A Conversation with Brant Secunda and Mark Allen, Authors of FIT SOUL, FIT BODY
Q: How is the FIT SOUL, FIT BODY program different from all the other fitness and self-help books on the market?
Brant & Mark: Our backgrounds are totally unique, and from that we integrate two worlds that are rarely united. We see books that focus mainly on physical fitness but only touch lightly on the inner person, while others delve deep into personal growth, yet have very little if anything about how to have good physical health.
Our philosophy trains your mind alongside your body, which can bring a profound metamorphosis. The Fit Soul, Fit Body tools and practices transform both body and soul by using small focused changes that are sustainable, enjoyable and impactful. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the Fit Soul, Fit Body program is the way in which a connection to nature is promoted as a universal way to reduce stress, stave off boredom, find gratitude, and gain the energy we need to move through life with grace and power.
We provide practical and simple tools that can be implemented by everyone and will give the reader an incredible transformative experience. As Stephen R. Covey says in the Foreword to our book, if you do just one thing differently this week based on a single idea given, you will notice a change for the better and want to keep going.
Q: Mark, you say that Brant’s teaching was what helped you become a champion. What were the most important changes that Brant helped you make?
Mark: All of the top athletes trained their bodies the same, but the teachings of Brant were what lifted me up and distinguished me from the others. Before meeting Brant, I had a fit body, but not a fit soul and could never put together the winning elements to be the world-class athlete and champion I had hoped to become. Brant helped me do this.
In specific terms he gave me invaluable tools to deal with stress, handle pressure, and to be able to feel comfortable in just about any situation including the unpredictable and chaotic environment of a race. But perhaps one of the most important parts of having a Fit Soul that Brant gave me was a way to feel happy and fulfilled BEFORE the starting gun went off. This is the strongest starting point for any endeavor, especially those in life requiring a personal “world champion” effort.
Q: Brant, what have you learned from Mark in developing this program together?
Brant: What I learned was to become fit in the context of the modern world, which for most people including myself was very different than having it be a byproduct of life as it is in an indigenous culture where gathering firewood, growing corn and clearing fields are ongoing parts of living. I now enjoy using a fitness center, and have learned to love running as a way to bring the different worlds together through exercising at spectacular places in nature. Also Mark’s strategies and insights into nutrition were invaluable tools in developing our program together. And I lost 50 pounds!
Q: What do you think are the best ways to conquer stress?
Brant & Mark: One thought that can shift all stress on the spot is this, “In the quiet of the heart, no stress can reside…only joy, power and hope.” This is one of our 9 keys: learning to quiet the mind. Next, take the weight off of your soul by conquering stress with one deceptively simple tool: respond with calmness. It’s easy to forget that this is the way we can respond to tough situations, especially ones that are emotionally stressful. But ultimately it is when we reach a place of calm that stress is eliminated. Then make sure to honor your body by eating well and exercising. Once again, this is simple advice, but it will go a long way to fortifying your body so that stress becomes manageable. These themes are especially developed throughout our book.
Q: In today’s world, we’re bombarded with information. What techniques do you suggest for quieting one’s mind?
Brant & Mark: We have many, but here are two very powerful ways to quiet the mind. The first is to take a few minutes or an hour to disconnect with the information overload that can occupy your mind and go out in nature with the focus of just quieting the thinking process. This can be as simple as watching a sunset or taking a few moments to sit under a tree in a park. Enjoy the natural process that is ongoing regardless of our busy lives and breath that peace into your soul.
The second tool we suggest is to take a walk, go for a run or do any other form of exercise long enough to feel your mind quiet. Let the problems of life take a back seat to the happiness you can feel from moving your body.
Q: One of your keys is “slow down to get faster.” Seems like a contradiction – can you explain?
Brant & Mark: This is another example of how our book is different from many others. “Slowing down to get faster” addresses our core genetics that we all have in common. In the modern world most people feel they must push their bodies and souls to the limit to make any gains in fitness or to change their approach to life. But we are not set up that way. We all thrive when you apply small focused changes that are more gradual, not intense. Going fast in life has its place, but not as a staple for long-term gains, which is good news for anyone who has quit exercising because they didn’t feel a walk would do any good for changing their body or who haven’t given themselves the permission to slow down and enjoy a few moments of a glorious sunrise or sunset to make their soul feel better.
Q: How would you describe someone who has a fit soul?
Brant & Mark: Someone who has a Fit Soul we call “whole” or “complete,” which means among other things that you feel content and are filled with laughter. You experience joy and pure happiness. A person with a Fit Soul sparkles in the presence of others as well as in the silence of their own solitude. This not to say that every moment in life will be easy or without challenge. But more often than not they have the ability to go through the good and the bad, the joy and the sadness, the happiness and pain that sometimes appears in our lives.
Q: What is shamanism? What benefits does it have for all of us?
Brant: Shamanism is a system of healing and living in harmony with nature, our environment and all of life. It’s also about feeling well by helping shifting your focus onto positive qualities, thoughts and emotions. You can see that without knowing it, many people are drawn to this concept when they choose a place to go on vacation to charge their bodies and souls back up…most are in spectacular places in nature (a mountain resort, an ocean or lake, or a spa nestled amidst spectacular rocks). Inherently, this approach heals the soul and body and strengthens our connection to both our inner and outer environment making us stronger mentally, emotionally and physically.
Q: What do you hope that people will take away from reading your book?
Brant & Mark: FIT SOUL, FIT BODY can bring fundamental positive change to your life. By reading the book you can gain insights on how to create a life of contentment and happiness. Our book is about transformation; whether that’s losing weight, changing old patterns, having a stronger connection to your community and your environment, or finding trust in life itself. Readers will get this and much more