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Relentless Podcast

Tony Federico: Reversing Rock Bottom, Appropriate Exercise Dosing, and #FatButter

It’s time for episode eleven of the Relentless: Real People, Real Results, Real World podcast!

In this episode I welcome in Tony Federico, personal trainer and fitness manager, Paleo Grilling author, Paleo Magazine Radio podcast host, Paleo Fitness Magazine editor, avid blogger and Instagramer.



  • Reminiscing about my appearance on Tony’s Paleo Magazine Radio podcast and his frequent mentions on the Relentless Roger and The Caveman Doctor podcast.
  • New York Times best sellers, successful business owners, etc. – “Nobody is really that different from you…Podcasting has demystified a lot of people and put everyone on a single platform. We’re all human beings and it’s what you choose to do that really makes a difference.”
  • Professionally helpful resource: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.
  • Relaxation oriented resource: Jon Ronson short stories.
  • Growing up as a chubby and nonathletic kid: “I had this underlying sense of not really being in control of myself.”
  • Experiencing rock bottom: “In retrospect that was a great and necessary thing because it emptied me out…I had to face refilling myself from scratch…It was an opportunity to say ok, starting today what am I going to do that’s going to start building up the person that I want to be.”
  • Asking the important question “What else is there?”
  • Exploring Eastern literature and religions: “They planted seeds of hope and responsibility…I began to take actual responsibility for the state that my life was in.”
  • Focusing on single positive actions: eating a salad, going for a run, not smoking a cigarette, having a productive conversation, etc.
  • The unseen journey: “What people see today is the end result of a full 10+ years of really deliberate personal transformation.”
  • Referencing Deepak Chopra as a resource contributing to his turn-around for blending science and mysticism.
  • Adopting a long-term view: “Eating a salad with low-fat ranch dressing from a supermarket might not sound great, but it’s certainly better than the Hot Pocket I was eating before. A lot of people get caught up in perfectionism, and that may have been one of the things that threw me off. I really began to appreciate progressive approaches towards improving health.”
  • Boiling down Paleo to this: “Why don’t we eat better quality food?”
  • Avoiding militant approaches: “There are some people who take a real alarmist approach to nutrition, and I’m just not going to do that…The stakes aren’t that high to feel guilty if we had a slice of pizza…on the whole emphasizing good tasting, nutrient dense, fresh, whole, real foods is going to be a more enjoyable way to eat.”
  • …while also holding yourself to a standard: “I do think some discipline is helpful. For example, everything you eat doesn’t have to be a 5-star level intoxicating food experience.”
  • Maturing as a trainer and differentiating between those who are willing to change and those who are not ready.
  • Understanding the amount of exercise he needs to do to maintain his personal fitness standards.
  • Tony’s weekly workouts:
    • 3-4 30-minute (at most) strength mixes of “push, pull, squat, lunge, plyometric jump…yes, bicep curls and triceps pushdowns.”
    • 2 30-minute functional core classes per week (teaches and participates)
    • 3 runs – 30-50 second sprints with 1+ minute of rest, 1.5-2 mile tempo run, and a relaxing run
    • 10,000+ steps per day
  • Workout baseline for the listener:
    • 10,000+ steps per day
    • 1-2 days/week – intense (90% effort) conditioning performed safely (ex: rowing, running, biking, etc.)
    • 2-3 days/week – primal movement patterns (pushing, pulling, squatting, pressing, lunging, twisting) broken into circuits – 3 supersets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise
  • Being aware of your overall workout quantity: “Like medicine exercise has an appropriate dose. It’s a law of diminishing returns. Up to a certain point you have improvements in health outcomes, whether that’s longevity, disease, mortality risk. If you keep exercising, you hit a plateau. If you keep exercising, it actually goes in the opposite direction and now you have an increased risk of mortality.”
  • The risk of using exercise as a form of entertainment. “If you are deriving your daily charge of socialization and fulfillment from kicking your ass in the gym…that can be a slippery slope.”
  • Teasing our upcoming podcast and audio/workbook product for the personal training community – Powerful Personal Trainer.
  • Looking eerily similar to his Dad when they’re both fit: “Genes definitely matter. Don’t get so hung up on the specifics of programming. Bust your ass really hard one day, moderately hard a couple days, and move around a lot every day.”
  • Current vice: #fatbutter.

T-Fed and I at a PaleoFX 2014 farm dinner (photo by Basil Gravanis)


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