As part of my self-defined mid-life crisis (I just hit the big 50 in July), I have been on a search for the fountain of youth: to somehow get back to a level of energy and fitness I had, say, when I was 40.
Coincidentally, right after my 50th birthday, I got an email from a good friend and avid surfer, Jamin. He asked me if would I like to spend 3 days at a fitness healthy vacation retreat of sorts, hanging with Laird Hamilton (50 or so year-old, super freak athlete) and Gabby Reece, his supermodel wife, for a couple of days… I must say, he had me at “hello.” Jamin neglected to mention that their third partner, Brian Mackenzie, is the author of books on power and endurance. Brian's books can be found here
I went in September, and it was a life changing adventure. I was blown away by how engaged our three hosts were: they were thoughtful, present, and frankly, just fun to be around. The three days were basically a continuous effort on their part to ensure that we learned and took part in everything they knew about fitness and health. We were immersed in training — with everything from breathing, to eating, to fitness. They brought in experts from the fitness field, some former pro-athletes, as well as some PhDs in physical science. These three are truly fitness "biohackers" and have surrounded themselves with a group of incredibly thoughtful people on fitness, health and life.
Okay, enough with the commercial, but below is my interpretation of what they believe, from easier to harder. Their goals in fitness are quite simple — do whatever you can to naturally to increase growth hormone — this will make you stronger, lighter, faster, feel younger, maybe even smarter.
1. Consume lots of fluids. Simple rule of thumb: almost 1/2 oz/lb of body weight. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, shoot for 100oz of fluids a day. I talked to Laird’s friend Darin Olien about this quite bit… his view is that water is really a special compound, and that not all water is the same (see Dr. Gerald Pollack, Structured Water). The concept is quite controversial in the science community, but I have spent hours researching it and have left with the view that you can't hurt yourself drinking more water from a clean source that has minerals in it. You can obviously get very carried with any fitness protocol, and this is especially true with structured water. However, if you are cheap and practical like me, you can just move to more bottled and/or reverse osmosis filtered water and add Himalayan sea salt, and this will get you most of the way there. I told Darien that I am in the bathroom non-stop when I try to drink more water, and he explained that it takes a month or so for your cells to adapt to the more consistent fluid intake and that the water needs something to slow its digestion…such as Himalayan sea salt, mushroom tea, or even just other food. So now, after 2 months of drinking the recommended amount, I have found that my recovery is better (and I look about 5 years younger :). Anyone who has been to my house recently has been indoctrinated into chaga (mushroom tea), see link here http://www.superlife.com/the-secret-health-benefits-of-chaga-tea/. Darin’s website is the best website on fitness and foods I have seen, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention he as fit as Laird, and maybe more fun, except when you mention eating meat 😉
2. More Sunlight and Vitamin D. This was probably the most controversial thing they believed and followed. Basically, a lack of sunlight causes a reduction in vitamin D in your body, which can be more harmful than the increase in skin cancer risk. I am not completely convinced, and neither were others as we put on sunscreen when Laird wasn’t watching. But nonetheless, they believe that getting sunlight up to before the point of a burn is far more beneficial than staying pale. Scientifically, you get the most bang for your buck with sunlight below the belt, see link to TB12 trying it out… http://nypost.com/2016/09/26/how-is-brady-spending-the-deflategate-suspension-nude-sunbathing/
3. Stand More. In short, standing a bit more each day will do miracles for your posture, your digestion, and may even help you think better. I had a chance to talk with Kelly Starrett, self-proclaimed grandfather of stand-up desks, and I was convinced. If you want to learn more click on this link https://www.mobilitywod.com/deskbound/. I have also become a huge fan on his other videos on his youtube channel — he is a cult phenom in the fitness world, essentially helping you to learn to do physical therapy on yourself http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/injury-prevention/the-10-best-mobility-exercises-for-runners_36329. He is also the author of my favorite fitness book, “Becoming a Supple Leopard."
3. Focus on your breathing. We spent about an hour a day doing different types of structured breathing. The simple thought is that, as we age and spend more time stressing at our desks and less time stressing and then running after a ball or away from a predator — and as a result, we lose our unconscious ability to perform necessary diaphragmatic breathing, which has all sorts of calming effects on the central nervous system and your general health.
4. Hot and Cold Therapy. We spent time moving from a scalding sauna to an ice bath each day. The concept is simple: our bodies have adapted to the temperature-controlled climate we surround ourselves in, and as a result, we can boost our circulation through this barbaric treatment. I bought into this hook, line, and sinker, and now treat myself to a cold finish to my shower every morning. I would recommend working yourself up to it, as it is incredibly difficult in the beginning. That said, every one of my fitness friends at Laird’s bootcamp made it at least 3 minutes in an ice bath. For those of you who follow Tim Ferriss, he has tried this and measured a dramatic increase in testosterone levels over a month of cold showers. As I said, this is ranked easy to hard, trust me, you will relish the cold finish to your shower and won’t need a cup of coffee after a month or so. Learn more about XPT Recovery methods here
5. High-Intensity Interval Training Programs. I find the work of Dr. Andy Galpin just fascinating. He lectured to us for a couple hours and then spent a couple hours with us in the gym. He is breaking new ground in improving fitness for all walks of life, from pro athletes to me. His message was simple: those that live the longest have one thing in common — high VO2 max. VO2 max is essentially the amount of oxygen your body can process before passing out. It measures the health of almost every organ in your body. Unfortunately, there is only one good way to increase VO2 max, and that is high-intensity training (simply, very high-interval training with short breaks). Brian Mackenzie and others believe that the optimal ratio is close to 2/1, so 1 minute hard, 30-second rest. Get to know Dr. Andy Galpin here
6. Combine High-Intensity Interval Training and Focused Breathing Together. Each morning we spent a couple hours in the pool, doing exactly that, think of it as a swimming training program, Laird Hamilton-style. This was, by far, the coolest thing we did and was the most unique. We essentially grabbed relatively heavy weights and jumped up and down in his 10-foot deep pool… grabbing air for a second and then bounding off the base of the pool. There is nothing like the fear of sinking with 80 pounds of weights in your hand and a supermodel yelling at you, to get you to focus on breathing correctly. Experience XPT Performance Breathing Here
Through the work of Jamin and a few small nudges from me, we have persuaded XPT Life to come to Southern Maine for all of our east coast friends. They will have a 3-day program in mid-June (http://www.xptlife.com/product/xpt-experience-maine-june-15-16-17/). I am all in, again, and, suffice it to say, you should join me.
Dave A. Daglio Jr