Ben Greenfield is one of the most popular modern-day experts on health and human performance – and “30 Ways To Reboot Your Body” is his user manual. So, get ready to browse through it and learn how to get the most out of your body!
The ten big ideas
If you want to be firing on all cylinders, there are ten crucial things you need to change about yourself. Before moving on to the nitty-gritty details of the how-tos, let’s list them all first:
- De-stress. Stress is one of the most common problems people face these days: everybody seems to have skyrocketing cortisol values. If you want to improve your life, it’s essential to start de-stressing. There are seven excellent ways to unwind: breathing, meditation, tai chi, yoga, heart coherence, sleep, and a hobby.
- Shut down inflammation. Greenfield defines inflammation as “a local response to cellular injury that is marked by blood vessel dilation, pain, redness, swelling, heat, and tissue damage.” For most people, food is the biggest source of inflammation. Limiting coffee, alcohol, and weeds should help – but this is merely a good start. Test yourself and be more careful about what you eat.
- Sleep better. Most scientists agree that we are living amid a sleep deprivation crisis; and good-quality sleep is not just important – but essential for our health and wellbeing. To get more of it, avoid blue light in the evening, keep your room slightly cold, and use blackout curtains. But most importantly, prioritize sleep.
- Detox. According to Greenfield, “if your body has ever been exposed to over-processed and refined foods, chemical additives, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, chlorinated water [or] artificial sweeteners […] then you have toxins on board.” In that case, you need to detox. In general, detoxing your body at least once a year is a good practice.
- Optimize fat loss. Intermittent fasting, deep breathing, taking cold showers, and avoiding sitting for long periods maximize the activity of the fat-burning enzymes – and it works just as good as high-energy physical activity when it comes to the width of your waistline. Of course, it’s not that you should avoid exercise – but many “unconventional” fat loss techniques help just as much!
- Add lean muscle. Fat loss is one thing, but building muscles is another altogether: you won’t get a six-pack without going to the gym once in a while. Start lifting heavy things now: the older you will thank you.
- Develop full-body performance. Balance, mobility, flexibility, and posture are just as important in life as strength and endurance.
- Tune your brain. Your brain is an organ too and needs the same things your muscles need: healthy food and good exercise. Combine the two daily: take 1 gram of curcumin every morning, spread small doses of protein and amino acids throughout the day, read books, and start learning a musical instrument.
- Fix your gut. There is an entire zoo inside your gut – over 500 species and 3 pounds of bacteria! Ignore them at your peril.
- Balance your hormones. So much about us is chemistry that so many of the problems of the modern world – from diabetes to depression – are actually the result of hormonal imbalances. The good news is that they can be fixed through simple dietary adjustments and lifestyle modifications – such as lower intake of commercial meat and dairy in the case of estrogen imbalance.
The reboot phase
If there’s a problem with your computer, the first thing you do is hitting the restart button. However, when there’s a problem with your body or your lifestyle, you think that you can change it overnight. It doesn’t go like that: your body needs rebooting as well! Here’s how you can do this:
- Get a baseline. How would you know what to fix about yourself if you don’t really know what’s wrong? Start the reboot phase by testing every parameter you need, including body weight, sleep quality, hydration, appetite, hormone levels, heart rate variabilities, and so on. You can measure just about anything today. So, why don’t you?
- Make a plan. If you want to accomplish something – anything, really – you must first make a plan, then write it down, and finally stick to it. It’s that easy. You can use a giant wall calendar or a mobile app. Either way, write it down!
- Prepare your environment. You don’t want any temptations during the reboot phase. So, throw everything out that you know is not going to serve your objectives. Start with the big six: wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Cleanse your gut. Test yourself for food intolerances and adopt a diet free of anything that might wreak havoc in your gut. If you don’t want to pay money to test yourself, Greenfield suggests the Autoimmune Paleo Guide, claiming that it “eliminates just about every food sensitivity trigger out there.”
- Detox the liver. This is a bit different from cleansing your gut and includes the use of supplements, like liposomal glutathione in the morning or oral magnesium and chlorella in the evening.
- Fix the adrenals. The adrenal glands are located just above your kidneys and are responsible for the adrenaline and cortisol in your blood. Stress burns these glands out, so you must fix them as well during the reboot phase. To kick off the process, start eating lots of extremely nutrient-dense foods, such as sea vegetables and organ meats, and get rid of habits that aggravate the adrenal glands, such as drinking juice in the morning or eating high-potassium fruits.
- Cool the brain. Of course, your brain needs to be rebooted as well! Start by improving your sleep schedule and decreasing the electrical pollution in your home. Yoga, meditation, and journaling will inevitably help, as well.
- Change your fuel. We’re used to getting our energy from sugars and carbohydrates, but these are “fast burners.” If you want to lead a healthier life, you need to switch to slow-burning fat-based fuels.
- Build a foundation. Make a plan for the entire week, and be sure to mix things up. For example, do yoga or tai chi on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; body weight workout and easy walk on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and use weekends to relax with a super slow weight training and a full body massage.
- Transition. Don’t get caught in a never-ending cycle of detoxing and cleansing. After 4 to 12 weeks – move on to the next step: the elevate phase.
The elevate phase
Reserve the elevate phase for expanding your diet and expanding your exercises. It entails the following ten steps:
- Introduce new foods. After rebooting, begin to experiment with new foods – like raw, organic dairy, and fermented forms of grain, wheat, and soy. Start your day with a cup of Arabica and end it with a glass of organic red wine.
- Transition into harder training. For getting stronger without risking an injury, nothing beats isometrics and super slow training. For increasing oxygen capacity – start incorporating high-intensity interval training.
- Supplement. To elevate your body to the next level, start using micronutrients, minerals, fish oil, and alkalizing greens.
- Temperature fluctuations. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable – there’s no other way to grow. Stop using air conditioning and central heating – and replace them with cold showers and dry saunas.
- New sports. Running, swimming, and bicycling are good – but if you’re serious about elevating your body, you need to offer it new challenges. So, try tennis, basketball, snowboarding – or any sport that might seem interesting to you!
- Grease the groove. Greasing the groove means spreading your exercises throughout the day – instead of doing a long workout session. “This not only allows you to become proficient at certain movements but also elevates your metabolism throughout the day,” writes Greenfield.
- Train your brain. Start using brain-training apps and even smart drugs and nootropics if you’re really serious about boosting your brain potential.
- Explore. Encourage your own curiosity, whether by hiking, traveling, or even joining a local orienteering group. Either way, try refreshing your body and brain with new vistas and experiences.
- Sign up for an event. Start looking for challenges such as races, marathons, or triathlons. Sign up for some of them to give yourself the motivation to stay physically and mentally fit.
- Test and track. Test your body and gut constantly, and track your progress. There are many testing services available nowadays. Greenfield recommends WellnessFx, DirectLabs, and 23andme.
The vitalize phase
At this point, you should be “a hundred percent optimized to live a healthy, productive, and elevated lifestyle!” The vitalize phase is only for those who want to achieve amazing feats of physical performance and endurance. If that’s you – here’s how to take things to the next level:
- Move, lift, sprint. Avoid chairs as much as possible. Lift something heavy a few times per week. Sprint as much.
- Train for stamina. Start performing draining endurance workouts once every month at the minimum – even once a week if you can. But no more.
- Supplement for performance. Engage fully in “better living through science.” Explore and start using supplements that go beyond fish oil, minerals, magnesium, and greens.
- Geek out on recovery. Acupuncture, magnets, oral stem cell therapy, cryotherapy, infrared saunas – are just a few of the “geeked-out recovery protocols” Greenfield recommends for the really dedicated.
- Protect your sleep. Become a selfish sleeper: never sleep below seven hours a night and try to squeeze in a 20 to 60-minute nap during the day.
- Fight electrical pollution. Electrical pollution is a thing, and unless you stop using your phone at night, you risk sabotaging your attempts to improve the quality of your sleep – and life, for that matter.
- Use hypoxia. Hypoxia is “a practice of brief bouts of oxygen deprivation.” Supposedly, it stimulates neurogenesis – that is, nervous system repair. So, hold your breath from time to time, swim restricted breathing sets, or wear an altitude training mask during an interval run of a cycling session.
- Travel safely. Travel is hard on our bodies – especially airplane travel. Fortunately, there are things you can do to limit the negative effects, such as drinking more water and less coffee, showering with cold water, using curcumin, and stimulating the release of oxytocin by hugging someone when you get to your final destination.
- Cheat occasionally. The occasional rest day and the sporadic indulgence in chocolate are not that bad! Don’t be too hard on yourself: “there are incredible mental advantages to the ‘90/10’ rule of adhering to a strict diet or exercise protocol vs. a ‘100/0’ rule.”
- Do epic things. “Every once in a while, do something that scares the hell out of you,” suggests Greenfield. It may be difficult, but it makes life worth living!
“30 Ways To Reboot Your Body” is not so much a self-contained book as it is a nicely structured annotated bibliography of hundreds of useful links.
In other words, it’s a map. But you can’t start a journey without one. And this one is as inclusive as they come.
Stress less, sleep more, eat better. As simple as these steps might sound, they make all the difference between an unhappy and a healthy individual.