You’ve now written (or co-written) multiple books on fitness and eating right. How did it all begin? You were not always a fitness expert.
I grew up chubby, and I was rarely passionate about anything other than Dungeons and Dragons and girls. ...and there was only one of those where I had much experience. Any guesses?
I'd tried many diets over the years, and non really clicked with me, but one day I realized that it wasn't the diets, it was me. I didn't really want it. Once I figured that out, I figured myself out, and started. I won't say it was easy after that, but it gave me the power to keep going.
What caused you to change?
There were a couple of problems going on with me. One, I just wasn't a happy person, and I used food for comfort. I still struggle with those urges from time to time, but they're under control. They are there, though, just controlled. Two, I was losing weight to GET happy. I was just sure that after losing weight, I'd get a girlfriend, but I'd lose 20lbs and realize that I'm still shy, and I still wouldn't be able to talk to my dream girl. Once I realized that, I'd just subconsciously give up.
So, I got happy, and I stopped thinking that weight loss was going to make me happy (or bring me more than health and smaller pants). Once those were out of the way, it was easier, but still not easy. Losing weight is rarely 'easy,' just because of all the hunger and changes you're going to make, (although people tend to make it harder than it has to be).
What keeps you motivated?
Motivation to lose weight is a little more simple when you know what you're in for and you know what the weight loss will mean to you. If you've convinced yourself that you'll win the lottery, or the girl you've had no chance with, down deep you know better, and it doesn't take much to derail you.
As to how I came to help others to lose weight and get fit? I started to ask questions on internet forums, found an online home and settled in. Pretty soon, people were asking for my help, and I found a lot of satisfaction in helping them.
They rarely have a good plan, and often decide to eat less and move more, which is basically the slogan at the USDA; that hasn't been working any better than any of the government's other plans...
Other mistakes are going with a cleanse or fast, or something like the HCG diet, which are not sustainable, teach you nothing, and end up frustrating you when you gain a lot of it back as soon as you stop starving yourself.
What do people need to do to stay motivated?
What they need is a solid plan that's not extreme. It either needs to be sustainable in their lives from day one OR start off slow and ramp up, so they learn as they build the diet. Our book, Man on Top, is the latter. It gives you a new habit each week or so, and you only have to add new ones when you need to. Simple and sustainable.
The popular TV diets rely on pre-packaged products that I’ve been told taste like government rations, which is why I’ve never tried them. What is your take on these types of products?
Some can taste good, but they can be expensive, and unless you plan to pay them forever, you're going to fail when you come off the diet.
Instead, learn to cook simply, and plan out your week. We typically do some mass cooking on Sunday night, so we have our work week pretty set. After that, all it takes is reheating and maybe making a salad or steaming some fresh veggies as a side dish to the chili, stew, or slow cooked beef that you made on Sunday.
You also write a lot about getting fit. Many people shudder when they think of exercise and say they are too busy. Short of getting up at dawn or going to sleep at midnight, how do you fit an exercise plan?
People think you have to train a lot to lose weight, but it's not true. If you keep eating too much (or too much of the wrong things) it's true you'll have to burn that stuff off, but that's really not a good plan.
If you have a combination of resistance training (weights, bands, etc) and 'cardio' you can be pretty efficient. Cardio doesn't have to be jogging, either. it can be a little sprinting, walking, or even just lifting weights fast. Traditional cardio is overrated as a health aid and a weight loss tool; it can work, but you can't rely on it alone.
What is your personal exercise plan?
Personally, I train 2-3 times per week at the gym or in my garage (which has just dumbbells and a few kettlebells). On top of that, I walk a lot. My wife and choose to walk to the store a few times per week, and carry back what food we can. We use the time to talk, too. We work together writing, but we don't see each other most of the day, so walking meetings keep us synced up on our projects.
When did you decide you wanted to write your first book on fitness and food?
I met Galina in 2008 at a fitness conference, and she had the idea to write Man on Top together. I had 'been there' myself, and she had already helped many clients succeed in her own gym, which was the biggest gym in Bulgaria.
How long did it take you to write the first book?
The book took forever. Four years, in fact. It was written in our spare time, on weekends and after hours. She still lived in Bulgaria for much of that time. We kicked the book writing off with a month long meeting in the USA, divided up the sections, and then kept working via the magic of the internet.
How many rewrites did you do on it?
I don't know how many rewrites we did. We rewrote some chapter several times, deleted others entirely, and frantically added new chapters right at the end.
Who helped you with the editing?
We had beta readers for much of the editing. We have some fitness friends who are passionate about reading and grammar, and they eagerly read the book before we sent it off to be edited.
Our editor was a friend and long time fitness compatriot who edits non-fiction and manuals for a living, so it was a good fit.
How did you go about finding a publisher to handle your book?
We decided to self-publish because most traditionally published fitness books are written by people with huge platforms. There was a barrier to entry (blog reader numbers, specifically) that we simply couldn't hit. We looked into it, and we would have had to spend a few years building up a reader base just to get interest in the book.
We are constantly writing, so when one day the right people will publish the right book at the right time. I'm confident of that. In the meantime, we get to write exactly what we want, and we've gotten great feedback from readers who've tried our training plans, lost weight, and gotten healthy. One couple even told us that our Real Food Reset helped them get pregnant after years of trying and failing. I'll take that.
Are all your books eBooks only?
We do offer programs and workout plans that are eBook only, but our true books are in print. Fitness books need to be available to all readers, and many people simply don't like eBooks. That being said, we offer printable charts, forms, and workout logs on our website, because neither print books or eBooks are great for keeping track of a diet or exercise plan!
Our print books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and our ebooks are found on all the ebook sites all over the world. I got an email from a reader in India just yesterday!
Galina and I write non-fiction together, and we do full outlines before we really get going. We have a lot of overlapping skillsets, but there are some things that we are each more passionate about, so we divide and conquer.
After it's 'done,' I typically put the final product together and do a polish on it, then hand it off to her for fresh eyes. She's better at English than most native speakers, so she finds and fixes a lot!
What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? What has worked best for you in generating sales?
We sent out review copies (eBook and print), and asked clients and friends to spread the word. With fitness, the marketing is to people who want to be healthy or lose weight, so there's a lot of people interested.
Some of our friends in the fitness industry were very supportive and reviewed it and suggested it to their readers, too.
What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
I was so worried about making it perfect the first time that it took a lot longer to write than I ever thought. A book will never be perfect, and worrying about 'perfect' means you delay the next book or project.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
Write every day, even if it's a few hundred words. Once you get out of the habit, it's that much harder to get back into it.
That's it for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Roland and Galina's fitness tips and plans, here's some optinion