The Totem Nutrition Podcast: Episode 001 Interview with Mychal Prieto

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This episode is also available on iTunes and YouTube.


Who is Mychal?

Mychal is an ex-collegiate athlete who studied Kinesiology & Biomechanics. He's a functional strength coach, StrongFirst Kettlebell instructor, 200-hour certified Yoga Instructor, and the creator of The Foundations of Fitness, a 21-day body-weight program that is now streaming and available online.

Mychal is a trainer to one of the biggest names in Hollywood and one of the biggest names in health and fitness -- Jane Fonda. Leah and Mychal discuss how Mychal became Jane Fonda's trainer, mindset, fear, the importance of breath in movement, Mychal's experience with kettlebells and fitness, hunting, and so much more. 

You can learn more about Mychal on his website or by following along with his adventures on Instagram. 

Key Takeaways From Our Interview With Mychal

Your breath is powerful and essential to strong, safe, and effective movement. It's also your secret weapon to calming down in times of stress. 

"Going back to primal instincts, the only time that human beings really held their breath was in a state of fear." 
"You need to be conscious about your breath and use your breath to enhance your movements."
"One of the things that we went over a lot for hidden signs of instability. To look at people, through any, whatever movement it is, looking at just these little subtle signs of a lack of motor control. One of the first things he talked about was people not breathing or people tensing up in their hands, or tensing up in their feet, or tensing up in their face, or clenching their jaw."
"Apply this in your life in other areas. Whether you're driving in traffic, whether you're at home and stressed out, or whatever it may be. Know that in any time of high stress you can control your breath. You have control of that 24/7 and you can bring your heart rate down. You can bring the cortisol down. You can control that stuff at all times." 

Breathing Resources the Totem Team Recommends: 

The Wim Hof Method - Wim Hof defies all odds. His breathing techniques have allowed him to achieve superhuman results across a multitude of environments, challenges, and research labs. He's climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in shorts, run a marathon through the desert with no training and no water, and holds dozens of world records for cold exposure. Although his feats are daunting, he also teaches students his breathing techniques with much success. 

3 Yoga Breathing Exercises for Anxiety - A quick (7 minute), excellent, and free video tutorial that shows some basic breathing patterns for relieving anxiety. 

Properly Breathing During Exercise - A solid overview of when to inhale and when to exhale when you're exercises to make the most of your movement. She provides a quick and easy cue to follow when you're practicing proper breathing technique. 

How To Breathe - TEDx Manhattan Beach - You're probably breathing wrong, tbh. 


Hunting is a sustainable and healthy way to eat meat. Tracking and packing out an elk carcass is excellent exercise, and it's what Mychal trains himself to do.  

"[Hunting] is the most sustainable way to get your meat and harvest an animal. This is the most sustainable way."
"Every time that I've been hunting with my dad and we've been successful. We always bless the animal afterwards."
"Farmers walks, like that's why don't feel bad for people doing farmers walks. I'm like, no, fuck that. Throw that thing over your head. Yeah, walk two times around the gym with that. I had to walk a damn mile and go through some barbed wire to get this elk back. It is not joke. I am telling you those are the most intense farmers walks that I've ever done in my life with over 100 pounds on my back and, oh my gosh."
 "That's wild to table. Not farm to table. That's wild to table."
"It's so rewarding and I feel so good about that stuff. Every time I unthaw a package of meat from my freezer and cook it up and I'm able to share that with other people who appreciate it."

 Resources the Totem Team Recommends for Eating More Sustainably: 

Eat Wild - Hunting might not be available to all of us, although if you look into it, you can often find ways to learn about and harvest local and wild fauna. Depending on where you live, you can hire guides to take you hunting and fishing or you can seek out a mentor to help teach you. That being said, if you want to make better, more sustainable choices when it comes to your meat and produce, Eat Wild is an excellent place to start. Select your state and you'll find an abundance of local, holistic, and environmentally friendly farms and farmers who care about the land they work and the animals they raise. If you'd like to get more involved, most farmers are more than happy to show you around their farms if you ask. 

Grass-fed Beef — The Most Vegan Item In The Supermarket - A thoughtful piece that discusses why grass-fed beef is not only one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, but also sheds light on the economic, environmental, and human realities of consuming grass-fed beef. 

Food, Inc. -  This well-done documentary sheds a light on the awful conditions, industrialization, and the inhumane processes that dominate the commercial food industry. 

Kettlebells are an exceptional way to build strength, enhance your functional movement, and get in intense cardio. 

"StrongFirst is like the Harvard or Yale of kettlebells."
"The unique style and shape that, that kettle bell is in. It obviously looks different than a barbell. Looks different than a dumbbell and the way ... For example, let's take a push press. That movement, the push press, for example. If I'm doing it with a barbell or a dumbbell, your wrist is going to have to be in some sort of flexion to be able to support that dumbbell or the barbell just because of how the weight is loaded...the unique shape of the kettle bell and the way that the handle is built into that allows you to keep a straight and locked wrist while doing something like a push press or a military press, or a push jerk, or a front squat. All of which, you would have to have your wrist bent if you were doing it with a dumbbell or a barbell."
"When people ask me," What do you do for cardio?" I'm like," Yeah, I do a lot of kettlebell snatches and a lot of swings too."

 Resources the Totem Team Recommends for Getting Started with Kettlebells: 

StrongFirst - As Mychal mentioned, Strongfirst is the go to kettlebell training certification. You can use their website to find StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructors and gyms. You can also check out their extensive resources. 

The Foundations of Functional Fitness - This is Mychal's bodyweight program that will teach you the basic movements that make up many different kettlebell exercises. 

Fitness is a never-ending journey of self-exploration. 

"At the end of the day, you've got to remind them to have fun, too, and smile. If you look like a dork, fuck it, who cares? I look like a dork all the time and I don't care." 
"Fear is the most underlying thing that stops us from accomplishing the things that we can
"People my age in training, I get inspired sometimes, but it's like people that are older than me that are still kicking ass. Like Jane, or somebody like Paul Chek who's ... He's in his mid 50s, I think, and just fucking shredded and just living it."
"I've had these times where that fear arises and comes up. That voice in your head telling you, you can't do something." 
"We all have different strengths and weakenesses and imbalances in our bodies and it's a constant journey for me. That's never going to end. It'll never end.