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Daniel Hayes: Making peace with the long game.


As a devoted runner, fitness was just a way of life for Daniel Hayes. So when his health threw him a curveball and he wound up on meds that slowed his metabolism, none of his usual approaches to weight maintenance worked. Now, 35 pounds later, he’s fit again, and an inspiration to his young son.


When you’re an avid marathoner, you expect your body to obey.

You run more miles each week; your body readily responds with improved conditioning and endurance.

You dial up protein and vegetables, your body snaps to attention with more muscle and less fat.

But in 2008, at the age of 38, the easy cause-and-effect, master-and-servant relationship that Daniel Hayes had with his body suddenly reversed.

While training for his fifth marathon, Daniel, of Chicago, Illinois, began experiencing a heartburn-like sensation every time his heart rate went above a certain point.

Knowing his body well enough to be concerned, he made an appointment with a cardiologist. The exam revealed a problem that would change the course of his life: One of his arteries was 90 percent blocked.

If he hadn’t caught it, Daniel’s doctors said his condition would have culminated in a fatal heart attack.

Now with stents in two coronary arteries and working his way through cardiac rehabilitation, Daniel was recovering well and started running again. But his body wasn’t the same.

“One of the unfortunate things is that I was put on a heavy dose of statins and a beta-blocker, which really slowed down my metabolism,” Daniel says.

“I gained about 30 pounds over the next 5 or 6 years just from the meds alone.”

Although he had years of experience maintaining a fit body, Daniel discovered his tried-and-true strategies no longer worked. They were simply no match for his new health realities.

What’s more, the time he could devote to figuring out a nutrition and fitness approach that would work was more limited than ever.

For one thing, Daniel was spending lots of time caring for his mother, who was struggling with dementia and, sadly, eventually passed away in 2013.

Meanwhile, the company he worked for was bought out, and Daniel found himself dealing with the pressures and commitments that come when you know your job is on the rocks.

Thankfully, there was a bright spot too: The birth of his first son. But as any new parent soon finds out, caring for a small child doesn’t usually increase the amount of time you’re able to dedicate to nutrition and fitness.

Daniel at his heaviest, the result of a slowed metabolism plus lots of competing priorities.

Though he continued to exercise, Daniel no longer felt like the fit, healthy guy he once was.

By 2015, with his weight not budging from his new high of 238, it was clear to Daniel that he needed to try something different. He couldn’t expect a quick fix; that ship had sailed.

“I just looked myself in the eye and said, ‘I’ve got do something about this. I need to be healthy. Especially for my wife and son.’”

Enter Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Daniel realized that in order to lose weight in a way that worked with his medications, health history, and demanding life, he would need some help.

So he researched nutrition coaching options online, and liked what he read about PN’s habits-based approach.

He would need to “meet himself where he was” and focus on sustainable practices rather than short-term hacks.

So he dug into the PN program’s habits and gradually changed his approach to food.

One of the biggest changes? Eating slowly to 80 percent full—a lifelong “anchor” practice that helps you reconnect with your metabolism and hunger cues.

Daniel realized he had gotten used to feeling completely stuffed after meals.

“My parents grew up during the depression and I think that’s where my habits came from,” explains Daniel. “You had to finish everything on your plate. Nothing could be wasted. I grew up with that mindset, so it was a hard one to break through.”

After a year in the program, Daniel had added muscle mass (and lots of strength), and lost about 12 pounds of body fat. Plus, by trying out activities he hadn’t done before, he learned to think of movement and exercise as enjoyable rather than an obligation.

But the biggest transformation after that first year? The depth of his self-knowledge.

A slowed metabolism paired with deep-seated clean-your-plate habits don’t resolve overnight. So six months after finishing the program, Daniel realized that he missed the support and accountability of having a nutrition coach.

Daniel knew he had more healthy-habit practicing to do, and more weight he wanted to lose. He was on a longer journey than he’d realized—and that was ok.

Daniel finished that second year feeling more grounded than ever, and couldn’t resist the urge to sign up for a third round. To date, he has lost almost 35 pounds.

Daniel preps for a workout several months into his PN journey.

The strategy that Daniel has embraced, with much success: playing the long game.

Just like marathon training, sustainable eating and fitness habits that make sense for complicated health and life circumstances often require time and repetition to take hold.

“It takes a while for someone to get into the state they’re in, so it’s going to take them a while to get out of it,” Daniel says.  “It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Now, even when life throws its characteristic challenges at Daniel—these days, it’s usually in the form of a busy schedule or having to travel for work—he knows he can rely on his newly ingrained healthy habits.

“At the very least, I know I can always practice eating slowly and eating to 80 percent full. And I can usually fit in some quick bodyweight exercises. Those familiar practices keep me on track even when life gets crazy.”

Another advantage of the long game: You have the resilience to understand that your health and weight can absorb life’s inevitable nutrition and fitness “missteps.”

“Be patient,” Daniel urges. “Be patient with the process and be patient with yourself. You take it day by day. It’s these small, incremental changes that get you to your goal.”

“Sometimes you’ll eat or drink too much. Instead of being really hard on yourself, you can just say, ‘You know what? Life happens. Tomorrow is a new day.'”

More importantly, Daniel knows that his new long-term habits make him a better role model for his son.

At the outset of that first year of PN Coaching, as he dreamed of somehow getting back to being the healthy guy he’d once been, Daniel envisioned taking up martial arts… to keep up with his young son, who’s been a karate enthusiast since he was 4 years old.

The moment Daniel realized he finally had enough confidence to start taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he know he’d “made it.”

Daniel after a jiu jitsu spar with his young son.


“Now when my son sees me doing martial arts, he wants to do it more too. I’m proud of that.”

Daniel’s son is most excited about finding a worthy sparring opponent.

Daniel laughs, “He’s small, but I’m his kicking bag. He thinks I’m indestructible.”

Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.

Over the past 18 years, we’ve used the Precision Nutrition Coaching method to help over 100,000 clients lose fat, get stronger, and improve their physical and mental health… for the long-term… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

It’s also why we work with health, fitness, and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.

Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list now. You'll get a free gift today, save up to 54%, and have the chance to secure a spot 24 hours early.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Tuesday, July 16th, 2024.

If you're interested in coaching and want to find out more, join the presale list below. Being on the list gives you three special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.
  • You’ll get a free gift—plus an inside look at the program. When you join the presale list today, we’ll send you a free 35-page ebook: Your Best Nutrition Starts Here—a complete guide to building a health plan for your body, goals, and lifestyle (no calorie-counting or restrictive dieting required). Plus, you'll get our new Enrollment Packet, giving you an inside look at the PN Coaching program, complete with stories from past clients who’ve overcome huge obstacles and achieved the transformation of their dreams, and more.

If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].


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Spots open July 16th. Get on the PN Coaching presale list today and you'll...

  • Get instant access to your free ebook today—"Your Best Nutrition Starts Here: A Complete Guide to Building a Health Plan For Your Body, Goals, and Lifestyle."
  • Receive free nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle tips for losing weight, building muscle, gaining strength, and boosting energy.
  • Get an inside look at the program with instant access to our brand new Enrollment Packet.
  • Register 24 hours earlier than everyone else—to increase your chances of getting a spot.
  • Save up to 54% off the general public price when you register.