Jonathan McLernon

Habits & Health episode 34 - Jonathan McLernon

Habits & Health episode 34 with Jonathan McLernon. He is a weight loss coach and emotional eating expert who has lost 100lbs. From nanotechnology researcher, to Navy marine engineer, to globetrotting nomad, Coach Jon spent most of his life running from his true calling, until one question changed his life.  Now he’s on a mission to help others lose weight for good and leave BS diets in the rearview mirror.

With Freedom Nutrition Coaching, he marries the Science of Metabolism with the Psychology of Behavior Change and the Compassion of Human Connection to create life-changing transformations with his clients.


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Digital Minimalism On Living Better with Less Technology Atomic Habits - James Clear
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“Every action is a vote for the person who you want to become”
James Clear

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This video is related to an older episode featuring Reneee Jones

Jingle 0:00

Habits & health Episode 34. Welcome to the habits and health Podcast, where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. Brought to you by an educator and coach for anyone who wants to create a healthier life here's your host, Tony Winyard.

Tony Winyard 0:20

Welcome to another edition of habits and health Episode 34 with Jonathan McLernon, who is a nutrition coach based in Canada, and he helps people around not only nutrition, but around their general health and trying to find out what the issue is working on their habits to help them get better. And he's been doing this for a while and his background is very different. And we'll find out a lot more about that during the episode. If you know anyone who you feel would get some real value from this episode or from any of the episodes, please do share it with them. And leave a review for us that really helps us with the algorithm when it gets more people get to know about this, this show. So hope you enjoy this week's show with Jonathan McLennan.

Habits & health. My guest today is Jonathan McLernon How you doing?

Jonathan McLernon 1:17

I'm doing awesome, Tony, how are you?

Tony Winyard 1:18

I'm very good. Thanks. And you're in Canada?

Jonathan McLernon 1:22

I am I'm in a city called Red Deer in the province of Alberta. You probably wouldn't have heard of it. But near us is like the Rocky Mountains in some of the top tourist destinations. Banff Lake Louise, where you see these beautiful mountains in these teal coloured lakes and stuff. So we're that's kind of in our backyard. So it's actually a really beautiful spot.

Tony Winyard 1:42

Cool. And are you a native from there?

Jonathan McLernon 1:45

originally actually from Vancouver Island, so way out on the west coast. And I came out here about eight years ago to actually be a powerline technician. So building poles, utility poles and towers.

Tony Winyard 1:57

Wow. And that's quite far from what you do now

Jonathan McLernon 2:00

a bit of a departure, I would say I've had quite a varied background. And originally studied chemistry and marketing at University of Victoria, I left the research programme that I was supposed to go into my PhD for, because I thought at that time I was 21. And so you know, maybe I was a little bit naive, but I was like, I didn't want to spend four more years doing the same thing for working for a pittance to get letters after my name that I thought nobody would really care that much about. So I joined the Navy and became a marine engineer. And I did that for about six years. And then my wife and I travelled the world for about three years. And coming back I got that's what got me the powerline trade. But an injury unfortunately took me out of that trade, had to retire from that. So I spent about a year and a half kind of operating big trucks in what we call the oil patch out here. And then got into the nutrition and health business in about 2015.

Tony Winyard 2:59

And so what was it? So you mentioned about you the health and fitness and that was what 2015 16? I think you say yeah, yeah. And what was it that drew you to that?

Jonathan McLernon 3:09

Well, originally it was a friend of mine had a nutrition and supplements store. And he was having a bit of a falling out with his business partner and the business was kind of failing. So I started helping out part time, just because I kinda didn't want to see the business fail. And turns out I was really good at it. So with a background in chemistry and marketing, it's kind of you could think it's almost tailor made for the supplement industry because it's it's nutraceuticals and marketing really. And I've got quite a good memory for for facts and information. And so I was able to retain a lot about a variety of supplements. And so I kind of established a reputation as a supplement guru, so to speak. And but ultimately, what started happening was, I began to call myself a bartender without alcohol. So people would come into the store and they were looking for a supplement to solve a particular problem. They had, say, I'm looking for someone to help me lose weight, or I'm looking for someone to help me have more energy, and so on. And I get asked them a couple of questions, I'd say, you know what, I don't think the supplements gonna do what you want it to do truthfully, like I can sell it to you. But there's something deeper at play here. And so that kind of started me in the realm of I guess nutrition and Lifestyle coaching inadvertently, kind of formalised after doing some certifications through precision nutrition. But also that business failed. It was quite a costly business failure actually. But I will say that when you lose everything, you kind of have the opportunity to you have nothing left to lose or had nothing left to lose. And so that kind of gave me the opportunity to venture into running my online nutrition coaching and lifestyle business.

Tony Winyard 4:52

And so when did that start? May of 2018 and how is it been so far?

Jonathan McLernon 4:59

It's It's been interesting, I would say it's been fairly successful because the, the online coaching industry has quite a high rate of turnover. Usually within I think it's about 50 to 60% disappear within the first 12 months. In, in the online coaching realm, there's there's also what we call the gurus here, or it's what I call it anyways, where there's a lot of a lot of people out there promising, you know, work with me, I'm going to teach you how to make six figures in 90 days or something like that, you know, how to have 10k months, and so on. And the trouble is, it's a little bit harder than it sounds, to actually do that successfully. There's quite a few different intangibles that come into play. It's not that it's impossible, but it's actually pretty challenging to do that. So you already have people coming with mismatched expectations, you've got kind of predatory gurus out there just preying on people's emotional vulnerabilities for this promise of making more money and so on. And I've fallen prey to that in the past as well and spent money on on gurus who weren't worth a penny of the money I spent on them. And once they have your credit card information, they're just happy to, you know, sort of toss into the heap. And so for me to be able to sort of keep it going, you know, I'm three and a half years into this, and still going strong, which is good. I've got an established reputation, a good plant, roster, and so on. And actually now I also do a little bit mentorship for new coaches. And I kind of came up with that inadvertently, in a sense, just a coach came to me and said, Hey, would you like teach me how to build an online business because you have a pretty successful one. And so I kind of formalised it, I created a series of courses, I kind of call it. I call it lean and efficient, because I'm also a bit of an engineering brain. So I like to make efficient business processes. And that's where we can kind of create a bit of scale with a solopreneur is to sort of how do you make the digital infrastructure run efficiently. And so I kind of just started doing that on the side, partly because I knew like how many predatory gurus are out there who are, you know, they want to get your credit card and charge a 10 or 15 grand. And once they have that, like, too bad, so sad. Yeah. And I thought that was really, really unfair. And I've been burned before. And so I wanted to, I wanted to start working with people and those who are starting out, like they don't have a lot of revenue coming into their business. So it's like, you know what, I'll charge a fair price for what I do, and the help I give, and I'll put a guarantee on there that I'll work with them until they make that money back. Because that's why they hired me. And so that's also been reasonably successful. Although really only I do that by word of mouth. I don't actually advertise that I do this.

Tony Winyard 7:38

And when did you say, if I heard you, right? You said you started doing the online coaching. A couple of years ago was that like 1819 around that? So so it was pre pandemic, so I'm guessing you're pretty well placed for when a pandemic happened? Yeah, I

Jonathan McLernon 7:53

didn't realise like, looking back, the bricks and mortar business would have failed anyways. And there's more to that story. Like it was a former friend who is a narcissist and a sociopath like a pathological liar. Everything was kind of a shell in that business. And as you know, unfortunately, I was already pretty deep in it when I started uncovering this stuff, because they're really, really good at covering this stuff up. And so I but I didn't realise, like when that failed, that I was basically going to be building a, I don't want to say pandemic proof, because it definitely has affected business. On the one hand, people became more open to to hiring people digitally and working online with somebody that you don't meet in person. So, but then there's also like, there's times where people get kind of skittish about even spending money on. So hiring a nutrition coach sometimes is seen as an expense rather than an investment in their health. And so when they see it, that way, they get a little bit skittish. And so it's like things have been steady for me, which is good. And above average, in terms of my business success, but it's there, I'll be truthful and say like, it hasn't always felt like 100% secure, but maybe that's maybe that's just part of being an entrepreneur is like nothing ever really feels 100% secure.

Tony Winyard 9:10

Would you say if you think about the type of clients that are coming to you, what is the reason that is there like one issue or concern problem that most people have when they come to you?

Jonathan McLernon 9:28

The probably the first reason they reach out is weight loss. And that's very common in the nutrition and health industry. People are coming because they say they want to lose weight. I like to say that nutrition is my cover story. So people will come they want to lose weight. Maybe they want a nutrition plan to help them lose weight and so on. But the truth is, a nutritional plan isn't actually the thing that's going to help them permanently or help them long term. What it is is to establish a new pattern of habits and behaviours and lifestyle. And so really, this has evolved into what I call brain driven weight loss. And that's kind of my a term that I think I've coined, I haven't heard anybody else use it, just to acknowledge that the brain is really the driver of our behaviours and someone who work with our brain the way that our brain works, as opposed to trying to kind of fight our body into submission, we're much more likely to be successful long term. And so I don't believe I'm the only one kind of working in this way with people. But I think it's relatively uncommon as of yet.

Tony Winyard 10:28

What would you say is changed about the when you first started working with clients? How you're working with clients now how has that changed?

Jonathan McLernon 10:36

Oh, very dramatically. In the beginning, I was giving people meal plans to follow and I was really a macros type coach who would call it so assigning macronutrient ratios. So for those who might not know macros are referring to macronutrients protein, carbohydrates, and fat and then ratios meaning you know this many grammes of carbs every day this many grammes of protein every day, and this many grammes of fat every day, that was really the start of it. In one sense, that approach can work. But I kept seeing a pattern, which is within six to eight weeks, people would typically drop off. And the reason being, they couldn't follow that meal plan perfectly. And they felt this somehow they were failing, or the other part of his act, when you hand somebody a meal plan, and they haven't had a hand in shaping or creating it, they will then turn around and say, it didn't work for me. So they will not take ownership for their own failure to it here. Now, that's not saying that they're a failure, that's not trying to put blame on them necessarily, but it's just understanding the human condition, that in order for someone to succeed, they can't just follow my rules. That doesn't work, they actually need to have an ownership stake in the process of creating their own life transformation. Hmm.

Tony Winyard 11:51

So what is your approach Now then,

Jonathan McLernon 11:54

I would call it two experts collaborating towards a common goal. Okay, what I mean by that is I'm, I'm an expert in nutrition and behavioural psychology. But the client is the expert in their own life experience, day to day, habits and behaviours. And so that's an important piece of input in the process. If I just blindly tell them what to do it, I'm not taking into account their day to day struggles, their past history, things that may have happened in the past that are currently driving their behaviour. And so we really need both. And as I alluded to earlier, the other part of it is to say, I need them to be involved in the process in terms of So in a nutshell, I could say it's about reverse engineering their own healthy lifestyle through building habits. Now, what we'll do is we'll start with a principle and say, okay, because the fundamental principles of healthy lifestyle are relatively simple. And I say simple, because it's not easy, but they're relatively simple, a regular habit of activity. Regularly consuming nutrient dense foods, limiting the amount of junk food you consume, staying hydrated, managing your stress and getting some sleep. That's core if you if you kind of dial those things in, it's not going to be that difficult to ultimately achieve a degree of health. But how do we how do we take that principle and shape it for the individual depending on what their family circumstances are, depending on what their work circumstances are, and so on. And so, we'll take a principle and say, Okay, here's a starting point, I want you to try out let's have one called emfs, or eliminate mindless snacking. I will say, Okay, what I want you to do here is either three times or four times in the day and the note no snacking in between. So what that's going to do is that's going to start to stabilise blood sugar, and stabilise cravings in the beginning is going to suck a little bit if they're used to snacking every time they feel a twinge of hunger, but that's okay, we kind of want that a little bit of discomfort there. But it will actually stabilise their blood sugar. And then kind of say the rule of thumb is if you want to eat a treat, put at the end of a meal, don't eat independently as a snack that serves a double purpose really, one is you're now not eating a snack to satisfy hunger or to satisfy hunger. And secondly, you're putting it on top of a meal, which should be slower digesting, meaning you don't get a blood sugar spike and crash. So we'll take a principle like that and say, Okay, let's put this into action and see how this works for you. They then have to kind of learn how much food do I kind of need to eat at a meal to feel satisfied? And do I feel better eating three times in a day or four times in a day. And some people they might go down to two, some people might go up to five. So we have a starting point. We figure out where the snags are. But we just keep within that operating principle. We just keep adjusting it until it works for them. And then we put the next piece in place.

Tony Winyard 14:43

And if I hear you right, I kind of get the impression. Whereas before you were big on the kind of ratios and amount of grammes and so on. That's not so much the case now.

Jonathan McLernon 14:55

No, because the other element of it is of course the coaching element. So Oh Along the way, when we try to implement these things, there's going to be inevitable human struggles. Trying to change your lifestyle, there's natural resistance to change. You know, our brains like homeostasis our brains like familiar patterns, we have a sense of identity. And when we try to create transformation, we're actually shifting our sense of identity. That can make people feel a little bit vulnerable and insecure. They may not they may not verbalise it as such. But in a more primal sense, it that's what's happening. And that's why it's so difficult really, to create change independently by ourselves. Because we, we feel a sense of insecurity. And we feel a sense of discomfort when we when we start to challenge ourselves to grow and develop. Because I would say that our sort of our primal, our animal nervous system is really wired to avoid discomfort, and to try and stay within the familiar says primal security mechanism.

Tony Winyard 16:02

What habits have your clients struggled with the most or found hardest to adopt?

Jonathan McLernon 16:08

Good question. Because it's going to kind of depend on on each individual. I would say something like, you know, Okinawa, they have this principle, and I'm trying to think of the name, but I want to say Iki guy, but I don't think I got it, right. But it's this idea of eating to what 80% full, so or stopping when satisfied, rather than eating until you're stuffed. And so I think that one can be a bit tricky for people because their stomachs don't come with a level gauge. So it really means you have to start to feel more mindful and tune in and sense what you're feeling in your body with that meal. And we're so accustomed to eating a very distracted fashion. Very often we're eating and accompanied by technology, whether it's our smartphone, or watching something on Netflix, and so on, where we don't give ourselves the opportunity to tune in and sense this. So I think I think something like that tends to trip people up a little bit.

Tony Winyard 17:03

And once they've managed to get past once they've managed to make that into a habit, life become much easier for them.

Jonathan McLernon 17:13

I would say yes and no. And why I say that is because then we sort of encounter the next challenge, right? So if they can successfully implement it, then in one sense, yes. But then we're probably going to go more into the we're gonna dive a little bit deeper into the emotional aspects of their eating, whether it's boredom, eating, stress, eating, anxiety, eating, eating, to counter depression, and so on. So we're gonna start examining a little more closely, what are the tools that they use to deal with sort of their mental health?

Tony Winyard 17:51

And on the subject of habits do. I'm wondering, a lot of people seem to think that a lot of people feel they have really bad habits. And people say I'm just, I'm no good at this whole kind of habits thing. So once you've been able to help people, and prove to them and prove to themselves that they can do good habits on a regular basis, consistently, automated, and so on. Does it change how they think about themselves?

Jonathan McLernon 18:22

Yeah. What's neat about it is, when you see it, click, and it's gonna happen at different times for different people. But so, and kind of take one step back, what I explained to people is, you know, if you've ever driven down, like, I live kind of near farm country here, and if you can imagine driving down a country road that's not paved, maybe between a couple fields, and it's going to be well worn, well travelled is gonna be ruts in that road. And I see, okay, well, what we're going to try and do here, when we try to establish a new habit is we're gonna try and drive up on the ridges and flatten them out. Now, it's a little trickier to drive in the ridges, because it's kind of narrow and there's slopes. And inevitably, you might hit a wet patch and slip back on those old ruts. So I want people to understand that it's not necessarily a failure, when they fall back into old habits, because what have they had habit for 30 or 40 years. So to understand when we're trying to create a new habit, we have to it takes conscious effort to implement it in the beginning. And maybe the number of repetitions that would take will kind of depend on the complexity of the habit. In other words, you know, if it's something really simple, like brush your teeth, that's not too complicated. But if it's something like prepare vegetables for every meal, well, there's a little bit more involved in that, you know, there's a few surrounding pieces that need to come into play.

Tony Winyard 19:52

What do you think people most misunderstand about a nutrition coach?

Jonathan McLernon 19:59

I would say That the nutrition coach is going to solve all their problems for them. It's natural to want that to be the case, I want to hire you, and I want you to solve my problems. But that's kind of an overwhelmed response, just tell me what to do. And I'll do it. What that ignores is that human beings have this sort of natural sense of autonomy and independence that they really value. And if I just start imposing rules on you, you're going to start to resent me pretty soon. And that's why I really want my clients to have an active hand in shaping their lifestyle. And so you know, we'll see, well, we'll build these blocks cumulatively in place. So we start with some simpler, more basic ones, and then we just kind of, and I would call them high leverage behaviours as well. So ones that you know, they don't necessary require a huge amount of effort, but they actually yield a pretty high result. And then we start fine tuning as we get closer. So my programme is called lifestyle 180. And it's 180 day programme. And it's, it's meant to, over the course of it by the end of it, not that they're like, Oh my gosh, I'm glad this is over so I can go back to my old life. But you know, I love the new life that I've created the lifestyle that I've created, and it feels like it can keep doing it because of taking the time to implement these habits.

Jingle 21:19

We hope you're enjoying this episode of the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you're looking for the fastest and most effective way to transform your energy and wellbeing, we invite you to join Tony for an upcoming habits and health workshop. This five week group workshop will empower you with tools to disrupt unwanted habits and make positive changes easy. You'll enjoy sound asleep, better energy, less stress, and happier mood workshops begin on the first week of every month. And you can sign up now at Now back to the show.

Tony Winyard 22:04

Have you had any real surprises someone that you weren't sure if you'd be able to get the results they were hoping for or anything along those lines?

Jonathan McLernon 22:12

Oh, absolutely. And I think I've had surprises both ways. There's people that have come in, and they started off, you know, guns blazing. Really, really diligent, and I go, oh, wow, you know, this is looking like really promises really promising. And then all of a sudden, they just start ghosting me. I go, what, what's happening here, I'll reach out. And oh, you know, life just kind of got busy, and so on. And so I think one of the biggest challenges here is, is managing people's expectations. So you know, when we start thinking about creating change, our subconscious mind starts to create a picture of how we'll look and how we'll feel when we accomplish this change. And then our brain starts to reward us with dopamine that that's that feel good brain chemical. And I see there's a biological reason for that. That surge in dopamine allows us to overcome our resistance to change, we feel more excited about the change than we do our resistance to it, but it dies off. And it can be anywhere from a week to four weeks typically where I kind of see it die off, and I kind of don't want to burst people's bubbles. but on the same token, I want them to know that that's not true motivation. That's just a little surge and dopamine to get you over your resistance to change. And then the reality of transformation is going to set in, and you're going to realise Okay, there is some resistance change, because my primal brain wants me to go back to my old habits and behaviour patterns.

Tony Winyard 23:36

We've mostly been talking about nutrition, but you have touched upon sort of sleep and a couple other things. So do you is all your focus on nutrition? Or do you look at other areas of health as well.

Jonathan McLernon 23:54

I also look at, there's kind of four categories I would look at. One is nutrition. And that's probably the biggest lever, but it kind of needs to be connected to three other things. One is activity. I don't necessarily assign workout plans to people, I have an app that has I've put in some workouts from everywhere from beginner to advanced that people can use and follow along should they choose. And I do want them to establish a habit of regular activity. But I'm not necessarily a set and reps personal trainer, I did have a personal training certification. I haven't kept it current because my real passion is around the sort of behaviour based psychology. But I do I do in corporate activity into effect that into the things that we're trying to do. The other two really are sleep and recovery and then stress management. And I think like they all kind of work together. You know if your stress is really high, which very often is with people, especially in the modern world. Their sleep quality is not gonna be very good if their sleep quality is not very good. They're going to struggle with emotional regulation. And regulating their consumption because cheap junk food gives us a dopamine hit. And it's an easy way to escape uncomfortable feelings and escape from stress. So we kind of, there's kind of an art to an art and a science to this whole cultural process because it's kind of like I'm, I'm sitting here, tweaking this dial over here with them, and it will tweak this little dial here. Okay, let's take a look at you know, this week, let's take a look at what your stress levels are like, and so on and how you sleeping and factor all that in and then bring that back to them and say, Okay, well, here's how, here's how we maybe want to, here's the expectations we want to have of ourselves this week, based on the resources that are available to us. It's because I think it's it's unmet, or mismatched expectations that lead to discouragement and quitting and dropout.

Tony Winyard 25:49

You mentioned stress, just then. And so I'm wondering are most of your clients local? Or are they sort of geographically widespread?

Jonathan McLernon 25:59

I would say a good chunk of them are local to the province that I live in. But I've had clients as far as hungry on one side and Australia on the other side. And so I've got plenty of clients in the US as well. So there really isn't a geographic restriction, it's just a matter of sometimes, at a certain point, the time differences can make it difficult to connect effectively.

Tony Winyard 26:23

The reason I asked that question is, you mentioned that you're in a smaller town. The stereotype is that people in smaller towns aren't stressed. And it's the big cities where people are more stressed? Is that what you found?

Jonathan McLernon 26:39

Not necessarily. I think nowadays, particularly because of digital technology, and even the small towns have high speed internet, that it's almost like we find things to be stressed about. It's and maybe we go back to sort of this biological mechanism of trying to keep ourselves safe. And so we scan our environment for threats. And there is this idea of wanting to be connected. If it is like the rural farm country, there is the aspect of like, farm life is hard and long hours and unpredictable. So we have some clients in that area. Yeah, the other side of the coin is the corporate life is difficult and challenging as well. And so I don't see a huge difference really between the two anymore.

Tony Winyard 27:26

And since the outbreak of COVID. Last year, have people come to you? What would you say you've noticed there's a difference in why people are coming to you from before or no, no change?

Jonathan McLernon 27:39

No, I haven't really noticed significant change. There was, you know, all the jokes floating around back in 2020, about the whole COVID 15 sort of thing, the natural weight gain, but after a while it stopped being funny. And people are like, Oh my gosh, this is actually happening. And maybe it's not a joke, because the COVID 15 is turning into the COVID, 30 and 40, and so on. And so maybe there's people, let's say a little more discouraged. They're like, Oh my gosh, I thought maybe it just it would be a little slip up and I get back on track. And I've really struggled to get back on track. And that's because I mean, we didn't see this playing out for two years or longer the way that it has, everybody sort of went into this with the idea of Okay, we just got you know, two weeks to flatten the curve. And the joke is like the hardest part about the the two weeks to flatten the curve is the first 18 months.

Tony Winyard 28:31

What was it that you most enjoy about what you do?

Jonathan McLernon 28:37

I really enjoy when it clicks for people. There's something really I mean, I also have this kind of a nerdy engineering brain. So I have this kind of a unique combination of I'm quite an empath and very compassionate towards people in their struggles. But I I love when first of all, when somebody comes to me, and they don't see a lot of hope in their situation. And I look at them and I you know, my engineering brain runs these calculations and I see their potential and I go, oh my gosh, this would be an incredible transformation story if we could make this work. And so I kind of I kind of love the challenge of that, that that really like excites me. And then when it when it clicks, you know I have a client for example, she's about 61 now, and it might seem like a total mismatch. I'm a guy in my 30s and she's a lady in her 60s and you know she's lost over 50 pounds and kept it off she took about nine months to lose 50 pounds and she's kept it off for 18 months and it's pretty incredible so she went from you know, being in pain walking across the room kind of thing. thinking I'm just getting old I'm over the hill I'm done to being able to walk five miles and swim 30 links that are local pool

Tony Winyard 29:49

and say clearly you you you say you enjoyed the challenge and so on. So how do you see what would you like to happen in your business in the next few years?

Jonathan McLernon 30:00

I'd like to be more well known. Because the here's the challenge of being an entrepreneur, especially being in like a solopreneur. Like I do outsource some things. But I really I wear all the hats and I sort of keep my finger on the pulse of the different areas of both of my businesses. And maybe I'm a little bit of a workaholic. I would the one thing is like, in a business, I spend as much time sort of marketing and trying to and finding clients as I do coaching clients. And I would like that ratio shift because I don't worry, I'm good. The marketing part, I'm good at communicating, I know all the steps, you know, I know how to use organic marketing, I've worked it to the past the magic 10k a month and all that. I would like to spend less time on the marketing and more time working with people because that's truly where my passion lies.

Tony Winyard 30:55

Would you think about the technology and is coming into health now of all the various wearables and monitors and so on,

Jonathan McLernon 31:03

double edged sword. So I have a pretty basic watch, it's a Garmin vivofit, three, which probably came out, I don't know, couple years back, and it really only use it for counting my steps. Sometimes too much information can be a problem, or we can get lost in the weeds. It can become a distraction. Because I know I used to be very data driven, because I have a scientific research background. And I used to keep spreadsheets and everything I had an inbody 520 to scan my body fat percentage every day like I was I was really into this stuff. It didn't really help me move forward. What it was is I was that was becoming a distraction, rather than like helping me. And so what I would say is technology is intended to facilitate the process not be the process. And the same goes for working online, the internet is just the medium that allows two people to connect. So I set what I call cmgs or can't miss goals. And this is this is a concept that I think is really valuable for a lot of people. So I'll use activity for an example here. Because I have my step counter. I set my movement goal to 5000 steps. And people look at that and go well why not 10,000 are like that, that seems like pretty doable. I'm like it is very doable. That's why I call it a can't miss goal. It's so doable. In fact, that basically I can't miss it. I did miss it once I had 166 days streak and I missed it once because I got a bit of a cold, it wasn't the thing that should not be named, but it's a bit of a cold. And then you know I'm back on the horse again, kind of thing. So I've you know, 180 something days underneath the eight out of 189 days. Now my average is actually more like 8200 or 8800 steps a day. But this idea of a can't miss school. It's an old Jerry Seinfeld trick. He he got himself a big old wall calendar. And he decided he was going to write a joke every day good, bad or ugly, he's going to write a joke, can you put a big red X on that calendar, and it became a thing of Don't break the streak. And by having this can't miss goal of writing just one joke every day, he became a world famous comedian. And so it's like we can use this little hack. So instead of setting the goal to I'm going to work out for an hour a day, five days a week. Like that's, that's ambitious. And maybe that's a good thing to get to. But really, you need to start with something so simple, you can't miss it, because what's going to dictate the success of the habit is the repeatability of it. And remember, it's not so much about the magnitude of the habit, but really but establishing the pattern of behaviour because once the behaviour pattern is established, you can now build on it. So my 5000 step goal that just always keeps me connected the fact that I have to do something deliberate every day because I work in online business, I run out, work on my laptop, I could sit all day long and just were coming up all day long and not move really. So it reminds me I have to do something this morning, for example. So now I get up. I go hop on my recumbent bike and go for a ride that already gets me I'm already say it see if it's morning for me is I'm 4500 steps already. And after that I go have my cold shower, which is another thing that I do. My wife thinks I'm a bit nuts, but you know, then I'll go and brush my teeth. And if you so I've actually stacked quite a few habits together that I kind of have in my morning routine. But having that CMG can't miss school set meant that once the streak was gone, I want to do everything in my power to make sure that I didn't miss that streak. And it's really grown into something significantly more and I've kept the gold the same. People think well, should you should you bump it up as like no, I've kept it the same because I want to keep the streak going. Now, in my head, I have a couple of other goals like I have a monthly step goal. I want to make sure I exceed 200,000 steps every month. So the average has to be at least I think 6500 to make that happen. And I want to actually exceed 50,000 steps every week. So they've bumped up a little bit higher. So I Set a few other goals, but I don't make those the baseline because there is the possibility What if I get injured, I could miss that, you know. So I want to meet, I just want to make it as repeatable as possible. And it really is meant that I have a rock solid established pattern of daily activity.

Tony Winyard 35:17

And we're talking about technology. I'm wondering if any of the, when you have new clients that come to you and I they do they do you ever get clients who really feel that sort of wearables are going to be the thing that's really going to help them? And then they find out? That's not the case?

Jonathan McLernon 35:33

Not so much. I have a few people that have Apple watches. And yeah, very few of them really think I was I'm kind of glad to see that the those are going to be the answer. I mean, I know there's a lot of high performers who maybe they want an hour ring or however you say that aura ring, whatever it is, you know, or you get the watch that monitors HRV and stuff like that, you know, if you're trying to be professional athletes, fantastic, you know, but for the average person, it doesn't change the actions you need to take to be healthy. If it motivates you to be more active, then it's probably a positive. If it becomes a distraction, or a way of kind of becomes like an obsession, it can become problematic and such as maybe being really aware of your relationship with technology.

Tony Winyard 36:24

You've talked a lot about habits and behaviour and so on. So would you Is there a habit you can think of that you've developed that has been this helped you the most maybe been the biggest change in your life to you know, is there anything that comes to mind

Jonathan McLernon 36:41

is my activity habit. So my CMG that really cemented my activity habit. So setting that can't miss goal that absolutely cemented my activity habit. And I'm like a relatively new dad, my son's just over six months old. And I set that just after he was born, because I'm an older Dad, you know, I want to be 40 and he's gonna be one. So I'm like, and turns out, this kid's like a mover, his legs never stopped going. And so I kind of a precursor of what's waiting for me, as soon as he figures out how to run, he's going to be running in every direction possible, and I have to be able to keep up with him. And so that's why I made that the baseline for everything else. So it becomes the anchor habit, I do that and then I've stacked other habits on top of it. And so really, that one anchor habit meant that I could stack on top of my cold shower, which is kind of my my daily resilience test, I guess I can if I can handle some discomfort, because in order to grow and change course, if you're uncomfortable, you know, they stack on things like brush, my teeth drink a litre of water before 10pm, that kind of stuff. All of these little self care habits really are built on the foundation of that one anchor habit.

Tony Winyard 37:50

Is there a book that is really moved you in any way?

Jonathan McLernon 37:57

Man, there's there's two that I want to talk about. One of them being Digital Minimalism. Give that one honourable mention, because it digital minimalism really helped me to shape my relationship with technology being on an entrepreneur. But I would say Atomic Habits, I've referenced habit stacking. And that's, that's a trick from from atomic habits. And I think that book is not not just fundamental for me personally, but for how I work with people. And even through the nutrition certifications I've done, I can see that they've incorporated this into it as well. And so if anybody hasn't read, I mean, it's a best seller have sold millions of copies. But if you haven't read it, I really think you should, because it will, it will dramatically shift, how you see like the power of habits.

Tony Winyard 38:38

How would if people want to find out more about you where where they go?

Jonathan McLernon 38:43

www.Freedomnutrition would be my website. I also have my own podcast called Wellness Unplugged. I like to call that conversations between the before and after. So on social media, we are referencing the before and the after. But we don't know the actual story of the transformation, I kind of want to have more of those types of conversations. So get to the nitty gritty of what it actually takes to change. If anybody is struggling with their relationship with food, I have a free resource called crush your cravings. So you can go to and I'll send you a copy of that book. It'll show you kind of a four step method for beating your cravings, how to kind of sleep and actually improve your fat loss through sleep, and a few other little tricks and tips.

Tony Winyard 39:25

Is there. Is there a question that I haven't asked you which, which you've got an answer for something you feel maybe I that the audience would benefit from knowing about you or anything infinite comes to mind?

Jonathan McLernon 39:39

Well, I would say if you're trying to create a transformation, I like to say that awareness is the first step to change. So if you can become aware of your present habits and behaviours and exactly where you're at, even if that's uncomfortable, that's where the change starts. The thing with habits is there Very much unconscious behaviours, their automatic behaviours without conscious thought, Well, if you have a bad habit that you want to break free from, you kind of need to make yourself aware that you're doing this and catch yourself in the process. Now it's going to take a number of times to probably it's not going to break because you become aware of it. But that's the first step to really succeeding. And so habits are this beautiful, double edged sword. But it's underpinning that is this, this whole awareness is the first step to change.

Tony Winyard 40:29

And finally, Jonathan, and well, it's not that dissimilar to what you just said, I was going to ask you, is there a quote that you basically like to finish on? And I think it's your quote is quite related to what you just said.

Jonathan McLernon 40:40

Yeah, it comes from, from James Clear's Atomic Habits, and that is, Every action is a vote for the person who you want to become. And why I think that's so powerful is because when we realised it looks like Oh, just one time, we call I call them like the little, little no harms? Well, they start to add up, he repeated behaviour a couple times as well, no harms. And you've got to have it. And, you know, maybe actually, there's a second quote that comes to mind. I think it comes from Warren Buffett, the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they're too heavy to break.

Tony Winyard 41:17

Yeah, that's so good. Well, Jonathan, it's been, it's been a pleasure speaking to you. So good luck in with your business. And yeah, I hope to speak to you again sometime.

Jonathan McLernon 41:27

Thanks so much, man. Take care. Cheers.

Tony Winyard 41:31

Next week is Episode 35. With Pete Williams, who is a functional medicine practitioner in London, where he runs a company called Functional Medicine Associates. And the episode is mostly around the microbiome of the mouth. And that may not be something you're familiar with, or maybe even never heard of before. And it's that's one of the main reasons I got him on because it's an area of the body that many people just aren't aware is even an issue. When it's becoming a lot more popular, I guess, you could say, the microbiome of the you know, the stomach, and how important that is, you know, I've got an hour, but it's just as important the microbiome of the mouth. So next week, Pete Williams, we really dig deep into this, and it's a fascinating Episode One, one of the best episodes, I think of this show, you're really going to enjoy in next week's episode. So that's Pete Williams, Episode 35 next week, I hope you enjoyed this week's show. If you only want to get some real value from some of the nuggets that Jonathan shared, please do share the episode with them. And see you next week.

Jingle 42:41

Thanks for tuning in to the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app. Sign up for email updates and learn about coaching and workshop opportunities at See you next time on the habits and health podcast.

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