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JJ Virgin talks about positivity, resiliency and mindset

By March 8, 2017 July 30th, 2020 One Comment

Commander Divine has launched the Courage Foundation, a non-profit that will let him provide him with the ability to help bring self-awareness and resilience training to various people, like schools, prisons and vets with PTSD.  You can help him getting his initiative off the ground by participating in the online auction or make a donation through the website at Thank you for your generosity and for helping people get the Unbeatable Mind training that they are seeking.

JJ Virgin“You know, the saddest part of all of this is that we are just never taught mindset. We’re never taught any of this stuff.”–JJ Virgin

JJ Virgin (@jjvirgin) is an expert in nutrition and fitness. She is the author of several New York Times bestselling books, and most recently she wrote the book “Miracle Mindset: A Mother, Her Son, and Life’s Hardest Lessons.” The book is about her mindset in dealing with the serious and life-threatening injury dealt to her son by a hit-and-run driver.  There wasn’t a great deal of hope that her son would live, let alone recover, but JJ wasn’t willing to give up, and Grant lived through it. She describes the ways in which she maintained her hope when faced with the unthinkable.

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Other episodes of our podcast that you might be interested in are Mark’s podcasts with Jenna Wolfe, and Jeremy McGhee.

Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, this is Mark Divine coming back at you with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. I’m here in sunny Encinitas, California after some raging storms the last 24 hours. Pretty awesome. We got more water here than we know what to do with for the first time in years.

Hey, before I get started with this week’s podcast, where I’ve got a very, very cool guest named JJ Virgin–I would like to say that we just recently held our introductory auction fundraiser for the Courage Foundation. Now you may have missed it cause we launched it on March 1st, and I think this podcast is launching probably after it. It’s a ten day thing.

But you can go to Courage Foundation and see what we’re up to. And this is a new initiative. Just launched it last year. Jon Atwater’s running it for me. Some of you know him as my former master brewer at the Coronado brewing company, and then my ops officer at SEALFIT. And he’s done a great job getting it off the ground.

What it is, is a way to bring mental toughness and resiliency and hope, essentially, to populations of people who are suffering. So we’re focusing initially on prison population, as well as PTSD vets who are suffering from depression and may be suicidal. As well as abused women. And so these are populations that we know through our connections and our partners that we can have an impact on. And we’ve already donated thousands of books into the prisons, through our partners, “The Prison Fellowship.” So we’re very excited about this as kind of a way to play a bigger game and really help people out, doing what we know how to do exceptionally well. Which is to forge mental toughness and resiliency, and to give people a little bit more courage.

So that’s Check it out.



So JJ, thanks for joining me today. I’m excited to introduce you. JJ is a nutrition and fitness expert, the author of 4 New York Times bestsellers. That’s 4 . That’s incredible. “The Virgin Diet,” “The Virgin Diet Cookbook,” your “Sugar Impact Diet,” and the “Sugar Impact Diet Cookbook.” And there’s another book that we’re going to talk about in a second. But through that lifestyle work, she host a show called the “JJ Virgin Lifestyle Show,” and writes for the Huffington Post and Rodale, who I know very well, cause I’ve done some work with Rodale, and she’s got a memoir called “The Miracle Mindset: A Mother, Her Son, and Life’s Hardest Lessons.” I look forward to talking to you, JJ, about that.

So Welcome JJ, who’s also a business coach and runs a big health entrepreneur event called the “Mindshare summit.” JJ, thanks for your time today. Super-appreciate it, and appreciate all the work that you do.

JJ Virgin: I just think it’s so funny. We live 5 minutes from each other and didn’t know it.

Mark: (laughing) I know. Usually we try to do these in person when we live so close. But we’ll just have to hook up some other way.

JJ: Who knew?

Mark: Yeah, who knew? Exactly.

So you’ve done a lot of writing on fitness, lifestyle, nutrition. I see a note here from Allison that you were in a reality TV show called “Freaky Eaters.” How did all this come about? Who is JJ, like what were your formative drivers that led you into being a fitness celebrity/author type person?

JJ: (laughing) So are you saying you didn’t see “Freaky Eaters?”

Mark: (laughing) I’m sorry. I missed that. I should have watched it before this. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, right?

JJ: Yes it is, because I get random, very strange posts on my Facebook page about it. There’s one.

You know, I’ve been interested in fitness and nutrition literally since I was a little kid. I can’t actually ever think of a time that I wasn’t interested in it and wasn’t somehow studying it, teaching it. I started teaching calisthenics in high school. “Calisthenics,” so that kinda tells ya.

Mark: That was before the aerobics? Or was that after the aerobics craze?

JJ: That was pre-aerobics, was calisthenics. Pre leg-warmers, pre all of that Jane Fonda stuff.

And then I went off to teaching aerobics. I actually taught aerobics in Japan. I just have always been fascinated with high-performance. What you could do exercise-wise and nutrition-wise and frequenting the first health-food stores. I grew up in Berkeley so I was lucky there.

But then, I had…

Mark: So you connected those 2 very early…

JJ: Early, yeah. I was really clear. I was a personal trainer paying my way through college and grad school. And it became super-obvious, fast that if you weren’t eating correctly, you weren’t going to really get the results from the fitness program. So I was like, “All right, I better start studying nutrition.”

And it was really hard to find good nutrition research back then. Everything was about low-fat, vegetarian diets, which I quickly saw were making all my clients worse not better. It’s like, you combine endurance training, 45 year-old women and low-fat, high-carb diets and you have a mess on your hands.

Mark: Yeah, that’s a recipe for a heart-attack, isn’t it?

JJ: Yes. It was just like, “Wow, this isn’t working.” But at the same time, I had one of my clients in personal training was this amazing female entrepreneur. Self-made multi-millionaire. Had come from a little town in Kansas.

And she said, “Why are you in grad school?” Cause I was in my 3rd grad school at the time. I was at University of Miami in sports med, and I said, “Cause I wanna be more successful.”

She goes, “Well that doesn’t really correlate. I mean, you could be going to school the rest of your life.” And I’m like, “Really?”

Mark: (laughing) What a shocker. I know right?  A lot of people have figured that out.

JJ: It was a shocker. I didn’t realize, you know? I’m glad she told me. I’d still probably be in school, going, “Gosh, why am I not more successful?”

Business coaching


And she said, “How about if I coach you?” She was a business coach. “How about if I coach you on business?” I’m like, “Okay.” And here was what was crazy. I actually moved into her house and was living there for 6 months on what I thought would be business. How to sell, how to market. All that.

Nope. Not what she taught me. She spent 6 months coaching me on mindset.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Wow.

JJ: Yeah. And I was frustrated at first. I’m like, “Well when am I going to get to the real stuff?”

Mark: Right. Well business is all about mindset, isn’t it?

JJ: Life is all about mindset. Right?

Mark: Yeah, exactly. Life.

JJ: Right, you know. You’re never going to outgrow that. And so I was just like so fortunate because the tools she gave me back then and the training just became me. And you know, the saddest part of all of this is that we are just never taught mindset. We’re never taught any of this stuff. It’s this unknown, weird airy-fairy, woo woo thing out there that no one talks about. And if you don’t know how to quantify it, you don’t really know what to do with it. Or how to create this mental toughness. And the thing is, you can totally create it. You can totally learn it. But if you don’t, it’s like a muscle and if you don’t do that, guess what…

Mark: It atrophies.

JJ: Right.

Mark: So I completely agree, and you and I and a lot of others are filling that gap now. And podcasts are a great way to transmit that information. So thank you very much for your work there, because you’re right. Everybody needs to know mindset. It precedes pretty much success in any domain of work or knowledge, right?

JJ: Yup.

Mark: So what were some of the core lessons this mentor taught you? By the way, how cool is it that you stumbled into this mentor so early in life? I mean, that’s a huge indicator of success or kind of break out for most people, I tend to find. If they had someone who kind of like woke ’em up, and said “Oh, you know, you’re going down the wrong path. Lemme help you.”

JJ: Yeah. Yeah. And at that age I was so lucky. I just went to a little event in downtown San Diego. It was the premier of Brian Tracy‘s new movie “Maximum Achievement,” and I realized I was listening to this movie that so much of what she taught me was really Brian Tracy. And one of the first things she taught me to do was manage my environment. And gosh, there’s never a more important time for that than right now with all the crap going on out there. That we really can choose what we focus on. And what you focus on expands, obviously. So don’t hang-out with negative people, victim people. Don’t watch negative news. All of that.

And I kinda became addicted way back when to Nightingale-Conant tapes. And I put tapes in my walkman. Kay this is like totally dating me. But I would tapes in my walkman and I’d go rollerblading around Fort Lauderdale. And listen to all these tapes. But it truly helped. Ever since then, she made me wear these little rubber bands around my wrists–this is going to sound crazy, but every time I said something negative I snapped myself. And boy a lot of snapping at first. Cause you just don’t realize, if you are not actively focusing on positive, you will be surrounded by negative crap. And then you are negative crap.

So it was really clear, and it got to the point where my mother’s like, “But you don’t watch the news. How will you know what’s going on?” And I go, “If it’s important, someone will tell me.” Like, most of this stuff, you turn on the news, and there’s a murder and a burglary… I’m like, “I don’t wanna know any of this stuff. It’s awful.”

So that was one of the big ones, is to really manage your environment. And another huge one was to focus on gratitude. It’s something I do every single morning. Get that journal out and write, and write at least 3 things I’m grateful for. Super-important.

And then get really clear on your goals but from a point of possibility. You know. She kept saying, “The only limitations are the limitations in your mind.” And I remember 2 things she’d say, and I’d kinda go “Hunh. Really? Cause it seems like there’d be some limitations.” And she would take us through an exercise to help us just get into more a possibility thinking mindset, and then she’s say, “There is no right or wrong, there just is.” And that was like… I was like, “Of course there’s right and wrong!”

Mark: It’s all in the eyes of the beholder, right?

JJ: Right. And I’m right, you know, but…

Positive Thinking


Mark: I mean, those principles obviously resonate a lot with me because they’re things that we teach as part of our Unbeatable Mind training. Almost to a T. And I think that’s fantastic. I think Brian… you know some of those early Nightingale-Conant programs were just like perennial. I mean like, Brian Tracy’s work, and he’s still going strong today. And Jim Rohn, and Napoleon Hill. And of course, Tony Robbins. I mean there’s like… and also… who was the fellow who just passed away a couple years ago? Who was the sales trainer?

JJ: Zig Ziglar

Mark: Zig! Yeah! I mean, I listened to Zig. Zig was awesome! I used to love his stuff, cause he was so enthusiastic.

JJ: Did you ever see him on stage?

Mark: I did! I went to one of those crazy events that had like 100,000 people… and it had Colin Powell and Zig. Zig was amazing. What a storyteller.

JJ: Yup. And like, where are those people now? My gosh…

Mark: Well, it’s a new era and so it’s been disseminated and now it’s coming back through podcasts, basically. You know, books and podcasts. It’s hard to get people together like that at a mass level these days I think. Unless you’re Tony Robbins…

JJ: Get them online.

Mark: Yeah. But the point here to the listeners is… that type… and this is why podcasts are so important. But those tapes are great. I mean, find them online and just play them over and over and just reprogramming the subconscious. And eventually… I remember one from Brian Tracy that I continue to use today. It’s a mantra that’s like the simplest thing. And I’ve mentioned this a few times.

And it was when I when kind of in a dark period in my life. Before the SEALs. Even before I went to New York. And I was just really kind of struggling with existential questions. And I listened to his tape and he said, “Hey, you know, one way out of depression/negativity is just to recite ‘I like myself’ thousands of times a day.” And I’m like, “That’s stupid.” But I started doing it. I felt really corny at first. And I think he also said, “Say it in front of a mirror. Or say it out loud.” I can’t remember. And I was too embarrassed…

JJ: He just did it in the movie. Honestly, in the movie… I’m like, “Oh my gosh. I had totally forgot that whole ‘I like myself, I like myself, I like myself.'””

Mark: It works. Trust me.

JJ: It totally works. Cause most people are like, “God I’m stupid…” You hear people say it. I’ve got somebody who works for me, she goes, “Gosh, I’m so stupid.” I’m like, “What!” Cancel, cancel.

Mark: Cancel, cancel. Exactly. I love that. I’m totally with you, so that is awesome. And so you brought that into your professional life, and obviously your family.

The Accident


Let’s talk about the “Miracle Mindset” which is your memoir. Tell us the story about that.

JJ: Yeah, so… this wasn’t a book I thought I’d ever be writing. I’ll tell you that.

So I have 2 boys and this book is about when they were 15 and 16. And I always said, “I can handle anything as long as my kids are okay.” And a couple weeks before my first big book, “The Virgin Diet” was coming out, my older son who was 16 at the time, was out walking and he got hit by a car.

Mark: Mom. Wow.

JJ: Hit and run. The woman actually got out of the car, looked at him, got back in her car and left.

Mark: Good God.

JJ: Crazy! I know just crazy stuff. Like, what are you talking about? So anyway, he gets airlifted to the local hospital. We get there and find out that he has got a torn Aorta. It’s hanging on by an onion skin. And the doctors say, “It’s going to rupture some time in the next 24 hours. It has to be repaired. But we cannot repair it here, because he has multiple brain bleeds, and we have to do it with the blood thinner.” It’s a real special surgery to do the type of surgery needed, and they couldn’t do it there. And they said, “You know, he’ll never survive another airlift. And even if he were to survive another airlift, you know, he’s not going to survive the surgery. And even if he was able to survive both, he’d be so brain damaged that it probably wouldn’t be worth it.”

And my son who was 15 at the time is sitting next to me, listening to this doctor. And he looks at him and says, “So maybe like a 0.25 percent chance that he’d make it.” And the doctor says, “That sounds about right.” And he goes, “Well, we’ll take those odds.”

Mark: Wow.

JJ: If you knew this kid, it’s like 15, says this to the doctor. And we get emotional. And then walks up to my son who is now lying on a gurney in a deep coma. Bones sticking through his skin. He has got road rash down his body. Glass and gravel… tubes sticking out of his brain. It is gruesome. I mean, it is gruesome.

I’m on one side falling apart. My ex-husband’s on the other side losing it. And Bryce, my 15 year old walks up to my son and says, “Dude, you look really ugly right now. But you are so tough and stubborn if anyone can make it, you can.” I’m like, “Who is this child?” And then comes over, hugs me cause I’m losing it. Is just so comforting. And I’m going, “Oh my God. I shouldn’t have let him go out for a walk.” All that crap. I still look and I say, “It is just mind-blowing who you are.” Right?

Mark: That is incredible.

JJ: Incredible. So anyway, we airlifted him to that hospital, he survived the surgery. The surgeons there were total bad-asses. 5 surgical teams working on him. And they’re like, “We got this. You don’t even need to worry. We do this all the time. We totally got this.” I’m like, “All right. If you say so. I’m with ya.”

Mark: Where was that team? Let’s call ’em. That’s so cool I love that.

JJ: Well I have a documentary I did about this. And I show this doctor. His name is Doctor Carlos Donayre. He was at Harbor-UCLA at the time. And he was the guy. Check this out. I go, “You need to teach every doctor how to behave this way.” They call him at like midnight, they send a fax. And he finds out, the hospital calls him. He’s one of the few people in the country that can do this surgery without a blood thinner.

He then recruits the critical care team, the PED critical care team, and his vascular team between midnight and 2 AM. Then he knows he needs the stent. Well the stent he wants to use is part of a study that’s no longer happening, so he has to find it. Moreover, he’s not supposed to put it in kids, but he says, “You know, I figured I’d ask for forgiveness.”

Mark: Mmm. Right.

JJ: So, you know, it was just awesome. And so that’s what I happened. It was just incredible. He survived that surgery… In fact, the doctor walked right up to me in the hospital. He goes, “You don’t need to worry. I totally got this. I do this all the time.” I’m like, “All right.” Well I’m just going to go with that, you know? So, you know, “I got this all the time. Blah, blah, blah.” So anyway he survives that, then we go into see Grant. Grant is in a deep coma. The neurosurgeons say, “We don’t think he’ll ever wake up.” The orthopedic surgeons are like, “We don’t think he’ll ever walk.” I’m like, “Don’t say anything around him.” I’m holding his hand. He’s supposed to be in a deep, unresponsive coma. I said something to him, I feel him squeezing my fingers.

And I looked, and I go, “Grant, you know, you’ve got this. You do not need to worry here. We are all fighting for this. You’re going to be better than before. I’m calling in everyone I know and we have got it. You just fight.”

And I just kept managing the conversation around him, cause the last thing he needs is to hear anyone saying anything, cause…

Mark: You’re controlling the environment for him.

JJ: Control the environment like I learned to do. And later he said, “Mom, the gray man came down and asked me if I wanted to live or die, and I didn’t really want to live. I was over there with Grandpa. It was really nice over there. But I kept hearing you talk.”

Okay, so really important lesson if you are around anyone in a coma or anyone… Grant could tell when I was in the hospital; his blood pressure would come down. He described all sorts of things. He described where we were in the hospital, during the surgery. He described what we were wearing. He described different parts of the hospital. He goes, “Yeah, I just was checking everything out.”

“Like, what?” Yeah, pretty wild.

Mark: Wow, that’s stunning. In that early period right there with the accident and the surgery, you literally saw the best and the worst of humanity in all one 24 hour block of time didn’t you?

JJ: Yes.

Mark: What an incredibly… I don’t even know what word to say. What an incredible experience, you know? At all levels. Emotionally, mentally, physically I’m sure. For you and your family.

JJ: There were so many lessons just within 24 hours it was amazing. Because I had kind of nightmares after the fact. Because he still had brain activity and my ex-husband asked the doctor, one of the doctors, he said, “Well, once we decided we were going to airlift him… what would you have done if it was your son?” And he goes, “Oh, I’d airlift him.”

And I’m like, “Great.” It’s one of those things where you’ve gotta stay open to possibility. Now if he was brain dead, if there was no brain activity that would have been a totally different story. But he wasn’t. And I think about the people who would have listened to authority. “Well, the doctor says to do this, so that’s what I better do.” Cause it happens every day. And that is what’s frightening to me, is getting the message out that you’ve really gotta stay open to possibility. And it may or may not have worked. I didn’t know. But I had to try.

Mark: I think that’s a great rule of thumb. Because doctors are going to give you the correct answer–the one that’s going to protect the hospital and them. But keep asking them what they would do is a whole different decision.

JJ: You know, when you really think about it, our brains strive to find the answer to something. So my biggest question going forward was, “How do I get him to 110%? How do I get him to 110%? That was the question my brain’s just… ever since the accident that’s the question I’ve been looking to solve. And he had a severe traumatic brain injury. Suicidal. Multiple times we had to hospitalize him. We’ve gone through it. And one of the most important things that I’ve told Grant throughout this… cause he was like, “I don’t even know what my purpose is. Why am I here?” I was like, “Grant, you’re going to show people that not only can they come out of a brain injury. They can come out better than before.” And it isn’t a matter of wait and see, and you’re brain has its own time schedule. That makes me so crazy when I hear about that, because it isn’t the case at all. Your brain can heal at any time. You have a brain injury from 10 years ago, you can heal it today. But the sooner the better and it’s not a matter of time. There’s so many things that you can do to heal your brain. It’s amazing. I mean, he truly is better than he was before the accident.

Mark: So I can probably see how TBI is a really challenging thing to recover from, so what were some of the things that you and he and your family did? And the therapists and whatnot to help him recover? And where is he at today?

JJ: All right, so the first thing that we did was starting in the hospital, the second… basically it was the first real night he was there. I sent an email out… all my friends are docs and health experts, so I sent an email out and go “Okay, what’s the latest? Who’s got what?” And we had people starting to show up… we started rubbing progesterone cream on him because we heard from one of the researchers that was one of the things they were doing to help reduce brain inflammation. We were doing essential oils, cause they can be healing. It’s one of the first ways you can start doing something because he can smell and it comes through…

Mark: You’re stimulating different areas of the brain, and giving him calming feelings, and that’s… totally get that. Awesome.

Fish Oil and the Brain


JJ: Yes. And then fish oil. He’d been on fish oil before… and I think this is one of the key takeaways, is we already had him on fish oil prior to the accident. Which is one of the key things cause it protects your brain and you never know when you’re going to have a brain injury. It’s not like you plan for one. So you do need to plan for one, cause we all hit our heads. It’s… you know, a Traumatic Brain Injury doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a coma. You can hit your head, rattle your brain, you have a brain injury. So…

Mark: Yeah. If you’re a kick-boxer, martial artist, Navy SEAL firing a weapon… I mean there’s a million ways…

JJ: There’s a million ways. Car accidents, falls.

Mark: And repetitive micro-trauma can lead to the same or similar, I should say, symptoms. Not probably the same as a major trauma.

JJ: Well, you know, you’ll still end up with brain injury and damage. Which leads to depression, memory loss, anxiety. It throws off your whole hormone system. All sorts of stuff. So we had him on fish oil before. Getting that hospital to give them the fish oil I wanted… they were just not going to do it. I brought in the heavy guns that had done the work on this with like the coal miner, and Bobby Ghassemi and they wouldn’t listen. I had their research… I had them on the phone. And so they would only do 2 grams. He needed at least 10 . So as soon as he spit up… he hacked up his own feeding tube and just to give you his personality, it was a Sunday and he was pointing to it, and I said, “You can’t get it out until Monday.” And he just hacked it up. “Or you can get it out now.”

Mark: (laughing) Okay. There you go.

JJ: But as soon as he hacked up his feeding tube, I’m like, “Okay. Game on.” I had a NutriBullet in there. I was making him smoothies. I was upping his fish oil. When I got his fish oil up, he started talking in sentences…

Mark: Cause that’s the fuel for the brain, right?

JJ: Yes. Yes it is. It’s so critical and so we had fish oil. I had high dose magnesium. Vitamin D. I was hitting with amino acids, really good protein. I brought in all my own food for him…

Mark: Unbelievable.

JJ: So in the hospital, that was all the things that we were doing. Once we got him out of the hospital, then we really went to town. I started hyperbaric. I did neural feedback. And we’re doing CBD, which is incredible.

Mark: What’s that? CBD?

JJ: CBD is the inactive form of marijuana. So it doens’t have the THC. It’s not psychoactive, but it stabilizes your brain. And it can also help with depression, anxiety, inflammation. But a lot of what you have with the brain injury is an unstable brain. And so it helps stabilize the brain.

Then the killer thing that I’ve been doing… he’s been doing a lot of gardening, and what I’ve realized doing that is he needed to get into the earth. Because there’s this whole grounding force when you’re into the earth. So he naturally started doing that. He built these Tesla coils so he’s doing this Tesla coil stimulation that he’s put together and he’s got pulse electro-magnetic field technology headbands he’s wearing. And then I got his stem cells harvested and grown and we have been injecting stem cells into his spine, that go straight to his brain.

And it is… this will be what turns around brain injury, because it can actually… I mean, they’re having people… paralyzed people are walking again…

Mark: And that will create new gray matter? The stem cells?

JJ: It basically regenerates wherever you’re injured. So it goes to any part of healing. Like I just had some in my knee and hip. They’re using it in heart disease, they’re using it in cancer, they’re using it in brain injuries, they’re using it in any kind of paralysis. They’re using it in osteo-arthritis.

It’s still… he’s a lab rat. And I said, “Hey, honey, you’re about to become a lab rat.” He goes, “Okay.” They don’t really know what’s going to happen, and when he first started coming out of the coma, he was super-violent. It was super-scary. And when he got the injections into his spine, the same thing happened again. And I looked and I went “This is awesome. It’s scary…”

Mark: Yeah, just lit up those regions again probably.

JJ: Yeah. Stuffs waking up. Stuff connecting. So that’s what happened. It was pretty mind-blowing.

Mark: Give me a timeline. I’m not 100% sure how recent we’re talking or when this all happened.

JJ: It happened 4 and a half years ago.

Mark: Okay, so you’re still coming through it…

JJ: Well, cause my big question is how do I get him to be 110%? And I haven’t even come close to exhausting… You know, he kind of got annoyed with me, cause he comes home and I’m like… have him in 12 different things. And he didn’t want to do any of it. He was like, “Stop it!” He was doing some really cool training–balance training, coordination training with an amazing physical therapist/trainer. Ropes and all sorts of stuff. But he got a little, “Mom, leave me alone.” You know?

Mark: (laughing) Enough is enough. So yeah, I can see fitness and movement, I mean that’s very, very stimulating to the brain. The neuro-plastic effect is powerful. And I imagine virtual reality is probably something you’re looking at?

JJ: No, we haven’t actually done much of that. We actually got him some of that… we got him some virtual reality goggles thing for Christmas, but he just didn’t get into that.

Mark: It’s a little too early for that stuff.

JJ: He just wasn’t into that. He’s been into… you know, neural feedback’s been amazing for him. And meditation, super. This is not a person who would have meditated prior to this at all. Very into meditation, and a lot of studying. A lot of research. Like he created this whole hydroponics… my backyard and my house in the desert is a… that house, I just went, “You know what? It just doesn’t matter.” Destroyed. It is destroyed, so. I just had to let it go.

The Future, College and Entrepreneurship


Mark: So how old is Grant now?

JJ: He’s 20.

Mark: He’s 20? Good. And is there college in his future, or where are we at in terms of what’s he… what his future is.

JJ: Aah, I can’t see… It’s very interesting to me, college. I have one son who’s a double major engineering and math. And he really wants to be either a professor or an engineer, so college is obviously… and grad school and all that’s important for him. But, you know, the average person if they don’t want to be an engineer, an accountant, a doctor or a lawyer, I’m not really sure why they’re going to school.

Mark: Yeah. Unless it’s about entrepreneurship.

JJ: But the best entrepreneurship is to go build businesses and be an intern in somebody else’s business. Like, I didn’t learn one thing… I’ve built probably 9 businesses now, and I certainly didn’t learn 1 thing in school about them.

Mark: Yeah, I kind of agree. I didn’t either. I met a guy just a couple weeks ago… this is hilarious… he convinced his daughter to drop out of college. I mean, you don’t hear that very often, but… and he said I’ll take the money that we were spending on college and help you start a business. And so she’s starting a little cooking show business. How cool is that?

But I think you’re right on. That’s…

JJ: It just depends on what you want to do. If you wanna be a doctor, which gosh I don’t know anyone would want to be a doctor nowadays with what they’re doing to the medical system. Maybe they’ll fix.

But, you know, if you want to do something where it’s required. But gosh, I look at all the places that… I am massively into ongoing education and have been ever since the day after I graduated from UCLA, I started in grad school, you know? But I am not learning the things that are helping my business in college or grad school, at all. It takes too long to get into the curriculum.

Daily Practices and Training


Mark: You’re obviously highly evolved and take care of yourself extremely well and are constantly growing and learning. And I think folks listening would be kind of curious. So what do you do? What are your daily practices and routines around fitness, nutrition, spirituality, that type of thing?

JJ: So every morning I get up and I have… first thing I do is grab my journal. And I break down what I’m grateful for. I literally do this every day. It’s what I did in the hospital, when I was scared to death. And it’s helpful because you can’t be grateful and scared at the same time. So once you shift your brain over to gratitude, kinda shoves fear to the side. So I stayed in gratitude.

And then I always have my day set up the night before. I make sure I’ve reviewed my schedule and what I’m really gonna get done that day. The morning time, I drink a shake every single morning. I have a protein made from concentrated bone broth protein. That’s one of my shakes that I produce. So I have a shake every morning, and that’s my real writing, thinking time. So I always take a couple… if it’s great I have like 3 to 4 hours, but usually at least 1 hour in the morning. That’s my thinking, working time before I dive into all my stuff.

And then I batch my stuff throughout the day, so that interviews are all lined up on one thing. Meetings are lined up on another. Business coaching on another. And then I usually will throw the gym in some time in the middle of the day. It’s my favorite. It’s my old trainer habits, to go to the gym in the dead times. Like, you’ll never catch me at the gym at 5 in the afternoon, ever. Ick. Unless it’s Friday night when no one’s there.

Mark: Right. And how do you train? Are you doing interval training? Endurance training? Strength training? All of the above?

JJ: I don’t do any endurance training. I stopped doing it years ago. I only do high-intensity interval training, so I do burst training, and then I do resistance training. Burst training. I would love to say that I do yoga, flexibility… I just hate it. Every year I’m like, “I’m gonna do it!” I never do it. I wanna do it. I don’t do it.

Mark: I’m gonna send you… I’m gonna ask Allison. I’m gonna send you, or when I see you in person, my book “Kokoro Yoga” because it’ll change how you think about yoga. The whole point is to bring it back to be a personal practice and to break it down into drills. So for me yoga is 5 minutes of breathing before my workout, and then 15 minutes of a yoga stretch routine–depending upon what I did–so it might be hip-centric or shoulder-centric.

JJ: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s the kind of thing… It’s the hour class that kills me. Like, going to an hour class, I just can’t take it. I just want 10-15 minutes of this stuff people. I actually created my little yoga flow program to put into my programs, but I don’t do it, cause… there you have it. Anyway.

And then every night my fiancé and I go over like what were the little wins of the day. It’s kind of a reverse of the morning gratitude. And it’s just to really focus. I have a habit of not being present, which I’ve very much worked on. So focusing on what went well today and the little wins helps knock you back into the present. Instead of being 10 years out and some big goal.

Mark: That’s awesome. And sleep.

JJ: Oh, I’m a massive sleeper. Here’s the funny thing. My fiancé when I met him was like a 5 to 6 hour a night sleeper. I’m like, “No, that’s not going to work.” And so he now is like me. He’s an 8 to 9 hour sleeper. It’s so funny to see. So I’m an 8+ hour sleeper. I’m big on sleep. It’s hugely important. I did it when I was in the hospital. In the hospital one of the key things that I did, was I found a gym close by. I was burst training on the hospital stairs. I made sure I had dialed my eating in perfectly. And I was getting my sleep, because I knew I could not function at the level I needed to function unless I was totally dialed on all that stuff.

Mark: Oh, I totally agree with that. A big part of our philosophy is you’ve gotta take care of yourself if you’re going to serve others. So you just described that very well. If you hadn’t been taking care of yourself, then you wouldn’t have been on your game to be able to protect the space and to feed your son both the food and the mental training that you did. The mental stimulus.

JJ: But so many people, especially women. Women are the worst at this, at just putting themselves last, and you know? It’s just, unhh…

Mark: Right. No, it’s very unhealthy to do that, obviously. And it doesn’t damage just you, but it damages your whole system.

JJ: Yeah. Well I think they feel like it’s selfish to do that. But it’s actually not. It’s very selfless. Like if you wanna raise healthy kids, you’ve got to take care of yourself.

Mark: I agree. Awesome. Tremendous. So good luck with Grant. I would love to meet him some day. If there’s anything that we can do at Unbeatable Mind to maybe help out. I would love to maybe give him a copy of my book which is all about developing purpose and resiliency. So that’d be cool. I’ll send you a copy of that too.

JJ: That would be fantastic. Killer. Yay.

Mark: So what’s on the horizon for you? What are you working on now? What cool things are coming up and also how can people really connect with the coolest things that you’re doing so that they can help you out and vice versa.

JJ: Let’s see. What am I working on? We’re just launching this whole mindset book, movie, academy, the movie’s going to go on public television. I do everything; I really live a lot of stuff out on my Facebook page. I do Facebook Lives pretty regularly. So that is where I spend a lot of my time.

And then I run a big group of health entrepreneurs. So that’s my other business, is really helping health entrepreneurs get their message out to the world.

Mark: Is that the March 11 event that you mentioned to me?

JJ: Well that’s a little meet up for all of us.

Mark: That’s a meet up. Okay.

JJ: Yes. So, having a bunch of people over to the house.

Mark: Cool. Okay so the… and your Facebook is just your name, just go to JJVirgin…

JJ: JJVirginofficial.

Mark: Oh, cause there’s a fan page, and there’s…

JJ: Yeah, there’s the other one that they keep pinging me on. I never go to my personal page, ever.

Mark: Right, I got it. I’ve got that same issue going on. Awesome JJ. Thanks so much for your time. Amazing. I can’t wait to meet you in person. And I’ll have Allison send those books over. Or like I said, if I can make that March 11 thing I will bring them in person. And keep doing what you’re doing. Fantastic.

JJ: Thank you. I so appreciate it. Look forward to meeting you.

Mark: Likewise. Thanks again. I appreciate it. You have a great day. Everybody out there listening go check out JJ Virgin and I can’t wait to read this book, “The Mindset.” “Miracle Mindset: A Mother, her son and life’s hardest lessons.” That sounds like an incredible story and still a few chapters to get written. And we’ll send Grant some healing energy. Sounds like an amazing guy, I can’t wait to meet Grant.

And when it comes to you, my dear friends. Unbeatable mind peeps and SEALFIT peeps, train hard every day. Consistency is king. Stay focused. Declutter your environment and control your environment. Don’t let the crap in. There’s lots of it out there. It’s all just vying for your attention. Stay focused on your 1 thing and feed the courage wolf. And we’ll see you next time.


Coach Divine Out.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Karen Saggio says:

    I stumbled upon JJ Virgins story about her son on CUNYs college television channel in NY last night which led me here to your podcast transcript when I googled her today. I am a New Yorker and had the fortune to learn early on the power of mental toughness. I try to share it regularly with those around me but I can feel it wanting to burst out of me…I am truly glad to have found your information and foundation information. Stay Well and Kind Regards.

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