?
Marc: Absolutely a thousand percent because, I was that person that's just like, I, I don't have the time. And like I said, I reverted back a little bit on my previous employer and it was a startup company. And in my head I'm like, they hired me to do this job and I'm responsible for this and I have to do that, and I have to work these 12, 14 hour days, and everyone's telling me I don't have to, but I know I have to. So that's one part of it. But I had a conversation with a young man on another podcast, his name is Louis Schulman. Very mature, late twenties, early thirties, guy's very mature. Wouldn't qualified to be on this show, I apologize, but I asked them that question 'cause I, I wanted to know how the younger generation, because I love them for the fact that a lot of them don't want to be in the positions where their parents are dying at 60 from heart attacks because they were married to their jobs. And I said, "How do you look at your mental health? How do you look at your physical health? Like, how do you get that done in the day?" And he's like, "That's part of my work. If I'm going to put in an eight hour day that includes an extra hour at the gym or that includes an extra 15 minutes, he's like, I don't see it any other way. I don't see it as something I don't have time for. I see it as something I must have time for. I don't have time to not do it." And this is past my epiphany, but I really like that analogy that he put it that way. It wouldn't be an analogy, it would be a similie or metaphor. I don't know which one it's, but you know what I'm saying. But I like that he put it that way because I always thought it was a burden. Like, I can't tell you how many times where I'd Slack my team, or email or text, "Okay, I'm going for a run. If you need anything. I have my phone on me now." And I so cringe now when I see people on their own time tell me, I have my phone with me, call me if you need anything.
Marc: And unless your name is like Warren Buffett or Elon Musk or somebody that like owns half of the world, I'm not calling you when you're away from work. I want people to understand that yes, jobs are important, careers are important, but what really turned me around on this was the day I left work on time instead of working late the day I left work on time and lo and behold, the company was still solvent the day after. Like, lo and behold, the place hadn't burned down and it forced me to understand that they'll be fine without you. You can leave at a regular time. And this whole, oh, it's my responsibility to get this done and only I can do it. And you know, yes sir. Yes ma'am. All that, that leave early once and watch. Yeah. Well, you have maybe a little more work to do in the morning. Maybe, but guess what? The work is still there. It totally changed my perspective on that work-life balance.
Marc: And I wanna say this because this is the thing I say all the time, and I was working late one night at this company and my daughter comes in, the one that's in the sports, and it's like 5:30, 6:30. She said, "Dad, do you wanna go outside and shoot hoops with me?" And she's seven or eight at the time. And I say, "No, I'm sorry, Daddy's busy working right now." It was a Friday. It was a Friday. I said, "No, sorry, Daddy's busy right now, I apologize." And right like an hour or two later while I'm still working, I'm like, "What? Wait a second. Like, no, this isn't, this isn't what I signed up for." And it upsets me. I apologize if I get a little, like, it upsets me that I can't get that day back with her, I can't get that moment back and say, "Yes I will." Like, I go play ball with her now. But the fact that she came into my office and had the basketball in her hand and asked her father to play basketball, and I said no, because of a job. I told myself that's never gonna happen again. Never, ever happen again. If I have another responsibility, I understand that. But if for a job, no, absolutely not. ' Cause that's my priority.
Stephanie: Yeah. Well the universe sent you a picture perfect moment right there. Truly. And it's interesting 'cause as much as it stings to look back at that picture, it's also the picture that's gonna stay on the wall that reminds you that you're never gonna make that decision again. You're never gonna miss that opportunity again.
Marc: Correct. Correct. I know there's no such thing as a perfect dad. I understand that, but I think we get those situations thrown at us that we're able to make the perfect decision and I'm not gonna let those slip again. I'm not gonna do that.
Stephanie: I just wanna jump backwards. I love the podcast you were on was it Louis?
Marc: Louis Shulman, he was on, yeah, he was on the 6 AM Run Podcast.
Stephanie: I love that point of view because it almost was like he was treating mental health and physical health as taking care of his instrument.
Stephanie: He couldn't actually work or produce or do all the great things if he wasn't taking care of his instrument. And that is so different from how those of us, a decade or two older than him think.
Marc: Yes, yes, and I mean, that's exactly how he put it. He said, "I can't do my work without this. Don't expect me to be who I am without it." And I'm like, "Don't ever lose that. Don't lose that."
Stephanie: That's a super healthy approach. Although I can imagine if he's got older folks supervising him and such, that would be maddening.
Marc: Well, he's in the entrepreneurial space, and I think he'll be ruling the world one day. But I do have a thought about that. But we, that's for probably for a different show. Talk about the managers now and how, but I won't bash on them right now. Not bashing on them, but you understand.
Stephanie: No, I, well, the world continues to shift and people continue to shift with it and, you get in places where an era or a phase of what you're supposed to do looks like isn't great for a lot of people and it just, you, we just need to evolve to the next place that's all.
Marc: Yeah. Should and shouldn't, should be erased from people's vocabulary. That's how I feel.
Stephanie: I agree. Yeah. This has been such a great conversation. Marc. Before we go, I have two things for you. First of all, you've mentioned it a couple times, tell me about your podcast.
Marc: So the name of the show is Relatively Normal and it is based on a conversation I had with a therapist seven or eight years ago where it was one of those deep dark days where, I couldn't come out and tell you exactly what was wrong. And this is what tells me that mental health has a lot to do with physiology and biology and a lot of times it's how people are wired and how they respond to things in the world and stimuli, things like that. I couldn't tell you anything was wrong with this day. I was at work, I was in a suit. I drove to the therapist's office. It was a sunny day and, I mentally, I wasn't there. And I remember him asking me, "What do you want? Like, what's going on? Like, be real with me. What do you want?" And I told him like, "I just want to be normal like those people outside, like people I see walking and smiley and carefree and not a care in the world, and they're cool with everything." I was like, "Listen, I got a house, I have a wife, I have kids, I have a job. I got, I mean, I've done all the checklist stuff like, why do I feel this way?" And he said, you know your normal is relative. Everybody's normal is relative. He said, you take in stimuli differently and your brain does something with it. And sometimes you feel bad, sometimes you feel great. Sometimes it's from the environment. Sometimes it's just how your brain was wired, but we're gonna work on coping mechanisms, but don't think you're weird or different or strange. She's like, this is your normal. And I was like, oh, no one's ever said that to me before. Thank you. And so it kind of branched on from there and it kind of had this epiphany of me like, I wonder how many other people feel this way. And so I started this podcast with the intention of really talking to men about one opening up.
Marc: And I will keep saying that because the suicide rate for men is the highest of any sex, demographic, all that good stuff. Black men is just ridiculous that we don't talk to each other and that stigma needs to go away. And two, I wanted to, I'll be honest with you, this is my personal space too. You're probably saying why is a podcast your personal space? Well, not everyone listens to it, but I get to sit on the mic. And again, once you get a screen in front of people and a microphone in front of 'em, they will tell you. And that's how I felt. I got on a mic, I got a system down where I said the things I wanted to say. I upload, I produce it. I edit it and put it out. And the feedback I got was really good. I didn't know what to expect, but within a day or two, I had a bunch of buddies that text me or call me and said, you said exactly what I've been thinking for so long. And I was starting to give people that space to talk. So Relatively Normal was a brainchild of that. And we're on our fifth season right now that I'm, recording and uploading, 120 some odd, 130 some odd episodes and it keeps me busy. So that's Relatively Normal.
Stephanie: That's amazing. All right. Before we go, I have a last question for you, and that is if there was somebody listening to this who was feeling the same way you were feeling in your mid thirties, late thirties, what kind of advice would you give to them? What would you tell them as somebody who made it to the other side?
Marc: You know, in those cases where that person comes to me and has all the attributes of just that people pleaser, of that person that can't do anything right, the person who's too hard on themselves, the pressure of the world is on them and then they go home and they just wallow in sadness and they don't take care of themselves. Like the only thing I would tell that person is that actually two things. One, you are not alone in your thinking, 'cause you feel so isolated sometimes. Like you feel like, again, I wanted to be normal. I want to be like everybody. I felt like I'm the only one having these thoughts. And that's the first thing I tell 'em is, is absolutely you're not alone. And the second thing I would say is self-care. And I say this all the time, self-care is not selfish. And as long as people start to understand that, I tell people all the time, like, think about all the things that you love in the world. The kids, the parents, the relationships, the hobbies you have, podcasting, you know, all the things that you love in this world. There's one common denominator and it's you. It's literally you. That's not hyperbole, that's not me just making up. It is you and what is the point of doing all this if you don't take care of the most important part of that? And people are like, ah, well I don't, no, that's self-centered. And, and uh, you know, I don't want to be. No. Like I tell my wife all the time and when I run, when I work out, when I take care of myself, I'm a better husband. I'm a better dad. I'm a better friend. I'm a better neighbor. For a lot of people out there you're better drivers, let's be honest. So, it just makes sense that you would do the thing that makes every other part of your life better. Because what that person is doing, what I did is I tried to make everything else better and thinking it would make me better, and I had it all wrong. I had it backwards.
Stephanie: It's a losing proposition. You can never make everything else better. You're always gonna fail.
Marc: Try going back in time and telling me that when I was 28 I'd be like, no. Of course I can. I can solve all the world's problems. Why I'm gonna do it, give me gimme 10 minutes. But now I understand that I'm gonna take care of those things that I can control, which is myself. I cannot control how people react to me, what kind of person you think I am, if they think I'm a nice guy, think I'm mean. I had one person once think that I hated them. And I was like, we never talked before, we've never even had a conversation. She's like, well, you know how you came off in meetings and I thought you hated me. I was like, I didn't know you. We're friends now, but I can't control that. But what I can control is the amount of time I spend on myself and I choose to spend enough time on myself.
Stephanie: I love that. That's such a wonderful message and a wonderful story. Marc, thank you so much for joining me here on the podcast today. This has been again, just one of those meaty, wonderful, meaningful conversations so I thank you for sharing so much of yourself with me.
Marc: Stephanie, I appreciate it. I had a lot of fun and I think that as we get older we need to have these conversations because there's a lot more years in front of us and I think knowledge is key. And I wanna make sure if there's another Marc Paisant out there 10 years, 20 years from, from now, that they know that I support you and we got you. So, Stephanie, thank you.