I learned a lot this year. Waaaaay too much for one blog, but here I’m gonna show you the eleven most important things I came away with. Yeah, ELEVEN, couldn’t even get it down to a nice even ten. Well, I could have, but number 11? Is REALLY Important. Here we go!
1. You’re going to die from something.
It’s impossible to guard yourself against everything, and you’re going to severely lower your quality of life if you attempt to do so. You need to figure out what’s most important to you, determine what you will do to protect yourself accordingly, and then implement a manageable plan. You also need to implement these practices intelligently, and be able to measure their effectiveness. Here’s what I recommend:
- Figure out what’s most important to you in terms of your health. Do you want to be a professional endurance athlete? Do you want to just be healthy enough to be the best parent or partner you can be? Figure out what’s important first, and then you can figure out what you can do to support your priorities.
- Use the available information to determine what are the biggest threats to your health, relative to your lifestyle, your environment, and your genes. What specific circumstances apply to you that require extra precaution on your part? Do you have an autoimmune disorder? Do you have poor gut health?
- Pick some biohacking practices (or we can just call them health practices) that make you excited. You’re most likely not going to stick with a practice unless it makes you excited or interests you, so it’s important to choose something that makes you feel a little tingly inside.
- Implement these biohacking practices ONE AT A TIME. It’s impossible to implement 45 new habits at once, no matter how well-intentioned. Practices become habits when we don’t have to think about it; when it’s automatic. Start with one and do it until it becomes nearly automatic, and then implement more. You have your entire life to implement these, after all, there’s no rush!
- Track the results. You’ll want to make sure it’s working, and you need to actually measure things to see if they work or not. If you’re more science-focused, buy that weird gadget that helps you measure EMF waves. Get an Oura ring and track your body’s vitals. If you’re not, just get a notebook and record how your body feels. Give it a 1-10 rating and see if that improves over time, based on the new things you do.
2. You don’t need to understand the science in order to get the benefit.
I personally would not be able to explain at least one-third of what I heard in this conference, but I don’t need to be able to explain the process in order to benefit from it. Why does red light therapy help your health and combat stress? I’m not the best person to ask. But I do know how to buy a red light device and stand in front of it 10 minutes per day.
3. Eliminating your weaknesses first is the best place to start, because it frees up your energy to do more.
This wasn’t even from one of the main talks. It was from Dave Asprey’s introduction of Esther Perel, but for some reason this seemed incredibly useful to me. To me, this means that we can’t ignore our weaknesses by making our strengths stronger – we have to address the weaknesses themselves. It’s the same in fitness. We can treat the symptoms for a while, but eventually we have to go straight to the weakness that’s holding us back.
4. Technology is not only costing us our health – it’s also ruining our relationships.
I don’t need to list all of the benefits that technology has brought us – you already know what those are. We also know technology harms us. But technology is also negatively impacting our relationships. We are more electronically connected and less physically connected than ever before. Our inability to focus means we suck at listening and being there for our partners. The ease of being able to see any video or listen to any song ANY time we want means that we not only see variety as an extra – we feel entitled to it. Unfortunately, there is no hack for relationships. They require time, attention, and effort, just like anything else you care about.
5. Our world is at the point that even if you are doing all of the “normal” things you can to be healthy, it’s not enough.
Even organic crops lack the minerals our bodies need. Living in a city means your body is constantly exposed to harmful EMF waves. And who doesn’t have a smart phone? All of these everyday comforts (necessities) expose us to an environment that gives us more stress than ever before, and it’s necessary to take extra precautions (i.e. all this weird but really cool biohacking stuff) in order to be as healthy as we can.
6. People interested in their health and fitness – any community, whether it’s biohackers, paleo dieters, endurance athletes, or yogis – live in a bubble, and it’s up to us to spread what we know and practice to the rest of the world.
Despite everything we may or may not know about health, there is an entire WORLD that knows a fraction of what we do. They also don’t recognize the impact their health has on every aspect of their lives (social, professional, spiritual, etc), and most of them have zero motivation to learn more. If you know something that can help people, it’s up to you to share it. But you have to share it in a way that inspires other people – not that shames them for being ignorant. Lead by example. Show everybody what a great time you’re having feeling healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle without ramming it down their throats, and you’ll be able to impact the world in a positive way.
7. Getting great sleep is the best thing you can do for your health, and getting great sleep means making sleep-improving practices part of your nightly routine.
Nothing just falls in to place by chance. It takes deliberate effort and planning, and your sleep is no different. There are tons of practices you can utilize to create better sleep, many of which have not changed for years, but here are the ones you should definitely be doing in the hours leading up to bed:
- Create a transition, or “shut-down”, between the end of your work day and bedtime. It’s important to wind down and enter a state of relaxedness before attempting to go to sleep.
- Once the sun goes down, minimize your exposure to screens of all kinds. Wear blue-light blocking sunglasses at night, and avoid active engagement (smartphones, tablets, computers) with smart devices.
- Avoid eating meals high in carbs before bed. Eat a meal high in protein and fats, and try to finish it 2-3 hours before you go to bed. (Note: I personally finish eating about 1 hour before bed, and this does not negatively affect my sleep as long as it does not contain carbs such as pasta, sweet potatoes, or rice.)
- Do something that helps you relax. Read, meditate, practice gratitude, take a cold shower, practice restorative yoga stretches, or do self-myofascial release. Anything that helps you wind down.
- Create an optimal sleep environment.
- Wear earplugs if it’s loud.
- Use blackout curtains to make it pitch black.
- Turn the thermometer down to 60 – 68 degrees. (Or use a Chilipad.)
8. Building muscle is still the most important aspect of your physical fitness, and having mobility is a prerequisite for proper strength training.
Having more muscle means more lean muscle mass, better bone density, less fat, more testosterone, less stress, and a myriad of other benefits that are too long to list here. Mobility is important because it enables us to strength train properly. Without the necessary mobility, we aren’t able to properly perform the movements that help us build strength. Therefore you need strength AND mobility practices in order to stay fit.
9. We need to spend more time on our relationships, and also to recognize that the relationship between the mother and father is the most important relationship of the family.
The nuclear family no longer depends on one another for survival, as they did 1 or 2 centuries prior. Improving economic opportunities and the ability of women to join the modern work force means the mother and father will only stay together if it makes them happy. It is important that the appropriate efforts to be made to ensure the relationship doesn’t just survive; but thrives. This means (among other things):
- Paying attention to one another. Setting aside times where you are completely focused on your partner, and sincerely listening with interest in an attempt to learn more about your partner.
- Being non-judgmental. Your partner needs to feel completely comfortable being vulnerable with you. That means listening without expressing judgment, offering solutions (that one particularly for men), but instead offering emotional support, demonstrating that you truly care, and reassuring him or her that you love them.
- Supporting one another’s goals. The best way to do this is by developing mutual goals together. What helps you helps your partner. When your partner wins, you win.
- Striving to increase the complexity of your relationship. Doing new things. Engaging in new experiences. Being unpredictable every now and then. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s the spice of your relationship, too.
- Being able to hear feedback WITHOUT becoming defensive. Your partner needs to be able to express his or her disappointment without you responding with one of your own complaints.
- Being open with one another, about everything. There should be nothing you can’t share with each other. You might not be able to do this automatically if there are things you don’t feel comfortable sharing, but you should build up to being able to share everything.
- Go to couples therapy. This is too often the last resort of relationship problems. If couples went to therapy together earlier, they would be able to diagnose and treat problems before they became a problem. Yet we still think of couples therapy as something for couples with problems. This is another perception that needs to change. I like to think of it like this: If you’re interested in becoming better at something, you wouldn’t avoid a seminar or a lesson – you’d want to learn as much as you can in order to the best you can be. Similarly, if we want to have the best relationship we can, then it’s important to get help to improve it.
10. It’s important to regularly test our bodies to get a clear picture of our overall health, and to make the necessary changes.
I’m not just talking about yearly check-ups (although you should probably be doing those, too). I’m taking about having regular blood tests, testing your gut health, figuring out what you can and can’t eat, and measuring your sleep quality. These are simple tests that do require some investments, but they are extremely valuable as ways to learn more about your body and how you can improve your health.
11. The most significant practices that contribute to our overall health, success, and feelings of fulfillment are the most simple practices; the ones we already know about.
All of this biohacking stuff is great, but if we aren’t doing the simple stuff than we might as well not be doing it at all. Biohacking is the cream on top. It’s what we do once we’re already covering the basics. These can be argued, but Lewis Howes says that in all of his interviews with top performers and experts that 5 practices in particular stuck out from the others. Again, these include:
- Practice Gratitude
- Continuous Growth
- Creating & Sticking to A Plan
- Choosing to surround yourself with the right people. (I say choosing because this may not happen subconsciously.)
- Giving – And doing so in a way that makes you feel as if you haven’t lost anything.