I have been trying to improve myself over many years. It started when I was in high school, maybe 14/15 yrs old, when I started lifting weights to get big like a bodybuilder (It turned out I had the genetics to weigh ½ what a bodybuilder does haha but it was a good lesson learned and I was still able to improve from my current state. Thus my interest in self improvement has progressed throughout the years to include what many now call biohacking. While biohacking is not new, people have been doing it since humans were first on the planet, it has recently become a popular topic. Biohacking simply means improving oneself. While there are some variations of it out there, that is the gist of it and the ways to biohack range from simple lifestyle changes to complicated (injecting yourself with DNA or implanting chips into your body). Thus I wanted to talk about the things that I have been doing.
The first thing I want to point out is that I don’t just magically choose to start doing something to myself for self improvement. I like to analyze the research. Thus, if you are going to change anything, I highly recommend you read research (quality research) and talk to experts on the topic. Be wary of sites trying to sell you something (not saying its bad just be skeptical – always!).
The most interesting thing I have learned in my years of research on biohacking is that there is no magic pill (yet). There is a basic foundation that most of us should strive for and then once we can accomplish that, we can focus on the little things. For example, if one was interested in biohacking to live forever and was talking about implanting themselves with a chip or taking 200 supplements but didn’t have a good diet/sleep/exercise routine, I would tell them they need to realign their priorities. I will discuss more about this below. Also, my goal isn’t to present every detail about these things I do in my life, rather, to discuss what I am doing. I will add more details in other posts/videos.
So you want to biohack, here are the things I am doing (see video below for more details):
Focus on diet is huge. We are what we eat. Thus one needs to really analyze diet. After much research I have found that nearly all diets out there have a core foundation that they all agree upon. So when I am talking diet, I always recommend people first focus on the foundation then customize based on their goals. The foundation that is common among diets (Mediterranean, keto, paleo, low carb, bluezone, vegan, WHO, Harvard, Mayoclinic, etc. etc., etc.) is the following:
Eat whole foods (quality/organic), limit processed foods (lunch meat, pasta, bread), eat lots of multicolored vegetables, limit sugar, drink water with some tea/coffee, don’t smoke, and limit alcoholic drinks.
Literally every diet recommends these things. That is the most basic foundation for any healthy diet. If you can accomplish this you are eating healthier than most everyone. Now, once you can start to do this, you can start to narrow down the rest of your diet based on your goals. Trying to lower weight/blood sugar? Maybe you do low carb. Trying to go vegan? Cut out meat/dairy. But you see the basic foundation remains the same.
What do I do? I don’t cut anything. I do practice and preach moderation. I try to eat a lot of fruits and veggies. I eat a serving or two a day of grains (oatmeal or quinoa). I eat meat about 1x per week, usually fish or a healthy cut of lean meat, not processed. I will drink a glass of alcohol, maybe 1x per week or less. But my focus is on the foundation and everything else in moderation. That is key. My blood levels are good to excellent (always know your BP, Blood sugar, Cholesterol, resting HR, etc. and talk to your doctor before starting a new diet).
As far as supplements, I’m not a huge fan but I do take some. Before you take any, I would definitely recommend tracking your diet for a days to see if you are lacking anything essential and discussing with your doctor. I take a multivitamin, fish oil, and Vit C. Sometimes, like if I needed antibiotics for an infection, I will add in a probiotic to get my gut back on track. I do also take a protein shake when I drink a smoothie.
One other thing I do for my diet is fast. I fast 14-16 hrs per day. There is a lot of research on intermittent fasting though I don’t actually do it on purpose. I eat breakfast after the gym, around 830am and eat my last meal of the day with kids at 4/430pm, then I wont eat again. I eat 4-5 meal in between that time.
Next up in exercise. I change my program around every few months but in general I do weights 2-4x per week and cardio 3-6x per week. It all just depends on my current schedule, the season, and what my interests are at the time. For example, currently I am lifting weights 4x per week, doing the elliptical and running 4x per week, and swimming 1x per week. I am doing all of this over 5 days. But I always ensure that I am doing some form of cardio and lifting weekly. If you are new to exercise I highly recommend seeking out a trained physical therapist that can help you put together a good program.
Stress management is something I wish I was better at. I sometimes let my anxiety get the best of me. I exercise and eat healthy, which does help with stress but I would love to consistently do more. I try to stretch and meditate but I don’t have as dedicated of a schedule for them as I do for exercise. But I do them as much as possible.
Getting enough sleep can make or break me due to migraines. If I get bad sleep enough days in a row, I will be out with a major headache that makes me feel like I have the flu. My recommendation is to get enough sleep for you – is that 8 hrs? 6hrs? Keep track and see what makes you feel bad/good. For me, I make sure I have a nightly routine where I wind down about an hour before bed and then when I get to bed I read to fall asleep. I also ensure that my room is dark (pitch black) and I use a light white noise machine to drown out small sounds like a dripping faucet.
Teeth health are often overlooked and yet so important. If you do not floss/brush your teeth everyday harmful bacteria form (plaque/gingivitis). You know you have it when your gums bleed if you try to floss. Your immune system is fighting that bacteria 24/7 causing immune system strain. So help your immune system out by taking care of your teeth. See a dentist 2x per year to help with this.
Biometrics are a blessing a curse. It’s super cool to have a lot of data from your watch, ring, chest strap, etc. but just how useful is it? I am a big proponent of tracking your HR (resting, active, and recovery) to gauge your health and I am a big fan of tracking workouts. But I often ask myself what has most of the data I collect help with? Does it help me? Knowing my resting HR and how my heart reacts has told me I am normal/healthy and could help to indicate a problem. But beyond that? I know when I wake up and don’t feel great, I don’t need an HRV measurement to tell me that. I don’t need a sleep app to tell me I didn’t have a good sleep – I know this. I think a lot of this comes down to self awareness. The data is cool but definitely not necessary.
Keeping your mind sharp so that you slow cognitive decline is very important for health. The research is just starting to really shed light on how important this is in the cognitive diseases. My suggestion is to problem solve everyday. I play games, which force to me problem solve consistently but there are many ways to do this.
This is very recent. I did a 30 day challenge where I turned off blue light on my computer, phone, and kindle. I am actually amazed by the results. My daily headaches have all but disappeared. I highly recommend trying this since you have nothing to lose by doing it. You can read about my challenge here: http://professorpractical.com/2020/02/03/30-day-blue-light-challenge/
Where to start?
If you want to start – start with your life. This includes diet, sleep, stress, and exercise. Don’t worry about red lights, cold therapy, supplements, etc. until you can first master the basic foundation. Once you get these things down you have done the hard part, the 90% (made up stat), and you can focus on the other 10% (made up stat).