How Lebron James’ Cell Phone Gave Him Mouth Cancer.

Le-Bron

A few weeks ago, I published the video “7 Ways To Reduce Electrical Pollution In Your Office“, and a couple weeks ago, the article “Is Your Mattress Killing You?”. Both addressed the concerning topic of what modern electronic signals are doing to our health.

Now i’s time to dig even deeper. The following guest post comes from Evan Brand, host of the “Not Just Paleo” podcast. Evan recently recorded a groundbreaking interview entitled “EMF Solutions And How To Mitigate Cell Phone And Home Risks“, and it was so compelling, I asked him if he could expound upon it in this article. This is indeed a controversial topic, so if you have your own thoughts, comments or feedback, them leave them below this post.

Take it away, Evan…

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Even if you aren’t an avid gossip magazine reader, surely you’ve heard about some of the extreme measures that celebrities are now taking for their health. Angelina Jolie and her breast removal surgery was the catalyst for me to dig deeper into the lives of celebrities and the things they promote.

Oftentimes, celebrity health issues simply don’t make sense. Their “random health problems” just seem so, well…random…and out of the blue to the general public.

But I am here to tell you these random health problems are not really random at all.

In this article, you’ll learn about why Lebron James’ salivary gland tumor really happened (Lebron recently underwent a 5 hour surgery to remove his tumor). While the consensus that most mouth tumors are benign, that didn’t seem to be the case for poor Lebron.

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Salivary Gland Tumors Entering the Mainstream

More celebrities than just Lebron James have been dealing with salivary or parotid gland tumors. For examle, John McCain and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys are two more famous cases of salivary gland tumors. Unfortunately, Adam Yauch lost his life due to his tumor at the age of 47 years old.

So why are these tragedies happening? What is it that politicians, basketball players and musicians have in common?

Just think about it:

They frequently travel and expose themselves to radiation, both in the airport and on planes.

They are in high demand by others which often calls for extremely frequent cell phone use.

They are celebrities – there’s simply far less time to turn off and decompress, destress or detoxify.

So is their excessive cell phone use – along with these other damaging life variables – causing their tumors? Although a one study found that short-term use of cell phones did not lead to an increased risk of salivary gland tumors, the authors were unsure of the long-term risks. Another study found no increase in risk for brain tumors after short-term cell phone use, but said they are “waiting for long-term studies to surface”.

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Is Cell Phone Danger Just A Conspiracy Theory?

Do these studies sound a bit like the relaxed attitude towards leaded gasoline or cigarettes when they began? Scientist Clair Patterson was living in fear each day due to the mass poisoning that lead was causing in cities with cars and to the health of the ocean. The lead concentration levels in the oceans were rising and were directly correlated from leaded gasoline. The gasoline industry didn’t want to hear it. After all, it was big business, and big business is big money.

However, the gasoline companies later hired other scientists to attempt to disprove and convince the public that leaded gasoline was really safe. The full account of this story is shown in Neil Tyson’s TV series called Cosmos. In my opinion, it’s a must watch episode for every citizen of the planet.

But back to cell phones.

There are scientists, politicians and average everyday people like myself who are concerned about the billions of cell phones that are being produced and used each day on this planet. Why haven’t we questioned or paused for a moment to ask how these things may be affecting us on the cellular level? I forgot about the power of money, I suppose. The tech industry is one of the few industries that has boomed in the global recession. It would be catastrophic to the world economy if we were just to abandon the cell phone industry. And besides, we are far too addicted to our tech toys to leave them behind.

If we keep assuming everything is safe until proven dangerous (pesticides, GMO’s), we will lead ourselves into human extinction. Scientists have long documented the decline in life expectancy in the 21st century here. It’s no surprise to those of us that are aware of the multi-faceted toxic world we live in. Without the ability to detoxify or find nurturing foods, it’s no surprise when we look at the statistics. And when you add in cell phone towers every 200 yards throughout the city, along with WiFi centers spreading like some sort of bacteria, you can really begin to grasp the scale of this issue.

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Straying Away From Nature

There’s a reason you feel more at ease when you are immersed in nature. As someone who spent a lot of time building hiking trails and working in fields in an area with zero cell phone towers, I can tell you that my anxiety and breathing issues are much more relaxed when I’m in those natural environments. When it comes to stress, there are certainly many factors at play, but EMF is a big factore.

As Ben points out in the well-researched article “How To Detox Your Home“, exposure to EMF has been linked to headaches, fatigue, depression, hyperactivity, eye strain, muscle cramps or twitches, poor sleep quality due to reduced melatonin secretion (as stated by the Bioinitiative Report), anxiety, autism, blood-brain barrier permeability, blood sugar dysregulation and heart palpitations.

And this isn’t just cell phones we’re talking about. I must point out that there is more than just one type of damaging electromagnetic field (EMF), including:

-Radiation frequency, WiFi, cell phone and cell towers coming from your home, public transit, airplane, environment and anywhere where a large group of people with tech gadgets congregate.

-Dirty electricity coming from appliances near your bedroom, fuse boxes, smart meters, hair dryers, televisions, power lines, light fixtures, microwaves and other electronics. You can test anything with your Trifield meter. The safe limit is 1mG.

-Non-native magnetic fields from extension cords, power outlets, some electronics and metal bed frames.

Perhaps you’re getting the idea why the massive post-industrial surge in cancer rates is not just limited to mouth cancer. It’s affecting every cell in our entire body – above and beyond simply our heads.

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But WiFi Is Just So Cool!

Even if you’re not personally much of a “cell phone person”, the pervasiveness of WiFi should be concerning to you.

Here in Austin, Texas, the public transit sector has put a huge marketing campaign into promoting their new buses that contain the fastest WiFi. Companies are creating entire businesses based around in-flight WiFi to satisfy our need to conduct “important business” from the airplane.

But has no one realized that buses and airplanes are essentially metal, enclosed microwave boxes? We are simply stuffed inside of them like a TV dinner waiting to explode!

A recent story I overheard at the airport was about the number of tech gadgets each person was carrying. People now have a smartphone, tablet, laptop and usually a few more random electronic “toys”. Take those three gadgets – multiplied by a flight of 150 people who do not follow the “airplane mode” rule – and you have 400+ devices bouncing signals around an airplane cabin.

There should be an immediate requirement and stricter enforcement against devices not put in airplane mode until further studies can disprove the evidence against our health. But I doubt this will happen. Skeptics or people who have no clue about this subject simply want to conduct business and play with their toys – optimizing productivity or being plugged into the world over health. I personally make ever effort possible to travel on airplanes and transit systems that do not have these features available.

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Kids Are At Risk Too

When I was in school, cell phones and WiFi wasn’t pervasive in the school system. I was safe. But now, 5 year old kids are taking smart phones to school and are sitting in a WiFi bath throughout the enitre day. Almost anyone who has raised a child is aware that a child’s skulls is not as dense as an adults, so they have less protection against these invisible forces.

This article quoted The Council of Europe Parliament, who looked at evidence of these technologies and the potential harmful effects on humans and concluded that “immediate action is required to protect the children”.

The Council proposed putting the following measures into place:

Set thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves of the type emitted by mobile phones;

Introduce clear labeling on products indicating the presence of electromagnetic fields and any health risks associated with use;

Ban all mobile phones and wireless networks in classrooms and schools;

Run information campaigns aimed at children and young adults about the risks to human health;

Step up research on less-dangerous types of antennae and mobile phones.

Dang. Hopefully America catches up soon.

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What’s Next?

Although the World Health Organization still has a conservative stance on cell phones, cell towers and electromagnetic radiation, they too point to the fact that these 4G advanced technologies have not been around long enough to see the full effect on society. I personally expect their stance to begin to change as the evidence continues to pile up.

On episode 86 of my podcast, I’ve had one of the most respected EMF experts discuss some of the implications and clinical research on this topic in his career as an M.D. Dr. Samuel Milham also authored the book Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization. I’ve also talked with Ann Louise Gittleman on episode 87. She is the author of Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution.

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What You Can Do

Fortunately, there are action steps you can take right now to ensure you’re not swimming in the same EMF filled soup that Lebron James’ head has been exposed to for so long. Ben has discussed many of these solutions in detail in his “How To Biohack The Ultimate Healthy Home” e-book, but here’s a quick list to get you started:

  1. Turn off at night or completely remove or disable WiFi from your home and hardwire your computer. I’ve noticed faster recovery, deeper and more restful sleep accompanied by an increase in dreams and dream recall.
  2. Use antennasearch.com when you’re moving to a new location or planning to build a home. Pick the location with minimal or no towers whenever possible.
  3. Avoid holding your cell phone right up to your head when talking. Use the speakerphone or hold the phone away from your head while turning up your volume.
  4. Avoid cell phone use in the car or put it on airplane mode.
  5. Do not use bluetooth headsets. Only use air-tube headsets (Ben discusses them in this article).
  6. Turn off the breaker to your bedroom at night if you’ve got access to the breaker box.
  7. Use a Trifield meter or even a Lapka device to survey your work area and home for unsafe levels of magnetic fields.
  8. Use Dirty Electricity Filters if your magnetic level readings are safe and below 1mG using the 0-3 feature.
  9. Do not bring any electronics into the bedroom.
  10. Get rid of your metal-containing mattress and bed frame as they act like an antenna. Many people report better sleep by switching to a wood frame and metal and toxin-free mattress.
  11. Use your laptop hooked up to an external display with wired (not wireless or bluetooth!) keyboard and mouse. My Macbook Air emits over 5mG from the keyboard.
  12. Keep the head of your bed away from the wall where wires or electrical outlets are present.
  13. Make an effort to immerse yourself in nature and other places where EMF exposure will be minimized.
  14. Ground yourself to the earth in a safe manner, such as by frequently getting barefoot outside.
  15. Drink more spring water, as EMF tends to dehydrate you.
  16. Don’t let children, preferably anyone under age 10, have long exposure to cell phones
  17. Deny and refuse smart meters at all costs. If your state prevents you from rejecting their installation, attempt to find a safer home and in the meantime, maximize your distance.
  18. Maintain adequate mineral status – including magnesium – as mineral deficiencies can allow heavy metal toxicity, further creating a “human antenna” effect.
  19. Engage in love, laughter and joy to maintain a light-hearted attitude and stress response.
  20. Do your best and take small steps each day to minimize exposure and risk.

Think about what you can do to mitigate some of these risks. Would you actually be able to live without your cell phone? Is this all a conspiracy? Do you think celebrities are destroying themselves with all their cell phone use, plane flights and stress? Leave your thoughts, comments and feedback below this post.

Sources

23 Cutting-Edge Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts on Fat Loss, Nutrition and Human Performance.

I’ve been keeping this big secret for awhile, but during the entire summer of 2014, I spent a ton of time interviewing an elite crowd of the world’s top experts on performance, fat loss, recovery, digestion, brain, sleep and hormone optimization.

And in 28 days, on November 17th, I’m going to release ALL those interviews in what I will admit is the very first online conference I’ve ever organized (but even though I’m an online conference newbie, I’m still pretty darn proud of the content I’ve been able to collect for you in this one).

I have had the honor of conducting 23 one-on-one conversational video interviews with some of the world’s best doctors, athletes, scientists and biohackers. These talks capture their cutting-edge non-run-of-the-mill research and thoughts on performance, mental clarity and total body optimization. Each of these incredible conversations is going to be streamed online *for free* so you can watch and listen in.

And I guarantee these discussions are not coming up in your doctor’s office or average health or fitness magazine – this is groundbreaking stuff.

The name of this conference is REV Yourself”, it’s hosted by en*theos.com, and it’s all about showing you exactly how to rev your body and look, feel, and perform at your absolute peak potential. All 25 of these interviews will be streaming for free starting November 17, and even though it’s a month away, you can take early bird action and sign up right here to get full access and all the details.

Check out this amazing line-up of experts and topics:


Andy Murphy Pic
How To Use NLP To Beat Food Cravings, Run Faster and Permanently Change Any Bad Habit

with Andy Murphy

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can train your unconscious brain to change your habits and actions, but to do so, you must reprogram it.
  • One extremely important part of Neurolinguistic Programming is to create a physical anchor.
  • You can use NLP for both physical performance and mental performance, but also for self-control and changing habits permanently (including controlling food cravings, as you’ll see in this video).


How To Protect And Enhance Your Sleep

with Ameer Rosic

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • How to start every day with some type of beverage that supports your mitochondria, such as apple cider vinegar, organic baking soda or minerals.
  • Standing and moving during the day activates specific sleep pressure proteins that allow your pineal gland to produce melatonin at night.
  • We all hear blue light is bad for you and your sleep, but blue light exposure can actually help you sleep when exposure is done in the morning.


How To Change Your Life By Getting More Done In Less Time

with Ari Meisel

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Create very small, achievable intermediate goals instead of big, lofty goals – get “one small win” each day.
  • Use virtual assistants, personal assistants and automation websites to get more done in less time – and that you don’t have to be rich to do it!
  • Use the Pomodoro technique of “interval training” of your tasks, with “25 minutes on-5 minutes off”.


How To Play More And Exercise Less

with Darryl Edwards

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Include the PRIMALITY components of “Primality, Restorative, Integrative, Mindful, Adaptive, Life Enhancing, Instinctive Movement, Tactical, Youthful Exuberance”.
  • Use the concepts of primal play, you can maintain levels of extreme strength and fitness without ever stepping foot into a gym.
  • Play – it not only increases levels of fitness in a fun way, but also causes a hormonal response that makes you both happier and smarter.


How To Build Strength & Cardio At The Same Time

with Doug McGuff

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can engage your anaerobic energy system to the extent that you can overload it with lactic acid and get an enormous cardiovascular effect – but you can do this with weights, not cardio!
  • Within just 12-15 minutes of super-slow, controlled and intense strength training using 5 basic exercises, you can build strength and cardio at the same time.
  • Lactic acid can actually be quite useful, and you can train your liver to actually take lactic acid and convert it into glucose to be a useable fuel source.


How To Fix Your Gut

with Dr. Alejandro Junger

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Most Western doctors test the gut the wrong way, and don’t actually measure the DNA of organisms in the gut, which is the gold standard for testing.
  • Yeast and fungal overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth and parasites are three common and harmful gut issues that are commonly seen in the gut of civilized populations.
  • When the conditions in your gut are not optimal, such as lack of good bacteria, too much starch and sugar, or an unhealthy diet, you will set yourself up for being “taken over” by gut invaders.


Protecting Your Body From The Hazards Of Airline Travel

with Dr. Jack Kruse

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Increasing use of technology/wifi on airplanes can cause much more damage to your body than airport X-rays.
  • Communicable disease, blood clots and risk of catching a cold can be 100x higher when you are flying.
  • There are 17 things you can do to protect your body from the hazards airline travel – from foods to supplements to biohacks.


Hidden Secrets To Becoming A Better Breather

with Dr. John Douillard

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can train yourself to achieve a deep, meditative state of alpha brainwave activation and focused relaxation during exercise.
  • Breathing through your nose during exercise is a key skill that you must learn to correctly activate your lung’s receptors to lower cortisol.
  • The secret to decreasing pain and discomfort during exercise is to use proper breathing tactics to get the ideal combination of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activation.


How To Become A Fat Burning Machine

with Dr. Peter Attia

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • It takes 1-3 months to become fully fat adapted, but when you do it, it allows you to do long workouts and get through the day while sparing your use of carbohydrates and glycogen.
  • Once you’ve achieved a state of fat oxidation, you can “cheat” on carbs and still get yourself back into fat oxidation within 48-72 hours.
  • “Bonking” during exercise is not necessarily a factor of running out of carbohydrates or glucose, and is probably instead because the brain fails to utilize glucose – and this can be fixed with adequate amino acids.


How To Challenge Your Body And Mind

with Hobie Call

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • If you want to do a race or an event, then push yourself to that same level in at least a few of your training sessions.
  • A treadmill plus a weighted vest, with 1:3 or 1:4 work:rest ratios is a very difficult but highly effective way to become a tougher, faster runner.
  • It’s OK to defy the norms of training – Hobie runs just 10 miles a week, but is still one of the fastest racers out there!


How To Easily Track What’s Going On Inside Your Body

with Jeff Hunt

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • There are 12 important things that you can pay attention to that will directly dictate knowing whether or not you’re getting the most out of your workouts, or are at risk for injury or illness.
  • When you look at an isolated single variable, such as urine color, it can tell you a little bit about your state of recovery, but putting together a cluster of recovery factors is far more accurate and informative.
  • Lack of recovery doesn’t just mean that you’re unable to workout hard – it also means you can lose your love of exercise and your passion for the sport you’re competing in!


Top Recovery Tools: the Best Ways to Recover as Quickly as Possible

with Jeff Spencer

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • The same strategies that work for a Tour de France cyclist can work for the traveling businessman and the busy soccer mom.
  • You can stack injury recovery techniques such as heat, then topical, then electrical or laser or mechanical stimulation, and do it all outside for benefit of sunlight.
  • The next “big thing” in recovery and injury prevention is to pay attention to your electrochemical gradients, and how the use of devices affects your cell’s ability to recover.


How To Conquer Your Fears, React Under Stress, and Master Your Life

with Jesse Elder

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • When you see evidence that your training is working, it’s a huge boost. So don’t just train, give yourself a chance to compete, because results beat theory.
  • Your life is meant to be lived as fully as your imagination and courage will allow.
  • Thoughts create feelings… and feelings are more powerful than most people will ever know.


How To Enjoy Real Food (Without Spending Your Life In the Kitchen)

with Jessica Greenfield

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Eating real food doesn’t mean spending long periods of time in the kitchen – and much of the techniques you can use from fermentation to slow food prep can be done without you even being there!
  • One of the best ways to save time on eating real food is to batch your grocery shopping also batch your food prep into just one to two times during the week
  • Learning how to use a crockpot is one of the best things a beginner can do.


Why You Need To Do Hard Things

with Joe DeSena

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • From watching TV in Mandarin Chinese to carrying 70 pound rocks up hills, doing hard things can give you a long, fulfilling life by keeping you from getting soft.
  • The mental component of training is just as important as the physical component.
  • A good way to build durability is to do a hard, intense workout immediately followed by an easy, long workout.


Why You Need To Cheat On Your Diet

with John Kiefer

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can cheat every day on your diet if you time your carbohydrates, fats and proteins properly throughout the day.
  • Ice cream, alcohol and dark chocolate can each have benefits if you eat them at specific times during the day.
  • In moderation, insulin is actually a good hormone that can assist with both muscle gain and fat loss.


How To Become A Supple Leopard

with Kelly Starrett

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • The worst thing you can do before or after exercise is to sit down.
  • The best way to assess why you got injured is to start by assessing hydration, sitting too much, not sleeping enough and things that you may not think have anything to do with the injury itself.
  • Skin massage, raking with soup spoon or stick, dry brushing the skin and even keeping a Chinese soup spoon in your bathtub or hot tub for skin therapy is an enormously effective injury prevention tactic.


6 Ways To Get As Fit As A Navy Seal

with Mark Divine

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You should try to do something that scares you at least once a week.
  • Durability includes pushing through injuries, even though we’re often told not to – and sometimes it’s OK to keep going when you’ve injured your shoulder, knee or back.
  • Stamina and endurance are sorely neglected training areas, and when not done in excess and used strategically, can result in huge fitness boosts.


The 3 Keys To Looking Good Naked

with Mark Sisson

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You should lift heavy stuff 2-3x per week and you don’t even need to step foot in a gym to do it.
  • Sprint for 15-60s 1-2x per week, allow yourself to fully recover in between each sprint and go beyond running to try things like cycling, elliptical, swimming, etc.
  • A key to looking good naked is to avoid snacking and to instead turn yourself into a fat burning machine.


Practical Ways To Protect Yourself From Hidden EMF Killers

with Michael Neuert

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Popular science believes that the only thing to worry about when it comes to electrical devices is heat, but the signals these devices emit go far above and beyond merely heat.
  • There is absolutely no way to truly know, measure and mitigate EMF in your home and work environment unless you use a meter to test.
  • You can shield yourself from EMF effectively by taking proper steps – including how your home and office devices are configured.


How To Cool The Brain

with Nora Gedgadaus

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • High blood sugar can cause neural inflammation, and it can happen even on a low carb diet if you are stressed.
  • Once you have an immune reaction that affects your brain, you’ll have that immune sensitivity forever.
  • Curcumin is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory, which works very well with resveratrol (e.g. organic red wine) and other flavonoids (e.g. dark colored organic vegetables), bioperine (e.g. organic black pepper).


How To Fix Your Adrenals

with Shawn Talbott

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Humans are not zebras who just run from a lion every now and then, and there is a big difference between acute stress and being stressed out.
  • When cortisol levels are high, you shuttle resources away from producing testosterone, and adaptogenic herbs can be used to lower cortisol and increase available resources for other hormones.
  • One of the best ways to test for your adrenal function is a simple salivary cortisol test at multiple times during the day.


Biohacking Your Brain

with Steven Fowkes

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Some of the best cognitive enhancing gear includes a good water filter, a HEPA filter with a negative ion generator and an infrared lamp.
  • The biggest ways to destroy cognitive performance include gut inflammation, gluten, milk protein from commercial dairy and amino acids deficiencies.
  • You can amplify your choline levels with foods such as walnuts, broccoli, cauliflower for choline, while also shutting down brain inflammation with foods such as coconut oil, cur cumin and fish oil.


How To Transition Back To Regular Eating From A Detox

with Yuri Elkaim

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can do two to four cleanses per year that coincide with the seasons.
  • Cleansing doesn’t require fancy supplements or juices, but can be accomplished 100% with real food.
  • If you don’t use it you lose it – and if you completely avoid natural sources of gluten or lactose, you may struggle heavily with them if you ever need to eat them.

Amazing, right?

It’s incredible, and I’m extremely honored, to have this much healthy living wisdom all in one place. I can’t wait for you to check out these cutting-edge, non-run-of-the-mill interviews so you can REV yourself, get the most from your body and mind, and experience what it feels like to look, feel and perform at the complete next level.

REV Yourself streams for 100% free starting Monday, November 17, 2014 at 12:00 PM PT / 3:00 PM ET, and goes all the way through November 21. Click here to register for free and get your all-access ticket today.

Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils For Fat Loss, Performance, Smart Drugs, Scar Healing, Detoxing And More.

Essential Oils

Two years ago, I got a nasty staph infection.

It exploded into the flesh-eating bacteria MRSA, it took over both my arms and legs, it ate a golf-ball sized hole into my right thigh and I nearly lost my left arm.

The entire nasty story, along with shocking photos, is here.

After trying every natural remedy and topical creme on the face of the planet, I eventually got rid of the entire thing and healed myself with essential oils.

Over the past two years, I went from knowing nothing about essential oils to discovering an entire wealth of knowledge about these amazing natural remedies, and in today’s podcast episode with Dr. Sarah Lobisco, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about essential oils for fat loss, performance, cognitive enhancement, scar healing, detoxing and more, including:

What exactly an essential oil is and how an essential oil is actually made…

How essential oils work chemically within your body…

The three different ways you can apply and use essential oils…

The best essential oils for your immune system…

The best essential oil blends for stress and sleep…

The best essential oils for fat loss (and for stretch marks too!)…

Amazing ways you can use one essential oil as a smart drug and cognitive performance enhancer…

How essential oils can be used to enhance physical performance…

How essential oils can be used for cleansing and detox…

-Why not all essential oils are created equal, why some can do some serious damage to you if you’re not careful, and the exact brand that Dr. Sarah uses

My guest, Dr. Sarah Lobisco, is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM). She is licensed in Vermont as a naturopathic doctor and holds a Bachelor of Psychology from State University of New York at Geneseo. Dr. LoBisco speaks professionally on integrative medical topics, has several journal publications, and is a candidate for postdoctoral certification in functional medicine. She currently has a private integrative medicine consulting practice located in Ballston Spa, New York, where she incorporates her training in holistic medical practices with conventional medicine.

Do you have more questions about essential oil? Leave your comments and feedback below, and click here to peruse the Young Living Essential Oils we discuss in this episode.

The Five Sitting Mistakes That Fit People Make

leg press

I’m in post-Ironman recovery mode (full audio race report here), so today’s article is a bit more brief than usual. But as I (ironically) sit around recovering, I’ve recently been reviewing a new program called “The Sitting Solution” (you can listen to my podcast with the creators of that program here), and it got me thinking about sitting mistakes…

…sitting mistakes that I see many fit people making.

In other words, even if you’re an exercise enthusiast who avoids sitting for long periods of time in chairs, it doesn’t mean that the risks of sitting aren’t hitting you in other places.

So without further ado, here are 5 sitting mistakes that even fit people make (and by the way, even though I’m “sitting around” all day today recovering from Ironman, I’m constantly shifting from sitting at the counter, to lying on my stomach on the living room floor, to getting into a lunge position at the kitchen table, etc. So yes – you can even “sit all day” without actually sitting all day):

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Mistake #1. Sitting At The Gym (e.g. the use of weight machines like Nautilus)

As I point out in my Fox Magazine article on free weights vs. weight machines, when you use free weights such as dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells, you can move through a greater range-of-motion. Many weight machines simply don’t “feel right” to your body, no matter how you adjust the seat or handles. With free weights, you have complete freedom of rotation so that something like an overhead shoulder press can feel much more natural and comfortable with free weights compared to weight machines.

Of course, the other problem with weight machines is that most of them involve sitting. And in this position, your head protrudes forward, your spine rounds into a C-shape, your shoulders round and internally rotate, your hips and knees flex and your ankles are flexed. In this poor sitting posture (even when you’re exercising) certain muscles get tight, certain muscles get elongated and weak, and certain joints get restricted.

Doesn’t it simply seem counterintuitive that you’d sit all day in your office, in a car, on a subway, at breakfast or lunch, and then get to the gym only to sit some more?

Even if you avoid sitting at weight machines, you may still find yourself tempted to sit as you recovery between sets with free weights – perhaps to stare off into space, stare a gym TV or thumb through a magazine. I’d advise you to instead engage in activities such as foam rolling, dynamic stretching, bird-dogs and other active recovery methods, or to even superset your exercises so that you recover one muscle group as you work another.

Zero sitting required at the gym, period.

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Mistake #2. Sitting On A Bike

This topic is particularly important for the cyclist who likely spends hours behind a desk and gets their exercise on a bike. Both chronic sitting and cycling are often performed in an exaggerated flexed position. As a coach, I’ve frequently worked with the cycling population and have noticed they often complain of neck and upper back pain. The pain often begins as an ache or sore muscle, but if left unaddressed can quickly turn into something more serious such as a pinched nerve, loss of range of motion, or a bulging or herniated disc, which can then result in surgery.

It’s incredibly important for a cyclist to become aware of the positions they are putting themselves into at work and on the bike. And it is equally important to incorporate the appropriate mobility and stability exercises throughout the day to offset the joint and muscular adaptation that occurs from frequent flexed positions. Even if the seat height, handlebars and size of the bike are optimal for an athlete, the spine will still be in a flexed position.

So if you sit on a bike, at least do it the right way, and offset some of that biomechanical damage a bike can do by engaging your thoracic spine when you’re off the bike with exercises such as seated cable rows and foam rolling on the low back with the arms overhead.

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Mistake #3. Exercising Hard After Sitting All Day

In her new book “Move Your DNA“, biomechanist Katy Bowman has some very interesting thoughts about what happens when joints and vessels stay restricted, compressed and bent all day, and then get subjected to high amounts of blood flow via exercise.

“Artherosclerotic plaques occur preferentially at sites of complex geometry, most often in the abdominal aorta, iliacs, coronaries, femorals, popliteals, carotids and cerebrals.” Why? Complex geometries create complex flow fields (places where blood doesn’t flow smoothy, but whirls around). Eddies in the blood place “non-aligned” (their word, not mine!) loads on arterial-wall cells, causing them to change genetic expression. Cells in these areas change from plaque-resisting to plaque-promoting. (Quote from: Cardiovascular Solid Mechanics: Cells, Tissues, and Organs.)

Basically what this means is that by sitting all day, then exercising, you could cause turbulent flow in areas of arterial stiffness that increase cardiovascular risk. It’s like trying to force water through a kinked hose.

So if you’re serious about your heart and cardiovascular health (and not being one of those healthy folks who has a heart attack during your post-work run), you should think all day about whether or not you’re kinking your hoses.

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Mistake #4. Sitting On Giant Exercise Balls

My friend Marc Perry at BuiltLean.com has an excellent observation on the common office practice of simply sitting on an exercise ball:

“With a few exceptions, the research overwhelmingly shows that a chair is a better option than a ball, at least when you’re at work.

A 2006 paper published in Human Factors examined differences between sitting on a stability ball and in an office chair in terms of trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine posture.1 The authors found that, though there was a small increase in the activation of certain trunk muscles, sitting on a ball resulted in significant discomfort. So, their recommendation is to avoid using a ball for this purpose.

Another study looked at similar variables and found an increase in “spinal shrinkage” in people who sit on an exercise ball,2 which certainly doesn’t sound desirable.

Yet another research paper concluded that “prolonged sitting on a dynamic, unstable seat surface does not significantly affect the magnitudes of muscle activation, spine posture, spine loads or overall spine stability.” The authors also found higher levels of discomfort in the stability ball users, which may be a result of soft tissue compression against the ball.3

I found 1 paper that supports the use of stability balls for decreasing pain. In a case report published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 2 low back pain sufferers reported improvement in symptoms after changing from a chair to a ball.4

Sitting on a ball versus a chair may increase passive caloric expenditure. A study from SUNY Buffalo showed a 4.1 calorie per hour increase in energy expenditure from sitting on a ball versus a chair.5 This translates to an extra 32 calories over an 8-hour work day.

So, is sitting on an exercise ball at work a bad idea? Yes.”

My advice instead of an exercise ball? Simply get a good chair that allows you to be in a variety of positions throughout the day, such as the adjustable height chair at RebelDesk. Use code “BEN” to get $40 off the Rebel Crank-Up desk or code “GREENFIELD” to get $20 off the Rebel Chair.

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Mistake #5. Sitting On The Toilet

Of course, fit people poop too, right?

As I point out in my article on “Why You Should Squat To Poop“, your body is meant to be in a squatting position to properly eliminate stuff from your colon. You can control to some extent your need to defecate by contracting or releasing the sphincter on your backside.

But that sphincter muscle can’t maintain proper pooping function on it’s own.

Instead, your body relies on a bend between the rectum, where the feces is stored- and the anus- where the feces comes out.

When you’re sitting, the angle is “kinked”, which puts upward pressure on the rectum and keeps your poop inside. Not only does this create straining and constipation, but it also inhibits complete elimination – which means that you can literally have old feces just hanging around in your lower digestive tract.

Turns out that kinking is definitely the case, even in fit people – who often complain of constipation and low back pain due to their toilet sitting biomechanics.

The remedy for this mistake is simple: use a Squatty Potty. No joke.

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Summary

Over time, even the fittest person will eventually adapt to poor sitting positions and often experience pain, despite superior levels of fitness.  This acute pain can turn to chronic pain. Then it hurts to move, and so you stop moving and continue to be stagnant. This creates a vicious cycle of stagnation that increases your risk for pain, chronic disease and loss of function.

So you can eventually sit yourself into un-fitness, chronic pain that annoys you during every workout, or both.

What do you think? Do you make any of these sitting mistakes, or see others doing the same? Are you ready to ditch your giant exercise ball, get a proper bike fit, squat to poop, avoid weight machines and take frequent stretch breaks at work?

Leave your comments below, and be sure to click here to grab The Sitting Solution, and to see a shocking video and even more details and solutions on the truth about sitting.

Is Your Mattress Slowly Killing You?

natural organic mattress

I’ll confess: I’m a total sleep princess.

I am that guy who curls up for a good, solid 8-9 hours of sleep with my sleep mask, my lavender essential oil, my low blue lights and everything else I talk about in my article “The Last Resource You’ll Ever Need To Get Better Sleep, Eliminate Insomnia, Beat Jet Lag and Master The Nap“.

When you consider that you spend 7-9 hours per night sleeping, that’s over 2,500 hours per year that you spend on a bed. Your physical, mental and emotional performance is all directly correlated to the quality of that time spent in that bed…

…and a big, big part of that quality is the surface you’re sleeping on: your mattress.

Unfortunately, your mattress could not only be acting as a cancer-causing radiation antenna, but can also be chock full of chemicals that disrupt your hormones, can cause insomnia, can destroy your muscles and joints, and can leave you waking up robbed of true, quality, deep sleep. So in this article, you’re going to learn how your mattress may slowly be killing you, what you can do about it, and the exact style of mattress I personally sleep on.

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Coil-Spring Mattresses and EMF

OK, OK – I do indeed realize that just a moment ago, you may have snickered at my “cancer causing antenna” line. But this article from Scientific American actually explains this phenomenon of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and coil-spring mattresses quite well:

“As we sleep on our coil-spring mattresses, we are in effect sleeping on an antenna that amplifies the intensity of the broadcast FM/TV radiation. Asleep on these antennas, our bodies are exposed to the amplified electromagnetic radiation for a third of our life spans. As we slumber on a metal coil-spring mattress, a wave of electromagnetic radiation envelops our bodies so that the maximum strength of the field develops 75 centimeters above the mattress in the middle of our bodies. When sleeping on the right side, the body’s left side will thereby be exposed to field strength about twice as strong as what the right side absorbs.

In other words, metal spring mattresses and box springs may act as giant in-home EMF antennas – not an appealing thought. But just in case you need more proof, check out this video that shows how a mattress interacts with the earth’s magnetic field:

Not only that, but since it’s a damp, dark area, the spring system in your mattress acts as an incubator for dust mites, mold and mildew. This is why spring mattresses double their weight after 10 years –  all that dead skin, dust mite, feces particles and dust has to accumulate somewhere, and the springs are the place to do it.Now I’m not suggesting that you go outside and sleep on the dirt, but if you have a choice between a metal coil-spring mattress and plain ol’ dirt, the latter would be the way to go.

Fortunately, there are mattress that are not made with coil-springs, and instead use natural padding. More on that later.

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Dangerous Chemicals In Your Mattress

As of July 1, 2007, all U.S. mattresses were required to be highly flame retardant, to the extent that they won’t catch on fire if exposed to a blow torch. But this meant that the manufacturers had to begin dousing all their mattresses with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether, also known as PBDE.

PBDE, which has been banned in Canada, Europe and several states, accumulates in your body over time, and any of it that you absorb or inhale does not go away, and can instead cause issues such as brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality, thyroid problems and even cancer. Not surprisingly, PBDE-based chemicals are now showing up in breast milk, blood tests and even umbilical-cord blood and livers of fetuses.

But it doesn’t stop with PBDE.

Other flame-retardant chemicals currently approved for use in mattresses include:

-Boric acid, a toxic respiratory irritant often used to kill cockroaches

-Antimony, a metal that can be more toxic than mercury (a person sleeping on a chemically treated mattress will absorb .8 mg of antimony every night, an amount that is 27 times more than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is safe!)

-Formaldehyde, a potential carcinogenic

Dr. Doris Rapp, a board-certified environmental medical specialist and pediatric allergist with an excellent website devoted to making your home a healthier place to live, sums it up this way:

“They have maybe a cup and a half or two cups of this material on the mattress. They sprinkle it over the top or they put it into some kind of a coating on the mattress. And this can make people very, very ill.”

Just think about it.

You spend multiple hours every night with your face in close proximity to your mattress, breathing in these chemicals. And if your children are anything like mine, they love to jump on your bed, and when that happens, or any other time you bounce on your mattress (heh, I can think of a time when that happens, baby), even more of these toxins can be released into your bedroom environment.

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How Your Mattress Destroys Your Body And Performance

It may seem obvious, but it’s extremely important to properly support your spinal column during sleep, and just like there are proper biomechanics for working on your computer or deadlifting, there are proper biomechanics you must consider while sleeping.

The human body carries more weight in the hip and torso area, so this part of the body must be gently “pushed up” into alignment as you sleep. If your sleep surface doesn’t do this, it can become a major contributor to low back problems and poor movement patterns during the day while you’re awake. So yes, this means poor alignment while you sleep can make you a crappy mover during your lunchtime run.

Unfortunately, the modern mattress has moved away from the mechanics of proper alignment support. The mattress your grandparents might have slept on was probably made of steel springs (which can push the hips up into alignment) and some cotton batting for cushioning of the hips and shoulders. These mattresses supported the body well and typically lasted a good 25 years.

But eventually, mattresses began to evolve. Beginning with the waterbed, and then moving on to the use of synthetic foams as a replacement for cotton (most of these poorly made synthetic foam mattresses lose their support in just a few short years) and in some cases elimination of a spring set altogether (good for EMF, bad for your body), there is nothing in most of these newfangled, modern mattresses to push your hips up into alignment to be level with your shoulders, so your hips “sag” and create tension on your low back as you sleep.

And that’s not all – improper sleep biomechanics from most fancy foam mattresses, most water beds, and most modern spring mattresses affect pressure distribution during sleep, which is a huge issue too.

sleeping-pills-god-or-bad1Here’s why…

…as you sleep, your body has a built-in defense mechanism to automatically move when pressure reaches a point where it cuts off the circulation you need. This is exactly why you toss and turn. Moving as you sleep relieves the pressure that can build up fro a bad mattress or a poor sleeping position to do things like prevent injuries, dead nerves and ulcers forming.

Unfortunately, when you toss and turn, you can instantly rip yourself out of deep sleep phases such as Stage 3 or Stage 4 sleep and shift into Stage 1 or 2 sleep (read more about sleep stages here). So this movement during sleep is more than simply a biomechanics or a comfort issue – it is literally fragmenting your sleep, lowering your sleep efficiency and robbing you of your ability to achieve the amount of sleep time necessary for nervous system repair, memory consolidation and immune system regeneration.

Unfortunately, even many of today’s nicer, more expensive mattresses use synthetic foams start off very supportive, but then degrade rapidly with use. So a mattress that supports and comforts you properly for a couple of years can quickly become a major contributor to poor sleep, improper back support, poor physical performance and daily pain.

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3 Things To Look For In Your Mattress

So lets summarize what we’ve learned so far: we now know that if you’re serious about nervous system and muscle repair, regulation of appetite hormones, deep sleep, and ideal physical and mental performance, then you need to look for three things on the sleeping surface that you’re going to spend up to a third of your life on:

1) No crap-storing, EMF-producing springs, but the same biomechanical support as those old, steel-spring mattresses;

2) Organic, non-toxic materials that don’t build up chemicals in you and your family’s body;

3) The ability to last more than just a small handful of years before you have to throw it out and buy a new one;

In other words, you need an organic, non-spring mattresses that has a a bulletproof durable foam.

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What’s An Organic Mattress?

Yes, I said organic. Not that you’re going to eat your mattress, but you still get some pretty massive health points if you own an organic mattress. So what exactly is an organic mattress?

It gets a bit complicated, so stick with me here.

organic-fabric-industryWhen it comes to mattresses, if you see the word “organic”, it always means certified organic, which indicates the mattress has been certified by a third party. If a mattress company is going to call their mattress organic, it must be certified by an some kind of a third party organization which certifies products to be organic. An agency called “Control Union” is the only company that actually certifies latex – the main component of foam in most modern mattresses – as organic under the Global Organic Latex Standards (or GOLS for short).

In contrast, terms such as “eco-friendly”, “environmentally friendly”, and “natural” are just nice-sounding claims, but don’t mean a mattress is actually organic.

Now here’s something important to understand: 100% organic mattresses simply do not exist. In reality, any mattress company claiming to have organic mattresses actually contains a mix of both organic materials and other natural components in their mattresses. However, a certified organic mattress does indeed actually mean that at least 95% of the latex used in that mattress is made from certified organic components. But most latex mattresses on the market are simply not organic because they’re A) not certified organic and B) they don’t meet those 95% standards.

For example, natural latex foam is a component you’ll typically find in many “healthy” mattresses. But given the cost, most companies include very little of the certified organic latex. For example, just 1 inch of the total 8 inches of a most natural latex mattresses is actually GOLS certified organic latex. That’s a pretty small fraction – kind of like having an organic apple orchard, with just 1/8 of the trees actually being truly organic.

In addition to organic latex, organic cotton is also found in most organic mattresses. That means the cotton has been grown without synthetic chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides and is not genetically modified in any way. Unbleached organic cotton is even better than plain old organic cotton, since this ensures no harsh bleaches have been used on the cotton.

Finally, organic wool is another component you’ll find in most organic mattresses. That’s not necessarily a good thing though. There are both pros and cons to organic wool use.

-Pros – Wool is great at wicking away moisture and helping to you keep cool, since it contains a natural wax called lanolin, which is the greasy yellow wax produced by sheep which keeps their hairs dry and soft through harsh weather.

-Cons – Wool is an animal fiber, and that means a high-maintenance mattress. Wool, like any animal fiber, needs to be washed at least once a year. Many people are also allergic to wool, and you may also be amazed to find out what sheep goes through to actually get enough wool for a mattress. However, finding an organic mattress that doesn’t contain wool is difficult.

In most cases, the cons out weight the pros when it comes to wool on your mattress.

So ultimately, most organic mattresses are made from non-organic latex foam as a support layer, and then topped with organic wool to soften the mattress up, and finally wrapped in organic cotton. For the reasons you’ve just learned, all this organic mumbo-jumbo does not necessarily mean an organic mattress is a safe, non-toxic mattress to sleep on, and you still have to be a little inquisitive when shopping for an organic mattress.

For example:

-Always ask if each component is as close to 100% natural as possible (remember: 100% natural doesn’t really exist);

-Always ask whoever is selling you the mattress to explain each and every layer, especially if it’s an organic toddler or organic crib mattress for your kid;

-Always ask what binds these layers together – specifically with regards to what type of glue or binding agent was used. You’d be surprised at the chemicals that can wind up in that too.

If your friendly mattress sales-person stumbles when answering any of these questions or cannot back up their claims with supporting documents, then run away fast.

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The Problem With Organic Mattresses

Unfortunately, even if you do find a true certified organic mattress that doesn’t have wool, glue chemicals, or synthetic latex, organic mattresses are still not known for their comfort. They’re generally extremely firm and hard, and can leave you feeling like you slept on a slab of concrete all night. Waking up feeling like you slept on hard ground may feel ancestral, but if you do somehow manage to fall asleep, it can also leave you with significant joint pain the rest of the day, not to mention waking up frequently during the night with numb hands or legs, or simply tossing and turning like a zombie with insomnia.

Enter memory foam.

classic-8-imageDuring the 1970’s, memory foam material was developed for NASA to provide relief for astronauts undergoing gravity forces. Memory foam is a soft and heat sensitive material made from polyurethane – with some additives to increase its density. Memory foam regains (or “remember”) its normal shape when pressure is no longer applied. Today, it is the most popular segment in the mattress industry.

Memory foam mattresses are made of higher-density foams. This type of foam is more expensive, but provides excellent body support. Memory foam mattresses have the ability to form to your body, and this significantly reduces pressure points, improves blood circulation and provides an overall superior sleep.

Memory foam is sensitive to body temperature and molds itself to support all your body contours, it redistributes your body weight evenly and provides support to your neck, back, shoulders, knees and legs, and it improves circulation and reduces spinal pressure.

But just like all organic mattresses are not created equal, all memory foam mattresses are also not created equal.

Here are a few important things you need to know before buying a memory foam mattress:

-Many mattress companies boast a 5 pound memory foam but fail to specify that this dense foam only makes up the 1st inch of the mattress. The following layers are weak 2 or 3 pound density memory foams.

-mmHg is the unit of measurement used in determining a mattresses reaction against pressure. Blood circulation becomes an issue at roughly 30mmHg or more. According to the healthcare industry, a standard of 32mmHg or lower is considered pressure relieving. More pressure relief means less press points, which means less tossing and turning during the night. A low mmHg means better blood circulation, but this can be difficult or expensive for a mattress company to achieve.

-Many mattress companies inaccurately claim that their products are Made in Canada or Made in USA. But in reality, to cut costs, mattress components are actually imported from foreign countries and then assembled in Canada or the USA. However, tests are rarely performed on the imported mattress components, and there is absolutely no way of knowing which chemicals are used in the mattress composition. Any harsh chemical odors are masked prior to product exportation with industrial perfumes (or even green tea extracts – crazy, eh?)

-Most memory foam is a synthetic material, and traps in body heat similar to the way nylon and polyester fabrics do. Sleeping hot or heat discomfort, as well as chemical odors are the main complaints among memory foam mattress owners. This is all due to the chemical composition of synthetic memory foam. Regular memory foam, also known as visco-elastic memory foam or visco foam, is made with petroleum based chemicals.

So if you’re going to go for a memory foam mattress, which I highly recommend, you want a memory foam with a good density through all layers of the mattress, a low mmHG, no imported ingredients and all-natural compounds.

Let’s sum things up again. At this point, we know that you want a mattress with:

1) No springs, but the same support as those old, steel-spring mattresses;

2) Organic, non-toxic materials that don’t build up chemicals in you and your family’s body;

3) The ability to last more than just a small handful of years;

4) Certified organic latex, and organic cotton, but preferably not wool;

5) Natural memory foam – not synthetic memory foam.

Satisfy those five criteria, and you’re guaranteed to sleep in comfort forever.

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The Best Natural, Organic Mattress

OK, so now we get to the moment of truth: is there actually a durable, certified organic non-toxic mattress with no springs, no wool, organic cotton and natural memory foam?

Indeed, there is.

It’s made by a company called “Essentia“, and I’m happy to say that I now own one.

And yes, in case you were wondering, it really is like sleeping on a soft, pillowy cloud of comfort. It is about as close as one can get to a nightly nirvana.

Essentia was founded by owner Jack Dell’Accio when a family member was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, his doctor made him aware of the amount of harmful toxins in household items, including mattresses. Jack, who came from no scientific background, invested nearly five years of his own time and money researching the mattress industry, and realizing the same thing you now know: mattresses are manufactured with poor quality components, filled with chemically derived foams treated with harsh chemicals and layered together with glue.

Over those years, Jack discovered a way to create a mattress that was toxin-free and healthy so that others wouldn’t have to suffer from health issues like his relative did. His determination finally led him to create, patent and invent a mattress that is handmade in Canada with the world’s only all-natural memory foam, composed of natural latex, plant extracts, essential oils and water.

In other words, Jack figured out how to manufacture the greenest, healthiest and most comfortable night’s sleep you’ll ever have.

And the ingredients used in this no-spring, no-wool mattress are unlike any you’ve ever seen, including:

heveaHevea Milk – the milky white “sap” of the rubber tree, collected much like maple tree sap. This milk is processed to make the Essentia natural memory foam, which is known for its durability, support qualities and purity…

Organic Essential Oils – a natural and healthy alternative to man-made oils or petroleum commonly used in other mattresses. Grapefruit seed, cone flower essence and jasmine essence all help achieve proper consistency in the Essentia natural memory foam while providing soothing and rejuvenating properties to your body…

Natural Plant Extracts – as a substitution to harsh toxic chemicals used in conventional memory foam, plant extracts such as hydrolyzed corn help Essentia achieve the proper consistency for their natural memory foam…

Certified Organic Cotton -
Every Essentia mattress is wrapped in 100% GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified unbleached organic cotton, grown without any chemicals, synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Rather than using toxic glue, they use a non-toxic adhesive made from liquid latex and acrylic resin to hold their natural memory foam layers together.

Of course, Essentia also has 5 pound density memory foam throughout, an extremely low mmHG (scroll up and read again if you need a reminder about why that’s so important for your body and your recovery) and a 20-year warranty on the most durable memory foam on the face of the planet. So basically, you not just get the best sleep ever on an Essentia mattress, but you could probably even eat an Essentia mattress.

These mattresses are also held to the strictest of strict standards. As a matter of fact, here’s an extensive list of all the rigorous tests and certifications the Essentia mattresses go through.

The end result is a completely guilt-free, hypo-allergenic, non-toxic sleeping experience unlike any you’ll ever experience. You’ll roll out of bed feeling ready to conquer the world, with zero pressure points or tossing and turning during the night. Not only that, but Essentia is giving anyone who has made it this far in my giant mattress article a 10% discount on a mattress, which is going to save you a boatload. Keep reading and I’ll tell you how.

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How To Get An Essentia Mattress Shipped To You

CH+D2Shipping mattresses around the world is no small feat.

But with a little help from UPS, FedEx and Essentia’s special “Roll Pack Machine”, it all becomes possible.

See, it takes special machinery to compress, roll and pack some of the heaviest mattresses in the world.

The mattress industry had never compressed a product as dense as the Essentia mattress. However, upgrading compressors, motors and and a gentle re-tool of a custom Italian-made Roll-Pack Machine by Essentia made it possible. What does this kind of roll packing mean for the environment? It means the mattress takes 75% less space in a truck, and uses 75% less packaging. The Essentia boxes are made from 80% post consumer recycled paper as well.

So thanks to this, almost all Essentia products are delivered via UPS or FedEx.

You just visit the Essentia website, choose your mattress size and your mattress is made and shipped right to your door, along with a 20-year warranty, and a 60-Day money back guarantee.

And as I promised, you get 10% off any mattress, period. Just use code “BEN10″ at MyEssentia.com. That’s it. Enjoy – and in case you want the same mattress I’m now using, I personally got a King Sized Dormeuse Mattress.

Essentia-Natural-Memory-Foam-Mattresses-2

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I hope this has really helped you learn why our mattress may be killing you, and what you can do about. It’s certainly something to think about as you hit the sack tonight, and decide what kind of sleep you want to get for the rest of your life, and whether you want to experience what a truly powerful night of sleep really feels like.

From Dr. Oz (who recently named Essentia as his #1 product) to Rachael Ray to Anderson Live to Huffiington Post and professional athletes around the world (check out the shocking amount of press Essentia has gotten lately), these mattresses are a clear winner in the natural, organic mattress company. So if you’re tired of sleeping on a mattress plagued with toxic glues, chemicals, dust-mites, allergens, bed bugs and a horribly unsupportive sleep surface, then visit the Essentia website, use you 10% discount code BEN10, invest in your sleep, your nervous system, your recovery and your performance, and leave any of your questions or comments below!

P.S. After writing this, I learned that Delos – a company pioneering Wellness Real Estate  -recently introduced the Stay Well standard and Stay Well hotel rooms at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. They were on the hunt for a mattress to introduce with the program and did their own testing of many different mattress brands, Essentia included. Most of the testing was done by The Cleveland Clinic as well as The Mayo Clinic and Columbia University Medical Center. Essentia is the only mattress that qualified for the Well Standard and is already being featured in the Stay Well certified rooms at the MGM. But I’d rather have one in my bedroom than go all the way to the MGM.

P.P.S. If you really want performance luxury, Essentia also has an option called “ProCor”, in which they customize your mattress to your individual spinal deviations, muscular tensions and weight distribution. It’s literally next level, customized sleep experience with personalized posture support designed to get you into slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) faster and keep you there longer.  Not cheap. But very cool. You have to e-mail them for this option, but your discount code BEN10 will still work.

How Quitting Alcohol Helped Today’s Guest Lose 30 Pounds, Make More Money, Attract Better Friends And Lovers, And Got A Job Hosting SportsCenter on ESPN (And Your Formula For Reducing or Quitting Alcohol).

jamesswanwick

In recent podcasts, I’ve talked a lot lately about alcohol, and what it does to the body, both good and bad.

My friend James Swanwick, who wrote the article below and is the host of the Alpha Male Club podcast, has a very interesting take on alcohol. So in today’s podcast, you’re going to learn how quitting alcohol helped James lose 30 pounds of fat, make more money, attract better friends and lovers, and got him a job hosting SportsCenter on ESPN – and get a formula for reducing or quitting alcohol.

You’ll learn:

-Why James quit alcohol…

-What happens to your body when you stop drinking, physically and mentally…

-The biggest challenges that happen when you stop or reduce drinking…

-What to do when you’re at a party or bar if you’re not going to order a drink…

-If James turned to any other vices as a replacement…

-Why James doesn’t just use a “one glass of wine a day” approach…

-And much more!

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“I am four years alcohol-free today.

What started as a 30-day challenge, turned into a four-year lifestyle change. Friends often ask me about this so I figure I’ll quickly share my story, assuming others may be interested.

I was never a big drinker. I’d enjoy a few quiet beers during the week.  Most weekends I’d go a little harder and get a good “buzz”. On a handful of occasions over many years, I would say I got “drunk”.

It was all good fun. There was no drinking to excess. I never had a drinking problem.

But I awoke with a shocking hangover one morning four years ago at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas after a particularly fun night. I walked into an International House of Pancakes for a hangover breakfast.

The IHOP menus have photos of the food you can choose – big, bright, bold colors. The sight of those scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes on the menu and big, fat, overweight people sitting at tables next to me made me ill.

I decided then and there to see if I could go 30 days alcohol-free. It was simply a personal bet with myself to test my self-discipline. I didn’t plan to go more than 30 days. But I eventually would.

The first two weeks were hard. I went out with friends and ordered water or diet coke and they’d give me a hard time. “You’re un-Australian!” they’d say to me.

But I got through those two weeks and I was off to the races. I felt better, slept better and had much more mental clarity.

After 30 days, I’d lost an incredible 13lbs (5.9kg) of fat around my stomach. Just from stopping drinking. I had more money in the bank balance, my skin looked considerably better and I actually enjoyed getting out of bed early morning to exercise.

James (left) a few years before he quit drinking at 218lbs (98kg) and James (right), today, alcohol free, at 180lbs (82kg)

So I said to myself, “Bugger it. I feel great. I’ll just keep going and see how far I can go.” Little did I know just how far I would go.

After 60 days, I craved a cold beer. Or a red wine. Or a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic with a dash of lime.

When it was hot outside, I started dreaming, “I would smash an ice cold beer right now!” But I breathed deeply, downed a diet coke or water and the feeling passed.

After three months, I felt terrific. I’d dropped a few more pounds of fat and was starting to put on some lean muscle in the gym. People were complimenting me on how good I looked.

I also realized that despite not drinking, I was still managing to have wildly entertaining nights out – even with my drunken friends slurring their words around me. Conversations with women became much more interesting.

When I told women I wasn’t drinking, far from them thinking I was an alcoholic in recovery, they actually told me they were impressed with my self-discipline.

You don’t need alcohol to have a good time

“Beautiful,” I thought. “I can stop drinking and still be fun, entertaining and attractive to women.”

Guys were always suspicious of my story, though. They always thought I was a recovering alcoholic who “obviously” had a problem. I just smiled.

Between three and six months I was in the zone. I felt energetic and healthy and I actually started to thrive on telling people I had temporarily stopped drinking.

But many people – particularly guys – still challenged me. They called me a “Pussy!” Or said to me, “Just have one!” Or “An Aussie that doesn’t drink?!?! F$%k off!”

I just laughed, pointed to my head and gave them my stock response, “I’m too strong in mind!” Some idiots even tried to secretly slip vodka into my soda. I had to make a point of always sniffing before drinking if they’d ordered for me.

Six to 12 months was fairly easy to be honest. And this is where I noticed the most dramatic changes.

I found that my relationships were considerably better – romantic and platonic. For example, I was constantly thinking about how I could help my friends rather than how they could help me.

I was more inclined to help people generally and was more considerate. I was calmer and noticed I made better decisions.

My work productivity soared. My business made more money.

More opportunities – like an ESPN audition to host SportsCenter – came my way. When it did, I was clear in mind, energetic, and seized the opportunity. I ended up getting that gig and hosted SportsCenter for two years.

I did, however, find I got tired at night time and went to sleep earlier. Listen, I could still burn the midnight oil until 5am during my sobriety. But I found I didn’t really want to. I felt like nothing that good really happened after 1am anyway.

So I would party hard – alcohol-free – until 1am. Most people who just met me weren’t even ever aware I wasn’t drinking. I could still be the life of the party with nobody even knowing. Then I headed home to be asleep most Friday and Saturday nights by no later than 2am.

James still James partying late  – alcohol free

I was up at 8am or 9am on weekends to hit the gym, showered, had breakfast and was ready to tackle the day by 11am when my mates were just dragging their lazy hungover backsides out of bed.

When I reached the personal milestone of one year without drinking, I found myself back in Austin at South by Southwest. I went to a pub, ordered a Budweiser, and put it to my mouth.

For James, no alcohol means more energy for exercise

It smelled good.

I had every intention of drinking that beer. But something stopped me from taking a sip. I paused and thought about it for a minute.

I decided that all the pros of not drinking outnumbered the cons. So I said to myself, “I’ll just keep going.”

So I did. I put the Budweiser down and haven’t picked up a drink since.

March 12, 2014, is four years to the day since I gave myself that initial 30-day challenge.

I’m 20lbs (9kg) lighter today than I was when I started on March 12, 2010. I’m 38lbs (17kg) lighter than when I was at my porkiest (See fat face photo above). Drinking definitely kept fat around my waist. Stopping drinking eliminated it.

This is likely due to three main things: 1. Alcohol contains a lot of carbs 2. Drinking makes you eat a lot more food, especially bad food like fries and desserts 3. Quitting drinking gives you more energy which turns you into a fat-burning machine.

I’m not for one moment suggesting you should quit drinking entirely like I did. Obviously, I am an extreme case. But my story clearly shows some of the positive benefits you can get if you do quit. Even just reducing your alcohol consumption by a few drinks a week, I believe only positive things can happen.

If I have a drink today, no worries. I’ve accomplished my goal. But I just don’t feel like having a drink.

In summary:

PROS: I feel better, look better, work better, act better, am better, have more money, have better quality of friends, really enjoy a nice ice cold water, don’t miss alcohol, realize I CAN party like a rock star WITHOUT alcohol, friends who’ve known me a long time say I’m a considerably nicer and more agreeable person

CONS: It is sometimes awkward explaining to new friends or business associates why you don’t drink. BUT…that initial awkwardness is mostly felt by THEM, not by you. And you can’t control how they feel.

If you decide you want to give it a try, trust that the pros will likely outweigh the cons. Set yourself a 30-day-goal. Or a two or three-month goal. Test it. See how you feel. See if it works for you. Or go for a year.

Or don’t do it at all. If you’re happy drinking, keep drinking! I love drinking! I love to drink a six-pack of beer and a bottle of red with the best of them.

I’m sure I’ll do it again one day. But for now, I’m happy with water and soda and feel like I am the best version of me.”

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the health of alcohol, quitting alcohol, reducing alcohol or anything else related to today’s podcast? Leave your thoughts below and either James or I will reply!

The 2014 Bulletproof Biohacking Conference Show!

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drloI’ve just returned from the 2014 Bulletproof Biohacking Conference, where I spoke on “5 Potent Biohacks For Beastlike Performance”, tested the latest and greatest biohacking gear, and grabbed 13 educational and entertaining interviews for you with some of the best biohackers and biohacking tool companies on the planet.

IMG_3988The slides for my presentation, along with each and all of these insider interviews are now available (along with our vault of over 300+ other secret BenGreenfieldFitness shows, interviews, videos and pdf’s) over on the BenGreenfieldFitness Premium channel. Click here to go Premium for ten bucks a year (yeah, $10 for the entire year – you heard right), and listen in or download now!

Here’s what’s included in the 2014 Bulletproof Biohacking Conference show (WARNING: some of these audios are funny, but also slightly edgy and inappropriate):

1) An “injectables” interview with the amazing Dr. Lo – who sings me a beautiful song as she injects a 100% legal recovery and performance cocktail into my butt cheek…

2) A interview about why not all electrostimulation is created equal, and how to use high and low frequencies to get different results…

3) A chat with Daniel Vitalis of Surthrival about whether elk antler velvet can really increase testosterone…

4) How to get an entire safe and EMF-free Pulsed Electromagnetic Field, light and sound, binaural beats room in your house for way less than you’d think…

IMG_39785) A frank chat with the guy at Muse about whether it’s actually safe for your brain to hook up EEG electrodes to your head…

6) How an ex-cop turned herbal chef of JingSlingers makes blue nootropic ice cream, and her exact recipe…

7) How to biohack sex and experience a 15 minute orgasm…

IMG_39848) What happens when you combine compression with weight, attach it all to your body, then try to walk around…

9) How I felt when the most powerful therapeutical laser on the planet was pointed at my knee, and whether protective eyewear is really necessary when playing with devices like this…

10) A new wearable device that shocks you when you do things like check Facebook or search for kitten photos…

11) The pulsed electromagnetic coil that you wrap around a body part to instantly shut down pain and make bones heal faster…

IMG_398512) The gaming and brain training system that you can control with your brain waves…

13) And finally, what it feels like to get oxygen infused with pure essential oils shot up your nose…

When you click here to go Premium and grab this entire biohacking show, which includes all the audio clips above, you’ll also get full access to the Powerpoint slides from my talk “5 Potent Ways To Biohack Beastlike Performance”. Enjoy!

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Ironman Insanity: How to Train for the World’s Most Grueling Endurance Race In Just 14 Days.

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Let’s just start by letting the cat out of the bag, shall we?

In exactly 14 days, I will be racing Ironman Hawaii, the World Championships of Ironman on the Big Island of Kona. Yes – that one: the hot torturefest in the lava fields during which you race a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and finish with a marathon for dessert.

And I just found this fact out approximately 24 hours ago.

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Allow me to clarify why this is kind of a shocker.

I have not trained for Ironman. Nadda. Zip. Zilch.

I have just six days ago finished, extremely battered and bruised, the Spartan World Championships.

I had planned on spending my next several weeks drinking organic wine and stuffing my face with dark chocolate.

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So when my manager for Team Timex told me I’d been tasked with showing up to the starting line of one of the most grueling endurance events on the face of the planet, although most people spend 8-16 months training for this race, and not a meager 14 days…

…I naturally said “yes”.

After all, I’ve always been curious how the human body would handle an Ironman triathlon without any actual Ironman training. I also have a few tricks up my sleeve that make me want to experiment with how well my body will hold up in the lava fields, namely:

Two months ago, I completed Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine’s brutal Kokoro camp, which proved to me I’m capable of achieving 20 times more than I really think I am…

Twice a week, I’ve been following Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s heat acclimation sauna protocol we discussed in the podcast “How To Use Heat Exposure“…

I’ve been lifting heavy weights and training for Spartan racing, so I know that my joints are bulletproof and that I can run decently…

Timex has given me full access to their amazing arsenal of pacing tools – namely the Run Trainer and Cycle Trainer – so I can at least pace properly and keep myself from completely blowing up during Ironman…

And finally, I’ve got a big bag of tricks to get my body to recover really fast.

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However, I also have some pretty significant disadvantages, particularly in the training preparation department. After finishing Israman in January, I threw in the towel on much triathlon training and shifted to obstacle racing instead.

Longest swim of year: 1 mile. Average weekly swim mileage: 500 meters, primarily breasttroking with my kids…

Longest bike of year: 12 miles. Average weekly bike mileage: 15 miles, mostly on a mountain bike…

Longest run of year: 14.5 miles. Average weekly run mileage: 8 miles…all on soft, cushy trails…

Total number of triathlons completed this year: 2 very short sprint triathlons.

So you could very accurately say that I have trained less than probably any athlete who will be racing Kona. Way less.

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So how in the hell am I going to get ready for this monster of a race in just 2 weeks?

Good question. I’m just now scrambling to figure that out myself.

Since I have both affectionately and with great ridicule been called the “Biohacking Triathlete”, I’ll definitely hack the heck out of this thing, but before I tell you how I’m going to train and what I’m going to eat, allow me to clarify one thing…

…my plan is not to trudge slowly through Ironman Hawaii with a goal of “just finishing”. My mind simply doesn’t work that way. I show up to any event mentally prepared to push my body and brain to their absolute limits.

So with that clarification, my plans are:

1. Ride a bike 30 minutes every morning to re-accustom my body to pedaling a bicycle. Unfortunately, due to a broken bike frame, I don’t actually have a triathlon bike right now, so I’ll ride my road bike instead. During these rides, I’ll use Elevation Training Mask or Hypoxico altitude training generator to grow a few extra red blood cells. And one week before the race, I’ll do one steady 2 hour ride for a bit of “time in the saddle”.

2. Avoid much running, since it’s a high-impact activity and it’s too late now to put much work into the body, especially since I’m recovering from the brutal Spartan World Championships.  The cons of running much at this point outweigh the pros. Instead I’ll do an short, 10-15 minute intense treadmill or aqua jogging sprint session every other day. Both of these modes are lower impact compared to pounding the pavement.

3. Swim 20-30 minutes every day in very cold water (this upregulates nitric oxide production, and the cold will assist with fighting inflammation too), alternating between hard 100’s/50’s/25’s one day, and skill work the next day. Getting a “feel for the water” is very important when you want to efficiently race an open water intense 2.4 mile swim, and I’ll need to get that feel back – really, really fast.

4. 30 minute dry sauna sessions every 48 hours until I shove out to the Big Island on October 8. You can learn exactly why this heat acclimation tactic is so important in the episode “Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Heat Exposure To Enhance Performance, Burn Fat, Gain Muscle And Think Better.“.

5. Electrostimulation sessions every other day with a MarcPro+ on my quads, hammies, calves and shoulders, which is going to suck the post-Spartan race inflammation out of my body. I’ll also do deep tissue work with a full body foam roller sessions on the days I’m not electrocuting myself.

6. A few easy 15-20 minute resistance training sessions to maintain muscle memory and strength. To avoid muscle tearing and breakdown, I’ll primarily use the MostFit Suspension Trainer, and do slow, controlled full-body sessions.

7. A jacked-up nutrition supplement arsenal, namely: Thorne AM/PM Multivitamin Complex to increase my nutrient levels, 4 EPA/DHA fish oil capsules every day to help joints recover from Spartan, 1 daily shot of X2Performance to load with ATP, 4 daily Colostrum capsules to get my gut ready for the heat, 1 daily packet of TianChi to lower cortisol levels, a bunch of extra greens to increase alkalinity, 1 X2Performance for last 7 days leading up to race, and of course, 1 big cup of bone broth every day. For the race itself, I’ll plan to pack my water bottles and fat-based energy gels so I can follow the exact nutrition protocol I outline here.

8. Drag all my fancy triathlon gear out of it’s dark corner in the garage, specifically a BlueSeventy PZ3TX skinsuit, BlueSeventy Element Goggles, a Giro Air Attack Helmet, Rocket7 Cycling Shoes, Timex Cycle TrainerTimex Run Trainer.

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So when you put it all together, my 14 day Ironman training protocol is going to look like this:

Mon, Sep 29: 30 minute easy bike spin, short treadmill run off bike, short suspension trainer session after run. Swim hard. Sauna. Electrostim.

Tue, Sep 30: 30 minute easy bike spin, short suspension trainer session off bike. Swim skills. Foam roller.

Wed, Oct 1: 30 minute easy bike spin. Swim hard, short aqua jog after swim. Sauna. Electrostim.

Thu, Oct 2: 30 minute easy bike spin, short suspension trainer session off bike. Swim skills. Foam roller.

Fri, Oct 3: 30 minute easy bike spin, short treadmill run off bike. Swim hard. Sauna. Electrostim.

Sat, Oct 4: 2 hour bike ride. Foam roller.

Sun, Oct 5: 30 minute easy bike spin, short treadmill run off bike. Swim skills. Sauna. Electrostim.

Mon, Oct 6: 30 minute easy bike spin, short suspension trainer session off bike. Swim hard, short aqua jog after swim. Foam roller.

Tue, Oct 7: 30 minute easy bike spin. Sauna. Swim skills. Electrostim.

Wed, Oct 8: Fly to Kona. Day off. Electrostim on plane.

Thu, Oct 9: Speak at Ironman Medical Conference. Easy swim in ocean. Foam roller.

Fri, Oct 10: Quick swim, bike, run practice. Massage.

Sat, Oct 11: Race.

And of course, back to my original plan of red wine and dark chocolate on Sunday.

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So there you have it.

I am going to prepare for the world’s most grueling endurance race in just 14 days. And sure, I’m known as a minimalist training guy, but this is taking things to a whole new level, and I have no clue if my body can actually pull this one off. It’s going to take every trick I know.

What do you think?

What would YOU do if you had 14 days to prepare for an Ironman?

Do you think this is absolutely insane?

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and stay tuned to the BenGreenfieldFitness Facebook page for updates, announcements and some very cool contests in the next few days leading up to Ironman Insanity.

How To Stop Sitting From Killing You: The Sitting Solution.

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I’ve got one problem with the whole “sitting is the new smoking” movement.

There’s a lack of practical solutions for how to fix what happens to your body when you sit, how to structure your workday to minimize the damage of sitting, and how to make your body bulletproof to the issues with sitting.

So in today’s podcast, I interview physical therapists Chad Walding and Brenda Walding, authors of the new book “The Sitting Solution: How To Save Your Spine, Body & Life.

During the interview, Chad and Brenda discuss what happens to your body when you sit, why standing may not be the best solution, how to fix the issues that happen to your body when you sit, and the unique set of problems facing athletes who sit.

Below is a sample screenshot from The Sitting Solution that shows how you could easily structure your workday using the techniques we talk about in this episode:

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This podcast is brought to you by Rebel Desk. At RebelDesk.com, you can use code “BEN” to get $40 off their Rebel Crank-Up desk and you can use code “GREENFIELD” to get $20 off the Rebel Chair that comes with their desk. 

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to stop sitting from killing you? Leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out The Sitting Solution!

Top 10 Tips To Race A Spartan Beast (Or Any Other Long, Hilly Running Event or Obstacle Race)

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As I mentioned I’d be doing a couple weeks ago when I gave you the Top 10 Workouts of 2014, I just finished the brutal Vermont Spartan Beast in the Green Mountains of New England. This race is considered to be the “Super Bowl” of obstacle racing and the official World Championships of Spartan, in which the best of the best obstacle racers from around the world come to throw down the gauntlet.

Knees throbbing? 

Check.

Quads trashed?

Check.

Plenty of lessons learned?

Check.

So in today’s post, I’ll pass those valuable lessons on to you. You’re going to get 10 tips to race a Spartan Beast – and even if you don’t plan on ever doing this race, these tips will be extremely valuable for you in any long, hilly running event.

Let’s begin…

1. Learn How To Run Downhill

I worked my butt off in many sections of the steep Vermont Beast hills to pass other athletes, only to be frustratingly passed by those same athletes on the downhills – which I ran far too conservatively and obviously need to practice. It’s no good having superior fitness if your competitors know how to move smart and use gravity to their advantage. I’d highly recommend you (as I am doing) study this downhill running article, which is pure gold when it comes to downhill running speed tips. Here are a few snippets from it:

“Next time you are slogging up Pikes Peak or Hope Pass and the Big Boys are coming back down, watch how they run. The first thing you will notice is that they are going REAL FAST, like 6-minute miles or better over really crappy terrain. The second thing you will notice is that they are not taking little short shuffling steps. They are bounding down the hill, hurdling rocks, logs, etc. On your next training run, try some strides at a sub-6 pace and look at how your feet are landing. I bet you will be landing on your toes.”

“On running wet trails I have found a few things. First, try to keep your center of gravity over your feet, which usually requires a shorter stride and less aggressive pace. It can look like a ‘shuffle’ when done properly, but tends to prevent some of the slippage that an all-out stride would cause. On slippery downhills, more strides in less space generally equals more stability. If room allows, I also sometimes “tack” down slippery hills like a skier would a steep slope; rather than running straight down, I’ll make zigs from side to side. This also takes advantage of the fact that the *side* of the trail is often less slippery than the center, where all the water tends to collect.”

“Practice makes perfect. We have a hill where I live that rises about 1400 feet in 2 miles. During good running weather a group of us do a training run once a week for about 2 hours, finishing with the 2-mile downhill and spending whatever we have left. Several runners were initially poor downhillers and have improved dramatically. Practice strengthens the quads to handle the work, improves technique, and builds confidence.”

“As far as technique is concerned, I’m not sure one size fits all. I have short legs, while some friends who initially were poor downhillers have long legs. How far forward you land on your foot depends on how steep the hill– the steeper the slope the further back on your foot you have to land. I try not to land on my heels, though, because that causes braking. I like having a lot of foot surface landing to improve traction. If the hill is smooth and not steep, landing near the front of the foot and sliding a little makes it easy on the quads.”

“Concentration is critical. I am a shuffler, so I have little ground clearance. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll trip. You want to look ahead about 5 feet. I can only marvel at how the brain takes this information and transforms it into foot placements that work.”

“Attitude is important. Practice breeds confidence. Running lots of downhills in training–especially somewhat rocky ones–lets you know you can do it well. In long races I always try to stretch out a bit on downhills, relaxing but letting it flow. I expect to make up time on downhills, but I also want to feel I’ll be able to run the next downhill well, and the next one. When I’m feeling good in a race, I try not to get greedy and spend it all–I’d rather feel like I’m making the good phase last as long as possible.”

Just in case you need more inspiration to learn how to run downhill, here are the scars that I racked up from not simply failing to run downhill fast, but also falling flat on my face in an all-out, embarrassing yard sale style fall at mile 3.

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2. Protect Your Knees and Ankles

You’re going to be running down steep, slippery, rocky and obstacle strewn terrain. A lot. Despite having run multiple Ironman triathlons and marathons:

1) my knees are more trashed than they have been from any other event – partially from tripping and sliding nearly 10 feet downhill on my frontside, but also from the constant downhill pounding;

2) my ankles were more challenged than they ever have been, with multiple close calls with twists and sprains that would have resulted in long and painful limping the rest of the event.

For this reason, I think it’s smart to tape the knees and tape the ankles using the kinesiotaping approach I discuss in this podcast. I’d recommend this full ankle stability taping method and this full knee support taping method. You can easily learn these taping methods yourself, and get KT Tape or Rock Tape on Amazon.

So why don’t I recommend ankle braces or knee braces, rather than tape?

One big F word: Friction.

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3. Hydration Packs Are Optional

As you may have seen in my “Spartan Race Gear” video, I showed up on the starting line for the race wearing a simple, sling-across-the-waist style water bottle hydration belt.

But then, they announced there would be water stations every two miles.

So I tossed my hydration pack over the fence (if you’re reading this and you were the lucky person that caught it, then congratulations – keep it).

Just think about it, even if you’re hiking and obstacle hurdling a 15 minute mile, you’re still going to get to a water station every 30 minutes or so. So if you think you can do this race in under 5 hours, don’t worry about a hydration pack. It’s just extra weight to carry up and down hills and extra impedance when you’re rolling under barbwire or swimming through cold water.

Incidentally, I took all the Peanut Butter Hammer Gels I had in my hydration pack and just stuffed them in the pockets of my Hylete shorts instead.

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4. Fuel Is Not Optional

Sure – if you’re going to stay aerobic, you’re totally fat-adapted and you plan on racing in a ketogenic state, then you can probably get away doing this entire race on water, and perhaps some salts (more on salts in a moment).

However, I wanted to experiment with a fat-based energy gel that wasn’t sickeningly sweet, had some extra amino acids, a touch of electrolytes and a bit of fat, so I carried 8 Peanut Butter Hammer Gels (4 in each pocket) – just enough to throw one back every 30 minutes, at about the same time I reached a water station. This averages out to around 200 calories an hour, which is a decent goal to shoot for during a running race (due to less gut “bouncing” during cycling events, you can typically handle double this amount of calories when you’re riding a bike).

If a long obstacle race were conducive the type of water-bottle, fat and protein-based fueling plan I talk about in this article, I’d probably go that route instead, but as I alluded to earlier, carrying big bulky water bottles just isn’t too logistically smart on a course like this.

In a nutshell, this race is long. There is no food at aid stations. So bring your own (note my bulging pockets in the log carry photo below).

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5. Carry Electrolytes

As I clambered upside down monkey style across the Tyrolean Traverse, I was forced to grip the rope hard with my calves and hamstrings – an activity I’m not really accustomed to since I have never in my life climbed upside down on a rope before. And about halfway across the rope, my right calf cramped hard and I went flailing off the rope and into the water below.

As you may have heard me mention before on my podcast, if your cramp is not due to dehydration, and is instead simply a muscle going into a protective spasm due to the use of muscles you’re just not accustomed to using, the taste of something salty can instantly reverse that cramp. The most popular research study on cramping used pickle juice. But since there were no pickle trees nearby, I did the next best thing…

…I simply broke open of the Athlytes electrolyte capsules I had stuffed in my shorts pocket in a ziplock bag and dumped the contents of the sickeningly salty capsule under my tongue.

Boom. One salty gag reflex, and cramp gone. Good tip, eh?

So always have a few salt capsules handy, just in case. You get a 50% discount on the ones I like (Athlytes) at the the Millennium Sports website. Just use code “MSTBG09″.

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6. Practice Gripping Cold

Confession: I amassed 150 burpee penalties during the Spartan Beast. I obviously need to work on my obstacle skills, as this cost me plenty of time and potentially a podium finish.

One of the reasons I struggled on many obstacles was due to the fact that I simply wasn’t prepared for gripping ropes, poles, spears and pulleys with extremely cold hands. When your hands are cold, it becomes very difficult to sense how hard or how easy you are holding an object, so this is something you’ll need to practice, since this race has many water crossings combined with relatively cold temperatures.

My recommendations?

Try doing some cold water swimming, then getting out of the water and hanging from a tree branch or a rope.

Or go outside in cold weather, hold a rock or other heavy object with gloves, and practice carrying it with cold hands.

Or put a cold bucket of ice water next to a pull-up bar, immerse your hands for 30 seconds, then do pull-ups or pull-up hangs.

You get the idea.

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7. Cold Acclimate

Speaking of cold, this race got incredibly cold – so cold, in fact, that my hand nearly stuck to the pole of the cargo net climb as I grabbed it at the top. So cold that if there had been more moisture at the top of Killington Mountain, it would have been snowing. So cold that some people dropped out of the race due to hypothermia.

Here’s the part where I brag: the cold didn’t bother me a bit. Sure – as I mentioned above, my grip suffered, but due to my practice of:

-Two a day 2-5 minute icy cold showers…

-One to two times per week 15-30 minute cold water river swims…

-My attendance at Kokoro Camp (highly recommended if you really want to make yourself twenty times tougher, literally)…

-My practice of “fire-breathing”, which I learned in this Iceman Wim Hof podcast

Simply put, if you’re used to the cold, it’s just not going to bother you. The body is an amazing adaptive machine. So in the same way that I do 30+ minute sauna sessions 2-3x per week when I know I’m going to do a hot race like Ironman Hawaii, I focus on the cold when I know I’m going to be in a cold race. Of course, as I alluded to earlier, my strategic flaw was not combining gripping practice with some of these cold acclimation sessions.

And one other thing: if you think cold, you’ll be cold. So think warm thoughts. Not kidding.

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8. Speed Hike

Holy hills. This race has alot of ‘em, and they’re too steep to run. Period.

One of the top Spartan racers, Matt Novakovich, actually owns a special kind of treadmill called an “incline treadmill”, which can go to about 40% incline. I’d say that’s a smart move, but could be an expensive move too.

I’ll be you can find some very steep hills somewhere around you, and if you can’t find a hotel or skyscraper or parking garage with stairs, or even a stairmill at the gym, and start practicing steep and fast climbing intervals of 5-10 minutes in duration.

You don’t need to run these steep inclines, but you need to practice leaning forward and walking them fast (AKA “speed-hiking). You’re going to find new muscles in your lower back and your butt that you didn’t know existed, but that are going to payoff big time when it comes time to race.

And in case you need a primer on speed hiking, here’s a great article on how to train to walk uphill faster. One particularly helpful anecdote from the article is to:

“…here are a number of techniques that can be used to increase the speed of walking. Some of the elites like Kilian Jornet and Anton Kuprichka use both hands to push down on the leading leg as they walk up steep hills. Others use poles, others swing their arms more.

Stride length will also make a big difference. It will depend on the incline and your leg length so experiment with shorter and longer strides until you find which one is most effective.

The best way to do this is to pick a hill, walk up it and time yourself. Repeat the process focusing on something different each time and see what gives you the best results. For example focus on arm swing then try using your hands to push off your front leg and see which is quicker.

Keep in mind that this may change for a steeper or more gradual incline so experiment on different inclines.”

In addition, one thing you’ll notice many elite racers doing is walking the very steep inclines, but then interjecting quick jogs when they cross trails, flat sections, etc. that give them a few quick seconds here and there that quickly add up.

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9. Do Loaded Carries

There was one obstacle in the Vermont Beast that simply broke people.

Seriously.

There were full-grown adult athlete competitors sitting down on the side of the mountain, putting their face into their hands, and crying – because they had absolutely no clue what to do.

So what was the obstacle?

Bx--bRtIgAAd8RaBasically, it involved walking uphill about a quarter mile, and then back down: carrying not one, but two pretty dang heavy sandbags (I’d estimate about 60 pounds). If you have never tried this, you have no idea how amazingly awkward this task can be. In comparison, most races require you to carry one object up a hill, but not two.

Gripping both sandbags at once was nearly impossible. Getting them both onto the shoulders was also nearly impossible. As was carrying one sandbag on the shoulder and one at the side (unless you are my podcast sidekick Hunter McIntyre, who dominated this obstacle).

So – due to my lack of preparation for carrying two awkwardly shaped objects at once – I simply used the leapfrog technique that many of the male elite races were resorting to: carrying one sandbag up about 30 feet, running back downhill, grabbing the next sandbag, and repeating.

If you want to dominate this obstacle, I’d recommend you go buy yourself a couple big ‘ol sandbags and practice carrying them up stairs or a hill, and make the sandbags increasingly heavy each week as you practice (by the way, as Zach Even-Esh and I discuss in this underground strength training tactics podcast, you can save yourself some money and just make your own sandbags that you can easily adjust for weight).

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10. Throw Spears Fast

OK, I lied. This tip is not really relevant to any running event except a Spartan.

But if you plan to race the Vermont Beast, it’s a valuable tip nonetheless.

You’ll encounter multiple spear throws during a race like this, and in the case of the Vermont Beast, some big and sudden gusts of wind as you throw. I made the mistake of using a “dart style” spear throw method, which is very precise and accurate, but not very forceful – and in both cases, my spear got twisted sideways by gusts of wind, resulting in many burpee penalties.

A better method of throwing would be the more forceful and fast spear-chucking strategy outlined here.

The other advantage of throwing spears fast is that, should you ever find yourself in a survival, zombie-apocalypse scenario, you will be able to kill a large animal to eat or slaughter a zombie to survive and live another day. So there’s that.

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Want even more tips? Just subscribe to the free Obstacle Dominator podcast, where top Spartan athlete Hunter McIntyre and I will be rehashing the race via audio.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about these 10 tips to race a Spartan Beast – or your own tips to add? Leave your thoughts below!

firejump

Why The Future Of Health Is Better Than You Think.

Lab on a chip

A few months ago, we had an amazingly popular podcast episode with Steven Kotler, author of “Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance“.

During that podcast, Steven mentioned another book he co-wrote with Peter Diamandis (famous founder of the X-Prize Foundation) called “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think“. Frankly, I thought this other book sounded like a bit of an airy-fairy, positive thinking, Everything Is Awesome (cue Lego movie soundtrack here) type of a book.

But then, over the course of just one week, three more people recommended this book to me, including SEALFit commander Mark Divine. So I figured I should probably read it. And I did.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think is based on a contrarian view that exponentially growing technologies and other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions on our planet, that the gap between the privileged few and hardscrabble majority is closing fast, and that this is drastically affecting human access to everything from water to food, energy, healthcare, education, and freedom.

In today’s podcast, you’re going to learn why Steven believes that the future of health is better than you may think, and how you can help make all this a reality. During our discussion you’ll learn:

abundance-book-What the pyramid of abundance is…

-What Steven means about your stress levels when he says “if it bleeds, it leads”…

-How you can grow enough food to feed 9 billion people using vertical farming, skyscrapers “growing food in water”…

-Creative ways to get the world’s population more protein…

-Where “synthetic life” like algae come in for creating biofuel…

-A special new kind of toilet that can power your house with your own feces…

-How a Star-Trek like Tricorder and a Lab On A Chip would work…

-Whether we can actually use genetics to stop obesity…

-What the next steps are, and how can you can take action…

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the book “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think“? Do you disagree with Steven? Leave your thoughts below!

Underground Strength Training Secrets: How To Get Strong And Stay Strong Using Training Secrets Of The Athletic Elite.

lifting rocks

Zach Even-Esh – author of the new book the “Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning” – is one of my friends, and one of the few guys who I truly consider to be an absolute beast when it comes to physical strength.

But he wasn’t always so strong. As a kid, Zach was crippled by self-doubt, low self-esteem, depression and career-ending injuries.

Later in life, he got sidetracked by false prophets trumpeting bodybuilding lies that weakened him and had him beaten down over and over again by stronger, more agile, tougher opponents.

Faced by all these failures he could easily have thrown in the towel and contented himself with a comfortable, average role as a so-so athlete and so-so personal trainer. But Zach had a dream and a vision that was more powerful than the army of setbacks and the bouts of despair.

So he never quit in his relentless quest for athletic supremacy, and continued to persevere and struggle, through multiple odds and continued setback.

Things finally changed when he was told that he was put on earth to make people strong.

And that’s what Zach and I talk about on today’s podcast – not just his backstory, but also how he’s discovered a ton of secret, underground training methods that build strength fast in both men and women.

zach even-esh book

During our discussion, you’ll learn:

-Zach’s amazing story of how he got into underground style strength training…

-Zach’s favorite body weight training exercises that you rarely see people doing…

-How to get fit with nothing more than a picnic table…

-How you can make our own sandbag, and the #1 sandbag move that Zach recommends…

-The hardest workout Zach has ever done with a rock…

-The shocking ways you can get fit by just using a tire (and it goes way beyond tire flippin’!)…

-How you can get a keg and how you can use a keg for a workout…

-And much more!

Some of the world’s toughest—and most successful—men have endorsed Zach Even-Esh’s Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning as a must-have, go-to resource for developing the supreme athletic durability, multi-functional strength and spiritual fortitude they most prize.

Men like Joe De Sena, founder of The Spartan Race, who says:

“At Spartan, we have always said the world needs a thorough encyclopedia on strength and conditioning. Whether it is our own athletes attending our races, moms, or even the elite special forces we speak to, everyone is looking for an edge. Zach’s Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning is exactly what today’s society needs to build a stronger mind, body and life, just as we encourage here at Spartan. The inspirational life lessons shared in this book along with these training methods are what make this book powerful and timeless. You owe it to yourself to read this book if you want to change your life.”

And men like the warrior-athlete Mark Divine, founder of SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind, NYT bestselling author of 8 Weeks to SEALFIT and The Way of the SEAL, says:

“When it comes to functional strength and conditioning—old school style—Zach Even-Esh has been there, done that. Zach is a master at developing young athletes who not only become world class at their sport, but also develop the strength of character to be successful at whatever they choose in life. I highly recommend this book, as it will open your eyes to reality-based training.”

So in the comments section below, feel free to let Zach and I know which of his methods you’ve tried, be sure to grab his new “Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning“, and leave any other feedback and thoughts!

The Top 10 Full Body Fitness Workouts Of The Year.

mud3

It’s probably no secret by now that this weekend I am racing at the Spartan World Championships in Vermont.

And if you read this blog regularly, you know that I’ve just finished an intense crucible in California called SEALFit Kokoro, I’m still racing triathlons, playing in tennis league and now gearing up for hunting and snowboarding season.

So as you can imagine, my workouts are varied, entertaining, and somewhat unorthodox – but perfectly programmed to give you the ultimate mix of strength, speed, power, endurance, durability, coordination, fat loss and flexibility. In today’s article, I’m going to share with you what I consider to be my top 10 full body fitness workouts of the past year. Hopefully these workouts get your wheels turning, and perhaps you can even choose one or two to try this week.

By the way, I post every workout that I do 365 days a year, and photograph my main meals for the members of my Inner Circle, which is just 10 bucks a month. And be sure to check out the end of this article, where you’re going to learn how to get a free signed copy of my book Beyond Training!

Incidentally, you may notice that I don’t run much. I don’t like to run much and even in my peak Ironman racing weeks would run a maximum of 25 miles a week. Nowadays I run about 8-10 miles a week max. So if you’re looking for a high volume run program…go elsewhere. ;)

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1. Battle Rounds – perfect when you have one set of dumbbells and you want a lung-sucking workout that includes some significant load lifting.

Preferably wearing Elevation Training Mask, do 3-5 rounds for time of:

-50 leg levers

-40 mountain climbers

-30 burpees

-20 kettlebell or dumbbell swings

-10 dumbbell manmakers (40lb men/25lb women)

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2. Bike & Burn – works very well if you have an stationary bike or bike setup on a bike trainer in a backyard or park.

-100m heavy sandbag or rock carry

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-15-25 pull-ups or 3x rope climbs

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-Uphill drag with chain attached to cinder block (or just pull anything you can find up a hill or for a distance)

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-15-25x tire flips

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-Repeat for one additional round if time permits

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3. Sandy Stairs – all you need for this is something heavy to carry and a flight of stairs. You get to work your core during your “rest periods”.

-Find a flight of stairs, preferably 3-5 flights

-At bottom of stairs, do 5-10 sandbag, rock or dumbbell clean and jerks (here’s how to make your own sandbag)

-Carry sandbag to top of stairs. Carry sandbag back down stairs. 

-Set sandbag down and hold plank position for 60 seconds.

-Repeat for as many rounds as possible in available time.

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4. Body By Science – straight from Doug Mcguff’s book and much harder than it looks if you choose a challenging resistance and go as slow as you can go. The Tabata finisher is my evil add-on.

-5-10 minute bike warmup, then 10 seconds down, 10 seconds up per rep for just ONE round of the following:

-8 reps machine chest press

-8 reps machine row

-8 reps machine shoulder press

-8 reps machine-assisted pull-up

-8 reps barbell squat

-Finisher: 1x bike or elliptical tabata set of 4 minutes of 20 second hard, 10 seconds easy

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5. Park Family Workout –  a good way to help make your kids superhuman

Bike or run with kids to park (or solo if kids aren’t your thing), then do 3 rounds of:

-60 second handstand pushups against tree or wall (kids can easily practice this)

-Sprint to fence, then balance on fence for a 10-20 foot walk (kids can balance on curb, sidewalk cracks, etc. if fence is too high)

-Sprint to bar, beam, tree branch, etc., do 5 pullups (kids can simply hang for as long as possible)

-Sprint to bench, 10 spiderman pushups (kids can do regular or knee push-ups)

-Put kids on back, sprint 100 yards with kid on back, then drop down and bear crawl 25 yards, then stand up and finish by sprinting 75 yards (still with kid on back)

-Finish circuit with 10 box or park bench jumps (kids can do step-ups if necessary)

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6. Curtis Operator WOD straight from “8 Weeks To Sealfit” – this thing is long and takes some pretty significant patience but is a big “fitness breakthrough” style workout. 

-100 reps of power clean then, with the barbell or two dumbbells racked on your shoulders, front lunge left leg, then front lunge right leg, then push press at 115 lbs. That’s one rep baby.

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7. 5×5 With Sprint Finisher – very good combination of strength, speed and muscular endurance.

5 sets of 5 reps of:

-Benchpress

-Deadlift

-Backsquat

-Shoulder Press

-Power clean

Finisher: 10×30 second sprint at 8-10mph on 8-10% incline

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8. Hotel Room Workout – I travel a ton and do body weight workouts like this quite a bit. I’ve also done similar workouts (without the cold shower of course) in airport terminals, parks, etc.

At conference, sneak up to room before breakfast, after lunch and before dinner for:

-10 lunge jumps per side

-15 burpees

-20 box jumps onto bed

-25 chair dips

-30 jumping jacks

-2 minute cold shower 

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9. Hotel / Stairs Workout – very good option for when the hotel gym is crappy.

-Run one flight of stairs one step at a time. Stop on landing for 20 second isometric squat.

-Run next flight of stairs two steps at a time. Stop on landing for 20 push-ups.

-Run next flight of stairs by box jumping as many steps at a time. Stop on landing for 20 mountain climbers.

-Repeat for as many flights as possible.

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10. “Recovery” Workout – a rest day still means you can put work into your body.

-Pool – 20×25 meter repeats with no breathing, underwater or freestyle

-Sauna – 30 minutes of box breathing, 4-8 count in, 4-8 count out

-Cold shower – 5 minutes

-Finish with full body foam rolling session

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What do you think? What are your toughest workouts? Your key workouts? Your favorite workouts? Share in the comments section below. I’m going to choose my favorite, or most insane, and send you a signed copy of my book “Beyond Training“. Let the sufferfest begin!

3 Ways Hunting Can Get You Ripped And 10 Ways To Get Fit For Hunting.

hunting fitness

A few weeks ago, in the episode: How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete, I interviewed my friend Shad Wheeler about how hunting can be a practical and useful way to both provide for your needs and also increase your physical fitness.

Now I’m definitely not on some kind of an anti-vegan rant (and am actually just now in the middle of a highly entertaining and interesting book called “Meat Is For Pussies“), but hunting season is quickly approaching and I know that BenGreenfieldFitness has a lot of readers and listeners who are into or interested in hunting, including myself.

And let’s be frank: if you’re huffing and puffing to move an unfit body through the wilderness while carrying a weapon and hunting an animal, you’re not going to have a good time and you’re going to be endangering both yourself and whatever noble beast you are hunting. On the flipside, if you do the right kind of training for hunting, you’re going to get strong fast and whether you’re a guy or girl, you’re going to build plenty of lean muscle, burn lots of fat, and get ripped – in a very practical way.

So in today’s article, Arp Smith, founder of the extreme sports advice startup EpicSportsman.org, is going to provide us with some seasoned hunting fitness advice on why you need to be fit for hunting, then I’m going to give you ten of my best tips on how to get ripped for hunting.

Take it away, Arp…

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Thanks, Ben.

Since the beginning of time, men and women have been hunters. And this instinctual calling carries with it significant health benefits. This is not to say that I’m criticizing the select few who prefer to invest their time in computer coding or playing golf rather than trekking through the wilderness with a weapon and a backpack – it’s just that I personally prefer the latter.

Many folks pack on the pounds during the winter months. What a great time to put the pork rinds down and fetch some venison, sheep, bird or bear instead! In addition to providing great tasting meat for meals, hours of quiet self-reflection time and the opportunity to show your friends what a tough and self-reliant guy or gal you really are, hunting can be of great physical benefit that most other quiet and relaxing sports (such as yoga or walking) simply can’t provide.

In this article, we’ll look at three ways that hunting can get you ripped, and then Ben will give you ten moves to get you fit for hunting.

1. Weapon Weight

Most hunters use larger weapons to take down prey – even smaller prey. Most rifles weigh an average of 12.5 pounds, which isn’t a bad workout if you end up holding that weapon up for six or eight hours (just ask Ben Greenfield, who had to carry a rifle replica for 52 hours last week). Oh yeah, then you have the mag and all the ammo (most hunters bring extra – you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?), so call it 15 pounds. For those who choose to hunt with a bow and arrow, the heavier the pull tension, the more it the bow weighs, so in this case you need to steady an eighty-pound draw long enough to get a decent shot off, and that means some serious biceps and forearm muscular endurance.

2. Animal Weight

Ever done a sled pull or sled push, or perhaps dragged a tire in an obstacle race? It’s nothing compared to hauling a dead weight animal. In many states, it’s actually illegal to shoot a doe (female deer). When deer hunting, you need to instead go for the males, which have a tendency to be wider in the body and neck, in addition to having antlers. The older the buck, the bigger the antlers will be, and this adds extra weight. Hunting bucks involves strategy, which generally also involves covering long distances by foot. Once you take down a buck, you still need to transport it from where it lies back to your truck. There is simply no way to get around this. Unless you’re using an oversized ATV, you need to literally drag the animal, and if you’ve covered anything even close to a mile, you will get some intense metabolic conditioning unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

3. Post-Hunt Preparation

Once you have your hunt back home, you need to prepare it. This involves rope, maneuvering the animal to ensure the proper incisions, bleeding the animal (sorry to be graphic, but it’s just reality), skinning it, butchering it and storing it. An alternative option is to bring the animal into a butcher, but this isn’t quite as self-reliant. The physical labor involved in this process can carry on for as long or longer than the hunt itself. While not quite as taxing when it comes to hauling a heavy load or moving for long distances, this post-hunting prep involves more light physical activity for a longer period of time, similar to gardening or farming.

Now that you know how hunting can get you ripped, let’s get to the point of discussing some real workouts in the woods, and how to get fit for hunting. This is important because many of us lose the game when it comes to getting close to the final target. Because of this, good balance, muscle control and precision in movement are absolutely prized qualities in a a good hunter and these workouts ensure that you hunt like one, and that you aren’t a dangerously over-fatigued slob huffing and puffing your way through the wilderness.

We live in a world littered with distractions, the vast majority of them living within your computer or smartphone – constantly tempting you to stay indoors, stay seated, stay sedentary. Hunting is a fantastic way to disconnect from the grind, unplug from the status quo, and expose yourself to the beauty of nature and the primal instincts within yourself.

Back to you, Ben…

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OK – let’s jump right into the top 10 exercises to get you fit for hunting. I’m a big fan of Strongman style training for hunting, which a new study just showed can get you benefits that go above and beyond just being able to lift a car off the ground or carry a heavy rock across a football field – benefits such as fat loss, lean muscle gain and increased athletic performance – all of which are great for hunting.

1. Bear Crawls, 10-20x 25 yards

Get down on all fours, get your butt low so that your knees are just barely above the ground, and crawl as fast as you can with good form. Next try it uphill. Now downhill. Then try uphill backwards. Then downhill backwards. Then from side to side. If you can execute 10-20x 25 yard of bear crawling in all directions and grades like this, you’re going to be well equipped to crawl and sneak through thickets, brambles and anywhere else off the trail.

2. Boulder Carries, distance varies

Carrying awkward heavy objects trains your hands, grip strength, forearms, shoulders, back and core much better than picking up a symmetrical object like a barbell or dumbbell. So find a heavy rock (I’m a big fan of river rocks for this) and carry it up a hill, then down a hill. Carry it across a field. Put it in a good backpack and ruck with it. Make that rock your friend. When it comes time to carry a pack or carry a dead animal weight, you’ll thank that darn rock.

3. Log Clean And Jerk, 5×5

Hunting also often means camp preparation, moving objects like fallen trees and logs out of the way, and also as you’ve just learned, carrying awkwardly shaped objects. There’s an old log down by the river near my house, and one of my favorite workouts is to run to the river and do a 5×5 workout with the log: 5 sets of 5 reps of picking the log up off the ground to my shoulders (a clean), then splitting my legs apart explosively into a lunge stance and hoisting the log overhead (a jerk).

4. Tire Drags, distance varies

For the next three exercises, you’ll need an old tire. I got a used one for free from the tire store. Try to get something in the 200-250lb range. For a tire drag, you simply place both hands anywhere you can grip on the tire, get your butt low, and drag the tire backwards several feet at a time. You’ll find yourself dragging an animal if your hunt is successful, and this will get your hamstrings and low back ready for it.

5. Tire Flips, 5×10

Tire flips are perfect for developing butt, hamstring, calf, core and explosive strength – all crucial for hunting fitness. Get your butt low, grip the tire with an underhand grip, stand explosively as you get your hands underneath the tire and then flip it over. Then flip it back. Shoot for 5 sets of 10 reps for starters.

6. Tire Pulls, distance varies

Attach a rope to the tire in the same way you might attach rope to a tarp on which you’d be pulling an animal. Drag the tire in as many different ways as you can, including with the rope over your shoulder, seated on the ground rowing with both hands and pulling with the rope attached to your waist.

7. Weighted Step-Ups, 5×10 per leg

When hunting, you’ll find yourself stepping on and off rocks, logs, stumps and up and down hills with a weight on your back and in your arms. So toss a barbell on your back, or a weighted backpack, or hold your heavy rock and find a platform close to knee height that you can step up onto, and then down from, alternating legs as you go.

8. Elastic Tube Front & Side Raises, 5×20-25

The one body part that’s going to get most tired while carrying a bow or a rifle is going to be your shoulders, and an elastic tube with handles is a perfect way to build muscular endurance and lactic acid tolerance in those muscles. Simply stand on top of an elastic tube, hold the handles, and do as many reps as you can to the front, then repeat to the sides.

9. Trail Run With Burpees, 15-60 minutes

Trail running is a great way to simultaneously work all your muscles and your reaction time – from eyes and ears to legs, core, shoulders and arms. Try a fartlek style trail workout that mixes up easy jogging, tempo running and all-out sprints, and for the ultimate test of endurance, stop every 15 minutes or at every major turn, whichever happens more frequently, to stop and do 15 burpees.

10. Rucking, 1-4 hours

Put heavy stuff on your back, like a weighted backpack. Wear a weighted vest. For even more fitness, add an elevation training mask.  Now start moving. Walk around your neighborhood. Go hiking. Climb stairs. Hit the treadmill. Move with weight. It’s a crucial hunting fitness skill that you’ll need to have, and you should try to get a multi-hour ruck in at least once every couple weeks.

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Do you hunt? Do you want to hunt? Do you have questions about hunting fitness? Do you think meat is for pussies? Leave your questions, comments or feedback below and Arp and I promise to reply!

HRV: The Single, Next Big Trend In Biohacking And Self-Quantification And How To Use It.

healthpatch

I’m really not a big self-quantification nerd.

I don’t like to be plugged into stuff all day long. It just makes me feel like a giant robot (and being constantly plugged into things like bluetooth devices just gives me the tin-foil hat wearing heebie-jeebies).

But I do religiously take one simple measurement every single morning: heart rate variability.

And the method that I use to measure heart rate variability is, in my opinion, the singe, next big trend in biohacking and self-quantification. It’s called SweetBeatLife, and all you need to use it is the SweetBeatLife phone app.

In today’s audio interview, I speak with Ronda Collier, who has more than 25 years of experience in high technology product development with a proven track record of delivering leading edge consumer electronic products. The previous two heart rate variability podcasts with Ronda (that I’d recommend you listen to before you listen to today’s podcast if you don’t know much about heart rate variability) are below:

-Everything You Need To Know About Heart Rate Variability Testing

-The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Using Heart Rate Variability Testing to Track Your Stress and Nervous System Health

By analyzing HRV and Stress along with additional data, SweetBeatLife provides a deep dive into health and provides insight into what activities you engage in that effect the health metrics you care about. This is important because the next big trend in bio-hacking is understanding the relationships between different metrics like your weight, your blood pressure, your blood glucose, the number of steps you take and your actual internal health and nervous system. SweetBeatLife integrates and correlates data from popular fitness platforms like MapMyFitness, Fitbit and Withings and integrates seamlessly with the extensive biometrics from the new HealthPatch sensor (which we talk about in the podcast).

The SweetBeatLife features that we discuss in the podcast include:

Options for Sessions

Monitor/Relax: The Monitor screen allows users to choose which feature they would like to use (Stress Monitoring, HRV for Training, Heart Rate Recovery). After starting a session, the user’s metrics will fill this screen: heart rate, HRV, stress level, current mood.


EKG

EKG (RRs): The EKG-like heart beat trace is the first window on the Monitor screen. By flipping this window around, the user can see several other real-time features.


Geek Screen

NEW Stats: The stats screen, more widely referred to as the “geek” screen, shows all the metrics used in the algorithm calculations and then some! If using the HealthPatch, the user will get to monitor their respiration, energy, skin temperature, steps and activity.


RR IntervalsOther Metrics

NEW Graph: The graph screen shows a real-time building graph of your heart rate from RR Intervals. Turning the phone 90 degrees counter-clockwise will bring up the graph in landscape. Unselecting RR in the top right corner will allow the user to see all of the other metrics in real-time.


HealthPatch

NEW HealthPatch: The HealthPatch by VitalConnect, uses SweetBeatLife’s software to record the following data in real-time: heart rate, respiration, calories out, skin temperature, steps and activity. This is the future of noninvasive monitoring.


Correlation

NEW Correlation: The correlation screen uses a patent pending algorithm to correlate all of the Fitbit data the user has shared with SweetBeatLife. This data will come from the app itself, the HealthPatch and any other apps the user has authorized (Fitbit, Withings, and/or MapMyFitness). Settings allow the user to view demos or analyze the correlations between their own data. The user chooses which metric they want to correlate to the others (HRV, stress, or weight). They can choose to see all of their data or put in specific date ranges. By doing this, the user can see their current, max, and min metric compared to their other data. Touching the bubbles flips them for more data.


HRV for Training: In competitive sports, improved performance is achieved by alternating periods of intensive training with periods of relative rest. SweetBeatLife uses patent pending algorithms to create a personalized reference line for the user based on 3-minute daily HRV readings. Using the reference line, the app recommends the user “train as usual”, have a “low exertion day”, or take a “rest day”.


Food Sensitivity

Food Sensitivity Test: To use the food sensitivity test, a user must first take a morning reading of the pulse to establish a baseline for the day. Before eating a meal, the user records the foods comprising the next meal and performs a pulse test. After the user is finished eating, the app will prompt users to record their heart rates every 30 minutes until 90 minutes have passed. Once testing is complete, the meal will either pass or fail for food sensitivity. The Food Sensitivity test methodology developed by immunologist Dr. Arthur F. Coca can be found on the web.


HistoryHistory Sessions

History: Accessing saved sessions is easier than ever. The history is split into three sections: charts, sessions, and food. Now users can separate their food sensitivity tests from the rest of their sessions. By selecting a saved session, the user can view their metrics in a graph, upload to MySweetbeat, Facebook or Twitter, and new capabilities now allow users to send their RR intervals in a CSV file to any email address. .


Grab the SweetBeatLife phone app by clicking here, visit the SweetBeatLife website here, and leave any questions, comments or feedback below! Either Ronda or I will answer and point you in the right direction.

A Book I Should Probably Hate, But Don’t, And How You Can Get The Hard Copy Free.

yuri elkaim book

Yuri Elkaim (pictured above) is a bit of an outlier and renegade in the nutrition and health community. His mission is to empower everyday men and women with proper nutrition and health wisdom so they can take better control of their own health.

He also holds High Honours degree in Physical Education and Health/Kinesiology from the University of Toronto, is a former professional soccer player, and for 7 seasons acted as the strength & conditioning/nutrition coach for the nationally ranked men’s soccer program at the University of Toronto.

Some refer to him as the “health whisperer” for being to get to the heart of what matters and produce amazing health, weight loss, and fitness results where there seemed little hope.

And he just wrote a book.

I must admit, his new book “The All Day Energy Diet” is not the kind of book I would not normally read.

After all, Yuri – despite being an ex-professional soccer player – is bigtime into juicing, cleanses, detoxing – and I guarantee the guy eats far, far less steak than me…

…so I would *almost* classify him as a Whole Foods hippie.

But his book is, frankly, brilliant.

All day energy dietIt covers dietary concepts that I haven’t ever seen discussed in a book – concepts like:

-adjusting your blood pH with the foods you eat…

-how to test your adrenals without expensive lab tests…

-which foods literally exhaust your digestive enzymes…

-a new thing called the “PRAL” load of specific meals…

-six myths about plant protein

-how to choose the best kinds of coconut oil and butter…

-and much more.

I learned a ton from this book, and Yuri is a fellow athlete, a father, and a very smart dude, so I’m happy to tell you about his new book.

You can grab your hard copy now by clicking here.

The best thing is, you get it for free.

Yeah, free (it’s normally $25.95 retail value).

Yuri is giving away a few hundred copies of the book for free, starting tonight at midnight (a few minutes ago), so you can go grab it now by clicking here (if there’s any left). Good luck.

 If you have questions, comments or feedback about the All Day Energy Diet then leave your thoughts below! By the way the free book is a hard copy shipped to your house, not an ebook. And I’ll vouch for this dude, the book is good. Enjoy.

 

 

26 Mile Night Hikes, Surf Swim Torture, 450 Pound Giant Logs And More: What To Expect at SEALFit Kokoro Camp And 9 Ways To Get More Tough.

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Welcome to Part 3 of the SEALFit series, a journey of intense physical discovery and a chance to learn how to achieve amazing feats of performance without breaking. If you missed the first two articles in this three-part series, then click here for Part 1: “What Kind Of Training, Gear And Nutrition Do You Use For SEALFit Academy And Kokoro Camp? and click here for Part 2: “Laughing Yoga, Hyperoxygenation, Navy SEAL Workouts And More – What To Expect And How To Prepare For the SEALFit Academy.

In this final article, you’re going to find out exactly what to expect at SEALFit Kokoro Camp, and pick up plenty of tips for pushing through your own physical and mental performance barriers, including my own stories of 26 mile night hikes, surf swim torture, 450 pound giant logs and more – and 9 tips to conquer your own event, whether it’s an adventure race, Ironman, marathon, cycling event, Spartan race, or anything else.

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What Is Kokoro?

So what exactly is Kokoro? If you’re not familiar with this intense crucible of physical and mental hardship, the video below will give you just a bit of the flavor…

And here is how Kokoro is described by SEALFit:

“SEALFIT Kokoro Camp is, quite simply, the world’s premier training camp for forging mental toughness, modeled after the US Navy SEAL Hell Week. Yes, it is brutal. No, it’s not for everyone. You may not qualify, or make it through the training. Yet, if you’re ready for this challenge…

You’ll find it to be an experience that changes your life forever.

Kokoro is designed to break you down, then rebuild you into a powerful leader and consummate team player—the kind that makes everyone else better. Whatever your path in life, the confidence and wisdom gained during this 3-day intensive can multiply your performance and success by a factor that’s impossible for you to even imagine right now.

Kokoro Camp is designed to help you discover the deep power of your resilient spirit over your mind, and your mind’s control over your body. The program is skillfully executed by a cadre of SEALs with over 125 cumulative years of Special Warfare experience.

You’ll be pushed to your limits, because that’s where the biggest breakthroughs happen. That’s also why this is not “something you try”. It takes absolute, 100% commitment. You must have a deep and powerful reason for attending this camp, and be ready to pay the price for the ultimate freedom you’ll gain by the end.

Our elite team will be there—not to coddle or care for you—but to push you beyond your perceived capability limits. Just when you think you can’t go any further, we’ll help you find a source of strength, of courage and power that you’ll have access to for the rest of your life.”

One Ironman triathlete I know who completed Kokoro described it as 10 Ironman triathlons in a row with no sleep.

Woo-hoo. Sign me up. 

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Kokoro Day 1

Every Kokoro has a number, and this particular one was to be Kokoro 34. As you may have already read, by the time Kokoro rolled around I’d been at SEALFit for 6 days training with the SEALFit Comprehensive Academy. So I was already physically prepared with all the gear, nutrition and equipment I discuss in this post, and felt very mentally prepared too.

So on Friday morning, I simply pulled on my stylish black pants, threw on my white t-shirt, generously covered my feet in anti-friction creme, pulled on compression pants, sock liners, wool socks, slipped into my combat boots, slammed about 1000 calories of liquid fuel (chia seeds and honey from the Natural Force Nutrition I talk about in this fuel-prep post – use code BEN10 to save 10% on anything from Natural Force) and walked onto the Grinder at 11am ready to rumble.

We’d already had a brief team orientation during which I was nominated as “team leader”, meaning it would be my responsibility during Kokoro to ensure everyone was on time, in the right place, wearing the right uniform, with the right attitude. Of course, this also meant that if anyone on the team messed up, I’d be having to take the punishment that comes with that responsibility.

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We all stood on the Grinder for about 10 minutes, holding our sand-filled PVC pipe “weapons”, fidgeting nervously and waiting for our orders.

Then all hell broke loose and the beatdown began. Just imagine the worst hazing experience you can think of, then throw in a bunch of mean current and ex-Navy SEALs and multiply it by twenty.

Half a dozen SEALFit coaches emerged from all directions, fully equipped with cold water hoses, loudspeakers, sirens, and plenty of attitude. Our entire team spent the next three hours getting verbally abused, thrown into ice baths while breathing through a tiny cut-off plastic water bottle, cranking out pushups with high pressure water getting sprayed into the face, doing dozens and dozens of leg levers, burpee pull-ups, team hill sprints and a chaotic assortment of other exercises – and generally getting a good old-fashioned ass-kicking as our official welcome to Kokoro.

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Three hours later, the 19 men and women in our class stood in a two line formation on The Grinder – shell-shocked, panting, trembling, crying and pretty much in complete disarray.

Finally, Coach Divine spoke up:

“Why are you here?”

Silence.

“Greenfield, why are you here?”

“I’m raising two amazing humans who can grow up to make this world a better place, Coach Divine, and to do that I need to become the strongest version of me.”

Hooyah. I had a big smile on my face during that entire initial beatdown, thanks to knowing my why and thanks to the “Big 4″ lessons I had learned in the SEALFit Academy: breathe, use positivity, visualize and create mini-goals. So if an instructor says “100 burpees”, I would take one deep breathe, smile, visualize myself nailing every burpee perfectly, then make it a goal to do 10 sets of 10. This practice helped me enormously during the entire Kokoro experience.

Resting and listening to Commander Divine explain the importance of our “Why” didn’t last long. I was jolted back into reality as an entire bucket of ice water got dumped onto my head. Then again. And again. And it was back into cold, wet burpees.

After another hour of beatup on The Grinder, Coach Lance Cummings suddenly put an end to the madness, and spread out a blanket with 26 random items for us to remember, like a bandaid, an army man, a ziptie, superglue, a tennis ball, etc.. As a team, we had 20 seconds to look at the blanket, memorize all items (this is called a KIMS exercise), then rush off with 5 minutes to prepare for a 26 mile night ruck mission that involved finding a fire tower on the top of Mt. Palomar, surveying it for size, activity, location, uniforms of those inside, timing of guard switches and equipment, and then recording and bringing that information back down the mountain.

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Equipped with a rucksack, sandbag, three canteens, two lightsticks and one MRE (mine was fancy vegetarian risotto), we all piled into two vans at about 6pm for the hour long drive to the base of the recon mission, during which the coaches kept the vans at a comfortable 100 degree temperature, which meant the majority of us were mildly dehydrated before the mission even began. Just before heading up Mt. Palomar, the coaches surprised us with a break-out battle simulation on the hard, rocky desert just outside of Temecula, during which we spent nearly an hour crawling on the dirt and thorns on our bellies and forearms with our rucksacks on our back. This meant that by the time the steep ruck up the side of Mt. Palomar began, we were already bloody, dusty, hungry, dehydrated and flat-out beat up.

Then the mission actually began, with our class of 19 split into three groups of five and one group of four, spaced by 15 minute intervals and each led by a SEALFit coach to push us along the way. Within just a few minutes, I realized we were in trouble when one guy in our group began coughing, wheezing and hacking uncontrollably. Turns out he had quit smoking just a couple months ago. Bad move. For the next 11 hours, the other members of our team took care of hauling his ruck, carrying his weapon, pushing him, pulling him and guiding him to the finish.

When we finally arrived back to the van at 5:30am, he quit. Thanks dude. Another guy dropped out to, claiming he was “tired”. Huh. Most of the rest of the team who hadn’t quit was hallucinating, hypoglycemic and covered in blisters. The next 30+ hours promised to be quite interesting, and I wondered how many others would drop out – internally promising myself to commit to the team and get as much positive energy as possible spread around so that the quitting didnt’ happen. In the van on the way back, they pumped out classical music, turned up the heater, and tried to lull the team to sleep, so I used 10 pieces of paper to create a list of all the items in the KIIMS blanket, then handed it out to everyone in the van to memorize. We still lost a few exhausted folks who dozed off. There’d be hell to pay for later.

We finally arrived back at SEALFit around 7am, where we were immediately thrust back out onto the Grinder and informed that we had not only failed the mission (a repeating theme at SEALFit is nothing is ever “good enough”), but that we also had rested for way too long in the van ride home.

This was when they broke out the 350-450 pound logs to commence Log PT, during which we spent nearly 2 hours doing every exercise imaginable with a log, including “up log” (picking the log up to the shoulders), “down log” (bringing the log back down to the ground), log overhead press, log jumping jacks, log burpees, log benchpress, log sit-ups, and finally a very long and arduous log “neighborhood tour” of Encinitas, during which we hauled the logs up and down the streets.

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By this time, people were sunburnt, had injured and cut-up shoulders from the logs, many literally had bloody nubs for heels and blister-covered toes, and hypoglycemia and dehydration were obvious. I was inwardly thankful for the lessons I’d learned from Ironman about foot care, eating and drinking, and my only complaints thus far were a nearly torn left pec muscle from the 42 minute 1000 push-up challenge just two days prior, and some very, very chapped lips (as one Coach put it during Kokoro “Greenfield, are you wearing lipstick?”)

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As we replaced the logs and returned to The Grinder, we were all wondering if we’d get to eat. It was already 1:00 in the afternoon, the heat was bearing down, and we’d been heavily exercising for the past 26 hours.

If only we were so lucky. Next came “Muscle Beach”.

Muscle Beach is basically a chance for the Coaches to torture the team with more physical PT, but in a game-style format. We were told to run a half mile to the beach, jump in the ocean, cover ourselves completely in sand to make a “sugar-cookie” then run back.

We ran back to The Grinder covered in sand. Not good enough. We had to sprint back to the ocean, down the 140 stairs, back up the 140 stairs, and do it again, getting even sandier this time. Then came sandbag relay races, thruster contests, stretcher races (one person is “dead” on a medical stretcher, and the other members of the team carry them in a race), hill sprints and memory contests.

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After Muscle Beach, we were hosed down on the Grinder, then tasked with emptying every barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, sandbag, weight plate and each tiny little object out of the entire US Crossfit facility, carrying it to the top of Lookout Hill a 1/4 mile away, returning everything back down the to they gym, painstakingly cleaning each object, and returning it exactly back to where we found it. I will never again complain about cleaning my home gym. By the time we completed the gym four hours later, my hands and fingers were burning and my forearm muscles felt shredded to pieces. Talk about grip training.

When we finally finished, there was (no surprise here) two vans waiting outside.

We were instructed to grab our sandbag filled rucksack, three canteens full of water or Gatorade, 1 MRE (meal replacement), 2 lightsticks, our weapon, and pile onto the vans…

…the worst was yet to come.

Lessons From Day 1

-Know your why. 

-For any long effort, including rucks, Ironman, marathon, etc. it pays to use sock liners, anti-friction creme and take excellent care of your feet

-When you get a chance to fuel, fuel hard. Stay ahead of your hunger and stay ahead of your thirst if food and water availability is an unknown.

———————————————-

Kokoro Day 2

From Encinitas, the vans drove us about 13 miles down the road to a beach with deep sand, high cliffs and big surf breakers. Ironically, it was primarily populated with nudes throwing frisbees, playing beach volleyball, and lounging on blankets – in stark contrast to 17 Kokoro team members in white shirts, black pants and combat boots. But the last thing I was thinking about were the boobs bouncing on the naked girls playing volleyball next to us. We were immediately forced into a fast jog-run ruck down the beach in a two-line formation, all while chanting the poem “Invictus”:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

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As we chanted and ran, members of our team frequently stumbled and hit the sand face-first, and some could barely hobble due to open and bleeding blisters, but we’d just pick them up, carry their rucks, handle their weapons, and keep going. This was the closest I’d been to witnessing individuals at the brink of complete physical fatigue simply survive by putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving forward, and also the closest I’ve been to an entire team supporting every individual, no matter what. It was heartwarming, in only the way one’s heart could be warmed when shivering your ass off running down a cold California beach.

After an hour of fast rucking, as the sunset approached, we arrived at the base of a cliff and were instructed to ditch our rucksacks and weapons, and go lay down in the surf with our heads facing the ocean and our feet facing the coaches.

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The surf torture was about to commence.

The Making Of A Navy Seal has a pretty good description of surf torture. It goes like this:

“We soon started surf torture. We ran into the ocean until we were chest deep in water, formed a line, and linked arms as the cold waves ran through us. Soon we began to shiver. Instructors on bullhorns spoke evenly, “Gentlemen, quit now, and you can avoid the rush later. You are only at the beginning of a very long week. It just gets colder. It just gets harder.”

“Let’s go. Out of the water!” We ran out through waist-deep water, and as we hit the beach a whistle blew: whistle drills. One blast of the whistle and we dropped to the sand. Two blasts and we began to crawl to the sound of the whistle. We crawled through the sand, still shaking from the cold, until our bodies had warmed just past the edge of hypothermia. Then, “Back in the ocean! Hit the surf!”

We fought our way through that night and through the next day. As the sunlight weakened at the beginning of the next night, the instructors ran us out to the beach. We stood there in a line, and as we watched the sun drift down, they came out on their bullhorns: “Say goodnight to the sun, gentlemen. And you men have many, many more nights to go.”

When they really wanted to torture us, they’d say, “Anybody who quits right now gets hot coffee and doughnuts. Come on, who wants a doughnut? Who wants a little coffee?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw men running for the bell.”

I’d read about it before, but never experienced surf torture until now.

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As we lay there in the ocean, watching the sunset and preparing for a very long night, my entire body was shaking and trembling from the icy cold water. I could barely open my eyes because they were full of burning sand, and my mouth and ears were also filled with tiny rocks, sand, and cold water. Despite over 80 triathlons in some of the most insane open water conditions imaginable, this was the closest I’d ever come to experiencing a panicked and desperate sense of cold and impending drowning.

I have no clue how long we were in the surf. I completely ditched all expectations of ever getting out, and simply pulled the other members of my team close to stay warm, tried to focus on my breath, and imagined each breath bringing warmth into my body.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, we were pulled out of the ocean – and the rucking commenced.

Until 5am that morning, the horrible pattern of rucking and surf torture continued…

…run, stumble, fall, march…

…sprint to the ocean, get completely covered in cold water, shiver, try to block the cold, try not to panic, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees, full water submersion, waves crashing into your face…

…back out of ocean, roll in sand to make yourself into a sand covered “sugar cookie”, verbal abuse from the coaches…

…run, stumble, fall, march…

Every hour or so, a coach would monitor the class and walk down the line of attendees with a flashlight, stopping in front of each of us and shining a light in our face, searching for signs of hypothermia like extreme shivering, a slurred speech, clumsiness, or a far away look. By this point we were nearly all in that hypothermic state, but kept getting thrown back into the pitch-black ocean anyways. I just kept telling myself that they probably wouldn’t let use die because of liability issues. I’m still not sure that’s true, but it helped at the time.

And then somehow, after nearly 9 hours of marching, surf torture, rucking, running, stumbling, falling, hallucinating, crying and even crawling, we made it back Encinitas and stumbled into the SEALFit facilities and back onto the Grinder. It was still pitch black on the Grinder, and several more fresh and well-slept coaches were there waiting for us as we formed back into our neat lines and awaited our next orders, swaying and shaking from extreme tiredness and cold.

We were then  instructed to line up next to our “swim buddy”, one other member of the team who was relatively comparable in size and stature. As I stood across from my swim buddy, Coach Mike told us to stare into our swim buddy’s eyes and gather strength from them, since we were about to complete a classic Crossfit workout named after a fallen Navy SEAL “Murph” – which is comprised of a mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats.

As I stood there and stared into my swim buddy’s eyes, he abruptly fell asleep standing up and then collapsed to the ground. So much for gathering strength from our swim buddy! I quickly picked him up and supported him on my shoulders. Then the music began and chaos ensued as we commenced Murph with bleeding hands, blistered feet and quads that felt very, very close to complete muscular failure and rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which you’ve broken down so much skeletal muscle that you begin to go into kidney failure. As my swim buddy struggled through the mile, I pushed him, pulled him talked him through every step. I could tell the dude simply need to eat some damn food, but there was none to be had.

The rest of Murph was a blur. We took it 3 pull-ups at a time, 5 push-ups at a time and 10 squats at a time. 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats later, I stood there as the beautiful sun came up and signaled the start of Day 3. Sleep and rest were still a very long way off and I kept my fingers crossed that I’d somehow be able to finish, but at this point, I was in completely unknown territory, having pushed my body and mind farther and harder than I’d ever thought possible, and a bit nervous about whether I had anything left in the tank for myself, much less the rest of my team. This was going to be tough.

Freaking Ironman triathlon is a catered walk-in-the-park compared to this thing.

Lessons From Day 2

-You can be cold for really long periods of time and bounce back just fine. If you are cold, move as much as possible to stay warm and hold a buddy close.

-One of the first signs of hypoglycemia is sleepiness. If you start to get sleepy during a hard event, resist the urge to slow down or sleep, and instead eat. Lots.

-If the volume of a distance or task is unknown, then release expectations from your mind, don’t anticipate “number of reps” and simply settle in for the long haul. Expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised.

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Kokoro Day 3

Still shaking and panting from Murph, our team – still 17 strong – stood on the Grinder and awaited the next orders, this time from the man in charge of the entire SEALFit operations: Commander Mark Divine (who I interviewed on this podcast)

Coach Divine informed us that we were about to head back down to the beach and break into two groups. Group 1 would be whichever group was able to keep up with a fast sprint down the beach and was to be the Assault group who would complete a special mission. Group 2 would be comprised of whoever couldn’t keep up, and would be the Support group who would stay back and complete a separate mission.

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A coach who was standing by mumbled quietly to me, “It pays to be a winner, Greenfield”.

I suddenly knew that it would be very, very important to make Group 1 Assault team.

It was time to dig deep.

One SEALFit coach, Coach James, an ex-pro Ironman triathlete took off, and I knew he’d be the rabbit to chase. Channeling as much inner strength as possible, I forgot the fact that I’d been pushing my body for the past 40+ hours and took off at a rapid pace, keeping him no more than a few feet ahead of me. I could hear the footsteps of the rest of the team falling behind, and within a few minutes of fast and painful sprinting in the deep beach sand, it was suddenly just me and the Coach.

I had no clue how long we’d be going, but I hung on for dear life, knowing that I need to make that Assault team. Breathe. Stride. Breathe. Stride. Block out the pain.

We finally stopped and I looked back, lungs burning. Six other team members were about a hundred yards back. The rest of the team was nowhere to be seen. I’d made the Assault team in first place, and it looked like there’d be a total of seven of us on the Assault mission. The Support team would stay back and, from what I gathered, have an extremely unpleasant experience.

The Assault team took off again, with Coach James, Coach Mike, Coach Divine and a handful of other coaches. We sprinted up beach stairs, down beach stairs, onto obstacles, off obstacles, through deep sand, across water, back into sand, all at the fastest pace we’d gone yet in Kokoro.

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If this was the easy part, I shuddered at what the Support team must be doing at this point (it turned out they were subjected to a few more hours of burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, cold water conditioning and surf torture). We finally reached a tall lifeguard tower, and had to work together as a team to get everyone up into the tower without using the ladder, at which point the rescue mission was complete.

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Huffing and puffing from the sprint down the beach, we were then led to a cold, dark, and horrible smelling river that ran along the inside of the beach, and Coach Divine instructed us to cross through to the other side of the river and select a large rock which represented our “will to live.”

“If you choose a rock that’s too small, then that’s how little you think of yourself and you have to live with that decision,” he said. “But if you pick one too large and you’ve made an irresponsible decision because your ego is too big, then you’ll have to suffer with that rock all the way back down the beach to where we started.” 

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I walked across the river, which went about two feet over my head in some spots, and within 5 minutes found the perfect rock. It was a big, heavy stone about the size of three large dictionaries, and perhaps around 60 lbs. But it was also nearly perfectly square, and I knew that because it wasn’t an awkward shape that I’d be able to carry it a long distance by shifting it from my chest, to my left shoulder, to my right shoulder, then back to my chest.

I picked up the rock and carried it back across the river, forced at several points to hold my breath and simply walk under the water holding my rock. Emerging from the murky river, I lined up next to the coaches and waited nearly ten minutes for the rest of the Assault team to finish the task.

One member, a strapping muscular guy covered in tattoos, came back across the river with a rock nearly half the size of mine.

Coach Divine took one look at it and smirked at him: “Switch with Greenfield.”

I was suddenly handed a rock that couldn’t have weighed more than twenty pounds. Wow. Relief.

“Well played, Greenfield.” said another Coach, and we set off down the beach to quickly ruck 2 miles back to the Support team.

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When we arrived back to the Support team, the other ten members of our team were buried completely in the sand and covered in seaweed, looking worn, shell-shocked and shivering uncontrollably. They looked like they’d been to hell and back while we were out on the Assault mission. Nobody was talking much, and I didn’t know how long they’d been buried in the sand, but everyone seemed very crestfallen. The Assault team tried to cheer them up. The coaches told us to shut up and threw us all back into the ocean for more calisthenics, then marched us back to the Grinder.

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Strangely enough, at this point, about 9am on Day 3, I had a big smile on my face. I was ready for anything. I’d caught my second wind.

Bring it on, baby.

As we stood on the Grinder once again awaiting our orders, Coach Cummings approached the team:

“Who wants breakfast?”

I had a sinking feeling that this wasn’t going to end well, but raised my hand anyways, along with the rest of the team.

Coach Cummings continued:

Follow me. I’m bringing you down to a hot pancake, eggs and bacon breakfast at the diner down the street. You will quietly enter, you will eat everything on the table, you will not leave a single scrap of food, then you will quietly file out and follow me.”

We arrived at the restaurant to sit down to pancakes that were literally the size of dinner plates, along with scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and bacon. I’d been taking good care of my nutrition up to this point, and unlike many members of our team, my stomach wasn’t shrunk or and wouldn’t be shocked by this massive intake of calories, so I stuffed my face and polished off my plate in five minutes flat. After finishing my breakfast, I moved on to my teammates’ meals. Knowing the day was far from over and we had plenty more work to do, I added ketchup, peanut butter, sugar, salt, and anything else I could grab, along with 5 enormous cups of coffee.

As my team’s eyes rolled back in their head and several began to turn pale white with sickness and bloating, I ate and ate and ate. It felt fantastic. Perhaps all those years of stuffing my face with 400 calories an hour while charging down the hot highway during the Ironman marathon was paying off.

We filed outside. Two guys puked. Someone in front of me crapped their pants. Literally. It was an unmistakable, audible and smellable diaper moment.

And then we began to run. Yes, run. We ran to the base of Lookout Hill. We did an uphill backwards bear crawl. Mmm…there’s that syrup. Then uphill burpee broad jumps. Anyone tasting egg? Then hill sprints. Gotta love hashbrowns twice-cooked. Then more bear crawls. And mountain climbers. And jumping jacks. And partner carries. By this time, the mid-morning heat was building and the sweat was beginning to pour, so there was more puking. More crapping of pants. People were re-tasting the pancake breakfast two, three and four times over.

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Perhaps it was the extreme amounts of coffee, the smile on my face, or the fact that I metabolize food extremely quickly because I’m one skinny dude, but at this point, I felt great. I kept sprinting and pushing out the burpees until the very last minute they marched our sweaty and smelly team back to the Grinder.

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Then came exactly what you want to do when you’re sleep-deprived, sore, hallucinating and surrounded by a team with crap in their pants and puke on their mouths…

…hot yoga.

That’s right –  we arrived back to the US Crossfit facility for hot yoga led by Commander Mark Divine. As the peaceful yoga music played and the room grew warmer and warmer, I struggled to keep my eyes open. Things started getting blurry.

Warrior 1…focus. Warrior 2…focus dammit. Child’s pose…keep your eyes open. Plank pose…block out that torn pec. Chair pose…c’mon quads, hang on. Warrior 3…don’t pass out.

For a full hour, we continued in yoga. Time and time again, Coach Divine dropped statements like:

“You’ve accomplished so much, and now you’re almost done…”

“Kokoro 34 is nearly secured…”

“Congratulate yourself on what you’ve finally finished…”

Bull-crap, I thought. I could see out of the corner of my eye that there were SEALFit coaches milling on the Grinder, I could see someone dragging a hose into an ice bath, I could see some of the locals gathering on the benches to witness yet another beat-down, and by the time we got into the final “corpse pose” of yoga, lying on our backs with our eyes closed, I knew the last thing I should be doing was sleeping.

So as our entire team lay on our backs on yoga mats with eyes closed, beginning to snore, I instead stared intensely at the ceiling, performing sharp, rapid warrior breathing (which you can read about here), clenching and unclenching my fist, and strongly fighting the urge to sleep. C’mon Greenfield, I thought, exercise that will to live! As the music came to a close, I looked around and could see nearly the entire team was sound asleep. This could get ugly, fast as a bunch of deep sleepers were suddenly roused into an intense firefight.

Because my eyes were open, I saw three doors to the yoga room quietly swing open and several Coaches sneak into the room holding megaphones. I smiled. I was ready. Bring it. Here it comes…

“BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!”

The megaphones began blasting sirens and the Coaches began screaming profanities at us, “Get your motherf#$* asses back on The Grinder and get your shoes on you lazy fu#$%!”.

It was time to suffer. I dropped into a bear crawl position and hauled ass outside only to find complete chaos. Our shoes, which we’d been instructed to neatly place in front of the yoga room, were now thrown under benches, into bushes, and over fences, and the entire Grinder turned into an instant clusterf#$^ as everyone scrambled to find their gear.

I was immediately pulled aside by two coaches, “Get in the ice bath NOW, Greenfield”.

I quickly plunged into the ice bath and a Coach shoved a tiny black mask on my face, “Go under, Greenfield, and don’t come up until I tap you.”

It was chaos everywhere. My teammates were running, crying, crawling, rolling, scrambling and coaches were everywhere, shouting, screaming, blasting sirens through their megaphones. I couldn’t hear myself think. But I took one deep enormous breath, cleared my thoughts, smiled and went underwater.

All went silent.

By this time in Kokoro, cold water was my wheelhouse, and in my Kokoro prep, I’d spent many, many sessions in the frigid Spokane river practicing my breathholds. So time stood still as I went under. It could have been two minutes, four minutes, five minutes, I wasn’t really sure. I was in this strange, deep, meditative state. But when that tap finally came on my shoulder and I sat up and gasped for precious oxygen, I knew I was suddenly invincible.

I turned around and smiled at the ice bath Coach, “Is that it? I got more, Coach.”

He stared back at me, “Give me that mask.”

I handed it to him.

“Get outta here, Greenfield.”

I stood up, and as soon as I did, Coach Will grabbed me, handed me a blindfold, and shouted over the chaos: “Put this on, Greenfield!”

I put on the blindfold and the world went dark again.

“Greenfield, you think you’re such a good leader, you think you know how to lead a team, well guess what – now we’re going to take away your senses and see how you do then! It’s time to learn how to quit leading and start following, Greenfield.”

Interesting approach. I smiled again. I was now in a strange zone where I felt like I could literally perform forever. Kokoro wasn’t over yet, but I knew inside that I’d suddenly reached my 20x potential. Nothing could bother me now.

For the next two hours, each of my teammates took turns walking me through every element of the beatdown – log balancing and falling, handstands, wall-sits, burpees, push-ups, bear crawls, tire flips and the list goes on – I did it all with zero eyesight, relying upon and trusting the instructions of my team.

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Finally, after two hours, my blindfold was removed and I squinted into the blazing afternoon sun. Within ten seconds, a high pressure, icy-cold water stream was sprayed into my face, “Get a rope, Greenfield!”

I grabbed a giant battle rope and our team was divided into two, then thrown into a giant tug-of-war in the back ally behind SEALFit. My pants were already ripped to shreds, so more dragging and scraping on the textured concrete didn’t seem like a big deal. Losers got ice baths, so my team pulled hard and won six tug-of-wars in a row before the coaches finally got bored and brought us back onto the Grinder.

Out came the KIMS blanket.

“Drop!” shouted Coach Cummings.

We all dropped into a push-up position.

“One by one, I want you to tell me every item that was in this blanket!” 

I knew all 26 items by heart. I’d spent every last minute of the 3 hours we’d had in a van simply reciting the items over and over again. Unfortunately, we could only recite one at a time. So for nearly 30 minutes, our team stayed in that push-up position recalling the items. I kept collapsing to the ground as my left pec muscle would no longer work. I wanted it to, but at this point, it simply wouldn’t cooperate.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finished the last item in the blanket –  a tiny screw – and stood up, shoulders, core, chest and necks completely shot.

Coach Kim stood waiting for us…

“You failed the recon mission, and that’s 250 burpees”…

…”you fell asleep on the vans and that’s another 100 burpees”…

…”you failed to clean the gym properly, and that’s another 150 burpees”…

…”but we’re not going to do just any old burpee…”

…”split into teams and grab a log”…

KOKORO 34 - 173

Woo, boy. Here we go. The enormous 350-450 pound logs came back out and we piled them onto our backs and shoulders. Up log. Down log. Burpee. One. Up log. Down log. Burpee. Two. Up log. Down log. Burpee. You lazy f*^@s, that one didn’t count you didn’t do it together, start over. Up log. Down log. Burpee. One.

Things were going downhill fast. We had team members with eyes barely open, team members who literally could not raise their arms above their head, team members who could no longer take one step forward due to enormous bleeding blisters across the bottom of the entire feet. This was going to get dangerous very soon.

But Coach Kim kept going.

“You expected 50 hours? Are you kidding me? We’ll stay here all night. I hope nobody has a plane flight tonight because this thing is far from over.”

Looks of desperation. I could see the morale quickly dropping. I was in this for the long haul, but was getting really concerned about someone cracking their head open with a log at this point.

We’re going to take these logs down to Swamis beach and get in the ocean. It’s time for you to truly start suffering.”

Damn. I tightened my grip on the log. Here we go.

Suddenly a booming voice sounded. It was Commander Mark Divine.

“KOKORO 34 SECURED.”

Silence. Did he just really say that?

“CONGRATULATIONS, KOKORO 34 SECURED.”

Holy crap.

We made it.

What commenced afterwards was the most tear-filled, heartfelt, exhausted, relieved and emotional group hug I’ve ever had. Our entire team doggy piled in on one another and smothered each other in tears, laughter, shouts of victory, hoots, hollers and celebration. We did it. We fu&^#% did it. We’re done. We made it. Kokoro 34 secured.

Kokoro 34 secured.

Hooyah Kokoro 34.

Mission accomplished.

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Lessons From Day 3

-Your facial expression heavily dictates your emotions. Smile when the going gets tough. This also makes a tormenter less likely to enjoy tormenting you.

-The human body is versatile. You can train your gut to exercise with lots of food inside. Practice eating “on the go” occasionally during workouts if you’re training for any event during which you’ll need to eat.

-Before any tough task, from lifting a heavy weight to jumping into cold water, take one deep breath. You will always have time for one breath.

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kokoro34So that’s it!

The past 8 days have been some of the most memorable of my life, and I now know that I am capable physically and mentally of 20x more than I thought before. Hopefully you now have a glimpse of how you can handle tough events that get thrown your way.

Finally, even if you don’t plan on doing a Kokoro event, it’s important that you also choose at least one event each year that takes you far outside your comfort zone and scares you. This will keep you constantly growing physically, mentally and emotionally, it will keep you young, and it will allow you to live a life without fear and regret. So what will your next big event be? Think about it and if you want some serious social accountability, tell us about it in the comments section below.

In the meantime, if you have signed up for a SEALFit Kokoro or Academy event and want to hop on the phone with me for a personalized one-on-one consult to get you ready physically and mentally, just click here and grab a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you’d prefer.

Leave your questions, comments or feedback below, and best of luck in your next crucible, whatever it may be!