Maybe you’re in a midlife slump. Maybe you’re unhappy in your job and marriage. Maybe you’re inactive and overweight. Maybe you’ve tried to change your life before but can’t seem to make the changes stick. What do you need to do to finally turn things around?
My guest would say that the answer might be getting a dog.
Jeff Goodrich is the author of Dude and Duder: How My Dog Saved My Life. Today on the show, Jeff shares what his life was like at age 49 before getting Duder the Dog, and how Duder sparked changes that helped him lose 70 pounds, repair his relationships, and find real happiness. Along the way, we talk about advice that can apply to anyone trying to get out of the midlife slump, even if you don’t own a dog, although Jeff would say you really should get one.
Resources Related to the Podcast
- AoM Podcast #776: How to Shift Out of the Midlife Malaise
- AoM Article: Choosing Man’s Best Friend — A Guide to Canine Companions
- AoM Article: Why a Man Should Get His Dog From the Pound
- AoM Article: Solvitur Ambulando — It Is Solved By Walking
Connect With Jeff Goodrich
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. Maybe you’re in a midlife slump, maybe you’re unhappy in your job and marriage. Maybe you’re inactive and overweight.
Maybe you’ve tried to change your life before, but can’t seem to make the changes stick. What do you need to do to finally turn things around? My guest would say that the answer might be getting a dog.
Jeff Goodrich is the author of Dude & Duder: How my Dog Saved my Life. Today on the show, Jeff shares what his life was like at age 49 before getting Duder the dog, and how Duder sparked changes that helped him lose 70 pounds, repair his relationships and find real happiness.
Along the way, we talk about advice that can apply to anyone trying to get out of the midlife slump, even if you don’t own a talk. Although Jeff would say you really should get one.
After the show’s over, check out our show notes at aom.is/dog.
Alright. Jeff Goodrich, welcome to the show.
Jeff Goodrich: Thanks Brett, for having me on.
Brett McKay: So you wrote a book called Dude & Duder: How My Dog Saved My Life. And in this book, you take readers through a midlife transformation that was kick-started after your family got a visala. Is that how you pronounce it?
Jeff Goodrich: Vizsla.
Brett McKay: Vizsla. A Vizsla that you named Duder. But before we get to how Duder changed your life, let’s talk about what your life was like before you got him.
‘Cause I know there’s a lot of our listeners probably are going through something that you went through at midlife, they’re in their 40s, 50s, and they’re feeling that slump.
So what was your midlife slump like?
Jeff Goodrich: Great question. When we first brought Duder home with us, I was 49 years old at the time, and there was a lot of things going on in my life. Physically, I was overweight. I was lazy, I did not feel healthy. I just plain had a hard time rolling out of bed every day.
Mentally, I was basically depressed, did not have a whole lot of hope for the future at all. We always try to put on that good face, but under the covers, I was just coasting along. It felt like I was just trying to get to the end of the day. How do I do this?
My relationship, I’ve been married for a very long time, and I refer to my wife as “the blonde”. And my marriage to the blonde was very, very, very rocky, and I had learned later on that she was actually putting some plans in place to divorce me.
The two of us, we were married at 18 years old, we’ve been married a long time. So o things were just plain not good. I was just coasting along in life and just feeling crappy about life.
Brett McKay: Was there a moment that you, a specific moment you realized you weren’t happy with where life was going for you? It’s one of those things, midlife is like… Aging is hard ’cause it’s so subtle and gradual that you don’t really notice until…
There’s always some moment you’re like, “Oh boy, things aren’t good.” Was there a moment for you?
Jeff Goodrich: Well, there was a… Yeah, there was a very specific moment, but up until that time, I had spent 15, maybe even 16 years living my life in this state. And I had… During that time, I had a lot of moments of, “Oh, okay. I need to do something different. I need to lose some weight.”
I think I even went and joined a gym a couple of times, and I made promises to the blonde, “Okay, I’m gonna do… I’m gonna be better. I’m gonna do this different.” And made some promises to myself. So I had a lot of moments like that.
But then I turned 50, and that moment really, really triggered some stuff. And everyone’s been there, that you turn 30, it’s a trigger, you turn 40, you turn 50.
And that really, really was a triggering moment, was just that 50 and then looking back on my life. And it really brought up all these ideas of the regrets in life and all of that. So that was a very triggering moment.
Brett McKay: And then you also talk about in the book, one of the biggest challenges that you had to overcome is in the 15 years leading up to you turning 50, you had those moments you’re like, “Oh man, I need to lose weight.” Or, “Oh man, my relationship needs to be better, I need to invest more in that.” And then you try and make those attempts and then you’d backslide.
And you talk about how you develop a sort of learned helplessness. You became… That was the biggest thing, that you just felt hopeless, like, “It’s too late for me to change,” and I think a lot of men at that age can recognize that as well, or are familiar with that and can relate.
Jeff Goodrich: Absolutely. I had these moments of, “Okay, I need to do something different,” but nothing ever stuck. I couldn’t, I didn’t have the discipline, I didn’t for whatever reason. And there’s many, many reasons why that is.
Some of it might be that I was just eating unhealthy and so my brain and body just were not operating efficiently. But looking back in hindsight, what… In the past, I didn’t really understand why I should do this. I just had this idea, “Oh I need to lose weight,” but I didn’t have and fully develop my why? Why should I do this? What’s my reason?
And so the next time around when I hit 50, that really became important. Figure that out and refer to it daily, why am I doing this? And that helped keep me going.
Brett McKay: And I think that’s one of the hardest challenges of midlife is figuring out your why. This is like City Slickers, right? Have you seen that, City Slickers movie?
Jeff Goodrich: Yes. Oh yeah, yeah.
Brett McKay: Right, where the guy, he talked about, “You gotta find your one thing.” Your one thing. ‘Cause I think when you’re young, you’re in your 20s, there’s always a goal there for you that’s already set in place. “Well, I gotta go to college so I can get the job. And then I gotta get the job so I can have a family. And I gotta work hard so we can buy a house.”
And then you reach midlife and those pre-determined goals aren’t there for you. And so you have to figure out, “Well, why am I gonna do this stuff now?” And that’s hard.
Jeff Goodrich: And so when I hit 50, you start looking back, you start having regrets and you look back at your life, and I realized that I was living my life according to what everyone else was telling me how I should live it. From what I was watching on TV, family, the news, social media, all of this. That’s how I’m supposed to live my life.
So at some point along in the process here, I switched that to, I need to find my own why and live my own life. This is mine. I’m gonna live it according to what I want to do. And that was critical too.
Brett McKay: And this is where Duder comes in. So you were 49 when you got Duder. Correct?
Jeff Goodrich: Yup.
Brett McKay: Did your family have dogs before him? Were you a dog family?
Jeff Goodrich: Growing up, when I was a kid, we did not have any dog. So I did not have dogs when I was a kid. Early on in our marriage, we had a couple of dogs, just for like two or three years. We had a Boxer and then we had a shelter dog in our house for maybe less than a year, but that was it. So we were not necessarily a dog family, we just never grew up with dogs.
Brett McKay: So what prompted you to get a dog?
Jeff Goodrich: It might have been like the kids were out of the house. Maybe I’m feeling lonely. It’s just my wife and I here in this house, it’s pretty empty. Maybe we need something else, maybe we need another kid. That’s kind of what it felt like.
And talked my wife into it, and she agreed as long as I was the one that took care of him and cleaned up the poop and did all of that, but she agreed to it. So that’s kind of how it started.
Brett McKay: And why did you settle on the breed that you picked?
Jeff Goodrich: We specifically found a litter and I wanted to get a Vizsla. And Vizslas are bred as hunting dogs, so they’re kind of a bird dog, but there is a specific story of why I got a Vizsla, why we wanted this breed.
Part of my background in my life is I’ve had a history of seizures, and have never been able to figure out what the cause of that was. And I remember one particular time, many years ago, we went over to a friend’s house, and they had a Vizsla and his name was Bear.
And I remember walking in the door one day and this dog would not leave me alone. He was all over me, sniffing me. I went and sat down, he went over and sat down next to me. I got up to go to the bathroom, he would follow me everywhere. He was just obsessed with me for some reason.
And it turned out that I was feeling some of these seizures coming on, and somehow this dog was able to sense that. And I got up at one point and went into the bathroom at my friend’s house and had a seizure, and this dog, Bear, started barking and clawing at the door ’cause he knew something was wrong. And so my friends were able to come get me out of the bathroom and take care of the situation.
And I do remember thinking that, okay, if I ever did get a dog in my life, I wanted to get a Vizsla, because this Vizsla saved my life.
Brett McKay: Are Vizslas known for being able to recognize seizures in individuals?
Jeff Goodrich: I think they are. There’s actually a lot of different dogs that are called seizure dogs, and they are specifically trained and they can sense. I don’t think we really know exactly how they do it.
It’s either through maybe a scent that people that are having seizures have, so they can smell them or they can notice them. But they can be trained to do things like if someone has a seizure coming on, purposely climb under them so if they fall down, they land on the dog instead.
They can be trained to go push the button to alert emergency. And so they can be trained as seizure dogs.
Brett McKay: Have you had problems with seizures in a while? Or is it… Have they gone away?
Jeff Goodrich: It’s been a while. Every once in a while, I’ll feel some remnants of it, but as far as having a full grand mal seizure, it’s been many years since I’ve had one. It feels like I’ve kind of outgrown them.
And specifically in the last five years since I’ve really changed things like my diet and my exercise, I think that played a huge role in that as well.
Brett McKay: Yeah, so the Vizsla, it’s a really handsome, beautiful dog. It looks like a bird dog. Are they energetic? Do they require a lot of exercise?
Jeff Goodrich: Yes, absolutely. He’s crazy energetic. I have taken him on some seriously long runs and a couple of backpacking trips where we climbed up to Kings Peak, which is the highest peak in Utah, and he went all the way to the top with me, and that’s a 25 to 30 mile backpacking trip and he does great.
They are very, very active dogs. In fact, they even list them as like third or fourth fastest dogs in the world, so they’re pretty fast as well.
Brett McKay: So let’s talk about how Duder, you got Duder when you’re 49, he started to subtly kickstart your midlife transformation. What happened when you first got him, where you started making steps, unintentionally. To start making changes in your life?
Jeff Goodrich: So here’s how I like to tell the story. We bring Duder into my life and of course, what do you do? You take your dog for a walk. So I remember one day taking Duder out for a walk, putting a leash on him, and we went out for this walk, just the first time that we had him.
And I like to tell the story that, “Oh, I’m out on this walk and I had this grand vision of what my life should be, an oh, I’m going to change this, and oh, I’m gonna improve my relationship, and oh, I’m gonna lose weight,” and all of this. But that’s just not the way things happen.
I think what happened was Duder went over to the next door neighbor and took a crap in his yard. And so I had to go clean up his poop and then we come back.
But what did happen, Brett, was that the next day we did it again, and then the next day we did it again. So this subtle thing of a new habit being part of my life, just going for this daily walk was key. And I wouldn’t take the phone with me, it was just Duder and I going out for a walk. Something different.
And during this time is where I was able to really spend a lot of time with myself. Then I hit 50, then I started looking at my regrets in life and started to really evaluate my life and where I was.
But these moments do not happen when you’re sitting on a couch watching TV. So it was key that we were outside physically moving, doing a daily walk. That’s truly how it started right there. And it continues to this day.
Brett McKay: Yeah, that idea, there’s an idea from… It goes back to ancient Rome, Solvitur Ambulando, which is Latin for “It is solved by walking.” A lot of problems can get solved by walking.
In fact, a lot of philosophers, Nietzsche, Aristotle… I mean, Aristotle’s school was, they were called peripatetics, ’cause they walked around everywhere discussing philosophy. Henry David Thoreau. They’d just, they’d walk. And as you’re walking, something about it does, it changes your thinking. And it sounds like that’s what you were doing.
So couple of things are going on. You’re going on the walk because of Duder, he needs to go on a walk. So you have to go on a walk, you’re getting physically active. And during that time, there’s a transformation going on inside your head because you’re thinking through a lot of issues.
Jeff Goodrich: Absolutely. And this is going on for about a year. So from 50 to 51 is when we’re really doing these daily walks, and there’s three key things, and hindsight is great, looking back, three very key things happened.
One was awareness. I truly became aware of where my life was. It was not where I wanted it to be. Exploring my regrets, what was my environment like, what was I living my daily life like. What was my relationship with my kids, with the blonde, with my grandkids. So just being aware that things were not what I wanted them to be and they were not good.
So the second thing, I remember at some point along the way, making a choice that I needed to do something different. At the time, I did not know what to do. Not a clue. But making that choice and talking to Duder about this, saying, “Okay, Duder. We’re gonna do something different.” And I made that conscious choice.
And then I really started to explore my why. Why do I want to do this? Why do I need to change my life? So those three things were very critical, and this happened over about a year, from 50 to 51 of going for these daily walks.
Brett McKay: Well, I think that’s interesting ’cause I think a lot of guys, when they experience that midlife, call it crisis, like they recognize they’re in a midlife funk, they expect the change to happen right away. And I think that’s something very male, we wanna solve the problem and we wanna solve it now.
But something like this of like, “What’s my why, and what am I supposed to do now that I’ve raised my kids and they’re out of the house and I’m getting towards the end of my career?” you can’t solve that in a week. It’s gonna take a year, maybe.
Jeff Goodrich: Sometimes it might take more than a year. [chuckle]
Brett McKay: Right.
Jeff Goodrich: And I just continue to think about it as one step at a time. It truly is. One step at a time.
Brett McKay: Well, you talk about you would actually talk to Duder on these walks. Did you ever feel like, “Man, if someone saw me talking to a dog, they’re gonna think I’m a weirdo.”?
Or did you just like lose all self-consciousness when you’re out there taking a walk with your dog?
Jeff Goodrich: Oh I didn’t care who was around or anything, it was just Duder and I, just a guy and his dog out walking. And I would absolutely talk to him.
There’s a benefit to instead of talking to yourself just in your head, verbally speak those words out loud, get them out of your head. And I would talk to Duder, I would talk about what I was feeling, what was going on that day.
I would ask him, “Duder, what would you do about this? Okay Duder, I’m thinking about doing this thing. What do you think about that?” [chuckle] And I would have these conversations with him, and oh man, he’s a great listener. He was awesome.
Brett McKay: Yeah, you talk about how Duder, you attribute him to helping you break out of the negative self-talk. That’s a habit you slipped into in midlife.
I think a lot of guys slip into that and say, “Well, I’m good for nothing. I haven’t reached all the goals I wanted. I’m already 45, there’s no way I can change.”
And you talk about talking to Duder helped you get rid of that negative self-talk.
Jeff Goodrich: If it did, absolutely did. And then that translated over into, okay, I’m having these conversations with Duder, I should probably have some of these same conversations with my wife. I should probably have some of these same conversations with my kids.
And that opened their eyes a little bit that, “Hey, wait a minute. Jeff is changing a little bit. I’ve never had this kind of a conversation with him before.” So that they were watching me start to change my mindset. My mindset was changing here, I was thinking about things a little bit differently.
And during that year, it really started to get me into a do phase. “Okay, what can I start doing now?” And there were a couple of things that really impacted this.
The first one was, I cancelled my TV subscription. I mean, I had direct TV, I was watching sports every night, I was watching all kinds of stuff. And that was just the norm, sit on a couch and watch TV every night. I cancelled the TV subscription and I just realized that there’s not a whole lot of value in TV for me.
Then I changed my inputs. So instead of watching TV, I started reading books, I started listening to podcasts. I discovered this cool podcast early on in my journey called The Art of Manliness and I started listening to it.
And there was some great content on there, and I subscribed, Brett, to your daily email newsletter. So your content still comes into my life on a daily basis. It’s part of my inputs.
Brett McKay: Well, thank you so much. That means a lot.
Jeff Goodrich: That idea of changing your inputs and bringing new things in here, then just slowly started to impact other things, like what am I eating? What am I thinking about on a daily basis? What’s my sleep patterns? When should I wake up? I was essentially looking at ways to change my lifestyle.
And so when I started just changing some of these lifestyle aspects, as a side effect, I lost 70 pounds. I was feeling better. My view of the world changed. It’s almost like just, I didn’t go into this to lose weight. I went into this to change my life and my lifestyle.
And as a result, as a side effect, yeah, you’re eating better, you’re doing more, you’re thinking better. And so as a side effect, I lost 70 pounds.
Brett McKay: I think there’s a lot of that. You can see that sort of thing in a lot of life. Sometimes we set a goal to do X and we do things to do X. “I want to do this thing to be happy.”
But doing those things actually doesn’t make you happy. Because you actually become miserable because you’re so focused on the task. It’s like, “If I don’t do this thing right, then I’m not going to be happy.” And that makes you unhappy.
And what philosophers and psychologists have found is that you can’t will yourself to be happy. Happiness is a side effect of doing good things. And it looks like that’s what you discovered.
Jeff Goodrich: Absolutely. Happiness is an interesting topic there. I think part of my happiness is just peacefulness. I can now look in the mirror and like who I see. Whereas in the past, when I looked in the mirror, I did not like that guy I was looking at. And that gives me some peace of mind, which then feels like happiness.
Brett McKay: We’re going to take a quick break for a word from our sponsors.
And now back to the show.
So you started with Duder taking the walks at age 50. For about a year, there’s a lot of introspection, talking to Duder, sort of figuring things out what you want to do next. And then you started taking action.
And one of those things you started doing besides changing your lifestyle, like sleeping better, changing your inputs, things like that, you actually started running. And not only recreational like 5K, you started doing marathons.
So how did Duder help you get into running?
Jeff Goodrich: Well, a couple of ways. I’m going to back up a little bit. As I was going through this, changing my lifestyle, talking to Duder, I began looking for lessons. Life lessons, I call them. Let’s look for things.
So I was watching Duder’s behaviors and learning things from them. And there’s a couple of lessons that I learned. One of them was that I would take Duder out for a walk and we would actually hop in the truck and we’d head over to a trail. So we started going out on the trails.
And when we’d start hiking, I would have to have him on a leash. At some point, there was nobody around so I would take him off the leash. And I’d unhook the leash and Duder would just take off running as fast as he could go. And it was fun to watch. And then I would just observe that.
And I got thinking to myself, “Okay, 50 years, what are the leashes I had on myself? What’s holding me back from doing some of these things that I wanted to do?” And I really started to explore that.
You have 50 years of people telling you what you cannot do. 50 years of TV telling you what you cannot do. And these felt like these leashes. So I started to take them off in my mind. “Okay, what can I do?”
Then I remember distinctly one day, we’re out for a hike. I just started running. For whatever reason, I don’t even know why. I just started running. I’m thinking, “Okay, well, I’m walking. I’ve kind of mastered this walking thing. I’ve lost a lot of my weight. My lifestyle’s changed here. Let’s just run a little bit.” And I remember running for maybe 100, 200 yards before I ran out of breath.
That’s how it started. Just that 200-yard run. And it kind of planted this seed in me that, “Okay, this is kind of cool. Well, how far can I go with this?”
But the walking and the daily walk, which now turned into daily runs, just became so symbolic for me of everything else that I wanted to do. So I’m thinking, “Okay, if I can run 200 yards, then can I run a mile?” And I remember running 2 miles. That was one of the hardest things I did was to run two miles without stopping.
But it felt good that I was accomplishing things. And then it opened my mind up. “What else can I do? Maybe I could write a book?” That’s kind of how the book got started. [chuckle]
If you were to talk to, Brett, if you would have talked to 49-year-old me and said, “Hey, in five years, you’re going to publish a book, you’re going to run marathons, and you’re going to be on podcasts,” that 49-year-old would have said, “What are you talking about? There’s no way that’s gonna happen.”
So that’s how the running started. And then it became so symbolic.
I signed up for a half marathon. And I ran a half marathon. Then I signed up for another one. And I just kept running these half marathons. And then I was thinking, “Okay, what else can I do?” And so then I said, “Well, maybe I could run a marathon?” So I signed up for a marathon. And I’ve run six or seven marathons so far. And well, “Okay, I’ve done that. What else can I do?”
So I’ve signed up for a couple of ultra marathons. I’ve done a 55K and a 60K. And these are both trail races. And actually, in eight days, Brett, I am running a 50-miler, 50-mile trail race with about 11,000 feet of vertical climb. That’s coming up in eight days.
Brett McKay: Oh geez.
Jeff Goodrich: So that’s how my running journey started. And it started with that 100 yards. And now I’m doing a 50-mile trail race.
Brett McKay: 50 miles. Okay. And that’s in just, you started this when you were 51. And how old are you now?
Jeff Goodrich: I am 55.
Brett McKay: So in four years.
Jeff Goodrich: Yup.
Brett McKay: That’s not that long, like in the grand scheme of things. If you think about it, because I think sometimes when we think about change, we think, “Oh man, a year is so long. I need change now.” But I mean, you’ve done a lot in that four years when you decided, “I’m going to start making my life better.”
Jeff Goodrich: Well, thanks. It feels like that. And I also feel like I’m just getting started. It’s almost like, okay, the first 50 years of my life was just a test. It was a little trial.
But here I am now, a new person, feeling very different about life, very hopeful. How far can I go with this? And I’m just going to keep going. I am just cruising right now. That’s what it feels like.
Brett McKay: So you mentioned that Duder pretty much helped save your marriage because before you got him, your wife was thinking about divorcing you. What changed in your marriage after you got Duder?
Jeff Goodrich: Well, one was just awareness. So it starts with that awareness. And that was one of the things that when you start thinking about your regrets, your regrets with your wife or your partner can be very traumatic. And they were for me. I had a lot of regrets of how I treated her and some of the things in my past and all of that. So just being aware of, “Okay, what’s going on here?”
One of the first podcasts, I think the very first episode of a podcast that I listened to, I didn’t even know what a podcast was before all this started, was Jocko Willink. And then I ended up reading his book, Extreme Ownership. And it really hammered home to me this idea of self ownership.
So when I started looking at my relationship with the blonde, I really had to focus on my role. What am I doing? What should I be doing? How should I do things differently to make this relationship better? So I had to own my side of it.
And just walking with Duder and talking to Duder about this just became very beneficial for me, so that then I could come back and have those conversations with the blonde as well.
Brett McKay: One thing I’ve seen or I’ve heard other podcast guests talk about when it comes to relationships, one thing that a lot of… I’m not… I’m speaking in generalities here, but what a lot of women are looking for in their husband.
They don’t necessarily care that if he’s a millionaire or he’s got six pack abs or whatever, they just want to see their husband have some sort of ambition or drive to do something, right? And not wallow in the self pity and, “I can’t change.” Like that’s not attractive.
Women are looking for a guy who’s hopeful and can, “Hey, we’re going to make the best of what we got here.” And it sounds like Duder helped you do that.
Jeff Goodrich: Oh, absolutely. And it was subtle, but she started to see the changes in me. In the way that I would talk to her in my actions, having heart to heart conversations with her about what I was feeling that day and what my dreams were and here’s what I’m aspiring to do. And that really helped her.
And so she at some point decided not to divorce me. ‘Cause she was ready to divorce me, because I was that guy you just described, Brett, with no dreams, just sitting on a couch every night.
Brett McKay: How did Duder help you become a better dad?
Jeff Goodrich: Well, the same kind of a thing, is that I had regrets about my kids. They were all out of the house. And looking back when you’re 50, what kind of a dad was I? Did I teach them everything that they needed to know? Was I a good example for them? All of those regrets were top of mind.
So at the same time, when I made the choice to repair and work on the relationship with my wife, I wanted to work on the relationship with my kids.
And there was a couple of things that really hit home with me, is this idea of what is my legacy? What is my legacy going to be with my kids? How do I want my kids to remember me? And that was very powerful for me.
And there’s always two ways to maybe react to that feeling. One might be, “Okay, well, I’m going to go have conversations with my kids and I’m going to tell them what life should be and they’re gonna learn from me.”
But what I realized is what they’re going to remember from me most is not what I say. They’re going to remember what I do. So I want my kids to see me changing my life, losing weight, getting off of the couch, running marathons, and incorporating all of these ideas in my head.
I’m hoping that that’s going to be my legacy with my kids, is they’re seeing me do these things and hopefully it’s inspiring them. So the legacy part of it was very, very powerful.
Brett McKay: Well, it sounds like that’s already happening. You talk about one of your daughters started running because of you.
Jeff Goodrich: She did. She’s run several half marathons. She completed actually in the Marine Corps marathon. She set a goal in her life to run 50 half marathons in all 50 States.
So I’ve had an impact just by her watching me change my life and start doing these things. And she’s trying to do some things in her life as well. So that means a lot to me. That goes a long way.
And then also my kids, I also want, I have four grandkids. How do I want my grandkids to remember me? And a lot of them are still young little kids, but I want them to have a memory of Grandpa doing things. That’s what I want my legacy to be.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Not the old grandpa who’s, just sits on the couch, not doing anything.
Jeff Goodrich: Exactly. [chuckle]
Brett McKay: Was there a moment in this transformation? So we were four years into this transformation. Was there a moment when you realized like, “I’ve changed.”?
Because again, the changes, it’s subtle, it’s gradual and everyone has that moment where you realize, “Man, I’m different.” Was there a specific moment in this four years where you realized that, “I’ve gotten out of this slump.”?
Jeff Goodrich: There’s probably a couple. One is the physical side of it. After I lost 70 pounds, that was a moment. Okay. I have changed myself. I look very different. I feel very different. So that was a moment of, yes, I have made a transformation.
But even more important than that was just what was going on in my head. I had a very different view of the world. And maybe I can tell another story from the book.
At one point, Duder and I are out walking on a trail and this trail had a bunch of grass along it, some trees. And I realized that I’m standing way up here, walking, and Duder’s way down here on the trail. And I literally got down on the trail and started crawling, ’cause I wanted to see what the trail looked like from Duder’s perspective.
And it was very different down there. And what I realized in the lesson from that is that what was my view of the world? When I looked at life in general, when I looked at the people around me, when I looked at what my job was, what was my perspective? Was it one of just pure negative or was it one of positive? So I really had to change my view of things.
And so there was a moment where a typical event would happen in my life and in the past, I would react very negatively, get angry. And I realized that that didn’t happen to me anymore. The same event could happen to me and I could just kind of smile and shrug it off. It wouldn’t affect me the same.
So that was another one of those moments that, “Okay, I kind of have gone through a transformation. My mind is thinking differently.”
Brett McKay: Do you sometimes struggle with sliding back into old habits and mindsets? Or does Duder help keep you on track?
Jeff Goodrich: [chuckle] I don’t think you ever reach a point where you have transformed and everything’s good and you don’t have to work at it anymore. Old habits, old mindsets, yeah, they’re always there and they try to creep back.
So my book is called Dude & Duder. So the new guy is Dude. Dude’s the guy that’s doing all of this work. And the old guy is this guy named Jeff. And so sometimes Jeff tries to creep back in there.
Typically, it’s when something stressful happens and there’s some anxiety going on. And then the old habits just kind of come back in. You want to get back into your comfort zone.
I don’t even like to talk about it as a struggle to keep going. It’s just a daily challenge. And I’ve embraced this idea of every day should be a challenge. Challenge is what keeps me going. That’s why I go for a run every day, because it’s challenging. And I love to do it.
And I’ve kind of developed this growth mindset of continually challenging myself daily to continue to learn, grow, and change. I’m never gonna reach an end of this transformation. I don’t think there’s a stopping point. You have to, you know, life is about the journey, the old adage there. It truly is.
And I’ve embraced that. I see the end of a race all the time and I cross the finish line, but I’m not done because there’s always another race.
Brett McKay: Let’s say there’s a guy listening to this. He’s in midlife. He’s thought about getting a dog every time he’ll see a family with a dog and he’s like, “That would be nice.” But then he’s like, “Well, I don’t want to do that.”
What would you tell this guy?
Jeff Goodrich: Get one. Absolutely. Get a dog. Brett, do you have any dogs?
Brett McKay: I don’t have a dog. And our kids have been bugging us to get one, but we haven’t pulled the trigger on it. Well, I’m, yeah. No this, it makes me, every time I read… When I read your book and I saw pictures of Duder I was like, “That’d be really nice to get a dog.”
I’m really allergic to dogs. I actually got really close to pulling the trigger on it a few Christmases ago. And I said, “Let me… ” ‘Cause whenever I’m around certain breeds of dogs, I get really sneezy eyes, red, watery.
So I got an allergy test and I was really allergic to dogs, so. I’m still open to it.
Jeff Goodrich: [chuckle] Even though you’re allergic.
Brett McKay: Even though I’m allergic.
Jeff Goodrich: Well, that’s good. But yes, I would recommend getting a dog for nothing else. Take him for a daily walk. Get yourself out there and go for a walk.
So I specifically got a Vizsla and I described that story, why we did that. And so there are different trends and different breeds out there. And you can research which type of breed would be best for you, where you live and so forth.
One of my daughters has two dogs and they’re both shelter dogs. So I would also have you look at shelter dogs. There are a lot of dogs out there that do not have homes and they’re looking for homes. And these are typically mutts, not pure breeds, but man, they still can make good dogs.
So yes, get a dog. Everyone should have a dog.
Brett McKay: And it could help you make that midlife transformation, like Duder did for you.
Jeff Goodrich: Absolutely could.
Brett McKay: Well Jeff, this has been a great conversation. Where can people go to learn more about your book and more importantly, Duder?
Jeff Goodrich: I’m out on social media and probably the best way to find us is at our website, dudeandduder.com. And we have a Duder’s Challenge weekly email. So if you want to sign up for Duder’s Challenge, he’ll send you a weekly email with a challenge of what you can do that week.
Brett McKay: I love it.
Jeff Goodrich: And then follow us on social media.
Brett McKay: Dude & Duder. Yeah. When you sent me the book, you had Duder’s paw print in there, which I appreciate. So I’m glad he’s there.
He’s a star. He’s a social media celebrity. You guys got quite a following. And he’s pretty dapper. You got a picture of him like in a bow tie. So it’s great.
Jeff Goodrich: He’s a great companion. He’s my buddy.
Brett McKay: Fantastic. Well, Jeff Goodrich, thanks for time. It’s been a pleasure.
Jeff Goodrich: Thanks Brett.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Jeff Goodrich. He’s the author of the book, Dude & Duder. It’s available on amazon.com. You can find more information about his work at his website, dudeandduder.com.
Also check out our show notes at aom.is/dog, where you can find links to resources and we delve deeper into this topic.
Well, that wraps up another edition of The AOM Podcast. Make sure to check out our website at artofmanliness.com, where you can find our podcast archives, as well as thousands of articles that we’ve written over the years about pretty much anything you think of.
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And while I got you here, make sure to check out our online program, The Strenuous Life at strenuouslife.co. The Strenuous Life is an online program that we developed to help you put into action all the things we’ve written about on artofmanliness.com and talked about on the podcast for the past 15 years. We’ve done that in a few ways.
First, we created a badge system based around 50 different skills. There’s hard skills like wilderness survival, soft skills like public speaking. And these badges are designed to help you put into action the things that you’ve always wanted to do and have more firsthand experiences, increase your competence, confidence and enjoyment in life. So we get the badges.
We also provide weekly challenges. We call them Agons. It’s Greek for “challenge or competition”. The Agons are designed to push you out of your comfort zone.
Each Agon is going to encourage you to break out of your routine and do something a little different from what you usually do. And along the way, you’ll hopefully pick up some new habits, learn new skills and further your development in body, mind and spirit.
We also provide check-ins for physical activity. You’ve got to get 60 minutes of physical activity in each day. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a ruck, could be a body weight workout, could be a barbell training session. We just want you to move your body strenuously 60 minutes a day.
And then we also provide check-ins for doing a good deed. Because we want the whole purpose of Strenuous Life and increasing our competence and getting stronger is so we can be useful and serve the wider world.
And The Strenuous Life has geographic groups all across the world. People are getting together in person, doing The Strenuous Life together. They’re working on badges. They’re doing meetups. So check it out.
Our next enrollment for The Strenuous Life is going to be in January 2024. So go to strenuouslife.co. We have a email waiting list. If you put your email on that list, you’ll be one of the first to know when enrollment opens up this January. I hope to see you there. Check it out, strenuouslife.co.
And until next time, this is Brett McKay reminding you to not only listen to AOM Podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.