Sal Di Stefano On Fatherhood: How Society Glorifies Staying Single By Shaming Mothers


“One of the biggest lies ever sold to men: getting married means the fun is over, life is over… Men who believe that lie never grow up… They’re consumers. They’re easily manipulated and they don’t care. They don’t care about a lot of stuff…

When you become a dad, and you have a family, and you’re devoted to your family, everything changes including your consuming habits.” – Sal Di Stefano

Wellness + Wisdom Episode 494

Creator of MAPS Fitness Programs, and Mind Pump Podcast host and co-founder, Sal Di Stefano, joins Josh Trent for the first time on Wellness + Wisdom Podcast to discuss his journey from fitness to podcasting, his growth from divorcing his first wife, and how it brought him closer with his children.

Are you ready to discover how the idea of fatherhood has changed for Sal, and what lies our society is telling men about being a father and husband?

Join Sal and Josh to find out what it means to become a man, why we don't truly know our children and why we should be more present with them, and how to grow through discomfort.

I like growth more than I hate discomfort. Being uncomfortable without growth is just pain. - @mindpumpsalClick To Tweet

Listen To Episode 494 As Sal Di Stefano Uncovers:

[1:30] Following Family Values And Traditions

[10:30] Marriage And Growing Apart

  • How divorce can break you and why Sal didn’t want to be a weekend dad.
  • Ending a 15-year marriage and asking himself: What did I do wrong? Why did it not work out?
  • Getting into a marriage because of his family values, and putting all his time into making money and working hard.
  • What he believed a dad’s job was and how different values led to a lot of fights.
  • Avoidance in Sal’s marriage: Burying conflicts and not understanding the importance of growing together.
  • Our modern culture: Glorifying being a single man who’s having fun VS your life being over when you get married and have children.
  • What made Sal feel like he was missing out and feel resentful.

[14:20] How Resentful Thoughts + Feelings Are Created

  • One of the biggest lies that is sold to us according to Sal.
  • Peter Pan Syndrome in men, how it’s related to consumerism, and how men change as consumers when they become fathers.
  • Objective VS subjective morality.
  • Why men with children and are devoted to their spouses are happy, and why middle-aged female executives without children are the least happy.
  • Facing mortality: What do people wish they had done more of in their lives?
  • How Sal’s challenges in life made him who he is now.

[19:35] Searching For Novelty VS Becoming A Man

  • Why novelty makes us feel alive and the connection with the limbic brain.
  • Getting pleasure without the work and having access to what you want all the time: Why is it a problem?
  • The current problems are not new problems, it’s a new environment.
  • Envy: One of the 7 deadly sins has been around for thousands of years but the circumstances are different now.
  • Why Sal thinks a good woman turns you from a boy into a man.
  • Differences between men and women: The biological clock, emotional attachment.
  • Chris Rock: “A man would live in a cardboard box if that’s all he needed to do.”
  • Jordan Peterson
  • The spiral of evolution: The right woman will make a man grow.
  • Why older adults in long-term relationships have better sex.

[23:30] Do We Really Know Our Children?

  • Sal shares why not exercising actually hurts more than doing an exercise, and why eating whatever you want is not enjoyable.
  • His life after divorce: Trying to be present for his children and have a good relationship with his ex-wife.
  • How divorce finally brought Sal closer to his children, and how his view on day-to-day tasks completely changed.
  • What makes him feel guilty about raising kids with his second wife.
  • Josh shares his experience with taking care of his son and getting to know him.

[27:12] Providing For The Family

  • How to provide for your family: Creating a balance between what you produce with your wants.
  • The ways Sal would provide for his family if his life was more unfavorable, and why the values he has matter.
  • Why he tries to not be on his phone even when his son plays by himself.
  • Child development: Why the first 7 years are pivotal for our children.

[29:00] What It Means to Be Present

  • How to drive more value from our behavior and the importance of presence.
  • The difference between modern hunter-gatherers and us: Why are we always distracted?
  • Why we need to practice presence and how to get better at it.
  • Josh explains why the monkey brain is a construct of the default mode network and how our brain is impacted by trauma.
  • Sal tells how he tried meditation for the first time and thought it wasn’t for him.
  • You have to practice to become better.
  • Why he places himself in situations where it’s hard to get distracted.

[35:08] The Mind And Body Connection

  • How Sal healed from Asthma in his adulthood.
  • Breathwork.io
  • The connection between muscles and our breath.
  • Sal explains the types of asthma treatments and how they work.
  • How our triggers and fear can trigger asthma attacks and contract the muscles.
  • Why he only uses an inhaler once a year now, and why he believes our mind and body play an important role in healing.
  • Joe Dispenza
  • Bruce Lipton
  • What it means, “the body is the subconscious mind.”
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger

[38:45] Growing Through Discomfort

  • How Sal’s insecurity motivated him to change, and why he liked the empowering aspect of fitness.
  • Learning acceptance and the value of struggle through long-term fitness training, and why he started liking the journey more than the goal.
  • Why he believes you can get better at anything if you practice enough and why you shouldn’t be afraid to suck.
  • What is the flinch response that’s stopping us from doing things?

[41:25] Sal’s Life-Changing Health Pivot

  • Why Sal likes growth more than he hates discomfort.
  • He talks about the radical fitness approach that he had to change his body and how it led him to Crohn's disease.
  • Why he hired wellness experts for his clients but never actually used them for himself until he got sick.
  • The reason he avoided looking at himself in the mirror for a year and what happened when he finally did.
  • Why it’s important to not dwell on the parts that we don’t have control over but acknowledge them.
  • What it means that we are meaning making machines according to Josh.

[45:32] Religion, Faith, And God

[53:28] Growth + How Vulnerability Helps Us Grow

[58:42] From Fitness to Podcasting

[01:10:30] Healing As A Family

[01:17:00] Why We Can't Avoid the Small Things

  • What beliefs make Sal avoidant in the relationship with his wife: Avoiding the small fights only to get into a big fight.
  • You can’t avoid life’s challenges and discomfort.
  • The price we have to pay for whatever path we choose.
  • Why Sal never wanted to marry and have kids again until he met Jessica.
  • The moment he realized he truly liked and wanted to be with his Jessica.

[01:22:07] Letting Go to Come Together

[01:27:29] Becoming a Father: The Identity Death

  • The different childhood experiences Sal and Jessica had growing up.
  • Why you and your partner should believe they are meant for each other to be able to grow together for the rest of their lives.
  • The ways in which Josh experienced his identity death when he and Carrie became parents.
  • Why we need to have to do things differently when we have a family, and how Sal fought that his life changed after he became a father.

[01:34:00] The Gift of Struggle

Power Quotes From The Show

Exercise is hard, it hurts so it’s going to feel better to not exercise. False. It hurts way more to not exercise. Compare the two and you’ll see what happens and the pain you’ll feel for not keeping yourself fit and mobile. - @mindpumpsalClick To Tweet

The Vulnerability Of Fatherhood

“Being a dad, you definitely realize how invincible you were before in the sense that you’ve never been vulnerable like you are the second you care about something more than yourself.” – Sal Di Stefano

Facing Mortality: What Is It That Truly Matters?

“If you look at studies on people who are faced with their mortality, people with chronic disease who have a year to live, people on the death bed… Nobody says I wish I worked more or I made more money. Everybody says I wish I spent more time with my kids, I wish I had kids, or I wish stayed with that partner, I wish I was more with my family and friends.” – Sal Di Stefano

Same Problems, New Environment

“These problems that we have today are actually not new problems. It’s a new environment… The reason why people are unhappy now is although we have more, they can see the next guy that has more than they do, as they compare themselves. That’s not a new problem…

This is human behavior. I don’t think they’re new problems, I think we have different circumstances. Human behavior doesn’t change, I think we still have to learn the same lessons.” – Sal Di Stefano


Links From Today's Show 


About Sal Di Stefano

Sal Di Stefano On Fatherhood: How Society Glorifies Staying Single By Shaming MotherSal picked up his first weight at the age of 14. A painfully skinny teenager, he felt insecure about his physique and his lack of muscle and strength. Fitness was a way for him to apply hard work and effort towards changing and re-inventing himself.

A natural intellect, Sal devoured every fitness, physiology and nutrition publication he could get his hands on. His appetite for knowledge is voracious and he used his passion for learning to maximize his own body’s potential. 4 years later Sal walked into his local 24 Hour Fitness gym and applied to be a personal trainer.

He quickly became a top performer and, at the age of 19 was promoted to the position of general manager with as many as 40 employees working under him. During this period of time, Sal learned to master skills of sales, marketing, and communication and his gyms broke records in sales and production.

At the age of 22, Sal became an entrepreneur. He opened a wellness and personal trainer facility that offered one on one training, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, hormone testing, and acupuncture. At the age of 28 Sals health took a bad turn.

Sal's Wellness Journey

The years of training his own personal body with excessive amounts of intensity in the pursuit of more muscle combined with the abuse of supplements caused his body to rebel.

He lost 15 lbs of muscle and at one point believed he may have an autoimmune disorder. This forced Sal to change his personal approach to fitness.

He made health a priority and he visited his insecurities that caused him to abuse his body. It took him a full year of study and learning to transform yet again. Sal learned about gut health, hormone health and how to prioritize health over appearance.

He healed his body and changed how he communicates fitness and health and was re-invigorated with a new sense of purpose. Although this was a challenging time for him, it is literally what formed his view on health and how he communicates it to this day.

MAPS Programming

At 33 years old Sal met Doug Egge who became his client. They formed a close friendship and together they created the first Maps program. Sal was the designer of the workout plan and Doug created the marketing material behind it. Their goal was to shatter the failed muscle-building workout ideas that Sal had personally witnessed as entirely ineffective.

They knew that MAPS programming would be vastly superior. Their challenge was how to bring this to the masses. 2 years later Sal met Adam and Justin and together with Doug they started Mind Pump. The goal with Mind Pump was simple… Bring quality fitness and health information to the masses with integrity and honesty.

Sal wanted to shift the direction of the fitness industry from an aesthetic insecurity-based industry to a self-love and self-care health industry. He knew this could be accomplished with education through entertainment.


LIVE WITH MIND PUMP | 2017 Spartan World Championships | Sal Di Stefano & Adam Schafer

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About Josh Trent

Josh Trent lives in Austin, Texas with his love Carrie Michelle, son Novah, and a cat named Cleo. He is the Founder of Wellness Force Media, host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath & Wellness Program. Josh has spent the past 19+ years as a trainer, researcher, and facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. The Wellness Force Media Mission is to help humans heal mental, emotional, and physical health through podcasts, programs, and a global community that believes in optimizing our potential to live life well.

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