Every time I go to the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference, I turn into a giddy child. This year was no different. What is biohacking? Click here to learn more.
I got to test out some of the latest and greatest health technology, see my fellow Bulletproof Coaching friends, and learn from experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola and Lewis Howes. However, with every health event I attend, I have to remind myself: “Hailey, do not get distracted by shiny objects.”
Practicing the foundations of wellness (real food, quality sleep, exercise, social connection) consistently over time is going to have a far greater impact on your vitality than hopping from biohack to biohack without sticking to any of them long-term. Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE light therapy, superfoods, saunas, biomarker tests, and fancy fitness machines that cut my workout time in half, BUT I am committed to helping my clients (and myself) simplify a healthy lifestyle by mastering one choice at a time.
That’s why I decided to focus this year’s review article on the high performance habits of successful health experts and entrepreneurs who I met at the conference. I asked some of my favorite health and personal development “celebrities” this one question:
What are the 3 small habits that have made the biggest positive impact on your health?
The answers may surprise you because they are SIMPLE… Most of them are even FREE. Before we get to their responses, I want to let you know that I asked these experts to be specific in their answers instead of stating very general habits like “get enough sleep.” Sleep, nutrition, and physical activity were important to everyone I spoke with, but we dove a little deeper.
I’ve put together a full summary of their favorite healthy habits below. If you’d like the “Cliff Notes” version, I’ve created a complimentary checklist that simplifies each of the healthy habits, allowing you to pick which one(s) you want to implement & master them one by one!
Now, let’s get to the good stuff!
THE SMALL HABITS THAT HAVE MADE THE BIGGEST IMPACT FOR HEALTH LEADERS
WATER, WATER, WATER
Instead of starting his morning with coffee, Dr. Michael Breus, also known as The Sleep Doctor, drinks a glass of filtered water first thing in the morning to rehydrate after sleep.
He waits to have a cup of coffee until he has been awake for 90 minutes because that’s when our level of cortisol (a hormone involved in regulating our metabolism and stress) starts to dip. Coffee increases cortisol levels, making you feel awake and alert. While we don’t want our cortisol to be high at night, increased cortisol levels in the morning gives us energy to get through the day.
Holistic Nutrition Coach and founder of Raw Fitness and Nutrition Amanda Carneiro also starts her day with water- warm lemon water to be specific. Ayurvedic medicine promotes that warm lemon water allows you to digest food more easily and prevents constipation.
Dr. Michael Breus also drinks a glass of water when he’s hungry or about an hour before a meal. It’s not uncommon to mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger, so this habit serves as a reminder to check in with yourself.
Another water-related habit that Dr. Breus (The Sleep Doctor) recommends: Take a cool (not cold) shower every morning. Why does he recommend “cool” showers instead of “cold” showers? Because it’s more enjoyable, you’ll be more likely to stick with the habit, and you can still reap many of the benefits that cold thermogenesis has to offer.
Benefits you’ll experience: a mood boost due to the release of noradrenaline, a better immune system due to the activation of virus-fighting white blood cells, and an increase in circulation due to vasoconstriction (your blood rushes to surround your vital organs in response to the cold).
Mike Pullano, Product Manager at ARX (Adaptive Resistance Exercise) and health enthusiast, also attributes his vitality to staying hydrated. He drinks multiple liters of water per day to stay energized for his workouts and flush out toxins.
FOCUS ON THE RIGHT KIND OF MOVEMENT
Peter Wasowski, Founder of Vasper, made it his mission to create a great workout that gets results without beating down the body over time. His invention called Vasper combines compression technology, cooling, and interval training for a workout that leaves you feeling rejuvenated, pain/ache-free, and energized. Peter links to studies on his website that suggest that this way of exercising stimulates a positive hormonal response in the body that will support amazing sleep quality and anti-aging.
If Vasper is not an option for you, here’s the takeaway: Intense exercise (high intensity interval training, weight lifting, etc.) is great, but it’s also a stressor on your body. Therefore, it’s critical to focus on recovery strategies such as high quality sleep, amino acids, collagen for healthy joints, sauna use, foam rolling, stretching, and massage.
Andy Hnilo, CEO of Alitura Naturals, recommends light to moderate exercise to boost focus. He also is a major advocate of using a sauna every day to release toxins and recover.
Dr. Scott Sherr (Medical Doctor, Internist, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Expert) also believes in the power of getting physical. He incorporates a movement practice every morning and stretches in the evening. Even when he is limited on time, he aims to squeeze in something short and simple like a walk. Consistency is key.
Lastly, Thaddeus Owen, Co-Founder of Primal Hacker, loves practicing Qigong daily, a form of gentle exercise that improves body awareness and calms the mind.
INCORPORATE INTERMITTENT FASTING
Max Lugavere is a High Performance Speaker and the director of the upcoming documentary BREAD HEAD. When I asked him what small habits have made the biggest impact on his health, he replied, “Letting go of the popular notion that I need to eat every 3-4 hours was totally freeing.” Max uses intermittent fasting as a longevity tool and writes science articles about it on his website.
I will be posting a series of podcasts about the benefits of intermittent fasting, who is not a candidate for it, & my personal experience soon! If you want to be notified when they go live, please join my newsletter list here.
Max wasn’t the only health expert who loves intermittent fasting. During his keynotes speech, Dr. Mercola labeled intermittent fasting as “one of the best but not well known biohacks.”
Amanda Carneiro (Raw Fitness and Nutrition) swears by intermittent fasting as a tool for staying lean, sharing that it also keeps her digestion and energy levels on point. Not to mention, research suggests that intermittent fasting can enhance cardiovascular and brain health.
The most common form of intermittent fasting is something called the 16:8 Method (eating all of your meals within an 8 hour window & fasting for 16 hours, including the time you spend asleep). However, Carly Stein, founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals, has tailored her intermittent fasting schedule to work with her busy lifestyle.
She said, “I try to give my body a 12-13 hour break between dinner and breakfast. Life happens and I can’t always give my digestive tract a full 12-hour rest, but I try to commit to 3-5 nights a week of 12 hour fasting. I find that it has really helped my digestion… As a woman, it’s best to start your fast between 4-6pm (early bird special) and eat within 30-45 minutes of waking up.” She uses the Zero app to track her progress. Dr. Rhonda Patrick refers to studies that suggest it’s better for women to end their eating window earlier in the evening in this podcast.
EAT REAL FOOD… & SUPERFOODS
Peter Wasowski, Andy Hnilo, and Mike Pullano both agree that a diet filled with non-processed, whole foods is one of the major fundamentals to great health. Mike shared that his lifestyle incorporates a lot of the Bulletproof Diet principles (a diet focused on quality food low in mycotoxins). The Bulletproof Diet tends to be high in quality fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs.
Jordan Bowditch, co-founder of Mystic Misfit, makes Bulletproof Coffee in the morning to amp up his day. To learn more about Bulletproof Coffee, check out this blog I wrote with the basics and how I use it.
Carly Stein (Beekeeper’s Naturals) also crushes her days by incorporating Bulleproof coffee alongside her B.LXR Brain Fuel, a nootrotpic that reduces stress and prevents brain burn out with adaptogenic herbs, gingko biloba leaf extract, and other superfoods.
Max Lugavere brought up a valuable nutrition note when we spoke. He is choosy about the kind of fats he consumes and relies primarily on real food sources of monounsaturated fats (found in olives, avocados, and nuts), while staying away from processed, inflammatory oils like canola, vegetable, safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed, and peanut oil. He also advises against the overconsumption saturated fat for these 5 reasons.
Catharine Arnston, Founder of ENERGYbits and Board Certified Health Coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, attributes her vibrant skin and wellness to algae! According to the World Bank and United Nations, algae has the highest concentration of chlorophyll, protein, nutrients, and antioxidants in the world. NASA also labels algae as a nutrient-dense food and a rich source of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Catharine gets her algae multiple times a day in the form of ENERGYbits (spirulina) or RECOVERYbits (chlorella). If you’d like to try algae in its purest form, visit ENERGYbits.com & use the coupon code “HAILEY” to get 20% off (woo-hoo!).
Another food Catharine loves to snack on: macadamia nuts. Clinical research indicates that macadamia nuts have a fatty acid profile that can beneficially affect cardiovascular and metabolic health.
How you eat is just as important as what you eat according to Amanda Carneiro (Raw Fitness and Nutrition). She said that practicing the habit of proper food combining has a positive impact on her and her clients’ health and digestion. She aims to keep her proteins and starches separate during meals to prevent GI distress. For optimal digestive health, she also suggests that we eat fruit on an empty stomach instead of pairing it with protein or fat.
HACK ARTIFICIAL LIGHT
Mike Pullano (ARX) & Max Lugavere (Creator of BREAD HEAD) both agree that decreasing their exposure to blue light has greatly improved their sleep quality. Blue light comes from LED light bulbs, fluorescent lights, cell phones, computers, TV screens, and digital alarm clocks. In the evening hours, blue light decreases melatonin, an important hormone that is naturally released at night to help you fall and stay asleep. Not to mention, excess blue light can damage the light-sensitive cells in your retina, which heightens our risk of developing macular degeneration.
The artificial light used in our office buildings, shopping centers, airplanes, and homes can trigger neurological fatigue, eyestrain, and circadian rhythm disruption. What do we do? Mike protects himself from artificial light by wearing special glasses that filter it out. Until a more stylish version of these glasses is invented, I recommend the Daywalker Elite Glasses for daytime and the Twilight Glasses for after sunset.
The easiest way to hack lighting altogether: get more natural sunlight. Catharine Arnston (ENERGYbits) aims to get an hour of fresh air and sun every day, preferably by going for a walk or riding her bike.
Thaddeus Own (Primal Hacker) recommends getting a minimum of 10-15 minutes of morning sunshine without sunglasses within 2 hours of waking up to support vitamin D synthesis, a process that supports bone health, your immune system, and your metabolism. Added bonus: go outside barefoot to reap the benefits of earthing.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Ryan Munsey, Peak Performance Expert & Chief Optimizer at Natural Stacks, shares the importance of upgrading your social circle: “The values of your group become your values, so be very careful who you spend your time with. Surround yourself with motivated, driven, passionate people who are living their authentic life and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your life improves.”
Jordan Bowditch (Mystic Misfit) believes that “connecting with a community of like-hearted heroes” has powerfully elevated his health. By attending retreats and hosting his own Mystic Misfit retreats, he has built a community that incorporates radical honesty and raw, authentic communication.
He is also a fan of long, intimate hugs because it triggers what he calls an “oxytocin overload.” Oxytocin is the “love and trust” neurotransmitter in the brain. I was lucky enough to receive one of these long hugs at the conference from Jordan. J If you have a pet, you can easily trigger oxytocin overload with lots of snuggling. Jordan’s snuggle buddy is pictured below.
Thaddeus Own (Primal Hacker) agrees that human connection is critical. Even just a phone call with a friend can greatly improve your day. Andy Hnilo (Alitura Naturals) listed “calling his mom” as an important part of his daily morning routine, which consists of pushups, the Alitura Clay Mask, using an inversion table, and Bulletproof Coffee.
Mike Pullano (ARX) likes to connect with strangers by breaking the ice with a smile. He signs his credit card bills with a smiley face to make cashiers and restaurant servers’ day just a little bit better.
Carly Stein (Beekeeper’s Naturals) uses an app called Gratitude 365 to record all the things she’s grateful for. She said, “Gratitude is one of the most important habits to adopt and can radically change your mental state. On some of my hardest days, I find that taking note of the things you have is the best way to turn things around.”
Dr. Scott Sherr uses the 5 Minute Journal to track 3 things he’s grateful for every morning and evening.
Ryan Munsey (Natural Stacks) urges his audience to never stop learning. He continues to learn and grow by doing something every day that moves his mission forward. It doesn’t matter how small or large, but a minimum of 1 action repeated daily compounds quickly and powerfully.
Dr. Scott Sherr also has a passion for learning. His mission of teaching health optimization medicine (foundational medicine principles that everyone will benefit from, whether sick or well) invigorates him.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT
If you’re feeling inspired by these knowledge bombs dropped by some of the greatest leaders in the health industry, sign up below to receive a free checklist of their high performance habits. Choose the habit(s) that resonate with you most, implement one at a time, and watch your life start to transform.