The idea came about for getting an interview with Richie after seeing him swoop in on some of the questions that were coming up in the support threads for Mac-Nutrition Uni.
If you don’t know already, Mac-Nutrition run the leading online qualification in the field of evidence based nutrition, and as part of the course you get access to the Mentoring Lab. This is a support area where anything you could need guidance on gets answered.
Richie legitimately seemed to have an answer for everything, or at least a direction where you should be looking.
I had to check out who this guy was, and lo and behold he was Irish. It was cool to see someone so knowledgeable in the area of evidence based nutrition from our shores.
It did make me think – and I always love to hear someone’s story…’What was Richie’s journey to this point?’, because I know it can’t have been an easy one.
Building up an incredible knowledge based on any subject never happens overnight and trust me – trying to follow a path of ‘evidence based anything’ gives you a huge appreciation of the work involved.
I had a check on social media and flicking back through his Instagram account showed up that food, training, nutrition…ALL of that has been a huge part of his life for a long time. I could see that he had travelled as well, so this made me even more curious.
I think it’s a big deal for someone to go live in a foreign country far from the homestead, for me it’s something that would be way, way out of my comfort zone. You’ll see fairly early on here that Richie has had a very interesting life so far in regards to this.
I love learning about nutrition, I love the Mac-Nutrition course, and I was proud and intrigued that we have an Irish person representing on the team so I had to ask for an interview.
Richie kindly obliged, and I appreciate him taking the time to go through some questions with me. If you read on, we both hope you enjoy it.
So I guess question one is just a broad ‘how did you get to where you are right now?’. I’m always interested to hear how someone has got to their current point in life, whether it be through travel, education, and of course working in the area of nutrition.
So I suppose the whole nutrition thing got started when I was about fourteen, maybe fifteen years old. I used to be overweight and I did no form of physical activity whatsoever, so that’s what kinda spurred me to get into it.
I just started reading just anything I could get my hands on about nutrition.
Can you remember anything as a reference point? What was your first read?
I can remember the very first nutrition book I bought was titled ‘The Little Book Of Optimum Nutrition’ by Patrick Holford, a tiny book that I must have read through in the first half an hour…it kinda started that way, then I just read everything I could.
I also tried to put into practice or trial everything I had read about as well, so I literally tried everything you can possibly imagine…I’ve gone from being say ‘pro-Atkins’ or ‘keto’, I’ve done Paleo, I’ve been vegan for a while, I tried vegetarian, slow carb low carb, high carb and everything in between.
It was all just about trial and error, just seeing how different things worked with myself. I fell in love with nutrition but when it came time to go to college I think I got talked out of nutrition by my parents. At the time nutrition wasn’t a popular career choice.
I had always been a science geek so my parents said ‘look, just stick with science for the moment and if you want to go into nutrition later you can do that’.
So I said fair enough, that makes sense.
I did Biological Science in University College Cork, there was a couple of modules in nutrition there and I absolutely loved them…so I was kind of still wondering why I hadn’t done nutrition from the beginning!
From there I ended up graduating with a speciality in Microbiology…then let’s say there was a bit of a gap in my science career.
I really wanted to travel as well, so once I graduated I moved to Japan and I lived there for 4 years teaching English.
This is where I kind of realised I enjoyed teaching things that I enjoyed myself.
Teaching English was never something I particularly enjoyed doing, but I did get the chance to teach other things…like I learned how to surf when I was in Japan and I loved teaching that to friends.
I loved having the chance to teach something to people who wanted to learn it, someone who was interested in it.
If you try to teach kids who don’t warn to learn English, English – it’s not a lot of fun!
After Japan I moved back to Ireland for a year where I worked at the Japanese embassy, then I moved to Colombia because I was after getting in to salsa dancing and music while I was in Japan.
I wanted to learn Spanish so I said I’d move to Colombia and do that….em, because that’s how my train of thought works (laughs).
Okay, well you’ve got to elaborate on that a bit more (laughs)…
So, by pure chance, one of my friends in Japan was into salsa dancing and held a Salsa night one weekend. I went along with my girlfriend at the time. She had done dance as a kid and took to it straight away and it was amazing watching her dance and I just thought “man, I’d love to be able to dance with her well”.
So I started taking some classes in secret which wasn’t easy considering I lived far from any big cities. I got the hang of it and just wanted to get better. I even ended up going on a 10 day vacation to Manila and Hong Kong just because I could get cheap private classes and go dancing every night.
I ended up getting a lot better in those 10 days and completely fell in love with Salsa and Latin culture. Learning Spanish seemed like a logical next step (I really wanted to understand the lyrics to all the songs I was dancing to) and I wanted to new challenge after learning Japanese.
I mentioned this to a Colombian girl I met in Japan and she said I should go to her city, Cali, which is known as the world capital of salsa… and my mind was made up.
So in Colombia I got back into science. Nutrition had remained part of my life, personally, but I never did anything formally.
In Colombia I started working as a scientific translator and that was how I got back into reading research.
While I was there I also taught Biology and Chemistry in a High School, which I enjoyed to a certain point. Again, you’ll always have kids who are in to science and you’ll always have those who aren’t.
As I mentioned nutrition was something I always practiced, and it was always something I loved either reading, learning, or talking about. It’s something I could literally talk about to someone for hours.
So I guess I thought ‘why don’t you just do that? You’ve been putting off the inevitable for so long’. So, I decided I wanted to do a Masters in Nutrition, and that’s how I ended up in Barcelona.
I moved back to Ireland (after some travels in Cuba and working in New York) and about 9 months before I even moved to Barcelona, I really started getting into evidence based nutrition movement.
I think Layne Norton was one of the first people I started following initially. I also would have been a big fan of Andy Morgan who does the RippedBody website and of course people like Alan Aragon, James Krieger, Brad Schoenfeld.
Then I did my Masters in Nutrition & Metabolism between the University of Barcelona and the University Rovira Virgili.
After my Masters I said ‘right, time to change the world’.
Right, you really have to want to make a change to properly get in to the deep end with nutrition – there’s no half way in.
Exactly, that was it like, I had said when I got back from Colombia I said to myself I want to get into a career that I absolutely love, and something where I can feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, and you know, getting in to public health was initially one of my thoughts, but I didn’t think that was going to be viable at the beginning so I wanted to do nutrition.
I’ve still got it in the back of my head that I would like to work on something grander, you know something on a national scale…or even something smaller initially, but just to change the way people perceive food, to get people eating healthier and moving more…doing all the things they know they should be doing but they’re not.
So, after graduating in Barcelona I got straight in to working online with clients and I really, really loved it. But I was living in Barcelona and working by myself and I didn’t really feel like I was being challenged on the nutritional side of things on an academic level.
Nobody was saying ‘well there’s recent evidence to show this or that approach works’, I wanted more input, more challenges and more opportunities to learn and I wasn’t going to get that by myself.
If you’re working by yourself you can only be challenged so much.
I was familiar with Martin (Martin MacDonald of Mac Nutrition) for a couple of years, probably since the initial Body Coach incident and I thought, well I thought he was really, really entertaining, I thought he was hilarious, and I really, really liked the way he was so passionate about science and evidence based nutrition.
I would have been following him on my Facebook feed as well and he was always there. He put out an offer for a job and I said ‘wow, would I want to do that?’.
In the back of my head I said ‘just apply’, so I literally applied there and then for the job, sent it off and I forgot about it.
It just worked out that they got back to me and we did a recorded video interview and then we did a proper Skype interview, and then I was like ‘wow, this is real’.
It never rang with me that I would actually get the job, but I think the day after our Skype interview – which went really, really well, it’s probably the best interview I’ve ever done in that it was just so relaxed, lots of fun and we talked about nutrition.
We did the interview on a Monday and on Tuesday morning Martin sends me a message saying ‘hey Richie, can you be in England this weekend?’, and I’m like ‘jaysus!’ (laughs).
And I remember it distinctly because I had a couple of client meetings and stuff on Saturday, but this was a big opportunity so I just said ‘look, let me move a few things around and make it happen and I’ll be back to you in 5 minutes’.
I did that and ended up going over and attending one of the Mac-Nutrition Case Study Residentials. Basically Martin wanted me to meet the team and get a feel for everything.
They offered me the job that weekend, I met everybody and I had a ball so I agreed to move to England in a month’s time.
I went back to Barcelona and went about tying up loose ends, then moved over to jolly old England and here I am now working for Mac-Nutrition…so yeah, it’s a bit of a dream!
Wow, that’s really cool to hear and such a brilliant story. I can’t picture you not being on the team if that makes sense, just from being a member of the Mentoring Lab and seeing how you operate.
One of the reasons I wanted to chat to you was that you’re a wrecking ball of knowledge in there! You seem to have just slotted in quite seamlessly, and it looks like a great team to be a part of.
I know the importance of this from working so long in the gym, we have a team who all get on and support each other, and we live what we do.
Yeah, well we’re really, really lucky. Well you know, it’s not by luck, because Martin and Sarah have put a huge amount of effort into picking the people they have on the team. They’re just a great bunch of guys.
It’s incredibly important that everyone is into nutrition, and everyone is into health and fitness…not just professionally, but from a personal perspective as well.
Everybody’s got that same passion and desire to learn about it. It’s cool… we all get on, we’re all a little bit quirky…you kinda need to be quirky to survive in the Mac Nutrition office (laughs)…it’s a good team!
It doesn’t look like anyone just turns up for work, clocks in, and then clocks out the minute they’re meant to… it’s a part of who they are.
Well that’s essential, it’s got to be a big part of your life, not just like ‘ah yeah, this is my day job’…it’s gotta be something you are really passionate about.
It’s a good topic to start with, one of the big problems I see is the barrier to entry for someone claiming to be an authority on exercise or nutrition is very, very low, so it’s easy for someone to just start putting out information.
A lot of the time this information is quite poor.
Social media is strange in the way it works, I’ve seen wide receivers from the NFL (American Football) – not to say they do anything to save the planet – but they’ve got less followers than someone with no nutrition background who just posts pictures of their bum every day and sells detox tea.
FAR LESS followers.
There is money to be made, so I suppose when that is the case people will take shortcuts, so what I admire about Mac-Nutrition and the evidence based approach is it all comes from the right place.
The information is legit, you can’t take shortcuts, you can’t avoid hard work, and the integrity is there.
Yeah, you’re spot on. You made a really good comment about the bar being very low for people to claim to be a nutrition ‘expert’. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the kind of world we live in.
Fortunately though we’ve got more and more people coming in to the ‘evidence based world’ so to speak, and willing to stand up against this total BS that a lot of people are putting out there.
It’s really cool to hear about your journey so far, and we are going to talk about nutrition obviously, but I’d like to ask you about training first off. You clearly train a lot so nutrition and training together are a big part of your life, I’m always curious to hear how that came about.
Can you remember how it all started out for you when you were younger?
Right, so when I was first got into it….hmm, back when I was a kid I really didn’t like the thought of exercise at all! I actually think one of the ways I got into nutrition and fitness and made a change about my health was when my P.E teacher saw me running during P.E class and he said ‘god Richie you’re SO unfit’.
And that moment stuck with me forever, and I was like ‘screw you Mr. Murray’.
Ha, well you’ll always remember his name after something like that!
Never forget it, never forget it!
So I started with cardio initially just because I lived in the countryside and could go jogging easily.
Then I bought my first weights set when I was about 16 and I started lifting at home with literally no idea what I was doing.
I had the standard York barbell set that everybody got when they were a kid (laughs).
Then I went through a phase of bodyweight stuff like pushups, squats and all that lasted a few years. I really got into lifting weights in Colombia when I read an article about the Bill Starr 5 x 5.
Before that I had never really liked the gym, the thought process was ‘oh god, lifting the same weights over and over again’. I had no idea how to progress.
But with the 5×5 programmes and the like it was always your goal to try and increase the amount of weight that you were lifting, so there was always that progression.
That was kind of like a competition with yourself, so suddenly weightlifting became interesting for me. It was like ‘oh wow, this is brilliant, I’m squatting more now than I was a few months back’, so I really, really enjoyed that and kept squat, bench and deadlift as the core of my routine up until very recently.
I initially read a lot of work by Mark Rippetoe (his book, Starting Strength is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to learn about proper technique in the big 3 lifts). However, Rippetoe is very dogmatic, set in his ways, with his writing and that can rub off on his readers. I was like ‘the only thing you can do is free weights’, or ‘you have to be doing squats, bench and deadlift’, because if you’re not you’re not really lifting weights.
Then as I started learning more and more about training, volume and periodisation from guys like Eric Helms, Greg Nuckols, Brad Schoenfeld…I started to realise that there were other things I could be doing and should be doing.
You do realise then that there are a hell of a lot of things you can do depending on what your goals are. If you wanna be a powerlifter – which I’m probably never going to be because my lifts are useless, then train like a powerlifter.
But if you want to get stronger, or a little bit bigger, or a maybe just a more aesthetically pleasing, or even if you just want to be healthier too, bodybuilding style work has a lot to offer people.
I started to get more into that, so recently a lot of my training has been heavily bodybuilding based. I do still work on lower rep (strength) work on the compound lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) just because it’s nice to be able to say ‘I can bench x’, even if it’s not that much.
I have to pull you up on saying your lifts are useless, I mean competitive powerlifting is a different ball park, but by regular standards you are a strong guy.
I’ve seen some of your lifts on Instagram and you must be sitting around 75 kilos? What are your numbers?
Ha, 75 kilos….74, well done there! I guess my top deadlift would be 185 kilos, back squat 160 kilos, bench press was 115 at a body weight of 72kg I think?
Here’s the problem with anything, you compare yourself to others.
And nowadays we live in the age of social media where you can look at people who are maybe in a similar weight category to you. You can look at Jonnie Candito or Josh Hancott, or whoever and see what they’re lifting…god almighty!
The classic example back home in Ireland would be Clarence Kennedy, who’s just putting everybody on earth to shame!
Yep, well that’s everybody on the planet (laughs)
Well, the thing is you should compare yourself to the way you were before, and not compare yourself to other people.
The next question kind of ties in nicely here, if you could go back and advise 16 year old ‘York dumbbell set Richie’ about training and nutrition and what the smartest way to his goal was, what would you tell him?
I know one thing straight off to tell my younger self – there are no shortcuts.
I spent so much of my early years in this thinking that there were shortcuts, and that there would be some secret that would help me lose weight, or there was some secret that would help me put on muscle, or that there was some secret that would allow me to eat all that I wanted and not gain any weight.
I wasted so much time and energy on that and I see the same in other people as well.
I think that is one of the reasons I really wanted to get into nutrition – I see people wasting their time and wasting their emotion looking for something that’s not there.
There really is only one answer, and it’s ‘watch what you’re eating, and exercise’.
You can’t avoid the fact it takes hard work, I love it and it applies to most things. It does all come down to working hard and if you look at it realistically the guidelines aren’t vastly complicated.
On that note I have a statement here and I’d like to hear any comment or thought you have on it.
It is ‘the physiological rules for managing weight are quite simple if you break it down, manage energy balance – that is calories in versus calories out (it is more complicated than this, but not as complicated as people make it out to be), but the difficult part comes from human behaviour and the social/physcial environment we live in’.
Do you have any thoughts on this?
Yeah, I say this all the time, losing weight is a very, very simple process. But it is by absolutely no means easy.
It’s simple physiologically – you just need to create a calorie deficit, but unfortunately we live in a world where eating is ridiculously easy.
Food isn’t scarce, food is always there. We use it for everything, you’re entertaining someone at home – eat.
You’re bored – eat.
You’re a little bit upset – eat.
You’re trying to lose weight but haven’t lost any in the past week – eat.
That’s a huge problem especially for those working with the clinically obese, you’ve got much, much bigger issue on your hands.
If you think it’s going to be a simple as calories in versus calories out, well, you’re wrong because you have the whole issue of human nature that you have to deal with, and it’s not an easy thing to deal with.
I would have previously spoke with people who I couldn’t help or advise because it was beyond my scope of practice and skillset, it would have been conservations had for me to try and understand things a bit better, and it was both ends of the spectrum – one person had suffered from anorexia/bulimia and the other person was obese.
The problem is psychological, there is some other issue there that needs to be resolved and food is just a coping mechanism for dealing with the issue.
But yeah, in those cases it’s definitely a case of getting help way beyond ‘what do I do with my nutrition?’.
Well, there is just so much there, and you’ve just brought up the opposite end of the spectrum, someone with an eating disorder verging on anorexia or bulimia, which I would consider more a psychological issue as opposed to something that can just be dealt with through nutrition.
The standard treatments for eating disorders are multi-faceted, as in it is never just going to just be ‘I’ll be your nutritionist and tell you to eat this, this and this’. That won’t work.
These people need help on an emotional and psychological level to help them get to the root of the issues that are causing their problem, because if you don’t get to the root of the issue, like you may put a band-aid on it for a week or two, but they will continuously revert to that previous state.
The same exact thing goes for someone who is massively overweight.
You can help somebody lose a little bit of weight quite quickly in a couple of weeks, and they’ll be amazed, but if you don’t get to the root problem of ‘why’ they are overeating, or why they are continuously using food as a coping mechanism for example, you’ll never fully help them.
You’ll never get them to the place they want to be and need to be, physically and emotionally. That’s why a lot of professional counselling can be so useful for people like this.
It’s a hugely complex issue, and I do often wonder does where we live have a big impact on this type of thing. Something I would like to ask is what kind of differences have you seen on your travels?
I would consider Ireland a very ‘Americanised’ country when it comes to food, we have easy access to cheap junk food, and lots of it. Then you have somewhere like Japan which I know would be very, very different, and then even somewhere like Colombia which I wouldn’t know too much about.
Can you delve in to this for us a bit, what have you noticed on your travels?
Yeah that’s a really cool question…..so, I’m going to say one thing first, you said there that Ireland is ‘Americanised’ but I think it suffers from the same issues that are prevalent in all English speaking countries.
So you’ve got the States, you’ve got Canada, you’ve got Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc etc. You are seeing huge levels of obesity in a lot of these countries because of common cultural and media similarities.
All of these countries can share the same media as we all speak English.
That same media conveys the same images to us – food in excess is one, and that’s why you’ll find high levels of obesity in those English speaking countries.
But the factors that cause obesity, they seem to spread more slowly outside of the English speaking world.
It’s less common in France or Germany, but it is becoming an issue.
You would also see it less somewhere like Japan, but it is starting to be an issue too.
I remember coming back from Japan after a few years there and thinking ‘my god everybody is fat’ when I got back to Ireland.
Things are different in Japan, for example you don’t see people over there snacking out on the streets.
It’s not common, whereas if you walk down the street in Ireland or England you’ll see people snacking all the time.
Then when they do eat they don’t eat in excess, like the idea of eating is not to ‘eat until you explode’.
That’s a big reason why it is so uncommon to see people in Japan who are exceptionally overweight. Now, that said it is starting to become an issue, and that again is from more cultural influences from the Western media and more snack type foods are starting to come in with that.
But generally people in Japan are leaner, they live longer, and another thing is physical activity is really encouraged and people make it a part of their daily life.
To give you an example of that I got an email from my caligraphy teacher from when I was in Japan. So this lady, she’s a tiny, tiny lady and really slim and she was like my mammy in Japan.
She was just telling me that ‘I’m still going up the mountains every week with my husband for our regular walk’, and I’m thinking yeah, that’s pretty typical Japan. It was just part of their culture.
So when you make healthy eating and you make activity part of your culture getting overweight becomes a hell of a lot harder.
That’s what it was like in Japan, so I suppose in Colombia then you’ve got a different situation.
Colombia is a developing country, what happens is they are starting to get from a place where they were in extreme poverty to a point where they’ve got abundance of everything.
When that happens so quickly obesity tends to follow because suddenly people are working less physical, manual labour jobs and they now have an abundance of food, and abundance of snack foods, lots of free time which they are using to basically just eat more and they’re exercising less.
On top of that a lot of snack street foods in Colombia would be fried foods and pastries so not particularly healthy.
I once got in trouble for writing an article where I said one of the things I didn’t like about Colombia was the food and some people took real offence.
Then I did live in Spain which has a nice balance going. In Barcelona, and in the Mediterranean you’ve got everything you could possibly want for a healthy diet, a fantastic selection of vegetables, meats, cheeses, everything you could want.
The only issue in Spain is that eating out is so common. Add to that the cultural influences from the English-speaking world, snack foods – high calorie, hyperpalatable etc. and you see that obesity is starting to become an issue too.
It’s really interesting to hear of the differences from someone who has gone to live in these different places for periods of time, I’ve been away on holiday and extended holidays but I’ve never actually lived in a different country or culture for a period of time, so you can make observations but you can’t really be definitive unless you’ve lived there.
It does lead in to the next question I have, I do always wonder about policies and how you can counteract the spread of the obesity problem and other health issues. You’ve obviously seen some of the factors at play first hand, and you’ve seen some of the habits needed to stay healthy and lean as well.
What I put to you here is that you have to make some rules or policy for a country which is being negatively affected by an increasing obesity problem.
What would you put forward that has to be done to change things?
When I first got in to nutrition I used to think about that a lot, and you know….. you’ve probably seen this curve where it shows somebody’s knowledge of a subject over time and their confidence…
Dunning-Kruger I think? You think you know everything starting out!
Yeah and basically all they need to do is learn one little thing and their confidence is through the roof, and then if they genuinely want to learn that confidence drops, and it’s a very, very long time before the confidence goes back up again.
So at the beginning when I ‘knew everything’ I had a really strong opinion and I thought we should live in a world where you can’t get any refined foods, refined sugar, refined grains or anything like that.
Everything has to be whole and natural and blah blah blah…
And then this changed with time, if I was on a low carb kick at the time I wanted to stop people eating grains.
When I went low fat I wanted to stop people having cream and butter and such.
It was all of these stupid things where you would try to eliminate something.
Now though, I know you can enjoy almost anything and still be healthy as long as you take care of your portions. This is for people who are maintaining a healthy weight.
For somebody who is seriously obese or has issues with food in some instances eliminating a food might be the easiest way for them to lose weight, just because of emotional triggers and other things like that.
Now I think the best way to combat obesity and to make people healthier is through education.
Starting young is really, really important, teaching kids about healthy eating …getting more vegetables into their diet, maybe getting a few more whole grains, and getting kids to be more willing to experiment with foods.
And you have to teach their parents the same thing. If their parents aren’t going to provide healthy meals for them, or healthy food options then what good is it?
You need to teach both.
I also think teaching people how to cook is one of the most important things that you can do.
I see this so regularly – people literally have no idea how to produce healthy meals at home. If you could simply teach people how to make a few tasty, healthy meals that they can make quickly, and maybe they can make in batches, and that they enjoy eating… you’re teaching them how to feed themselves healthfully in the long term.
You’re teaching them how to feed themselves healthfully in the long term.
In the past I’ve written articles about the importance of cooking, and when I did some research into it I found that greater cooking skills are generally associated with lower levels of overweight and obesity.
It’s obvious, if you know how to cook for yourself you’re not going to be relying on takeaways. You’re not going to be relying on supermarket ready meals to get all of your food in.
That’s what a lot of people are doing these days you know, nobody wants to cook.
Some people don’t know any better, they associate cooking purely with time and effort and it stops them from cooking at home.
I really, really would love to see kids learning how to cook from a young age. The only reason I know how to cook is that I cooked with my grandmother when I was a child and I loved it, and that kind of gave me a taste for it.
It’s not the only answer, there’s a load of things people need to be doing better, but it’s one step that I would really like to see implemented.
That’s a really great answer Richie, and it’s funny because the next question I had for you, well it’s another statement I wanted you to comment on…’the ability to manage your weight and cook properly are inseperable, discuss’….so you’ve pretty much answered it already.
I am a big believer in that – you have to know how to cook if you want to manage your weight. It’s pretty clear from looking at your social media that you love cooking and are quite good at it.
I remember when I started out working with clients, just before that I couldn’t cook…not a thing.
So I had to learn how to cook, there was no way I could legitimately advise my clients and tell them to learn to cook if I couldn’t do it myself.
I forced myself to learn how to cook, and over the course of a couple of months I put together an eBook with recipes in it for my clients.
I aged about 10 years doing it under pressure for time, but looking back it was one of the best things I ever did and it stands to me massively in many ways.
Well it’s true, it’s a skill that people need. I think people just don’t give it enough of a chance. It’s the same for anything, anything that looks scary or difficult…we want to push it away.
But if you get into it you realise it’s not that scary and it can be enjoyable. Like weight training for me, once you find a way to enjoy it it becomes something that you want to do daily, it becomes habit.
That habit is important.
Yeah, like I find from working with people a lot of the time you are trying to programme them or re-programme them.
If you get someone to buy in to it and do it for long enough it becomes this habitual thing.
As far as cooking goes I do think it’s really, really rewarding once you get into it, not just for yourself but being able to host and things like that…and in conversation with people, like it’s always a topic of conversation.
If you can cook and someone else can cook, you’ll always have something to talk about.
Absolutely! There’s a whole social aspect to food and cooking that you can use to your advantage when trying to get people healthier, and one of those is that if you are able to get to a point where you can get someone to make a home made meal, they can make it with their partner or their best friends and make it in to a social event and enjoy it.
Yeah, I’m a big fan of cooking and getting people to cook. I think one of the reasons for that is when I was travelling a lot of my social interactions was over food and cooking.
When I moved to Japan I realised that when people went out – bars and restaurants were kind of joined together, so you would go to an Izakaya, that’s what they were called – people would drink but they’d be eating food together and I loved that social aspect of eating food.
I did the same thing in Colombia, going out for meals to get to know people, and then having meals in my own home or going to someone else’s…I just associate cooking with good times as opposed to a chore.
It’s a really cool way to look at it Richie, and hopefully someone will be inspired to try and cook or just attempt to get started in some way. It’s like anything else, it can be daunting starting out, but the payoff is huge on this…if you can just get going then things seem to click the more you do it.
I just have a couple of short questions before we wrap it up, but one I do always like to ask is ‘if you could sit and chat with anyone in the world about any subject, who would it be and what would it be about?’.
This had me stuck between two choices.
One, is my best bud from back in Barcelona, Paul.
Because he’s my best bud and we can talk about anything from absolute nonsense to solving the problems of humanity. That’s all the reason anyone could ever need, right?
On a slightly more professional level, I’d love to hang out for a day with Greg Nuckols of “Stronger by Science”. He really is one of the smartest people in evidence based fitness, he talks the talks and walks the walk and he just seems like a really down to earth guy.
In fact when I was starting out in the industry I reached out to him and he gave me a few tips to help me along and he even put me in touch with Dean Somerset when I was suffering from a training injury a while back, so he’s super friendly.
I got to meet him briefly at the European Powerlifting Convention last year but getting to do a training sesh with him and then sit down and really talk training theory and associated nonsense with him over some good food would be amazing.
A great answer – it’s always cool to want to chat to someone who is a leader in their field, but friendship is as important as anything.
Lastly, I will finish up on another question I like to put to people. Someone you know is looking to hire a coach for nutrition and/or training…you cannot be their coach, but what advice would you give them for seeking someone who is legit?
If someone close to me wanted some nutrition coaching, I would almost certainly try to get out of doing it myself as I know from experience that working with people really close to you is a bad idea (to this day I still can’t get my own mother to listen to me ha!).
If I had to give them a few pointers on what to look out for, one of the first things I’d say is this: If someone acts like they have the one true secret to weight loss/muscle gain/health; turn around and start sprinting.
Avoid people who believe in one single method for everyone or people who are clearly closed to critical thinking.
I know I could help a lot of people with my knowledge and experience but I also know for a fact that success with a client is never certain. Anyone who says otherwise about themselves is a liar.
I’m also aware that there are things I believed in 5-10 years ago like gospel, I now laugh at or even blush with embarrassment at when I remember them. I was open to changing my mind as I learned more and became evidence-based (as opposed to gimmick-based).
That willingness to admit you’re wrong and try new approaches when necessary is essential as a practitioner. There is no one method to beat all, there are no magic pills or secret shortcuts to health other than eating well and moving more.
Anyone who claims other wise is a quack. So basically, I’d send them to a Mac-Nutrition Certified Nutritionist 😉
Some incredibly solid advice for anyone there, thanks a million for taking time to share your thoughts as it’s an important topic.
I guess this is where I’ll wrap it up, I really enjoyed chatting and I could probably chat to you for hours about all of this stuff, so maybe there will be a part 2 some day!
I hope anyone reading has enjoyed it too, and it has given you food for thought on some of the topics covered.
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to chat, and keep up all the amazing work you are doing with Mac Nutrition. I’m learning every single day and it has been a brilliant journey so far.
You guys are doing incredible work for the industry as a whole, and I love the fact I have someone who is Irish to look to for guidance.
You can find Richie on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/be_more_nutrition where he posts about nutrition, training, ice cream, life at Mac Nutrition, and more ice cream.