How I hired Gary Vaynerchuk’s Personal Trainer to lose 25 pounds and win a flight to Kuala Lumpur

Mike and I

Reflecting in Argo Tea

I’m sitting at a tea shop a few blocks away from Union Square in what many people consider to be the greatest city in the world. I grew up in New Jersey so NYC was always “the city” to me but as I grew older and traveled more I’ve been able to be more appreciative of it’s impact and perception around the world.

As I sip my Moroccan Mint Tea (which is delicious by the way), I’m reflecting on what I will be doing in the next hour- meeting somebody who has inspired me over the past two years. There are certain milestones in one’s life that are obvious like graduating from college or having your first child. However, there are also many tiny moments that can completely change the course of your life. I have the feeling that I will have one of these moments in the next hour.

Mike impressively holding a dumbbell and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s

Discovering Mike Vacanti and On the Regimen

I first discovered Mike Vacanti through Gary Vaynerchuk. Most people know Gary as a serial entrepreneur and owner of Vayner Media, a 500 person global digital agency. Gary is a huge advocate of social media and has built his personal brand by leveraging platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and essentially anywhere that he can get underpriced attention. Gary started a vlog a few years ago entitled “DailyVee”and hired a cameraman to follow him around and record is every moment in the hopes that other people would learn from him.

While Gary is an expert in the business world and has been for a long time, he ignored his health and fitness during much of his rise to the top. He realized that he works best when held accountable to other people and hired Mike as his personal trainer to travel with him and plan every aspect of his exercise and nutrition regimen. Mike, a kid from Minnesota that quit his accounting job to focus on the fitness world, gained an invaluable experience by being so close to Gary for two years and was exposed to everything he does.

What interested me in Mike specifically was not only his vast knowledge of exercise and nutrition, but the way he leveraged Social Media in the way Gary does to build his own personal brand. He posts helpful content on Youtube, Snapchat, and his own personal website that teaches people about macronutrients, dieting, and overall health and happiness. I was drawn to his content because of his authenticity and honesty and also his embracing of the “grind”. He even purposely lived in a tiny apartment he nicknamed “The Grindhouse” because of how much he loved the climb.

Hiring Mike and the 6 Pack Bet

I knew that Mike had an online coaching business and I had debated working with him for a while. I also knew that it would be expensive and was apprehensive about paying somebody to put me on a plan when I could do much of it myself. However, I saw the impact he had on Gary and the hundreds of people he’s helped and decided to take the leap of faith and hire him.

In order to add an extra layer of accountability (and make it more interesting) I made a bet with my friend. The premise was simple- I had 3.5 months to get a 6 pack. If I won, my friend would book me a one way ticket to anywhere in the world. I deliberately created an external circumstance for myself to necessitate change. I told my friend “We will be sitting on a beach in Bali and I will be rocking a 6 pack”.

I’ve never been overweight, but I’ve also never been “cut”. Ironically, at the beginning of 2017 I was the biggest I had ever been. I had gotten Lyme Disease in the end of 2016 and was bed ridden for two and a half months. I started going back to the gym very slowly but was still struggling with feeling light headed and weak. In order to get the 6 pack, Mike recommended I would have to be sitting at 150–155 pounds for my abs to really pop. When I started the program I was at ~177. This meant 3.5 months to lose close to 30 pounds; ambitious but realistic.

Starting Point- 177 pounds. I debated sharing this photo but fuck it- I have nothing to hide :)

The Process and the Work

Over the next couple of months I worked hard in the gym and stayed as strict as I could with my nutritional routine. There were definitely some times I binged (two pints of Ben and Jerry’s in one very depressing night) but for the most part I stayed close. I’m down to the end of the program now and am really happy with my progress (and have the abs to prove it).

The most important thing I took away was to trust in the process. There were some weeks I would only lose a pound and one or two weeks where I (seemingly) didn’t make any progress. However, I stayed consistent. Mike gave me very specific goals (macro nutrients on training and rest days and specific workouts). If 100/100 is perfection, I probably completed 90% of the program. However, 90% of a ambitious goal is A LOT better than nothing.

around 3 months later (no 6 pack but down around 25 pounds and much healthier)

Leveraging my experience with Mike in the future

Simultaneously to working on this program, I have been planning my transition from a full time job to a more nomadic lifestyle. You can read more about that decision here. I wanted the ability to work on projects I cared about and used the experience of working with Mike (someone who quit his job successfully and built a career for himself) as motivation and momentum to make this transition. While I’m working on a couple of things right now, one that I’m very passionate about is my podcast- The PaulCast. I thought it would be great to have the opportunity to interview people that I find interesting- mainly within the fields of entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellness.

Mike has been a huge inspiration and I already have 13 podcasts completed! (edit: 26 as of January 4) However, TODAY is the day that I finally meet him and have him on my show. I’m excited/anxious/nervous as I sit here sipping on my tea. This pivotal moment is going to change the trajectory of my life as I meet one of the men that inspired me to go after what I want and get the opportunity to pick his brain at all the things I’ve listened to him speak about over the past few years.

It’s easy to overthink and get stressed out about a big moment like this, but I have prepared myself and am confident that we will have a great conversation. With a story like this, how could we not?

*Listen to the podcast here. I’d love to hear your opinion!

*Please show some love and clap if you got value out of this. It helps it to be discovered by more people :) Thanks!

(Note- I originally met Mike back in November. However, I was still working at AdRoll at the time. I thought it would probably not be the best idea to release a podcast about me leaving my job while still at said job.)