Jen Widerstrom’s resume will tell you that she is a celebrity fitness trainer, Coach on the NBC show The Biggest Loser, former American Gladiator, model, best selling author of the book Diet Right for Your Personality Type, entrepreneur, and Fitness Director for Shape Magazine. But as we know on this show, sometimes: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; and everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”
If there is anything in her bio that stands out and shows her heart, it is that Jen was rated the nations most authentic trainer. To me, she is a girl from Illinois trying to help others to embrace their true selves while pursuing a lifestyle that better suits their wellness goals. In this process she herself is repeatedly growing, learning, and healing. You see folks, we are all humans, going in and out of our own suffering, its just that some of us have learned to use those obstacles as opportunities. The strongest have learned to use compassion to bring others up in the process. What we do with our pain and our love defines our character, and Jen continues to prove she is not only a gladiator, but she is an unconquerable soul.
I hope you enjoy the insight, humanity, and compassion in this episode. It will raise your awareness in the power of service and dedication to helping others become strong, from the inside out.
This is a special episode of The Sisu Way. The format is different because on this episode, I was a guest on Marcus Aurelius Anderson’s podcast, Acta Non Verba. This episode includes many topics I have not yet discussed on The Sisu Way, so we agreed to release it on both platforms. There is something special about having a conversation with someone who can be in the moment without judgement, committed to seeking understanding, and that is something that happened on this episode.
We spoke about how serving as a law enforcement officer has provided an opportunity to learn empathy and to be aware of perceptions of those who need help. We explored how that responsibility impacts the job, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional impact of those who serve. We discuss coping strategies, stigma, and culture that surrounds reaching out for help and the kind of strength it takes to break that silence.
We also spoke about the origins of The Sisu Way, life, philosophy, culture, and more topics I hope you find worthwhile of your time and attention. If you find any of these topics interesting, want to hear more, have questions, or just want to chat, you can always reach me on Instagram: @scottmcgee.
This episode is dedicated to mastering peace and learning how to live a happy and fulfilling life. I believe a peaceful life is centered on 3 main themes: mastering your desires, performing your duties, and learning to think clearly about yourself and your relations within the larger community of humanity.
My guest Eva Charlotte helps us remember how to do those things. Eva studied and taught with healers, shamans, and masters from many different traditions. Among these masters was Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. The Toltec master selected Eva for an individual, intensive training that lasted for nine years, during which she gave talks, taught workshops, and coached individuals alongside don Miguel and his family. But like most of us, our experiences are some of our best teachers. Eva shares extraordinary events that profoundly impacted her perceptions, including near death experiences. Sometimes you need the dark to see the light.
Eva travels the world and shares her life empowering message Rise in Love & Be a Peacemaker, a message of authentic love of self and life, the happiness that comes from stripping away personal stories, beliefs and falsehoods that shield us from our true selves, releasing all need for mental control.
Like strength, to R.I.S.E. in Love is a conscious choice, a deliberate action, a powerful personal statement. Knowing who you are and what you want gives you the foundation to move forward on our path towards peace. It is our hope this episode helps guide you in the direction you may need.
This episode is about The Character Mile and the reminder that Movement is a Gift, Health is Wealth, the Present is a Present, and that we have the freedom and opportunity to choose not only strength, but gratitude. Our paths are unique, but the courage, resilience, and willpower to overcome is universal. For those that don’t know, The Character Mile was a challenge to complete one mile every day during the month of December. One mile might not not seem like much for some, but that’s not what it was about. It was about character, consistency, commitment, and a celebration. The health we have, the ability to move, our senses, our will to move forward on our path – is all a gift. There are no ordinary moments.
This episode is dedicated to the community of people across more than 14 countries that not only participated in it The Character Mile, but found connections, awakenings, and appreciation for what they GET TO do. In the episode I read some of the comments and emails I have received as well as play some of the audio messages from our own character community that participated in this challenge. You see, it was never just about the running, the time, or how you completed it, it was an expression of character and gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just the best attitude, its a super power… greater than any negative.
Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths. -Epictetus
Thank you for listening, participating, and revealing your character!
Humbly, Scott McGee
P.S. I hope you don’t forget to celebrate and get yourself and a loved one the MOVEMENT IS A GIFTshirt. It is under the store tab on TheSisuWay.com
Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s mission is to advance the science of human movement and make it useful to people. He is committed to empowering people to take greater control of their well being. Dr. Romanov is a 2-time Olympic Coach, developer of the Pose Method of running, author, coach/athlete and world-renowned sports scientist. His career has spanned over forty years in numerous countries all over the world, all which started with very humble beginnings in Russia.
This is not just about the Pose Method, this is about the man behind it. Dr. R left his country after his poor childhood in Siberia’s wilderness. He struggled as a teenager and had numerous brushes with death. Through it all he has maintained a strong dedication to his family, and to discovering the truth. He has faced extreme circumstances most of us can not fathom, but only he has turned those moments into becoming the greatest mind in running.
It is my extreme honor to be able to not only have him on my podcast, but in the studio in person. He is one of the smartest guys I’ve met, but it’s his character that leads the way.
We are only as strong as the adversity we overcome. If that is the case, then Marcus Aurelius Anderson is a StrongMan of character. But facing adversity isn’t the only prerequisite for developing grit, you have to choose to use it as an opportunity for growth so you can adapt. It is not freedom from adversity, but it is the freedom, the power, the choice to take a stand and lean into your adversity. Our stories are unique, but the struggle is universal. To the strong, Adversity is a Gift.
My guest is Marcus Aurelius Anderson. Marcus is an author, TedX Speaker, and Mindset Coach who, while preparing to deploy with the U.S. Army, suffered a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His life was turned upside down, and after dying twice on the operating table, he was told he would never be able to walk or use his hands again. He discovered he was left with two choices, he could either be a victim, or change his mindset and become a Victor. Having no other option, he began looking for any lessons to be learned from his injury, and soon discovered that his set back was a gift. After being paralyzed and coming back from death, Marcus is here to help guide us not only out of adversity, but into it.
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
3:10 Who was Marcus prior to joining military at 38? Marcus the Younger
9:00 What he learned from his great uncle. The power of intention and purpose.
18:40 Joining the military at 38.
23:40 The concept of Arete and Ikigai
35:00 Knowing yourself – Temet Nosce
38:15 Grit – Dying and Paralysis – Movement is a Gift – the healing power of Gratitude
Genuine gratitude is not a buzzword, it is acting in a grateful manner.
57:34 You should be seeking out adversity, one in way shape or form. If you can have adversity as your compass, it will always direct you in the right direction, and for most people that are going through hardship, the answer they are looking for so desperately is found within the adversity that they are not facing.
58:30 Resiliency training – cold exposure – micro adversity
1:05:50 Adversity Scale
1:16:50 If you want to go beyond mediocrity, then you have to demand more from yourself. If you don’t demand something from you, life will start demanding things from you that you don’t want.
Misery loves company but not as much as mediocrity.
Erik Swoope is an NFL Tight End with a humble spirit who was with the Indianapolis Colts the past 5 seasons. He is 6’5”, 250 lbs, athletic, fast, and moves with the mass of a truck and coordination of a gymnast. The impressive part is this: He’s never played football before playing in the NFL. The more impressive part is that for as big and strong as Erik is, his character is more powerful. If perseverance, depth, gratitude, humility, and grit were measurable statistical categories, Erik would not only be an All-Pro amongst the NFL, he would be in the Pro Bowl of humans.
This episode is dedicated to understanding where Erik’s grit and gratitude come from, his upbringing, and the importance and meaning of family. We look at his accomplishments in the classroom, community, and on the court/field. We learn what it’s like to go from playing ACC basketball at the University of Miami to playing football for the first time (ever) in the NFL.
Want to know what it feels like to score a touchdown in the NFL? This episode is for you. Want to know how to overcome setbacks with a growth mindset and perseverance? This episode is for you. How you handle yourself when everything is great is one thing, but the best of us excel in the face of adversity. That struggle is where true strength is forged.
Into: Keep Your Dream
Don’t let your own will be the reason you fail. Keep that will strong and unconquerable. There are too many dreams buried in the cemetery of collapsed wills. Not yours. Be unconquerable. -Scott McGee
8:30 Where does Erik’s grit come from? What does it mean to be a Swoope man?
18:30 Family and upbringing. “If you start something you have to finish it.”
25:50 Athletic background as a kid. First dunk at 12 years old.
Lake Elsinore to Harvard Westalke (Los Angeles)
36:20 What are some of highlights from high school? “My struggle.”
One of my fondest memories. I found out how to do something the right way. I knew how to put in the effort, but are you doing it in a way that benefits you.
39:30 More proud of academics or sports?
The school work was where I had to prove to myself that I’m willing to go through something with no one else’s help. I had to find a way.
41:05 When did Erik figure out he was really good at sports?
48:00 How went from high school in SoCal to Miami to play basketball. What was it like leaving family?
56:22 Train Keeps Moving: No matter what happens in your life the train keeps moving and it doesn’t stop for anyone. If you think that life is going to hold up because you hit something… that train is going to keep moving.
59:00 Post college – The interest from the NFL Scouts. They want to see if Erik had “football traits.”
Learning football and drills. Try outs. 4.57 40 on first try.
1:01:40 Jimmy Graham – Mentor – First advice from former basketball player turned football player. “Football is not fun”. Ha.
1:10:40 Workout with NFL scout to the Indianapolis Colts
1:17:45 Learning the basics of football.
1:24:34 First time getting hit really hard in practice and a game. First Catch.
1:30:30 What it was like playing with Andrew Luck.
1:34:40 What it feels like to score a touchdown in the NFL.
1:39:40 The hardest part of playing football in the NFL… Handling stress
1:41:11 Where does Erik find the fun?
1:49:00 Purchases with NFL money.
1:51:50 NFL journey through being undrafted, injuries, practice squad, active roster.
In game experiences…
Responding from injuries, surgery, and learning to recover stronger than before.
2:07:18 Where does he go from here? Restricted Free Agent
2:09:16 What do you do with your doubts? I try and take that energy and put it into my training. My journey is not like anyone else’s.
What happens after an injury, loss, or major change? How do you adapt to this new normal state? How do you find strength in the face of adversity? How do you accept this new change without always wishing to be like before? My guest, Dr. Theresa Larson, helps me answer these questions. She says our minds are a war zone and adaptation will occur no matter what, but there is a choice to to optimally adapt or maladapt.
Dr. Larson (DPT) is a mom, wife, sister, friend, and TEDx Speaker who happens to be a former Marine Corps Engineer Officer, combat veteran, and professional softball player. While that sounds like a resume of a strong person, it was the other moments where she developed her strength. Dr. T made it through the death of her mother at the age of 10, the loss of her father, and learned to suffer skillfully while battling an internal war with bulimia in the middle of an actual war. It’s here she learned strength, positive adaption, and her call to help others.
You see, her greatest strength isn’t in which she has done. Her greatest strength was in asking for help. Our stories are unique, but the struggle is universal. The mission of this episode is to deliver info to people who need it. To those who have gone through loss, trauma, or a major change in their life and needs to find their new normal again, this episode is dedicated to you.
Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. – Camille Pissarro, painter
Ruben Rojas, knows what it means to take beautiful intention and turn it into soul moving action. To choose love over fear. He is the co-founder of Beautify Earth, a social impact entrepreneur, and world-class artist that uses the urban landscape as his canvas to inspire others through his murals. To view the world through the lens of love. That line right there: To view the world through the lens of love, to SEE with gratitude and LOVE… is one of the main reasons I wanted to do this episode with Ruben. My intention was to make this episode a piece of art that will help open some eyes and and hearts. To free ourselves from the self imposed addiction to suffering. To SEE beautiful things in humble places. Sometimes, you just have to look up at a wall.
It is my hope, that we tug some heart strings and help people begin with gratitude so they can choose to be postive, kind, and thoughtful. Love is the way.
How? Take a moment. Go to your breath. Be mindful. Your self-awareness leads to self-regulation.
39:30 What does love and gratitude look like across the world? Traveling
“People that have nothing and they will give you everything.”
48:00 The street art that reaches souls.
What does the art do for you? “We are all mirrors to each other.”
54:00 See Love
55:00* “There is so much beauty out there. I hope people understand that they can see that stuff, and see it in the most humble places. Once you have that vision you become super powerful and thats where gratitude grows.” -SM
56:00 Feb. 13th DiscoverLa.com – Ruben’s art exhibit – No Ordinary Love
57:00 How to deal with negative perceptions and staying positive
58:40 Painting with elephants for the LA Zoo.
1:01:25 The Prison Project – ForGive : Forgiven
If you lack the power of forgiveness, you lack the power of love.
1:10:50 Your why is what you apply force from. It is your ground.
What is your why? Beautify Earth is on a world peace mission.
1:16:00 End ugly wall syndrome – A goal of Beautify Earth
The mind is a battlefield, and we are all warriors. We are in a war for independence, for the right to use our own mind and break free. We are strong enough to break free from our own mental cage, like a rope tied to an elephant’s leg. The journey starts with our awareness. Awareness leads to choice. From choice comes the strength for action. We have the ability to discriminate and focus only on which we choose to perceive. This is called attention. We have been taught a certain way for a long time, but we can make agreements with ourselves to improve who we are, how we behave, and the results we want to achieve. We can discover our inner fire and learn to live with intention, arête, and impeccability: To break free from the rope. This episode on The Four Agreements will show you how to do that.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz shows us the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. I pair this book with The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness by Epictetus. The messages in these books are thousands of years apart, yet they parallel and intertwine with grace in how they face challenges of everyday life.
You need a strong will to adopt the Four Agreements, but Strength is a Choice. If you can adopt these agreements, the growth will be self-empowering. You will be the master of your own peace. Your self-awareness will recalibrate your ability to self-regulate. You are the captain of your soul. It is my hope that this episode helps show you how powerful you are.