Flexible Dieting, Nutrition Barriers, and Loving Your Own Skin w/ Krissy Mae Cagney

Krissy Mae is such a genuine and amazing human being. She’s battled with substance abuse for over a decade long and is working on a non-profit that provides free gym memberships to those struggling with recovery. She is the founder of Doughnuts & Deadlifts, Ello Supply, and Black Iron Gym.

Krissy has had the opportunity to work with an NFL franchise, was voted one of “The 30 Most Inspirational People Under 30” by Dick Talen’s Fitocracy, and is the author of Flexible Dieting (nutrition philosophies that she’s used to coach over 10,000 people).

In this episode, some things we chat about:

  • What behaviors hold people back from reaching their full potential with nutrition
  • What to do if you’re chasing a functional aesthetic
  • Backpacking, trends from adopting a plant-based diet, business lessons, and more

Also available here:

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Show Notes:

  • (3:56) – Road to coaching over 10,000 nutrition clients
  • (6:56) – “What behaviors hold people back from reaching their true potential when it comes to nutrition?”
  • (8:30) – “What is your biggest problem with food and why have you had hang-ups in the past?”
  • (9:00) – “Macro Hoarding” and the “Wing It” approach
  • (10:26) – “What happens when you hit the number you wanna see on the scale?”
  • (11:50) – Processes and habits that are staples for success with nutrition
  • (13:21) – The “why” behind switching to a plant-based diet
  • (14:45) – Some challenges that came with the switch
  • (16:00) – Trends from the switch
  • (16:45) – Billion-dollar question
  • (18:45) – Powerlifting and love for the iron
  • (20:36) – Falling off the wagon. “Are you even gonna remember this in 6 months?”
  • (22:30) – Three pieces of advice for people who want to dial in their nutrition
  • (25:45) – “If I were to open up your fridge, what are some staples I would find?”
  • (27:10) – Morning routine
  • (28:15) – Recommended reading
  • (31:00) – What allows connection with apparel brands
  • (32:35) – Business lessons
  • (34:00) – Backpacking journeys
  • (35:17) – ELLO Supply Co.
  • (37:50) – Using bodybuilding accessory work for a functional aesthetic
  • (43:00) – The holy shit moment that sums up all the other holy shit moments
  • (45:45) – One year to live
  • (47:00) – Biggest influences
  • (48:16) – Non-profit for anyone recovering from addiction
  • (51:25) – “Just be fu****g nice to people.”

Podcast Transcript:

Krissy Mae  00:00

This is Krissy Mae and you’re listening to the Airborne Mind Show.


Misbah Haque  00:33

Hey guys, Misbah Haque here. Thank you so much for joining me today and welcome back to the show. Before we get started, if you’ve been enjoying what we’ve been putting out, head over to the airborne mind calm and grab your free movement Audit Checklist. Remember, this is a way for you to figure out, you know, if you had an extra 10 to 15 minutes, where would you focus your time and energy. There’s also some cool assessments there from some of the guests that we’ve had on the show. And you also get a couple other training videos, guides and other resources that you might find useful as well. So once again, head over to the airbornemind.com sign up to get your free movement Audit Checklist. If you are somebody who’s looking for accessory work that is purposeful, that’s going to improve your pressing strength, your pulling strength, and honestly just help you become more stable and in control. Regardless of what movements you’re thrown into. Check out mobility through movement. It’s coming out on January 2, and you can reserve your spot and get it at the presale price right now at the airborne mine.com/mtm. It consists of bodybuilding and gymnastics work and it goes well beyond just sets and reps. There it’s much more than just a program. There’s tons of other concepts and training videos that will be included. So go ahead check out some details, see if it is right for you at the airborne mine.com/mtm today’s podcast is brought to you by audible.com If I’m not listening to podcasts, I’m definitely listening to audiobooks and if you have never tried it out, I get it. I have been hesitant before too. But this is your chance. If you head over to Audible trial comm slash the airborne mind show you can get a free audiobook and a 30 day free trial. And if you want a book that I would recommend, and this has been recommended by a few guests on the show, I’m currently going through it. I’m about halfway done. It is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s one of those that you’re going to want to read a few times through. So once again, that is audible trial.com/the airborne mind Show.  Today we get to chat with Krissy Mae Cagney. I am so excited for this because Chrissy is such a genuine and amazing human being. I was so honored to have her on the show. She’s battled with substance abuse for over a decade and is working on a nonprofit that provides free gym memberships to those that are struggling with recovery. She is the founder of Doughnuts and Deadlifts, Ellow Supply Company and Black Iron Gym. Krissy has had the opportunity to work with an NFL franchise and she was voted one of the 30 most inspirational people under 30. She’s also the author of Flexible Dieting. In this episode, some things that we chat about are what behaviors hold people back from reaching their full potential with nutrition, what to do if you’re chasing a functional aesthetic, and we talk backpacking trends from adopting a plant based diet, business lessons and much more. So with that being said, Please enjoy the show. Hey, Krissy, welcome to the show. Thank you for joining me today.

Krissy Mae  03:23

You’re very welcome, sir.

Misbah Haque  03:25

So I first came across your work with the first copy of flexible dieting. And since then you have so much going on, you have you’re the host on your own podcast called the Iron Cast Podcast. You are the founder of Doughnuts and Deadlifts. Ello supply and Black Iron Gym in Nevada. So lots going on. Take me back to the beginning of your journey. Just to give a little bit of background for maybe people who may not know, 

Krissy Mae  03:52

Like the very beginning?

Misbah Haque  03:54

Very beginning.

Krissy Mae  03:55

So basically, my parents were always very active and my mom was a personal trainer, pretty much from when we moved to Reno. So I started personal training. My freshman year of college is like a college job because basically my mom got me a job. And I actually kind of liked it. And so I finished college and then didn’t really know where I was going to go with my life. What I was doing was traveling down to SoCal and doing boot camps. I’ve seen boot camps all the rage, right? And so that kind of thing picked up a lot. And next thing, you know, I had like 60 people coming to my boot camps, and I was having a lot of fun with it. And then while I was down in SoCal, I got basically an invite to go down and work at a really well known gym down there, rise about fitness. And so instead of going to law school, I went and worked at a gym in Southern California. And it actually worked out well for me, given where I’m at now, but down there for a few years, and then I got sober and realized Southern California wasn’t the best environment for me, which brought me to New York City and that’s kind of where I started to flourish with our My businesses. That’s right. He wrote the books and then started doughnuts and deadlifts and opened the gym actually from well still living in New York City.

Misbah Haque  05:10

What came first? Was it the book that happened first?

Krissy Mae  05:14

So I mean, I was kind of living in New York and I knew I always wanted to open a gym. I didn’t foresee it happening before I even turned 30. I thought that was like a 35 year old, crazy goal. So I was still doing a lot of online coaching like programming, training, obviously, macros and stuff. And so I got full like, I had more clients than I could even handle. So I had a lot of people that just wanted basic information on macro tracking and accounting, because there wasn’t a lot of basic stuff out there at the time. So I wrote that like, really quick, abrasive, 30 page, PDF, and then that from there is kind of where everything took off  that sort of 50,000 copies, I was expecting to like, give it to like, 1000 people maybe. And it kind of just went..

Misbah Haque  06:05

And then how did doughnuts and deadlifts come about?

Krissy Mae  06:09

Man, that was a total joke. I used to bring doughnuts to the gym every Sunday. And I would joke around because I did doughnuts and deadlifts. And I used to just use the hashtag doughnuts and deadlifts was a joke. And then after I moved to New York City, one of my clients as like a Christmas gift, or something sent me a shirt that just said, like hashtag doughnuts, and that was on it. And I was like, kind of funny, kind of stupid, my buddy who does brand like identity and stuff was like, let me just make you a logo and sell one minute T shirts and just see how it goes. And I was (No, it’s just stupid. No one’s gonna buy it, I’m gonna be embarrassed). He’s like, (please, I’ll pay for it). So I did that one, run a T shirt, sold out in like, five minutes. I was like, Whoa, people think this is cool.

Misbah Haque  06:52

That is amazing. So if we tap into let’s, if we start with the book knowing like the calculations and knowing I guess the process behind how to follow flexible dieting, that’s one thing. But you know, I think you know, you’ve put over what, 10,000 people you’ve coached over 10,000 people at this point, what like, what behaviors have you noticed, hold people back from like, reaching their true potential when it comes to like really following this, or any type of nutrition program,

Krissy Mae  07:23

People get too hung up on what’s working for other people. And I can’t have almost every single client I’ve ever had said, like, oh, well, my friend does this, or this guy at the gym does this or so and so on Instagram posts that she needs this much or and from and people get people forget that we’re all individual organisms, and our body responds to things completely differently. Like, someone who’s built exactly like me, what works for me might not work for that person. And so I think the biggest hang up is rather than people focusing on themselves and doing everything they can to reach their goal. They’re busy just looking at what everybody else is doing, or what else is out there. And I think that’s a huge hang up with people.

Misbah Haque  08:05

So when it comes to, you know, I guess, like your coaching process, do you? Do you guys dig into that a little bit? Like into kind of, you know, fixing habits and behaviors and, and shifting mindsets? A little bit?

Krissy Mae  08:18

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I know my scope. And if somebody has a lot of like, deeply, deeply rooted issues, I’ll make sure they see the appropriate person that can help them. But definitely, one thing I ask everybody upon signing up with black iron nutrition is what is your biggest problem with food and why have you had hangups in the past? And if we can figure that out? I mean, nutrition is easy, the macro part and that people know what they should and shouldn’t be eating. And people know, people were pretty well aware of what a healthy portion size looks like. If you can kind of like get to the bottom of things from a mental standpoint and psychological standpoint. nutritions easy.

Misbah Haque  08:58

So what are some of those big hang ups that you’ve come across? Like I know, you mentioned, you know, people looking at what everybody else is doing. But are there a couple others that maybe stand out to you?

Krissy Mae  09:10

I mean, another huge one is macro hoarding, where people don’t eat all day in order to try to hoard their macros for the night time and that seems to be a huge one. And another big one is people being too lazy to just plan like going  just the wing and approach which doesn’t work for anybody really. Works for it works for me. It comes down to people not wanting to plan and people not putting in that 15 minutes on a Sunday evening to like, pre enter their food for the week. And it just comes down to like, I mean, a lot of its laziness without people even realizing that they’re being lazy, so to speak. But another thing I really see with a lot of women is like, um, like women love to self sabotage for some reason. I don’t mean, I’ve never really had that problem, but I’ll have some Someone get on the scale and hit an all time low weight or they reach their goal weight. And it’s almost not like they want to reward themselves with food, so to speak, but that they think that since they saw that number once, they can just overdo it for a week, and then they set themselves back again. So usually we can pinpoint what people’s main problem is, we can prevent all that, but it’s hard. I mean, it takes a lot of like really getting to know my clients. 

Misbah Haque  10:25

Do you find that, um, you know, there’s people who are maybe super attached to like a certain type of result. And maybe once they kind of get there, they realize that, okay, this is not as like, this is not the end all be all, like, maybe a lot of people are assuming that, you know, maybe once I get to this point, I won’t, I won’t ever struggle with planning or prepping, or everything’s just gonna be automatic for me. Whereas it, you know, maybe for you, but maybe it doesn’t go away for everybody, you just become a little bit better at kind of managing that.

Krissy Mae  10:55

That’s even how it is like, as someone who suffered from an eating disorder for a long time, I explained to people, my eating disorders, never, it’s the same as me being a recovering addict, alcoholic, those things never go away, I will always be those things, it just comes down to learning how to better manage it in a more healthy manner. And so that goes with eating disorders, but even like, I’ve had clients who have a weight loss goal, and they want to see that certain number on the scale, no matter how many times a day, I can tell them, we don’t want to attach ourselves to a number on the scale. And they hit that number on the scale. And then it’s either they want to push it farther, they realize like, they did it too aggressively or anything like that. And it just comes down to again, like it’s usually women. I mean, obviously men suffer with it too, as well. But it comes down to teaching women to have a healthy relationship with themselves and with food in general opposed to a healthy relationship with a number they want to see on the scale.

Misbah Haque  11:51

Gotcha. And how do you handle all those? How do you handle setting yourself up for success? Like what processes? What habits are kind of non negotiables for you, so that you know that Alright, I’m going to stay on track, if I do, maybe the set of things with nutrition. Yeah. And we can maybe branch out into other aspects.

Krissy Mae  12:13

It’s been really interesting for me, I’m one of those people who I gain and lose weight very easily, I mean, all fluctuate 10 pounds in two days. That’s just how my body is. So I definitely have a sweet spot. Because if I lose weight too quickly, my training suffers. And if I gain weight, too quickly, I get really bummed out. So I know for me, it comes down to just, I have to weigh myself every day. But I don’t care what the scale says. That’s just a tool for me to measure fluctuations in my weight, I have a very healthy relationship with the scale, because I don’t care if it says 140 Or if it says 160 I just care that it’s consistent. Um, so for me, I weigh myself every day. Ever since I switched to a plant based diet, it’s definitely been different. Before the plant based diet, I tracked very loosely and I knew that I just had to be aware of everything I was putting in my body. I didn’t I don’t fixate on a certain set of numbers, but I loosely track everything I eat to build awareness. Since I switched to a more vegan diet, I say more vegan, because there’s still a couple things I’m having a hard time with. And I’ve made certain exceptions for myself. Um, I’m not tracking, I’m going largely off how I feel right now, just to get more in tune with this really big change I’ve inflicted upon myself. And I think once I have the vegan thing down, I’ll go back to tracking again.

Misbah Haque  13:37

Piggybacking off of the vegan thing, like what was maybe your why or what kind of sparked your curiosity enough to commit to something like this?

Krissy Mae  13:47

It’s strictly moral for me. About a year ago, I had a friend who showed me a lot of talk and I understand that there’s a bias there and I understand this document is your main reason but it doesn’t change the fact that those things still happen. So I stopped. I switched to pescatarian in March, and I was okay with it. And then all of a sudden one night I was eating salmon and I got really sad and I was like I can’t I just right at this point in my life from a moral standpoint, I can’t eat animals. And then I mean, it goes I just started doing more research and looked into dairy production and all that stuff and I got sad. So I just stopped eating at all but um, I went full hard vegan gnarly right at first and then I came to the realization that I define what it means to have a plant based diet. So since then I’ve incorporated eggs back into my diet, but their eggs from one of my employees. She has a ranch on a farm. She told me what she feeds her chickens. I’ve seen how they’re taken care of. They lay 12 Eggs regardless of the day. So I’ve incorporated eggs back into my diet that come from her.

Misbah Haque  14:54

What are some challenges you feel like that came with that like when you decided to do this? Did you kind of already know Going into it? Have you dealt with this before and coached other people? So you had an idea or a learning curve. ,

Krissy Mae  15:07

The hardest thing for me is eating out. It’s basically impossible at this point. I mean, we went to a restaurant the other night, and I couldn’t even get a salad because there was,  remnants in the dressing or, I, they had like portobello mushroom like fried portobello mushrooms, but they had like dusted them in a, you know, I couldn’t eat anything. So luckily, there’s a good amount of vegan restaurants out there now. But I never meant to be that person that makes everybody accommodate a choice I made. So eating out has come to a halt for the most part. The hardest thing for me, personally, I have liver disease, and I need to be really careful with my sodium. And eating meat substitutes, puts my sodium completely through the roof. So I don’t, I can do maybe one meat substitute a day, whereas I have vegan friends who can have five times a day because sodium doesn’t affect them the way it affects me. So for me, it’s just mostly been the sodium thing and then eating out.

Misbah Haque  16:03

Do you feel any different? Like, have you noticed any trends in terms of maybe energy mood? Or just  day to day? How are you feeling with the new diet?

Krissy Mae  16:12

My digestion is incredible. Now, I mean, I used to be right, eat like, any like, just depending on where I got it, you know, like, I could have steak or anything like that. And my body has a really hard time digesting. In general, like I’ve always had that problem. I’ve noticed since I omit animal products, my digestion is a lot better.

Misbah Haque  16:36

Let me ask you this. So if you had, let’s say, a couple billion dollars, right? And You had a staff of 40 people, and these 40 people are, you know, the top thinkers of your choice, and really top performers who can just get shit done. And you wanted to use that to, you know, make some type of impact or some type of change? What would you use that for?

Krissy Mae  17:07

When I think about just things that I’m passionate about, I’m quite a humanitarian, I’ve often been told that I have an issue of seeing the good in everybody, even the people who don’t deserve to have the good scene in them. All my employees tell me I have a bleeding heart. Anyone can come into my gym and say that they can’t afford a gym membership. And if it’s for a kind of good reason, I’m like, I’ll pay for it. I’ll handle it. So that kind of just brings me to sobriety. And knowing that struggle, and always having that demon, I would definitely use that money in that team of people to create some sort of program to help recovering addicts and alcoholics get better. I don’t know how I’d use it. But that’s definitely what I’m most passionate about.

Misbah Haque  17:55

How do you feel like that whole experience has shaped you into you know, who you are, and what you do, and how you kind of carry yourself today?

Krissy Mae  18:03

I am the least judgmental person that’s probably ever existed. I mean, I’ve done really terrible things. Whether it be to strangers, or whether it be to friends, family, I stole so much money from my parents when I was using. And so anybody could tell me anything about themselves. And there’s nothing anybody could tell me that I would ever judge them on. Because I know what it’s like to have demons and to do wrong by people, do wrong by yourself, anything like that. And I really pride myself on the fact that anybody, whether they have never met me before, whether they’ve known me for 10 years, can come to me with anything and tell me anything, and it’s in a safe place.

Misbah Haque  18:43

That’s amazing. So we’re gonna jump around a little bit, but what drew you to powerlifting versus other Iron sports or maybe even like, let’s say bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit. What is it about powerlifting that just got you hooked.

Krissy Mae  19:01

It started off again, back when I was at Rice about fitness. I was doing CrossFit a little bit, but I got made fun of a lot by a lot of my friends when it was, you know what I mean? Before it has the respect it has now because it was pretty, like made fun of widely for a while, and that’s not really the case anymore. So I did like a powerlifting meet for shits and gigs back down when I was at RAF. And I mean, like, I was relatively strong for my size. I think it was only like 125 pounds at the time. But I mean, I was deadlifting, almost 300 pounds at that weight, you know, like, I wasn’t bad, I wasn’t not strong. And then I had never lifted an Olympic weight in my life. So I don’t know. And then it just seemed like, um, I was kind of bouncing around between bodybuilding and CrossFit. When I was living in New York. And then Mark Bell had me on his power cast, and we talked about powerlifting then and he’s like, You should just get back in powerlifting. And so it was kind of like a joke at first and then him and Jesse Burdick were like “we’ll coach you for free. It’ll be fun” I was like, That’s just kind of started. 

Misbah Haque  20:01

That’s awesome. And now your gym in Nevada, that’s not strictly a powerlifting gym or anything, it’s open to everybody, anybody and everybody, right?

Krissy Mae  20:11

So it’s Black Iron Gym, and I also own CrossFit knurling, which is our CrossFit affiliate. And we have black iron, barbell and black iron power. So we essentially have three programs within the gym, and it’s kind of up to about probably a little over half our memberships, CrossFit. And then the other half is a combination, we do have some bodybuilders and then powerlifters, weight lifters.

Misbah Haque  20:36

This is a question from a listener. And this can be related to I guess, nutrition, training, whatever it might be, but how do you handle, you know, off days, or falling off the wagon? Like, does that even happen to you? Or are you at this point of automaticity? And like you have shit dialed in? Or do you still experience that? And what do you do?

Krissy Mae  20:58

Like in regard to what, like training or nutrition or anything?

Misbah Haque  21:02

Let’s keep it nice and broad. 

Krissy Mae  21:06

I find that I have more off days than I don’t. But I’ve gotten to the point where I just like, I have, I have like a ritual, right? If I find myself, I mean, it’s rare to make me angry at this point. But if I find myself getting upset about anything, I asked myself, are I even going to remember this in six months? And 99% of the time, the answers are even gonna remember this in a month shit. So 99% of the time, the answer is going to be no. So that’s kind of one thing I really asked myself, as far as my training is concerned, since I’m not trying to compete in anything anytime soon. Because mentally, it’s not the best for me, when I get overly competitive, and I’m injured. Training, bad training days are like, all the time now. And I just told myself, like, it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, I’m in the gym doing something. The fact that I can’t hit my percentages, or that I feel weak today. peaks and valleys. Man, that’s one of the biggest things my coaches taught me, you can’t have good trainees without bad ones and it makes the good ones that much better. And it makes the PRS even though they’re few and far between, at this point that much better with nutrition. If I fall off with nutrition, all you can do, you can’t change it, you just gotta get back on the horse and do better, you know, and that’s kind of all there is to it. But it seems like the roughest days I have is when something happens I’ve got 15 employees now. So if something happens with an employee or work related, but it just comes down to just not I just don’t let it get to me anymore.

Misbah Haque  22:34

What three pieces of advice would you give to somebody who wants to dial in their nutrition? Maybe they’re not super happy with their body image, or they’ve been trying to dial in their nutrition, but they keep falling off the bow and they’re just struggling with a path to kind of follow? What would you tell them?

Krissy Mae  22:55

I would tell them to: one,find someone to hold them accountable. Accountability is huge. And it’s funny because like, I have nutrition clients who own nutrition, who are well known for owning a nutrition business, and they hire me, because they need somebody to check into every week. They know what they’re doing. But the accountability thing’s huge. Like I’ve done it before, if I was at a point right now, where I wanted to go under, like extreme body transformation, or complete anything, and I probably hire somebody to keep me accountable, so I had someone to check into. So find someone to hold you accountable, whether you want to hire a coach or tell a friend, anything, anything like that. Number two is consistency, you have to be consistent and being consistent for a week isn’t good enough. Usually being consistent for a month isn’t good enough, like you, you know, you need to commit, and you need to be consistent for a prolonged period of time. And see would be to find something that actually works for you. It doesn’t have to be tracking macros. It doesn’t have to be paleo, it doesn’t have to be vegan, you know, don’t do what everybody else is doing. Find something that you are going to enjoy and not be miserable on and that you can keep up with. Like just because everyone’s tracking macros right now doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do things. Right? So probably go ahead.

Misbah Haque  24:08

So I was just say it’s more so about, like the process that you’ll actually stick to.

Krissy Mae  24:13

Exactly. And that’s the same thing with your training to like, people who if you hate your training program, you’re going to resent your training and like there’s so many programs out there, find something that you’re going to enjoy and stick to and it’s the same with nutrition, like probably 20% of my clients don’t even track macros, because they don’t want to it’s not fun for me, it’s like a math problem. It’s like food, Tetris and I love it. But there’s people who don’t want to do that. So there’s people who were  I still just really want to eat paleo and go based off how I feel because that’s what I’ll stick to. I’m like, then we’re gonna do that. I’m not gonna say no, you have to track macros.

Misbah Haque  24:45

Have you noticed is there like a, you know, I’m sure maybe like the first three months of following anything, or any type of process is a little bit difficult, like, you know, you’re measuring or whatever it might be. But does it significantly get easier after a certain point? Yeah, Yeah, what time period have you found that is and..

Krissy Mae  25:04

For me, after about a year of tracking, like tracking daily, I can look at any piece of meat and tell you how much it weighs. Like to the closest half ounce like somebody can hold up a Pete like it’s like an ongoing joke at the house. Like how much he’s a chicken man like 6.2 Wow. So, like, I know what a half a cup of rice looks like. And I know I can go out to eat and look at my plate and probably get within 100 calories. Because when you do it so much, but like it comes down. That’s what you practice. And you get better at it and like you have to do the work in order to be able to get to that point. Like I don’t really, I don’t remember the last time I got my food skill out, but I still track my food. I mean, I know what four ounces of tofu looks like at this point in time.

Misbah Haque  25:49

If I opened your fridge, what staples would I find?

Krissy Mae  25:55

Cues getting next to me? Do you know Kiana?

Misbah Haque  25:58

 No, I’m not!

Krissy Mae  25:59

She’s laying right here. So we have four athletes living here. I’m the only vegan, pickles are always in the fridge. Every type of mustard you can imagine, every type of hot sauce you can imagine I’m a mustard and a hot sauce girl. There’s always going to be tofu. There’s always going to be almond milk. There’s always going to be 15 types of non dairy coffee creamer. Um, what else do we always have? We always have Oreos in like every flavor ever ice cream in every floor freezers, all ice cream? Um, a ton of frozen fish or popcorn people.

Misbah Haque  26:41

How about donuts?

Krissy Mae  26:44

The donut things have been tough for me because of the vegan switch. So usually if we’re traveling, we will go out of our way to get a good donut somewhere. But in town, there’s only two good donut shops. And so we usually get them once or twice a week. We never get the house, we bring them to the gym, and then they’re usually gone before we leave.

Misbah Haque  27:06

What does your morning routine look like?

Krissy Mae  27:08

I get up. I have a morning routine. I get up at six every day. Usually sometimes five if the dogs wake me up, but I’m always up before the sun, which is kind of cool and kind of terrible sometimes. First thing I do is I come out into the living room and I make a pot of coffee for everybody. And then I sit down and I skim through my emails and I delete any that are spam. And usually answer none. And then I put the dogs in the car, go to the dog park. Most days, get to the gym and take care of gym stuff. Take care of doughnuts and deadlifts, train and then answer client emails. Sometimes that’s before noon. And sometimes that takes me all day.

Misbah Haque  27:50

Would you describe yourself as a morning bird or a night owl?

Krissy Mae  27:56

So what’s really funny about that is I suffer from insomnia. So up until I was probably 26, I would stay up till four in the morning and get all my work done at night. And then now, ever since I’ve moved back home to Reno, the insomnia came back at the beginning of the year. But now it’s like I’m asleep by 10 Every night and habit five or six. And now I like the mornings.

Misbah Haque  28:20

Perfect. Okay. Now you’re also super into reading and writing. What are some favorite books or recommended reading that you have for people?

Krissy Mae  28:32

I definitely read a lot of fiction. I read a lot of novels. That’s kind of where I different I know so many of my peers and stuff are really into nonfiction, which I’m not. I like that, it disconnects from everyday life. And when I’m reading, it’s usually an escape for me if I’m reading about something that is going to provoke thought with my businesses, and I just can’t turn my brain off, which is an issue as to why I don’t sleep. So I’m a huge Dave Eggers fan. He’s easily my favorite author. I love Cormac McCarthy. I like those very like, kind of like Dark Twisted novels. I just read a book called before the fall that was great. I usually just go on to like Amazon, and it’ll book recommendations based off what I bought.

Misbah Haque  29:22

Just filter through that.

Krissy Mae  29:25

I’m pretty open to recommendations. I’m kind of like a literature snob, in a sense, like, it depends who’s making the recommendations, but I’ve had a couple of people make incredible recommendations, which of course then like I learned about a new author and then go from there.

Misbah Haque  29:40

How about writing wise? Like, is there something you’re working on right now? You don’t have to give it away. But what do you like to write about?

Krissy Mae  29:47

I actually took a lot of creative writing classes. I was in journalism all through high school. So I wrote for the school newspaper all through high school, which is kind of where I learned how to write and then I I enjoy writing about experiences of my own. That’s kind of like a release for me. So I have something like that kind of in the works. It’s hard for me to write about myself in a positive light, which sounds really weird. Like, if someone asked me to write something like a bio or something about myself, I have a really hard time with it, because I’m still really proud of myself. So I like writing about my experiences. Um, my writing definitely thrives. When I’m at low points in my life. I’m a better writer when I’m sad. But I’m not anymore. But like, if I’m ever having, like, a tough day of coping or dealing with something, I tend to write almost, it’s kind of like a release or like my own form of therapy. And my writing people, when people read stuff like that they love it. When I’m really happy and over the moon, which is like 90% of the time I, I just don’t write. So yeah, that’s why writing is dark when I read it. 

Misbah Haque  30:56

So when we think about doughnuts and deadlifts, and we think about all the other  apparel brands that are out there, in our space in the lifting community. What do you think makes a clothing brand stand out? Like what what? What is it about it that draws people to connect with that person or that founder?

Krissy Mae  31:17

I think like the first thing you notice about apparel companies the name, you know, obviously, and donuts and deadlifts was definitely I mean, caffeine and kilos was out around the same time as me, but it was kind of like the first alliteration food brand. And I think that’s kind of why it took off. It was just different at first. Yeah, but now like with the apparel, I mean, we give back a lot. You know, we sponsor a lot of stuff. And I donated money to quality Florida after the Orlando shooting, and, um,  I definitely am very, I love all humans and all people and I want to help everybody as much as I can. And I think that that shows a lot with a lot of the stuff doughnuts and deadlifts does. The general manager of my company is a transgender woman, you know, who’s well known and fit and stuff like that. And I think that people see that I’m so big on diversity, whether it’s like race, religion, anything like that. And I think people like to support a company like that, it just so happens, it’s kind of like a weird doughnut and deadlift, you know, company. But I just think that I’ve put myself out there in the lifting community a lot on multiple levels. And I think that a lot of times, I think people are trying to support me, not necessarily the brand, which is really cool for me, because I always try to turn around and like to do cool stuff with the money we make.

Misbah Haque  32:39

So going from there, if you were to kind of look back to the very early beginnings, all the way to now, what are some, you know, maybe business lessons that you found are absolutely essential that maybe you wish you knew earlier on to.

Krissy Mae  32:54

Have good software? I just kind of like being okay with asking for help is huge. I think I was really stubborn at the beginning. And I felt like I needed like, that I was able to do learn everything on my own, which I didn’t even know the fuck I was doing at the at first. Like, if, you know, asking for help is important. And if it’s a good thing, if this person is a good person, they’re gonna want to help you like I had people reach out to me all the time. And I don’t have I’m not trying to keep secrets from anybody, you know, especially since my brand is pretty unique. And so that’s a huge one. Another big one is to don’t get overly excited when you have momentum. And there was a point in time, there was a ton of momentum with doughnuts and deadlifts. And I was trying to come out with so much stuff all the time. And I think it overwhelmed people because we would go to the website and there were like, 40 shirts to choose from and people and like, nobody wants to sit around and sift through 40 shirts. So keep it simple. Keep your design simple with apparel like the gimmicky, messy, crazy designs, at least in my opinion. Don’t go far.

Misbah Haque  33:59

Let’s talk about backpacking. Were you always an outdoors person? Is it something recent?

Krissy Mae  34:05

No. I started backpacking in 2010 when I still lived here. And that’s when I got really into it. And so when I moved down to LA, it kind of stopped because I was in LA and there wasn’t a lot of backpacking to do there. And then the plan with moving to New York was to go upstate and do backpacking trips, and we never did it. So when we got back here, I was super excited about it. And then we ended up just doing five trips this summer, five or six.

Misbah Haque  34:33

Where did you end up going?

Krissy Mae  34:36

So Reno’s right at the base of Lake Tahoe. I don’t think a lot of people like we’re in the Tahoe National Forest. Well, people here Reno and they think it’s like some fucking shithole because of that TV show. And like, I’m looking at now and like I’ve got mountains and snow and trees. I mean Reno’s up, and I mean, my house is a mile high. You know, it’s, we’re up there. So we’re, yeah, we’re in the mountains. It’s like a high desert in the mountains. So we did a couple of trips. desolation wilderness. I’m all over the Tahoe National Forest and then my boyfriend and I went to Montana and did Glacier National Park. So I mean I can leave my front door and be in the forest at a trailhead and a half an hour. ,

Misbah Haque  35:16

How did ELLO supply kind of come about? What kind of sparked that for you?

Krissy Mae  35:24

Shopping for outdoorsy clothes. It started off because a lot of stuff was like Ill fitted you know, like, even like, I’m a huge Patagonia horror on so much Patagonia, but it’s not definitely not designed for anybody who has a lot of muscular definition. You know, we kind of noticed that with our group of friends. So we were saying, Oh, we should make a pair like outdoorsy apparel for athletes is kind of how it started. And like, it just seems like every backpacking trip, we think of something that would be like a cool thing to have a backpacking. And so I talked to the printer for doughnuts and deadlifts. Because he does a lot of like, brand identity and helps people build their brands. I was like, what if I started an outdoor company, like spun off from doughnuts and deadlifts. And so yeah, we just went with it. And actually, it sounds like it’s going to be coming out next week, officially, which is awesome. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, everything right now is just geared toward an outdoor life and ello it’s ELLO and so that doughnut some Deluxe models eat lift live, we added the O for outdoor. So it’s an acronym for Eat, Lift, Live Outdoor, that’s going to be outdoor gear, setup for athletes, and see what happens with it. I’m excited.

Misbah Haque  36:44

There’s a lot of people that are super interested in that a lot. There’s a lot more outdoorsy people than you would actually imagine.

Krissy Mae  36:53

Itt really surprised me. When I started posting all like the backpacking and hiking pictures and stuff. How many people either reached out to me about wanting to get into it, or people who were like, who used to do it. And then they have gotten back into it since because it’s such a good workout. And it’s like, it’s just such an awesome experience. And I think once people do it once you get hooked like Chloe, who went with me the first time that she never been camping, hates outside and hates outdoor. And I was actually gonna go alone. And she had a freakout. And she’s like, I can’t let you go backpacking alone. I’ll just go with you. I’ll go for one night. And that’s it. She went one night and was completely hooked. She’s like Mrs. Outdoors now.

Misbah Haque  37:36

That’s awesome. So is it worth trying? 

Krissy Mae  37:38

Yeah. And I mean, I’ve never once heard anybody say that they went out into the wilderness and had a terrible time.

Misbah Haque  37:43

Right. You said something there about aesthetics that I wanted to touch on really quick?  I guess and I heard Coach Glassman say this in another interview recently. And he said that in the last decade or so, we’ve seen like, almost like a new look kind of emerge. And it’s a very functional aesthetic. And it’s relatively new, but what would you say to maybe people who are still, because I’m sure you get a lot of people who are super interested in, you know, that aesthetics aspect versus performance? Or maybe they want a little bit of both? But what is like, what are some key points to kind of keep in mind or understand when you’re chasing that goal?

Krissy Mae  38:26

I mean, it seems like there’s peep there’s always kind of like, most people right now, like, want this like happy medium, I think for a long time, the aesthetics thing was really cool. And then the performance thing got really cool. And it seems like most of my clients now want to be strong, but they’re willing to sacrifice performance for like a few visible abs. So I mean, I mean, it just comes down to again, don’t compare yourself to anybody else, I get girls emailing me saying, like, oh, I want to look like brocantes. And it’s like, well, you’re probably never gonna look like broke. And so it comes down to like, creating a realistic goal for yourself, and also realizing that like, it takes work to get there. And again, like another thing people need to realize, if you want to lower your body fat, you’re gonna, you might have to be hungry from time to time and I tell my clients, you got to embrace the suck. Like I’ve got I’ve got clients that are fitness models, and then when they have a shoot coming up, you know, if they’re used to eating 2000 calories a day, and they need to drop it to 1700. There, I’m like, this is your job. This is what you chose, like you need to be willing to deal with what you have to endure to reach that goal. See, I don’t know the esthetics thing is crazy, though, because there’s people like who can eat on a deficit. And I’m sure I’m trying to think of how to word this. Like how everybody’s body responds completely differently to food, like there’s people who, who need to be on like a deficit in order to obtain a certain amount of leanness, and then there’s people who don’t want to be on a deficit and they can still eat it maintenance and just add more conditioning for example, and reach that same goal. And again, that just comes down individually, you’re either gonna have to eat less, or train more, if you want to. And I think that CrossFitters like I mean, because most of my clientele is going to be CrossFitters they underestimate the power that is accessory work. I mean, there’s a place for bodybuilding movements in CrossFit. I agree with you. Yeah, and it’s crazy, because it’s like you if you want to have a more aesthetic look, especially like if you’re, if it’s your upper body, or if you want more defined legs, you probably need to add muscle to your legs. In order to achieve that, look, it doesn’t come down to just eating at a deficit and losing weight, like, you might have to do some lunges, or some step ups, or some leg extensions, or hamstring curls and stuff like that, like it goes a long way. So I tell a lot of my  CrossFitters, or even my weightlifters and powerlifters who are lifting really heavy all the time, like, dial that back and add more accessory work and you’re probably gonna achieve a more aesthetic look, if that’s what you want to go for.

Misbah Haque  40:58

And there’s ways of I just did an episode with Marcus, Philly, and it was all about functional bodybuilding. And pretty much like, there are ways where you can, you know, chase that pump, or get swole. But at the same time, you can maybe work a lot of those deficiencies that you may not get in your typical CrossFit workout. So like doing single leg RDLs. And like adding any centric portion or unilateral loading, there’s lots of ways to kind of mess around with that. So would you say like, for in terms of maybe making modifications to somebody’s CrossFit workouts? Would it be adding 1015 extra minutes of accessory work? Would it be doing a lot more conditioning, cutting back on certain things?

Krissy Mae  41:40

It just comes down to the person like obviously, if somebody for example, like you have two types of people, someone who’s underweight like most men who want to put on more muscle for a better set of liquor, you have women who are slightly overweight, who want to get more fat off. So um, so many women are so quick to want to go to the wide I’ll just get on the Airdyne for 30 minutes, not realizing like having all those weighted movements in your conditioning, like your typical CrossFit WOD is probably going to get you a lot farther from an aesthetic standpoint, then getting on that Aerodyne for 20, or rowing, rowing a 10k or, you know the shit like that. But, um, and then for example, like with a man who wants to gain weight, adding even just 15 minutes of like high volume accessory work, every day will take someone so much farther. And then even to like at Black Iron Gym, we have no machines, none. So on Friday, pump Chase day, everybody’s pumped together on Friday, but we’re using barbells and dumbbells to chase the pump. We’re not using Hammer Strength machines, we just got a lat pulldown, but it’s like plate loaded super old school, you know, so, I mean, we’re all doing our body bodybuilding accessory work. We’re doing strict presses. You know, like, high poles with a barbell stuff like that. So stuff that’s still functional that’s gonna carry over into weightlifting. powerlifting and in CrossFit movements, opposed to just getting on like a leg extension machine at 24 Hour Fitness or stuff like that. 

Misbah Haque  43:10

Can you think of a holy shit moment that sums up all the holy shit moments in your life?

Krissy Mae  43:17

I’m like, on a positive note, like, holy shit, like I might be kind of a successful type thing.

Misbah Haque  43:23

Let’s go out one and then let’s go the other direction, too. If, if that’s what you’re thinking originally.

Krissy Mae  43:30

There’s been two two things. The first one was waking up to Mike Golic wearing doughnuts and deadlifts shirt on ESPN. I woke up to about 100 text messages of people being like, how did you get a donuts and yellow shirt on my goal like and I was like, I don’t even know what’s happening. And from that, and he was talking about doughnuts and deadlifts, the brand and how much he loved it and that was like, a holy shit like my brand’s organically cooldown type thing, and that I JUST WANT TO BE ON CLOUD NINE that whole day. That was a holy shit business moment. I think that was super cool. My Holy shit not such a great moment. I’m really gonna put myself out here with this. Um, I mean, a lot of people who have watched us already know about this. I plagiarized in 2013 14 Very blatantly took somebody else’s work, added some cuss words into it. It was actually right after the first book came out. I didn’t get caught until Alan argon caught it about six months later and kind of put me on blast on Facebook before talking to me. I’m reading things about myself from people who once looked up to me and were incredibly disappointed. It was a big holy shit like you’re better than this moment for me. And it really opened my eyes to like, even though it was a free article I put out and there was no malicious intent. There was not a money thing, nothing like that. It was just me being lazy after reading that book, reading things about myself from people who genuinely looked up to me that were disappointed was a huge, like, holy shit, you need to be a better person and make this right moment. And I think that that was like a really defining time and who I’ve become as a person and like an in my career as well like, not fucking Okay, that’s not cool at all whatsoever. And I was humiliated and embarrassed, but you know, I owned it, and I put it out there like, this is what I did. There’s people who will never forgive me for that. And there’s people who are always gonna call me a plagiarizer or, you know, type thing. But that was a huge, holy shit, like, you’re well respected in this industry, and you need to act like a professional type thing. So, on the opposite end of the spectrum, that was definitely another huge turning point in my career to things I needed to do differently and be a more honest person.

Misbah Haque  45:46

I mean that’s huge. And that takes a lot to kind of come out and openly say that, you know? Now, if you had, let’s say, one year to live, and everything you’ve accomplished was wiped out, and you had to start over and you want it to get back to where you are now? What are maybe the 123 things that you would really distill down your focus on? And just  hammer away?

Krissy Mae  46:11

Do you want me to be completely honest?

Misbah Haque  46:12


Krissy Mae  46:13

I wouldn’t want to get to where I am now.

Misbah Haque  46:16

Okay. And any reason.

Krissy Mae  46:19

I miss my privacy. Sometimes I miss ike, it just feels like there’s, it’s like, I can’t do things without being under a microscope at times. I can’t go to a powerlifting meet and just do it for me, it turns into a whole crazy, heavy honor. And I’m not a great power lifter, what do I mean? And so, it just seems like there’s a lot of times where everything I go do it has to be like, a thing or an event or I don’t know, and I definitely miss my privacy. And I think if I was told I only had a year left to live, I would probably sell all my stuff and go travel the world with my boyfriend. 

Misbah Haque  46:52

That’s amazing. 

Krissy Mae  46:53

I have any social media?

Misbah Haque  46:56

Who would you say your biggest influences are and maybe this could be it can be broad. So maybe it’s nutrition. Maybe it’s just in life in general.

Krissy Mae  47:06

I think at the beginning of things, my biggest influence was definitely Layne Norton. He’s really stuck by him. I mean, a lot of people don’t like him. Now, I know he can be aggressive. But he’s really stuck by my side through a lot. He helped me get through the whole plagiarism thing. There was another accusation of plagiarism from somebody that wasn’t true. And this person spread that rumor and I got put on blast. And Layne actually had helped me with that project. And he came out like, no, she absolutely did not put you know, and so he’s really stuck by my side. And from a nutrition standpoint, he’s been the biggest influence of mine with what I’ve done. I don’t know about training. Matt Vincent’s definitely a huge inspiration of mine. He also happens to be my best friend now. But he’s the person that made me realize, like, I can’t define myself based on how my training is going in the gym. So as far as like, I mean, I’m even using his mug right now to kick today in the deck. That’s all that’s like his motto. And he just lives every single day to its fullest. And he’s been a huge inspiration. for me there.

Misbah Haque  48:13

What are some things that you’re super excited about right now? Like what you’ve done a lot in the nutrition space, you’ve, you know, helped a lot of people and had a lot of impact. What are some things you’re looking forward to that you’re just super excited to tackle.

Krissy Mae  48:27

I’m getting this nonprofit off the ground to pay for gym memberships for people in recovery. I’ve got a couple of gyms on board with what we do at Black Iron, where anybody who’s recovering from alcoholism or addiction, we give them a free gym membership. It’s kind of like a safe place. So I’ve had Daniel Kaminsky reach out to me and a couple of big CrossFitters Sam dancers who own gyms who are going to offer the same. So I really look forward to studying that nonprofit, to be able to help people you know, on a larger scale, not just, you know, in Reno or through my friends in other cities, then I’m really excited about ello. I mean, got a lot of ideas for it. And I think to start out with, we’re just gonna start putting a parallel because I know that I’m looking into dehydrated backpacking meals, okay? To optimize, you know, macros geared towards athletes, because as of right now, a lot of the stuff that’s out there is like, super high sodium, low protein, it’s like carbs and sodium and I definitely want to create a product more geared towards athletes for backpacking and hiking. And so that’s something I’m really excited about. And then what I would eventually like to do is have like ELO excursions where we plan , six day trips to Glacier National Park or stuff like that, and people can sign up and we do backpack-like large backpacking groups.

Misbah Haque  49:50

Going back to the nonprofit, could you dig into some details there? Maybe if there’s a   coach listening are interested in that. How does that work?

Krissy Mae  49:58

And I haven’t picked a name yet. By the way, as of right now, I’ve had people contact me to volunteer to pay for someone’s membership. So they almost act like a sponsor for that person to pay for their gym membership, which obviously helps me out financially. And so I can pay my coaches who are, you know, coaching these people, especially since most of the people that come in want to do CrossFit. So basically, my criteria is just that as of right now, it’s that you have to have under five years of sobriety, you have to, you know, be pretty newly sober, you have to be actively doing something in your recovery, like, I don’t I choose not to go to AA anymore, but I still treat myself, you know, through other ways. Um, yeah, it’s still very, like a rough outline, because I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do it. But as of right now, I just, you know, let a lot of people know that Black Iron Gym is a safe place for anybody going through recovery. And there’s Leah West. She has even mentioned to me that she’s doing like, almost not quite a meetings, but like, meetings where people show up to the gym, and they talk for 1520 minutes and then do a workout. And the only criteria is that you have to be sober for 24 hours. So even someone you know, like, who wants to get sober is having a hard time with it, who still could do on like a sober environment? She makes it open to everybody like that. So that’s another thing that kind of inspired me that we’re going to get the ball rolling on it black iron in the new year.

Misbah Haque  51:29

That’s amazing. What should  what should somebody listen to? Whether they’re a coach or athlete takeaway from this podcast? How can they kind of make themselves better today from listening to this.

Krissy Mae  51:43

My biggest thing is just be fucking nice to people. People need it, people need to be treated well and need to be nice, too. And like, one thing Sam dancer told me about a year ago, when I was going through a really hard time in my life is.. Sam has always told me to be nice to everybody, even mean people because they need it the most. So I’ve just found that being aggressive with people or being too stern or being shitty, like, it doesn’t get you anywhere, absolutely not. And do everything. Everything should come from a good place in your heart. And like, people see that and people are gonna want to support people with big hearts who treat everybody nice and kind. And I think part of why I’ve gone far is because people have seen a huge change in me, especially in like the past three or four years, but I’m just nice to everybody. I have no reason to ever be mean to anybody. And I used to not be like that. I used to be a very mean person, I called people out on the internet and be a bully in it. It got me a large social media following for a while, but nobody wants to support anything I do. They just want to watch the shit show. So I mean, it just comes down to like, if you’re a gym owner, treat every single member that walks in your gym nicely and call them by their first names and make them realize that like they’re an important part of your life. Anybody if you go to the grocery store, treat your checker with respect and call them by their name just shit like that… don’t leave it in the parking lot.

Misbah Haque  53:13

Well, how can we support your journey? You know, where can we learn more about you? You know, where can we point people to,

Krissy Mae  53:20

If anyone wants to read my book, you can buy it on Amazon, I donate 100% of my royalty check every month to a different charity. So that’s how you could support the cause. Doughnutsanddeadlifts.com is my apparel company, ellosupple.com is probably going to launch next week. You can come and train at my gym if you’re ever in Reno, Nevada, Black Iron Gym.

Misbah Haque  53:44

Well, I’ll get all that stuff linked up in the show notes. I just want to acknowledge you for  the impact that you’ve had on people and in the world. And thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I think people are gonna really enjoy it.

Krissy Mae  53:58

I’m excited. I’m excited I finally figured out Skype too.

Misbah Haque  54:02

Thank you so much for listening, guys. I know you’re probably driving right now or doing something else. But don’t forget to head over to airbornemind.com. And grab your free movement Audit Checklist. If you want to check out some of the details behind the mobility through movement program. You can see that either in the show notes or at the airbornemin.com/MTM. And if you really enjoyed this episode, remember the best compliment you can give is by sharing it with somebody else who might enjoy it, sharing it somewhere on the web or heading over to iTunes and leaving us a review. That would be phenomenal. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I always love hearing from you guys. Thank you so much once again for joining me. Until next time!

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