NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.

Becoming a Brave Athlete – and Screen Writer! – with Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson: PYP 550

2023 Update

I'm rereleasing this episode (first time ever in 9 years of this podcast) because one of today's guests, Lesley Paterson, just made the news by winning a BAFTA for screenwriting.

So I'm coat-tailing and name-dropping like crazy.

And I'm also inviting you to relisten to this episode with the hindsight that Lesley would bring her goal-setting and goal-achieving skills from the athletic arena to the world of creative writing. Is it possible that The Brave Athlete is really a book about The Brave Life?

Listen again (or for the first time) and let me know what you think!

2018 Show Notes

Lesley Paterson, aka the “Scottish Rocket,” is a three-time world champion in off-road triathlon, an Ironman triathlon champ, a professional mountain biker, an athletic coach, and a world-class slinger of profanity.

Simon Marshall, her husband, is a sport and exercise psychologist at San Diego State, performance psychologist for BMC Racing, and a self-described “mid-pack age-group endurance athlete.”

Together, Lesley and Simon comprise Braveheart Coaching, a service that gets athletes performing to their potential in spite of the “3-pound lump of crazy” that lives in their cranium.

They've written a fantastic book called The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion. In our conversation, I made the unwarranted assumption that the asterisk was standing in for the letter U, of which Simon quickly disabused me.

I will warn you that we do drop a bunch of f-bombs during the interview (facks and ficks and fecks, of course ;), so this is NSF work or day care or church or, possibly, first dates.

Here's what you need to know about Lesley and Simon: they're hilarious. They're brilliant. They honor evidence over anecdote and conjecture. They aren't afraid to call bullshit when they see it (or bullsh*t, if you prefer).

They have fantastic accents (especially Lesley; sorry, Simon). And they have the experience and content knowledge to help you achieve your athletic goals. If you don't consider yourself an athlete, they invite you to reconsider, and then act like one.

In our conversation, we covered:

  • the surprising benefits to swearing
  • athletes engage in volitional competition
  • “our other choices conform to our identity”
  • athletes are humans first
  • we all experience thoughts and feelings that we don't want, and that's ok
  • Lesley on retiring at age 20 as a big failure
  • the bedside manner problem of many elite coaches
  • the ability to give harsh feedback with compassion
  • talent and the Rudy Syndrome
  • sport allows us to look deep into our souls
  • we're most vulnerable when we're in pain, so that's where our biggest discoveries lay
  • most of us have lost our sense of suffering, so we reconnect with it through ultra endurance events
  • walking your first 5k still makes you an athlete – if you own it
  • the 7 characteristics of a mature athlete (and why that's different from – and preferable to – a “strong” athlete)
  • the Chimp, the Professor, and the Computer – a highly simplified brain science metaphor
  • how to intentionally replace fight or flight with “brave” habits
  • “can you see failure as an opportunity and source of feedback?”
  • finding your “fuck-it” moment
  • how to not fixate on outcome even in high-stakes events
  • “effort and attitude are always within your control”
  • the four levels of the “Me-Tree”
  • the problem with athletic hyper-specialization
  • the “holy trinity” of psychological death: embarrassment, humiliation, inadequacy
  • slaying the meme-turds
  • when the “participant mindset” is a cop-out
  • “don't compare yourself to others” – nonsense
  • motivation is a warm bath that soon goes cold
  • the secret of The Brave Athlete: these are life skills
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


The Brave Athlete on amazon

Braveheart Coaching

All Quiet on the Western Front – coming to Netflix

Lesley and Ian Stokell right after winning their BAFTAs – video

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *