Great Escape Podcast episode 31 - Ian Harding - Do It For Yourself

Uncategorized Sep 21, 2019

Ian's website is:

- [Ian] He knows and I continue to tell him how pivotal it was, what he did for me.

- [Announcer] We are go for lift off in T-minus 30. All systems are go.

- [Stuart] And on this episode of The Great Escape Podcast I'm talking to Ian Harding. And Ian describes his journey through college basically partying, drinking and ending up incredibly out of shape. And how pivotal one particular friends was in helping him make that turn around. Ian, welcome to podcast.

- [Ian] Thank you so much for having me, Stuart. I'm really looking forward to it.

- [Stuart] You're very welcome. So tell us a bit more, what was life like before you decided that something had to change?

- [Ian] Life was partying, going out, having a good time. And it was never, I won't say never, but it was just a fun time. I was just going out, having you know, great memories with great friends. Getting to experience college and getting to really meet some new people and have some fun out there in the world. But, it got to a point where it wasn't fun anymore. And it was becoming more of, I don't know, of a habit or a, I'm not even really sure what the right word is for it. But it wasn't just about having a good time anymore. And it was about almost needing to do it. And that was not something that I wanted to do or wanted to live by.

- [Stuart] So kind of the behavior was becoming addictive?

- [Ian] Yes. Right, I mean and I'm sure we'll kind of get into a couple of the specifics stories. But it was definitely just... It was getting to a point where it wasn't good, it wasn't healthy and I was very lucky to be able to see that. Realize it, and also do something about it.

- [Ian] Yeah, and it's kind of that transition I'm interested to explore. So, at some point, you realized, made a decision that life had to be different. What kind of tripped you over that decision making point?

- [Ian] So, I actually had two experiences where I was out and partying and it did not end well. The first one was probably "the better of the two" I was at a friend's wedding and I hadn't really eaten very much that day, and it was an open bar. And so you could pretty much just you know, predict what had happened there. I indulged in the open bar on a fairly empty stomach and you know, that escalated fairly quickly. Now, did I do anything regretful? No. But it just felt like I was the guy that was heavily intoxicated. Now, I spoke to said friend after the wedding and they were like, "Nope, you were pretty much on the same level as everybody else." But for me, consciously, I knew that I was a little bit over the edge. As my father used to say when I was a kid. But that wasn't the wake up call for me, right? You would figure, okay got a little out of hand. Nope, that wasn't it. So, when I was in college, I had actually just gone through a pretty bad and ugly relationship/breakup and went out with some friends and the long story short, was well over-served at some of the local bars and ended up on foot about a mile and a half from the town where we were. On a back country road at, you know, 12:30, one o'clock in the morning completely pitch black with no idea how I got there and the only way to get back was by foot because everybody else was just out partying that night. And so that was the experience that I knew I really needed to make a change and obviously, when you're walking back a mile and a half after a night of drinking you have a long time to do some thinking. Because I wasn't exactly walking at a very brisk pace. So, I was able to kind on reflect of that and really reflect on, like, what are you doing? Like, why are you doing this? And what are you going to do about it?

- [Stuart] And what conclusions did you come to on that walk or was it not on the walk, it was later that that happened?

- [Ian] Well, so on the walk, I knew that that wasn't necessarily the best life that I could be living. And even the next day when I woke up, you know, I thought it was a funny story, it was something I could laugh and joke about you know, and tell my friends. Especially the ones I was out with the night before cause they were like, "Where the hell did you go? Like you were with us and then you were gone." And you know, we're laughing and joke on like, "Oh, you're never gonna believe it, I ended up, you know, out a mile and a half away.". So it was just a, you know, a joke at that point. But the more I reflected on it, and this is one of my issues I guess you could say, one of the troubles I have is I reflect on things a lot, good or bad. And sometimes I reflect on the too much, you know and I just can't seem to let it go. But I was reflecting on it and reflecting on it and realizing, it's not a funny story. I mean, I was on a back country road. Like I really, something really bad could have happened. So I knew that I needed to make a change. So really, the first thing that I started to do was just to cut down on the alcohol consumption. That was the very first thing. I was not, like I said, I was not addicted and so it was, I mean I don't wanna say, I don't even really remember whether it was easy or not. But it was one of those things where, you know, I didn't have to go through treatment or anything like that. So I was able to handle this, kind of myself before it seemed to get too out of control. And that was the first step that I made in the transition. Was to really just cut back on the alcohol consumption.

- [Stuart] Okay, and so, in a sense that decision, you've made the decision and were able to act on it pretty much immediately.

- [Ian] Yes. Yep. Because I knew that to the point in excess that I was drinking, I knew that that needed to change. And so I won't, I'm really trying to reflect back now I can't figure out, but I really, in my heart of hearts I don't think that was something that was difficult for me at that time. Cause I mean I wasn't dependent on it, I was really just using it as a vice. And just over using it as opposed to abusing it. But I'm sure there's some people out there who probably could have their own opinions on that.

- [Stuart] Yeah, I think that's, it's a very valid way of looking at it because there's a big difference between kind of social addiction with a small a and the physiological alcoholism addiction. And I think the one tends to lead to the other and perhaps the joy of your story is you haven't got into that horrifically destructive stage yet.

- [Ian] Correct, yes. And it absolutely could have gone there. And it very easily could have gone there.

- [Stuart] And you mentioned in your notes when we were setting this interview up, there'd been a particular friend that gave you a push. How pivotal was that? Or did that come later in terms of other things as well?

- [Ian] So, it came a little bit later but that was 100% the most important part of my story. And I still stand by that and I still stand by that friend I still talk to him, just saw him last weekend. And to this day, he knows and I continue to tell him how pivotal it was what he did for me. And it didn't even stop with just that first interaction that we had and him getting me started. I mean, he's traveled to the national championship with me halfway across the country twice, I mean, he has been there since day one. And he's been one of, if not, he's been one of the biggest supporters for sure. So he just gave me a basic plan of what to do and I reached out to him because I was starting a new job at a new new health club and I had access to the health club all of the equipment, all of the resources there. And I had tried to do it before, but I never really wanted to. And it was this time that I really really wanted to do it. This was something that I was finally making the decision on I didn't have someone yelling at me, saying that I needed to run cause I needed to get in shape for some, you know sport or I was doing something in P.E. class, you know, we were doing some run test or Presidential Fitness Testing and they were telling me I had to do it. This was my decision and so as pivotal as it was and as important as it was to have Jim telling me what to do it was also equally as important that this time around it was my decision to start. And that is partially my personality and I think partially what made it successful. And it think I'm leaning more towards it being my personality that if you tell me I have to do something, I'm not gonna do it just to spite you. But I think it's very very important that you know, it's your decision to get started and your decision to get going. No matter what it is, whether it's fitness or not.

- [Stuart] Yeah, absolutely and I think in any change environment, whatever the change is you're trying to make, the single most motivational thing is when we decide for ourselves that it's gonna be for us. That actually I want to make this change. I've seen people talking about drug addiction you know, I want to get clean because social services tell me I can see my daughter if I'm no longer taking drugs so I'm doing it for her. And actually, not until they sit there ang go, "No, I need to do this for me." is the change likely to really stick.

- [Ian] Yes absolutely. And guess what? It is important to do it for your daughter or your family and especially if it's in respect to getting clean or getting in shape because you want to be around for those people, right? But the whole reason that I started my Instagram and Facebook and now podcast, and it's called Do It For Yourself is because that you have to come first. It has to be for you, you know? You have to, it's the same as when you're on and airplane and they're going through the safety check and they say you have to put your mask on first. Because you have to take care of yourself first. If you don't take care of yourself first, you're not gonna be around so that's it's do it for yourself. Do it because you want to do it. And that's why that quote means so much to me because from that first workout and the first time that I showed up to the gym to the first time that I went for a run to the first time that I did triathlon. It was all because it was something that I wanted to do and it wasn't someone else's plan.

- [Stuart] Yeah, yeah and you talk about, you know, doing triathlons and national championships that's not a trivial transformation. To losing 100 pounds and actually going from what I guess was a pretty couch potato life to actually reasonably elite performance.

- [Ian] So actually, when I was overweight, I still competed in sports. So, I played football all through kind of the elementary and middle school transition to high school when I was play lacrosse in high school. So it didn't get to that almost couch potato status until college because I wasn't going to play sports in college, it was really kind of a passion when I was younger but I think the transition and the transformation comes because this was something where I could directly see the results from the effort that I had put in. And so I could see that if I continued to train and worked hard I could see the results right there. Like, I could see the times getting faster, I could see the race results coming in and it was also one of the first things that I felt like I was successful and competitive in. In lacrosse, I just did it because, you know a bunch of my friends were playing. I would score, you know, some goals here and there but I was never like a top top level lacrosse player. Mind you, I don't consider myself the top level triathlete but it is something where I have had some success, right? I have stepped up on the podium for age group awards and I have qualified for the national championships, you know, the national championship is not just something that you can register for, you do have to go through a qualification process in order to get there. And in some of these bigger races where the competition is a little bit stiffer, you have to place fairly well in your age group. So I think this was something that I could see some success in and so I wanted to just pursue that a little bit more and kind of see where it was gonna go and where it could potentially take me.

- [Stuart] The success breeding success concept where you've seen success, you've tasted it, and you've enjoyed that. That actually helps you keep focus on not heading back to the life that happened beforehand.

- [Ian] Absolutely, and that comes from, the success breeding success comes from the weight loss, right, cause every time you step on the scale or your clothes fit a little bit different, or you can see a visual result that maybe doesn't, it's not reflected on the scale but you can see it when you look in the mirror. It was all about those little wins along the way for me during the weight loss and that transitions into triathlon because not every race is going to be your best race. Not every workout is going to be your best workout but being able to find those little areas and those little successes and being able to build upon those and on top of that just there isn't really a better feeling than being able to step up on the podium. And especially when it's in front of friends and family who've been supporting you the entire time. So, it's really my drive of just wanting to be able to show everyone, you know, that the hard work does pay off. Because sometimes people look at you like you're crazy. When you're like, "Oh no, sorry I can't, you know, go out tonight or do this tonight because I have a big workout tomorrow morning.". Or, "You know, I had meetings this morning early and so I have to do my training after work.". So, you know, it's a little bit of a balance and it's not always no, right? There's definitely times where the answer is, "I'm sorry bike ride, you know. I'm gonna go do this today." But at least when you can show them how much that hard work pays off, that's obviously a very rewarding feeling as well.

- [Stuart] Yeah, and basically you and for your family to be able to celebrate that success with you.

- [Ian] Oh, and Stuart, I mean, listen. Don't get me wrong, I am not the only one who's making sacrifices here, right. I mean, everyone around me also has to make sacrifices when it comes to this journey and so that's why I'm forever thankful for them and the support and some of the sacrifices that they have also had to make.

- [Stuart] And that's a trade off that perhaps, in your case they weren't aware that you've, because sacrifice is a complex concept. On the one hand, you make sacrifices in terms of do you socialize? No, because you've got a training session tomorrow that you want to focus on. Because you're aiming for a particular event. But the other side of that is actually, if you had continued with the partying and the alcohol, if that would've deteriorated, the family would've paid a very different price.

- [Ian] Mhm, absolutely. And I actually, I made a joke which was kind of a joke and kind of not a joke but I don't know if she realized it at the time but.... One of my favorite memories from the past two seasons has been, there's a race in August, the finish line happens right on the beach, I mean this is a very typical summer race, right? And my grandmother has been there, on the beach to watch me finish for the last two years, right? Which is absolutely amazing. It's amazing to have my parent there, my girlfriend there, but to have my grandmother there who is very old school sometimes and it seems like, you know, there's definitely some things about this whole thing that they, you know, they just don't get it and I don't blame them for that. So when they were there, my grandfather was asking, "Okay, so what time do we have to be there tomorrow morning?" This and that. And I told him what time. And he's like, "Oh what? Are you kidding me? We gotta be there you know, at 7:00 in the morning? We're supposed to be having our coffee by then." I turned around and I said, "Well, I mean, it's better than coming to visit my tombstone or something like that.". And I meant it as a joke but at the same time, I'm like, "Well, I mean, you know. It's hard to say where things could have gone, right?". And you never want to think the worst but you also never know, I mean things could have gone down a very different path.

- [Stuart] Yeah, absolutely. At what point did you begin to say, "Actually, I have a plan and know where I'm going and I know what my life wants to be.". Or are you still just going essentially from one competition to the next? And just enjoying life without sort of a master plan. Even if the master plan morphs and changes along the way.

- [Ian] So I did have a master plan. And my master plan was to really focus this past season on two races which was two different national championships in two different styles of racing. The first one in August which happened in Cleveland, Ohio and then the next one which was supposed to be in October in Florida. The plan was to put all of my eggs in those two baskets. Focus on those races, train very hard for those two races. And hopefully qualify for the USA National team which would then compete at the world championship level which happens, luckily enough, for us, in the states in Edmonton, Canada in 2020.

- [Stuart] That's good.

- [Ian] Unfortunately, due to a snow ball and series of events that occurred, I had to actually put that whole plan on pause. So, the world championship will be in Edmonton, Canada in 2020 which is probably the closest that it's been to the States since it was in Chicago. But, because of the events that were, just ultimately, out of my control, I could not commit to traveling to Cleveland you know, getting a hotel, doing the race because that gets to be a very very expensive trip. And the October race that I was going to focus on had actually been moved and they picked a different venue which is in Tucson, Arizona. Again, very expensive trip to try and do. So I was very focused and when I got the news of some of the events and started to realize that things weren't going to go the way that I had planned, I got really really upset about it and I got really down about it. And oddly enough, did not turn back to some of my old habits. But I just kind of threw in the towel and I was like, "Well, if I'm not racing, then I'm not gonna waste my time training and instead, I'm just gonna sit on the couch and watch T.V. And just wallow and be you know, oh poor pitiful me." And I came to that realization and it was through the help of some of my friends including Jim who got me started. But I returned to training and like I said, I was actually very lucky and very blessed I was able to do the Wild Wood Triathlon this year which I wasn't even sure I was gonna be able to race at all. I did the Wild Wood Triathlon and had a great race. Again, was able to stand up on the podium and, you know, impress my family and get some pictures. And so now, we're just gonna take the wait and see approach. Because I was getting to the point where training was starting to control everything and that was the end all be all. And I'm doing this sport for fun and to keep me healthy. This sport is not paying my bills and so I didn't see that until I had to take a step back and realize, oh wow, you know this was maybe getting to the point where it was a little out of control and I didn't have to quite take it to the point that I was taking it to. So long story long, I did have a master plan. But unfortunately, that master plan was derailed. And so now I am, yes, just kind of taking it as it comes.

- [Stuart] And that's a really fascinating insight into yourself because it sounds like you had swapped one thing that was becoming addictive and you allowed something else to being to take it's place. And then you spotted that that was what was happening.

- [Ian] So I actually have the opportunity to go speak to some classes at a university here. And I had worded it that was and the professor, it's a drugs and alcohol class that is actually required for some of the health majors. And the professor kind of looked at me and almost as if to say that's not the way that you should say that, that you've, you know, replaced one addiction with another. Because that is how I was looking at it as well. But it's actually fairly common for people who are living in recovery to also be in triathlon. There's actually a number of people who are in the triathlon world who are living in recovery. And I haven't quite figured out what that corelation is. But I think it has something to do with being able to control the pain and putting yourself through pain. Because when you are in the throes of addiction, you're putting yourself through pain, right? And there's a lot of pain associated with addiction. I don't know that, you know, from personal experience, but I have seen it quite a bit. And I can see how much pain goes through, and the suffering that goes through and there is also an amount of pain and suffering that you go through in the sport of triathlon. Whether it be, you know, two, three, four hours on your bike on a Saturday morning or the pain of just going as hard as you possible can for an hour straight in a race. You put yourself through a lot of pain. So, yeah, I definitely traded one thing for another I don't know if I was necessarily getting addicted to the training but I think it was definitely something that I had to take a step back and look at. And sometimes in life, you're either going to take a step back and reevaluate things on your own or there's going to be circumstances where you're forced to take a step back and I was the latter of the two. I was forced to take a step back and take a look at what was going on and ultimately make a decision and guess what? Now I am enjoying my training more than I was when I was chasing that goal of qualifying for Team USA.

- [Stuart] Yeah, and that's often something that's really hard for, whether it's athletic or an other career aspiration or anything else. It's actually sometimes easing off the gas a little bit and relaxing into enjoying the thing you're doing. Otherwise it becomes another thing that you're being driven to do and actually isn't helping you particularly.

- [Ian] Absolutely. Absolutely. I agree 100% wholeheartedly. Because if it then turns to that you're not having fun and you're not gonna wanna do it and then that completely defeats, you know, the purpose of doing it. I'm doing this for fun. Like I said, this isn't paying my bills. I don't get a paycheck for this.

- [Stuart] I know you've got your own podcast which we will leave in the show notes. Tell us a little bit about your podcast.

- [Ian] So when I started this journey, I was looking for, oddly enough, a quote to put on to what's called a road ID and it's just an ID that you wear on your wrist. Just in case, God forbid, anything were to happen while you're training outside. It has all of your necessary medical information on there. So I was looking for something to put on there. And I'm lookin around, lookin around, I land on this quote, "Do it for yourself". I don't even know where I found it, how I got to it. And I'm like, "Wow, that really encompasses what I'm doing." So, I got started the Instagram page for Do It For Yourself, started, you know the Twitter, the Facebook, everything. And just started to post and share my story about how I was doing it for myself. And I had started listening to podcasts, really loved some of the, you know, the big names out there, Joe Rogan, Rich Roll, some of these really big guys who are out there. And I'm like, "Wow, that would be fun to sit down and talk to people about how they are doing for themselves." And I have to know some people, you know, I had to be able to reach out to some people, come on. You know, I have a couple followers on Facebook here, I have some followers on Instagram. Some of these people gotta be willing to come on. And I just let it go, let it go, let it go. Never really followed through on it. And I kinda regret that now cause there were some opportunities that I probably could have taken advantage of and some conversations that I could've had that I can't have now. And finally, it got to the point where I woke up one morning and I said, "You know what? Forget it. I'm going to the local music store, I'm buying, you know, the recorder, the microphone, the setup and I'm gonna start this thing, you know? I'm gonna do it for myself.". And then the next thing I did was I made a list of 52 people who I was gonna reach out to because my promise to myself was: If I was going to do this, I was gonna commit to one year of podcasting. And then take it from there and see where it goes. But this wasn't gonna be just a, okay, you know, I'm gonna pump out five episodes and then realize that I don't like it. No. I'm gonna commit to one year of doing this, see where it goes. Oddly enough, the people who I thought were gonna say no said yes and the people I thought would say yes actually ended up saying no. So that list of 52 people changed up over the course of the year rather quickly. But I committed to that year and now I am still podcasting and really really enjoying it Through this world of podcasting I've had some amazing opportunities not only to sit down with people who I honestly thought they were gonna be like, "Who are you?" You know, like, I'm not a big namer like Joe Rogan or Rich Roll or Tim Ferriss, I mean some of these top top level podcasters. But I also have amazing opportunities like this one today to sit down with you and share my story with you and the listener of your podcast. So it's just something that I didn't really think that it was going to get to this point. I mean, I did think that and I had the dream that it would get to the point where, you know, I could be building something up. But at the same time, I mean, I'm sure you've seen the stats of how many podcasts get released every single day. You know on Apple Podcast and Spotify and all over the place so, yes, I am out there, I am doing the podcast thing. I have been doing it for coming up on two years now. I started in January so I'll be hitting my two year mark this coming January. And it's just been so much fun. I really really enjoy it. I'm having a lot of fun. I love having the opportunity to, you know, upgrade some gear and look at some things that I had when I first started and kind of transition to some of the things that, you know, I have now. So it's just been a ton of fun. Anywhere where you can get your podcasts, the Do It For Yourself podcast is out there.

- [Stuart] Excellent. Thank you so much.

- [Ian] Absolutely. Thank you Stuart.

- [Stuart] Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Great Escape Podcast. You can find other episodes at all the usual places on iTunes, Stitch or in Spotify or at the website, And if you'd like to contact me to talk about any element of this episode or others we've covered, please go to and you can find all the ways of getting ahold of me there. And if you're stuck in a situation and you can't find the way out, please go there, send me a message, and let's see how we can work together to get you unstuck and moving forward with your life again. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family, other people you think might appreciate it and comment of episodes or send me a message. I'd love to keep the conversation going.

Book a discovery call with Stuart now

Schedule your free 30 minute call now to see how Change Coaching can help you transform your life more quickly and with long lasting results

Book my call now!

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.