Fitness + Health + Wisdom + Wealth

Cope Notes & Mental Health: Johnny Crowder


Guest: Johnny Crowder

Release Date: 7/4/2022

Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.

Steve Washuta: Welcome to Trulyfit. Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I am your host Steve Washuta co-founder of Trulyfit and offer Fitness Business 101. In today’s episode, we talk about mental health with Johnny Crowder. You can find everything about him at Johnny Crowder loves you on Instagram. 

Johnny is the CEO and founder of cope notes. Which is a mental health technology company that works through text, he’s going to explain that in the podcast. He’s also in a heavy metal band. And he has multiple TED Talk speeches under his belt. Johnny is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to mental health. He’s going to tell us his story and his battles with mental health. 

He’s going to talk about the decision to invent and create cope notes and how exactly it works. And it was a great conversation. We always want to talk a little bit about mental health, maybe once every two months on this podcast, because there is a biopsychosocial approach to our health, we need to not just worry about the physical part, we have to worry about the psychological part of our health. 

Because those things are always merged together. One thing affects the other. We know that and whether it’s you working on yourself. Or you helping your clients, it’s good to be aware of the mental health issues and mental health stigmas and what people are dealing with day to day. So John has a wealth of knowledge in that area. It was great speaking with him with no further ado, here’s Johnny Crowder. Johnny, thanks so much for joining the Trulyfit podcast. Why don’t you give the listeners a background on who you are and what you do in sort of the health community?

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes) : So the short version, this is always hard to answer. I get asked this a lot. And I always struggle with where to start. So the short answer is, I grew up in an abusive home with a bunch of different mental health diagnoses. Then I went to school for psychology while going to treatment.

 And then I started working in peer support and public advocacy. Then eventually started a health care technology company that helps people improve their mental health. So literally from when I was a toddler. Experiencing hallucinations and self-harming all the way to now being 29 years old, and running a mental health company. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of different angles of mental and emotional health issues. And it’s my favorite thing to talk about.

Steve Washuta: Considering that I already know the sort of depth of your story. I thought that was a pretty concise and good summary. I think I think you’ve nailed it. And we’re going to talk a little bit towards the end. About what exactly your company is and what that does. But obviously, the purpose of this podcast is really to talk a little bit more about mental health. 

And you know, for the fitness professionals listening, why that is important. From my perspective is when we’re working with our clients. It’s a total bio cycle social approach here, right, we need to know what’s going on with them. We can’t get them to their goals if there’s too much going on in the background. 

We are not necessarily accustomed to or supposed to know, all of those other things. Right, we are taught the Kinesiology behind how we can help our clients. But not necessarily the psychology and the sociology. And it’s important to learn all of those aspects. And that’s why I like to have people like you to help us grow in that realm.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): I for a long time, leaned on physical health being like I straight up thought that if I just invested my physical health and all of my mental health problems would disappear. I’m serious. I was like, well, if I’m depressed, why don’t I just work out more. As if that like, as if your physical isn’t directly linked to your mental health? I was just hoping that I could like, exercise it away. You know?

Steve Washuta: Yeah, a lot of people do. And I mean, there’s science behind sort of the endorphins. Those sort of things that raise up when you’re exercising, and that is important. But we’re gonna get into also the sort of the negative mental side of working out. And why people sometimes take it too far to one extreme. 

And what I call it’s, it’s vanity masquerading as health. People say, Oh, I’m really healthy, like, I’m super healthy. But every day they wake up and all they think about is, when am I going to get my workout? How do I look? What exactly am I eating? I have to record all that stuff. And then I have to show everyone else what I’m doing and that can’t be healthy.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Yeah, I was definitely in that camp for a long time. And it used up way more energy than I realized.

Steve Washuta: Did you do something, in particular? Did you as some people get to like the runner’s high or lifting high, or what exactly was it that you clung to?

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): It was primarily a sense of completion or like closing a loop, like accomplishing a goal. So for example, I had pretty debilitating OCD. So I needed everything to be a certain way I couldn’t touch certain things. I couldn’t walk in certain directions, I mean, there were so many things that I couldn’t do. And I felt that in the gym. If I said I’m going to do eight reps of f50-pound dumbbells. I’m going to do it and I’m committing myself to do it. 

Then I do it, I felt a sense of control that I didn’t really get to feel outside, because of my OCD. And I wound up clinging to that like setting up a little goal for myself and knocking it down. And that feeling of accomplishment and like closing a loop, that sense of completion became almost too valuable to me.

Steve Washuta: Because that in and of itself is addictive. And that’s all you’re looking forward to or because you think it, it just gets worse. And that’s all that’s the only thing you can do is just complete loops.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Well, part of the problem too, is that I really didn’t feel strong. So like I was in an abusive environment. So I felt very weak in that setting. And then I felt weak when standing up against some of my mental illnesses, so being in the gym helped me feel physically strong. And there are obviously positives there. 

Like if I feel physically capable of facing something, then that might translate to me feeling mentally or emotionally, or spiritually capable of facing that. But I think I wound up becoming so obsessed with what I missed, I missed my girlfriend at the time, my girlfriend’s birthday, because I couldn’t skip a day at the gym. Like my priorities were so out of whack that it became my new like, I was using the gym to escape a sense of like confinement. And then I wound up being imprisoned by the thing that I was using to escape, you know?

Steve Washuta: Yeah, and that’s, you know, for us, as fitness professionals, that’s a hard discussion to have with your clients if you see them going that way because you want them to reach their goals. And they’re going to reach their goals faster if they’re at the gym more if that’s what their goal is. 

But if you’re if you care about them on other levels, you should towards their long-term health and wellness, which in my opinion, is always the major goal, right? It’s not about getting the biceps, it’s about long-term health and wellness. And sometimes you have to pull them back and say, hey, you know, your, your, your route, you’re taking yourself out of all of these other important areas of life to make your goals which in turn is hurting your long-term health and wellness.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): I was doing for a long period of time, I was doing three hours a day, six days a week at the gym, and then I would do on my seventh day, I would do some kind of physical activity like walking or something. But I was doing three hours a day, six days a week. It was severely affecting my quality of life. 

I was also getting the problem was I was struggling with Body Dysmorphia at the time too. Some pretty serious bulimia ik tendencies. So I was like no matter what I would accomplish at the gym like it was constant goalposts moving like what I just said like I want to do eight reps with 50-pound dumbbells. 

And then once I did that, and then I did it again the next time I went to the gym then that third time, I’d be like, right, what’s next? Do I have to 10 reps do I have to go up to 55 to like, it was like I never actually, I always felt like I was just not enough?I would look around the gym at other people who were in better shape. I would look online and see other people in better shape and then I would punish myself for not being committed enough. Then my solution was to just work out more. 

So that’s how I wound up getting the three hours a day was like, Well, you know, these other guys here who are huge. Or I didn’t want to use steroids. And I was like I guess my only option. This was very novice thinking I was like I guess I just need to work out way more. And that didn’t help me.

Steve Washuta: Can you speak to and for those who don’t know, you know, Johnny was in the music industry? I’m not sure if you still are. But it is that a body dysmorphia? Is that maybe tied to being onstage and having all these people look at you all the time? Is that a normal thing? I only asked that because one of my favorite singers of all time Daniel Jon’s lead singer of Silverchair also dealt with anorexia and for males at the time when he came out. That was an odd thing. Dude,

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): I love Silverchair that amazing That’s awesome. Yeah, there. They have that song freak. Right? That’s um, yeah, that’s one of my favorite music videos of all time. Yeah,

Steve Washuta: yeah, that’s classic. Silverchair Yeah, that’s from the womb freak show. Their second album, I think was like 19 or 20 at the time. It was just a three-man band, an amazing Australian band for those who don’t know them.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): So cool. Anyway, I love that you know them because we toured. My band toured with this band called dire this murder that’s from Australia. They were playing a Silverchair song as their soundcheck like when they would test the systems and make sure that all the PA works. And I was like, What the heck is that? It sounds so cool. Anyway, that’s totally cool. I will say that. 

There’s something about having a bunch of people stare at you that makes you think like, I need to kind of get my physical act together like I do press now for Coke now. It’s, and they’ll film with these like 4k cameras for like new stuff. And then I’ll see footage and I’ll be like, shoot, I need to like trim my eyebrows. Like I need to cut my beard line better like geez Louise, what am I doing and you know you like overthink it. 

But one thing specific to the music industry, I don’t know how many other bands have experienced this. And I’ve never actually really talked about it, I probably should, at some point. This led to one of the most severe physicals I would say the most physical danger that I’ve been in, in terms of my health and wellness was triggered by our manager at the time, who said, You’re not going to get in these magazines and get these photoshoots and get like festival slots.

 If you’re not ripped, like if you really want these slots, and you’re the frontman, you’re the singer of the band, you gotta get, you gotta get abs, you got to get your body fat down, you got to get your muscle tone higher, you got to get swole. And so he started checking with me. Keep in mind, this is not his job. He was the manager of my band, and he would text me and I was in pretty good shape. 

I’ve always been exercising and stuff, but he would text me like, What did you eat? Did you work out? What was your workout it made me so paranoid that me being at like 12% body fat wasn’t low enough to land some press feature or playing some to play some festival or whatever, or for people to want to watch our music videos, which is something that he said, I got so obsessed with that, that I actually dropped my sodium intake so low that I had to go to a hospital.

Steve Washuta: Wow, that’s a that’s it’s an absolute shame. And obviously, that’s one can understand being under that pressure, being young understanding that this is your shot, maybe right in the music industry. It’s not always who’s the most talented, sometimes it’s just who’s the luckiest who’s there at the right time. 

You’re like, Yeah, this could be my shot. If they tell me, I can get in this magazine, or I can be, you know, the headline, or some sort of like, top act in this festival, I’m going to do whatever it is I have to do. For somebody who was already dealing with, you know, self admittedly, other issues, I’m sure that just you know, kind of snowballed out of control.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Did it’s so funny looking back, like I bet there are people listening to this, like, Oh, give me a break. Like anyone knows that you know, if you’re talented, you get whatever you deserve. And it’s like, not really like the music industry. I’ve seen interviews with like Usher, and like all these other artists where they talk about like, oh, yeah, we like take diuretics. We fast for 48 hours before we film a music video. 

We don’t drink water for 24 hours before we film music videos and stuff, or before we do press shoots. It’s like, these are people who are in incredible shape already, who are being told by these industry professionals, like I control your career and the direction of it. 

So you listen to me because I get you opportunity. So on the outside, I’m sure it’s easy to think like, Oh, give me a break, dude. But if you’re actually in it, and you feel that your career is being determined by whether or not you drink water, whether or not you take this diuretic or whether or not you work out an extra hour this week, it feels like life or death when you’re in it.

Steve Washuta: If for some odd reason. And I say odd because it’ll be talked about in small circles on a podcast like this, someone will hint at it, but it still gets swept under the rug. Everybody is on steroids. And when I say everybody I mean the rock, any celebrity that you see, and I get not only they answer because I know so much about steroids. I can tell you almost the exact dosages that these guys are on just by looking at them. 

There are some telltale signs that they’re really really circular like rounded delts. Obviously, the vascularity where your skin looks paper thin. These are things outside of being what I call, the one percenters right? Of course, you have these freak athletes right in the NBA think or the NFL, things like that. But the vast majority of people look like that, especially after the age of 25 you have to you have to be on something your hormones just don’t allow you to do that. But people don’t want to talk about it. 

Everyone talks about their hard work. Oh, my hard work in the gym, my hard work in the gym, I heard work in the gym, and all their followers see that, that their hard work is giving them these results. They don’t get these results and they think well what’s going on? What’s wrong with me?

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): That was me, dude. Like, That’s why I so if anyone likes TED Talks and is listening to this I gave a TED talk about how you can’t really change your mental and emotional health overnight. You can’t just flip a switch or snap your fingers and all of a sudden you’re better like It’s hard. It takes a long time. Gradual and physical health is the exact same way. 

I would watch these people go through these like physical transformations even not just celebrities, but like people who went to my own gym. I would think, well, how on earth did they do that? And almost invariably, it was like hard work, dedication, you know. And now, looking back, I see, like, I did not understand the role of genetics. I did not understand the role of your age, or, you know, the dude from, it’s always sunny, who got really small Mac. 

Yep. Did you see that thing that he posted, where he’s like, the secret to getting really ripped is simple? All you have to do is quit your job and work out eight hours a day and have a personal chef appointed to you by the studio and a personal trainer appointed to you and then sleep as much as possible, and then put off all interpersonal responsibilities and then get paid millions of dollars for it. Yeah, that’s all you have to do.

Steve Washuta: That’s essentially what the celebrities do. And except they also have what I call Mexican supplements added into their cocktails. So

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): yeah, dude, and it does make you feel like, we don’t really talk about this a lot. And it’s unfortunate because I see it a ton and like, we talk about body dysmorphia among women. And I think that’s super crucial. But what I see left out a ton, especially in the exercise community, are people feeling like, wow, I just probably must suck. 

Like, if all these guys are getting so ripped, and I’m working out really hard, and I’m dieting and I’m doing everything I can I’m still not past this point. And I’ve tried all the different things for years and years. The solution or the conclusion, in most people’s minds, is not, well, maybe it’s just not in my genetic cards. Or maybe this shouldn’t be my top priority, because I have so many other responsibilities in my life or relationships that I want to maintain. It’s usually I suck.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, I think another you know, to add to that, it’s a great point is, is there’s a lot of people who actually do have those jeans, and they are working really hard, right? I’m not I’m not discounting those people. But when those people come out and say, all you have to do is also work hard, what they don’t understand. 

Yeah, well, that’s why that’s so naive is that Johnny, if I pinch you and you pinch me, and we both assume that we’re feeling the same pain, we’re wrong, right? I don’t know the level of pain that you felt right? I don’t know. And that’s the same thing. If you have a, you know, a brother who dies, and I have a brother who dies, I don’t know the level of pain that you are in psychologically, and you don’t know the level of pain that I’m in. 

And those are, those are sculpted around the combination of genetics and life experiences and all those things. But for those people who say, all you have to do is work hard, and you can also get big, that’s that’s just not the case, physically, we’re all very different. And some of us will, can simply not get to where others can, regardless of hard work.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Dude. This was maybe 5 4 4 years ago, or something, I got my body fat lower than it’s ever been, I got my body fat down to 6.9%. It was like super, super, super low. And I was dieting like you would not believe like dip depriving myself of literally anything I ever wanted. Intermittent fasting to the extreme, doing just a ridiculous amount of training and sacrificing a lot of my quality of life in order to get out there. And I’m not joking. Looked almost exactly like I look right now. 

I don’t even know my body fat percentage on it, I don’t know the scale anymore. Because of like how unhealthy I used to be with all that stuff. I don’t measure my body fat, I don’t weigh myself anymore. You were to put a picture of me when I had my body fat super low and was breaking my back to train and doing everything that I could to get in super good shape, and a picture of me now next to each other, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. 

That’s because I met with this like exercise scientist. I was like, What is the problem? I’m at 6.9 This is ridiculous. Why am I not? Why don’t I have ABS basically that was my whole issue. And she was like, Well imagine if you have 7% Imagine if 7% of your body is fat 7% of your body weight is fat. And you store most of that 7% On top of your abs because your family is Native American because your family is European. 

That is historically where those ethnicities stored body fat due to like survival like protecting vital organs because of harsh winters or whatever is you could get your body fat down to 5% and still not see ABS because that’s where your body is storing fat and you can’t change that and it was I walked out of her office and couldn’t She was basically like, she didn’t say this, but the vibe that I got was like, shut up. 

Yeah. Like, don’t worry about it so much like, why is this such a big deal? And I walked out and I’m like, holy crap, I had been chasing this thing without ever considering that maybe it’s not the most important thing. Maybe it’s not worth what I would have to sacrifice to achieve it. You know?

Steve Washuta: Totally Allison Jackson, who’s on this podcast. She’s a fitness competitor. She has her pro card. She talked about how she’ll have moms and people her age, she’s in her 40s messenger all the time be like, how do you look so good in your 40s She said, I look good pre-competition, but I feel like crap. Like, you don’t want to do this. Like I’m like, this is my goal because I want to get up on stage and win a prize. 

But, you know, it’s like to run new to not literally but it feels like you’re running marathons all the time. It’s and your, your, your body’s beat up. He’s trying to describe to these people Yeah, it looks good in pictures, I’m smiling on stage, the second I’m off that, that there’s a frown on and I can’t wait to go eat something. This is just a short-term thing that I do for my body. Speaking to what you just said, the difference between someone having 9% and 5% body fat, and the quality of life that you could potentially lead. 

Right? That’s what you also have to look at do you really want to make all of these major decisions based on vanity when you can leave a much more healthy lifestyle, have a little bit more body fat, and not again, be obsessive-compulsive and potentially mental you know, breakdowns due to due to the obsession of vanity

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): to the competition thing makes me think of like, oh know how good of an analogy this is because I’m just making it up right now. But like when I tore, I sleep in a van. Like we sleep in a 15-passenger van. And that’s where we sleep. We sleep in parking lots dude in a vehicle. And we shower at gas stations. And we have a fit membership or Planet Fitness. 

I mean, so will we stop it and Planet Fitness at every in every city to shower? Yeah. And that’s like the way that all our stuff is like in trash bags and backpacks. Stuff like it is an extremely unglamorous lifestyle and you’re away from your friends. You’re away from your family. If you have a girlfriend, you’re away, you’re paying rent for an apartment that you don’t even live in.

Steve Washuta: And then after the show. They come up to you and go you live the best life ever, John. Yeah.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): And you’re like, dude, I’m not lying. Those 30 minutes on stage. Where some of the most fun 30 minutes of my entire life. Like, you get to see that. And imagine if somebody said, Well, I don’t know why I’m not. You know, I’m sleeping in a van every night. All my stuff is in a trash bag. How come I’m not where you are? And you’re like, dude, first of all, you should really only be doing that stuff. If you are like, here’s my point. Most people should not do those things. Yeah,

Steve Washuta: It’s not without sacrifice, right? It’s a major sacrifice. Yeah, to get to that short-term goal. And it’s not for everybody. And, and it’s the people who fit who only see the glamorous side who only see Johnny on stage for 30 minutes with the biggest smile on his face. Don’t see Johnny at 6 am waiting outside of Planet Fitness in nowheresville, Michigan so that he can get a shower before traveling six more hours on the bus to go to the next show. Yeah.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): And it’s not to say that certain things aren’t worth sacrificing for. It’s just At what point does it cost you more than it gives you and I think if you are like a competitor, who’s like, you know, let’s say your entire life like your income is tied to winning competitions and sponsorships for fitness modeling or whatever. 

Maybe you can devote a totally different level of sacrifice so that it pays you back enough to justify it. But if you’re just someone like me, who does not have a job and in the fitness industry who does not depend on it for income, then there’s probably no reason why you should be working out even half as much as someone whose entire life revolves around fitness. Like if the reason why you’re doing it is just so you look awesome. 

But your career is not dependent on it. Maybe try to find something else to care more about, which sounds kind of dismissive, but the only reason that I’m happier now is that I think less about my appearance. And I am so much happier about the way that I look. I’m sure I look like I’m sure I was in better shape before but I feel better about the way that I look now, which seems so counterintuitive.

Steve Washuta: Yeah. And it’s all about balance and as you talked about in the TED Talk, you’re not going to get from zero zeros being in very bad mental health shape to 100 Perfect, although there is no such thing as perfect, and in a snap of a finger, right this is there’s a, there’s a building to this process in order to do it effectively, it really has to be done slowly. And that’s the same thing physically, right? You don’t want to go from zero to 60. 

You can’t just have people like David Goggins yelling at you to run as many miles as you possibly can because you’re gonna burn out, your body is going to break down. And we’re all not built to do that. It’s way better to build habits slowly to make them effective long term. And that’s what we have to preach to our clients and the general population.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Dude, I’ll say this, too, when you’re like when I was in my late teens and early 20s, my appearance was really important to me. Like so it was paramount to me, for whatever reason. As I’ve gotten older and realized, like, oh, I have like nieces and nephews, and beaches are a thing. Mountains are a thing. There’s great music out there and delicious food and awesome people to meet. 

Slowly my physical appearance is like is moving down my ladder of importance, as, as really important things are populating those, like my top 10 slots. So it’s, it’s not that I care less about, like fitness and being healthy. It’s that I care more about people and places and experiences and other types of growth that aren’t directly tied to my parents and it’s kind of freeing.

Steve Washuta: Totally. And then listen, that’s a fantastic point. Because I feel like, it’s hard to tell people that because I don’t like to be like the person who talks down to younger people. And no one likes that. But you almost want to just grab them sometimes and say, I know you think this is important right now. But this is not going to be important for you for 10 years. And what you’re doing now is going to hurt, it’s going to hurt your goals in 10 years. 

Because there’s, this is a whole nother conversation. We don’t have to go down this route. But there are even a lot of exercise types that I would consider dangerous isn’t the wrong word. But over time you’re doing damage to your body, right, you’re inevitable if you’re putting it this is just a fact, if you’re putting 500 pounds on the squat rack and squatting, what we call as de gras, your joints and ligaments do not grow at the same rate that your muscles do, right, your muscles are tied to bones, joints and ligaments are not. So you can your your your ligaments are not working in the same manner. 

And we see this in pro sports all the time. We’ve never tried it. We’ve never had more injuries, more, more doctors, and more orthopedic appointments for orthopedic surgeries in the history of mankind, and we’re supposed to have the best medicine and the best doctors. Well, why is that? It’s because people are continuing to put more weight on the bar and do harder and more difficult things and they don’t understand your body. 

There’s a number or there’s an I don’t know what it is. But there’s no It’s just math in which you’re not going to be able to do any more of this movement. Your body says no more. And until that’s ingrained into people’s heads. I don’t know what’s going to change, but I hope it does,

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): bro I was I to put this in perspective. When I was in high school, I was 185 pounds of muscle. And I was so wide. Like my shoulders and chest. I was so broad that I was like uncomfortable in car seats. Like I’m not joking. I had like, and I’m in high school dude. And I leg pressed 1000 pounds in high school. 

Yeah, I was all about bodybuilding. Like, that all that mattered to me was fitness, fitness, fitness. I blew my knee out on that leg press. It slowed me down. Then a few years later, whatever mentally drove me to that point still existed because I hadn’t dealt with it through therapy. 

So a couple of years later, my knee is healed. And I go right back to the same old behaviors, my patterns wouldn’t change until I really started digging through the mental and emotional like, Why do I feel like I need to lift this or look this way or accomplish this in order to be valuable or important and I without addressing those things, I’d probably still be behaving that way today.

Steve Washuta: I kind of want to ask you a little bit about that. So you know what are your and I know you’re not a physician and you’re not talking as a physician. That’s just your experiences with your company in your life. What do you think should be I guess you would say sort of like the standard experience or intervention for somebody who has whatever it is maybe OCD or depression or body dysmorphia should they first go see a physician and then get sent to the right person like how do you believe that like the next wave of medical intervention can help them get through this process.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): I think that you’ll rarely go wrong by going to see a doctor and explaining what’s happening. Because almost invariably, a doctor will either say, I can help you with that, or I can’t help you with that. But I know someone who can, like it’s, I mean, there’s like a network of care that exists now, where there’s like a bunch of referral webs. If you just go to a doctor and say, like, Hey, I’m really struggling with this, they will probably be able to guide you. Even before that, this is gonna sound so not medical. 

It’s probably not even sound advice. But I encourage you, if you’re afraid of seeing a professional, I encourage you to read about what you are experiencing somewhere online, you can literally google it. If you if you’re like, I’m depressed, and I can’t eat, and you Google it, and wind up finding a couple of reputable articles and you read about and you’re like, oh, okay, other people experiences, there’s science behind it, there are solutions out there. 

For me, if you told me to go see a professional, I’d be like, Screw you. But through health education, ie basic, basic, basic health education, I started to realize that I’m not the only person who’s experiencing this. There’s the real science behind it. And there are actual solutions that are making difference in people’s lives. And knowing those things, when you go to see a physician makes you feel so much safer and more receptive.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Sounds obvious. I know. It’s, it’s nerve-racking. I’m not I do not sort of put anyone down. But you would think that people just having a little bit more information about something prior to seeing any professional allows them to either maybe confirm your thoughts, which is a good thing. 

Or maybe they miss something, and you can say, hey, you know, I did hear about XY and Z. And I just want to throw this out. Because I do I do have this symptom, or I do have this issue with my family. My family members also have this issue. I’m thinking maybe this could be a genetic issue. What do you think about that? I think it builds a level of confidence that the prescription the person is giving you is potentially correct.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): And even I love the way that you phrase that because you had it all its questions, like, I’m meeting my CPA next week because it’s the end of the year. And I need to go through a bunch of business tax stuff. So what I’m doing in advance of our meeting, is reading a bunch of stuff online, trying to educate myself about what is the smart and legal thing to do making a whole big list of questions to ask him. 

And then when I meet with him, I can at least come with something. And he can tell me like that the first thing that you said is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Number three actually makes a lot of sense. And then number seven doesn’t even apply to you. And I’m like, oh, shoot, I’m so glad that I came with some things so that I feel a little more clued in rather than going like, fix me. Do you know?

Steve Washuta: Totally, I think that’s, that’s a problem speaking to that. And that leads perfectly to what I want to talk about next, there is a fixed mentality. Now, My wife’s a physician, a lot of times, not that, you know, I don’t know any specific stories because she wouldn’t be allowed to tell me names and things of that nature. But I know generalized issues. 

And one is that parents more often than not, will come and say, you know, this is wrong with my child, what can you give them? And what do they mean that they don’t mean is? Can you send them to psychiatrists or psychologists or counseling? They mean, what sort of medication? Can we put them on? And can we do it quickly? And I think it’s a, it’s a problem. 

I don’t necessarily know how to solve it, I’m sure we’re not going to solve it here over the next 20 or 30 minutes. But I do think needs to be talked about. And part of that problem is also because like you just talked about, if you don’t self educate yourself, you assume that there are no repercussions that you can just, you know, take a pill and as a solution, but there’s like we talked about before, there’s always a trade-off, right? 

That work that you’re doing that 30 minutes that you’re spending on stage. Well, that came with, you know, having a shower at 5 am at the local gym, and you know that those medications also come with side effects and other problems and there are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Someone brought up that it’s not necessarily I’m reading this book called The Art of happiness. And I would strongly recommend it if you have not read it. It is not like self-help. Book. It is written by a psychologist, a social psychologist and a, and literally the Dalai Lama. And they talk about like, suffering and how human beings process suffering, and how we form relationships. It’s really fascinating. 

I can virtually guarantee you’ll learn a lot about yourself by reading it. And it was talking about like the true cost of something is not only what you spend, like and it actually costs us to despise ourselves. It costs us to hold grudges, it costs us to harbor resentment, or to resist change, like all these things cost, they come at great cost to us. So you kind of have to think about it. Like, you know, would you pay $3,000 for a spatula? Probably not. Right? Even if it was a really cool spatula that you want you’re like, three grand, no freakin way. But we don’t think about our mental and emotional health that way. Like if I’m

Steve Washuta: sorry to interrupt, I call it the economics of emotions. Dude, right?

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): I like that. Yeah. We just have to consider what we’re spending for what we’re getting. And if we’re like, you know what, I just I don’t want to say I don’t want to face my depression yet. I’ll do this for another six months. And you got to think okay, you can do it for another six months. 

But what does it does it maybe cost you a relationship. Because you can trade what you have it’s totally within your right to trade, a relationship, a job opportunity, your level of life satisfaction, and maybe your financial security for not looking at kicking the can down the road for another six months. And if you think that’s a fair trade, it’s well within your right to trade that. But from where I’m sitting, I’m like, Heck, no, I’m not letting it cost me all that holy crap. I need to deal with this. Now.

Steve Washuta: What was the I have to ask the impetus behind starting COPPA notes? You can obviously explain what it is here, was there a breaking point? Was it somebody else you saw going through something that wasn’t just what you had? Is it? Do you feel like you need to give back what was the final straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, where you said, I have to start this

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): dude, so for context, Coke notes uses daily text messages to improve mental and emotional health. So all the messages are written by peers with lived experience, just like me and you, then they are reviewed by clinicians and delivered at random times. And it literally surprises your brain into thinking and healthier patterns over time. So it’s like a brain training resource, specifically geared to improve your mental health. 

I’m not joking, dude, I needed this so freakin bad. I kept searching for resources. I knew that I couldn’t I mean, it’s exactly like working out, bro. Like, you can’t do one killer workout once every two weeks and expect to get in good shape. And that’s what people do with therapy. They’re like, why go to therapy twice a month? And it’s like, well, yeah, but how much progress do you expect to make like, now I’m not saying therapy is bad therapy saved my life. 

But I’m saying if that’s all you do, imagine if you brushed your teeth once every two weeks. Imagine if you drank a gallon of water once every two weeks like it’s not enough consistency. So with coke notes, all I wanted was to provide consistency, a little bit of something every day to keep you on the right track. And honestly, I launched coke notes, because I couldn’t surprise myself. 

So I kept leaving sticky notes around my house to try to surprise myself and interrupt negative thought patterns. But I always knew where I left the sticky notes because I put them there so much like you can’t tickle yourself. It’s really hard to surprise yourself. So cope notes were just a way for me to like randomize interruptions to my negative thought patterns that other people wanted to try as well.

Steve Washuta: I mean, it is genius. If you think about it, it’s all happened to us once when you stumble upon a message from someone you weren’t expecting. They said something really nice, it could be at the store. They’re like, Hey, I love those jeans. You weren’t even thinking about those jeans, and it makes your day or could be, you know, maybe more directly from a partner or something right, your partner leaves you a little note in the lunch they pack to you. It makes a big difference. It makes it big, it actually makes a bigger difference than a physical gift more often than not.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): The value of an interruption is difficult to explain, because it’s kind of like pretty much everyone I know is like driven past a billboard where they’re like, Well, I feel like that billboard spoke to me or like they turn on the turn on shuffle and it plays a song that makes us think of their grandma on the anniversary of their grandma’s death or whatever happens. We all have moments like that, but we can’t schedule them for ourselves. 

And actually, the interruption is the important part. If we’re talking like on a neuroscience level, you can’t just say like, it’s not the same to say, well, I know that I’m in a negative thought pattern, and I’m going to engage with some positive content to pull myself out of it. Now you can do that. Sure. And that does help. I do it all the time. 

But it’s not the same as something else interrupting you because you won’t always have the initial It IV to break that negative thought pattern. Sometimes you really do need something outside of yourself to kind of slap you on the back of the neck and be like, Hey, how about thinking of it this way? And you’re like, oh, shoot, I didn’t even realize I was in like a negative thought spiral until you interrupted me.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, we’re all not the Dalai Lama. We’re not the masters of our emotions, yet, we can’t just snap out of bad thoughts and into meditation, it’s, it’s good to have assistance. And that’s exactly what it sounds like Cope Notes provides assistance in that journey. And let’s be honest, the reason we can’t see counselors or therapists, more often, number one is financially but number two, they just don’t have they don’t have the time, there’s not enough of them. 

It’s a problem in the industry. If you try to get booked with let’s say, a psychiatrist, those are the ones who prescribe medication, and your child Good luck, you’re on a four-month waiting list. You try to get it to a psychologist a little bit easier, a counselor a little bit easier, but a lot of times they might not be covered by their insurance. So what do you do then? So to have something that is much cheaper, and still provides the value for you during that interim period, like hope note seems to be well worth it.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Dude, it’s cool to hear it from someone else’s perspective. Because I’ve always understood the value because I grew up in treatment. I think anyone who has like been in and out of treatment and struggled with mental illness is like, Oh, I totally get it. Or anyone who has gone to school for psychology is like, I totally get it. But when it gets lost in translation, as people who are living without diagnoses, who say, Oh, I don’t need this, and it’s like, Dude, it’s actually not built for any specific illness or diagnosis at all. This is built to train your brain. So if you have a brain and a cell phone, I can virtually guarantee it’s going to make a difference.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, it’s funny, you say that I mean, unfortunate, I don’t have body dysmorphia or, or any of the issues that you named, I’m fortunate in that area, we all have issues. But I don’t, I don’t have any of those. But so how I see things, Johnny is always through the scope, unfortunately, of how our medical and health system is broken, to put plainly, and I’m always looking for ways because for me, I do have a little bit of OCD, you can say I’m always looking for a fix if there’s a problem. 

I say, I know there has to be a fix. To me, there’s no, there’s now that solution, of course, can come with trade-offs. But I’m always willing to look at those trade-offs and balance it and say how can we potentially fix that problem? And that’s what you did you you’re in the midst of fixing a problem? Is there? Is there a kind of ask, is there another step to this, is there another stage Have you thought of part two or a way to expand on this?

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): So there’s lots of cool stuff that we’re going to be building. But I have always been clear about this. I do not want to be the Walmart of mental health where you can get anything and everything you need. I just have no desire to be that. Like, there are amazing crisis resources out there that we partner with. So we’re not going to do crisis response. There are amazing therapists out there. 

So we’re not going to do therapy like we are filling gaps. I don’t I’m not interested in taking anybody’s jobs or reinventing things that already exist. I am interested in making something that fills the gaps in the things that already exist. So I’m basically if you use coke notes, and you’re like, well, what’s the next step? 

The next step is like one of the trillion other resources that exist that can help you but coke notes is a great solution for people who are like, I don’t want to go to therapy and I want to take medication I don’t even know if I want to work on my mental health. This is like such a safe first step that can be sort of your gateway band. Like we always talk about like gateway bands like for me slipknot system of a down and Linkin Park. 

Like that’s who showed me what heavy metal was like those gateway bands. So coke notes is that gateway resource for you to be like, you know, six months into a coconut subscription, you might be like, you know, what might be good as maybe seeing if I can talk to a counselor, in addition to using coconut so it might like warm you up to those things, but I don’t ever want coke notes to be those things for you.

Steve Washuta: But and but for you personally, I guess your goal would be to just expand the bandwidth, right? Have coke notes reach more people. That’s the ultimate goal rather than building, let’s say another platform or trying to get into other areas. It’s just growing coconuts.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): I want a jillion people to use Koch notes. We purposely switched to a government-approved toll-free number so that we could start serving internationally because our whole goal was reached like on the homepage of our website, one of the three metrics that we measure is lives impacted, which is the total number of people who have used coke notes and that’s our true north. We look at that number every single day.

Steve Washuta: That’s awesome. Well, I can tell you down the road, we are not launched yet surely fit as our software application. But where, I guess the best way to describe Trulyfit is where the Fiverr of fitness and if you’ve ever used Fiverr before you hop on Fiverr, you go on and there’s a, you know, there’s a bunch of different things, you can pick video editing, software, content, whatever, and then you look, and then there are professionals, it’s a free market, and they all set their, their rates. 

And they tell you exactly what they do. We do that for fitness, basically. Right? So there are fitness professionals on there. And they might say, you know, Hey, my name is Mandy Smith, and I teach a yoga class at five o’clock, you can join virtually, I charge six credits, which is whatever $6 on our site. And that’s what we do. But eventually, you know, having some sort of merge with you guys would be fantastic. 

We’re not we’re not going yet. But we can easily obviously, and I’m saying this life because I believe in it, we can easily get all the phone numbers of the people who sign up and then have them check a box and say, if you want this, you want this. Yeah, join up. And if you don’t, you don’t. So we could talk about that down the road. But I think it would be a great idea to merge the fitness world obviously with the mental health world.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Dude, I can honestly say that, while I was talking to my buddy the other day about how your mental and emotional health so directly affects your physical health, like your ability to lift, and even your body’s tendency to like cling to water and fat and your body’s cortisol production. 

Sure, like all of these things are tied to how we feel. So for years and years, I was hoping that if I just focus on my physical health, all my mental and emotional stuff would kind of go away, but on its own, but actually, I’ve found almost the opposite. Where like, the more I focus on getting mentally and emotionally healthy, the more I enjoy exercise, the more I enjoy true balance and my training regimen, and actually enjoy rest, I enjoy eating foods that maybe aren’t the healthiest, but are super delicious. 

And I’m experiencing true balance in my physical health for maybe the first time ever in my life like I’m sleeping better. I am much less irritable and much more calm and balanced. And I truly think it’s because your progress in the gym, is probably your body might be waiting for you to work on your mental and emotional health so that you can work with your body, not against it.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, there’s a problem. I’ve dealt with it for a long time, I’m just starting to kind of get and find the right zones here. But we assume that our baseline is optimal. And that’s not always the case, right? You only know what you know. So you think between your sleep and your genetics and your biochemistry and the food and all these things going on that you know, oh, this is just how good I feel at nine in the morning. 

Well, no, that’s not the case, right? You can optimize those things, and you can improve on all of those areas. So that you feel in a way that one could not even describe in words because you just haven’t felt it yet. And that the ultimate goal is to have that wild feeling. And sometimes you need if you’ve already tried everything else, right? If you’re saying I’m going to the gym longer, I’m increasing my diet. Well, it’s probably on the other end of the health spectrum, which is the mental health spectrum to get you to that optimal level.

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Yeah, I look back at younger me who’s training three hours a day and frustrated my quote-unquote, lack of progress. And I think what do you think is going to actually move the needle? Is it four hours a day, is it five, or is it six? Like at some point, you have to think like maybe it’s not more of the thing that I’m doing? Maybe it’s something entirely else that I am neglecting?

Steve Washuta: Who would have thought novel concept? Well, Johnny, this has been a wealth of information. It’s been fantastic. Why don’t you give the listeners a resource or multiple resources on where they could find everything about Johnny Crowder and coconuts?

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): Yes, so Johnny is like my speaking stuff. Coke is obviously the coke note stuff. And we do have gift subscriptions. We get that question a lot like Well, can I buy one for like my spouse or my coworker or whatever? Definitely. We do have those. 

And then if you are a YouTube person or a TED Talk person, if you just search on YouTube, Johnny Crowder or Johnny Crowder TED talk, you will find it it’s called how to grow as a person and why it sucks. So I try to be pretty straightforward about that stuff. And then I’m on Instagram at Johnny Crowder loves you. And then I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn. So I encourage you to reach out and connect with me and if you didn’t listen to anything I just said you kind of zoned out. Just go to cope and it has everything you need.

Steve Washuta: It was a great TED talk. I recommend it. Give it a listen. My guest today is Johnny Crowder, Johnny thank you for your time

Johnny Crowder (Cope Notes): We’ve had guests dude thank you

Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks again!




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