Nathan’s Journey: My First Small Group Workout


No machines that accept your entry card as a form of payment for protein shakes. In fact, there’s no entry card at all; when you walk in, someone already knows your name and if it’s your first time coming, someone is bound to ask you what’s going on within the first twenty seconds of walking through the door.


One of the most interesting books that I read (and then re-read) last year was The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s important that I call out that I’m “that guy” who prefers non fiction marketing books over even the best fiction novels. Sorry J.K Rawlings. In Duhigg’s book, the most memorable element is the three-step loop of habits, called the Habit Loop. It goes like this:

Cue – something that causes your brain to go into auto-pilot and determine what routine to follow.
Routine – the physical, mental, or emotional behavior that follows the cue.
Reward– the positive stimulus that causes your brain to think the route went well and was worth remembering.

I spent hours thinking about the very habits that make up my standard week and the way it got to that. From hitting snooze 2 times before waking up to scavenging the office for a piece of chocolate after 3-4 hours of stressful meetings or presentations. While humans are extremely complex, this loop is pretty easy to understand and apply into your own life.

So in this whole process that I’m on, I am easily discouraged when I remember that I’ve started this process before. So what makes it different?

See Chapter 3: The Golden Rule of Habit Change. Duhigg suggests that while you must create a new routine into the cue and the reward to eliminate a bad habit, this often isn’t enough. The crucial element is belief. When we can confidently come to trust and believe that change is happening, we’re more likely to change the routine and transform beyond the habit. My own believe comes in part because of the community surrounding me at The Human Form, the coordinated and comprehensive plan in both nutrition and training, and the thought leaders that are partnering with me through the entire process to eliminate the fear that I may be doing it all wrong. It feels different, and truly requires no other explanation.

I continue pressing onward and inward in my own journey towards holistic wellness. But a few thoughts in reflection for your week:

What habits take up the bulk of your time, energy, or mental space?

Label each of theme habits as positive (+), negative (-) or neutral/somewhere in between. (=)

Take a few minutes with each habit that you marked as negative or neutral and think through the possible changes. Then consider your fears, challenges, or factors that keep you from change.

Start small: Eliminate the fears, challenges or factors; do not give them the authority over your life that they don’t deserve. The first step is action. But know that it’s just the beginning of a journey with intent to change.

Nathan’s Journey: Accountability Meets Approachability

A few weeks ago, I started meeting with Michelle at The Human Form to guide me in my nutrition and meal planning. To summarize my life in a few statements, I’ve had a sweet tooth since a young age,  have said no to carbs entirely a few times, and historically have fallen victim to the social pressures of late night pizza and tater tots on many occasions. I’ve always worked out at least 3-4 times each week and still battled with my weight and personal goals, so nutrition knowledge was a much-needed addition. A few months ago, I decided it was time to call in an expert.

I’m just three weeks into the process and I have been so stunned by the experience.  In my head, I was expecting our meetings and email threads to be filled with “shame on you” gifs or excessive exclamation points in response to my admitted cheats. But instead, I got things like this:

“I wouldn’t necessarily consider a bratwurst a cheat. Don’t beat yourself up for things like that.”

“If these foods you love work for you, work to create more like them.”

“If you find yourself still hungry, try having more and see how it goes.”

“Have fun with it!”

Have you ever heard those things coming from your nutritionist!? Admittedly, it’s all new to me and it’s blowing my mind. And you know what I love most? I actually AM having fun at it. I’m exploring foods, not condemning them. I’m taking the time to reflect on how certain foods (and quantities) make me feel, then adapting from it. I’m spending a few more minutes each day making foods I love, and falling back in love with the process of cooking. In the process, I’m not shedding weight fast, and I’ve stopped stepping on the scale every single day in hopes for healthy changes, not starvation tactics or diet fads. But, my energy levels are up, my sleep is more sound, and I can make a pretty incredible cast-iron grilled salmon dinner.

Nathan’s Journey: Getting Started

For anyone reading that has never heard about The Human Form physical fitness methodology, let me give a brief overview. When you get started, you meet with a coach who will do an introductory consultation and an orthopedic-based assessment. This isn’t like the mediocre tour and sales pitch that you get when you sign up at your nearest globo-gym. It’s an unbelievable combination of data collection and anatomy nerdery. My time with Stephen was the most informative hour as it relates to understanding by body. Just a few things that I never would have known had it not been for the meeting:

  • The distance between my shoulder blade and my arm is slightly different from arm to arm.
  • When we spend hours at a desk looking at a computer, we are likely to see our shoulders and head drop, causing significantly more weight-bearing and work to be done on your vertebrae and back.
  • While it may appear flat in my nicest pair of jeans, I’ve got an absurdly strong gluteus maximus.

Just a few days after my introductory consultation, I came back to the studio and spent an hour with Stephen, going over the results of our time together and the action items and list of correctives that could help me with each. From there, an interactive session where I was shown how to do each of the corrective positions, which would become a part of my daily routine.  I was handed a folder that included each position, with photos and descriptions of each to supplement the live demonstration. And from there, I was given the tutorial of how to use MindBody App, the tool that The Human Form uses to schedule workout sessions.

And at that I was ready for my first workout. More on that experience to come soon.

Nathan’s Journey: A Little Bit About Me

My name is Nathan Okuley and I am 29 years old, living here in Columbus, Ohio. I am a Digital Marketer by profession with a passion for specialty coffee, baseball, and folk music. I grew up in rural Ohio and ended up in Columbus just four years ago after spending a few years of traveling around the country and living in AirBnBs while producing film festival events on college campuses. It’s been a heck of a journey so far, and I’m just getting started.

Now, more about me and why it matters.

Generally speaking, I love people. I get energy by being around people, connecting on common ground and creating environments that create a sense of joy, curiosity, safety, and/or collaboration. So when I was asked to come meet the team at The Human Form, I had no hesitations. A few friends of mine have been coming to The Human Form for a few years, and they always talk about their “gym people” in a way that I’ve never heard. For me, “gym people” are 24 year old guys with fake tans and tank top straps smaller than rubber bands. But for these friends of mine, it sounded like a generational, open-arms group of people that believes in the power of community. They went and got breakfast with their “gym people”. And we’re not talking protein shakes, either.

I’m excited to get started at The Human Form for a few reasons. The first is I’ve craved a physical fitness community that made sense; I’ve never bench pressed 300 pounds and the idea of doing burpies for 10 consecutive minutes gives me a stomach ache. I want to be around people that challenge me, but never intimidate me. My people are the ones that admit that they struggle to pass on a piece of homemade apple pie, but know just how much running 3 miles can suck on a Thursday morning . I want people who feel what I feel and are interested in doing something about it.

Secondly, I have a lot of goals in my life connected to my physical activity. I love to climb mountains, hike long trails, and conquer fears and feats as it relates to physical conditions. And I’m fortunate that I have been able to take some of these on already.  I’m still less than 30 years young, but I have aspirations ahead of me in my active pursuits that I know could be taken away from me in an instant with serious injury or health complications. Because of the level of energy that I get from this activity, the need for me to take care of my joints, bones, muscles, and organs is more important now than ever.

Next and perhaps most importantly, I desire to see change in myself. I like to believe that I love who l am, but my biggest challenge since childhood has involved self-image. I’ve always been shorter, stouter, and heavier than most of my friends or classmates, and there are some profound moments in my life where I felt rejection or fear as a result. In college, I found myself overcompensating for that lack by investing boatloads of energy into my career and purpose. While some may challenge that there is no such thing as being “too confident in your work or purpose”, the odd truth is that it often fed into the very core issues that continue to challenge me today, one missed workout or stress-induced fridge raid at a time. My relationship with how I feel about myself has some work to do, and I want to see the confidence that I have in myself professionally and see equal confidence in how I look and feel.

Lastly, I am ready for something different. I’ve seen the rewards of intentionality in both regimented physical activity and dedicated food choices, but I’m yet to experience a methodology that has long-term sustainability. So starting now, I’ll occasionally be writing about my own experience, my learnings, and my updates. If you find yourself asking a lot of questions, there’s a good chance that I had/have those same questions. Stay tuned!

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