Training for Life
“I trained 4 years to run 9 seconds, and people give up when they don't see results in 2 months.” -Usain Bolt, fastest human in the world.
This past weekend, my trusty training partner, Denali, and I were not only training for me to cover 50 miles and 7,500 vertical feet in the Grand Canyon’s 100° heat for Jodi's Climb for Hope, I was training for life.
In my keynotes, my point about "Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable" has been resonating with audiences. So, I've done a deep dive into research around this topic to launch a workshop around it. The books I've been devouring include:
Get outside around sunrise to get your eyes exposed to sunlight.
Michael Easter's The Comfort Crisis
Dr. Peter Attia's Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity
Dr Kelly Starrett's Built to Move
Additionally I sifted through the research on things from sauna to cold exposure. I’ve discovered the countless benefits of getting comfortable being uncomfortable. And discovering the ways people can uncomfortable to create those benefits. They include carrying heavy weight, being in the heat, cold plunges, getting outside in at sunrise, walking on uneven ground, and multi-day fasts.
The data demonstrates benefits to include a reduction in anxiety, depression, ADHD, heart disease, as well as an increase in mental resilience, energy levels, metabolism, and ability to handle stress.
Unplug while walking daily. Leave you cellphone at home or in your pocket if you have the willpower.
Our bodies are millions of years old. The origin of our species dates back 2.5 million year ago, starting with prehistoric humans. Our current species, homo sapiens, evolved 200,000 year ago. So, we've been hungry, cold, and bored for 99.6% of our existence. Only for the last 50 years have we had the comforts of being entertained by a screen, have cheap processed food at the ready, or enjoying AC on full blast.
We've always been uncomfortable. Our bodies and brains are built and wired to be that way. Now, we're seeing the consequences for no longer living that way.
Our ancestors used to have to climb trees to get honey, enduring painful bee stings to get some calories. We now grab a pack of chips that those ancestors wouldn't recognize. And, 67% of Americans are overweight; 50% are obese!
Those same human slept in caves exposed to temperature extremes. There is a fat our body creates that's actually beneficial to us: brown fat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, "Brown fat is smaller than white fat. It stores energy and burns that energy to regulate your body temperature. Brown fat helps you burn calories by creating heat right before your body starts to shiver (thermogenesis). It also helps regulate sugar (glucose) and fat metabolism." Less brown fat; greater chance for diabetes and obesity.
Research shows our ancestors carried heavy weight. Our bodies are built for it. It's important to simulate that by wearing a weighted backpack, or as I do with a 40 pound weigh vest.
We make the beneficial brown fat when we're so cold we shiver. But, we don't expose ourself to that uncomfortable shivering state. My Nest themorstat has my house toasty as awake. When I walk my dog, I used a down jacket that I could wear on Everest; and we have that button on our car FOB starting our car and warming it up so we won't have to endure 5 minutes of cold.
So this silly thing like autostart on our cars contributes to the high rate of diabetes in our world.
Cheap processed food that has no resemblance to something our grandparents ate isn't helping. We easily reach for a bag of something that has sugar, fat, and salt in it with no fiber or protein. It's manufactured to keep our hands reaching back into that bag. That's a far cry from how many calories we expended chasing down an animal in the savannah for lean protein. Or imagine getting stung by bees after climbing 20' to get a candy bar -- our forefathers climbed trees to get the calorie dense honey. I know I'd be very hesitant to eat sugar again soon.
Screens came into existence in America in the 1950s when we got TVs. My family got its first color TV in 1970. But, there was only kid friendly programming a few hours a day. We couldn't get addicted to it, and we had to be bored. I remember throwing a ball against a way for hours. Or when I was bored, I'd play board games. Who know that that boredom was good for me.
Studies have shown that it increases our creativity. That's why we come up with great ideas when we're in the shower or out walking the dog. Someone explained it that being engrossed by a screen is like constantly lifting weights. The benefit from lifting weights comes from when we stop -- during the recovery phase is when we rebuild the muscle stronger. Our brains need that rest & recovery time. That's why experts don't want us on screens before bed. It keeps our minds racing. Screens are omnipresent. They even have them on gas pumps. There's no time to rest and recover. This is causing a major creativity drain.
I hate being bored. But if I have to write a speech or do some writing, I'm sure that on my twice daily dog walks, I'm unplugged from my iPhone - no podcasts, IG scrolling, or texting. I get bored and then I get creative. Extreme heat isn't good for phones. A 20 minute sauna is physically painful enough, so not having my phone feels like a violation of the Geneva Convention.
We ought to be worried by the creativity drain our nation is about to experience. Our kids aren't allowed to be bored any longer. There's no downtime for their brains to refresh. We can't solve the world's problems, and we can make sure we take a screen break for ourselves and build them in for our children.
Hey, I love modern conveniences as much as the next person. Wouldn't want to have a cavity filled without the myriad ways they numb me. No chance I'm giving up air conditioning. There are still ways of combating the negative downstream consequences of enjoying the benefits. We just need to work harder to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Cold exposure -- take a 2 minute cold shower or embark on taking cold plunges.
Be hungry! You'll survive not snacking every hour. Don't eat between meals.
Get hot. Our local YMCA has a sauna. Find access to one.
Exercise regularly. Get your heart rate up; Lift weights
Exercise outside sometimes -- hot, cold, rain, walk/run on uneven ground....
Be bored. Keep the phone in your pocket waiting a whole 5 minutes in a line. Go for walk leaving your phone at home.
Sit on the floor for 30 minutes while you watch TV before diving into the couch.
If you message me, I'd be happy to provide more detail on how to achieve those above. I would also love your suggestions as well. Leave them in the comments below.