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149: Health-Hacking, Heart-Centered Breathing Exercises, and Habit-Stacking - with TJ Anderson

November 22, 2019

Welcome back to the podcast! Today’s guest is T.J. Anderson! He is an author, entrepreneur, health coach, and consultant, on a mission to share the knowledge, health, and wellness hacks he’s learned with the world! Enjoy!




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***As always, this podcast is not designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any condition and is for information purposes only. Please consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your current lifestyle.***

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Read Transcript

Art of health hacking, I love, love, love that name of the book, and please welcome to the show. TJ Anderson, is the mike working chuckwagon? It is.
Hey, friends, welcome and thank you for having me. Chantel. I'm so excited to be here with your listeners. Let's let's get into some help packing.
Yeah. So first, I want to start out by you and by the way, you have the best voice. I'm nominating you for the best voice of our gas in the world.
But I would love to hear some of your own health hacking habits that you've created that you say, look, I do this all the time and it makes a huge difference in my health.
You bet, sure. Well, I like to breathe. I like to spend a lot of time in the sun. I like to not eat.
I like to eat. There's so much that goes into this to this journey of health hacking. And, you know, I there are lots of different practices that have become habits that I cycle in and out.
But let's just talk about this morning, for instance. I'll just like, you know, is that what you're looking for? Is that so like a day in the life? Yes. Cool.
So I let the sun wake me up. Naturally, I haven't used an alarm clock in months. I spend at least an hour to an hour and a half outside in the sun line out on our deck and or walking my dog with no sunscreen to get full spectrum sunlight in the morning prior to really even plugging in the Wi-Fi or getting on, you know, any sort of technology. I sold my smartphone two months ago. I now use a flip phone. So for all of your users that are watching the video of this, you can see this is what a flip phone looks like if you've ever seen one of these before.
And so my morning, you know, I the only thing I've eaten today are, I guess it's ten, fifteen a.m. Mountain Time. And I took some supplements that are best taken with food. Otherwise I would have fasted through the day even more. And so I had I had a little bit of food with said supplements, and the food I had was two sugar free or low sugar cookies. So I eat cookies for breakfast. My girlfriend, I have a couples cookbook coming out when we make lots of paleo the healthy desserts. And, you know, I yeah. Like I like to breathe, I said.
So a big part of my personal practice is what allows what guides me through every aspect of my work, of my days is how I'm feeling and my connection with my body, my emotions, my heart, my breath, my nervous system from an emotional level and like like an actual like I've felt psychological level.
And so I'll do a lot of heart, mouth, heart rate variability, heart center, breathing work. So there's a company called Heart Math. I talk about my book that does a lot around emotional resilience. So I like to, you know, do heart centered breathing exercises to increase my coherence, which is a way of increasing your, like, connected fluid, heart rate variability, which is connected with like decreased mortality rates. So there's clear science. People want to look up some study of studies on this heart. Math, again, is the leading organization in that space.
Yeah. You know, and those are those are some tidbits of of my morning.
And I have a really powerful mantra I use often in my breathing exercises from a book called The Presence Process. If I would recommend two books for people to read besides mine, the art of Health in the presence process is one of the one of the best books I've ever experienced.
It's a ten week process to deepen your connection with the now and do a lot of work to unravel our conditioned self and live more in the moment and cultivate more present moment awareness. And so the mantra for that, six words that are connected with each of your breaths. So it's it's connected breathing. So as you say each word, you do an inhale.
So inhale. I exhale and inhale here. Exhale now.
Inhale this hour in exhale this. So I am here now in this six words and you say each on each breath and you do that for fifteen minutes. So that's one of the really powerful practices I use daily.
Wow. So let's talk up, let's dove into each one of those real quick. So as far as the alarm clock, what time do you normally wake up? So like if you said, you know, I, I just kind of wake up when the sun comes up. What time do you normally wake up?
Yeah, good question. So anywhere between six and seven, 30 is the window, OK? Depends on what time I went to bed last night and what I ate or if I had anything to drink that last night or I had a lot of travel.
Yeah, good.
So let's talk about the intermittent fasting or time restricted eating. Everyone seems to be moving to a time restricted eating now, but would you say on a normal day if you weren't taking supplements, what time do you usually start when your intermittent fasting on your eating window?
Sure. So, I mean, like I said, it's it's you know, every day is different for me.
I mean, and it's the normal like I don't have, you know, the time I have different.
Yeah. I mean, my my intention is to always live in the now you live in the moment and that changes the day, day in and day out. You know, sometimes I'll make a waffle, you know, a paleo waffle in the morning because recently we bought a waffle maker and I and it reminds me of my childhood. Right. These these foods that we can help pack and make tastes good.
And and so I used to do a lot more intermittent fasting in like measure my ketones, get into ketosis and be like over the top about that. But I mean, you know, I'll I'll eat around 11:00 or noon or sometimes one. I often do twenty four hour fasts. I've done a few 48 hour fasts over the last few months and I'm interested in doing some three and five day fast soon. But as I said, we're right, we're making we're in the throes right now, my partner, Amanda and I, of creating a healthy couple's cookbook. And so it's really hard to intermittent fasting when you live in a house with her. She's such an amazing chef. And the food she makes is just if we don't have, like a door that closes off our kitchen, we're in this like a thousand square foot flat in the mountains in Boulder. And so the kitchen's just such easy access and her food's amazing. So but yeah, that's kind of an example of where it's awesome. Yeah.
And then let's talk about you being in the sun. We had a podcast guest that said he's so funny. He was like, the more exposure your body has to the sun, the more vitamin D you're getting. He's like, so I go outside for 30 minutes a day, completely naked in the sun. Now, what about for you? Like, first of all, you're you're in Boulder, Colorado. So like in the winter, it's super cold. So even in the winter time, you're saying I'm going to spend an hour outside in the sun?
Well, it's interesting. A lot of people have that's a common misconception that Colorado is super cold on the winter. What you need to realize and remember is that, yes, while Colorado is higher, elevation is four seasons and often gets lots of snow, it's known as a winter state. It's also a very dry state, meaning there's less moisture in the air compared to, say, where I'm from in Iowa, where there's lots of moisture in the air. What that means is the summers are going to be much more humid in Iowa because there's moisture in the air. And so thus it'll feel hotter. But out here in Colorado and Arizona, like in the summer, they call it a dry heat. Right, because there's less moisture. The same thing happens in winter. With all the sudden we get combined with the fact that winters have less moisture in the air, so it just doesn't feel as cold as it does in, say, Iowa, where I'm from and God bless the Iowans for staying put. Those winters are brutal and they may only be getting more brutal as we go, but the sun comes out all the time in Colorado in the winter and melts the snow right away. And here's the thing. A lot of people don't realize that how our body responds, our body, our body is always responding to external stimuli to create a homeostasis experience in the now. So when you expose yourself to cold, what you're actually doing is warming yourself up on the inside. So as you're exposed to cold, it lowers the body temperature and the body responds to go back to homeostasis with that body temperature to warm up. So a cold shower, for instance, cold exposure outside actually warms you up combined from the inside out, whereas hot actually cools you down on the inside. That's why like a warm shower or a warm bath before bed can be great because it cools down your body temperature, which can be helpful for higher quality sleep, lower body temperature. So those are just a few quick tips on on on temperature, as you ask now. Related to sunlight. Yes. So where in the winter we're not, like, lying out nude as much, you know. And, you know, if I'm if I'm every now and then if I'm feeling crazy, I'll run out in the snow barefooted, you know, naked or in boxers and with my dog. But it depends. I mean, mostly what I'll be doing is probably wearing wearing boots with my skin exposed if the sun is out, you know, so my shirt off, my shirt is often on, my shirts always off like first thing. I mean, as a man, I mean, it's a lot easier than a woman but to do that. But the thing I will mention also in reference to your point around the other person you had around vitamin D, so.
Vitamin D is actually not as present earlier in the morning and is more present during the middle of the day, from what I've heard, learned and read in my experience. So there's different benefits for getting sun at different times of the day. And so while vitamin D can be higher during the day that you've kind of killer wavelengths of light are also higher as well. So your chance of getting sunburnt in the middle of the day is higher. So it's about it's about a mindful approach and knowing there's so much that goes into it, there's actually a fascinating app which I no longer use because I don't use apps on my on my flip phone these days. But it's called it's all about like your positioning on the Earth in relation to the sun, your type of skin. There's so many factors that go into it. I mentioned a story in my book, so this book took four years to write and while writing it, I was like a nomad, living on the road, traveling a lot.
And during this experience of writing the book, I had an issue, a visit to the emergency room that kind of scared me and woke me up. And that caused me to get into advanced blood testing and genetic testing, which spawned like six more chapters in my book. So the book the the book is a self coaching guide for like modern day health conscious consumers that want to build their own, like all star health care team and self care strategy.
So I teach people how to build their team and get advanced blood testing and genetic testing and customize a plan based on all of that. Now, my work is mostly for men in my day to day work, but the book is for everyone, men and women. And so in that process, I got into my genetics and learned that actually I have a genetic mutation for my ability to metabolize vitamin D, so I have the vitamin D, there's a few different variants for for that mutation. There are a few different vitamin D mutation options and I have one of them. And so basically and what you do is when you get your genetics, you can compare and contrast your genetics to your biochemistry blood data as you change your lifestyle to see how based on your agent, you make a decision based on your genetics and your blood work. And while your genetics won't change, you can watch how your decision that you integrate it and your lifestyle changes your blood work. And so I did that with my my vitamin D. I got a blood serum test through wellness effects to find out that I had like moderately low vitamin D living in the winter in Iowa. Go figure. And that was my excuse to my parents. When I was writing my book, I was like twenty four. I just took off to San Diego on a one way trip and was nomadism throughout California because I was out there to get more sunshine. So that was my excuse to kind of play hooky and move out to San Diego while writing my book.
Awesome book to show everyone your flip phone again. One of my really good friends, Josh Smith, he just sent me an email and said, I want you to know I no longer have my phone, so don't text me. I just got a flip phone. And this is a guy is a super entrepreneur, has tons of businesses. I mean, when I got that email, I was flabbergasted. Like myself, I can't believe this guy did this.
So you tell me, why did you do this? Who talked you into it?
And what's your reasoning for the great question? First off, you should connect me with me, with your friend, because I was really interested in hearing from him. But my reasoning, I talked myself into it. You know, honestly, here's my reasoning. Hey, I like to run experience experiments in general or make changes to my life that I feel have you can have like an exponential impact in multiple areas, but specifically like health, performance, longevity and and also like real time physical pain. So I was actually experiencing physical pain while texting and overusing a smartphone and also typing and while writing my book. And so I like to I start my book off with, like, sharing all the issues in my own tissues until I have I think I would come out of the comedy bit sometime soon called Issues in My Tissues. But it's true, you know, I have a lot of tendonitis and some nerve stuff. I was a mascot in college, so I see five, six poults. Nerve stuff going on, so and I'm and I and what I've so so that combined with what I have learned about our smartphones abilities to listen, they do that, you know, not all humans listen well, but man A.I. and smartphones and technology and they listen really good. And, you know, that kind of weird thing when you are talking about something and then you see an ad for five minutes later. Well, they're not in your mind. They're in your phone and your phone's listening. I mean, people have woken up to that yet, like, that's something to do some own research and do some on your own experiments with it.
And we just had I just had a friend of mine, Brett, who is a Facebook guru, Koski. He does Facebook guru. And he taught us a class yesterday, OK? He said literally him and his wife were talking about Gatorade zero. They literally were like, you know, we should be getting Gatorade there, Gatorade here. They have this big, long conversation. Five minutes later, they go in Facebook and they're looking at ads. What pops up? Gatorade, 080. Like he said, I think he said it was just like five minutes later. It was unbelievable. He was like, this is nuts.
That combined with, you know, we haven't had enough longitudinal studies to look at how humans are evolving with technology in terms of negative health outcomes that can come with high rates of MERS, even though I, you know, limit my exposure as much as possible. There's there's still a decent risk there. So and that combined with, you know, everything I was doing on my phone could either be done on a phone or a computer. And I already had a computer. And I'd prefer to use a computer because it's better you can better posture with the computer and and be more productive with the computer compared to a phone. And ProductID, while I'm being productive, I mean not dependent on the ding of the phone or someone texting or being on someone else's time. Right now my voice mail is full and I hardly respond to text messages, but I make calls.
I can make calls really. Well it says three times the battery life. It's waterproof. Yes. I can't post on Instagram. Yes, I don't have Venmo and yes, I call my girlfriend when I get lost in town because I don't have directions or, you know, when we're visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico, no GPS. But you know what? Like there's there's a quota and often said phrase or term, it might have been Mark Twain or someone that said, like, when the majority is on one side, think twice and consider the other. And that's what I'm doing here.
I don't know if it's an experiment. It might be forever. I'm just enjoying it for now and and seeing where it takes me and, you know, allowing it to the whole GPS thing. I want to get to know I want to I want to have a stronger, sharper mind in terms of navigating and geography. And I mean, if you think back to, like the Indians, the Native Americans and and hearing stories of how and why they felt extra connection with spirit in the divine and in the universe, in nature when their hair was longer and like think of how they navigate and understood the world back then and where we're at now, like we like you, you can't live without it.
And so I don't I, I like to minimize the things I'm dependent on in the world. I want to minimize dependencies. Right. And so that's that's where I am.
And that's why I like to there's a principle of cycling I like to to use, whether it's cycling off of alcohol or caffeine or this particular exercise or, you know, this person or Netflix, for instance. I just canceled Netflix for the next few months. I'm cycling off of Netflix. I took three months off of alcohol earlier this year. I'm always cycling on and off of things to keep my mind and in my life, sharp and elevated. That's my intention.
I love that. I'd love that term. Cycling on and off. That is so amazing. Now, how long have you been without the flip phone now? How long? Just over two months. Yeah, four months.
And what would you say is the number one? Give us the top two apps that you'd say it. I miss these two the most. Or would it be the GPS and maybe I'll tell you I'm handling with them.
Yeah, I mean, it's it's it's well, the GPS is gone and I've, I, it helps me prepare more. So I don't really actually miss that Venmo. I mean, my girlfriend, my partner Amanda sends money for me, logged in on my Venmo on her phone, the offering. So have an offering, I can't use your app, except they're using it on her her phone. So a lot of people would say, oh, but you're still using a smartphone.
But like, I'm also I've cut down on risk and half the amount of people like my listeners or, you know, the IMF's, and I'm only using her phone for those couple of things. And so other than that, I mean, I don't know that I'm missing many other apps these days. I can't I can't think of the heart math. I can't use the math app. So I haven't figured out a solution for that.
I might use it on my on Amanda's phone or find another solution with my computer. But yeah, it's going great.
Awesome. So out of all the different health habits that you talk about, what would you say would be your top two or top two or three that you say like this is everyone should do this daily.
Anything that you haven't mentioned or you say this is the one that I should do? I know you were when you were coming on the show, you're putting some shea butter on. Right? Right, right, right. Anything that you say, these really are kind of my my big ones.
I mean.
There's just so many and I and I don't want to be the guy that says, like, you have to do this one thing, because I don't believe in that. Right. I mean, I believe everyone finds their own thing in their own way. What I love doing is like radical self empowerment. Right. So I love to provide the landscape and the opportunity for one to reflect on and take action and their own lifestyle. So, for instance, I have a few self coaching exercises to help people like literally coach themselves in like five or ten minutes to create. Like zero laser in on their clarity of the most important goals in their own life, because my background, another thing we haven't talked much about is like behavior change. Science is like if if we if the goal is better health, better energy, better performance, better relationships, overall quality of life and well-being, you know, then then we need to have a sustainable plan that looks at the how, what and why, where, when of optimal health behavior change. And so that's if there's one thing that the health I would recommend is someone to develop and cultivate their own self coaching practice of reflection in their lifestyle. You know, yes, we can talk about surface level things, about, you know, shea butter or, you know, like what's best for the skin in and out of sun. Shea Butter is one of our favorites. We get here in Boulder from Rebekah's Apothecary. I put my deodorant. The tagline at the top is Nothing bad.
I love that deodorant. I use that one. I use this one. Yes.
Oh, I found this in a mountain town, Nederland, like forty minutes from Canada.
We have it at our TJ Max actually they sell it at TJ Maxx Max.
So yeah, there's pollo santo frankincense and vanilla and one I use an up health hacked version of Cologne from a company called Aletta represents. Oh this has like amazing essential oils in it. Smells like we'll have to put that on it totally. You put all this in show nuts blocking blue light all day, artificial blue light indoors like we we get so much natural sunlight up in our house. You won't see any bulb on in our house in the evening until we're cooking, even then, it's like very minimal. We have red light at night. We'll wear blue blockers. So these are blue blockers that block a little blue light. And so I wear these are prescription as well. So I'll wear blue blockers, especially at night, sometimes during the day.
But I'll have the software on the computer that removes the blue light starting in the morning really and progressively getting darker into the night, you know, drink high quality springwater infrared sauna we have in our spare bedroom.
So just the other day, my big kind of recalibration, like a stack of health hacks. The reason I can't just stay say one thing is my part of my the secret sauce for helping people like create that sustainable behavior change is stacking their health hacks on top of each other, meaning instead of just focusing on like nutrition this week, if you focus on nutrition, movement and sleep a little bit in each category, of course, prioritizing the most important, but a little bit of each, you have one main goal in each of those categories. You'll be more successful in each of those because one habit will affect the other. Getting great high quality sleep and recovering will help you make better nutrition habits will help you move better. And so it's all interconnected. Right. And so I like to help people stack their health habits and I call it habit stacking and so on.
Anyways, I've been stacking. I love that jump right into the list of questions. This question is hysterical. It's from a girl named Casey in Philadelphia. She says, I've been hearing a lot about meditation and mindfulness lately. Should I be meditating daily? Can meditation really help me reach my fitness and work goals?
And how do I even do it? Do I just cross leg and say, oh, that's hysterical.
That's very funny. What's up, Casey? Thanks for the question this morning.
Yeah, I know she's she's great. She sounds like she'd be fun to talk with about all of this some time to. So are you wanting me to answer this question?
Yeah. So if someone really wants to do meditation, let's talk about you for you know, you do to meditate.
How long do you do it and what do you suggest? Like, what is she does she start by saying, OK, I'm going to meditate every day between eight a.m. and eight thirty or kind of walk her through, like here's the next steps to start meditating.
Yeah, you bet. Great question. So first thing I was sure was that you can create a meditation practice without meditating, meaning you can add meditation and mindfulness. While you're doing the dishes, while you're taking your dog out, while you're showering, while you're doing your duty in the morning instead of being on your iPhone, right, the IP of the world, it's a lot of people put meditation on a pedestal because they think it has to be sitting down with the gong, going in the sage burning and creating this experience. That's just like perfect. Yes. Sitting down to do mindful meditation, breathing exercises can be great. But I'd say there's two ways you can add meditation. One is adding meditation to your existing practices of life. So practice that maybe that mantra I shared earlier and connected breathing. A lot of people can get lost with meditation. And what I find found is a big reason is they're not connected to the breath. And so what? Adding a mantra does on top of a breath. So focusing on the breath, the inhale and exhale is one thing on its own. If you had connected breathing just on its own, where you were mindfully connected to your breath at all times, I mean, if you think about it, if you're listening to this right now, how many of your listeners are consciously connected to the breath? And just now talking about breathing probably has to a little bit more interested or mindful or connected to their breath. Right. But if we add a little bit more mindfulness to the connection to our breath and then add a mantra on top of that. So an example, give us an example of that while you're driving, while you drive in practice this mantra as you inhale and exhale, you're saying I am here now in this and it's a really can be a really beautiful expression. Like that's just what works for me. That's what I learned six years ago, seven years ago when I read this book for the first time. And so, you know, that's one example of how you can add mindfulness meditation into your normal day. Now, when it comes to the morning or actually sitting down to meditate, I would suggest first thing in the morning or right before bed. And here's why. Right before bed. You're stacking your hacks, it'll actually help you sleep better, right? So you're not just meditating to meditate or distressed, but you're meditating to optimize your sleep and also, like, calm down and recenter and like and really restore and find a good, solid, peaceful place before sleep, which can be just so meaningful to how well you feel when you wake up in the morning. So impactful. So so that's one option. So I would I would play with the timing. But these those are two good times because. So that's why for evening but for the morning, what happens is your brain waves as you're going from a sleep state to a waking state, I believe they stay in an alpha meditative state and you're able to better meditate and or like find that zone of mental relaxation and focus while you're meditating, like right after you wake up, like before you go to the bathroom, before you drink water, before you get on your phone or don't get on your phone. I don't want to project that people are getting on their phone before you. You know, for me, sometimes sometimes I'll do it before I go out and take my dog out or feed my dog. Now, that can be hard sometimes when you have a dog or a child really wanting to be taken care of. So play with it. Find the times of your day when you can carve out your me time, your individual time and then experiment. You could I would recommend starting with a mantra and a breathing exercise, say, for example, before trying to nap. I like to minimize things I'm dependent on. Right. So like technology, like some people swear by different apps for meditation. I'm an analog guy. And so that mantra can really help. I am here now in this and you can link the book. The presence process in the show notes. A couple of other things to say is like, you know, you don't want too much water in your belly. You can have a little bit of water before meditation, but you don't want to have to pee. You don't want to have too much energy. So maybe a little bit caffeine, but not too much, especially if you're sensitive. You know, I like to have a decaf coffee first thing in the morning or like some mushrooms or, you know, from for stigmatic. But but yeah, find your find your meal time and a relaxing setting and just breathe in and stay connected with your breath.
All right. This next question is from Mark in Tuscaloosa, which I don't even know where that is, but it says, How clean should I be eating to be at my peak healthiness? I've already cut back on gluten and dairy, but a bunch of my super healthy friends say that I should cut out all sugar and soy, too. I think I'll starve if I do that. Do I really need to go that clean to be healthy? Mark in Tuscaloosa, what a mark.
I think I love it. Great question. Really good question. And lots of good question marks and exclamation points at the end. I think Tuscaloosa and Florida, I think it's somewhere down south. Hey, Mark, how clean should you be eating? Well, to both your questions. Like the other thing I will say is what I do in my book. And my work is also to like help instill more loving, conscious, intentional communication with oneself. So through the self coaching exercises, like the words we say to ourselves and use, like how we speak and what we say, those words carry energy to them. So the shooting, like I know a lot of times asking, like, what should I do in terms of like what's best for me? But I have a joke in my book that says don't shit on yourself and don't shit on others. You wouldn't want to shoot on yourself in terms of, like, telling people they should do that. Like, that's a little bit maybe worse than shooting on yourself. Like it's your choice if you want to show yourself being mindful, communication with others. But in this instance, like you don't have to do, you shouldn't. If I if I were to say what's best for you to be at your peak health healthiness, as far as eating goes, it would be eating twofold for four different principles. All right. This is what we're saying in our cookbook. Amanda and I, we swear by this eating for both pleasure and performance. That's what we feel good about. And and everything starts and ends from there. And that doesn't mean your pleasure can't have great ingredients in it that allow you to have great performance. And that doesn't mean your performance foods have to taste like cardboard, like they can all taste great and they can all be filled with great ingredients. So I know you were probably being a little bit it's probably, you know, joking around a little bit in terms of like if you cut out all sugar and soy, you might starve.
I mean, I know you're making that comment in jest, but do your own research on too much sugar and soy in the diet.
Well, thank you so much. And if you have a question that you want answered, go to questions at Chantel Ray Dotcom. We'll see you next time. Bye bye.

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