When nutritionist and renowned fitness guru, Mark Macdonald, was in town recently to promote his new weight management programme, we took the chance to speak to him to find out more about the programme, his books as well as his prolific career of coaching many professional athletes such as Olympic Gold Medallists, Shawn Johnson (Gymnastics) and Quincy Watts (Track & Field).
Q: You certainly have a lot of impressive accomplishment under your belt, both before and after getting into the world of fitness. Can you tell us how it feels to have come so far in your life and what motivated you to start focusing on helping others?
It’s been an amazing journey. What means the world to me are the millions of people we have helped take back control of their health from around the world. That is what it all comes back down too. I started this journey with one client back in 1995, and the key is to always remember the difference one can make, one leads to two, etc and that’s how movement and change is created.
I saw my mum grow up as a dieter and the pain she felt every time she regained the weight she lost. I lived with my own weight challenges once I finished playing soccer and my wife Abbi and I have battled through her fibromyalgia since 1999. Each step made me realise that people are suffering with their health and are willing to do the work, but they don’t know what to do. This is why I have an ever burning desire to truly provide hope for the people with their body and show them they can truly live their best health. I also want my 13 year-old son Hunter and 2 year-old little girl Hope, and every child in the world to understand food so that they can control their metabolism.
Q: With your new book “Why Kids Make You Fat….and How to Get Your Body Back” having come out recently, can you give us a bit of a rundown of what the book aims to teach readers?
I wrote my newest best-selling book “Why Kids Make You Fat and How to Get Your Body Back” for all parents. As parents, we all know it takes a sick kid to derail our entire day. And you never truly understand being busy until you have children. I wrote this book to take all parents on a 9 Chapter experience to win with their food, fitness and create real strategies for life. I believe every parent should read this book, it includes our powerful 8-Week food plan we use in Zen Project 8, as well as 50+ tasty recipes. Most importantly, the information and strategies to take your body to the next level and education to win forever as a family. For more information, visit www.WhyKidsMakeYouFat.com.
Q: Another big accomplishment you have is the creating of the Zen-8 Program. What can you tell us about the programme and what sets it apart from the other programmes out there?
Diets like Ketosis, Calorie restriction, Intermittent Fasting, Appetite suppressants are focused on deprivation and restriction, who wants to do that? How can anyone diet for life? The reality is – you can’t. This is why we created Zen Project 8 – a real health solution centred on your physiology and the education to evolve your programme into a lifestyle for you and your family.
Think of a baby. Babies eat every 3 hours, have a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates in breast milk or formula and stop eating when they are satisfied and only eat again when they are hungry. This is how we are all supposed to eat. Zen Project 8 goes back to the root of physiology and empowers you to eat the foods you want, but in the right balance to balance your hormones and blood sugar levels.
It’s an 8-Week Programme that becomes a life programme. You Detox your body, Ignite your metabolism and Thrive by making your programme a way of life.
The three main parts are a Food Plan, which is simple to follow and extremely effective. Cutting Edge Products designed with a purpose to fill your nutritional gaps and prevent you from skipping meals and a Power House Community to answer your questions, provide inspiration and live your health journey by your side.
Before you start any programme, always ask yourself these 3 questions, the answer must be YES to do the programme:
- Is my programme based on physiology?
- Can I do my programme for the rest of my life?
- Would I put a kid on it?
If you can’t do your health programme for the rest of your life or have children do it, there is an ‘off’ in the programme. We have millions of families, kids, teenagers and adults of all ages and goal types living Zen Project 8 around the world.
Mark with the Singapore Zen Project 8 Community
Q: For busy people, what do you think is the most important thing to do when it comes to staying in shape?
The three most important things are education, consistency and fun. Because when you’re busy, you need to know how to workout efficiently to optimise your time. It’s also easy to skip workouts being busy, so creating a consistent rhythm will keep you on point. And finally, your exercise must be fun. If you don’t enjoy it or look forward to it, you won’t stay consistent. So make a list of exercises and activities you like and then work on scheduling in those workouts in your calendar.
Q: Back when you first started studying physiology, you realised that the amount of knowledge on the subject was very limited across the board, do you think that has changed over the years?
YES! I love the continual awareness and new research. The preference for organic and natural foods has also drastically increased, but the reality is still most of the world population doesn’t know what a protein, fat or carbohydrate is, so more work needs to be done.
There are still a couple of big challenges with the dieting and food industry. The dieting industry is designed for people to fail, and come back 90 days later. The money into dieting is at an all time high and focuses on marketing to people at their weakest moment. We need to continue to educate and counter the dieting industry. Also, many companies continue to make foods that are marketed as healthy but are far from it.
But with that being said, we are light years ahead compared to 20 years ago and through continual education, we can continue to make incredible strides in awareness and helping everyone win with their food.
Q: As a former athlete yourself, how does your background influence the way your coach?
It helps me tremendously. I know what kind of commitment it takes to play a sport at the highest level, so that lets me have a better understanding on helping clients make sure their expectations match their actions. That is what causes people to lose motivation, when they have unrealistic expectations for the effort they want to put forth. So making sure the vision and goals are set right from the start is massive.
Also, as an athlete I know the power of 1% progress – slow and steady improvements make a huge difference when competing at a high level. This same mindset is important for people rocking their health journey. It’s about make steady progress each day with your health and then imagine where you’ll be a year from now.
Q: What would you say was the most challenging aspect on your road to success?
Fighting the dieting industry and their fake and false promises. Dieting is exciting because it provides an immediate relief to pain, but we all know it is never a solution. The dieting industry sells out everyday and takes advantage of great people who don’t know what they are supposed to do and mislead them.
Everyday, we are fighting and winning against that and health companies who have sold out. My mission is to educate the entire world on how to forever win with their food and own their metabolism. Whatever their goal is, lose weight, build muscle, burn fat, gain weight; there are many different health goals – the key is to help each person achieve their health goal.
Q: What would you say is the most important part of training and guiding someone?
The two most important components are mindset and education. Without the right mindset from the start, success cannot be achieved. It’s crucial to set the right pace and cast the vision of what the health experience will be leading to achieving the goal.
Then once the mindset is set, the next step is education. Empowering the person to understand their food, fitness and body so as they live their programme, they understand it and learn how to make it a way of life. This will create the right foundation to ensure they have a solution for them and their family.
Q: With so many trainers uploading videos and publishing exercise regimes online, some people feel that they can skip the personal trainer and simply follow these guides. What advice would you give them?
I love all the information online now. My suggestion is make sure you get proper technique training first so you can prevent injury and learn how to activate all your muscle fibres during your workout. Your metabolism is controlled by your muscle, so learning how to maximise muscle recruitment during training will help ignite your metabolism and strengthen your core.
So hiring a trainer or taking a yoga/pilates class would be excellent to learn the right form. Then once you have that down, utilising online workout and training is an excellence resource to keep your workouts fun, diverse and challenging.
Q: Body Confidence is something that a log of people struggle with and that is something we are trying to promote through our platform as well. You do touch on this in your books but what would you say to someone who is currently struggling with body image issues and what are the steps he/she can take to gain more confidence.
It all comes back down to education. When people think they are eating healthy, but aren’t getting the results they want, this triggers doubt. Doubt leads to confidence challenges and eventually can lead to an unhealthy body image. But the reality is, most people aren’t eating right or balanced so the work they think will help them achieve their goals is taking them further away. This negative spiral is the primary cause of lack of confidence.
This is why it all comes back to education. With the right food foundation, people learn what they need to do to really achieve their goals. This awakening of information immediately relieves the pressure and they feel that they have the control over their metabolIsm because they know what to do. This is instant Body Confidence.
This is why we must continue to fight the dieting madness and provide real solutions for people on how to balance their blood sugar levels and make their nutrition a realistic way of life.
We’d like to thank Mark for the interview and those who are interested to know more about nutrition and/or Mark’s books can visit www.whykidsmakeyoufat.com. Mark’s books are also sold in major bookstores.
Photo credits: Mark Macdonald and Google Books