Skip to content

099: Overcoming Obstacles and Finding a Tribe with Joe DiStefano

subscribe to the awesome health course on itunes

If there are two things our guest does exceptionally well it is overcoming obstacles and finding a tribe. Joe Distefano has overcome a traumatic brain injury and tapped into a back-to-nature approach to nutrition and health to regain control of his well-being, his happiness and his life.

Joe is a lifelong health and wellness enthusiast, conquerer of obstacles, and founder of the rapidly expanding wellness community, RUNGA. His work today includes a very active role in the RUNGA Community as well as private coaching for high performing executives and professional athletes.

Prior to joining Spartan Race, he oversaw the development of more than 100 women-only personal training studios across the U.S. He has a B.S. in Exercise and Sports Science from Fitchburg State University, and he is pursuing a master’s degree in Sports Psychology. Certified through the NASM as a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist, he is also a Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, is RKC certified and has been trained at the C.H.E.K Institute as a Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach.

We begin our episode of Awesome Health podcast with a trip back in time to when Joe suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and we explore how that impacted him for decades.

When Joe was a teenager a basketball hoop fell and landed on top of him. It cracked open his skull and nearly killed him. He was rushed to the nearest hospital where he was operated on. He was patched up and did recover, but the experience had a lasting effect on his personality, his relationship with his parents and his home life overall.

From then on, he kept a lot in and didn’t express much emotion. In fact, it took about a decade for things to come to the surface. Joe describes this as being when “the wheels came off”. He visited a lot of doctors, including a neurologist who told him if he continued down this road he would have Parkinson-like traits by the time he was 30. He explains more about how he responded after this diagnosis and why it’s so critical for him to have all the areas of his health dialed in now.

We also talk about his involvement with Spartan races: he had been an endurance athlete prior to his TBI. When he was recovering, he couldn’t do any kind of really rigorous exercise so he took up walking and walking meditations. During that time he realized he never liked endurance activities!

But with time, effort and perseverance, he became strong enough and well enough to participate in a race that one of his college professors told him about: a 5K race in Vermont. It sounded fun to Joe so he showed up expecting a 5K run and got an all together different event!

But he loved every minute of it: it had all the benefits of endurance competitions without all unnecessary aspects. Joe felt alive and enthralled: he had caught the Spartan Race bug.

Joe also tells us how he came to be involved in the Spartan Race organization and what he has been doing in the past year since he left.

We also dig into Joe’s RUNGA community and how the idea took shape from his own annual vacations. Joe and I explore those topics plus the need for finding your tribe and so much more – join us and hear it all on episode 99 of Awesome Health podcast.

Episode Resources:

Read the Episode Transcript:

Wade T Lighthea...: Wait, how do I Hey Joe, how's it going, man? Great, man. How are ya? What's happening? Oh, you know, just watching the end of the world, you know, Jesus. Oh my gosh. I know we are we're actually planning to head back. So we are on a plane December 1st. We're back. So well, we live in Venice. Right. But we're actually in the process of giving up our place and moving to Austin, like so many other people. So yeah, so just a new chapter for us, you know, we've got a six month old and it's, it's an exciting time though, for us. And I know that things are just absolutely insane. I'm curious how they are in Venice, where you are. But yeah, we're, we're excited to begin this next chapter kind of got a little bit of a larger house than we, than we had in California.

Joe DiStefano: Plenty of space for all our biohacking stuff. And so, yeah.

Wade T Lighthea...: Yeah, no, it's I think it's going to come down to sandbags and shotguns to be Frank. And I, I hate saying, I really hate saying that, but I'm a history buff. Right. And I think, I think that I think there's an interesting thing. That's happened in the world with technology and that people have become kind of like voyeurs to life as opposed to participants. So the, the they're so used to viewing the world through this video lens. They don't actually, they're actually not there we've become impotent in their own lives. I completely agree. And it's, you know, when we look at, when we look at the current state of the world, right. And also, you know, the preceding decade or two, we became decreasingly self-reliant and then we got smacked with something that tested our internal will and our, our centerdness and our, and our resourcefulness. And so, you know, you, you kind of wonder, you know, who's, who's pulling the strings here, you know, because it's like, if you want it to have a recipe, you know, it looks like we're, we're seeing it unfold. So 

Wade T Lighthea...: So, you know, I talked to, I was talking about this six years ago, I wrote a book on all this. And I predicted the collapse of the nation States into smaller dispersed republics due to what I said was the effect of the digital Republic and the digital republics of the world, which are Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. I shared with PE in, you know, you could go with Amazon and Walmart is different versions of that. I said, people have actually, like, I would pull my younger friends, my kids, kids in their thirties and stuff, these young internet marketers. And I'd say, so what's your opinion on the election? Or what, what, they had zero information on there. Like, even if they like somebody or didn't, I was like, okay, so what is the policies that you like, or what's really no clue, nothing, no idea.

Wade T Lighthea...: It was whatever the meme was, then I'd say, well, what do you think about Amazon's first chapter policy? Well, they could go on into a nuance, or what do you think about the new changes to YouTube pay payment portals, you know, to how they pay influencers. And all of these guys had kind of well, nuanced opinions about it. And I said, see to me, at that point, it was recognizing that these people and no fault of their own had now had their religions to these giant techno tyrannical States, which were more responsible for the quality of their life, then their own nation state. Right. And because of that, I said, the thing is, is those aren't elected representers representatives. They've got an assortment of backroom deals with three letter agencies, both within our country and without our country, they supersede all land barriers and language barriers and social customs.

Wade T Lighthea...: So there's like I said, we have people don't realize there is a new super States in the world that have subverted and taken over the minds of our population. And all the countries is, is a belief system. There's no border between Canada and the United States. There's a different flag and there's a different song. And we wear different jackets at the Olympics and we cheer for different, but there's no difference. There's like, it's a complete artifact as is identity nationality. And, and they're important to an aspect, you know, for tribalism stuff. But anyways, I'm rambling on, I want to interview you, but like, I'm like, I'm so I'm this like, well, what, when have we seen this happen before? Right. Well, we've seen it happen in the middle East with theocratic radicalism. We've seen it happen with the cultural revolution with chairman Mao. We've seen it happen in social revolution in Venezuela. We've seen it happen in the fascist revolution that happened with adult Hitler and with the communist revolution, with the Bolshevik revolution. So, and this concept of wokeness and, you know, UBI and all of these things, which are concepts of this new empire, right, right. Are taken us over.

Joe DiStefano: They really are man. And it's, and it's frightening, right. Because you know, that, that sort of populous, that can be so sort of, you know, at the mercy of the will or the belief systems and the, the, you know, the, the goals and values of these kind of monopolistic nations that are, you know, kind of looming over us all. And, and furthermore, you know, even in the, you know, in the subconscious mind, just looking at like a social media, for example, and we're seeing social media now just being completely manipulated, but even still, you know, it was an interesting lesson, just tying it back to, you know, maybe, you know, my business is like on social media, it's funny. Cause I like coffee. I like kettlebells. I like cool supplements. If I post a picture of me swinging a heavy bell with a grimace on my face, you know, I'm going to be rewarded for that.

Joe DiStefano: Right. But if I post something I'm really passionate about like, you know you know, whatever, my, my morning coffee that I spent this much time grind, I'm not going to get near the reach. So also even in the subconscious mind, you know, it's, it's extremely kind of manipulative when we're in this kind of gambling, this reward loop. And whether we see it or not, we're being manipulated to act a certain way, even as it relates to our own business and our own brand and all of a sudden, slowly but surely these empires could, could change BiOptimizers it could change Ranga it could change Joe. And all of a sudden, Joe doesn't even know who he is and he's posting stuff that doesn't even resonate with the soul and the spirit that's inside of me because I'm doing something. And pretty soon, you know, the cart is, is completely separated from the horse.

Joe DiStefano: And that's what I think is leading to just such destruction of, of ego, of understanding and leading to tons of isolation, depression, separation, and just volatility, man. And yeah, it's, it's a frightening time, but I think also one of the interesting things and, you know, the, you know, the, the strong will survive. Right. But, but I think it led us into this really cool awakening in some cases, I know for me, it's, you know, in 2019 it was, you know, how much time am I allocating into this vertical or this marketing channel, et cetera. And this year, when some of that was more or less taken away or all of a sudden it wasn't worth my time, you know, that's the difference between somebody that's kind of maybe in more of a victim state or someone that's a little bit more resourceful. And instead of saying, you know, instead of, instead of kind of crying over your, you know, social media reach or your ads or, or your Google analytics or whatever, all of a sudden you're like, well, what can I do with the cards that I've been dealt?

Joe DiStefano: And, you know, for us, it's like at the start of this year, we had this vision for 2020 by February, it was completely shattered. And now we're in completely new lines of business that we never thought we were going to build out and create. And the rewards have been insane. Like I feel like I'm really finding where I'm supposed to be ironically through this disaster. But if I, you know, sat around and cried because my, you know, the lockdowns destroyed our live events business, then I'd be, you know, kind of in a different place than I am today.

Wade T Lighthea...: We're going to keep going on this topic. I'm not even, we'll do the editing after, cause this is awesome, you know, for our listeners Joe, you're a lifelong health and wellness enthusiast. And, but more importantly, I think you're known as a conqueror of obstacles, you've, you know, had a traumatic brain injury and I want you to kind of unpack what that's like, both how it happened, but also I've, I've got a number of friends that had traumatic brain injuries. Like maybe that should tell me something about myself. [inaudible] The right crowd. Exactly. Yes. It's true. That most of the people, a lot of people that I hang out with a quick, clearly, no joking aside, a brain injury is a life-transforming event that happens to people. It can change a physical capability, it can change your personality, it can change a lot of things. How did you, what happened? How did you get a brain injury? And then what was that whole process? And then maybe how did it contribute to what you're doing today?

Joe DiStefano: Yeah. Wade you know, and it, and it's, and it's interesting, right? Because it's something that like, you know, I packed so deep into my chest or wherever I didn't talk about it for a long time. I just started talking about it kind of, as I kind of get into more mindfulness and yoga and I started hitting some, you know, some real roadblocks and I meditate, I had to unpack some of this stored trauma in my own body in order to progress in my own. And my own journey and, and sharing I think is an

Wade T Lighthea...: Important part of that. So when I was a younger man, this is now I'm 36. This was about 20 years ago. This was a freak accident, man, a permanent basketball hoop fell and landed on top of me and nearly killed me crack this side of my head open, blah, blah, blah. You know, I was in, you know, this happened about 40 minutes outside of Boston and I was brought to the nearest hospital. They didn't have the right stuff I got brought to. So within, you know, 24 hours, of course I was knocked out and there's a whole bunch of, you know, trauma just from this experience. And I could kind of like dive deep into, into any facet of this. But I think, you know, it was an interesting experience, blah, blah, blah. I got this, you know, brain surgery. They tweezed out the skull fragments that were in my brain.

Wade T Lighthea...: They patched me up. The interesting thing is I think as a parent and I have a six month old baby, he's my first child. And I just look, I can't imagine he, man, we were walking in the woods and acorn fell, landed on his leg. And he like let out a little bit of you know, he was just startled with that. I was like, what, how, like what, where did that come from? What does it? And so I can't even imagine what my parents went through right. When your child is in this state and you don't know where they're going to come out. And my dad, you know, went to certain direction. My mom kind of dealt with it in her own way, but I think following this injury, it was a really interesting time for me because a big part of my recovery ended up being too. And I don't know how much personal stuff you want here, but ended up seeing how do I prove to my parents that I'm okay. Because,

Wade T Lighthea...: Well, because they were so concerned about the damage that, and what was the damage? What damage did you actually happen to you? What happened

Joe DiStefano: So well, I, this side of my head is now basically constructed of plates and things like that. So this side of my head was kind of collapsed in. And again, you know, we, we had obviously all sorts of big mess to clean up and a skull, the rebill then. And it was the type of thing where you know, we weren't quite sure what was going to happen. And the funny thing is, is when I woke up after the surgery already knowing what was going on, you know, it was, I began that journey and, and that had a massive impact on my home life, my relationship with my parents, my personality, you know? And so it ended up creating a scenario where, you know, I didn't show a lot of emotion for the rest of my teenage and adult life. I kept things in and, and that leads to some, some pretty challenging stuff.

Joe DiStefano: And, and the bigger thing Wade is that it took about 10 years for a lot of the issues to begin to manifest. So, you know, quickly after trauma, after I got through and I was, you know, walking and, you know, doing all these different activities and coming back to quote normal, there were little signs and symptoms over the course of the next decade that everything wasn't sunshine and rainbows, but we were thinking up, Oh, well, you know, that was from, you know, your, your jaw, you know, problem, your, your neck pain, like this is from your braces. And that was from that time you got hit with a baseball and, you know, and so that's what you do. And then you end up finding some good docs. And in my twenties, I, I started to have so many issues that the wheels started to come off and, you know, I visited some docs, a lot of docs didn't really have any answers for me.

Joe DiStefano: But then one neurologist was basically like, look, man, you know, Michael J. Fox has bad luck. Muhammad Ali got hit in the head too many times. You know, that's, that's kind of where you're kind of headed. And by 30, you know, I expect you to be in a pretty, you know, Parkinsonian like state and wow, diagnose me with something called dystonia, which is essentially this muscle tightness on the right side of my body. So when you get, you know, when you get hit on the right side of the head, blood and swelling and everything pools kind of on the other side, and some of the damage ends up being reflected on the, on the opposing side of the body, to the damage, right.

Wade T Lighthea...: And then there's probably all fascia shifts from the surgeries and all that. So that can have all sorts of impingements and nerve neurological patterning, and take a lot of people. Don't recognize how, you know, when you do some sort of surgery, let alone on your head, it's going to imp it can impact literally everything right to your toes

Joe DiStefano: Everything. And you know, it was interesting. Cause I remember for years after this, you know, and I've got a pretty substantial scar on my head, I got covered up with my hair pretty good. But for years after this injury, you know, I explained it, I got these like marbles in my head. Right. And so like, I could like, you know, I've got these like lumps, Jesus, and it was so crazy, man, because when they stitched me up and my dad is funny, my dad was so traumatized by this thing. He like took the picture and hit it and I never saw it again. But when I, after this surgery, man, like they use this like wire stitching to like close me up. Right. And there was these like bubbles, right? These like, cause this wire is like clinch pretty tight. And so when I had this scar tissue and this disaster worked on with a qualified therapist for the first time, like my whole face felt different.

Joe DiStefano: Like it released so much just store it. You know, you can imagine. Cause when you're stitching up ahead, what are you doing? You're pulling skin. It's like, you're giving me a face, face lift on the, on the right side. And anyone that's, you know, got a Christmas sweater and you get a pole on one side, you know, you keep pull it and you see the mess that it creates. So you're absolutely right. And a lot of that physical that fascial kind of pole caused a lot of pain in my neck. A lot of discomfort, a lot of discomfort obviously, but a lot of pain, a lot of injuries, a lot of, you know, in the gym, just, you know, repetitive injuries, just, I can't do anything. This is actually what led me down into Tom Meyers. I took a Tom Myers course, like, you know, we have a mutual friend, Paul check.

Joe DiStefano: I went through my first check you know, event back in, you know, 2007 or so. And so all these things, you know, they led me down this road. Right. And, and like you said, it's like, everything happens for a reason. And you know, this led me to everything that I preach today. You know, I've been keto or pretty close to it since, you know, 2007 because that's the epilepsy diet, that's what brain injury folks do. And and so whether it's fasting and I, you know, created this, you know, event called Ranga and that was basically therapy for me because one of the huge components of brain injury is, you know, that cumulative stress load. So overwhelm, it's easy to get overwhelmed. It's easy to get claustrophobic. It's, you know, there's a lot of obviously attention problems. There's a lot of, and so the kind of recipe to staying healthy and recovering and living a productive life is you've got to keep that cumulative load down.

Joe DiStefano: You got to keep the number of things you think in about the, you know, the number of people you're spending time with the stress from your nutrition, the you know, the movement practice, all of these things have to be dialed in because there's a big liability if they're not right, because the wheels can start to spin off far more easily than maybe somebody that's got more resilience or, or more kind of room beneath the ceiling of what becomes highly dysfunctional or, or destructive. So I've gone through a couple of little journeys, you know, after the Michael J. Fox diagnosis, I, I wa went into a pretty dark place and left the country and, you know, didn't know where I was going to end up or what I was going to do with myself, but ironically found some really cool practices. So, so anyways, everything happens. It's not a, you know, I don't re I don't have RA, I don't wish it didn't happen. That's the irony. Right. It's just the way it is. And so, yeah, I think we're all put here for a reason. And I think a lot of the lessons that, that injury led me to have taught me so much that have helped me help countless others. And

Wade T Lighthea...: That's man amazing story. And you'd never know it when you're talking to or communicating with. So it's pretty impressive. Like you talk about a lot of the things that you talk about self-reliance and being empowered in health and fitness and finding your tribe. One of the things I think is really interesting when people check out your bio and your website, which you put all the links in here at the, at the end of the interview, you're someone who does the Spartan race. Okay. I get it, I get it. I want, I want people to know what the heck is the Spartan. I know what it is, but I'd like for you to share not only what it is to people like me who haven't run the Spartan race, but people like you who have, what is the Spartan race?

Wade T Lighthea...: Well, let me, let me, let's back up to you know, back. So when I received, I was a pretty athletic kid and I, I got pretty into sports and endurance sports when I was in college. And when I got that, you know, grim kind of diagnosis and my body was not performing very well. This was around 2006, 2007, getting into 2008. And so one things I had to do was basically quit hard exercise. And that's when I basically took up walking and walking meditation and really trying to get myself back to square zero so that I could build the square one and square two and square three. And now an interesting part of this is that's a very kind of hard thing to do if you're this type of person. But the interesting thing was, was I realized that I really hated endurance sports.

Wade T Lighthea...: So when I looked back and I started to get an appreciation for that cumulative stress load and, and reducing the number of things that are on my mind. And I thought back to some of the, like the marathons and junk that I was dabbling with every 10 minutes, I'm looking at my heart rate. It's beeping at me. If I'm running too fast, it's beeping at me. If I'm running too slow, I got to drink the bread bottle. Every 45 minutes, I got to drink the blue bottle every 30 minutes, you know, so this endurance sports, this kind of type a, that's very sort of calculated, you know, I can perform, I can finish this event because I have all the requisite ingredients I've done the perfect taper I've done. The, every that is incredibly demanding on the, on the psyche, right? And on the system.

Wade T Lighthea...: And, and we also, to your point, we outsource our security, our, or our belief in ourself into our training. And when all of a sudden, you know, we, you know, I, I told the story a million times about my first half marathon. You know, I was at the starting line at the perfect set of sneakers that were just perfectly worn in. I had the, the red bottle, the blue bottle, the perfect hydration to all the different things, about 800 meters into this half marathon. I step into this huge puddle. Now, one foot, one foot, just this, this massive moon boot sneaker. Cause at the time I'm wearing like a six or something now weighs, you know, 10 times more than it should. And it broke my psyche, right? Because I trained for this event. I have it. Perfect. And I'm just keep looking down at that shoe.

Joe DiStefano: And I'm just like, man, this is ridiculous playing the victim. Right. And so the interesting thing was I hung up all the sports and all the training started the walk 2010. One of my college professors say says, Hey, and I ran a lot of race with my college professor. He goes, Hey, this is race. You got to do. It's up in Vermont. It's this lunatic putting it on it's 5k. You're going to love it. And I just said, you know what? I need something like, it's been a couple of years. Let me, let me dive into this thing. So I show up to this, what I think is a 5k.
Speaker 1: Okay.

Joe DiStefano: You know, in, in the first mile, I'm running with a spear, throwing it at you know, a hay bale target I'm crawling under Barb wire took out this huge scrape down my back. I'm getting hit with a fire hose as I'm kind of making my way through this barbed wire, I'm climbing over walls. I'm like, but I crossed the finish line. I look like . You know, I'm like completely destroyed. You're completely covered in mud. You got scrapes, you got bruises. And I was like, I'm alive, man. Like, this is, this is, you know, this is why I jumped out of a plane on my 18th birthday. This is the, you know, this is the thing, this is what we need. This is endurance sports. This is endurance sports minus all the crap. This is your self-reliance like, are you going to put one foot in front of the other and finish this thing, no matter what it takes.

Wade T Lighthea...: And by the way, 5k took me like 58 minutes or something. Right. And so, and so I caught the bug and my college professor happened to be good buddies with this lunatic Joe, that was putting on this event. And, you know, within the next couple of months, guess what I'm working with, Joe, dr. Jay, my college professor and I are designing all his training programs for his, for this event. And, you know, fast forward, eight years, I'm still there and we've expanded to 30 countries. We've got some 0.1 0.2 million participants around the globe each year. I just departed from the organization last year to kind of do my own thing and spread my wings a little bit. But, but yeah, the Spartan is an amazing, amazing experience. You know, it's this type of thing where you know, it really kind of gets people out of their own way out of their own mind, gets them into the moment, you know, that's, you can't think when now I'm running a marathon and I'm running this, you know, seven 30 clip or whatever.

Wade T Lighthea...: And you know, my heart rate mind, it's, you're thinking about everything except the moment you're, you're still thinking about the stuff you say you're stressed about. You, you know, you're thinking about the things you run to get rid of, right. Or that you run to deal with when you're getting, you know, sprayed with a fire hose, you've got barbed wire sticking out of your butt cheek. And you're about to throw a spear at a, at a massive target at full running speed. Like that's, that's humanistic, that's getting you back to wherever it is we came from. And I think people crossed the finish line and they're like, I haven't felt this way ever. This is the first three hours of had without my cell phone in the past decade. This is, this is what I needed. And I think that, that just is an incredible thing. Now, I'll say that after eight years of that, you start to like, you know, graduate into, you know, some other tiers of, of whether it's consciousness
Joe DiStefano: Or objectives or, you know, so, but I think there's almost no better thing on the planet for people that are stuck to get out of their own way and prove to themselves what the hell they're capable of.

Wade T Lighthea...: I love it. And I think it's a great it's a great experience to get into situations where we're outside of that kind of digital voyeuristic. You know, here's my peak, here's my max, here's my optimum giving my digital feedback because it's, it's almost as if, as beautiful and I'm a biofeedback kind of guy. Cause I think I was born before the digital age and you know, my business partner, Matt is very deeply down biofeedback. And one of the things that we try to correlate is our feedback with ourselves, with data. And and we always have these debates, him and I, and it's part of our, the uniqueness of our business is that we have like, he's a keto guy, I'm a vegetarian guy. He's loves data. I'm more like I want the qualitative experience or feedback, but you bring up something. I think that's really relevant and kind of start where we started off today. And that is how does someone access the human condition without dependency on digital technology in this world? Because it seems like everybody is now hooked into this more than they're hooked into this. Right? What's your experience with that? Cause I know you talk about self-reliance and empowered health and fitness and you're sharing this. So can you share more about what that is for you?

Joe DiStefano: And I think, you know, way it is and, and you're a digestive health guy, so I'll try to put this into to

Wade T Lighthea...: Something we can digest. Yeah.

Joe DiStefano: But it's such an important point, right? Like everything in nature, you know, you, you go on a hike, you know, maybe it says like leave no trace, right? You, you want to fix your health. There's a lot of ways you can, you can throw things into the system. But the most important thing, the gut probably needs is you to stop throwing crap on it. Right. And that will kind of initiate a lot of the healing you need just like mother nature, leave no trace. She doesn't need you to like water the plants on the hikes. She doesn't need you to like fertilize anything. You just need to not leave your, your junk where she has to destruct it over the course of the next 150 years. So when we think about the human condition and just like that first time I ran the obstacle race, it's like it's inside of us.

Joe DiStefano: And it knows, it knows where it is, who it is. It can be reconnected. It can be rekindled. We just have to get rid of the noise. And when I first started, what ended up becoming Ranga in reality, it was my annual vacation. And then the next year I invited Ben Greenfield and said, let's, let's do this. And the next year we let people sign up for it. And here we are, six, seven, yeah. Years later. But the interesting thing is this original trail. It was eight days. And what we did on the first day was we actually took everybody's cell phone and locked it in a lockbox for eight days. And some of them weren't expecting this. Now the interesting thing was on day one. And we obviously stopped mentioning that we did that in the advertising because people wouldn't come if they knew that that was going to happen.

Joe DiStefano: But the first day people are anxious. You know, they're saying like, dude, I can feel myself. I can feel my Twitter buzzing in my pocket. My phone isn't even there. I've got like a Phantom Twitter account right now. And my mind is going crazy by day two. And I used to have like a day, one day, two day three, like with different emojis. But by day four, people are starting to really reconnect with themselves. They're there as in their brain, isn't all over the place. And this is regardless. And of course we're doing, we're doing some meditation, we're doing some breath work. We're doing other things to kind of compliment this. But I think removing that thing from time to time, getting people to put their phone away at six, o'clock getting, getting them to put the phone away for the weekend, actually makes a lot of space.

Joe DiStefano: Even if it takes a couple of days for you to believe that that's the thing that's making the difference. But over the course of watching, you know, over a couple of years, a couple of hundred people go without a phone for eight days by the eighth day, they actually don't want it back. Most people will make a joke. Like I, I truly wish that I didn't have to take it back. I truly wish that I didn't have to let myself go down that rabbit hole. So I think so much of our problem is in our pocket. And we have the ability we're just addicted. Like you talked about at the start of this show, these programs, these apps, these, these, the marketing, it, the light that's coming out of the phone. It is meant to keep you hooked. It's meant to create that adrenaline, that dopamine response.

Joe DiStefano: And so you're not, it's not a fair fight. So have some compassion for yourself, but recognize too, that, that phone and that ticker and that addiction to email that gambling, the rolling of the dice, every time you check that Instagram posts is creating a lot of the issues or the self judgment, if someone doesn't like your picture enough or, or what have you. So I think, I think that's kind of number one, the belief and the understanding that, that higher consciousness and that human spirit that we want to feel and embody is within all of us. There's just a lot of garbage on top of it. A lot of it has to do with our devices. Now, the other pieces are nutrition and lack of grounding. And that's why I tell people get outside 20 minutes a day in the sun. And you know, it's hard for me right now, but I can't wait to get back to the U S and to, you know, we're going to head back to Texas and, you know, I wish we'd been in Luxembourg for the last nine months, but it's already full fledged winter here, but but getting into nature, it's incredible.

Joe DiStefano: Just, you know, I take these walks you know, almost every single day through this amazing path and whatever's going on in your mind, you spend 30 or 40 minutes walking through lush, green nature. You don't have to think anything. You don't have to do anything, you know, you just be, and all of a sudden these things start to emerge, but I think that's the big thing. It's like, you know, if you want, you want a clean house, you gotta like stop leaving stuff all over the place. And that's kind of the same thing that's happening with our minds.

Wade T Lighthea...: So th th I think that's really pertinent for people to consider to, to take some time out of, of this and to allow enough a moment now allow enough space for that decoupling from technology to kind of like, okay, let's get rid of the, let's get rid of the surface noise. And let's find the true signals that are getting distorted with the noise of the world. What does self-reliance and empowered health and fitness mean to you? I know, saw it was in your bio. These are aspects that are really important to you and maybe how that connects with Ranga and what all that is. Perhaps you can kind of illustrate that for us.

Joe DiStefano: Yeah. Well, I think, you know, tying closely to the information age and the, and the just incredible amount of you know, one way shape or form marketing, that's hitting us information. That's hitting us. People get completely overwhelmed. And when I say empowered health and fitness, how many people know exactly what to do substantially, right? But don't do it because there's so much other information. I'll give you a good example. I had this guy that wanted to lose a whole bunch of weight, and he says, you know, Joe, I need a, I need a meal plan. I need a meal plan. I need you to tell me what I need to eat for breakfast. What I need to eat for lunch, what I need to have for dinner, snacks, what time I should eat them? How many grams of protein I should have in there? I'll weigh it all out. I said, Whoa,

Wade T Lighthea...: Do me a favor this week,

Joe DiStefano: Eat nothing, you know, is not good for you. Eat nothing, you know, is bad for you. And try to gravitate thing to things that you know, are how healthy for you, right? And if you have to ask me, it's probably in the, in the bad category, right? It's probably in the don't consume category the next week. I said, all right, dude, I'm going to work on your meal plan, but Hey, in the meantime, continue to not eat anything. You know, isn't good for you. And just try to move away from some of the carbohydrates that you're eating and move towards, like an extra serving a chicken or, you know, whatever the protein is, you're eating. But then other than that just don't eat like that's and long story short, this guy lost 30 kilos in a month. You get a lot of weight to lose less 30 kilos in a month. I gave him four pieces of information. Don't do things that, you know, are bad, eat more protein, drink more water, and move away from some of the carbohydrate. So when you think about that guy, he probably sat on his butt a year contemplating, like, should I do this diet? Or maybe I'll do that diet, or

Wade T Lighthea...: Probably spent nine months comparing and going on boards and seeing the haters and the lover, all these different things, because it's like information analysis per se.

Joe DiStefano: Absolutely. So I really want people to start with what they know what they have at their disposal. And even if that's a bathroom floor and maybe a kettlebell, or maybe it's just shopping at a different grocery store, whatever it is, start where you're at, what can you do with what your hat with, with what you, what you've got at your disposal, maybe who, you know, what you know, and where you're at and milk that for all you've got. And when I used to coach personal trainers, I used to say, when you have a new client, you've got four ACEs, right? Like you've got like, you know, the hard workouts you've got, like the meal plans. You've got, you know, maybe some of the supplements you've got, like some of the, some of the other hacks and things that, you know, will work for these people.

Joe DiStefano: You can only give the ACE once. So you got to give them one of those cards and milk all you can from it before you drop that second card. Because if you give somebody all your bells and whistles on day one, they tried it and it didn't work. And now you're the next business that didn't work. Right? So it's the same thing that we need to kind of look at when we start to and with Ranga, you know, we start with creating an amazingly safe environment because that's ultimately I just had a fantastic podcast with a woman named Lois Laney. Who's an expert in the brain STEM and the cranial nerves. And when you create an environment that people feel is extremely safe and, and nurturing, and sometimes you'll even get them to just say, I am safe. I am safe. I am safe.

Joe DiStefano: I am safe sitting in this group. The more we can create an environment and an emotion of safety. And then, you know, gratitude would be kind of the next step. The more fertile this ground is. And when that person then, you know, starts with safety and maybe slowing down their breathing a little bit, and now we want to go learn kettlebells. Now we want to go learn how to eat a little bit better, go through a cooking demo or whatever we might be doing. It's it's the upload is, is 10 X. So we have to start with safety. And I'll tell you one more quick story is, you know, we I did this a long time ago. I did this 30 day Bikram yoga challenge, which, which was just miserable. It's, you know, you do Bikram yoga, which is 90 minutes in a hot environment.

Joe DiStefano: You do it every single day for a month. And one day I was leaving and there was a woman that walked in and, and she said she was kinda like looking around. And the guy was like, is this your first time here? She says, no, it's my fifth time here. And he goes, Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I didn't recognize you. I'm the owner. And I'm, I'm thought I was here all the time, but it's so nice to meet you. And she goes, well, it's my fifth time here, but it's the first day that I ever got out of my car. And so when we think about this idea of like fitness and health and changing our diet, it's so daunting for some people that if I can get them to start with a glass of water in the morning and, and you know, avoid foods, you know, are unhealthy, that proliferates into incredible decisions and more sustainable fitness, right?

Wade T Lighthea...: So that's why I want to just interrupt you there, because I'm curious about this. How is it that we have the Zenith of technological innovation? We're probably living in the safest time ever in history, just to give people example, there's actually more people that died in 2018 at this point in the year, then have died in 2020. Now it's supposed to be the most unsafest point in there, but all the lockdowns and stuff probably just cut back car accidents and other areas. And like, there's like, it's this it's never been safer, but there's a perception that it's never been more dangerous. Oh my gosh. So when you say the word safe, a little red flag goes up in my mind. Cause I grew up, I grew up in the rough and tumble aspects of Canada in the North and safety meant don't put your arm in the wood chopper.

Joe DiStefano: It'll take it off. Don't

Wade T Lighthea...: Be careless while you're driving the tractor. Cause you'll knock the house over, pay attention when you're on the road with your car. Because if you mess with the dial, you'll go in the ditch. Like everything had like horrific consequences. We all know the kid that died in the car accidents. We all know the guy that got his leg chopped off with a power saw. We all know the guy that drowned in the fishing boat. Like this is the world that I grew up in. It was very, very, and the communication style that comes from the senior men to the younger men is anything but pleasant. It is anything but 

Joe DiStefano: Socially save for or you

Wade T Lighthea...: don't know whatever the way it is. Like it usually involves loud course commands with threats of violence to prevent you from having another violence. And as terrifying as that is, as a young kid growing up, I was terrified of my dad. I was like, Oh my God, is something went wrong. I was like, Oh no, I really screwed up. It was, it was worse to deal with my dad's wrath than what might have even happened. Okay. Right. And, and, and looking back, I go, thank God. He gave me that stuff. And my friends know me as someone that's very direct. I'm not always politically correct, but I mean, I say, and I say what I mean, and I might not finesse it out very well, but I, the people I care about, I'm going to communicate in a direct way and we can work about the nuances and how the feelings were hurt, but we need to get to the bottom of things. And that's partly because of that training. And this is the part that I find ironic, what is this? What is the safety mean? Like what does that really mean to you? And, and what is all this conversation about a safe space and safe do it? Like, what does that mean? Like, I'm just curious.

Wade T Lighthea...: Okay. Well, first of all, your old man, still let you drive the tractor. Correct. Even though, so your dad said, you know, Wade, you know, you messed this thing up, man. You might not make it. If you make it, I'm going to beat you up. Right. So there's this, you survived the tractor accident, you know, you've got another tractor to deal with it. He still let you drive the tractor. So there's this, like, I will tell you a funny story. This is a true story. Last week I had this, I had this incredible week and I just chalked it up. Like, you know, God's spirit universe is just kicking me out of Europe. He's like, you know, just get out of here. First of all, my computer, I'm using like a cheap outlet thing and my computer gets fried. Right. So there's some kind of spark at the wall and my computer gets fried.

Wade T Lighthea...: Then I get into the car and a rainy day and I've got a flat tire. Wait, I get this flat tire. And I'm like, it's raining. I got a flat tire. I was like, I get to be a man today. Like I get to, I get to do man . Like I, the world, like I'm in a, I'm in an insane asylum half the time, like changing a tire and the rain on the side of the highway in Luxembourg, like, let's do this. Wait, I pop the trunk. I call him my wife. I'm like, Hey, I got to change a tire. I just pray that it's not a donut because I got to drive all the way home. And I I'm hoping they have a full-size spare in this thing, but I'll be home in an hour, no matter what I popped the back of the truck weighed. I pull up the, the, the panel.

Wade T Lighthea...: No, full-size spare, no donut. A neon vest has replaced the spare tire. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. We've created a scenario where I said, M I think I'm supposed to put the vest on and just Castaway or something like, like, you know, set, is there a flare gun like I'm supposed to do here? So, so every year, Wade, you know, with the technology, the monopolistic organizations, these governments, our comfort zones are shrinking. And we have the illusion that we're in danger all the time. And, and the thing about comfort zone and even running Spartan race is like the less you and experience

Joe DiStefano: The fewer tractors. You drive, the fewer things you deal with the fewer tires you change, the more things are on your list of scary, dangerous, et cetera. And the other thing too is man you know, I've, I've jumped out of planes of, of Canyon waterfalls. I've fractured my skull. Like the closer you get, the more you're alive. That's the ironic thing is your perspective. When you do something that's actually dangerous occasionally and responsibly, and with people you trust, et cetera, sometimes you're, you're calibrating your every day and your resilience for your stressful boss or whatever is all of a sudden going up. But if you're afraid of, you know, if your biggest fear is getting a flat tire and you know, you're willing to put on a neon vest and jumping Jack on the side of the road or something like, like, there's a lot of things that can scare you.

Joe DiStefano: If that's the, if that's the level you're at. So our conditioning and the way the world is headed with this. I mean, just think about it. Wait, I, how many people drive to a destination that they know the, the way, but they still use GPS because they can't risk that minute of traffic that they could otherwise avoid. If they entrust their safety and security into this device, that's going to tell us, you can avoid that 32nd traffic halt by, by taking 15 terms through a residential neighborhood. So there's this like the numb the amount of times throughout the day and the week that we actually rely on our own willpower, our own minds, our own creativity, our own resourcefulness is shrinking with every passing day. And therefore there's more and more things that are so far outside our comfort zone. And we need this security and safety theater all around us, right? We need, we need the mass. We need the social distance. We need the things at the airport. We need the, all this kind of theater to make us feel safe, but it's all a show.

Wade T Lighthea...: I, I was reading something there. So here's a, here's a confession for people. I'm very concerned with the state of the world. I'm very concerned CERN with how people are kind of passively looking at the world. And I think you can relate to this as we talked early about, and I was thinking, you know, when the whole thing happened with the concern about North Korea and things like that, there was a lot of research that said, Hey, you know what? There could be it'd be very easy for a rogue nation, whether that would be North Korea or even Russia or China, or one of these nuclear capable countries to detonate a nuclear warhead at 250 miles above North America, which would knock out 90% of the power grid.

Wade T Lighthea...: And I'm like, well, if I want it to take over the country, if I wanted to kind of eliminate the United States from its dominance, that seems like a pretty easy thing to do. Any one of those countries could probably pull that off. Right. Which you got to wonder. I mean like, okay, well, how dependent is my life on all of this tech? I mean, if you think about it, your banking, your higher, your, your, your power, all of your communications, the grocery store, your car, like you can just go down the list of the electronics that you have that are smoked in one of these conditions. Now amplify that by all of the people living in the country and where you might think they're at from a, from a responsiveness. And I thought it would be absolute chaos, mayhem, perhaps enough that the country wouldn't even recover from it.

Wade T Lighthea...: But I also know there would be people who would survive it, who would get past it and would kind of go back to that. You talk about Ranga you talk about finding your tribe, self-reliance powered health and powered fitness. All I'm leading that to is can you explain what rung is and why those things are so important with why you teach these aspects of self-reliance and getting away from your digital communication, like you mentioned, and stuff like that. Can you, can you job drop into that for a minute and why I want you to, I want you to, I want you to impart this to our listeners because it's something I'm very passionate about is like, what are you going to do when crap comes to town? Because history is sound that sooner or later, really bad things happen. Right,

Wade T Lighthea...: Right on. Wait. And I'll also just tack onto your statements that I recently read that I think it's LA. So I was looking at the major cities. There's basically enough food in LA to get through it's under three days. Yeah. So like, if that happened, even if you can walk to the store or whatever, all the food is gone in three days. If, if shipping receiving employment,

Wade T Lighthea...: We saw that at the first of the pandemic. Exactly.

Wade T Lighthea...: You walked into the stores, they weren't empty. They've got enough toilet paper for 45 minutes of . It's

Wade T Lighthea...: Yeah. Which I've always find on, like, you're, you're, you're collecting toilet paper. Like you can't eat that stuff.

Wade T Lighthea...: Gosh, no, I know. I just like shared a picture of Barstool. Sports has just been so like comical on this, this picture of these older folks, like, you know, highest risk category for the flu. And, you know, they've got a grocery cart, the thing is fully filled with beer,

Wade T Lighthea...: Right. [inaudible]

Joe DiStefano: It's like, if there's some vitamin D in there, man, come on, like, let's get some vitamin C in that cart. Well, here's the deal weight. And like you said, like eventually bad things happen and it's all about that ability to deal with it. And this is kind of tying back where the self-reliance piece, you know, in many ways it ties back to where this conversation started and that kind of desire I had, or that kind of impulse, or that need to prove that I was okay. Right. And prove that my, with being self reliant, I'm good. I can take care of myself. You don't have to worry about me. You're a mess. Like I, you know, I got it. And so I think that's actually where this, where this was born. But I think that like when we do quiet the mind, so when we, when we practice, it's like the premeditation of evils.

Joe DiStefano: So if we practice what it would be to not have a cell phone for eight days, we practice what it would be to, you know, fast for 24 hours or 48 or 72 or longer if you're per week. So I think we need these exposures. It gets back to this, the Spartan, it gets back to, you know, we're laying down a waterfall. It's like when you expose yourself to these things, there's more things that are less scary to you. But I think the bigger thing is you realize what you're capable of. And if you clear the noise, when things go awry, when things hit the fan, you can rely on that intuitive spirit and that resourcefulness, that you've made space for to guide you. Right. But if your first exposure to, to adversity is without any conditioning or exposure to anything close, you're going to be a disaster.

Joe DiStefano: You're going to be running around the streets. You're going to the vest on without a flat tire. You're going to, you're going to just give up. And when we think about so much of whether it's just the, you know, we can look at just the deterioration of our emotional health through this crisis of 2020 and the way that it's divided people. It's because no one has any trust in anyone including themselves. And so we're creating this scenario where no one can rely on themselves. So how could I rely on you? And there's this, just this like everyone against everyone environment. So I think that that's what we're trying to do with Ranga is to get people, give people these give people some exposure into these sustainable practices, what we call free medicine in an environment that allows them to really quickly glean the benefits of those practices.

Joe DiStefano: See how powerful they are. See that there are people around also with these belief systems, with this energy, this openheartedness, this, this kindred nature, so that they know a they're not alone. And B they have a you know, a collection of practices that they can rely on that are going to be here no matter what. And this gets into, I think another mutual friend of ours had Ben Greenfield and the way that we're raising our son, you know, one of the big things that Ben taught me that, you know, with kids, especially, it's so important to have these kind of rituals and traditions. And so when we think about like, you know, we were just talking about like Friday night is pizza night and Friday night is pizza night. Because even if our house blows down, even if we're, you know, floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean, we'll find a way to make a pizza on Friday night, anchor my kid, this place where he knows he is safe.

Joe DiStefano: It's Friday night and it's pizza night and I am safe and anything else is just up to me to deal with. So I think there are these pieces of the puzzle that we need to also anchor into our lives. So these exposures to adversity this practice with these practices, with these skills, and if you want to go and start hunting in the woods, you know, do it. That's great too. And then also, how are you anchoring yourself? If things were to fall away, what anchors do you have to some sort of groundedness in your life that allows you to feel safe and those types of activities and that type of work and practice I think is ultimately going to separate the people that are gonna make it and the people that are going to not. So, you know,

Wade T Lighthea...: Super important. So I think he said something that's really cool too, because we've never been in a more connected yet disconnected world. And one of the things that you think you talk about with Runger is finding your tribe, because as soon as you break away from, you know, whatever group that's making, you feel unsafe or fearful or inability to achieve your goals or whatever you have to realize, that's a collection of the belief systems of the people that you spend your time with. And I always say, environment is stronger than will. And so if you want a different result, you need to insert yourself in a different, so if I want to learn jujitsu, I need to start going to a jujitsu. Dim. If I want to go to yoga, I got to start going to a yoga gym. If I want to be an internet marketer, I got to start hanging around internet marketer. Like you need to immerse yourself, immerse yourself in the culture, the belief systems and the various people who are ahead of you, who are people you aspire to be to meet. And maybe people who are like you, I want you to give us your best pitch right now, tell us who's rung a rung as for why it's so important for them. And, and how do they get involved with Rebecca?

Joe DiStefano: Yeah. So you are absolutely the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And I think that a lot of people have trouble kind of controlling who those five people are, right? The five people that they're with the most, you know, maybe it's a, a boss that you didn't pre-select, maybe it's the, you know, whatever the case may be. Right. And so one of the big pieces with Ranga is we bring people together. It's an application process for our main events. And we curate this group of folks that we think are going to be really amazing together. And so when people come in and they see people just like them with similar interests, with similar goals, with similar ambitions, it gives them permission. First of all, they've got this backbone in this community now that they can rely on. And the lifelong relationships that have been started at our weekends there's every year, basically everyone is still in touch.

Joe DiStefano: There's huge text threads. We've got the online tribe now. And, and so that's, that's kind of number one, but the big thing too, is like, when you feel, and you sink into that tribe at an event like this, and you rub elbows for the weekend and you share stories when you go home that any feelings of isolation or that you're all alone, or that you're, that you're working towards something that no one else sees falls away. And all of a sudden, you're far more empowered. Even if you're around the world, you know, we've had people from India, UK, and even if you're halfway around the world, you take that energy with you. And now you see this tribe doing things and you can elevate yourself. And that's one of the big reasons we launched the online community so that people have an easier gateway and access point to this community of people.

Joe DiStefano: And as we kind of expand, there's going to be more and more niche groups within that tribe doing certain things like internet marketers or, or anybody else. So I think that, I think that that's a huge piece. And I think right now, the way the world's going, I think over the last, like, you know, a decade or so, it's how many downloads can you get? How many followers can you get? And we're starting to see the beginning that it's quality over quantity. It's did these people really connect and mean something to you and add value to you? And when we look at this, you know, how come, you know, when we look at like the energy, right? And you can be halfway around the world, but, you know, look at like birds flying in the sky, how do they all know? It's time to take a right?

Joe DiStefano: How do they all know it all at the same time? Because it's just incredible energy, the human spirit and the way that we connect and share with each other can power, massive change. And I think when people feel that whether it's through a zoom call or whether you're sitting face to face at dinner, sharing a meal all our meals are family style at Roger for that reason, because we're all just in this together. And I think when you feel that you start to move and all the birds start to move together and they don't need, they've got their tribe, they don't need everything else and everything else can kind of fall away if it must. So I think that there's a lot of permission slips and a lot of perspective that people leave with that, that generally leads to them accomplishing amazing things in the, in the months and years that follow an event. And we have seen just incredible transformation. I mean, we hosted a, a one day experience in Venice and we had a woman. I was on the phone with her the other day. I hadn't talked to her since our one day event. Right. She lost something like 60 pounds in six months after the event. Again, like we started with no no meal plan, no, no nothing, but what she have. She had

Wade T Lighthea...: 10 people, she spent that weekend with that she could talk to on Instagram and Facebook and the online community, and that's really all she needed. So I think that's what we're trying to really share is essentially energy. And when that energy exchange happens, people are capable of just amazing, amazing things,

Wade T Lighthea...: Joe, where can people reach you? Facebook, email, Twitter, all that sort of stuff. Give it, give us all your handles. We'll put, drop them in the notes, but please share it with our list.

Wade T Lighthea...: Yeah. So I'm coach Joe DEI everywhere. You know, Instagram's where I spend most of my time, but I'm more and more moving into our, you know, tribe and really kind of nurturing that environment more than the thousands of people that maybe on Instagram follow me. So Runga is rung a and it's also at rung a life on Instagram. If you go to the rumble website and click tribe, you can jump into the tribe that I'm talking about. It's free for a month. And so we're really in this beta state and Jan one, we've got so many programs and recipe books and, and mindfulness groups and book clubs launching. It's just going to be so spectacular. But I'm coach Joedi eveywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. My email is, [email protected]. If anybody wants to send me a note, that's my you know, email address that I share on the podcast and people can send whatever they want.

Wade T Lighthea...: And I do my best to reply. Sometimes I do have some help, but I think it's important for people to be able to send their questions and things. And, and then I've got my podcast, which is called stacked with Joe to Stefano. I do a Friday AMA with a lot of the questions that I received through the week, either it's from my email or from messages on Instagram or comments. And so continuing to put that out and you've been a guest on my show, Wade, and, you know, the interviews go live on Tuesday and the show has really grown a lot. So I'd invite people to kind of check that out as well. And yeah. Hey, thank you so much for the hour or so. Wait, it's just been such a pleasure and an honor to be here.

Wade T Lighthea...: You bet. So ladies and gentlemen, there, you have it. It is Joe DeStefano and self-reliance empowered health and fitness and finding your tribe, check out, rung, check out what he and his team are doing. It's an incredible way and community that allows you to overcome the obstacles that are holding you back from being your best person. So get over there, check it out. Thanks so much for joining us today. That's another edition of the awesome health show with Wade T. Lightheart from BiOptimizers be well,

Wade T Lighthea...: Hey, wait.

Wade T Lighthea...: Today's episode is with Joe Distefano let's try that again. Today's Awesome Health podcast is with none other than Joe DiStefano. Joe is a lifelong health and wellness enthusiast, conqueror of obstacles, and of the rapidly expanding wellness community. Runga Joe is a traumatic brain injury survivor. He used back to back nature approach to nutrition and health degree regain control of his life, his health and happiness. His work today includes a very active role in the rung, a community as well as private coaching for high-performing executives and professional athletes. Joe has an amazing story in his interview. We get into a lot of things, kind of like what's happening in the world today. Self-Reliance we talk about empowered health and fitness and finding your tribe in a digital world. I think you're going to love this episode and I hope that you enjoy what we dive into.
Posted in

Leave a Comment