Episode 157 with Christian Thibaudeau
Hey what’s up everyone? It’s me, Drew Manning from Fit2Fat2Fit. Your host to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Also New York Times best selling author of the book, Fit2Fat2Fit and creator of the TV show Fit2Fat2Fit, which has been aired on A&E and Lifetime. I have a Podcast, in case you didn’t know. It’s been going for almost 3 years now actually. So thank you for all the support and for all of you that have been a part of this journey with me since 2011, when I started Fit2Fat2Fit. Since then, it’s just exploded my brand. I feel very grateful and blessed. I just want to say thank you for being supportive throughout the years and being a part of this journey. We have come a long ways since 2011, since that first TV show when I went on Jay Leno with Chelsea Handler. If you haven’t seen that video, you’ve got to go check it out. Definitely some good times and we have definitely all evolved since then. But back to the Podcast, I try and interview people who have a unique perspective on health and fitness, which I do as well. Doing Fit2Fat2Fit gave me a unique perspective. It’s not just about macros and calories and working out more and eating less. We try and bring some valuable information, especially on the mental and emotional side, to help people overcome the mental and emotional challenges with transformation. I think that’s what most people struggle with. Today I brought on an interesting guy from Canada. His name is Christian Thibaudeau. He is French-Canadian, so he’s got an awesome French-Canadian accent. He has been involved in the business of training for over the last 15 years. He gained some notability in the online bodybuilding world in the late 1990’s as a key contributor to the online bodybuilding magazine called ‘Iron Magazine’ or ‘Iron Mag’. He has worked with athletes from all different sports, at all professional levels. He even competed in several Olympic weight lifting and bodybuilding shows. He has a very interesting story. I think you will really love and be able to relate to how he grew up with self esteem issues, even though at some point he became this ripped, jacked guy. He talks a lot about something called ‘neurotyping’. I know that some of you might not know what that is, but he does a really good job of explaining what it is and how it’s beneficial for people looking to transform. Why? Because there are different personality types and based on your personality type, he can design a workout for you that fits in with your personality. So for example, he will talk about Type 1A, Type 2A or Type 2B and what these personality types mean when it comes to the type of training you are doing. So, he will tell you specifically, if you are Type 1A, you might not like the typical CrossFit style workout where you are being told what to do. Or maybe if you are a Type 2A, that might mean that you don’t like very high intensity workouts and you need something that is a little bit more structured towards your personality type. He calls it neurotyping and it’s a very, very interesting concept. I’ve never talked to anyone or heard anyone talk about this in the fitness industry, ever. He does a great job. He knows how to understand people and he can understand the personality and based on the personality, design a workout program that will actually stick with them for their life, because it’s not a chore. Rather than trying to fit people into a box, with here is a workout program and here is a nutrition program, just get up and do it. It’s more complex than that. He will really open up your eyes. This guy is a wealth of knowledge. He is also a head writer for Testosterone Magazine, T-Nation is what it’s called. I think you will really love what he has to say and his cool French-Canadian accent. So, with that being said, let’s jump into the episode.
Drew: Alright Christian, welcome to the show, man. How are you doing today?
Christian: I’m pretty good actually. We just had five days of 40 degrees outside, so I went to work on my tan. *laughing*
Christian: Everything is good. Of course, as I am getting older I need to change some things around. But, it’s great man.
Drew: That’s good. You are in Quebec?
Christian: Yeah, exactly, which explains the charming accent.
Drew: *laughing* I love it up there. I’ve been to Montreal once and it’s a beautiful accent. Now when you say 40 degrees, you mean 40 degrees Celcius, right?
Christian: Exactly, yes! Because 40 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold.
Drew: Exactly. People here in the U.S. are like, ‘Man that’s freezing cold, but I guess maybe up in Canada that might be warm.’ I am really excited to have you on, man. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you from so many people. I’ve watched a lot of your videos. I am really excited to dive into this. I wanted to start off with some personal stuff with you and your story. It’s an incredible story. You are not just some dude with big muscles that knows his stuff. There is a lot more to you than that. Let’s start from the beginning, tell us what it was like growing up. I think I heard that you had Aspergers and some other conditions and that your parents were both ….
Drew: Yes, psychologists. So, tell me how that was growing up and how that led you down this path of where you are at today.
Christian: Well, actually, that actually is a good introduction to my material, because …. basically what I am working on right now is utilizing someone’s personality profile, or psychological profile to use the best possible training program for that person. But the reason why I designed that approach is that I have so many issues, man. I was that fat kid that had no friends. I was really weird when I was growing up. Maybe I was more mature for my age, but I had a lot of social anxiety. I didn’t have any friends. I had very low self esteem, actually I still do. I mean I think many of us in our field do have low self esteem, that is why we were first attracted to training. But for me, it’s really bad because it made me do some crazy stuff in the past. I mean, I binge eat. I once gained 25 pounds in six hours.
Christian: Yeah and then I would go do four hours of exercise. It was like a bulimic attitude, but without being able to make myself throw up. I had at one time a 42 inch waist, very, very big problems with food. These were mostly coming from self esteem issues. I was the poster child for emotional eating. It’s funny because you see someone on the internet, right? And you think, ‘Oh dude, you are in great shape and you are probably lean all the time!’ No, dude, I am the worst at eating properly ever.
Christian: Actually when I give seminars, I gladly share all of my shortcomings, because I think that a lot of people they hire a personal trainer and they are very intimidated. They think he is going to judge them, because obviously he does everything perfectly, right? So, one thing I want known is that my life has always been a struggle. Whether it was with food or relationships with other people, just getting taken advantage of. I’ve done it all. I treated my wife poorly because I have problems making social connections. I guess really, really unhappy for most of my life. Even when I was in my best shape ever, that is actually when I felt the most unhappy. Because honestly when I was younger, I was not necessarily the fat kid, but you know the kid who is ‘fatish’. Not obese, but not lean. Not athletic, but I desperately needed to be hired for something physical. So, I played in every possible sport and I sucked at every one of them. That’s why I got into training. So, I know that. I think there were some issues that made me push harder today. But they are still a problem I am fighting every day of my life. I honestly expected that once I was super lean and people admire me for my body, then I am going to be so happy! Dude, it was the opposite. The girls I was hitting on when I was younger and fatter, now they were approaching me. But you know what, it actually pissed me off. It just made me realize people in general are so superficial. Actually it forced me to close up on myself even more. I became even more reliant on my physical appearance to be happy. It was like a vicious cycle, because as soon as I would gain one pound, I would just go crazy and train for five hours. Then I would crash and my nervous system would break down. I remember one day I was training so much, I was driving home from the gym and I thought, I just have to turn left and it is going to be all over. There were cars driving all on the other side. It took me many, many years until I can finally say, today at 40, I am starting to be happy. I feel more balanced. I think that what I have been doing is understanding why some people have certain types of behaviors. Why are you more naturally attracted to binge eating? Why are you so hard on yourself? Why do some people not care what other people think of themselves and other people are very easily influenced by what other people think of them? It is all because of your brain chemistry.
Christian: People have different dominant neurotransmitters. Either you respond really strongly to them, or you have a high level of them. Now, just for your viewers, your transmitters are basically the chemical messengers in your brain. It tells your brain what to feel, what to think and how the brain functions. So if you have a low level of the neurotransmitters that fight anxiety for example, any time you are going to have stress in your life, you are just going to go …. your mind is going to get racing and you are going to overthink. You can’t sleep at night because you are creating all of these stories in your mind. You can even become paranoid. It really is a matter of the brain chemistry map. Some people are naturally born with a chemistry that will allow them to face stress better.
Christian: First of all, to me what was liberating was, ‘Ok, all those shortcomings you have. All the things you have been hard on yourself for so many years, it’s not because you fail as a human being. It’s not because you are weird. It simply is how your brain works. Now you have to find a way to do the best you have with the brain chemistry you have. Optimizing it and making the best choices to be able use your brain chemistry to your advantage.’
Drew: Yeah. I think …. I want to get to the neurotyping eventually. But the one word that comes to mind, Christian, when you tell me this story is relatability. You being open to the viewers out there and it’s super relatable to so many people. Because people might see your picture today at 40 and be like, ‘Wow, that guy is in shape! He must have been like that his whole life. He must be so happy.’ When in reality, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes. It just makes you more relatable to the average person out there who struggles with similar things, especially growing up that way. My first question is growing up with your two parents as psychologists, how did they try and help you in these situations? You would think you would have all the help you need to overcome that self esteem thing. What was it like growing up with them and how did they try to help you as a kid?
Christian: First of all, it’s a pretty simple proximity, right? The closer someone is to you, the less likely you are to listen to them or them having an impact on your life.
Drew: Good point.
Christian: Just try with your wife for example. That is going to be a treat, right? I am saying that because recently my wife and I prepared for a photo shoot we were doing together. She would actually cry in the gym because we would get into an argument. She loves CrossFit and I would say you need to train more for like muscle growth and so we get into fights, right? Or trying to teach your wife to play golf, that is even worse.
Christian: Anyway, I think that my parents …. it’s more my mom. My father was both a clinical psychologist, well actually he was also an industrial psychologist. So he was working with big companies, helping them in the hiring process and doing personal assessments and stuff like that. He also was a college professor. So, basically he spent like one hour a day at home or something like that. I didn’t see my father that much growing up. My mother was also a psychologist but was also spending more time at home. She was actually much more present. She was trying her best to help me. When I was younger, I had severe problems relating to other people. I had a lot of girl problems. I was the eternal best friend.
Drew: *laughing* Oh wow.
Christian: Yeah. I was playing football so after the game we would have this party. This girl just got dumped by her boyfriend, so she is crying. I would be with her consoling her for the whole evening and of course, I fall in love with her. But I am in the eternal friend zone.
Drew: Ok. *laughing*
Christian: That was like basically my life story from 15-19 years old, right? My mother was doing her best to help me out. All the advice she was giving me was awesome. The problem is that, I am someone with very low self esteem. It was even worse back then. So when you have low self esteem, what you do is to create personas. You create a fake version of yourself to be able to interact with other people. Because if they don’t like the fake version of you, it doesn’t matter because it is not the real you. You are protecting your feelings. If that actually allows you to maybe be able to relate to other people better, it feels safer. You have less social anxiety. Now, the problem is that my mother, because every time something was wrong in my life, she was always the one helping me. She was the only human being that was aware of what truly was, all my shortcomings, all my issues. Because of that, I hated her. I hated her for a long time.
Drew: Oh, yeah. I see.
Christian: I didn’t hate my mother of course, but I was always being like really harsh with her, really hard on her. It was a self defense mechanism. I felt that she knew the real me, so that made me vulnerable. I’m a people pleaser and I needed everyone to like me. Since I had low self esteem, how could someone love the real version of me? Even if she is my mother? So, I made it really, really hard on her. I realized what I was doing when I was 33 or 34 years of age. It was actually the day after a big rave party.
Christian: I might have used too much amphetamine. I’m just theoretically speaking. Because of my neurotransmitter dominance, I respond really strongly to them. I also crash really badly, so I was in a really, really bad place. I was freaking out so I called my mother. Then we had this long discussion about who I was and where I was headed in life. She told me who I really was, because she always knew. But she could never tell me because she felt that I was not ready to accept that truth. When she told me, I burst out crying for like an hour in her arms. Here I go at 33 years of age, 235 pounds of lean muscle, right? Crying like a baby. From that point on, my life started.
Drew: Wow. Do you mind if I ask you what she told you about who you are?
Christian: Oh yeah. Well she told me exactly what I know now. I have low self esteem. I need other people’s approval to feel good about myself. That’s why I’ve always tried to please other people. I don’t make choices, because I don’t want to make decisions because I don’t want to go against other people. I don’t assume my place because I don’t want to rob someone of their success. All of these issues that I have and why I have social anxiety. All of these problems, everything I know now. She didn’t tell me the root cause. I discovered that later on. But she told me exactly how my brain functioned. That everything for me was about being accepted, being respected and being admired. I think many people can relate to that. For example, it got so bad that one day my wife came home and she said, ‘Chris, I forgot to tell you, I’m going to have dinner with two of my girlfriends at one of our favorite restaurants.’ Now, normally there is no big deal, right? You are just going out for supper with two of her girlfriends. She is not going clubbing or getting hit on. But it was like I got stabbed in the heart. It hurt, man.
Christian: Yeah. I mean I am not a jealous person. I could not understand why I had this reaction. Of course, I had to make sure that since I was feeling so bad, I must make her feel just as bad. So I did everything possible to make her feel guilty before she left. It was supposed to be our movie night. I planned for her to suffer. I told her the dogs were going to miss her. Then once she was there, I would text her every 15 minutes, just to make sure she felt bad. That’s just how my brain works. For example, if we are talking and you tell me something, I will often say, ‘Yes the same thing happened to me.’ Or, ‘I am exactly the same way.’ Or, ‘I did the same thing.’ Or I will try to complete your sentence. You are saying something, well then I want to complete it. That is not because I am impolite, it’s a strategy to show you, hey we are thinking the same way. We are alike, so you should like me. It’s a strategy I use to be liked. But the problem is it works the other way too. If I feel bad, I want to make the other people around me feel bad. so subconsciously then I can relate to them. That’s just how messed up my brain is.
Drew: Wow. Wow.
Christian: I realized I still get the same feelings. So, if she tells me, ‘I wanted to tell you I am going out tonight.’ I still get the same feeling, but I know what is going on. And what is going on is I feel left out. Even if I don’t want to go, but if I am not asked to go, I feel left out and it’s really hard for me. I need to feel included. If I am being left out, subconsciously my brain thinks, I am not good enough for that person. I am not good enough for that situation. They don’t want me there. My logical brain cannot argue with that. It’s an emotion. But now I can actually know why that is and I act accordingly.
Drew: Yeah. It’s that level of self awareness that you finally have. You realize you don’t have to become your thoughts, you can kind of set back and become an observer of those thoughts. So you don’t have to react in those situations, you can kind of thoughtfully respond to those situations, rather than just reacting. I think sometimes it takes people 30 or 40 years, or sometimes longer to figure out how to do that. That is awesome, man. The next question I have for you is when your mom told you that, when you had that experience with her, how did that change your trajectory in life? How did it change you at that point?
Christian: Well, I realized that my whole life had been set up in a way to gain the admiration of others. Instead of doing what I love and living my life for myself. So basically I was the second role guy in someone else’s movie.
Christian: So, I decided I would live my life to make myself happy and not to please other people. I still will want to please other people, because that’s my nature. But I realize that I need to do things that make me happy. I also realize that having that awesome body that everybody admires, well it does not give me what I need. It puts a lot of pressure on you, because if you are off by 2 or 3 pounds …. Honestly, I would go out with my wife and I would change clothes like 10 times before selecting one. I had like 10 black T-shirts that probably look exactly alike, but I would try all of them on. Thinking, ‘Oh I look too fat in this one, oh my arms look too big in this one. The seam is not placed at the right place on this one.’
Drew: Wow. *laughing*
Christian: It was really, really bad. What I really changed …. having that really great body, first of all it got me some positive comments, but I am a great people reader. I think that people who have low self esteem are naturally great at reading nonverbal cues. It’s very simple to understand, ok? If you have low self esteem, automatically you need approval of others to feel good about yourself. You need to feel respected and liked. But since you have low self confidence and esteem, you will not trust compliments.
Christian: In fact, you are uncomfortable with them. If someone tells you, ‘Hey I really like you.’ Or, ‘You have a great body.’ You actually don’t believe it. If someone tells you, ‘Hey I think you are in great shape.’ I will always answer, ‘Yeah, but I was much better 10 years ago, you should have seen me then.’
Drew: Oh no. Yeah, wow.
Christian: So, if I cannot trust compliments and I need to know that the person respects me, what is the only thing I can rely on. It’s nonverbal, it’s nonverbal cues. Images and body language. So, ever since I was a kid, I learned to read people. What I noticed is that even though I had this awesome body, even though the people were telling you that you were in great shape, the non-verbal did not show admiration. It did not show respect. They did not like me more because I looked great. It’s funny because I actually had that realization at the rave party I mentioned earlier.
Drew: Oh wow.
Christian: So, that was a great experience! *laughing*
Christian: Anyway, I decided to stop focusing so much on making my body look great. You know what, I am a performance guy. But people don’t understand, those who have been following me more recently see me as a body composition expert. In reality, when I was training clients, it was 90% athletes. I worked with athletes from 28 sports. Pro football players, pro hockey players, that is my background and that is what I love. I was an Olympic weightlifter. But to get the body I wanted, I felt I needed to do bodybuilding, which is not something I really like to do. I was unhappy with my training. The body I was getting did not make me feel any better. So, I said you know what, train the way you like to train. Don’t focus so much on looking great. So, I allowed myself to have more freedom with my diet. I allowed myself to have more activities outside of the gym. If you miss a session, it’s not that bad, ok? So, I became a lot more balanced. When I do something bad, more importantly, I don’t rehash it mentally for days. You are thinking about that pastry you ate and you hate yourself for having it. Or you missed that session and you feel guilty and think you need to train twice tomorrow to make up for it. No, it’s worse because you are going to create overtraining and you are going to feel bad. You are going to over eat to compensate. It’s just a vicious cycle.
Christian: I really am more objective with my training and much less emotional with it.
Drew: I think that’s really important. You have some really good information and tips for people out there that are listening that go through this vicious cycle. They put themselves in it. So, it’s good to hear you, having gone through it yourself, how to describe how to get out of it for other people. I think that’s great advice. I think you are doing something really revolutionary, Christian, honestly. I want to dive into this deep and describe it as basic as possible to the people out there with neurotyping and training for your nerve types. So, just like you said, instead of forcing yourself to train a way you hate, find what your personality profile is. Then from there, you can say, you can put people in certain categories, right? To say you, based on this, should be training this way. So maybe dive into that?
Christian: Of course. It’s not limited to just training. It’s funny because when I talk to people about neurotyping and I teach other coaches, of course I make myself available to answer questions if they have any, I actually get more questions about relationships than I do about training. ‘Ok, I am a Type 2A and I met this great guy, but he is a 1A, can we get along?’ *laughing* It applies to everything. How do you feel with each type of employee, if you are a boss of a business? Some people, if you push them hard, they are going to respond positively. Some of the other people, if you push them hard, they are going to crumble under pressure. Some people, if you ask them to do the same task over and over and over again, they feel great. Other people, they will shoot themselves. So people need variations. Some people need structure. So it really depends on your profile. What neurotyping is, I always say I am the least romantic person in the history of mankind. You can ask my wife, she will confirm that. I say that because I do not believe in emotions. Emotions are only chemical reactions in your brain. You have those chemical messengers. You can see them as mailmen. So the mailman brings messages to various houses. When you receive the message, you do something. If the message tells you open the door, you will open the door. That is how the brain works. The neurotransmitters are being sent to various regions in your brain and when that arrives, brain stuff happens and emotions, feelings or maybe potential or memory forming. Anything that the brain does, it does because it receives the command from neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, just like anything else in your body, vary depending on the person. Let’s say you have five dominant neurotransmitters. Well those five dominant neurotransmitters will be presenting various levels depending on the person. Not only that, your sensitivity, how strongly you respond to each of the messages sent by those neurotransmitters, will also vary from one person to the other. So, personality is only the symptom of the neurological balance in your brain. So what I do is I analyze someone’s personality. I’m working on a test that is almost finished now, but I also use nonverbal cues, questions, evaluations and assessments. Once you understand the personality of the individual, you can infer what is the chemical dominance of their brain. When you know that, you also know for training, for example, this is the type of training you will respond the best to. Someone for example, has low level of what is called Serotonin or Gaba. These are the two neurotransmitters that calm your brain down when you are anxious and stressed out. When you are thinking and thinking and thinking and are paranoid, these are the neurotransmitters that calm your brain down. Now, people who lack in that neurotransmitter or are at a very low level, well if you vary the training or if you are using very heavy weights or explosive movements, it is actually going to create problems. Because the brain will get hyped up and you can’t calm it down. So you can have problems sleeping. Some people who say that they train at 5 p.m. and they get hyped up and they can’t sleep at night. Well that is because the training hypes up the nervous system. The neurons fire super fast, so you are thinking faster and reacting faster, creating scenarios in your brain. But you don’t have the neurotransmitter to calm the brain down after. Some other people could train at 9 p.m. and by 11 they are sleeping. That is because they have a very high level of those neurotransmitters that calm the brain down. Now, these people, those who can very easily go to sleep after a session, will be those who are naturally great at handling pressure. Because they have the neurotransmitter that calms the brain down, they have a high level of it. So when the adrenalin gets up, right? You are under stress, it keeps the brain at the optimum level and you don’t get overexcited. Of course, when you are over excited, you lose coordination. You can be paranoid. You can have paralysis by over analyzing, you are thinking too much before making a decision. You procrastinate and you lose confidence in yourself. These people who have a hard time calming their brain down will be naturally more routine based. They love to do things at the exact same time and the exact same way. Because it decreases stress, because I have done this before and I have not been hurt by it, so it’s safe. These people will not like variations when it comes to training. They need to stick to things they know, because anxiety and stress, it also makes your muscles tighten up. So, the chance of injury increases. It’s hard to get full range of motion. Some other people, like myself, me I need variation. If the training is not fun, I won’t do it. For me fun is I need to learn something. So, that is why my training constantly changes, because I need to experiment on these training methods and tools. Because I want to learn about them and it’s fun for me and I stay motivated. As soon as I fully understand something, I lose motivation completely. Some other people will prefer anything that feels great. You have a neurotransmitter in your brain and it’s called glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that enhances feelings. It’s a feeling strengthener. People who have high glutamate are very emotional. They like big displays of emotion. They live their life one movie scene after another. They are trying to create those big movements. These people will fall in love once a day. They fall in love with love. Anything that gives them a pleasurable sensation, they easily feel addicted to. Now, when it comes to food, it makes them a lot more likely to eat for pleasure and binging happens, because they become addicted to the pleasure they get. Training wise, it also means they need to get a great feeling from the workout. A great mind muscle connection and feeling that they are accomplishing something. Where for someone who is more, what I call Type 1A, Type 1A, if you want an easy way to understand the Type 1A, I am going to give you an example, Donald Trump.
Christian: Donald Trump is a 1A plus, plus, plus, ok? He needs to be the leader. He will do anything to win. He is extremely vocal. He is extremely dominant. He has no empathy and he cannot relate to other people. They are extremely competitive and has a very high level of self confidence. Now of course, Donald Trump also has narcissistic personality traits on top of that 1A personality. But these people are dopamine dominant. Everything is a competition to them. We know people like that. They love to get into an argument just to have the opportunity to win the argument. You will give the same opinion that they are, and they still want to argue with you.
Drew: *laughing* Wow.
Christian: These people, if you give them a training program, they need a training that is more performance based. They are very impatient. So these are the guys who you give them a program, before you know it, they have one arm up on the bench press. That’s a 1A, they need that intensity. Of course it also relates to how confident you train. When I talked earlier about Gaba and Serotonin, the neurotransmitters that calm the brain down. Well, the people who have very little of this neurotransmitter, can not train heavy often. Because when you train heavy, you are speeding up that brain. It’s called activation and during work out your brain is firing on all cylinders, right? So it’s super excited, but if it stays activated like that, well you are creating fatigue in the nervous system. So, you can actually become run down the next day and feeling like you actually have a hangover. It also creates cortisol production. Cortisol is of course a stress hormone that makes it hard to gain muscle and easier to gain fat and retain water. So the faster you can calm your brain down after your workout, the more often you can train heavy because the brain recovers more rapidly. So people with high level of Serotonin or Gaba can train heavy very often, whereas those who are extremely anxious and nervous, after one heavy session, they might have like 2 or 3 days where they feel like crap and might need 5 days until they can perform at a high level. So you need to go with easier workouts, rather than heavy lifting. This of course is in like 4 minutes of a 12 hour seminar.
Drew: Yeah, exactly. We can talk about this for days, obviously. My question is, say you take someone that is in one of these categories and this is their type of training that is best for them, but let’s say that person wants to become a bodybuilder, or something outside of their training zone. How do you help them reach their goals, while still making them feel satisfied with their training? Does that make sense?
Christian: It does. It’s one question I really often get.
Drew: Is it? Ok.
Christian: If you want to be a bodybuilder, you of course need to build muscle tissue, which also means you are going to have to do some volume. I love heavy lifting. I’ve been either training for football, Olympic weightlifting and I also did bodybuilding. The fact of the matter is that typical high performance work, like low reps, heavy weight, explosive work, jumping, sprinting can build very good bodies. It can get you lean. It can get you fairly muscular. But it will not give you that look of bulging muscles unless you are a genetic freak and are born to have those big round muscles. Most people to get that bodybuilding look will need volume and sets lasting in the 30-60 second range. If you give that to a 1A, they might lose interest. So, there is like a fine line. So if I am working with someone who is neurologically designed for lower reps, what I do if they want to do bodybuilding for example, what I do is I still keep the reps fairly low, like 6 reps per set, maybe 8 in some case. But I will slow the reps down.
Drew: Oh, ok.
Christian: They still have the feeling of a low rep, but they get the time on the tension from the slow execution of the exercises. That’s for a 1A. The 1A, is not naturally explosive, it is naturally strong but not explosive. If for example you are a Type 3, the Type 3 is built more for endurance. They are the most anxious people, the overthinker. They over analyze everything, these are the minds that you tell them to squat. You explain exactly how to squat and you give them a great tutorial on squatting, you give them everything you can think of and they still are going to ask 20 questions.
Christian: But you have seen it, right?
Christian: So you give them a diet and the diet is very precise. You have a salad made of Romaine lettuce, half a cup of this and a half a cup of that. They are still going to have like five questions.
Christian: It’s not because they don’t trust you. It’s not because they feel the need to control everything. It’s because they have a higher level of anxiety and then need to know every single detail to feel safe and confident. So that’s why they are asking all of these questions. Now if you take that person who is more naturally built for endurance and they want to powerlift. Well you can’t have them train like a typical powerlifter, doing sets of three with 90%. If they are to be a powerlifter, well a very heavy session will have a very large impact on their recovery for a long time. They need to emphasize what I call strength skill. Training in the 80-82% range, but doing many, many sets of 3 reps. Focusing on technique and doing each movement very quickly. There is a way for each neurotype to train for any goal.
Drew: Gotcha. Ok.
Christian: But it’s a matter of utilizing the material and designing the workout accordingly.
Drew: So where does someone get started with this? You say you are creating a test, which isn’t completed yet, but in the meantime where would they go to get a personality test done? From there, how do they access you and your information to find out what their personality type is and what type of training they should be doing?
Christian: On my website, Thibarmy.com. I have several videos explaining how each neurotype is. So, I give a very, very precise description of each neurotype. Of course, most people will recognize themselves in one type. We still have people who have elements of two types, that happens.
Christian: That is explainable. So, once you understand which type you are, then on my website, I also have information about training programs. For example, depending on your type what kind of cardio should you do when you are trying to lose fat? What kind of diet should you do? And of course, I am teaching many seminars for neurotyping, so many coaches are following the certifications so they know how to apply this system now. The test is actually completed. I completed the test itself, but it’s now a matter of turning it into a computerized version. So the test is corrected and then you automatically have your recommendation, once you have completed that test. It will not give a precise program. What it will do is, you should train mostly like this and give you general recommendations on what kind of training you should be doing.
Drew: Gotcha. I have one more question that got brought up, as you mentioned nutrition. Now this is interesting to me, because I haven’t thought about based on someone’s neurotype what kind of diet or lifestyle would be maintainable or sustainable for them. Can you talk about that briefly and what you have found works best for people?
Christian: What you mentioned is actually the key thing, it’s sustainable.
Christian: Well that’s why most diets fail, right?
Christian: Because most people …. and I was like that myself …. put yourself in my brain for a minute. Now it’s a really messy place! *laughing*
Christian: But it’s going to help you! I have very low self esteem. Let’s go like 10 years back, very low self esteem. I am utilizing my body as a way to feel good about myself and get the respect and admiration I need to feel accomplished as a human being. So, to me at that point in my life, having a great body was everything, because my well being as a human was derived solely from that. Turned out it didn’t work well, but at that point I was willing to do anything to look good. Diet wise, I was extreme. I was the guy who was dying on 1000 calories mostly protein. I felt like crap all the time, all the time. I remember the last time I competed in bodybuilding, at the end I was barely training 15 minutes per session because that is all I could do. I just survived the workout. I was extreme. Of course what always happens is once in a while, I had like this big breakdown and I would just eat and eat and eat. That’s when I once gained 26 pounds in six hours. I actually measured it. One time I probably gained more than that because I was in St. Louis back then. That was a while ago. So Arby’s had the 5 for 5 deal, so 5 menu items for $5. So, I had 24 burgers at one point.
Drew: Oh my gosh. Wow, man.
Christian: Yeah, that was pretty bad. I remember that at that same time, I was training Joe Buck, the T.V. sportscaster.
Drew: Yeah, yeah.
Christian: Ok, I am training Joe and he gave me these season tickets for the Cards. Because he was doing the commentating for the game so he didn’t use the seats. But it was in the luxury section, so all you can eat. I’m not talking about burgers and fries, it’s like anything you want, right? So, I am piling on the food, I started out with like 5 burgers and fries for 9 innings just eating and eating and eating. Then Joe’s wife comes down because Joe wants me in the booth, so I can see the game from the booth. She is looking at my seat and looking at the food and she is like, ‘And you are the one writing my diet?’ *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Wow!
Christian: What she doesn’t know is that after the game, when I was driving home, I stopped by a 7-Eleven and I bought some pastry and cookies. I was bad. I was really bad. That was all because I was extreme with my dieting. I deprived myself so much. The chemicals in your brain, two of the hormones tell you that you have a problem when you are depriving yourself. They tell you that they need some food. You will never beat your hormones, they will always win. You can fight them off for a long time. But that is why these episodes happen. These episodes never happen to me anymore. It’s been five years, because I am more balanced. I found a way of eating that fits my personality and it doesn’t feel like I am depriving myself. I think each neurotype does have a best …. not only the best composition of the diet, but also the best style of dieting. For example, you have the Type 1A and `1B. The 1A and the 1B, just to give you a very quick frame of reference are not only the extremely competitive individuals, they are the more confident, higher self esteem people. They normally make the best athletes. The 1B’s are the naturally skilled athletes. The 1A are the physical people who do the most trash talking or they don’t have the greatest skill but they will overpower you. Now these people, they are naturally very impatient. So they want results right now. So, for them doing like a very slow gradual bland eating diet doesn’t work. They like to eat for pleasure. It can be very intense, but not for a long time. So for these people, and because they have a very high tolerance for stress, they don’t lose as much muscle or have as much drawback when you severely restrict calories. These people can actually handle a pretty large calorie deficit, but they should diet for fat loss for only 3 or 4 weeks. Then they will go for 2 weeks with just regular eating, then another blitz. Because more than that they will just get bored and they cannot stay with the plan. Me, I’m somewhat similar to that, in that I am not impatient, it’s that I need to see variations. I need to get excited with something that feels new. So, for a while, I was doing the keto diet, right? And for 4 weeks, it felt awesome. It felt great, because it was brand new. Every day I was reading 2 or 3 keto articles, I was going to keto forums and I was reading a keto book. But as soon as I understood the system, after 5 weeks, it started to piss me off. And I had good results, it wasn’t a matter of results. It was not sustainable, because I was sick and tired of eating that. I need variety. The Type 2A’s like I am, they need variety. The problem is that I’m very picky when it comes to eating. I don’t like a lot of foods, so having variety in my diet helps. On a keto diet it’s really hard, because all of these cool keto recipes I can’t make them, because of my mental problems, because if one food touches another food, I can’t eat it.
Christian: If a fry has touched the gravy, I won’t be able to eat that single fry, that’s how messed up I am, right?
Drew: Wow, that’s crazy!
Christian: I can’t live keto because I don’t have all these cool recipes. So after five weeks I needed to do something different. So, that’s why that I found the best diet approach for me is more of a cyclical diet, meaning that I have five days a week where I eat fairly normally. Then I have three days higher carbs and two days lower carbs. I do fasting, complete fasting two days a week.
Christian: That’s how I am eating right now and it feels great, because I have variation within the week. You have some other people, like the Type 3 I mentioned earlier, very routine based. They love to do the same thing over and over and over again. Once it’s in their routine, they have no problem doing it. These are the people who can do a diet for twenty weeks eating the same exact thing and they won’t stress about it. Not only that, but since they have a higher level of stress and anxiety, they can not handle a large calorie restriction, which means cortisol release, which will decrease muscle mass and can potentially increase fat. So they need a smaller deficit for a longer period of time. Now it also, depending on the type, the better you tolerate stress, the less carbs you need. The harder time you have with dealing with anxiety and stress, the more carbs you need. Carbohydrates are needed to transform or trick the fat into serotonin, which is one of the neurotransmitters that calms your brain down. Also because carbs decrease cortisol production. So, if you have a high level of stress, you are constantly popping out cortisol, which decreases muscle mass and can make it harder to lose fat over the long period.
Drew: Ok. Yeah, is that why it would make sense to have carbohydrates at nighttime, with what you are explaining about the serotonin level that calms the brain down at night time?
Christian: People that live a stressful lifestyle, let’s say you have a stressful job and you come home and you have a really hard time sleeping because you are overthinking. You can switch your brain on and off by having more carbs in the evening, rather than during the day, would be a way to do things, yes.
Drew: Gotcha. There are so many questions here for you, Christian. This is great information, seriously great information. I want to dive into it more. I am going to have to have you back on in the future. Before we go, there are two questions for you. One is when you go to France, or if you go to France, how is your french accent versus the Canadian French accent? *laughing*
Christian: *laughing* Dude, that is the hardest part. Last time I was in Paris, I was in the Paris airport and I asked the desk clerk, ‘Could you tell me where is the train?’ *spoken in french* She answered me in English, like I couldn’t speak French properly! *laughing*
Drew: She did? *laughing*
Christian: it’s actually harder for me to present in French. I was in Switzerland weeks ago and it’s harder for me to present in Switzerland or France than it is to speak in English. The termanology is not the same. I can very easily understand their French. The best way I could give you an example is comparing Quebec’s French to France French is like comparing the London accent to the deepest part of Alabama.
Drew: Gotcha. *laughing*
Christian: Or Louisiana. If you take the New York accent or the Chicago accent or the Boston accent, well Boston is different. It is still easy to understand for a guy from the UK. But if the guy from the UK goes to the deepest part of New Orleans, he is going to have a hard time understanding everything. It’s the same thing for when I go to Switzerland or France, if I speak the way I normally speak, they probably won’t understand everything.
Drew: That’s interesting. I just had to ask, because I’ve had a lot of French Canadian friends and I ask them the same thing. Also, where can people find you online, Christian? Your website, social media handles and all that stuff.
Christian: Well my own website is Thibarmy.com, which is also the handle on Instagram. On Facebook it is Christian Thibaudeau and Thibarmy in one sentence. I also have articles on TNation.com, which I have been writing articles for 18 years, 18 or 19 years, something like that.
Drew: Yeah. We will put all of those in the show notes. Before you go, I just want to say thank you, Christian for what you do. I really appreciate it, man. You are definitely a positive force in this industry. It’s good to have people like you with your story, relatability and vulnerability as well out there in this industry. So, thank you for what you do, man. Thanks for coming on.
Christian: Well thanks for the affordability, because the more podcasts …. especially when you have a good reach like you have. I’ve been trying to …. I’ve been categorized as this bodybuilding guy and it’s really not who I am. So, it gives me a great opportunity to set it straight and show the real version of me. It actually helps people, realizing that you know what, this guy is a real person. I know you know exactly what I am talking about because you actually lived that experience yourself. Is that when you understand how it feels to have problems, it’s much easier to help other people out. If you are like always gifted and you never had any issues or problems, how can you help someone who has problems? You don’t know how they feel. Have you ever been to the gym while being out of shape and feeling really bad to be there? Try training when you feel super self-conscious because you are out of shape. I had a heart attack a few years back and they diagnosed a kidney issue.
Drew: Oh wow.
Christian: I was getting too CrossFit at the time, because my wife does CrossFit. I was squatting every day and I was losing blood in my stools. Because I am stupid, I didn’t go to the ER. It had happened to me in the past and I thought it would stop, but it stayed for four months. I lost so much blood that I didn’t have enough red blood cells to send oxygen to the heart and I had a heart attack. They also showed that because of an uncontrolled blood pressure issue, I have some problems. On my honeymoon in Aruba seven years ago, I got stung by this big mosquito. I started getting really sick. When I got home, I was super sick with pneumonia symptoms. I still kept on training and training. I couldn’t breathe at one point. The virus moved to the heart, so I had heart failure because of that. The doctor at the time gave me a typical medication that was blood pressure meds and also diuretic, lasix. If you do bodybuilding, lasix is like the hardest, harshest diuretic ever. You have bodybuilders pass out on the stage cramping because it is such a crazy med. I was on lasix for 10 years straight, every single day. Because I am an idiot, I stopped taking the actual blood pressure meds because it killed my libido, but I kept taking the diuretic because I looked great, right? Stupid, why I said that is because my desire to be loved because of my body led me to do some crazy stuff, that was one of them! A recent study has shown that lasix is one of the worst things to create kidney damage.
Christian: So, for 10 years I was on the lasix every day and I was not taking my blood pressure meds and I was too heavy. Anyway, I have kidney issues. When I got out of the hospital, I stopped training for about four months because of my heart and kidney conditions. When I started back, I basically ate no protein, super calorie conscious. So, I lost like at least 30 pounds of muscle. But for me it was so hard because I was supposed to be like this great training expert and I look like someone who has never lifted in his life. But I tell you, I felt what it is to be like you are not in your place and you don’t want to be in the gym. You can overcome that.
Drew: And that is the power of empathy. I think that this industry definitely needs that empathy because without empathy it is really hard to know where people are coming from and connect with them on that level. It’s that relatability factor, like I talked about in the beginning with you. Your story is very relatable and if someone can’t relate to you, it’s hard for them to listen to what you have to say, even if you are the smartest person in the world with all the answers. If they don’t feel like you have some kind of chemistry or connection, they are not going to listen to you. That is why I love this quote that says, ‘Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care first.’ If they know that you care about them first, they are more willing to listen to what you have to say. I think that is really important in the industry. I think you are a great example of that, Christian. Thank you, man. Your story is incredible, man. I hope to meet you in person one day. I’m going to have to look up and see when your seminar is around Salt Lake City Utah sometime and I will check it out. I really appreciate you coming on, Christian. I will be in touch.
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