Emily Duncan, a.k.a. “Em Dunc”, is a woman on a mission to live as no one other than her truest, highest, self, all while encouraging others to do the same. But that journey has not been an easy one, in fact Emily shares with us just how dark and confusing it has been towards reaching her ultimate physical, emotional, and spiritual self.
Em Dunc is a fitness and nutrition coach with a BS in Kinesiology, a physique athlete, top five national champion in the bikini division of the NPC, and social media influencer.
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Joe: [00:00] Alright, we’re in. We’re recording. Em Dunc in Colorado!
Em: [00:03] Hello!
Joe: [00:04] It’s about time that we made this happen!
Em: [00:05] I KNOW! Everybody’s like, you’ve never been to Colorado before?! And I’m like, no! I’ve been to the airport a million times.
Joe: [00:12] Oh, really?! I didn’t know that this was your first time.
Em: [00:13] See?! Exact reaction! Every time.
Joe: [00:15] I thought that you had been here before. I was thinking, when I was driving back here, about when we first started communicating, you and me.
Em: [00:25] It was a long time ago.
Joe: [00:26] I mean, I did the…
Em: [00:28] It was Committed Physiques!
Joe: [00:29] Committed Physiques Radio Podcast. Back in… 2016, so 2½, 3 years ago, and we were both HEAVY in the competing world. It was super interesting how all of those relations have turned into more long-term relations, and have been, honestly, something that’s really helped this business. Honestly, I just wanted to first, thank you for supporting us.
Em: [00:57] Of course! Oh my gosh – thank YOU in return!
Joe: [00:59] Yeah, supporting Cured and just seeing what we’re doing, and seeing… seeing us, because it’s been some crazy work and a ride, so.
Em: [01:05] Absolutely! I mean, I think people know – that consume my content – they know that I don’t promote anything or support anything, or buy into anything, essentially, that I don’t fully support. So, it has been really cool just on the other side having something that started just as a friendship, just between mutual connection of humanity, whatever. And then, Cured kind of being born and that transition taking place, and how that friendship and partnership, essentially, is grown and maintained and all that. It’s been super dope!
Joe: [01:39] It’s been really cool, and I think that it’s been a journey for the both of us, to say the least – especially starting in that first world of competing, where I think that was when you were really starting to build a following and a community on Instagram, and how we’ve seen that evolve over the years. I think that speaks numbers to people representing brands and all that type of stuff – like, what it means to be somebody that has an audience, that always wants to know what the fuck you’re doing and super in your personal life.
Em: [02:11] It’s the craziest.
Joe: [02:13] It… yeah, how do you deal with that?
Em: [02:16] I’m not going to lie, it’s been 4 years? 4-5, almost 5, and it’s still super overwhelming. It’s… the biggest blessing in the whole world because people are in your personal business because they care. But then when you’re on the other side of it, it’s kind of overwhelming in the sense of oh my god, I don’t know who these people are. They “know” who you are because you put yourself out there to them, of course. But you don’t know who they are. Then they’re asking you things about your relationship and your mental illnesses, and all this stuff, and you’re like, I am in no way prepared for this!
Joe: [02:53] Do you feel obligated to have to share some of that stuff? Because that’s, I feel like – I don’t even have… I mean, I would say, I have 11,000 followers I think, but I’ve been through relationships, and they’ve been shared on Instagram. Shit like that happens and you’re like, you know what… it gets frustrating when people feel that they’re entitled to know ALL of your life, especially the deep down, personal stuff that you don’t really want… like you have to process it first before you share.
Em: [03:24] Oh, 100%.
Joe: [03:26] And people are prying and asking questions and there’s nothing – it’s kind of like the nature of what social media is. It’s like, well we put ourselves out there so what did you expect? But it’s also kind of intrusive.
Em: [03:38] It’s super… and this is something that’s been a journey that I’ve had to learn to navigate, and I started… re-navigating I guess is the best word – actually, really recently, so we’ll just dive in real fast – but the last serious relationship that I was in, it was very public. It was everywhere, like we were very open about like, oh, we want to get married, all this stuff, and people were like, invested in the relationship. It declined over the course of a 6 month period, and obviously, as the person going through that, you don’t want to just blast that. It’s such an awkward thing to still be in a relationship and then things aren’t going well, and people are like, where are all your pictures, where are all your videos, where’s this… and I would get just super frustrated because I’m like, this is already really difficult for me to go through and process. And I understand why people ask, but it’s like you said, people feel entitled to information. People also make the argument of I don’t understand why people with large followings get so mad when people exploit their personal information because they get paid for it. Look, I understand that income gets generated from social media, but my job is coaching and fitness. My job isn’t as a relationship counselor. I don’t make a profit from sharing my relationship on social media. It’s really hard, and it’s been a really cool, I guess is a good word for it, lesson in boundary setting.
Joe: [05:08] I saw you reading that attachment, by the way.
Em: [05:09] Oh my god, it’s so good! That – I’m not into huge self-helpy type books, but I wouldn’t call that self-helpy, because it’s more of psychology; it’s actually research substantiated stuff, like all that.
Joe: [05:19] Boundaries. Understanding boundaries that people have and understanding how… well, I’ve had zero boundaries for a very long time, so I can’t even imagine with just having that extra extension of your life where people are just dying for more, more, more, more. The difference between that and a 9-5 job, you can check out, right? You clock out. Part of – I guess you can consider it your job is …
Em: [05:49] Be constantly checked in. It is. It’s a very difficult thing to navigate, and it’s really started to show me, you know – I’m still an open book, like… to a degree – obviously, if somebody needs perspective on something or advice on something, and I want to share it then I will; but in the context of relationships or even just what my home looks like, or anything like that, it’s kind of given me… I value that intimacy a little bit more, and in the future, I don’t necessarily want to blast my relationships. Not because I want to hide it, but because there’s so much about my life that people get to see all the time, that it’s like you just want things for yourself. It’s also made me appreciate the people that make me not want to be on my phone, because I’m on my phone all the time. That’s my job: phone, computer, whatever it is, I’m connected to things at all times. So, the people that I can spend time with and it’s not a phone thing, everybody’s not on their phones, you can just sit – it’s made me value ACTUAL social human connection so much more instead of just… technological human connection.
Joe: [07:01] And I think that a lot of people are waking up to that; that you can get a connection – like you can get a dopamine response… which can come from a message, a communication, whatever it is – but there’s nothing more powerful than in-person connection and human to human communication, and emotion and feeling and holding space for each other. I imagine how much of a blessing it feels like. So, the last couple years, you’ve gone from… heavily living in the competing world to transitioning out of that. I know you’ve struggled with some health things that you went through, and now it seems like you’re really thriving, and that’s really… it feels really good to see that.
Em: [07:45] Thank you!
Joe: [07:47] What has that journey been like? What made you first start stepping away from the stage and I know a lot of your life is revolved around coaching people. The stage and competing actually HELPS that business.
Em: [08:02] Right, and I think there’s a really big misconception that a lot of people have just because I’ve spent so much time away from it that I’ve never wanted to compete again. And that was absolutely not the case. The reason I’ve spent so much time off stage is because I literally couldn’t fucking prep. If you don’t have any fucking idea about who I am, what I do, what my life has been like the last few years, to make a really long story short – like Readers Digest version – I got breast implants, really bad, just internal immune reaction to them, sent my physical, mental health to shit for the better course of 2 years. I couldn’t do ANYTHING. So, there’s all these people out there that have this idea that oh, she doesn’t want to compete anymore… that is what I love the most in like, THE WORLD. That’s my thing; that’s my passion; that’s my love. So, imagine not being able to do what you love most for – by the time I get back up there, it’ll be 4 years. You know what I mean? It’s been… it’s been good and bad. It’s taught me a lot about patience. It’s super funny. I have constantly… like, I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual, right? So, I’m very much like I feel the universe has been teaching me the lesson of patience over the last, like 24 years of my life… whether it’s getting stuck in traffic, whether it’s being stuck in line at the grocery store. I feel like this experience with having my just physical and mental health keep me from doing what I love to do, and just keeping me from living a full life – it’s taught me a MASSIVE lesson on patience. I was FORCED into learning patience through that experience, because… training is what I love to do; lifting is what I love to do. I couldn’t recover from training. I had a really hard time doing anything just function-wise because I was just tired all the time, achy all the time, depressed all the time. I didn’t have really… like, it was really hard to set goals. It was really hard to strive for something. So, it taught me – you have to weather the storm. Sometimes I get stuck thinking like, okay there’s always going to be something worse, which is a really awful perspective, but it makes sense. It’s pragmatic, right? You’re always going to go through a worse storm than one you’ve already had, so it prepares you for the next one. So, sometimes I get caught up in like, oh god, what did this prepare me for? I don’t even want to know, BUT also, it’s taught me a lot about who I am as a person when everything that I identify as gets stripped away. I think a lot of people that have a serious career in athletics of any kind, they really struggle with athletic identity. They wrap up so much of who they are in their sport of choice, and whether they get injured, whether they just, you know, if they were a collegiate athlete and stop after college is over, whatever it is, they go through this identity struggle of who the fuck am I without this sport. Right? So, it’s like, okay, who was I without competing? Who was I without bodybuilding in general? Who was I without the physical facility that I was used to walking around in every single day? Like, who was I without all of that? It taught me… it stripped away a lot. It stripped away more than I could ever put into words. It did a number on showing me here’s who you are at the very core. It’s like all those fires that happened out in California – everything is burned down, eeriest sight in the world – like, what is left? What’s left to grow from? I think that’s something that, regardless of what painful thing you’re going through, if you’re being stripped away of shit, it’s going to SHOW you what’s left. And it’s going to show you – are you still kind when the chips are down. Are you still… do you still work hard at what you can when the chips are down? Are you still a strong person when the chips are down? Like, those are the kinds of things; and it also did a really good job of teaching me I have so much on this that I’m just going to fucking ramble on it-
Joe: [12:00] Keep going.
Em: [12:01] I’m a very independent person. I do not like asking for help. I will not do it. Like 99% of the time, I will not do it. But, especially when all the mental stuff started getting bad, especially the depression, I could not be by myself. It forced me to learn how – and at first I didn’t… when things initially started to get really, really bad, I essentially pigeon-holed myself away from everybody that I cared about; because when you struggle with depression, you feel like you’re a burden on everyone. You don’t feel happy. SO MUCH. Like, I’m just going to sit in my little hole…
Joe: [12:38] I’m supposed to be okay.
Em: [12:39] Yes. Like, there’s nothing wrong – “there’s nothing wrong” – but you’re depressed. People are like why are you depressed, there’s nothing wrong. It’s like, EXACTLY.
Joe: [12:49] You’ve never been through it. You can’t explain it.
Em: [12:51] That’s what it is. When everything first started happening, I gradually distanced myself from all of my friends. I think I went probably – outside of seeing the guy I was dating at the time – I probably went at least 4 or 5 months without seeing my best friend in the fucking world.
Joe: [13:08] Really…
Em: [13:09] Chenelle, if you listen to this, I love you; we’ve talked about this. I went so long without seeing my best friend just because I didn’t want to be around anybody. So, I started going through all of that, and then I just got to a point where I was like, it was actually when that relationship started falling apart, because that was the one person that I had kept around. I made the poor decision of putting all my eggs in one basket. When that started falling apart, I had to start putting the pieces back together of my life; relying on my parents; relying on my friends; apologizing for being a shit friend; but then, just going through the internal work of saying – and I’ve said this before – we all learn to eat our own words at some point – no man’s an island. So, it’s like I made myself an island with one other person, and I was like, dude, you have to… it’s okay, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to go to therapy, it’s okay to text your friend and be like, hey, I’m really struggling right now. I would literally call my mom and be like… she’s retired, so she’s, thank god, able to do this stuff, and I’d be like I’m not doing okay right now; would you be able to come down for a few days? She would literally fucking take care of me – a fucking 23 year old adult – and just help me do life.
Joe: [14:23] There’s a lot of power in sharing that, and I have to commend you for that. That is so… I think that at the core of it, and it’s something that I’ve worked through a lot myself and actually am still working through, but if you have to ask for help, you think that you’re not worthy, that you’re not enough, that you’re not capable of being loved by the world because… whether it had been something that we went through as kids, and we’re taught that we have to perform or we have to do something to get love, to get the validation or affirmation that we’re okay. We think that asking for help shows that we’re weak and we’re not capable.
Em: [15:06] Right. And I think it’s such a weird thing that Western culture does. I don’t know if it’s as much of a thing in other cultures because, obviously, I’ve never lived in a different culture, but… we idolize autonomy so much, and we idolize individualism so much that we almost completely forget the fact that biologically at our cores, we’re social creatures. We would not have survived as a species by ourselves. It’s so strange is all of the different avenues of the human experience that this has piqued my interest in, just stuff like that, like how humans evolved. Like, we needed each other. I think that even speaks to a broader perspective because there’s just so much shit going on in the world right now. Everybody’s divided, everybody’s like 100% this way or 100% that way, and if we could all fucking STOP for second, remember that we’re on a planet spinning in the sky and that we’re all just part of this big crazy cosmic shit, and that we’re all just here together… like we’re not all going to agree on everything, and that’s cool. It blows my mind when people can’t accept that we’re different – this is a completely different tangent-
Joe: [16:21] This is good though. I love this shit.
Em: [16:24] We can’t accept that people are different. I break it down like this – I like to simplify things and people are like, well it’s not that simple; and I’m like, but it really fucking is. If you… example that I was using to talk with my friend Devin about the other day – she is into polyamory. That’s just something that… that’s not my thing, that’s not my choice; I’m a monogamous person when I’m in relationships; that’s just my preference, and polyamory is her preference. I may not understand it, but it’s cool; that’s your life, live it. People can’t conceptualize that. We were talking about sushi today. I really like sushi. There’s some people in the world that don’t like sushi. Do we hate each other?
Joe: [17:03] No.
Em: [17:04] NO! It’s a difference in preference.
Joe: [17:06] It’s like, what are your likes, what are your dislikes? A lot of people go most of their life not even knowing what they like or what they dislike because they conform to a certain group to feel like you’re enough. It’s scary, but at the core, what you’re saying, and what I’ve tried to realize and communicate myself is we’re all human.
Em: [17:29] Right.
Joe: [17:30] We’re all of the human race. Say some alien race comes and attacks the Earth, like, are we going to fight about if you like sushi and I don’t like sushi?
Em: [17:40] I really doubt it! I highly doubt it. I highly, highly doubt it. But yeah, fundamentally, at the end of the day, we’re all the fucking same. So, when people just get so… and you can take that on a very small level, like social media bullshit, and expand that to a big level like political views, religious views, all this stuff. We’re all going to be different, and that’s cool. That’s what makes us who… like, humans.
Joe: [18:03] That message needs to be out there more and more, and especially for younger generations that are getting on social media and are following people that are “influencers” or whatever it is, and comparing themselves to it and saying, I’m not like that person so now I’m going to think about myself a certain way. Starts the anxiety, starts the comparison, starts the depression, which is a very scary thing. But we actually have it in our capability to be part of transforming that and getting the correct message out into the world.
Em: [18:35] I’m so just curious to see what psychology studies in young people are going to look like after social media’s been a thing for 10-20 years. I’ve seen this on just the level of like, brands and social media… something that I’ve noticed over the years of doing this is people will follow an influencer and they want to be like that person and they want to feel like they belong with that person. That person is affiliated with such-and-such company and they have a code for it. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing. So, they’re like this person uses this product , I want to be like them; I also want to be friends with them, so I think there’s really a subconscious thing going on that says I want this product and that’ll make me be like them and be their friend. It’s like a weird sense of belonging. That’s how they try to model themselves. Even just monitoring the trends on social media over the years of like in the fitness industry, the clean eating stuff, and now it’s the flexible dieting stuff; now it’s the booty band workouts…
Joe: [19:36] …CBD…
Em: [19:38] Well, I mean, that’s the thing though!
Joe: [19:40] It’s so frustrating.
Em: [19:41] Yeah!
Joe: [19:42] It’s so frustrating, and I’m glad that you brought that up because it’s so important and it’s hard to shift that paradigm to be honest, because we’ve been trying to do that ourselves and think about… and I think that you look at a company like 1st Phorm, because they’ve done a really good job at building a culture. They are pushing products, of course, but what is the culture, what’s the brand message. That’s why you’re here, actually. We’re having a wellness event this weekend and we’re getting community together and we’re seeing like, we’re going to have that human on human interaction-
Em: [20:15] What common threads do we have.
Joe: [20:16] Yeah! And then, let’s get all of that in line. Let’s understand our human connections. Let’s understand how we can take care of ourselves. Let’s understand how we can set boundaries. And then, let’s support ourselves with products that are going to help create that lifestyle. But let’s not do it the other way around.
Em: [20:34] People start with the product because they want to sell something.
Joe: [20:37] And it’s frustrating. It’s something that I’ve struggled with in business and have cut several people just from our affiliation because that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about… it’s about us working together for a common cause for putting a good message out into this world and making every person’s life just a little bit better every single day. If that means they want to use a product, if that means they want to use a protein powder, if that means they want to use certain makeup or look a certain way, that’s fine. That’s great. That’s part of also being human.
Em: [21:14] But it’s like, don’t start backwards.
Joe: [21:16] It’s a very interesting world, and it’s a hard paradigm to shift, to be honest. I think that’s probably something… I’m sure that’s been interesting for you, and I’m sure over the years you’ve gotten SO many people reaching out to you saying hey, do this, I want to send you this product, I want to send you that; and like, fuck, that would get really annoying, to be honest.
Em: [21:37] Honestly, I think people have the misconception – and I just speak for myself as an “influencer” – I really hate that word. I wish there was another thing for it, but whatever the fuck, that’s what we’ll use.
Joe: [21:51] You’re a person that has a community that trusts in you. That’s like the good definition of influencer.
Em: [21:56] Absolutely. That’s how it SHOULD be. But it’s not in every case. I think people have this misconception that influencers will just take any offer that they’re given. Some will just take any offer that they’re given and post about it because they either get it for free or they make money off of it; and there’s people that absolutely do do that. They’ll take every single offer they get no matter what. If people saw the amount of shit I turn away, they’d be like oh, you really aren’t a sellout. But people have this assumption that people are just sellouts and that they’ll take anything for anything, and that’s what it is. I think that – you know when I was early on, back in 2014 – I’ve never taken a product that I don’t love and that I didn’t actually try myself, but I said yes to a lot more things, and it almost dilutes your content in a way because you become a pawn for brands, for what they want you to talk about, for their product, all this stuff. The entire reason that people followed you in the first place, or the entire reason that people followed me in the first place is because I shared my journeys. I shared what I was learning in school for exercise science; I was sharing through nutrition certifications, all this stuff; what I was learning through bodybuilding, all this stuff. That’s why people follow you and that’s why people are there, and they don’t want to have product pushed at them all the time. They’re there to connect and they’re there – at least the people that follow me – they’re there to learn. I think it’s difficult, it’s more difficult for influencers where influencing is their primary source of income. I’ve been there, but I made the intentional shift to have my primary source of income be coaching. I do nutrition and training coaching because I wanted my income generated from my work and my intellect and not how popular I am, what another company thinks of me… because then it gave me the freedom to return back to my original message. Literally, whenever I make a post, when I sit down to make a post, I’m like what do I want to share with people today? Sometimes it’s really meaningful and deep and all this shit; sometimes it’s super vapid and just silly and like whatever the fuck. I think if you’re somebody and you’re listening to this and you have a big following and you don’t have that thought process of how do I want to impact people today, or what kind of effect is this post or this video or this blog or this podcast going to have on somebody… then you need to STOP and ask that question because you have no idea who’s listening. You have no idea how young they are, you have no idea how impressionable they are… and nobody can ever say anything perfect 100% of the time, but give it some thought. You know what I mean? VALUE the influence that you have. I think it’s super easy to forget that too just because it’s in our phones. It’s not necessarily something you face all of the time.
Joe: [24:37] And for the most part, I mean… for the most part, you have to credit yourself too because you put so much work into that. All of the nonsense that does go around and the bad talking of people about influencers… we’re still using that word, but-
Em: [24:57] Persons with followings!
Joe: [24:59] People with communities that trust in them. It’s taken a lot of work to build that, and… you should own that. You’re allowed to own that.
Em: [25:13] And it’s almost something that people want to make you feel ashamed of.
Joe: [25:16] So that’s the whole thing that we struggle with. How do we connect with this human, how do we have good conversation with them, how do we see if we want to work together? Is this going to be mutually beneficial? Does it feel good? Does it feel like this is a good person, we’re a company that’s try to promote a certain way of living – is all of that going to line up or is it going to be a business transaction and is it going to not feel good, and is it going to just fall off in a couple of months? What is that going to look like? I think for anybody that’s listening to this podcast and if that’s kind of a goal is to build a community and work with brands or whatever it is, just understand that that’s personally what we’re looking for as a business and there’s a lot of responsibility there.
Em: [26:08] I think you brought up an interesting point, literally when you said people are looking to do this. I think it’s… it’s been super weird just watching the internet community, I guess we’ll call it, over the last few years, because now people will literally say I want to be an influencer. That was never my intent. Whenever people ever ask me how I grew a following, a lot of it was on accident. Not necessarily accident, because at a point it did become intentional, but I didn’t start posting fitness stuff on Instagram with the intent of gaining a following. That wasn’t a thing. At least I didn’t think it was a thing. I think what people need to focus on isn’t necessarily I want to have a lot of followers, I want to have awesome brand deals, I want to have sponsorships, I want to have all this stuff… that’s not the place to start. We were just talking about with starting backwards. The thing that you should start with is how do I want to impact people. What do I want to share with the world? It’s almost like, in a way, and this sounds so cheesy, so weird to think about because it is just technology, but it’s kind of your legacy in a way. It’s how you start building…
Joe: [27:10] 100%
Em: [27:11] What message do you want to give to people – how do you want to help them? I’m a big believer that we all uniquely have our own individual gift that we, and only we, can give to the world, right? And that usually only shows up when we’re our full authentic selves, but we all have something that is exclusive to us that we can use to help the world. How do you find that and how are you going to deliver that to the world? THAT’S where you should be starting.
Joe: [27:39] Yeah, and the community will follow along.
Em: [27:42] Precisely. It’s just organic.
Joe: [27:43] It will come. I mean, I guess it’s been hard for people… well, yeah – it’s been hard to see through the cloudiness over the years. We’ve seen a lot of brands just blow up and then we’ve seen them go away. It’s been interesting to watch.
Em: [28:01] It truly has.
Joe: [28:03] It’s been a learning experience for all people. That’s the thing – what’s the mission. What happens if your Instagram goes away tomorrow? Are people going to come find you somewhere else, or are they going to be trying to look for your message because they want that message? Or is it just because they wanted that quick stimulation of the eye because of an image or something that’s filtered. What does that look like? What happens when you die? What is your legacy? What are you leaving behind? I think that’s… more than anything, as human beings, when we do die, like the whole goal of life is to know that when you die there are people that you’ve touched, there are lives that you’ve touched that can continue to carry your legacy. You will live through them, and if you don’t have that, you don’t have anything. It doesn’t matter what you achieve, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, it doesn’t matter what you look like; it doesn’t matter how big your muscles are, how big your boobs are, none of that really matters. But, it’s tough because it’s easy to get caught up in.
Em: [29:10] I think a cool way to navigate… not a cool way to navigate, but how I’ve kind of tried to view it, the last little while, is – I mean, I’m not big on click bait content; if it’s empowering to you to post your bare ass on the internet, like go for it.
Joe: [29:27] There are people that are really good at it!
Em: [29:28] Yeah! Like rock your life, do your thing, girl; like, I totally respect you. That’s not empowering to me. That’s not what I want my message to be but, for example, I like having a pretty looking feed. When I follow somebody, I like following people that I can open their page and it’s like visually pleasing. So, how can I have things that are visually pleasing and make somebody want to look at it, but then hook ‘em in with something that actually means something in the words. That’s how you can rig the system.
Joe: [29:59] That makes them want more. I want to talk with you, I want to connect with you, I want to learn from you, whatever it may be.
Em: [30:04] Right. So it’s like, mix the two.
Joe: [30:07] What are you most excited about right now in life? You said that you’re going to compete again, but what all’s going on in life right now? What are you most excited about? What are some big things you’re looking at?
Em: [30:19] You know, dude, it’s so funny, but it’s the most… it’s so simplistic, but after having gone through what I would consider my own personal hell, like the last 2 years of my life, I get so excited and as you can hear, and as you can see – nobody else can see it – but I’m emotional about the fact that I just wake up excited to do life every day, because I had such a long period of time where I did not want that; where I did not want to wake up. I was just like, fuck this, this is all terrible, this is never… just clouds all the time. I think the thing that I’m just most excited about is to feel like I’m living in – I’m an INFJ, I don’t know if you’re into Myers-Briggs – but my physical, emotional, mental connection is very strong. That’s part of my personality type. So, a lot of people don’t understand how a physical disconnect could cause such an emotional and mental disconnect. When my body and mind are not working together, whether it’s one or the other, it’s absolute hell for me. To just feel – it’s a feeling that I can’t put into words because it’s just who I am as a person – but to feel like my body, mind, emotions, all that stuff, are working together as a unit again, and just feel like MYSELF, that’s what I’m most excited about because I went through such a long period of time where I did not feel like me. It’s such a weird thing to go through because you’re like, I know I’m me. This is me in this moment. This is me in this immediate blip of time, but this is not – I guess the way you can put it is – this is not the me that I want for myself. This is not the me where I feel fully integrated with life and the vision that I have for it, where I want to go, all that stuff. That’s one thing I’m super excited about. Honestly, weird thing, I’m super excited about being more social. So, INFJ, obviously-
Joe: [32:08] You had some funny text messages last night! Where do I go to hang out? I don’t know!
Em: [32:13] Not fully there yet! But I spent a lot of time the last 2 summers – literally spent the last 2 summers hiding away in my house, not really doing a whole lot, just working. And I have a really amazing friend group now, like spending more time with them, all that stuff. Obviously, there’s always the business growth aspect of things. It’s been really cool, honestly… I don’t know if I would say I’ve taken a step back from social media, but in my own head I have, because it’s not as much of my day anymore. Coaching is more of my day now. But like, getting to impact – because primarily women I work with 99% females; hardly any dudes ever reach out because they just want to work with dude coaches, I guess that’s a thing – but getting to impact more females on a 1:1 basis; like people always ask, do you only coach competitors, and I’m like no, I don’t coach any competitors. I coach primarily beginners. Getting to, because I forget – and I think anybody that’s been in the fitness/health industry for any conceivable length of time – forgets that there’s still beginners out there, there’s still really trash/garbage “knowledge” out there that needs to be broken down; so, just excited about helping, women especially, reestablish their view of training, nutrition, all that stuff. Trying to think… I have some exciting travel coming up. Coming out here has been dope. I was in Reno last week, going to San Diego next month.
Joe: [33:38] So when are you moving?
Em: [33:40] It’s so funny – my hairdresser, Matthew, we were just like talking about things one day, after I went through a really bad breakup, he’s just like fall in love wherever you can, fall in love with places, fall in love with people, and I’m like now I’m love with 3 different cities! I loved Reno, I love here, I love Louisville, which is home for me, and I’m like, what the fuck do I do. But travel coming up. I think overall, the theme – so one word that I was really channeling going into this year, because I felt it, was POWER. Like stepping back into my power as a person. Now, this kind of little side road that we’re taking on that same exact journey is more adventure. I’ve never been much of a play person, I’ve been more of a work person; so getting to experience a little more play in my life and trying to, I guess, kind of learn the more light-hearted side that I have, or just what more social Emily looks like, how does that manifest? That kind of thing. So it’s not like a super exciting answer, but I think just excited about becoming more of a human.
Joe: [34:44] It’s powerful. Seriously, that’s… it’s funny even how you say that, because you’re so excited about it.
Em: [34:55] I know!
Joe: [34:56] So you get like – that’s important to you. But, how often do people just forget how to play? It’s like, play, that’s a childhood thing. Like, no, we’re supposed to do that the rest of our lives because if we don’t, we’re going to go crazy.
Em: [35:15] That’s the whole, like you talked before, getting put into our little box; like adults are supposed to be serious, and adults are supposed to work all the time, and you work and then you go home and you go to sleep, and then you hate your life. No!
Joe: [35:26] I can’t do that shit anymore.
Em: [35:27] Yeah, that’s the box.
Joe: [35:28] I’ve been through that.
Em: [35:29] Yeah, like the box is fucked up. It’s like, literally, what’s outside the box. That’s how you live a full happy life, and I think, from just even a health perspective, I’ve been having this conversation more and more frequently – there’s so many different pillars of health, right? People think that it’s just physical health, and even mental health to a degree – those are both huge components – but we have physical health, emotional health, social health, financial health, spiritual health, environmental health, all these different pillars of health that we forget about and we completely neglect and we wonder why we’re so unhappy; and we wonder why we hate our lives. It’s because there’s literally ¾ of the pie that we don’t give a single fuck about because we don’t even know it’s a thing because we’ve convinced ourselves that this tiny little quarter of the pie is the only thing there is.
Joe: [36:24] And we’re products of parents that lived through times of… there’s this system and if you have to follow it, then things aren’t going to work out. Also, it’s going to be extremely uncomfortable and feeling that discomfort, well, why would you want to feel that? How about just getting your paycheck every other week, and clocking in and clocking out, and doing that. So, we’re in this – I think that the human race is becoming more and more conscious, and that we’re in this uncomfortable growth phase of like, can we press this button and is it okay to press this button, and does it mean I’m a bad person if I don’t or if I do? There’s just so many questions, but they’re all answered here in your head, and that’s the way that we have to do it because the external is part of it, the interactions that we have as humans, but at the end of the day, it’s like, what’s the story you’re telling yourself in your head, and is that okay, are you okay with that. And then, what defines health in my life and what are all the aspects of that.
Em: [37:24] But I think you touched on a really cool thing – like exploration. We’re exploring different components of humanity that we’re not very well acquainted with.
Joe: [37:33] Not at all. I mean, more and more people are talking about polyamory – you just brought that up – it’s been something that I’ve been interested in, and then hmm, nope, not for me.
Em: [37:44] Yeah, and it’s like-
Joe: [37:45] We haven’t talked about that-
Em: [37:46] Yeah, like you can consider it… and, not to turn it to the drug conversation, but we’re going to turn it there. I was actually just talking to Ashleigh about this the other day – this is something that’s literally stuck with me for the last, probably 3 years at this point? I want to say that’s when I took this class; but when I was in undergrad, you have to have a social studies credit, whatever, some just fucking gen ed. So, I just picked the one that fit with all my other classes, and it was a class on nonwestern world views. We talked a lot about just like, obviously, ancient Asian cultures, all that stuff; we talked a lot about [inaudible – ??]; we talked a lot about psilocybins, all this stuff; marijuana, all this stuff. And this was before I ever used anything, like CBD – not even CBD, but any of that stuff.
Joe: [38:26] That’s so funny!
Em: [38:27] Well, and then my professor, one day – a very interesting dude – and he literally took us through meditations and all this stuff, and I have really weird stories with that – but one of the things that he said that stuck with me forever, and I think it’s helped me have a more open mind about just everything, but he’s like: think about this for a second – when it comes to Western culture, particularly the United States, and don’t think I hate the United States; if you’re listening to this, this is not what I mean.
Joe: [38:52] It’s the reason I live here!
Em: [38:53] Right! Precisely. But he said, think about this – we allow legalization of things like alcohol, which is trash/garbage for you; we allow legalization of things like really, really strong, harsh pharmaceuticals, things like that that are man-made, all this stuff; but we criminalize and we illegalize, things that make us more creative, and things that make us ask questions, and things that potentially influence us to try and step out of that box that we’re “meant to fit in.”
Joe: [39:29] We could go down a rabbit hole with that and I would love to.
Em: [39:31] Dude, I am down because when I heard that, literally, it was like the atomic bomb in my brain, like that gif that’s just like “boom,” I was like holy shit.
Joe: [39:39] Because how does the system work when we start questioning things? It doesn’t work anymore because people think, people start to think like, okay why have we been doing this for so long? Well, I don’t know because I never asked the question! Okay, well let’s ask the questions! It’s super interesting, here in Denver we just decriminalized psilocybin, which is extremely, extremely exciting; but there also needs to be an understanding that those are also very powerful substances and they have to be used correctly in a therapeutic way because… it’s great; all these things need to be considered, and they also need to be educated on how we should use them, how they can expand our consciousness, how they can also be dangerous for the wrong people. But let’s actually have the conversation. Let’s not not talk about it because that’s what’s been going on for so long – let’s not talk about it. And that was the whole thing when we started Cured, is – CBD, is that weed?
Em: [40:43] Literally! People still ask that. They’re like-
Joe: [40:47] It’s like no, actually it’s all cannabis, so what you could say it is, but marijuana has THC in it; hemp-derived CBD has very trace amounts. It’s like, c’mon guys, we just have these ideas in our head that have been painted for generations and generations.
Em: [41:04] It’s even like, didn’t the stigmas around marijuana literally start from some campaign? Like some political campaign against, wasn’t it like Mexican workers or something like that?
Joe: [41:13] Yeah, and-
Em: [41:14] And it was completely fake. Like the dude just made it up. And it sticks. It’s like nutrition stuff.
Joe: [41:12] That was when, and I said this on your first podcast, I think, that-
Em: [41:25] We’ll have to link that. That was forever ago.
Joe: [41:26] Yeah, that hemp got wrapped into… when paper mills were starting to become a thing, there was a threat of hemp because the use of hemp is so multi-faceted. Like food, building materials…
Em: [41:47] You can use it to dye stuff.
Joe: [41:49] Yeah. But that was a threat to like, a capitalistic society of like, okay, we’re going to cut down trees, we’re going to make paper; that’s the only way we’re going do it. But yeah, we’re products of weird rules and ideas that were written down a long time ago and nobody’s questioned it.
Em: [42:08] And it’s like who made this up?! I think it also speaks to maybe even like that basic human desire for belonging where somebody that – because I’m going to assume that a lot of times we believe things because someone in power has said it – and so, we just automatically accept it because we want to fit in with the tribe, because we need the tribe. Without the tribe, we die. In a way, potentially, we don’t question things because it threatens our community and being a part of it.
Joe: [42:42] I think that’s kind of like an underlying message for most people of this podcast is that, what happens to me and what people think about me when I ask questions?
Em: [42:52] Right, because people don’t like… like we talked about before, it makes people uncomfortable. Nobody… like, we love homeostasis in all different ways; we don’t like having our narrative challenged; we don’t like having our general day-to-day way of living challenged. And it is uncomfortable! When you have to sit and think, and even when I kind of stepped back – because I used to be a very religious person – when I stepped back from that narrative, very difficult, because you’re like this is literally what I’ve ascribed to my whole life and now I don’t. We’re always looking for something to ascribe to, right? Then it’s just like, well fuck, I gotta relearn everything.
Joe: [43:37] Yeah. It’s quite a ride, that’s for sure.
Em: [43:42] Life is a ride!
Joe: [43:44] It is! So, I’m assuming that most of the people that will listen to this podcast already know who you are or know about you. But if not-
Em: [43:52] I feel like a lot of people are learning about me today; they’re like, this bitch is a lot crazier than we thought. And I’m like, I am – my brain just… my brain goes a lot more. I ask more questions. I think about things on a lot deeper level now.
Joe: [44:04] Which everybody should do, absolutely. How do people follow along with you more or tune in to some videos, Youtube, podcasts, all that good stuff, or your coaching stuff.
Em: [44:14] We got all the goods, so Instagram is @em_dunc. It’s just a truncated version of my name. Youtube is just youtube.com/emdunc; the website is www.emilyduncanfitness.com. There’s a blog on there; there’s links to where you need to find me on there; there’s an about me section that I need to update because I haven’t updated it in years, at all. There’s the podcast, EMBody Radio, which we’re about to record for; and I want to say that’s it. I hope there’s nothing else because that’s a lot to keep up with.
Joe: [44:48] Yeah. I don’t know how you manage all those platforms.
Em: [44:52] I don’t. You asked about goals; once I transitioned to full time coaching, Youtube and the podcast just went pfflt. So, I’m like okay, now we gotta build that up-
Joe: [45:01] It’s hard.
Em: [45:02] It is!
Joe: [45:03] You need a team. Running a podcast is not just like oh, I’m just going to sit down and talk to people.
Em: [45:09] I’ve literally done it all myself. Not a single person has done anything.
Joe: [45:12] There’s a lot of work that goes into it. Well, thanks-
Em: [45:15] Thank YOU!
Joe: [45:16] I was stoked for everything we talked about and shared here. Stoked to have you out here for the event this weekend.
Em: [45:20] Me too!
Joe: [45:21] There’s going to be many a more trips out here, I hope, to Colorado for yourself.
Em: [45:24] Oh yeah.
Joe: [45:26] Thanks for everything that you’re doing for Cured as well. We truly appreciate you.
Em: [45:29] It’s a great company to be a part of, for real. That Zen stuff is the only reason I sleep. Shameless plug. Code Emily. There you go.
Joe: [45:39] We’ll finish with that. That’s great.