The Free-Time Formula with Jeff Sanders

Young woman reading magazine

Life… it’s stressful.

Work, kids, school, training, dishes, they all pile up draining you of energy and time, until suddenly, you no longer have any free-time to yourself.

Now, there are a lot of productivity gurus and self-help personalities pushing life-hacks and cheats to save 15 minutes here or free up a little time there, but rarely do they solve any of the lasting struggles overwhelming your day.

Jeff Sanders, a good friend of NMA, has a different approach.

You may remember Jeff from previous episodes of the podcast. He’s the host of the 5AM Miracle, and has helped both Matt and I work on creating more productive, healthier morning routines.

Today we’re bringing him back on, not to focus on mornings, but instead to help us understand how to identify and uproot the real causes of the procrastination and stress in our lives, and how to free up time to do what we love.

And to do that through the functional, real-life strategies — not hacks — outlined in his new book, The Free-Time Formula.

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Why is Eating Right so Hard?

Green vegetables

A few weeks ago I sent out a survey, asking you to share your biggest frustrations, fears, and challenges when it comes to being healthy.

Over 1000 people responded, and what came back…

…was shocking. Honestly, it was depressing. For the whole day after setting up camp at a coffee shop and reading every single response, I walked around in a funk that I just couldn’t shake.

So many people think they’re doing it wrong.

They’re eating plant-based, whole foods, maybe 85 or 90 percent of time (some much more than that)… and they can’t get over how much they’re screwing up, what nutrients they’re surely missing out on, and how hard it all is.

They’re beating themselves up, citing self-sabotage, indecision, lack of confidence, lack of commitment, and even FOMO.

I’ve got news for you: when you’re stressed out like this, wound this tightly around the topic of something so fundamental as food… the healthiest diet in the world isn’t going to make you healthy (or happy).

So where is it all coming from?

Here’s what I think.

When it comes to eating a healthy diet, there are two things going on:

  1. There’s the “knowing what to eat” part — essentially the focus of every diet book in the world.
  2. Then there’s the “getting yourself to do it” part.

That second one is really important. The entire diet industry revolves around the fact that “getting yourself to do it” is extremely hard. (It’s not supposed to be, but the preponderance of addictive junk food on store shelves and at restaurants, available just about any time you want it, makes it so.)

There are ways to “get yourself to do it,” of course. But they require either a tremendous amount of willpower or a lot of patience, and both are in short supply these days.

So instead, the diet book industry preys on people who aren’t getting the results they want, by suggesting that oh, actually we were wrong all along: it turns out you don’t need to eat those bland, healthy foods. Instead, a revolutionary new (science-backed!) method lets you eat all the foods you’ve always loved — or follow just one hyper-specific rule about the way you eat them — and you’ll be healthy, strong, sexy, and energetic.

In other words, they promise us a shortcut.

And the more we take these shortcuts, the less natural our eating becomes.

We precisely time meals. We obsess over food combinations. We consult GI charts. We measure the pH of our pee. We meticulously count calories.

Eating becomes more stressful, not less.

Worse: when we buy into a new magic bullet diet, we convince ourselves (with the author’s help, of course) that something as simple as “just eat whole foods” must be wrong. That it must certainly deprive us of key nutrients. And each time we do this, attacking the simple, natural diet from a new angle, we stray further from a healthy way of eating, and the more we beat ourselves up and create warped stories about our relationship with food.

Until the whole thing causes so much stress that you give up… or, just as bad, you tough it out, but the stress itself prevents you from experiencing anything resembling health.

So what do we do instead?

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The ‘Get Unstuck’ Episode

The black car stuck in the mud. Can not fall out of the mud

Feeling stuck with your fitness or nutrition?

Yeah, it happens to all of us. It’s happening to me right now (cooking routines), and judging from the responses to a recent NMA reader survey, there’s a good chance you’re feeling that way as well — whether it’s with your running, morning routine, or nutrition.

But does feeling stuck mean you’re just lacking motivation? Or is there something bigger going on?

In today’s episode, Matt and I discuss what it means for your health and lifestyle when you’re stuck, and whether getting unstuck should even be your focus.

If you’re a long-time listener to NMA Radio, Matt’s answer will likely surprise you…

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4 Reasons Your Ultramarathon is Closer than You Think

woman from back running on the trail in the mountains with first

Want to run an ultramarathon, but don’t think you’re ready?

You aren’t the only one…

With trail and ultra running exploding in popularity, a lot of runners dream about making the leap, but never start because it feels too out-there.

Too long. Too difficult. Too extreme.

What if we were to tell you that your ultramarathon is actually a lot closer than you think?

In today’s episode, Matt and I address the four big hangups runners have when it comes to training for an ultramarathon, and why they might not be hangups at all.

Here’s just some of what we talk about in this episode:

  • Does a 50K count as an ultramarathon?
  • The ultra mindset (and how to embrace it).
  • Do you have what it takes to endure that type of training?
  • Why you don’t need to double your fitness.
  • The ultra training time commitment.
  • Learning to run trails.

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Why This is Your Year to Run an Ultramarathon

woman from back running on the trail in the mountains with first

It wasn’t all that many years ago that I didn’t know what an ultramarathon was. I have a distinct memory of chatting with a friend of a friend at a party, and the exact moment he mentioned that he was training for a fifty.

Fifty… miles?

I stood there, a few months off my first marathon, the feeling of utter physical and mental exhaustion (and accomplishment) fresh in my mind. The prospect of someone running anything longer left me flabbergasted.

Yes, fifty miles. Just think about it.

But immediately after that conversation ended, I knew it was something I had to explore. And not too long after that, I registered for my first 50K race.

I’ve spent a lot of time since then explaining (and justifying it) to myself and others what it is that drove me to ultrarunning, but until recently, I didn’t even understand it myself.

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8 Ways to Start Running Again When You’re Just Not Feeling It

Healthy young people running race on seaside promenade

When you’re on fire, you know it.

Running is all you can think about. You plan your meals, sleep, and social life around your workouts, and although those runs may be tough, they’re the best part of your day.

After each one, you feel unstoppable, and you can’t wait until tomorrow, so you can do it all again.


When you’re not on fire? When you’re not living for each run?

Well, that’s when running is hard. I’m talking really hard. It feels forced, and you know deep down that even if it looks like you’re running, you’re really just going through the motions.

As a runner, this is a dark place to be in. Not because a few bad runs are a big deal, but because as soon as running is no longer fun, it’s no longer productive. You get into a training funk, where workouts aren’t where they should be, and your mental game isn’t on point.

Runs get skipped. Workouts knocked down a notch. And race day disappoints (if you even make it to race day).

And though you may give yourself a pat on the back after you grind out a workout, you can’t help but remember all the times when you didn’t need to fight for each run — when you ran because running was all you wanted to do.

8 Ways to Break Out of Your Running Funk

Let me start by saying, “it’s okay.”

It’s okay to get in a rut like this. It doesn’t mean you don’t still love running. It doesn’t mean you can’t go on to achieve great running goals. It just means you’re in a rut, plain and simple.

And thankfully, ruts end.

I’m on the other side of a nearly year-long rut, and when I say that was discouraging and tough to deal with, I mean it. Running has been my life for a long, long time. And when I found myself no longer wanting to do it, it was like I had lost a piece of my identity.

When you’re in a funk that deep, quick tricks or hacks — like listening to a podcast or testing out a new pair of shoes — just don’t cut it.

So I made some pretty drastic changes to the way I trained, and how I viewed my running.

Matt has been in that same boat before, and together we’ve come up with eight ways to break free of the funk.

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The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet: How to Make Any Plant-Based Recipe Gluten-Free


I grew up eating a diet primarily composed of “beige foods.”

You know what I’m talking about — breads, cookies, pancakes, crackers, and noodles. The kind of carb-heavy, often brown, food you can mindlessly chow on without filling up.

And to no one’s surprise, a diet like that caught up to me. After eating this way for many years, I not only began to realize I desperately needed more vegetables to round out my diet, but after extensive blood work to explore why I always felt so uncomfortable, it was clear:

I had a sensitivity to gluten.

Cue the panicked, “What on earth will I eat now?!” response.

What would breakfast be without boxed cereal, muffins, or toast with jam?

What about dinner without pasta?

Birthdays without cake? Gasp!

You may have gone through this very panic yourself. As research sheds light on how some people’s bodies react to gluten, many of those people are opting to reduce or eliminate it from their diets.

In an effort to take control of my situation, I dove head-first into research and soon discovered that gluten makes its way into the food supply not only via familiar wheat products like breads, pasta, and cereals, but it’s also hidden in a surprising number of inconspicuous foods like soups, sauces, and even candies.

But that’s the stuff you likely already know. Where people often get stuck is how to avoid all this gluten and still eat “normal” foods.

That’s what I’ve dedicated my work to — creating delicious plant-based recipes, free of gluten, that you’ll be thrilled to share (like the ones found in the free cookbook at the bottom of this post). And today, I’ve put together this resource to help you do the same, without using the highly processed flours and gums found in many gluten-free recipes.

My hope is that you bookmark this post to pull up whenever you’re looking to convert any of your favorite recipes into gluten-free masterpieces for yourself or someone else.

But first, let’s take a minute to understand why gluten-free is talked about so often.

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Building Muscle and Losing Fat on a Vegan Diet with Marcella Torres and Derek Tresize


Resistance training can be an enigma, and many of us have heard for years that building muscle on a plant-based diet is difficult if not impossible.

But on today’s episode of NMA Radio, we chat with Marcella Torres and Derek Tresize, former competitive body builders who know what it takes to bulk up, and they do it on a completely vegan diet (and with a family!). Their resistance training philosophy has helped countless people improve their lives by getting stronger, losing weight, and staying injury-free — even as they age.

If you’re looking to build muscle, but aren’t really sure you can do it on a whole-foods, plant-based diet, check out today’s conversation with Marcella and Derek.

Here’s just some of what we talk about in this episode:

  • What vegans need to know about building muscle.
  • Do plant-based athletes need supplements to get stronger?
  • How strength training can improve your life.
  • Body-weight exercise routines… are they enough?
  • Doug’s experience using Derek and Marcella’s plan.
  • Is being sore good or bad?

Female instructor leads boot camp class in power yoga pose high

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