Get Up And Code 055: Staying Active With Troy Hunt
In this episode I got a chance to talk to Troy Hunt, way on the other side of the world.
Troy had some great perspectives on staying in shape and living a healthy active lifestyle.
Full transcript below:
John: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Get Up and CODE. This is episode—I think it’s going to be number 55 here. I stopped keeping track of the numbers ahead of time, but this episode I’ve got Troy Hunt here. Troy is a developer that I definitely admire and respect. He’s done a lot of pretty cool things, especially in the security space here. I’ve been wanting to talk to him about—actually, I just recorded an interview from How to Market Yourself course about his niching into the security part.
Now, we’re going to do Get Up and CODE because he’s actually involved in a lot of physical activities. I saw the e-mail from Troy. I was amazed by all the different sports and things that he’s doing so that’s pretty cool. Welcome to the show, Troy.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, good day, John. Nice to be here.
John: Yeah. Tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your background and what you’ve been up to.
Troy Hunt: I guess on the techie side of things, I am a developer security MVP. I do a lot of things in the security space. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to break the things that many other people are thinking about building, which is fun. That is my primary focus in the technology space.
John: Okay, awesome, awesome. Now, what’s your story with the fitness side? When did you get started and were you always active? What’s your background there?
Troy Hunt: I have always been active, yes, and I think probably one of the most advantageous things that I got from my parents is I have very active parents. My mother was always an A grade tennis player which filtered through to everything I did as a kid. We’re also lucky in Australia it’s a very sort of outdoor lifestyle kind of environment.
As little kids, we lived in acreage. We had a lot of room. We would be running around. We would always be doing something, whether it be just random play, particularly when I was young, a lot of competitive tennis and things like that as well, which just had a mentality of being physical. It’s the mentality that stuck with me across various things through life.
John: Okay, okay. Your background is a lot different than, I think, most developers and most people that are on the show. Because a lot of people struggled with weight problem or eventually got physically active because usually, someone who is physically active doesn’t go into the development route. Maybe that’s interesting, is how did you think—not the typical computer geek, nerd growing up become a computer guy?
Troy Hunt: I just had a funny flashback. When I was in primary school and this would have been probably mid ‘80s, I remembered being so frustrated with my friends who would want to sit inside on the damn computer, and all I wanted to do was go out and play. Come on you, guys. Are you crazy? Oddly enough, I started spending a lot of time on the computer probably in my early to mid teens.
In fact, we had moved over to the Netherlands. We lived in Holland for a couple of years. I don’t know if you’ve been to the Netherlands, but the weather there is not great a lot of the time. People ride a lot of bikes around, but you spend a lot of time indoors. It sort of lands itself, well probably that age as well, starting to gravitate towards the PC.
I guess I had a bit of a mental interest in that. Fortunately for me, it was never at the expense of the physical activity side of things as well. As we moved around to different countries and different opportunities exposed themselves, I’d get very involved in different physical activities as the same time as doing the computer bits.
John: I see, okay, okay. That’s a difference, Australia to Netherlands, but there seems to be a connection there. I hear a lot of people that either lived in Australia and then went to the Netherlands or vice versa.
Troy Hunt: Yeah. I guess the plus side about the Netherlands is that you are riding pretty much everywhere, say, as a kid, and I moved there when I was about 14. You have a huge degree of freedom because you can get anyway you want to go pretty much on your bike. We’d have many days where we’d ride a hundred K. We’d ride to Amsterdam and back just because, well, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in Amsterdam. That was good as a kid to have the opportunity to get that outlet.
John: I see, okay, okay. I know you’re a pretty busy guy because you have a 9-hour Pluralsight course. I happen to know that to produce a 9-hour Pluralsight course, it takes over a hundred hours, and maybe even more.
Troy Hunt: That was on the back of an 8-hour Pluralsight course as well so there we go.
John: What are you doing now? How are you staying in shape? It looks like you’re in pretty good shape right now. How are you doing that managing your time to do because I don’t know what your work situation is, but it’s a lot of—at least at one point, I don’t know if you’re still doing it now, but I'm sure that you’re doing the Pluralsight part time at one point.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, yeah. Pluralsight is very much an evening and weekends kind of thing. Look. I mean I’ve gravitated towards a lot of different physical activities so I’ve been really, really involved in windsurfing probably for the last 20 years now competitively, and then for leisure. That was my physical outlet. I think that’s just a fantastic way of staying fit and exercising all the muscles that need the work. The problem I was having with windsurfing is it’s very weather dependent. I would go weeks without getting a sail and then I might get 5 days in a row where I'm absolutely maxed out everyday.
Of course, the problem is, even here in Sydney, we’ve got lots of beaches and things but it’s a commitment. You’ve got to sometimes drive an hour and then you get there and there’s no wind. That was hard and I went for a couple of years there. I just wasn’t getting enough exercise. I’d run but for me, it’s just boring. It’s never going to get your adrenaline going as well. It just wasn’t doing a lot for me.
Interestingly enough, I’ve got a son who’s four and a half. A couple of years ago, we thought, “Well, we got to get him playing tennis because it’s a good thing for kids” and we’ve got a court that’s about 5-minute walk from us. I took him along. Well, I really should start playing tennis again as well.
I ended up getting right back into tennis a couple of years ago. These days I’ll play. I’ll do about an hour and a half of getting coached on a Monday and then I’ll do an hour and a half of competitive drills where everyone is trying to one up each other on a Thursday. Today is a Friday which means it’s another hour and a half of playing at work with some colleagues.
The tennis has actually been great because it is so easily attainable. There are courts everywhere and it’s something you can do in most weather as well. You don’t have to wait until it’s blowing 30 knots or something like that. The tennis has been great.
John: Okay, okay. You’re definitely running around a lot on the tennis court and I would guess that time flies. It’s not like you said, running for an hour or an hour and a half. It’s just boring.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, it is, it is. It can fly and it really depends on the structure as well. I’ve just had a new coach to come to this court who has really increased the intensity of just drill after drill after drill, but increased the competitiveness as well. For me, I really like the competitive sports where you’re scoring. You’re trying to beat the other person. It’s not games where I’m then getting stressed if I don’t win, the focus is just on single points and play out the other person as hard as you can, and then bang straight in the next one. I finished a 1-1/2-hour session and it’s just been an awesome workout. I’ve had the drive to try and beat other people as well. For me, that’s a really good combination.
John: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. We did an episode here when Iris was on the show about competition. That’s one of those things that I think can help a lot of people to get into shape or to be motivated, especially if you’re motivated by that. That’s one thing like I'm definitely motivated by the competition aspect. I need to find a sport because I'm sick of running.
Troy Hunt: Absolutely. I think competition adds another element into it. One of the things I’ve been really involved in over the last probably before ______09:48 is motor sport. It’s sort of club level motor sport but motor sport where you’re measuring tenths, hundredths of seconds and you’re really, really focused on how can I just eat that last little bit out of the car. How can I go faster than the next go? What I love about that thing is it’s a bit the same with windsurfing and also the snowboarding, but there’s not a lot out in Australia.
With all those things, if you get them wrong the consequences can be pretty dire as well. I like the fact that you’re in control of your own destiny. If you get it wrong, you’re going to pay some degree of hefty price. That, to me, really gets the adrenaline going as well, and I think adrenaline is a great thing particularly to step away from the keyboarding experience. It’s sort of a polar opposite to sitting there churning out code.
John: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense, yeah.
Troy Hunt: When was the last time you block a code and got your adrenaline going? Wow! Look at that. How good is that? It doesn’t happen. Come on.
John: No, no. It happens when your post goes to hacker news and then there’s like 50 people calling you an idiot.
Troy Hunt: Well, yeah. Well, that’s a different kind of adrenaline. I think I call them stress.
John: You’ve got a good point there. That’s interesting. Actually, I think I'm curious, now, I'm really curious because you’re involved in a lot of different things. You’re doing your full time job. You’re doing the Pluralsight. You’re doing multiple sports. What about time management because, obviously, you must have some pretty good system for doing time management? What’s your strategy there?
Troy Hunt: Yeah, strategy. To be honest, it’s a combination of some degree of structure in so far as I have two kids that go to day care on a Monday, and a Wednesday and a Friday. I take them there, bring them back. I get a 6K walk and something a day. I know where I’ve got to be when. My wife works on those days. We’ve got a pattern that’s fixed. Because there’s some degree of structure there, we have to work things in around that. Also, having things like the tennis at fixed dates and times means that I'm always going to go and get that exercise.
It’s very difficult as you know, even when you’re running, if I don’t do this, I'm not letting in anyone but myself. It’s not that I have a fixed commitment. I think having those fixed commitments actually really helps with exercise. My wife goes to personal trainer, same sort of thing. She’s paying money. If she doesn’t turn up, she’s going to lose. There’s a bit of loss aversion going on there that drives her to be at that training session every week. I think that’s a great way to motivate yourself into getting in shape and sticking with your commitments.
John: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. If I heard you right, you said you walk 6K on Monday, Wednesday, Friday when you take your kids to day care?
Troy Hunt: Yeah. My 4-year-old rides his scooter so he gets a good work of exercise. My nearly 2-year-old daughter we’ll push in the pram. I like taking them to day care because I get to have a good walk which is good, and even if it is just a walk. If you walk, I guess it’s a K and a half one direction. That’s enough to get your heart right going a little bit, get some fresh air and certainly get away from the keyboard. If you can work that into an aspect of your daily life whether that be walking to work or taking the kids wherever they go, I think that’s a really good little subtle way of just getting a few backside and getting moving.
John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That’s exactly where I was going with that because that’s interesting. 6k like a high run like a 5k every other day, that’s some effort to do that. If you’re able to work that walking into your schedule where it doesn’t feel–it’s just part of your schedule, it doesn’t feel like you’re actually exercising, that’s fantastic. I think that’s definitely a good strategy to have. A lot of people could probably do something similar and really see benefits without having to really make a conscious effort to “exercise.”
Troy Hunt: Yeah. It doesn’t feel like work. The other thing is doing it with the kids is starting to sort of ingrain that mentality into them. I suspect there are a lot of people who listen to this and maybe had a more sedentary childhood or never had the opportunities and probably find it harder to get moving as they’re adults. If you can set your kids on that path from day one, I think that’s going to set them up for a much healthy lifestyle as they grow older.
John: Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Well, obviously, for you, it sounds like that you had been raised with that. You said your mother was a tennis player. What about the environment in Australia? In the US, we have a lot of overweight people. We have “obesity epidemic.” Is it the same thing in Australia or people are generally more fit and people generally walk and get more exercise? What’s the situation like in your environment?
Troy Hunt: Yeah, it’s funny. I think most western countries these days have an obesity problem to some degree. I don’t think Australia is immune from that. I guess what we have that probably makes it less excusable is that we do have great weather. We do have a very lifestyle orientated environment. Sports are a very big part of most of our childhoods as well. There is so many opportunities.
I mean for most of the country you can surf all year round if you wanted. Most of the country is next to the beach. There’s nothing in the middle. There’s that and we’ve got a lot of, you know, whether it be football or other sports like tennis for example. There are so many outlets in this country and so much good weather that it’s just that much easier to live a really active lifestyle.
John: I see, okay. What about on the diet side? Do you do anything special on your diet? Do you try to maintain a certain amount of calories or do you just have enough physical exercise and healthy eating habits that you don’t even have to worry about that?
Troy Hunt: It’s a bit of both. Certainly you’ve got to be conscious of it. Obviously as you get older you’ve got to be more conscious of it as well. I’m fortunate in that genetically I’ve got a lean build. Certainly I’ve never had to worry about obesity or anything like that. By the same token I know that I go away for Christmas and I drink too much beer and I sit on my backside for too long and it’s not good. I think I’m as conscious as I can be on a daily basis of how I eat. I try and have freshly squeezed juices most days which is absolutely fantastic. Lots of fresh fruit. Try not to overindulge. Today’s Friday so we’ll share a bottle of wine and get a pizza which is what we do but that’s well and truly offset by being really conscious about the types of foods and the variety of foods as well.
I have not felt the need to go, you know, look, I’ve got to have a low carb diet or anything like that. Probably the only other thing I’m more conscious of now, I’m mid to late 30s now is cholesterol. I’ll try to cut out most cheeses and things like that at the moment just to make sure that that stays under control. If it’s minor things and it’s just tweaks around the edges, it’s okay, I think it’s probably a lot harder for people that have to go from a very fast food orientated diet to suddenly going in a green stuff and juices and things like that.
But again, I got that from my parents. My mother in particular has been very health conscious about the foods we had. We never had white bread as a kid. It was all multigrain, whole meal breads and all sorts of other things. I was lucky to have that ingrained in me and we’re passing that on to our kids as well.
John: Yeah, okay yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That’s one of the things I always encourage on the show is to have more of a healthy lifestyle as opposed to necessarily going on diets. If you’re overweight you do need to probably go on a diet for some period of time but you need to transition that to a healthy lifestyle. I think that’s definitely a challenge for a lot of people because they go on a diet and then they binge eat afterwards. They go on this yoyo and they never learn that which is great that you have it ingrained and you’re ingraining it in your kids this idea of just this balance of naturally reaching for the healthy foods and being active and exercising. Not having to force themselves to do these things like to eat low carb or force myself to go workout and run. Yeah, that’s good to have that healthy lifestyle.
Troy Hunt: The other thing that I’ve done in the last couple of years I got one of those Withings Scales, the one that’s talked over the internet and keep track of your weight and your fat mass. I love the fact that I can look at that and start to see tiny variations. If I’m not clocking in at pretty much the same weight, give or take a kilo each day, and I see it start to go up it’s like man, I’ve put on 2 kilos or something. Where’s that going? What have I been doing in my lifestyle? Usually it’s down to food as opposed to exercise, but okay, I’ve been away at conferences and I’ve eaten nothing but rubbish for a week or something. I'm going to get that in check now.
What I think is really useful is being able to sort of monitor those smaller variations and have he data in front of you because we’re data people, right? We’re all technical people. Have the graph. If you see yourself putting on 5 kilos that’s a good point to say let’s bring it in check now not when it’s 15 or 20 or something like that.
John: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I actually have a Withings Scale as well and it’s tempting to not step on that thing to put your head in the sand so to speak. I think a lot of people do this because they don’t want to know. They don’t want to know. If you force yourself to see the data then you have to respond to it or you have the opportunity. Like you said, if you catch it soon when you’re only a couple kilos or a couple of pounds over you don’t have so far to go. You don’t have to climb a mountain to get back to where you need to be.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, that’s it. It’s not a major correction. A few pounds, even if it’s 10 pounds or something like that, that’s not a major correction. That’s something that you can probably manage with minor diet changes and a little bit more exercise. It’s when you’re sort of on that trajectory, and I’m sure people are conscious of it when they’re putting on large amounts of weight. My belief unless you can sort of measure it and unless you’re seeing it in front of you I’m just not sure that it sinks in the same way. I think things like that and other quantified self devices are really good ways of keeping that in check.
John: Yeah. As long as people are looking at them and using that data, I think that’s very true. I actually stopped wearing my Fitbit. I was wearing the Fitbit pretty religiously for a while but then I got enough data that I know. I got to this point where I know exactly how many steps I’m going to be walking when I do my routine. Initially having that Fitbit really helped me to visualize. Before I even had the Fitbit I had this other device. I think it was called a Body Bug and it went on your arm. It told me very accurately how many calories I was burning. I had a real good idea of this thing that most people don’t know about. If you don’t have any idea of how much you’re burning or what you’re doing then you don’t notice the differences.
Just this ability to have that data that we have now today makes it so much easier to stay in shape as long as you’re willing to look at the data.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, yeah. This is where I like the fact that we’re getting so many of these devices that can pull this data in a fairly implicit sort of fashion. I’d love to get things like heart rate and blood pressure and all that sort of thing just implicitly recorded and aggregated. There are services popping up now that can aggregate all these quantified self metrics and give you unified views across very independent devices and other measurement tools about what is going on with your health.
Again, to me it just comes back to I want to see where I am in a trajectory. When I go a little bit one way or the other I’ll make a minor correction and it will be good. Certainly as much exercise as I get I have to make corrections. It took me probably several months after Christmas to get back to my normal weight and activity levels but I want to see the data because if I’ve got the data then I’m making informed decisions.
John: Right, exactly. Yeah, yeah and there are actually some devices, I’m actually trying to set up interviews with some of the wearable tech guys, some of the CEOs for this podcast that are making devices that will let you monitor heart rate and all that and aggregate that stuff. We’re not very far off before we’ve got everything, all of the data. The only thing that I think we’ll never get is how much calories are coming into you. Unless someone can come up with some way other than tracking your food to be able to measure how much energy is going in, but I would love to have that. That would be the most awesome thing. I’ll settle for the rest I guess.
Troy Hunt: I’d love to have a device that does it without me having to do anything. I know that that sounds like being lazy on a fitness podcast but I think that it’s also a bit easy to get too infatuated with minor details over small periods of time. I don’t want to be going nuts because I’m 2 kilos heavier than what I was yesterday. There’s a few pretty good reasons for that. Let’s wait and let’s check it over a longer period of time. I think if you’re writing down every single calorie that goes in and every single heartbeat that may actually be a bit counterproductive in other ways. You may become a bit obsessive compulsive.
John: Exactly, yeah, yeah. I think it’s something that’s good for people to do for some period of time. If you never tracked your calories or tracked the calories that are coming in and burning, to do that for a couple of weeks will give you an idea. At some point you have to stop doing that otherwise like you said, you get too focused on the small detail. Once you understand how the mechanism works, and I think a lot of people are shocked when they first start tracking their calories. They’re like, “Oh really? A cheesecake is actually—one slice of cheesecake was 1500 calories? Really?”
Troy Hunt: Yeah, yeah, read the back of the packs it’s scary. I don’t know how it is in the US as well but in Australia we’ve got foundations like the Heart Foundation that will give ticks to products but you’ve got to be really careful because a lot of them are commercially incentivized to do so. They also might be getting a tick on calories but then they’re high in carbs or unsaturated fats or something else that you probably haven’t thought of. Actually reading details on products, if it’s not immediately obvious what it’s going to have in it is probably a good thing too.
John: Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point. A lot of the fast food restaurants here in the US have started putting the calorie counts on the menus. I don’t know. Some people say it could actually influence your decisions to the negative, but for me when I go in a Starbucks or I go to McDonalds on a rare occasion and I look at that, it definitely influences my decision especially at Starbucks. When it’s drinking something I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t think I want to drink something that’s 400 calories.” I’d rather …
Troy Hunt: I know.
John: I’d rather eat a lot of food.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, that’s it. Also I just realized, I said ______ 00:26:22 and I was wrong. I got that one around the wrong way. Do talk to a professional, not me. I think it’s about being conscious and I like the fact that restaurants are now needing to disclose that information. By the same token, guys, it’s a massive can of coke even if it’s diet coke. It’s probably not going to be that great for you. Do it every now and then but if that’s part of a daily routine then that’s probably not going to be a good long term health strategy.
John: Yeah, yep. That’s exactly it. It comes down to what is your routine, what are your habits, the things that you do, the habits that you build are the things that make you—the future version of yourself is just a collection of the habits that you have right now.
Troy Hunt: Yeah, yeah, that’s it, absolutely it.
John: All right. Cool. Let me give me a plug for our sponsor here. I want to give a shout out to SignalLeaf. Thanks for hosting this podcast. If you are interested in starting your own podcast you can go to www.signalleaf.comand you can check out their podcast hosting services, real easy to use, very good service for hosting your podcast and not very expensive either. Check out www.signalleaf.com.
Thanks a lot Troy for doing the show and doing the other interview. I know I’m stealing a lot of time of your morning so I really appreciate it.
Troy Hunt: No, it’s my pleasure. I think it’s great that you’re having this discussion with people John because particularly in this industry it’s just too easy to get engrossed in what you’re doing and never get outdoors and ultimately to your own detriment. Good stuff for doing it, mate.
John: All right, thanks. I appreciate it. For everyone listening to the podcast definitely check out Get Up and CODE at getupandcode.com. You can visit Troy Hunt at www.troyhunt.com, right? Is that right?
Troy Hunt: That’s the one.
John: Check out Troy’s PluralSight courses on security, really good courses. Thanks for joining and we will talk to you again next week. Take care.