In this episode of the CIVILIAN STRONG podcast I interview Dr. Charles Livingston, aka Charlie.

Charlie is a successful entrepreneur, father, and expert on fitness and nutrition.

In this episode we discuss the annual shredding routine he uses to quickly lose 15 lbs of fat and get in shape for the summer months.

Charlie goes into detail on what he eats, his mindset, morning routines, and how he trains.

Lots of gems in this one.

Charlie Livingston's annual before and after transformation.
Charlie Livingston’s annual before and after transformation.

Show Highlights

  • Morning routines help manage your mindset and allow you to tackle the day with confidence. Charlie shares his process for tackling the day.
  • Gratitude is a powerful emotion Charlie cultivates it daily.
  • Charlie started a coffee company because so many people drink coffee that’s full of toxins and over time they can wear your body down.
  • Persistent consistent effort is the main thing that leads to results over time, especially getting into shape or losing weight.
  • Charlie places a lot of emphasis on being conscious about what he puts into his body, good and not so good. So if you’re going to cheat, do so consciously.
  • Charlie will do several weeks of strict eating with days of calorie overloading built in so that he builds in a margin of error. This also helps with leptin levels (a hormone that controls weight).
  • Charlie gives tips on how he manages his attitude, mindset and emotions. He uses his spare time while driving to listen to Audible books so he can learn and stay in a positive state of mind.
  • Protein, creatine, green juice, MCT oil, coffee, collagen are a few of the supplements he takes.
  • Charlie talks about the workout style he favors and why.
  • And so much more…

Show Notes

Charlie’s original post on how he gets shredded, including what he eats, how he trains, and the supplements he takes can be found here.

Charlie’s supplement company: Perfect Origins.

The Magic of Thinking Big on Amazon.


Adam: So Charlie, thanks so much for being on the show today, man. I just wanted to welcome you on. I’ve got Charles Livingston on the show today, and today I’m gonna ask Charlie a little bit about a particular workout program he goes into each year. So Charlie, thanks for taking the time.

Charles: Hey, no problem, man. I’m glad to be here.

Adam: Yeah. So, really excited to do this call and, you know, before we talk about your sort of annual shredding program, one of the first things I wanted to ask you is about your attitude and mindset. One of the things that actually struck me the first time I met you is how positive you are and I wanted to know that we’re gonna talk about what you do physically and how you eat and that type of thing, but I also wanted to ask if you do anything specific for your mindset or to stay positive, or have you just always been a positive person?

Charles: I would say, in general, I’ve been pretty positive, but yeah, I definitely have things that I do daily to help keep that going.

Adam: Cool. Like, what kind of specific things would you do?

Morning Power Routine

Charles: Okay, so as soon as I get up, the first thing I usually do is I grab my greens powder. I normally don’t eat breakfast in the morning so I’ll just drink a greens drink and then I will do a devotion. I’m a Christian, so I’ll either read the Bible or read a Christian book or I will do affirmations or just basically write down or just say out loud what I’m grateful for. And then every day on my way to work I’m always just praying and just thanking God for what I have and just being grateful, and I just think that sets the tone for your day. Because as soon as you get to work, everything just starts collapsing in on you. You’ve got all these things to do and it’s overwhelming and it’s just…you need to start out strong and just know that no matter what, you need to have faith and you’re going to make it through it.

Adam: Wow, that’s great. I noticed that your Facebook posts often have a lot to do with gratitude, so I think you just touched on that. Why is gratitude such an important part of your morning routine?

Charles: Because it’s…in the world that we live in, the things that get the most attention are negative. And if you look at the media, this whole presidential debate, everything is negative, negative, negative, and so you are just inundated by negative messages all day long. So you need to learn how to protect yourself from that and make sure that you are in a place of gratitude and of love and of service rather than being just…letting that stuff get to you.

And it’s not easy because it still gets to you. I don’t watch the news, personally. The only news that I really see is just what pops up on my Facebook feed, and most of the time I ignore it, especially now that they have that whole trending thing on the side. It’s kind of distracting.

Charles: But, yeah, I mean, it can really bring you down and it’s insane. Like, when you start to think about who’s going to win the election, what’s going to happen to the country, and you just start to worry and worry and worry, it just…it affects you in allowing you to be the best person that you can be to serve other people. And change happens one person at a time, right, and it starts with you.

Charles: So that’s just always been my mindset, is I can’t control what everybody else is doing, but I can control what I’m doing. And so I want to come out of place of love and gratitude, because there are so many other people out there that are in such a worse place than I am, and even third world countries, I mean, I can’t imagine the things that happen and the atrocities that happen over there that we…most of the time, we don’t even hear about.

Charles: But I mean, you go…I went to the Dominican in September, and it’s a third world country. I mean, literally, they live on…a lot of these people are living on third floors. Once you go out into the countryside, they have little huts. It’s crazy. And to come back from these types of experiences and just not sit down and just be grateful for what you have, the car that I drive, the roof over my head, my health, my healthcare, everything, it’s just crazy not to do that, in my opinion.

Adam: Wow, that’s great. Like I was saying, it’s obvious that it plays a big role, or gratitude plays a big role in your day, and I think that’s a great explanation. I’ve seen that you’ve been traveling a lot, going to different events, and so I’m sure that gives you a good perspective on sort of seeing people that don’t have all these good things in your life versus the stuff that you’ve created in your own life. So being grateful for what you have, I think, that’s a great lesson.

Charles: Yeah, thank you.

Adam: Cool. So I guess, just before we get into the work stuff, maybe you could just give us a quick insight into what you’re working on this day. I mean, you’re a business owner, you’re a father. I mean, you’re a super busy guy. You find time to run multiple businesses and you were able to get totally shredded before and beach body ready for summer. So what are you working on right now?

The Power of Coffee and Gratitude

Charles: Right now, my primary thing that I work on are my businesses, my supplement company. I have a natural health stuff in the company ( We have anything from liver detox to probiotics to omega-threes and we do a lot of…we’re starting to do a lot more content marketing and education for our customers and we’re looking to get more off Facebook. It’s just that we don’t have a lot of time to…or resources right now just to be able to spread the message as much as we’d like, so that’s the next phase for us.

Charles: But we’re super busy and we’re loving what we do there. Another thing that I’m doing is kind of a passion project for me, is I started a coffee company.

Adam: Cool.

Charles: And the coffee company’s called Life Boost. If you look at the coffee industry, you’ve got a lot of these…the popular ones right now are like kicking horse coffee and bulletproof coffee and black rifle coffee and death wish coffee. All these really harsh, hardcore names.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And for me, I’m like…when I start my day, I want to start on a positive note. Most people drink coffee in the morning, so I created Life Boost coffee off of the fact that you get your mindset in the right space, and our tagline is, “Elevate others, energize yourself, and excel at life.” Right?

Adam: I like it.

Charles: So the whole purpose is that you start your day with a positive note, either reading affirmations… On ever bag of coffee, we have a blessing or an affirmation that you can read daily, and then go out, do something good for somebody. Anything from just opening a door to buying their meal for them, anything like that. Just do something, because when you do something for somebody else, that also makes you feel better as well.

Adam: Cool. Do you think that ties back into the gratitude concept that we just talked about somehow, or is this sort of a different thing along the same lines?

Charles: It does, it does. I just see…life’s all about perspective, right? Your life is based on how…what’s happened to you in the past and then how you…your lens to view the future. And so you just need to learn that your past doesn’t dictate your future, and so how do you change that? Well, one of the easiest ways to do that is to do things for other people to help them.

Charles: In return, that changes your perspective on life. Does that make sense?

Adam: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s another good lesson. I mean, to be able to work that into your daily mindset so that you’re aware of opportunities and looking for opportunities to do something for somebody else, that’d be pretty powerful.

Charles: Yeah, I just…like I said, I’m all about being a world changer, and that starts doing it one person at a time, affecting one life.

Getting Ripped – Not Rocket Science

Adam: Cool, cool. So I’m just going to change it up here a little bit and I…one of the main reasons that I wanted to talk to you is just about this post that we’ve kind of touched on a couple of times, alluded to, on Facebook. And you did this post and immediately, I think, 10 or 20 people shared it. There was over 50 comments and people were very curious to ask you questions and show their support and so on, but you talk about going through this transformation. So in addition to all the stuff that you’re up to, you find time to transform your body once a year, or at will it seems, and I just wondered if you could tell us about that transformation.

Charles: Yeah, sure. Honestly, it’s not rocket science.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: It’s being persistently consistent. That’s one of my favorite words and you’ll hear me use that a lot when I’m talking to people. A persistent consistence is the key to pretty much accomplishing any goal in your life. You just need to stay at it, and when you hit roadblocks, you just need to put your head down and just push through it. You’re going to get knocked down, you get back up, and you just keep doing it again. It’s okay to fall off the bandwagon if you cheat on your diet or whatever. Just from that moment, get back on and do it again, and you’re going to fall off again. From that moment, don’t be like “Oh, [inaudible 00:10:44] eat 15 donuts now and I’m done.” You can’t do that. One little mis…you’re going to have error.

Adam: Right.

Charles: [inaudible 00:10:54] place, right? It’s just your ability to stand back up, dust yourself off and push forward, that’s what makes a difference between making a change like this and not.

Adam: Yeah, I think one of the things that I have noticed with myself is that if I have a goal of, let’s say, getting in shape or losing a certain amount of weight, when I make a mistake, I’m hard on myself and then I tend to often double down on the mistake. It’s like, “Oh, well, I ate that so why don’t I just go all out and eat even more of it?” You know what I mean?

Charles: Yeah.

Adam: It’s like adding insult to injury.

Charles: Yeah, yeah. And you know what? Even if that happens just be like, “Okay, it’s out of my system. Let’s start again.”

Adam: Right.

Charles: You can’t beat yourself up for all the mistakes because then you start to get into this negative spiral again.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And it’s that path of destruction that keeps you from your goals.

Adam: Yeah, totally. Now, you mentioned you sort of have a personal rule of thumb. So for…sort of throughout the year, you wrote that your personal rule is to keep your weight within 10 to 15 pounds of where you would ideally want to be.

Charles: Yeah, yeah. I have a huge sweet tooth and it’s…I don’t know. My son inherited it. He’s just as bad as I was, and it stuck with me and I can’t help it. So what I did is I was like, “You know what? I like working out, I like…” Well, I don’t like working out. I like the effects of what happens when you work out, right, the energy boost, the clarity in thinking, the weight loss, strength gain, all that stuff.

Adam: Right.

Charles: But the actual doing the work, I don’t think anybody really actually…well, I guess, there are some people, but yeah. So my rule of thumb is I keep myself six weeks out from being beach body ready.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: So I allow myself that leniency during times, say, for instance, right now, the winter time. I freaking love fall food. I love pumpkin in everything, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, all these things, and it makes me happy to have those things.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And the whole thought on it is, “Yes, it is not healthy for me. Yes, I know it’s got a lot of bad chemicals in these things. Yes, I know that it will not make me feel good, and yes, I know that I will gain weight from it, but it makes me happy when I’m doing it and I think about it.” So for me, it’s a choice. I’m making the choice to do…I’ve weighed out the options. Here’s the bad things. Here are the good things. I’m making the choice to, despite overwhelmingly it’s bad for me, it still makes me feel good. I make the choice that I’m going to do that.

Adam: And do you think that conscious…is that sort of an attempt to be aware and conscious of what you’re doing as opposed to just eating things because your body is driven to or you’re having a craving?

Charles: Yes.

Adam: Okay, okay.

Charles: I want to be…I said that earlier. One of the things, for me, is I can’t control the situations around me, but I want to be able to control myself and my actions. So, for me, making the conscious choice to eat that cream cheese pumpkin donut is okay, because I’m in control, I made that choice, I know the consequences and I am willing to take those consequences.

Adam: Right.

Charles: I’m in control, but I also know that I’m also in control of not doing that and I can change my body if I want to.

Adam: Right, okay.

Charles: So it’s a mindset shift and it’s a…you have control. You’re not a victim. I don’t want to have a victim mindset. And I think the majority of the people in our world have a victim mentality, and that’s a lot of times why they don’t reach their goals is they either push the blame on other people or the obstacles happen, and with a victim mindset, you just let it overcome you and you just submit to it versus pushing through it.

Adam: Right.

Charles: So, yeah. So, for me, I stay six weeks out. I’ll give myself leeway. Now, with that comes other rules that I put on me. So I’m like…I don’t eat gluten and dairy all the time. I’m about 80-20, so 80% gluten-free, dairy-free, 20% of the time I eat whatever I want. I love pizza. It’s one of my favorite foods. Right now, I eat it once a week. Sometimes gluten-free pizza, sometimes not, but it just makes me happy. It’s something I can do with my family, we enjoy it, but ultimately I know that that’s something that’s not healthy for me to do all the time so I started… The way I think about it is eating for results versus eating for pleasure.

So most of the time, I’m eating for results, right? And what happens is when you do these types of transformations and you take these sorts of diets and you do them over and over and over again, you end up…when you don’t know what to eat, you end up going back to the same foods that you created on your diet just because you habitually know how to cook it fast.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And so that’s what I always do. My go-to is literally throw some chicken or a burger on the Foreman Grill, have some rice, put some salad on my plate, and I’ll either do a little bit of hot sauce or ketchup or something, and that’s my meal and I’m good with that. Because during the day, I’m just going. It’s not like I’m going out with friends and want to sit down and have a nice dinner. Because when I do it that way, it allows me to not feel guilty for the other stuff.

Adam: Right. And so are you preparing your meals in advance or are you cooking them on the fly or…? How do you do that?

Charles: When I’m training, I cook them in advance, but when I’m going to get beach body ready, I do it in advance. Just like right now, I just do it on the fly.

Adam: Right.

Charles: But I try to think…I mean, I still try to think ahead and plan, “Okay, well, if I cook a bunch of rice today, I’ll have it for the next three days, I don’t have to cook it again.” So that’s helpful too for sure.

Adam: Right on. Now, you touched on sort of eating for results versus eating for pleasure. And I think you said in your post that when you’re going through a transformation, usually 90% of the time you should be eating for results and 10% you should be eating for pleasure. Anything else that you want to add to that?

Charles: Yeah. So, like, when I’m going through this to get beach body ready, I’m fairly strict. Okay, I know what I want to accomplish, I know the meals I’m going to prepare, I put my meal plan in there, right? It’s literally the same thing over and over again every single day. Some days you freak out. You’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t eat that freaking chicken and rice again today.”

So then I have backups of where I can go out to eat to get something. I have a margin of error built in there, and also with that margin of error, if you’re going to cheat, just know that it’s okay because you’ve also…when you eat that lean and strict, your leptin levels, which is a hormone that controls weight, it drops.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: When that drops, your weight loss slows down. So you want to eat a lot of calories, basically overload your body with calories, and obviously, you should do healthy calories but, in this instance, it’s…if you’re eating unhealthy things too, it’s going to give you the same effect of boosting up your leptin levels. So when your leptin levels go up, it breaks that weight loss plateau and it allows you to lose weight again.

Adam: So you’re saying…is this a once a week thing? This is kind of the idea of the cheat meal or…? Is that kind of what you’re saying? Like, once a week, you should…

Charles: Yeah, I do them once a week. A lot of it you just need…once you’re doing this stuff a lot, you just kind of feel your body out and you know when you…just by looking at the scale or doing measurements or just how you feel, you know when you’re getting stagnant. So then that’s when you should cheat.

Adam: Right, okay.

Charles: So this is why when…a lot of these diet programs have cheat meals built in every week, that’s what it’s doing. It’s allowing you to emotionally be like, “Oh, thank goodness.” And then physically, you’re actually helping your hormones.

Adam: Right. Okay, so when it comes to the actual program that you follow itself, I think you said there was about three or four key components. Consistency, your diet, you talked about exercise, and then supplements, and I’m just wondering if you could…I’ll include your full post in the show notes, but for…

Charles: Yeah, I put my…I actually redid it and put it on my blog.

Adam: Oh, you did? Oh, great.

Charles: Yeah, I pasted that in here for you so you’ve got access to it. So, yeah, give it out to anybody who wants to see it.

Adam: Excellent, yeah. I’ll link to it in the show notes. And I’m just wondering if you can touch on those four main sections and just give us the overview of how your program works and what you do every time.

Charles: Yeah. So, consistency, like I said, it’s that persistent consistence that with any goal, whether it’s weight loss, whether it’s financial, whatever, it’s that persistent consistence that makes the difference. You just got to do something over and over and over again every single day. If you do one little thing every single day… For instance, every day when I drive to work…actually, when I drive back from work, because on my way to work I’m doing my gratitude, on the way back from work I listen to Audible. I listen to a business audio book.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: So it’s 15, 20 minutes in the car every single day. But if you look at that over a month, 30 days, 20 minutes times 30 days, that’s, what, 600 minutes of business education that I just got for the \$12 that I paid for that book.

Adam: That’s awesome.

Charles: So, yeah, it’s that consistency over time, so all that stuff builds up. You get that accumulative effect, and so you’re building new habits and new channels in your brain when you do that. So it’s very important to be consistent in all this. And then diet. Eighty percent of weight loss is diet, 80%. Twenty percent is exercise, and that is what’s actually going to shape you, right? That thing is going to make your body healthy, allow you to build muscle, and allow you to get rid of fat. Exercise shapes your body.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And then…and supplements. And supplements, because your body will have extra nutritional requirements that you won’t be able to get from food without eating an enormous amount, then you should supplement with things. So, in my blog post, I show a picture of all the supplements that I usually take while I’m going through these types of transformations. So it’s all there, yeah.

Adam: Cool.

Charles: So anything from protein powder to… For me, I use creatine. I just think it’s one of the most effective means of building muscle there is on the market. Vitamins, minerals, obviously, you’re going to need more of that. I’m a firm believer in the fact that because we’ve destroyed the soil which is where all the nutrients come from for the fruit and vegetables, right, they all get their nutrients from the soil. If you have depleted soil, you’re not going to get as many nutrients in your fruits and vegetables, and therefore you’re going to have to eat a lot more fruits and vegetables to get the same amount of nutrients that you used to in the 1950s.

Adam: Right.

Charles: So the way to combat that is either by juicing or by supplementation, which is why I do a greens powder every single morning.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: And then one of the things I talk about is 80% of the world drinks coffee. We love coffee. It’s tragic when they tell you you have to give it up. I don’t think you have to give it up. I think you should moderate it. Don’t be drinking, like, three or four cups a day, right? Two, two and a half is fine. But what I’ll do is, because caffeine helps to shuttle nutrients in your body, you can actually dump healthy fats and…so I put MCT oil, which is a liquid concentrated version of coconut oil. I’ll put either heavy whipping, organic heavy whipping cream or grass-fed butter in my coffee, and they have fats in there to also help build your immune system and burn fat. What else do I put in my coffee?

Adam: Collagen?

Charles: Yeah, that’s it. Collagen protein, which helps your joints, hair, skin, and nails. Amazing supplement.

Adam: And does collagen…for some reason, why would you put that in your coffee as opposed to protein, like a shake or something like that? Does it tend to break down in coffee well or is there another reason?

Charles: You can’t tell it’s in there. You have no idea that it’s in there.

Adam: Oh, okay, okay.

Charles: It just disintegrates and it’s flavorless.

Adam: Gotcha.

Charles: And it can withstand the heat.

Adam: Oh, right, right, okay. Now, one of the things I noticed about your routine is that you don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning. Is that still correct?

Charles: Yeah, I’m actually drinking my coffee right now and it’s 1:30. I mean, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I just…when I wake up, I don’t feel like I need it. I drink coffee for…obviously, it’s for health benefits, but the caffeine boost.

Adam: Right.

Charles: To have that extra boost in the afternoon when I’m halfway through my day and I’m starting to feel that mental slowdown and physical slowdown. I get sleepy after eating and all that stuff, so the coffee helps to negate that and just takes it out, gives me that second wind, I guess, right?

Adam: Right. Looking at my own habits, when I get up, I typically… For some reason, lately, I’ve been in this habit of just getting up. I have a quick shower or whatever. I have some water and then I head down to Starbucks and I get a grande dark roast with some…put some cream in it or sometimes black. But it’s almost…it’s just become a habit because I want to get moving and get out of the house, but I’m not sure if it’s actually the healthiest things to…on an empty stomach, just down a bunch of coffee, and then eat later. But it’s just almost like a habit and I haven’t really questioned whether or not it’s a good thing to do.

Charles: Oh, Starbucks.

Adam: Bad source of coffee to begin with, I think. Right?

Charles: Oh, it’s just…you’ve got to understand the coffee. Coffee is one of the biggest cash crops in the world, right? So that means everybody wants it, and when everybody wants something, they have to create a huge supply of it, and in order to create a huge supply, they have to genetically modify it and they have to spray it with herbicides and pesticides.

Adam: Right.

Charles: So what happens is that now you get to drink those herbicides and pesticides from the coffee.

Adam: That doesn’t sound good.

Charles: And you literally concentrate it when you’re brewing the coffee. You heat it and concentrate it into your cup and then you drink it. And then it’s not that one time that’s bad for you. It’s the fact that you do it every single day. That consistency, right? You end up hitting a threshold in your body, and eventually you’ll hit a point where health things will start to have…your body will “fall apart.” You’re like, “I don’t know what happened.” And it’s not just coffee. It’s all other things. If you’re eating non-organic fruits and vegetables, there’s a threshold in your body that you reach and then your body’s like, “Dude, I’ve had enough,” and then it starts to break down.

Adam: I think that’s one of the tough things, right, is that…

Charles: Bioaccumulation, I think, it’s what they call it.

Adam: Oh, sorry. I didn’t catch that.

Charles: No, it’s called a bioaccumulation of toxins. So you bioaccumulate these toxins in your body, and it overworks your liver, and from there, your liver will shuttle a lot of these toxins out to fat cells because it doesn’t know what to do with it, because fat cells are protection for your body from toxins. So this is why a rattlesnake can bite a pig and the pig won’t die. It’s because the pig has got so much fat on it, right?

Adam: Oh, really? I’d never heard that before.

Charles: Yeah, yeah.

Adam: Well, I’d be safe in the desert right now walking around with my bare feet, let’s just say that. Yeah, I think…just touching on what you just said, I think that’s one of the things that is maybe challenging about eating properly is our bodies allow us to get away with a lot of stuff before they won’t put up with it anymore, and so it’s not like you eat something and you feel terrible right away, but, like you said it, it accumulates in the body, and then all of a sudden things start to break down and you’re left wondering, “Oh, what’s going on?”

So what do you think one of the benefits would be then of switching, say, off of a mainstream coffee brand to something that…I guess, would it be organic? Was that what you would want to switch to or single origin?

Charles: Yeah, you should definitely…as much organic as you can and single origin, if you can, also. When it’s single origin, what happens is whenever you look at coffee, you go to Starbucks, everything that you drink there is blends. If it’s single origin, it will say “single origin” on the bag. And single origin means it’s from one plantation, one coffee crop. It’s not a blend of different beans coming together, and a lot of times these companies will blend good quality beans with low quality beans.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: So you have to be very careful about that. Because when that happens is you get a lot of cross contamination, and maybe low quality beans will have a bunch of mold on it. So now, not only are you getting pesticides and herbicides, you’re also drinking mold, which is not good for you either by any means. You get a lot of health problems from that.

Adam: Gotcha.

Charles: And so, yeah. Health is simple but it’s also a little complicated because we’ve trained ourselves to rely on “medical experts” to lead this health revolution. But if you noticed, people are getting sicker and sicker and not healthy or unhealthier overall.

Adam: Right.

Charles: There’s more diseases, there’s more death,s and I just heard of a study recently that the number one killer right now is pharmaceutical drugs.

Adam: Really?

Charles: Medical…medicine, yeah. The number one health killer right now is medicine. It’s not cancer or heart disease anymore.

Adam: Yeah.

Charles: I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” So…

Adam: It doesn’t make any sense, right?

Charles: Yeah. I come from a very holistic background, and that was just ingrained in me since birth. And it’s very hard when you get stuck looking at the trees instead of the entire forest, right, and that’s how kind of our current medical system is set up, is looking at trees. You have the gastroenterologist, you have the ear, nose, throat guy, you have the orthopedic. Everybody’s looking at their own part and everybody comes up with a different conclusion on exactly what’s wrong or what the problem is.

Adam: Right. Without looking at the system as a whole, I think, is what you’re sort of alluding to, right?

Charles: [inaudible 00:32:06] them to look at the system as a whole, yeah, because that’s not how they’re trained.

Adam: Right.

Charles: So, for me, it’s like it’s good for you as an individual to take control of your own health and be…making sure that you’re looking at your entire ecosystem. You need to look at your whole forest, right, and just be like, find things, these little, tiny levers that can make a difference for you.

So if you can drink organic coffee that’s single origin, do that, because that eliminates one source of toxins that your body was getting every single day, right? And you won’t notice it per se, right, at the beginning, but all those little things that you do like that, whether it’s coffee, whether it’s taking carpet out of your house and putting flooring in because carpet’s toxic or…all those little things add up to make you healthier as an individual.

Leverage Points & Little Decisions That Add Up Over Time

Adam: Yeah, I think that’s one of the things I really liked about your post, is it had…there were a lot of details. And if you looked at each one of those details was a leverage point, as you call it, or a decision point, like, one thing that you could change. I mean, I’m already thinking about my daily routine. We have some single origin, I think it’s also organic, coffee here. I could start switching to that. And part of my, I think, excuse is that…the reason why I like to continually drink Starbucks is it gives me a good caffeine boost, but maybe if I stacked a few of these changes up, I wouldn’t need as much caffeine because my body would be a little bit more energized to begin with, you know?

Charles: Exactly, yeah. And you know what? I would say don’t give up your Starbucks completely. Make it a treat that you get once a week. So that’s the other thing, is people, a lot of times, think they have to do all or none. You don’t have to do that. Every little thing that you do good for yourself is going to help you. Just little by little, right? How do you eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time. You don’t have to just instantly switch your lifestyle because that’s overwhelming and just freaks people out and then they don’t do it. They’ll do it for a week or so and then it’s like, “This is just insane. I don’t want to do this anymore. I feel miserable.”

Adam: Yeah, I mean, I can relate. I’ve totally gone there. That whole all or nothing attitude often doesn’t work out well, and that’s something you also touched on in your post, is that you said that this time around, you didn’t push yourself a 100% of the time and you did it on purpose. So could you talk about that, like, kind of only going 80% but still being able to get really tremendous results?

Charles: Yeah. And that, honestly, the leverage point to be able to do that is consistency. I consistently did something, right? Whether it was…I just made sure that I was doing something every single day. For me, what I was…I had six weeks to lose this weight, okay? I can’t remember what it was. I think I lost 15 pounds or something. I lost a bunch of inches, and a lot of it was just from eating too many carbs, water weight. So when I started trimming that out, my body adapted really well, and that’s what a lot of people…that’s why I really preach being especially gluten-free, because wheat is awful.

Wheat makes you puffy too. So you get an inflammatory response on top of…if you eat a bunch of carbs, your body just sucks up water, so that makes you big and puffy. And so you can get drastic results literally by just lowering your carb intake, eating more healthy fats, and…yeah, just drinking…when you drink water then, it won’t…you won’t have that extra water weight you’re carrying around.

Adam: Right. And I think another part of the 80% effort, I think you were saying that you wanted to kind of avoid injury as well, right? Instead of pushing it to the max and getting hurt, which would’ve derailed you, I mean, was that also part of the plan?

Charles: Yes, that is a great point. I completely forgot about that. No. That’s another thing that happens and it had happened in the past to me before. I was pushing so hard. I would get injured and then I would have to take a few days off, which would throw everything off, right?

Adam: Right.

Charles: So now, with that being said, I knew that I can get back on but it would put me a few days behind from the goal that I wanted to reach and then I would just get stressed and I’m like, “Oh, man. I’m not going to be able to reach this.” So this time I just took it easy. I was like, “I’m going to dial it back to about 80%. I’m not going to…” The type of work that I’m doing this time, since I’m going for beach body ready, is going to be more of a bodybuilder style of a workout. It’s your typical weightlifting.

Adam: Right.

Charles: It’s not like CrossFit style. This is more for body shaping and developing muscles in the places where I want to have muscles so I can have that Superman shape or superhero build. And yeah, I just made sure that I wasn’t going to failure and I was doing…I was slowing down my movements and focusing on technique versus just pushing as hard as I can. And even at the end…and so what happens is when you hit failure and you’re pushing towards failure, you lose your technique.

Adam: Right.

Charles: So I dropped the weight, which made me drop my ego a little bit, right, because when you’re a guy in the gym, you try to lift as much as you can, more than the other guys. So I just dialed back and I was really impressed with the results I got from that. Let’s go. I can get the same thing accomplished and I don’t have to leave the gym feeling like I tore one of my muscles.

Adam: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Now, you touched on CrossFit there. So what do you think the result of a CrossFit style workout is going to be, or what effect is that going to have on your body versus a more traditional sort of bodybuilding, weightlifting approach?

Charles: You know what? I don’t have anything against CrossFit. I like CrossFit. I think it’s an intense workout. It’s not meant to build and shape. Now, when I say that, that doesn’t mean that you can’t build and shape because you definitely can. But if you want a bodybuilder look and that type of a superhero build, then you need to learn to do those types of exercises versus CrossFit is more of a functional powerlifting type of a build.

Both look great. If you look at the elite athletes and both of them, they both look fantastic but, obviously, the bodybuilder looks freaking shredded. The CrossFit guy is just big and thick and he still could be ripped but he’s not going to look like a bodybuilder.

Adam: Right, okay.

Charles: The bodybuilder can’t sustain that type of a workout because they have too much muscle.

Adam: Right.

Charles: If that makes sense. And I’ve been there. When you have a lot of muscle like that, and I’ve actually leaned down on a lot of the heavyweight lifting bodybuilding stuff simply because over time it’s very hard to maintain because of the amount of calories that you have to eat and it’s just hard on your joints. So I switch between my workouts, between workout for looks and functional workouts like CrossFit, so more body weight, more powerlifting. But with that, you also need to be careful on your technique and your form, which I’m learning that right now because I’ve just injured myself from bad form with powerlifting.

Adam: Oh, gotcha.

Charles: [inaudible 00:40:15]

Adam: Sorry, what exercise was it?

Charles: The clean and jerk.

Adam: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Charles: So I’m like, “Oh.” Because I’ve never had a trainer, I was watching YouTube videos and just learning the form from that, which [inaudible 00:40:27] modeling is very…when you model something like that, it can be done. But in some instances, it’s better to have a trainer to correct your form.

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. Now, I think one other thing that I wanted to ask about this whole CrossFit versus bodybuilding, and maybe that’s not the best way to position it, but I guess high intensity interval style workouts. I’ve been reading lately that there is another school of thought, and that is that you should train at low intensities if you want to make sure that your cortisol levels stay low, and if you want to build a good aerobic base and build endurance that it can be good to take time off from high intensity workouts for a period of time. Does any of that type of thinking factor into your training?

Charles: Absolutely. My whole thing is I try to change it every six to eight weeks. I’m always changing out my routine. I’m switching bodybuilding from CrossFit to…I just took a complete week off two weeks ago. I didn’t do anything for a week.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And then summer time, I was running more, I was doing sprints outside, sometimes I’ll bike. I mean, for me, it’s you want to keep your body always guessing. You want it to be able to adapt to different conditions, whether it’s high intensity, whether it’s low intensity, but I think that just makes you more well-rounded as an individual and helps to build your resilience. In life, you want to be as resilient as possible, right, so that includes taking the right supplements, your diet, your exercise. All these things build your resilience on how…and your mindset even on how you can withstand life.

And so when you’re changing your workouts up with your body, you’re kicking in that law of adaptation, which basically means that your body will adapt to the surroundings or the environment that you place it in. So it’s good to move your heart rate all around. It’s good to…I think if you’re too intense all the time, I don’t think that’s good for you. At the same time, if you’re not very intense all the time, I don’t think that’s good for you. It’s that whole thing of just keeping your body guessing.

Adam: Yeah, I think what you just said is really the essence of this whole show and the site. I mean, Civilian Strong. Yeah, be resilient, right?

Charles: Yeah.

Adam: Be able to perform optimally, live a great life, do whatever it is you want to do, and bounce back from challenges quickly. I think all of that is summed up in what you just said about being resilient. Tackling your mindset, tackling your body, your nutrition. I really like that. It’s a great way to put it.

Charles: Yeah, well, it’s just…I guess that’s always in the back of my mind whatever I’m doing. I’m just thinking about how can I be resilient in this situation.

The Secret Ingredient to Charlie’s Weight Loss

Adam: Cool, cool. Now, there was one big secret in your post, got a lot of people talking, and that was…I think it was called Frank’s Hot Sauce.

Charles: Oh, yes. Frank’s Hot Sauce.

Adam: So tell us about Frank’s.

Charles: There is literally three or four ingredients in Frank’s. I think it’s vinegar, cayenne pepper, and maybe one other thing, but I…whatever the combination they have of that just makes everything taste good.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: So like I said, it got me through…and there’s hardly any calories in it. So not only do you have something that will flavor, really flavor something, there’s hardly any calories or anything bad in it, and also, cayenne pepper is good for your metabolism, it speeds up your metabolism. So I dump it on everything, vegetables, meat. It goes with everything. Seafood, fish…or seafood, chicken, steak, it goes with everything.

Adam: Awesome.

Charles: Green beans, whatever.

Adam: I’ll make sure to include a link to it on Amazon so people can have a look. Charlie, just a couple more questions for you. What’s the most practical way for somebody to get started? I mean, first thing’s first, they should probably read your post, right? That would be a good primer?

Charles: Yeah, definitely.

Adam: Okay, so we’ll include a link for that. And so once they read your post on how to get shredded or get beach body ready, what’s the next thing that you would recommend people do to get started on this?

Charles: Just realize that these changes don’t happen overnight and don’t be afraid to fail. You’re going to fail, it’s okay. You’re going to mess up, it’s okay. And just realize these little, tiny steps that you’re going to take every single day, that consistency, that’s going to make the difference for you.

So, for diet, one of the first things that I would do is just stop eating wheat, bread, pasta, and switch to anything that’s gluten-free. If you can do that, literally, if you eat sweet potatoes and rice and quinoa and you just rotate those throughout your day, will make a huge difference for you. That in itself is a game changer. If you just do that.

Adam: And the rice isn’t high glycemic or it’s not…it’s going to be okay for your body? You’re not going to convert that into fat?

Charles: Yeah, don’t worry about that.

Adam: Okay, cool. So a couple…just a few little more rapid fire questions. I mean, how much food should I eat?

Charles: It just depends… Like, for me, I weigh about 1…I fluctuate between 160, 170, and I’ll eat on this meal plan about 2,000 to 2,500 calories. It should be more to 2,500 if you’re working out. Sometimes I got lazy and I would skip a meal, but, like I said, I was going 80% at this. I’ve done it for so long, I was like, “I’m going to skip a meal.” Because I just did not…hungry enough so I can eat it and let’s see what happens.

Adam: Okay. I guess it’s going to take a little bit of figuring out.

Charles: Yeah.

Adam: Everyone’s a little bit different.

Charles: I mean, if you weigh more, add a couple of hundred calories more. If you weigh less, then just cut a couple of hundred calories off on that.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: If you can stick around 2,000 to 2,500, I would say that’s a pretty good range.

Adam: Good range for most people?

Charles: Yeah.

Adam: Okay. Now, I mean, that’s great. I’m going to…I’ll make sure that there’s links to all of this in the show notes so people can go over it in detail. I mean, Charlie’s article…your article has a lot of really good tips. You list all of your supplements, you go into detail about the coffee. So if you’re listening to this, find the show notes and click the link to Charlie’s article and have a read. Just to kind of wind things down, I’ve got just a few other questions that are a little bit off topic here.

Charles: Sure.

Meeting Former Navy Seal Mark Divine

Adam: I recently saw on Facebook that you met former Navy Seal Mark Divine. What was that like?

Charles: Dude, that guy is a powerful man. I mean, he just radiates strength and you could tell…I don’t know. You could just tell that he was a commander of the Navy Seals. The way he holds himself and his presence is just like…you’re just in awe. You’re like, “Wow!”

Adam: Cool.

Charles: This guy’s a badass, right? He can go in my sleeve [SP]. But he is a super nice guy, super gentle, very well spoken, very on purpose, and that was one of the biggest things I got. He just is right on purpose. He knows exactly what he wants to do, he is…everything is just… Yeah, he is in the present, he has it figured out, what he wants to do.

Adam: Very cool. Who else is on your list of people that you most want to meet?

Charles: I’m on this thing of wanting to meet billionaires now. I just think that they flowed at such a high…or they think at such a high level. I’m just very curious on their mindsets. Like, I just met Jessie Itzler who’s…his wife is Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, and he’s created ZICO Coconut Water and Marquis Jets. And his story was fascinating, and his whole thing was just…he’s just checking stuff of his checklist and just that consistent…he was so persistent in everything that he did. He just found ways around the impossible. Once he was told no, it didn’t matter to him. He would still stay on that same track until he reached his goal.

Adam: Cool, cool. Any other billionaires that come to mind that you’d love to sit down with?

Charles: I mean, there’s always Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, [inaudible 00:50:04], I’d love to, because they’re all different, right? I’ve met Richard Branson. He was a cool guy. I didn’t get to really sit down and talk with him that much. But there’s a lot of other secret billionaires out there that I’m discovering that I want to try to go meet, just like people who have…like, you would never know that they’re billionaires.

Adam: Cool.

Charles: So I’m trying to go through a network and try to get in front of them. One person I do want to meet is a guy who created I cannot think of his name.

Adam: Oh, yeah. I can’t remember his name either.

Charles: Was it Bob Hoffman? That doesn’t sound right. Anyway, I know he lives in Cleveland and I know that he was one of the founders of I heard a podcast with him and he had a great story, too. I’d love to meet him.

Adam: Very cool, very cool. What’s next for you?

Charles: Well, right now we are mid-stride in our supplement company, so just growing that and becoming an educational resource for people. One of the things is just we’re grinding down and trying to figure out exactly what our mission is. And after doing a lot of thinking on it, it really comes down to just helping people think natural first. My whole thing is that we’ve been taught so many lies and so many…we’ve just been…put upon us a lot of fear-based thinking, right, on, “This is how it needs to be. I’m the expert. This is how your health is,” but it’s not the case, and I just want people to know that they have options.

They’re not married to what the medical system says is wrong with them, right, because a lot of the times, they misdiagnose stuff. Even if they’ve run tests, they still misdiagnose it. But ultimately, I want people to understand that they are in charge of their health and that they are their own doctor and I want to be able to help them to think natural first. Because I think, when you look at health, it’s on a spectrum. You should always start from least invasive to most invasive when you’re trying to fix the health problem.

So say you have a cold. What’s the first thing that you should do? Well, the first thing you should do is look at your diet and your exercise and your sleep, right? That’s the least invasive thing you could do. Then you would take your vitamin C or supplements like that to boost your immune system. And then after that, if that isn’t working, then you would go to maybe see your chiropractor or an acupuncturist. See if your nervous system is out of alignment or out of balance and then see…and you walk yourself up this spectrum. And then, once you’re like, “Okay, none of this stuff is working,” then, that’s when you get into going to a medical doctor or if you need to be prescribed drugs.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And then surgery, whatever, goes after that. But I just think there is a way that you should be thinking about your health to protect yourself and your body so that you know that it’s not outside forces that are acting on you, that make decisions for you, or a one size fits all, right, which, a lot of times happens in health care.

Adam: It sounds like it’s related to what you mentioned earlier, which is going from a victim mindset to taking responsibility and then following a systematic approach to keeping yourself healthy and treating illnesses or injuries, that type of thing.

Charles: Yeah, it is. It’s exactly what that is. And we’ve been trained to have a victim mindset because of all the fear-based psychological stuff that’s been put on us, that constant negative message and fear-based message that you hear all the time. And the other thing is I hate it when doctors take the hope away from people. Nothing makes me madder than somebody saying, “Oh, well, you have pancreatic cancer. You’re going to die. You have four months to live.”

I just think that that…it just deflates somebody’s balloon, and what happens is they projected that onto somebody and now there is a higher probability of that happening. Yes, I know how serious cancer is. Yes, I know that pancreatic cancer is one of the worst forms and they should know that, but it doesn’t mean that you say…you put a death sentence on them, because that completely takes away the whole mindset, which is another powerful aspect of your health.

Adam: Absolutely. I had my own health scare last year and I had a doctor tell me that there was an 80% chance that I had lung cancer. And my wife and I were sitting in the room with him, and in my head I was like, “Okay, I’m not ready to accept this yet. I don’t feel like that’s actually what’s going on here and I’m confident that they’re going to discover that it’s something else.”

But I had to work pretty hard at keeping my mental shields up because I…you could quite… I mean, when you go online and you look at lung cancer, I mean, it’s not a positive thing to read about and it doesn’t give you a lot of hope. So, yeah, I totally hear what you’re saying around mindset and how doctors can really short circuit people’s mindsets based on what they say.

Charles: Yeah. And the other thing, Adam, is that they have one method of helping you. So when they…they’re telling you information based on their methodology, right? There are hundreds if not thousands of other methodologies out there that will give you a different result.

Adam: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Charles: There’s more than one way to skin a cat with your health when it comes to any of these major diseases. So if you go down their path, they can predict your results, but my whole thinking is, “Is that the best path?” They say it is because that’s all they know, but what about all these other paths and what about all these other stories of people getting rid of pancreatic cancer or getting rid of lung cancer? There’s all these other stories out there of people who aren’t doing what they said they were supposed to do and getting different results.

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. I guess, last thing I’m wondering, Charlie, is any books or resources that you’d recommend? Of all the things that we talked about today, your training program, diet, nutrition, exercise, is there any one or two books that you think people should read in order to take control of their own health, take control of their own destiny, and get themselves into shape? Anything that comes to mind?

Charles: Oh, my goodness.

Adam: The list is probably long, right?

Charles: The book that started me off on everything was “Body for Life” by Bill Phillips.

Adam: Oh, yeah, yeah. Good one.

Charles: And dude, that’s what lit my fire. That’s what… And I wasn’t even overweight. I was a really skinny kid when I read this, but it was life-changing for me.

Adam: Yeah.

Charles: Nowadays…in there he promotes eating wheat and dairy and things like that, which I don’t agree with now, but the thing is, he still go results doing what he did, and that is just basically from the consistency and a structured program for a person. It was a way to lose weight. I don’t think it was the healthiest way to lose weight, if that makes sense, but it’s a method and it works, right?

Adam: Right.

Charles: So all of these diets that are out there, it’s not a one size fits all. Different things work for different people. It’s just figuring out what works for you. What I told you in that post was exactly what worked for me. Now, if you are a woman and you have thyroid issues, will this work for you? I don’t know. It’s just something that you have to test. Never, ever give up hope, and we’ll never stop searching for a solution for you.

Adam: Right.

Charles: And that’s…I guess, we’re in the age of the internet. You’ve got access and cheap access to anything that you want to learn about, so why…? Just be on that constant, never-ending search for you. Yeah, as for books, I’m trying to…I’ve read so many different books. One of the things I’ve been interested in lately is the ketogenic diet, so I’m reading more on that.

Adam: Yeah.

Charles: Like I said, I don’t think it’s a one size fits all. I think it’s probably a happy medium between ketogenic and Paleo.

Adam: Right.

Charles: Honestly, I think that’s where I like to be, is between those two.

Adam: Okay.

Charles: Then throughout my cheat days and that’s kind of what I promote, a balance between them two with the cheat day or some cheat days. So, yeah.

Adam: That’s good. I’ll include some links again to…books on the ketogenic diet as well so people can have a look at that if they haven’t heard about it before.

Charles: And then, like, Paleo has got a lot of good stuff, too. I mean, if you look at…one of my favorite cookbooks is “Everyday Paleo.” They just have a lot of great meal plans in there and simple, simple, easy things that you can make that taste great.

Adam: Nice.

Charles: It cuts out the wheat and dairy, which I think is important. And then as for books on mindset, one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read was “The Magic of Thinking Big.”

Adam: Oh, who wrote that again?

Charles: I don’t remember.

Adam: Okay, I’ll have a look.

Charles: Look it up on Amazon. It’ll be there. It’s…

Adam: Yeah, it’s on Amazon.

Charles: Yeah, but I don’t know. It’s just one of those books that I love and it’ll be a book that I’ll make my kids read to help them. It’s just great to push your mindset in the right direction and show you what’s possible.

Adam: Awesome, yeah. I’ll have a look at that for sure. Charlie, thanks so much for taking the time today, man. This has been really interesting. I know people are going to get a lot of benefit from reading your post and all of the tips that you’ve outlined today. So thank you for taking the time.

Charles: Hey, man, it’s been my pleasure. I’m happy to help, and let me know if you need anything else, or if any of your listeners want to get a hold of me, they can reach out to me at…let me see what…either doctorcharles [at], probably be the best place, or and just put “For Dr. Livingston.”

Adam: Okay, great.

Charles: Or Charles or Charlie, whatever you want to put in there, and then they’ll get it to me.

Adam: Awesome, awesome. Thank you. Again, I’ll include that in the notes so people can reach out. Cool, man. Well, thank you for taking the time. That was awesome.

Charles: Yeah, I hope I didn’t talk too much.

Adam: No, no, no. I think you talked a perfect amount. Actually, I didn’t want to keep asking you questions because I literally could’ve kept, I think, asking you things. There’s just so much more I felt like we could’ve talked about too, but I also didn’t want to use up the whole day, right, especially because I mixed up the time this morning, so thanks for staying as much as you did.

Charles: Hey, you’re welcome. Yeah, hopefully it was helpful and your listeners will enjoy it.

Adam: Thanks, man.

Charles: Bye, brother. Take care.