Lori Harder (loriharder) is a leading expert in the field of fitness, transformational work, self love and mindfulness. She’s a fitness model, speaker and podcaster as the host of the podcast “Earn Your Happy.” Mark and Lori find many commonalities between the kind of mental exercises that she does and his integrated approach. Listen to this episode and hear how you can use Unbeatable Mind techniques in different ways and places.
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The Bliss Project
Hey folks, this is Mark Divine. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Super-appreciate your time with us. You can find the podcast now on Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud… of course, iTunes and at our website, unbeatablemind.com/podcast. Where you can also enter your email into our email list and be alerted to all the really cool things that we have going on. So… there you have it…boom.
Today’s guest is Lori Harder, who’s a leading expert in fitness and transformation, mindfulness, self-love. She’s an entrepreneur, author. She’s been a cover model for fitness magazines. She’s a world champion for fitness competitions. And she’s got a podcast called “Earn Your Happy.”
So Lori has helped countless people–especially women–connect with their bodies and empower their minds. She’s a big fan of mindfulness and also to gain financial independence and to find bliss in their lives. And her annual event is called “The Bliss Project.” She’s helping thousands of women take control and find their happy.
Hey Lori. Thanks so much for being on the show today. Super-stoked to get to know you, and how you doing?
Lori Harder: I’m amazing! Thank you so much for having me on.
Mark: Oh no, it’s my pleasure. I’m super-stoked to talk to you. Sounds like we have a lot to share. And a lot of things in common.
So just as a brief introduction to the listeners of the Unbeatable Mind podcast, I know you cover a pretty broad spectrum of interests–like I do–in your teachings. Obviously you’re deep into fitness. And health and nutrition.
But also mindfulness, transformation. Positivity. Entrepreneurship. It’s amazing the breadth and depth that you cover in your personal life and as a teacher and a leader. So I’m not even sure where to start, except maybe just ask you… what was your childhood like? Where did you grow up and what were you like as a kid? What were some of the formative experiences you had as a kid?
Lori: Well, I grew up in upper Michigan. In a tiny town. So we were probably about 3 hours from any sort of… you know… mall. (laughing)
Mark: (laughing) Nice.
Lori: (laughing) Did I say a mall?
Mark: (laughing) I think you said a mall. I’m not sure what that is anymore. I don’t think they exist.
Lori: I know. Do we have malls? Oh my God…
Mark: I think they’ve been converted to breweries or something like that…
Lori: Probably. Especially up there.
Tiny town. I was raised really religious. And I was home-schooled through high school. So being really religious in an already tiny town and not celebrating holidays kind of made it really interesting. So…
Mark: I imagine your life was pretty narrow and somewhat rigid.
Lori: Very. While it was beautiful and it was wonderful to live up there… we had an amazing family, we also did not put… we didn’t base our lives whatsoever… or know anything about health. So we… my family… my mom has 4 sisters. They’re obsessed with baking. With eating. Cooking was a form of love. So we’d always be eating. We’d always be getting together.
I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to eat 1 to 3 servings at dinner and then have 3, 4, 5 snacks. Like, we’d just keep eating…
Mark: (laughing) You know, but just… that is so common. I mean, that is literally part of that Midwestern culture. Food is about family and connection and there’s a whole emotional component to it. And unfortunately, without self-awareness, that doesn’t lead to good places.
Lori: You know, it’s so interesting because even to this day, I will for comfort or when I’m speaking a lot. Or when I’m traveling… it such a tough cycle for me to break. Because the first thing that I still want to go to is food. There’s so much… It’s such an addictive pattern, because that was my comfort. That was my love. That was our celebration. It was literally every good thing in life was attached to food.
But then, I also started to notice as a teenager… not only… cause through middle school I did go to school, and I got bullied a lot for my religion and also I was a bit overweight. Nothing crazy, but back then kids weren’t really totally overweight, so it stood out if you were 15, 20 pounds overweight.
So I think between those things, I was actually… I just did a TED talk about the first time I got really bullied. I was about 11 years old and we had gone to a pool party. And I was up on the diving board and some kids started saying some names… like shouting at the diving board.
And I remember that moment of “I don’t ever want to feel this way again.” It was like the worst moment… having your friends, the people who you feel like these are your people…
Mark: So these weren’t strangers? These were friends?
Lori: No these were a group of 5 friends, and one of them, I thought, was my future husband. Or so I thought. (laughing)
Or my life’s crush. And he started yelling “whale!” from the pool. And it was just like this moment where I jumped in the water and this feeling that I’d never felt where it was like… I don’t… You can’t even explain it. It’s like betrayal all at once, along with hating yourself.
Like, “Wow, I don’t ever want to feel this way again.” And trying to understand what to do with that at such a young age.
I didn’t really understand what to do with it until my teenage years when I really started moving my body. And just trying to find some sense of feeling good about myself.
Mark: Mm-hmm. Well, how did you process it in the weeks and months after? I’m sure that would be interesting to people. And I’m sure you felt shame and disappointment in yourself.
But how did you handle that? Did you become a recluse? Or did you just kind of “march on?”
Lori: You know, no. I remember so much shame and disgust with myself. At a young age. And I know that women listening–and probably men as well–I remember like feeling disgusting. And actually going in the mirror and looking at myself and asking, like, “What’s your problem? Why can’t you stop eating? Why are you so gross?”
These are the things you’re saying in your head. 11 years old. Isn’t that nuts?
Mark: That is crazy. That’s where it all starts. At that patterning and then the reinforcement of that negative behavior from external sources. Especially friends. And then the dialogue starts. That “I’m not worthy.”
Mark: Feeding the Fear Wolf. Wow.
Lori: And you know, my family was already going on diets… so it was either we were eating or they were trying something new. That was the cycle. So at a really young age, I learned that cycle of we’re eating what we want, or we’re restricting. And it just… that was my life and I remember the feeling of all of it. It was a fight on both sides, right? Cause when you were eating healthy, you felt good, but all the good emotions were attached to “Well, when I can eat this.” Or “this is my reward.”
So it was this… You know, it’s all of these fighting things that are not working together.
Mark: Mm-hmm. Wow. Interesting.
So what was the turning point for you? Was it just greater self-awareness as you got a little bit older into your teen years? Or did you have a mentor? Or what was the turning point?
Lori: Well, I remember being drawn to… I don’t know if you remember… like, ESPN had fitness competitions on TV. I remember seeing one of those. And also I used to watch gymnastics. And to me they’re bodies… I’m like, “Wow. If they’re really strong and fit they must just feel so confident and free.”
They looked free. They looked strong. They looked confident. I was like, “Fitness must be the key to freedom. (laughing) So started walking and rollerblading and biking. I would go out all day and not only would I go out because… it was first the bait to look better and not get teased anymore. But then all of a sudden… as I would be out walking, and as I would be out biking, rollerblading, whatever it was…
I was literally starting to get those soul-hits at a really young age. And I think we all get them, where you either… Maybe it came in a form for you of, “Wow, I think I might be meant to do big things.” Or “I really like who I am when I’m doing these.” Or “I feel really good or I’m open.” Or you get goose bumps and you feel excited. It’s like an emotion that rushes over you.
Whatever form that came in. Sometimes I would get all of those. I thought, “Wow, I never get these when I’m inside. Or when I’m overeating. Or when I’m hanging out with certain people.
It was like this really crazy awareness at a young age, but I would go off and do physical things for hours and hours to kind of escape that depression feeling that I had when I when I would sit in my house and eat.
Mark: Mmm. Yeah. I totally get that. Nature and hiking in the Adirondacks were my escape. Hours–like you said–at a time. And when you move the body and in particular in nature… I’ve gotta admit, I never got those feelings lifting weights in the weight room. Know what I mean? It was always when I as outside, like you said. In wilderness and just going on long types of endurance things. Without even knowing it was exercise. Not even caring.
But when your mind begins to drop off and you just have that connection to nature and the fresh air and the movement–that’s when the magic happens, right?
Lori: Yes, nature. I just was talking about this the other day, because I put so much trust in nature because I know exactly what it does. So if I’m having a rough day, or I’m trying to figure something out. Or, I just finished writing a book so for me that took a lot to get that out of me.
I would just know that if I went out in nature, sometimes it feels like nothing is happening at all. But so much is actually happening. If you just allow yourself to be in it. Cause I think people who may be are really creative or very productive or very type “A.” It’s like, we have to see the productivity and feel it happening. (laughing) I’m like, “Okay, no.”
I had to actually attach words to it, so that I could start understanding. And I know you know this with all of the things that you’re doing, and yoga, and the mindset work that you do. And meditation. It’s like understanding that that is in itself the beauty and the work and the space and when all of the good things come is when nothing is usually happening.
Mark: Right. When you finally just still the mind.
Before we kind of move into talking about fitness and lifestyle and things for the adult set, I still want to kind of dig into helping–especially women and young men who are victims of bullying.
I have to admit, I don’t think… I’m not self-aware of being bullied as a kid. I do remember feeling pretty intimidated by others. And I was pretty closed off as a young kid. Cause my family was pretty intense… let’s put it that way. Lots of intense violence and energy and negativity too. So I kind of shut down as well. For different reasons though.
Help us understand. Now, in retrospect… And you’ve probably had a lot of time to think about it and work with people. Young people around bullying.
What are some of the ways that young women and young guys who are bullied can stand up for themselves, or overcome that, or remove themselves from those situations?
Lori: You know, at the time I had zero tools. And also at the time, thank goodness there was not social media. So I can’t actually speak to people now, as far as young kids with social media because I can’t completely imagine what that’s like.
But I will say I feel like I can understand some aspects of social media for kids now, because I get it still as an adult. Being bullied by women. Certain things… like it was…
I’ll just give this as an example. With my TED talk coming out, all of the comments that came underneath it. It was like, “I am not going to read those, because I’m not going to continually throw myself… (laughing).
Mark: (laughing) I know what you mean, yeah.
Lori: I’m going to remove myself from the fist and we’re going to block, delete. Do whatever we can if it’s in your control. That’s definitely something I would say. You don’t want to read it again. You want to try to avoid reading things at all.
Surrounding yourself with amazing people. I have a beautiful tribe that I’ve created so that I can talk it out. Because I don’t think that we can really completely protect ourselves at all. It’s going to come. And when it does, it’s… So now I welcome it. Because it is something that reminds me of how I can grow my compassion.
Because I always remember the quote “Hurt people hurt people.” So remember when you are coming from a happy place, number one, don’t waste your time with a comment of trying to hurt someone else. Number 2, you weren’t the only victim that day from that person. You might have been one of 50 or one of 20. That helps to think about. Number 3, they’re in such a space… your light is actually really maybe making them uncomfortable. Because, number 1, they have it in them, but they are not showing it. So it’s actually something that you can think, “Wow. I did my job, today. I reminded them of their light that they’re not quite showing yet.” It’s just a projection that’s coming out.
So if you think of all those things. Say a prayer. That is huge for me. I say prayers like, “Please, take this away from me. I know that this is maybe serving a higher purpose, or maybe if I could see the lesson later. But right now I just want to feel better. If you could help me feel better.” Just something like that.
And think of a thought that really moves you into a more beautiful space. It is hard, when you are in it. I’m not going to lie. The second it happens it always hurts. And I think it’s important to let it hurt for that moment. To talk it out maybe with your parents, with a friend, with another loved one…
Be upset about it. Say how you felt. Then block, delete. Move through it. Think of a beautiful thought. Get outside and move your body.
And it’s so funny, as I say this, cause these are the tools for so many things, right?
Mark: For sure. (laughing) I’m running through them in my mind. I’m cataloging against the Unbeatable Mind tools. I’m like, “Check, check, check. There’s that one. Good. All right.”
And you’re right, so… But the biggest one I think that you said… They’re all really important… is that’s their shit. The bully is incomplete, unwhole, bruised, hurt–like you said. And that’s uncomfortable for them. Just like it is for us. Cause we’re all incomplete. We’re trying very hard to be complete, cause that’s what life is about.
So what they’re putting on you is really what they’re experiencing themselves. So you just don’t have to accept it. But you’re going to feel the emotions, still. So you’ve gotta let those run. Otherwise they’ll get stuck and it gets worse, like you said.
Lori: Yes. So important.
Mark: Amazing. Wow.
So I have to tell you I’m working on a book called “Unbeatable Teen” and this is just a really interesting subject. So I would love to circle back with you on this another time. It’s really interesting.
Mark: So now you get interested in fitness just by… kind of it seems like your inspiration by seeing other fitness models and seeing gymnastics. So you get out and you start moving your body. And it seems like you have this great enlightening or awakening experience that the mind is equally as important. And it’s the mind that has the key to happiness, right? To those moments of bliss. S
So where did that take you? Because I notice in your repertoire of things you teach, you also teach mindfulness and happiness. And I know a lot of fit people who aren’t mindful, and who aren’t happy. So how did you kind of go there? What was your journey like?
Lori: Yeah, I was one of those people. (laughing)
Which I’m so glad, because now I can really understand people. So I just want to say there was one moment when I was about 14 years old, I met a girl who was in my religion actually. But they were from another town. So, I say that, because I wasn’t allowed to hang out with people outside of my religion. So I had a very small… I, like, had 3 girls to choose from.
So I met this girl, and she was from about 2 and a half, 3 hours away. And so I would… when we wanted to hang out, we hung out for like a week. Because our parents would meet halfway. So at 14 years old I went to her house.
Her family was very fit. They ate 3 meals a day. That was it. They did not snack. So it’s after dinner, and I’m like, “Where’s the snacks?” She’s like, “What do you mean?” And I was like, “No!” And this was like… I was like, “Are you kidding me? I don’t get snacks?” I thought I was going to die. (laughing)
Mark: (laughing) That’s awesome.
Lori: So, she’s like, “We don’t do snacks.” So that whole week, we were super-active. I ate 3 meals a day. I go home, I lost 5 pounds. But not only that… I’m like, “Whoah! That was amazing!” Not only that, I felt so good, and we played outside all day long. We just went and did whatever. We were outside the whole time.
I felt really clear. I just felt so amazing. So then I started understanding that food had a lot to do with it. So we dieted but then I saw how we ate, and I thought these people didn’t have the emotions attached to the food. They just didn’t. Food was just there to eat and enjoy at the dinner table together. And then you were done with it.
I was so… my mind was so blown that there wasn’t this emotional attachment to food.
And I think over the week it was just this incredible observing. And I didn’t really understand what was going on, but that’s exactly what was going on. Just in awe of what was happening. How they lived. That was so different than how I was living. So I also got to see that your environment’s are…
Cause I went home, and guess what? You put that weight right back on. Because my environment was controlling what I was doing. So that became such a massive observation as well.
But then as I moved into my early 20s, what I didn’t tell you is I have massive anxiety. Constant panic attacks. It was part of the reason, besides religion, that I was home-schooled through high school. Because I was walking into the classroom just getting extreme panic attacks. I’d be blacking out in the chair. Not passing out, but losing all vision. And full body sweats. My clothes would be drenched.
I didn’t know what it was. No one talked about it. I felt like I was having a heart attack. And I was like, “Oh my God. Something’s wrong with me. I am broken. I am not fixable.”
So all through my 20s, I had extreme anxiety. But the only thing that was really helping me was moving once again. So as far as moving into the mindset space, I think that a lot of it had to do with feeling like that was the only way I could control my anxiety.
But also when I opened a fitness studio in my 20s, I was training all these women, cause I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So I started training these women. And I would notice that no matter how much I would work them out, nothing would change. Unless we talked about how they felt. What they were thinking. Because that unworthiness just follows you everywhere. So it’s going to… you could be doing something so amazing for your body, and you could get subtle changes, and maybe even great changes for a while. But if your mind is not aligned with what’s happening or what you believe, you’re going to find a way to go back to that baseline of what you truly believe and sabotage yourself. That’s when I was like, “Oh my gosh. I could do more with them just sitting in this chair and us talking through…
Mark: (laughing) Right. Fitness therapy.
Lori: So… and I think that’s what ended up happening, is some women would come and go, “Lori, could we just talk? Because that’s been helping so much.” And I’m like, “No. We can’t, cause I’m so tired.” I’m like, “You’re my 8th client today, I’m not just going to sit here and talk to you. We gotta move and talk.”
So that’s when I started to really notice, I am missing a huge piece of the puzzle. And started doing a lot of self-development on my own. A lot of books… I started referring people to a lot of books.
And then I ultimately started doing self-development courses for myself because that anxiety demon was coming in strong. It was getting stronger the more that I started to know that I’m bad at something I wanted to do, the resistance started coming. Its like, “Oh, you want to do a fitness competition? Nope. We’re going to up your anxiety.” “Oh, you kinda want to come out as a speaker? Or you want to write a book later? Nope. We’re going to really up the anxiety.”
So I started going to self-development courses myself. First one that I did was Landmark Forum, and that was my first eye-opening moment of “Wow. There’s other people out there and there are people who are just working with the mindset.” And that blew my mind.
Yeah, Landmark has been a great wake-up call for a lot of people in terms of just understanding potential and how their mind works, and whatnot. And the stories they tell for themselves. That’s a really cool thing.
So anyone who’s listening… if you haven’t gone down that road and done some sort of structured program, it’s really helpful. I gotta admit.
Because books can only so far, right Lori? It’s really one thing to read, but the books won’t change the underlying patterning. You have to really, really be deeply reflective about that. And you have to have a culture of other people who can share ideas and reflect back to you your own flawed thinking.
Lori: It’s so true. You need that reference point. And that… honestly, from going to events… I love books. I love them. I get massive shifts. But for me, I am a verbal processor. And I also need to physically experience things. And I think if you have a body, you probably do too. (laughing)
Mark: Sure. Absolutely.
And I think it’s a big part of learning. I mean, that’s how we teach. When I say we run immersion training it’s because… You know, everyone comes having read my book or books. And then we take them through… I still tell them so they can hear it. So now they’ve read it and then they’ve heard it. And then what we’ll do is we’ll get them to move their body and experience it. And then they’ll get feedback on it as a team and from the coaches.
And then we’ll talk about it again. And then we take it deeper. And this layering process is where you kind of scrub the mirror of the mind and the emotions until you get to that soft underbelly.
Lori: I love that. Because that is how you absorb. That is your reference point for life. It’s like, if I did that. If I fully did that in that room, and I felt that, and I remember what it’s like. I can do it again. It’s like riding a bike. You can now take that out into the world, and remember, and tap into it.
Mark: Right. Every time you experience a release or an insight, that’s like a signpost. So when the inner trail–when you sit down in silence or something–you can go back to that last signpost. You’re like, “Oh yeah, here I am. There’s that mental pattern that showed up as a story or belief. Guess what? I realized that was flawed, so let me work with that.”
So then you go a little bit deeper. Then you have a new insight. And there’s a new signpost.
Lori: I love that. That’s where it gets really fun.
Mark: I know. Exactly. That’s part of our core message here is that if you want a full life you gotta do the outer work–you gotta move the body, be healthy and all that.
But that really is just to stabilize your structure and to get your brain healthy. So that then you can do the mental work.
Cause I honestly believe, Lori… cause your brain is part of your body. If the brain is full of toxic stuff and toxic thoughts, you’re not going to be able to do mindfulness or any type of concentration training. And you’re going to be a victim to any type of reactionary emotions that are patterned from your childhood. Or bullying, or whatever. The asshole boss, right?
So you gotta get physically healthy. That’s why for us physical training is the first step because it’s what’s going to provide the proper structure for you to stabilize your mind so that you can begin to do that journey inward. And that journey of self-discovery that we’ve been talking about.
Lori: Mmm. I love that. That’s really just… for me, you don’t even know what you’re doing, but our bodies want to move and all of a sudden your mind is present.
Mark: Right. Yeah. And you clear away some of the excess thinking and boom, all of a sudden you have those moments of quietude. That’s why when you described bliss-like feelings and moments of connection, that’s what happens when your active thinking kind of stops. It takes a break. You surrender to let’s say, the majesty of the sunset, or riding the wave if you’re a surfer. Or whatever it is.
If you’re a fitness person… You know, I do a lot of Crossfit. And man, you know, at the end of one of those workouts you’re just like, “Phew.” there’s nothing left in the mind. And you just feel so darn good.
That’s the beginning, right? That’s when you crack the door open. And you want to train your mind through mindfulness to stabilize that so you can keep that door open. Which is where you really feel good. And that’s a whole different discussion.
Lori: I look at… if I’ve been in a lot of pain for a day–thinking about something. Or if I’ve been feeling a little blue. Or I’m not quite feeling like myself, I’m like, “Okay. Let’s really look at… let’s just write down what I’ve been thinking the most lately.” And really, stopping to watch. Even somebody who does the work and reads the books. And does meditation and does fitness. It’s like, we can get into… it can become, like, a habit.
Maybe you hold onto a thought. Or maybe you’re doing things that bring that thought back. Like maybe someone’s really bothering you, or something someone’s said, and you’re allowing some of those triggers.
Maybe you’re scrolling and their picture comes up. Or you’re thinking thoughts and you’re thinking you’re processing. But really you’re just going down a rabbit hole. And all of my pain is always associated with the thought that I continue thinking. And the only way for me to get through that is to go move my body, get back in gratitude, and try to see if I can find that quiet space and offer it up. Like, “this isn’t mine. I don’t want it anymore.”
You know, and those are my ways of processing through that.
So let’s talk about your daily rituals now. What do you do to stay fit? And your fueling and your routine? Your mindfulness? What’s the day like in your life, Lori?
Lori: so I’m pretty routine, but at the same time, I’m also at this point in my life. The last year or so, where I’m flexible as well.
Which is so fun. Because then I don’t feel bad if I miss something. I’m really just, “Okay. That happened. Let’s see if we can do it this afternoon.’
So for me, mostly if I’m at home, we will wake up. We say a gratitude prayer in bed whatever it’s for. Sometimes it’s so silly in the morning, which is fantastic.
“I’m grateful for these sheets because they’re amazing. I’m grateful for my dog. I’m grateful for food, cause I get to eat in a minute.”(laughing) whatever that looks like.
And so we do that. And we also have a mantra immediately. And my husband’s so good, because he’s one of those happy people in the morning.
I am not. I get there pretty quickly, but to be honest, right away in the morning, I’m kind of like, “Rahr.” I wouldn’t mind sleeping some more.
So it’s just really basic, it’s “I’m happier, healthier, wealthier, more fit than I was yesterday.’ and we probably say it about 10 times until the words actually mean something in our head.
Mark: You say that together? Or silently?
Lori: We say it… sometimes he’ll say it, then I’ll say it, then he’ll say it, then I’ll say it. Like, we try and beat each other in the morning. Like, louder or more silly.
Mark: By the way, if I could just say something here. It’s so powerful to have a practice you can do with your significant other or spouse. Because if you’re not, let’s say your husband was not into this and you had to do it on your own. Number one, you don’t have that energy and that momentum of… in the structure, right? Of having that support.
Number two, you’re going to be travelling on different journeys in almost opposite directions, I would say. If one of you has a practice and the other one doesn’t, so… just a word of caution for people who don’t. Whose spouses aren’t into this quote-unquote “stuff.” Get them into it.
Lori: yeah. He wasn’t for a while, so I just want to speak to those people who are like, “yeah, well, must be nice. You have a supportive spouse.” I hear that all the time. Women literally say that to me all the time.
I’m like, “Well. Here’s the thing, is it took me 5 years to get here.” So in the beginning when I would do stuff like this, he’d be like, “That’s ridiculous.” And I’d say, “You know what? I’m happier. So if you want a happier wife you can do it with me.”
“Or just join me.” I’m like, ‘Who cares?’ And sometimes I’d find some of the research on it, and be like, “See? it’s right here.”
So… because they might need some of that. And it can really be…
Mark: slowly chip away at him, right?
Lori: yes. I was just like this… just “chip, chip, chip, chip.” And all of a sudden…
Mark: Ultimately it’s your example that’s going to get them on board. When they see, “Holy cow. My spouse is really, really transformed and super-happy and healthy. And I want some of that.”
Lori: A million percent. Yes. That’s exactly what happened. He was like, “yes, I’ve seen a massive change in you.” and he wanted to be a part of that too. So I was like, “Well, this is what we’re doing.”
So we start with that mantra, and then we head downstairs and we will kind of do our morning thing. We like to read for about 10, 15 minutes.
Mark: Mm-hmm. And what types of things do you read?
Lori: I love self-development books. So I’m kind of a junky for those.
He loves like biographies and things like that. I also like some business books, so we’ll do that for a little while.
And then we do a meditation which I will tell you, we tried doing, like, 20 minute meditations every morning. Could not do it. We tried for probably like 6 months.
And now we do anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. And we’re out there just about every day. So it’s just a quick prayer.
We were doing the Tony Robbins thing for a while with the breath. Do you know what I’m talking about? Where you do, like, 30 breaths. With your arms… like, you’re pumping your arms in and out really fast. That was really great.
Mark: Yeah. That, by the way, for people listening, that is an energizing exercise. It’s not meditation. So don’t confuse the two.
It’s powerful. It’s good to get ready for an event or something. Or charge yourself up if you’re lethargic, but don’t confuse those–what they call crias in yoga–with meditation. It’s different.
Lori: so we would combo meditation and that. And then also 5, 10, 15 minutes of whatever that looks like. We don’t really put a label on our meditation. So sometimes it is a meditation. Sometimes it’s a visualization. Sometimes it’s just, you know… some mornings you close your eyes and you hope that you just don’t fall asleep. (laughing)
It’s really just the practice…
Mark: Of embracing the silence. Just finding time alone in silence.
Lori: And that has given us our mornings back. We’re really, really strict on our mornings now that nobody can really… for the most part we don’t do much before 11. It’s very rare that we do it. Like this podcast was very worth it to me, so…
Mark: Well, thank you. My goodness.
Lori: But yeah, we try to really block time because we work together a lot. And we work in businesses where you could work all day, if you want. So if you don’t really block those times, then you won’t have any time to yourself. And you can get resentful of many things and people you love.
So that’s our ritual. Then we go move our body right away in the morning.
Mark: Mm-hmm. Before 11? Or after 11?
Lori: before 11. So right after the meditation or whatever that looks like. We go move our body right after that. So we’re usually moving by anywhere from 8:30 to 9:30.
Mark: I love that. You know, it’s interesting. That’s almost identical to how I intuitively have settled in. that morning time is really to build the foundation for the rest of the day. And so it’s got to include the fitness, the nutrition, the mindfulness, the gratitude. The deep connection with your family and significant others.
And I don’t step foot into the arena until 10 o’clockish. Sometimes I’ll be down at my training center, but I’m working out and I’m really kind of still internally focused. But that’s neat…
Lori: I love that. And I feel like if you don’t do that. Even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning. Even if you take one of those things or a quick walk around a couple blocks, you spend your day feeling like the rug got pulled out from under you, and someone beat you over the head with a sand-filled sock. (laughing) Like, that’s how I feel.
Mark: Totally. but if you do that morning ritual, you’re still going to get beat over the head, but it’s not going to hurt as much and you’re immediately going to be able to reference that and be like, “Oh yeah. Everything’s good.”
Lori: Yeah, I feel like I’m in control of my day that way. I can control my reactions. Whereas when I don’t do that, I feel like it’s not my day.
Let’s talk about how you… let me back up. You said you visualize sometimes. Do you have a specific visualization that you use, or that you found really powerful?
Lori: No, I don’t. Well, I guess I do, because here’s what I do. I basically… for me visualization is maybe thinking about something I have coming up, or a goal that I want. And I more think of the feeling. What does that feel like? And I try to embrace the feeling. Because I want that feeling now, and I don’t want to be attached to the thing that’s bringing it. Because I want to understand that I can get into that feeling right now. And that thing is a bonus.
And that also the thing that I’m desiring is attracted to the feeling that I need to feel in order to get it. I know I might have just really confused some people, but I try to feel what outcome I’m desiring and know that it’s not the thing that can bring it to me, but me.
And I see myself in the space already. And in my body, in the space, what it feels like. Who’s benefiting? What are they feeling?
And just really collaborate with that vision. So that’s what that looks like for me.
Mark: That’s cool. We call that in the SEALs a dirt dive. And that comes from…this is kind of interesting actually… that comes from us with our diving missions where we would map out the mission and we would have it cognitively clear. And know our routes and everything. But you can imagine diving at night, in the cold ocean or a bay. Where you can’t see anything, except for a little, tiny chem light about the size of your thumbnail.
Anyway, so the best tool that we had was actually to visualize ourselves doing the dive. Every little detail. Every breath. Every kick. Every course correction. The cold water. And then the emotions of overcoming the fear and the anxiety. And facing that with courage.
And then also the elation of accomplishing the mission, and being back home. Maybe having a beer or something when you’re done. super-powerful. So SEALs have a really rich visualization practice. Where both collectively as a team, and individually we visualize the mission. We feel it and we know exactly what that is gonna be like even when things go wrong. Which is always.
Lori: Okay. I love this. I love knowing that you guys do that. That is incredible. I think it’s so powerful. I think if you can do one thing… if you feel like you can’t even sit in meditation yet. Because my husband… for him, he clung to visualization because it was really tough for him to do meditation in the beginning.
But it’s so interesting… I’m sure it goes through Olympic athletes and NFL. And I know that they all do things like that too.
And I was doing a fitness competition, and I’d never done one before. So I had no dance or routine. Or gymnastics background. And I gave myself only 8 weeks to learn a fitness routine. Crazy. But you’re crazy too. (laughing)
So I ended up hurting my back at week 4. So how does somebody who doesn’t know how to dance or do gymnastics learn all these strength moves and put together a routine? Well, I called some of the girls who had done this for years and years. And they were like, “Okay, well you’re probably better off visualizing at this point. So lay on your mat. Go through your whole routine. Feel it. See yourself sticking it. See yourself before and after.”
And when I came back, I had about 2 weeks left. And I had not practiced once. And I basically could not go through the routine at all before that, and nailed it after that. Just from mentally being able to go through it.
It was insane. And that was the first moment that I was like, “Oh my God! This works.”
Mark: Right. That’s cool. I’ve had experiences like that. I won’t get into them now. But the power of visualization is awesome. And there is a reason… so visualization and meditation are different.
Visualization I would put in the category of a concentration practice. Using a particular mental skill which is imagery. Cause there other concentrations… You can concentrate on a mantra. You can concentrate on a picture. You can concentrate on, like, a bible verse.
But concentration using visualization is super-powerful because it has a… kind of neuro-biological effect of greasing the groove of that which you’re visualizing. So if it’s a physical movement, then you improve that physical movement.
But guess what? If it’s about becoming a type of person… let’s say you’re overweight and feeling bullied. If you visualize yourself in physical health and confident and courageous then over time, your body/mind system starts to align with that. Not to say that you don’t have to also take action, and clear up some of the inner dialogue and whatnot. Of course you have to do all that.
But this greatly accelerates that… the visualization practice. And so learning how to concentrate is a precursor to dropping into meditation. So it’s a great place to start, I think. What do you think, Lori?
Lori: yeah. You know, as you’re saying that, you’re really actually bringing me back to, like, childhood. When I did start moving. I was always thinking thoughts of what I could be like. What life would look like. What it would feel like to be strong.
I guess I didn’t realize that was constantly… we call it daydreaming, but it’s really visualizing.
Mark: right. Yeah, a daydream is an unstructured visualization. It’s a fantasy. So you can have a negative fantasy. I would say that’s more normal.
So something led you down the path to have a positive fantasy about your future, right? Which then, probably because you were very visual person.
So a lot of people who aren’t visual, they don’t have that skill. They have to develop it. I’ve led visualizations through my SEALFIT, and about half the people are like, “yeah, I really nailed it! And I was there the whole time.”
And the other half are like, “yeah, I didn’t see too much,” you know? But over time, they’re like, “Okay, I got it that time.”
Okay. They just haven’t sparked that area of their brain. It’s a specific area of your brain. It’s kind of in the mid-brain. A little bit over to the right side that I experience the energy of visualization.
Whereas cognition–thinking is really in your left hemisphere. Really to the front-left. Right?
It’s really interesting. And you’re notice if you’re thinking or trying to remember something, you’re eyes will shift a little left and up. And if you’re visualizing–especially about the future–your eyes will shift a little bit to the right and up.
So it’s a skill. These are skills that can be developed with a little practice, I think.
So tell me a little bit about this… your work now. You’ve got a… your podcast is called “Earn Your Happy”–what a great name. I love that, by the way–“Earn your Happy.” And then you’ve got a program called “The Bliss Project.”
Both sound nice. (laughing) Places you wanna be, right? So tell us about this work that you’re doing now.
Lori: Okay, so “Earn Your Happy” was really just one of those, like, “I think I wanna do a podcast. I’m not sure why I’m getting this message right now.” I didn’t know that I would… I just didn’t think I was ever going to be a person who wanted to do a podcast. But I had a couple things going on. I wanted to connect with more amazing people. I wanted to be sharing more of my story and more stories of people who I think people have a different perception of them, and really showing what it looks like to get there. What it takes, and the practices of their lives. And, I think that insight and knowing that the ups and downs and the darkness and the light… it’s all beautiful. And I really wanted to share that.
So that’s where the podcast came from. And I love it, because…
Mark: how long have you done it now?
Lori: A year and a half.
Mark: Okay. Great.
Lori: And it’s wise. It’s like, “really? That’s crazy.”
And then The Bliss Project”… so I have a program called ‘the Bliss Habit” but that’s based off of “the Bliss Project” event. And that’s an event that I do, because I believe that events are full immersion. You get to come together and not only have that reference point for the rest of your life, where we do a lot of meditation, visualization, connecting. Working through different stories that are stopping you. Having some fun because I think playfulness is like I said, just as productive if not more as some of the things that we think are getting us somewhere.
And really “The Bliss Project” is just a beautiful space to meet other people in your tribe and connect. So that’s what “The Bliss Project” is. And that is once a year, typically in March. In Newport Beach, California.
Mark: Nice. So that’s 3 days?
Lori: That’s 3 days, yup.
Mark: that sounds a lot like our Unbeatable Mind 3 day summit which we hold in December. Which, by the way–I’d love for you to come to. If you’re available. You and your husband.
Lori: Where do you do that?
Mark: We do it down in Carlsbad, so we’re not too far from you.
Lori: Oh, perfect.
Mark: and so it sounds similar except we also bring in… Similar to my podcast and what you do with your podcast… I like to… I don’t wanna be the only talking head. And so I bring in other speakers and experts who are kind of nibbling around the edges of the Unbeatable Mind model. So they might be physical training, or mental experts. Or yoga, or Eastern scholars or, you know, people in the Bio-hacking community. Or like Robb Wolf, the Paleo-nutrition guy. Good buddy of mine.
We talk about ethos and warrior development and leadership… it’s just super-cool. But we also train. So in the morning we might do a physical event or our Kokoro yoga. We have a yoga program called “Kokoro” yoga. Which means “heart/mind.”
And then we’ll do… also we’ll do a lot of breathing exercises and visualization. Similar to you. So it’s a neat way to come together and to train together. But also learn.
And then we also plan our year. We have a process to plan 2018…
Lori: that sounds heavenly.
Mark: Yeah, so let’s follow up on that. I think you would enjoy it. I’d love to experience some of your stuff. And I’d love to also maybe share some books with you and some ideas. So we’ll have to follow up after this.
Lori: Amazing. We’ll do it.
Mark: Yeah. Let’s do that.
Awesome Lori. Well, we’ve been cranking away for almost 45 minutes. We probably should move on here, and let everyone go on with their day. So people can find you at loriharder.com. Is that right?
Mark: Okay. Anything else you would like people to know about how to connect with you, and what you’d like them to know before we sign-off here?
Lori: no. I’m pretty good on social, so Instagram is a fun place for me to really express and be creative and stories and things like that. So you can kind of see what’s going on daily.
Mark: Awesome. Awesome.
Lori, I look forward to meeting you in person. You’re awesome. Thanks for everything you do. And keep it up. And hooyah.
Lori: I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for having me on.
Mark: Yeah. It’s our pleasure. We’ll look forward to seeing you soon.
Lori: thank you.
Mark: All right. Take care, Lori.
Speaking of bliss, we talked a little bit about the Unbeatable Mind summit at the end of our chat there. The Unbeatable Mind summit is already over 50% subscribed. We expect it to be overbooked this year. We only have room for about 225 people. It’s in Carlsbad, December 1 to 3. It’s going to be an incredible event.
We have speakers like Joshua Mantz and Ashley Horner. Bob Schoultz. J.P Sears. One of my favorite comedians. What an amazing guy. Mark Sisson. Of course, myself. We’re going to be getting into lots of Unbeatable Mind training and practices. Great speakers. Great community. And we’ll be planning for an amazing, unbeatable 2018.
So it’s an incredible event. The feedback has been extraordinary. It’s transformative.
Whether it’s the beginning of your journey or just to continue your journey with Unbeatable Mind and developing integrated awareness. World-centric warrior leadership, the Unbeatable Mind annual summit is the way to go.
So hopefully we’ll see you there.
Cool. All right, thanks again for your time today. We’ll see you next time. Until then, train hard stay focused.