Darin Olien Dishes on Laird, Hydration & Superfood Hunting
XPT Advisor Darin Olien is like the Super Hero of Super Foods, travelling the world in search of new nutritional powerhouses of deliciousness to benefit our bodies. We sat down with Darin to talk botanicals, hydration and the inside scoop on the XPT Malibu Crew. Here’s what he had to say…
XPT: How did you first meet Gabby and Laird?
DARIN OLIEN: I first met Gabby when I was working out at Malibu Gym. I would see her there working out every day. I was doing formulation stuff, playing around with different foods and super foods and I starting throwing Gabby some formulas. I made this super food bar years ago maybe 2003-2004, she said it was the best bar she ever had. (She still says that to this day). Laird was doing this extreme endurance thing and I threw him a couple bars for the event before I actually met him. Then one day Gabby said that Laird and a couple guys were starting to do some workouts every day and said I should check it out and see if I liked it. So, about 10 years ago I kind of showed up, and we all just started working out and we have been working out ever since.
XPT: When you’re home and Gabby and Laird are in Hawaii, you’re the one leading the workouts with the Malibu Crew. What’s that like and who’s a part of that group?
DO: We keep the vibe going, part of the time we will show up just to Laird and Gabby’s. It’s kind of nice and keeps the energy there, so we will do that a couple times a week. It’s usually Hutch Parker, John McGinley, Dave Anawalt, and Neil Strauss. We are the Fab 5, and then you have Randy Wallace coming in and out again and Kenny Chesney also comes in and out when he’s in town. (Insert pic of Malibu pack)
All of the principles essentials we keep going, and we tweak it up a little bit. I personally use this time as kind of strength builder. It’s the winter and so sometimes we will do huge amounts of reps with very little break or we will do a lot of strength stuff and high functional type of high intensity workouts. It’s always the same philosophy, but we will change it up all the time to challenge ourselves. We will set timers to it, for us the flow, and then we shift from the pool workouts and typically go down to Don’s (XPT Advisor Don Wildman) beach house where we will be pulling the log and doing beach workouts or doing the functional strength training.
What I really, really enjoy right now is taking them through the breathing work at the end of workout. You can really see the recovery aspect of them getting highly oxygenated. If you do one round of breathing and you can’t even hardly hold your breath even having gone through some of the breath, because you are so taxed from the workout, but then you do 2 or 3 more rounds of that and you can exponentially hold your breath again. So you immediately feel how you recover, just in laying down and doing the breath work. But, of course, if the surf is up everything gets thrown out. (For More About XPT Performance Breathing Click here)
XPT: Talk to us about super food hunting and how you stay fit while you are out on the road.
DO: Yeah, great question. Super food hunting, it’s kind of the word people use and it has stuck. I travel around finding herbs, nuts, fruits, botanicals, beneficial compounds that essentially, at the end of the day, help us thrive, help us heal, help us restore, help us recover, help us perform. And all of those angles are what gets me excited. It could be a food, it could be an herb, it could be a botanical, and it could be a flower. So I will go that 17,000 feet in Tibetan China and I will be in jungles and in Amazons in the Cerrado in Brazil, or you know, wherever, different continents, 40 different countries.
I would say, especially in the circle of people understanding Laird, that that’s my big wave, that’s what pulls me, I love to show up and meet the people, learn about the indigenous understanding of the plant and the people and cultivate the relationships with them to create a fair traded product and ultimately discover something great to bring back and making sure there is no compromise in that whole thing. That’s it, in a nutshell what I do and kind of the thread of all of what I do in terms of nutritional stuff.
And it’s very tricky staying in shape when you’re kind of set the context of that kind of travel. It’s pretty gnarly–it’s days and days in cars and trains and planes and hiking and just to get to certain areas where some of these botanicals are. But I do short very intense workouts. Typically, I am just working out in my room, so I will do body weight stuff and always the breathing. After flying I will always do breathing because of the airlines and the lack of oxygen and just the recovery aspect of getting oxygenated while the intense travel, but then you are also in great places. If I’ll be in the jungle, I will go outside and have shorts on and see what I can hang from, see what I can throw, and just make up a little circuit and just—boom—in 20 minutes I kick it out. Then I feel good. I always get up early, so if we are leaving at an ungodly hour I always wake up 2-3 hours before we go anywhere so I keep my morning routine solid. I drink my morning elixirs, I take in my supplements, I do my breathing, I do my meditation, I do my workout. And I keep all of that consistent. It might be a lot more condensed but I keep all of that consistent. And, in terms of eating, too, I always prepare food, I always have salad and things and for me, I’ll have soaked or germinated nuts. I stuff bags and bags with dried fruits and meal replacement stuff like Shakeology like I’ve formulated, and other kind of greens and powders and stuff like that. The other important thing is, of course, that I want to keep eating as best as I can, but I want to keep my immune system up, because you are getting exposed to a whole different type of stress. You are getting exposed to different environments and you’re getting there very rapidly, so, you know, jumping off a plane doesn’t allow your body to adjust. So I make a very solid point of eating high-nutrient, dense antioxidants and probiotics. I don’t want to be comprised when I am there. (Check out Darin’s recipe for Chaga Tea here)
XPT: Talk to us about the 5 Life Forces.
DO: So, the 5 Life Forces are simply kind of the idea that these pillars, as we call them “life forces,” that are these foundational principles that largely people want to overlook. I nurture these life forces with every conversation I have with somebody. They are nutrition, hydration, alkalization, oxygenation, and detoxification.
First, nutritionally, what are people eating? Are they eating mostly plants high in quality? You know, I’m a vegan, but are other people eating high quality eggs and meats and all that other stuff but keeping that on a smaller scale and keeping plants very high? So, Life Force One is nutritional–that nutritional basis of whole food eating. You can call it Paleo, you can call it all that other stuff, and add it in with the meat stuff, but I make a strong argument of eating more plants. Eating more nutrient-dense plants.
And then two is hydration. Hydration is extremely important. Our water is sensitive, it’s exposed to toxins, exposed to the environment, it’s exposed to many things and it changes based on what its exposed to. So, our water isn’t the free-flowing, naked water–the uncontaminated water flowing down the mountain. In nature the water is being influenced by the sun, the light frequencies increasing the energy and activity of the PH and the (-) hydrogen and oxygen, plus it is getting chelated minerals and electrolytes off the stones. You need to look at how nature really intended it, and then you have to kind of deconstruct the water coming out of our taps to most closely match it. So, I get into the problems of chronic dehydration and how to really hydrate again because most people are running around dehydrated and they don’t know it because it’s a very primal thing of the body to shut off the mechanism so that you can focus on finding water. The problem is that it’s so shut off that in our modern day we are not finding enough good quality water. 7% of all Americans don’t drink an ounce of water a day, like that’s just their common practice. They don’t drink water, they reach for their coffee and then the stats go exponentially worse, and you are perpetually dehydrated, and that influences every process of your body. It influences your energy levels, your brain chemistry, your digestion, your skin and eczema, how you process and digest food and on and on.
Alkalization is this idea of eating fresh, whole foods, and at the end of its metabolism of your body breaking it down, it’s got this neutral pH ash that isn’t making your body acidic, unlike processed food and diets high in meat consumption and dairy, which all leave acidic forming ash in your body. So, do the math, if you’re eating a high amount of processed food and meat and all of these things, you will create acidification in the body. And that’s a whole list of issues that then degenerate your whole body in a way that supports you having chronic problems later. So, I really start to create the argument that, from a nutritional side, you want to support your alkalinity by having whole foods that keep your very intimate body balances in check.
The next very important life force in the body is oxygenation. Before I did Wim Hof Breathing and XPT Performance Breathing, I would talk about oxygen. And oxygen is extremely important in terms of learning how to breathe again, using the diaphragm, and challenging your aerobic system. Not necessarily jumping on a bike and challenging it, of course that’s good, but learning to breathe. So, the most important thing is having the foundation in place: the alkalization, the hydration and the nutrition intimately create an environment for you to receive more oxygen as well. If you have acidic condition in your body, you can’t actually receive as much oxygen, even if you are taking it in. So there is this intimate connection between all of the life forces.
And then the last one is detoxification. This is really the end result, allowing your body to naturally “take the garbage out” like it was designed to do. Plus, if you take care of all of the other life forces, you naturally will detoxify yourself exponentially better than not exercising the other life force principles.
So that in a nutshell is the life forces and then I sneak in this other life force that largely might be the most important. It’s the secret 6th one and it is attitude. Your attitude, your outlook on life, how you deal with diversity. Are you optimist? Are you half empty or half full? If you have a negative outlook on things it increases cortisol levels and increases all these other negative things, and they will support this in the blue zones, areas of the world where people live longer. Dan Beuttner wrote a great book on the Blue Zones. He traveled around the world and figured out what the centurions of the world, these cultures of people that are living healthy and long, what are they doing. Many of the life forces that I just talked about were being exercised, but the attitude, the positive outlook, is also huge. (For more on the Five Life Forces, pick up a copy of Darin’s book here)
XPT: You’ve shared a lot of great lectures with the participants of the XPT Experiences. Do you have any one story of an Experience that sticks out for you?
DO: I love the intimacy of XPT. I’ve talked in front of 25,000 people and its fun, but to have 15 to 20 people sit there, allows us to be able to speak and engage in a way that can maybe fit them. So, we can dig a little deeper and, in that way, XPT has been good for me, as opposed to blasting them with information and just touching on it. So, we zeroed in on hydration, for example, as something that people really gravitate towards. We talk about what water is and what it needs to be and I have little devices where I would show the measurements of water right in front of them and you can actually see the numbers. Here is the PH, here is the ORP here is the total dissolved solids, this is the shit you are drinking. And when you see the bell go off, you can see that it’s almost like “I knew there was something but I just didn’t have the information to explain it, and now you gave me information to support what I was feeling and this will help me to change by putting more pieces of the puzzle together” and that, to me, is the greatest gift. When you know very confidently that these guys are not going back anymore to the old way of doing things, even if its one change, that they are taking that change. I love that; the intimacy of XPT has created that stuff. I like to see all of the people but when you see the metamorphosis from day one as opposed to the end of day three it’s cool, it’s very cool to see the opening of someone.
XPT: Can you tell us a secret about Laird and Gabby that no one else knows? We promise not to tell…
(Laughs) Oh wow…without getting in trouble? Well, I think maybe first more directed at Laird, the thing people don’t understand about Laird is he’s dedicated to what he’s dedicated to and everyone knows that a wave will take precedent. However, there’s this seeker and his desire to learn. He’s innovative but he’s also got very high satiability for learning new things. They see this guy who is dedicated to surfing, I don’t think most people understand. They see that he’s innovative and thinks of other stuff but he learns on a deeper level; he’s not necessarily just learning how to do a squat. That said, many of us regular workout guys kind of loosely have a book club. So if we all find a good book then we’ll all start reading it around the same time and we will lightly talk about it. It’s nothing formal. It’s everything from Deep Survival to Natural Born Heroes. All of these things are about being a better person and being more aware.
And then the second part of that is both Laird and Gabby are inclusive obviously and most of the relationships and people: it’s a straight up real connection. It’s kind of like if a tiger wants to let you pet him then he lets you pet him, if he doesn’t then he rips your arm off. With Laird and Gabby there is not a lot of bullshit there, there is other ways of saying that, I would say largely many people around us don’t have bullshit and if there is, then it just kind of gets rifled out of the group pretty quickly. It’s not about talking about your careers when you come to the workouts, it’s really about talking about life and being better!
Laird and Gabby have a depth that you may or may not see right away, but there is a tremendous amount of depth there. To be able to talk on many subjects with both of them, makes XPT a community of birds of a feather that flock together, and we all are kind of bringing this depth to one another, supporting each other to be better humans. And it’s good for the soul.