Spies, Friends, and Fitness (Part I)

Andrew Bustamante | November 26, 2019

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My friend Alex rocking his baby to sleep (photo credit: Alex VanHouten, founder of DefiningDadBod.com)

Greetings Everyday Spy,

In the history of awkward conversation starters, I’ve discovered a surprisingly terrible ice-breaker…

“Hi. I’m Andy. I am a former CIA spy.”

You would think a statement like this would trigger immediate interest, right!? It doesn’t.

  • A good 50% of people flat out don’t believe me. They think I’m either lying or joking.
  • Another 45% buy-in immediately and start asking about secrets, UFOs and conspiracy theories.
  • But the last 5% make it all worth it…

They just say, “Thank you for keeping us safe.”

And then they ask me about the things that really matter to me; family, friends, faith, and purpose.

Looking at my ice-breaker results, the majority of people I meet really don’t care about me as a person.

 They either distance themselves right away or want me to jump through hoops to prove myself.

  • “Tell me how I get in to CIA.”
  • “Where is Pablo Escobar’s treasure?”
  • “Why did you lie about WMD to invade Iraq?”

We all know how it feels when someone only talks to us because they want something.

But that’s okay. Because the 95% of people that doubt us or use us also do us a unique favor…

They help us find our true friends.

And I found one of those true friends a year ago when I met Alex VanHouten.

Alex is a dad, a business owner, and a no-kidding ‘good guy.’ He is easily one of the most impressive exercise scientists I’ve ever met.

At CIA, we have staff trainers that work with us to build, tailor, and maintain our fitness. 

When a long deployment leaves us injured or physically diminished, CIA’s staff exercise scientists build us back up. 

After working with these unique professionals, I was ecstatic to meet Alex. He would easily fit in with CIA’s elite fitness team, but the recruiters haven’t found him yet! 

I crossed paths with Alex shortly after launching ‘Everyday Espionage’ in 2018. He thought it was cool that I was a spy, but what he really wanted to talk about was being a dad. 

For all you true friends reading this right now, you know there is nothing I like more than talking about being a dad!

Alex and I immediately bonded over fatherhood, marriage, a common faith, and a love of fitness.

We knew the joys of finding the right partner and the challenge young children pose to that partnership. We laughed over shared memories about changing diapers and convincing toddlers to brush teeth. 

We were both proud of what we had accomplished already, but we were focused on the next mission…

We were ready to build a legacy for our children and our children’s children.

My mission was to build a legacy of knowledge.

Alex’s mission was to build a legacy of health. 

A year later, our legacies continue to grow and come to life!

You all know EverydaySpy.com and my Everyday Espionage Podcast. You know me, my wife Jihi, and my wonderful children Sina and Alai.

But it’s my privilege to introduce you to my friend Alex and let him share a bit of his own legacy.

In the world of espionage, when one intel agency wants to share information with another intel agency we use something called a ‘Tear Line.’ 

A tear line is exactly what it sounds like; a line that shows where a report should be cut (or torn). It’s a throw-back to the days when intel reports were printed on paper and perforated for easy tearing.

For this series, I’ll use a ‘tear line’ to help you see where my voice ends and Alex’s voice begins.

And just like when intel is shared between agencies, you can trust that I have full faith in what I include below the tear line.


———————————-TEAR LINE—————————————

“Is it true that there’s a ‘Fat Burning Zone’?”

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked this question in the last 13 years…I’d be able to buy myself a new home gym! 

The short answer is “YES!”. Training at a lower intensity (walking/jogging vs. sprinting) DOES increase the percentage a person burns as a fuel source while training at a higher intensity requires more carbohydrates. 

But most people don’t care about whether or not something exists…they want to know what’s in it for them. 

So the better question is: “Should I be training at a lower intensity if my goal is to lose fat?”

Now we’re getting somewhere. 

Let’s dive in.

At Defining Dad Bod – I teach busy parents how to get the best results in the most time-efficient manner possible. 

And what do most parents want to accomplish for their bodies through nutrition and exercise? Muscle Gain and Fat Loss.

So this question comes up a fair amount. 

The answer can be complicated depending on your goal, but I will make it simple for you. (If you’re interested in a deeper explanation, check out Episode 18 of Defining Dad Bod )

IF YOU WANT TO BUILD A GREAT BODY – healthy, good-looking, enduring, strong, and energetic – YOU NEED A FIRM FOUNDATION.

Simple right?

The “Fat burning zone” does much more for the busy exerciser than burn fat – it’s the firm foundation that will allow you to build the rest of your fitness on top of it.

By exercising at lower intensities you can improve your horsepower, increase your heart health, promote better blood flow, reduce exercise recovery times, stave off soft tissue injuries, establish some endurance, AND teach your body how to burn fat as a fuel source. 

With that foundation in place, when you exercise at higher intensities – you will see more bang for your buck in the fat burn department. 

You will find articles on High Intensity Interval training that tell you not to “waste time” in lower intensity training zones. 

High intensity interval training without a foundation will leave you stressed, injured, hungry, and ultimately unable to reach your fitness goals.

Don’t let that happen to you. 


  • Are you Just starting a program?

Strive to maintain your “fat burning zone” (a 3-out-of-10 difficulty level where you are sweating but able to maintain a conversation) for 30min 3x/week. 

There’s no shame in walk/jogging! Start with the longest time frame you can hold and work your way up. 4 weeks later, you should be able to maintain your “fat burning zone” for 60min. 

Once you’re there, you’re ready to incorporate some intervals into your program.


  • Are you in the middle of a great program?


Commit 1 day of your training each week to “base training” to ensure your body doesn’t lose its foundational aerobic capacity. 

Once you can hold your lower intensity training zones for at least 60min, you know you are ready to perform 15-20min High Intensity Interval workouts to the best of your metabolic ability. 

Remember to deload (take a break) from your High Intensity workloads every 8-12 weeks to prevent over-training. 

Even the BEST athletes have an off-season!

Now let’s go burn some fat! 

Until next time, 

Coach Al from Defining Dad Bod

Kick Butt. Take Names.

———————————-TEAR LINE—————————————


That’s my friend Alex. 

When you talk to him, he sounds exactly the same as his writing – full of energy and overflowing with useful fitness information.

If you enjoyed reading what Alex had to say, send me a note at info@everydayspy.com (you can include Alex on the email too if you like: coachal@definingdadbod.com)

This is important!

Alex and I know that health and fitness is important to a lot of people. And just like I taught you in FIRST STRIKE, fitness can get people emotional.

If you are reflecting on your fitness right now, that’s a GOOD THING – but DO NOT GET EMOTIONAL!

Don’t go out and buy a fitness product right now – not from Amazon, a local gym, or even from DefiningDadBod.com

Alex and I have a plan to bring you FREE fitness resources here, at EverydaySpy.com. Join the newsletter and follow me on social media to make sure you get the newest updates.

If you like hearing the knowledge Alex has to share, we can always ask him to be a continuing contributor.

For now, we are both asking that you stay tuned here, follow Alex on social media (@definingdadbod), and listen to the podcast we did together when we first met! 

Listen to “13 – Spies Don’t Compromise – Everyday Espionage with Andrew Bustamante” on Spreaker.

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

Author: Andrew Bustamante, Founder of www.EverydaySpy.com. Andrew is a former covert CIA Intelligence officer, decorated US Air Force Combat Veteran, and respected Fortune 500 senior advisor. Learn more from Andrew on his Podcast (The Everyday Espionage Podcast) and by following @EverydaySpy on your favorite social media platform.

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