If you’ve never listened to Shawn Stevenson’s top-rated podcast The Model Health Show, you’re missing out on a wealth of knowledge and laughs, delivered from someone who tells it like it is.
Stevenson is currently promoting his first book, “Sleep Smarter,” which offers readers 21 steps to fix their sleep and their lives and also features stories detailing his inspiring journey from disease to a healthy life.
24Life recently caught up with Stevenson to talk about his workouts, nutrition and what drives him.
24Life: What’s your morning ritual? Does it change when you have a podcast or appearance?
Shawn Stevenson (SS): The first thing I do upon rising is drink 28 to 32 ounces of water with a little sea salt, trace minerals or lemon to give the water structure. Then I do a little bit of reading and stretching. From there, I do about 10 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of exercise, have some medicinal mushroom tea with MCT oil and start my day.
24Life: What does your typical day look like?
SS: I go through my morning routine above, and from there I focus on doing the big thing first (the number-one thing that is going to move my mission and move the needle). This big thing may be working on a project or it may be creating something for the podcast. I carve out about two hours to get it done. From there, I do some social media. I answer a couple of emails, but generally I don’t get into the inbox until later. The next chunk of my day is where I tackle the second-tier priorities, like confirming guests for the show and leaving space for interviews on other people’s shows. Then I eat.
I am more focused and creative in the morning, so in the afternoon, I do the automated stuff like replying to emails.
I finish up around 5 p.m., then hang out with my kids and family.
24Life: What are your top three must-do exercises?
SS: My top three:
- Deadlifting. It’s foundational to being human, because our genes expect us to be able to pick up heavy things off the floor, and deadlifting replicates that in a gym setting. Deadlifting creates a stronger human being, but you have to do it smart. Don’t be afraid to develop a stronger back, because it’s the core of our health and everything runs through your spine.
- HIIT. High-intensity interval training is super important to me. There are huge metabolic benefits, and your genes expect you to move fast and then rest, like you do with HIIT. It offers an increase in hormones, cardiovascular benefits and increase in fast-twitch muscle fibers. I recommend that people do one to three HIIT sessions a week.
- Walking. It’s what we are designed for. We don’t know if we are designed to bench press 300 pounds, but we know we’re designed to walk. Walking is so healing. It’s medicine. It improves your insulin sensitivity, reduces depression symptoms and increases endorphins. It’s more parasympathetic than running, because there is no fight or flight, so it’s a great complement to lifting heavy weights and doing sprints.
24Life: How does your fitness routine change with the season?
SS: Where I live, we experience all four seasons heavily, and in the colder and winter months, I like to do things inside. I will often jump on my mini trampoline/rebounder in my office or go to the gym (actually, I like the gym no matter the season). In the summer, I do my HIIT training outside on an actual track.
24Life: How do you eat for performance?
SS: If I’m doing something that is performance based or a competition, I make sure I have steady release energy from a nice bit of protein – in the form of protein powder, eggs, etc. then some complex carbohydrates – sweet potatoes, or berries in a smoothie. I may also add a little bit of matcha for caffeine or yerba mate green tea for performance – something that won’t give me a crash.
24Life: What’s your go-to pre-and post-workout fuel?
SS: On a regular basis outside of competition, it looks like this:
- Pre-workout – I usually just have some tea, with a tablespoon grass-fed butter and MCT oil in it. I can let my body run on stored fat and energy in the morning, so that’s all I have. If your goal is fat loss, then you want to avoid carbs in the morning – maybe just protein powder or high-quality fat.
- Post-workout – That’s where you want to get your carbs, because your insulin sensitivity is different, and the body won’t store carbs as fat. I usually have pastured sausage, green vegetables, like sautéed spinach, half of a sweet potato, or maybe a smoothie (half of a banana, ¾ cup blueberries, hemp protein powder, almond butter, greens powder, water or unsweetened almond milk).
24Life: What are you most passionate about, outside of the health and fitness world?
SS: I’m very passionate about learning. I want to better myself as a man. I want to be a better husband and a better dad. I love spending time with my family and geeking out on superhero movies with my wife. I love to read. I love to learn about emotional intelligence and psychology. I love to write and to create. I like to put pen to paper and think of new ideas. And I have a four-year old, so a lot of my time is spent playing Legos and with toys.
24Life: How would you like to be described?
SS: I would want people to say that I’m very caring. I make complex issues very simple.
I’m very empowering, inspiring, and I walk my talk.
24Life: What three words best describe your mindset?
SS: Focused. Passionate. Disciplined.
24Life: What book is on your night-stand?
SS: I’m reading “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” by Dr. Daniel Amen.
24Life: How do you prepare for a podcast?
SS: I have an evernote file with a bunch of topics, which I get from questions people ask me. When I select the topic, I go into research mode by reading books and looking at studies. When I’m researching, I take moments in between to figure out how I am going to teach it. I try to take things that are seemingly complex and misunderstood and turn them into something super approachable. From there, I plot out some show notes, but leave space for organic things as well. Then, I go into the studio and execute, at the same time each week. It only takes us a little more than an hour to record, because we show up prepared and execute, and we are generally three to four weeks ahead of what will air.
24Life: What’s one new thing you want to learn to do or one new thing you’d like to try this year?
SS: I can do a handstand, but I want to be able to do a walking handstand. And I want to get better at gymnastic-type stuff, because I’ve never done a backflip, but I think I’m capable of one.
24Life: What’s next for you?
SS: Right now, there are three big components to my life: First is “Sleep Smarter” – I want it to be an international best-seller, and right now it’s being translated into 10 different languages, so I want to maximize that exposure. Second, I have a big vision for my show. We are already number one in fitness and nutrition and health, but I want to become more of a household name, so people know they can come get actionable health information and inspiration on a weekly basis, and I want to bring on game-changing guests. Third, I want to have the best online fitness and nutrition program on the Internet with The Fat Loss Code. I’ve been reinvesting in it right now, with a bigger community aspect and rewards, and I want it to be a one-stop shop.
24Life: What’s the most helpful piece of advice you’ve ever received in your career?
SS: I was told:
To give away my very best content and material for free and to not be afraid to do it. That creates rapport, and it lets people know that you have the knowledge and experience to help them.
Read more about Shawn Stevenson in the July/August issue of 24Life here.