384: Building a Village, Creating Strong Relationships & Biohacking Tips With Michael Trainer

384: Building a Village, Creating Strong Relationships & Biohacking Tips With Michael Trainer

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the "Wellness Mama Podcast." I'm Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com. That's wellness with an E on the end. It's my new line of non-toxic natural personal care products.

I'm here today with Michael Trainer, who is a worldwide widely recognized social impact entrepreneur. He is the co-creator of something called Global Citizen, which is a movement dedicated to ending extreme poverty. He's also the creator of Peak Mind, which brings together thought leaders to inspire a new vision of leadership. And he is also a well-known biohacker. And we go into some of his top 80/20 tips for living a healthy life as well as a whole lot of other areas. So it's a really fun episode to record and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. Michael, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for being here.

Michael: It's an honor to be on your show.

Katie: I'm so excited to chat with you today. I think there's different directions that we can go and probably will. But to start with, for anyone who isn't familiar with you yet, can you give us a little bit of your background, Especially, maybe touch on Global Citizen and what that is, and how it came to be?

Michael: Certainly. Yeah, Global Citizen really is a movement to end extreme poverty. It's grown quite significantly. We've been fortunate enough over the last decade to raise about $40 billion in commitments for programs serving the world's poor. But the impetus was really to build a movement of active citizens around our shared humanity. And for me, I lived in Srilanka for two years, and was exposed for the first time at a very early age to conditions of extreme poverty. And really, in essence, what we wanted to do with Global Citizen was to change the narrative. You know, we wanted to move away from the guilt and shame, you know, sort of Sally Struthers. We call it kind of poverty porn, where you turn on your television, and they ask you to give up your cup of coffee, and show you a poor child in Africa with flies around it. We wanted really to inspire a notion of our shared possibility, and what is possible if we moved at the time 1.4 billion people living on extreme poverty, which is the condition of living under $1.25 a day, we could help move them out of extreme poverty, and the way that all of us would benefit in our shared humanity if we took care of those less fortunate among us.

Katie: I love that. So how did you guys accomplish that? From what I've read of your bio, it became a really impressive large scale endeavor.

Michael: Yeah, so it was quite miraculous. I think, in many regards, it came about because of… You know, I think, with anything that you build, obviously, to start with vision and commitment, and a few people who are willing to put their heart and soul into it. And we started with a very small team. And it's a long story, but the short version is we were able to in the course of nine months, move from inception of idea to our first festival, and we decided on using a festival because music is such a universal language. And we wanted to inspire people through that hope and inspiration. And the cool thing that we did was we made it so that we didn't ask for your money. We asked instead for your action. And so the way that you got tickets for the Global Citizen festival is you actually took action around issues affecting extreme pour. So, you might consume a piece of content and share with your friends or sign a petition, that would basically, we would use because we gathered hundreds of thousands of actions, and now multiple millions of actions. And then we would use that to get leaders of large scale corporations or heads of state to make declarative commitments on behalf of the world's poorest people. So, year 1, we were fortunate enough to host Neil Young, The Black Keys', the Foo Fighters, John Legend, singing Imagine, pun intended, you could imagine was quite spectacular, given the Beatles had never had a chance to perform on the Great Lawn in Central Park.

So we really took the Great Lawn, which the challenge and the reason why very few artists would be able to perform there is because you have to have a free ticket of events. And so we turn that challenge because it's quite expensive to host an event on the Great Lawn, as you can imagine with the police force, and the Union Labor, etc. And we wind up using that to our great advantage. And it was the impetus for the development of the digital platform, which has now grown as the festival has all around the world as a mechanism to both inform and inspire, and then to translate that informed inspired action into tangible commitments for communities around the world. So it's grown. I left after the third year when my father unfortunately was diagnosed with dementia. However, year 1, we were able to, you know, get $1.3 billion in new commitments. And now it's over the last decade, they've raised about $40 billion in commitment. And we've held festivals all around the world. I flew in the last one in South Africa around Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, which was incredible. You know, Oprah was there, Tyler Perry, Coldplay, Beyonce. It was really, really incredible. So, it's basically a movement of everyday citizens galvanized through their favorite artists in a way that can build a movement around our shared humanity.

Katie: That's incredible. What do you see as going forward the biggest needle movers in the challenge to end global poverty?

Michael: Well, as it relates to poverty, you know, I think we are moving obviously, in a way… You know, Terence McKenna said the world has changed more since 1992 than it did in the previous thousand years. And I think in many ways that's accurate because of the advent of digital technology and the fact that many of us possess smartphones that give us access to more information than, you know, many previous presidents had. So I do think that there is an exponential evolution as it relates to technology. I think a lot of it rests on political will. And I think a lot of it also rests on the ways in which we can create more egalitarian technologies. You know, I share a story sometimes where, you know, I say, you know, "Could we agree that Bill Gates is a genius?" And most people would agree he's genius. I say, "Well, okay, even if he's a one in a million genius," which I don't think he is, but let's say he's one in a million. If you take the Malcolm Gladwell principle of having 10,000 hours on a tool to have mastering, he had 10,000 hours on the supercomputer and very rare access to that computer when he was at a very early age. So if you combine genius with opportunity, it's something that can change all of our lives, right? Because all of our lives have been changed by the advent of the personal computer. And now, of course, Bill Gates has created the Gates Foundation, which is the largest philanthropic foundation, given away billions of dollars. And in addition to that, you know, he's created the Giving Pledge, which I think has raised over $600 billion so far. So that's just one person whose potential was coupled with opportunity. And so if you take the 1.4 billion people around the world, which now is less, thank goodness, that's 1,400 other Bill Gates' that all could revolutionize our lives, collectively around the world, because what we're being shown now with coronavirus, is that, you know, the breath or action of one person around the world can impact the lives of every other person.

And so it's my belief that we can and we should rise up in seeing that everyone has equal access to opportunity. And so a lot of that has to do with creating basic infrastructure and moving those who are besieged by poverty out of extreme poverty. So I think that can be the legacy of our generation. You know, the goal of Global Citizen is to see that accomplished by 2030. And I do think that that is feasible. I think it can be one of the great wins of our generation. Now, the question is, what do we do with that opportunity if we can create it? And my hope is that we can create a variety of different technologies. And I know one thing you and I both share a passion around is also to see that there's more equitable healthcare opportunities, so that not only do people have the opportunity to unleash their entrepreneurship, but they can also hopefully unleash their health and wellness. Because as we know, you know, Harvard longitudal study, you know, basically the greatest wealth and the greatest contributor to our long-term health and happiness is the caliber of our relationships. And the greatest corollary in my view is if we can combine great relationships with great health and great opportunity, then we've created a context for an equitable life that I think every human on this planet deserves.

Katie: Absolutely. I definitely wanna go deep on some biohacking topics, and we're gonna get there. But first, I think a natural segue into that is another thing that is, I think, a focus for you right now, from what I've read of you in your work, which is called Peak Mind. So I'd love if you could walk us through what that is and what the impetus for it was.

Michael: Yes, so Peak Mind is… So, the personal aspect of this story is my father while I was building Global Citizen with the incredible team that we had put together, was, unfortunately, battling prostate cancer, which, unfortunately, is all too common these days. He then was diagnosed after the second festival with dementia and cognitive decline. And as you know, there's really no cure for dementia. And so, it was really a wake-up call for me. And I think actually, in some ways, one of the great gifts that he gave me because I went from working, you know, sort of 14, 16 hour a day and burning the candle at both ends. Just saying, "Dad, you know, I wanna do something while we can still create memories together. And so I said, I'll take you anywhere in the world you wanna go. And he's a very modest man. So he never asked me to take him anywhere. But I decided to surprise him, and I took him to South Africa. And I knew he loves history. I knew he loved nature. And it was one of the best things I've ever done. I think when you can take your parents on a special experience, it really is profoundly meaningful, given all the sacrifices that they have, you know, made in their lives. And we had the time of our lives. And on that trip, I decided that it was time to leave Global Citizen. Global Citizen was in great financial, you know, footing and was growing very well. And I knew that I wanted to spend more time with him. And so, I made the decision to leave and I did a 30-day meditation. And on the 30th day, I had this kind of crazy idea that I wanted to do an event to host His Holiness, the Dalai Lama because I had seen more and more research around the benefits of meditation.

You know, Harvard had just released research showing that you can literally in eight weeks of mindfulness, you know, decrease the size and activity of your amygdala, you know, your fight or flight Center in your brain and increase the size and activity of your hippocampus, you know, the center for creativity and possibility. And so I thought, "Who better to be a representative than His Holiness, the Dalai Lama?" And, you know, with Global Citizen, I had good experience with attracting, you know, these sort of very notable figures to the degree that it could, you know, be very, very valuable in garnering attention, and through that attention, bring many people into the tent, so to speak. And so, in 2015, I had the great fortune after seven months, having the vision and then working, you know, tirelessly to make it happen, to have the great virtue of hosting His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, for his 80th birthday, here in Los Angeles. And we had an incredible talk, which is actually available. It's the first episode of my podcast, where I took that recording and put it out to the world, but an incredible talk with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, around the virtue and value of meditation and mindfulness. And that was the launch of Peak Mind, which has really grown into both events. So I've been fortunate to host folks like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle. We had an event for about 5,000 people pre-COVID here in LA, as well as the launching of the Peak Mind podcast, where I've been fortunate enough to host a lot of the great leaders of our time, you know, from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama to President Carter, and then a lot of leaders in the health and wellness space, that I know that you're an incredible expert in. I'd love to have you on at some point as well.

But yet, you know, your Dr. Mark Hyman, your performers like Laird Hamilton's, Maria Sharapova, you know, Wim Hof, a variety of different thought leaders, really with the notion of how do we create the inner transformation necessary to see a more just and equitable world? Because I think with Global Citizen, we created a great tool for creating change out in the world through policy, and business, and entertainment. And I think with Peak Mind, my vision is, is to really create that context for inner transformation because it's my belief that ultimately, the world is a manifestation of our collective internal states. And until we can clean up the house, so to speak, the home within, I think it's very challenging to exert sustainable change out in the world, you know, a crass analogy I sometimes share. But, you know, take a lottery winner. Many lottery winners, you know, get a windfall of finance or professional athletes, but then, you know, something like 80%, go back to their default income and/or go bankrupt. Why? Because they don't have yet the mindset to hold that transformative wealth. And so the vision with Peak Mind is really to create a context of transformation, to enable, you know, the type of change we all wanna create in our lives to be sustainable.

Katie: Yeah, and something I love that seems like a commonality of both of these projects with you is that you are tackling projects that seem almost insurmountable to a lot of people. You're tackling really massive scale problems. And in our family, we have a very big focus on entrepreneurship. And it's one of our core values as a family and something we're very conscious of trying to pass on to our kids. And this is something I tell them often, which is that sometimes it's easier to solve big problems in a big way than to try to solve little problems or medium-sized problems in their own way. And a lot of times, I feel like people are hesitant to tackle what seems like these really massive problems because we just doubt that we can actually do it. So I loved that in both of these cases, you tackled headfirst, massive problems, and we're able to get really big people on board with you and to start creating massive change in that. Do you have any tips for people who are trying to create similar changes in whatever their various industry or area is?

Michael: Sure. Yeah. Well, first of all, I love that you're teaching your kids about entrepreneurship. I think that's one of the greatest gifts that we can impart on our children. And I think as we move into this new generation, I think a lot of the models and mechanisms that we've taken for granted are gonna need evolution. And I think we're gonna need, like, a generation of young entrepreneurs. So I'm so grateful you're doing that. I would say the tips that I have are really, you know, in whatever modest way I've been able to exert change, it's really revolved around great relationships. You know, I think… And this is a book I'm working on presently. But I feel like ultimately, if you have a big vision, which I think many people do, and the question is… And by the way, like, even when I was starting any of these enterprises, I had fear and trepidation about success. And there were many times sort of dark nights of the soul when it looked questionable that it would be realized. But in each situation, it was realized to be a collective effort of a small team of incredible people. You know, there's that Margaret Mead quote that I love, which is, you know, "Never doubt the power of the small group of people who changed the world." And indeed, it's the only thing that ever has, you know. And I think the degree to which you can find people that you trust, that share an aligned vision and values is the degree to which you can exert extraordinary change and influence. And so to me, I think, you know, I'm really a huge fan of the power of relationship and really taking stock of how to create the most effective relationships.

I think, some of our paradigms are broken. You know, I think our healthcare system, our education system, a lot of these systems are relics of sort of 20th-century industrial capitalism, which is really, I think more oriented around creating industrial workers and extracting value. And I think networking as we knew it was largely evolved around, you know, this notion of how can I extract value or, you know, get my enterprise in a better place at your expense. And I think we're now moving into an era where everything should be grounded in giving and being a source of value and creating win-win paradigms. And I think whenever you're building something, the more you can align people's sort of altruistic interest with their enlightened self-interest in a way that creates a win-win, that's the biggest secret, I think, for me is if you can find a way to touch their hearts and speak to what they deeply care about and at the same time, forward their vision in a way that is win-win, not win-lose, I think that's the recipe for creating extraordinary visions and aligning yourself with the right people.

Katie: I love that. And I definitely agree. One of my passions right now is tackling the change in education. And I'm a big believer that often you can't change the system from the inside out. Sometimes you have to just create something else that's better from the outside in. And so I'm working on basically a system around that, developed on our own idea of when our kids reached school age, realizing that none of the options available in our mind, perfectly prepared them for whatever they might encounter in adult life. And so we kind of use the 80/20 approach and reimagined a school from the ground up, assuming that none of the variables that existed had to continue existing, and have created a program focused largely on entrepreneurship and problem solving, that I'm excited to share with other families. But I fully agree with you in the idea of aligning values like that. And I also love that you brought up the internal state and doing the inner work side of that because I feel like this is something that's being talked about more and more, and it was certainly a large part of my journey as well. I'm curious if you have any personal story or resources related to this because from my own perspective, I did all the physical health and wellness biohacking stuff for almost a decade and made some progress, but not nearly as much as I had hoped to. And it wasn't until I did the inner work, that everything dramatically changed. And I now very much an advocate for this. I'm curious if you have any resources you'd recommend or any personal story related to that.

Michael: Yeah, thank you. It's a beautiful question. I have, as many of us have, you know, really been in a process of trial and error. So I've done a lot of experiments and I've tried a ton of different modalities from, you know, the landmark forum to what was called MITT, which is a similar program. I'm curious to try the Hoffman process. I have, you know, delve deeply into men's work. One of the reasons I developed such a close relationship with my father's, I did something called the ManKind project, which I know you have a great number of moms in your audience. You know, it's always tricky to sort of suggest change for people we love. But one of the greatest things that I've done was that ManKind project because I think, you know, for men and for the women who love them, you know, unfortunately, there isn't in this day and age, I think a great process of individuation, right? So, we see now in the health movement, a lot of, you know, I'm sure folks that you've had on the show are kind of arguing for what you would call primal living or primal eating, right? Like that notion of, like, how do we go back to how the human biology evolved? Well, I think there's also a way in which the human psychology and human community has evolved. And unfortunately, modern-day life doesn't necessarily look like that, you know. A mother in Bali, you know, hundreds of years ago, would have oftentimes born a child in certain indigenous cultures, you know, that child would have passed along the breast of every lactating mother. Now, we know now that probably would not only enhance the microbiome, but it also creates a social bond, and that notion of it takes a village to raise a child.

And I think that that notion of community is so powerful. And with men, you know, there were traditional processes of individuation, where, you know, a young man or an adolescent man would be taken by the group of elders, the group of men in the community and actually move through oftentimes an arduous ritual or challenging process into a demarcation of now he was a man. And this is what it looks like to be an effective contributor in society. And without getting too philosophical, I think we see now a lot of examples of the immature masculine out in the world. And fortunately, I think we're also seeing a great elevation of these incredibly powerful women and a rise at the feminine beyond the sort of patriarchal system. But without getting too far afield, I think the ManKind Project was so profound for me because it really enabled me to be supported by a group of men on a weekly basis in a free container, where we could do the deep work that enabled me and I think the men I shared that space with to be the most effective versions of ourselves, and to show up to our partners in a better way. You know, for many of the men who had children to show up to their children in a better way. And from a place of service and from a place of commitment to being a stand for something bigger than yourself. And so, for me, there's a variety of tools, you know, plant medicines with some very profound indigenous elders. I'm very specific to say I think that those kinds of advanced tools should be practiced, obviously, in the right container and the right context. But, you know, I have a lifelong commitment to doing the best I can to grow, and I'm always looking for the tools that will enable it to happen. And obviously, we can talk about, you know, and get in the weeds on various tools that have been helpful.

But I think, as a general principle, for me, that men's work has been really integral. And I'm really passionate about and the inquiry I'm on now, actually, which I haven't talked to anyone about, but as I'm now actually going off and interviewing fathers, because my father recently passed in April, and he was such a meaningful figure in my life. And as I enter the phase of hoping to be a father here in the next few years, I'm really curious to interview successful men to see how they navigated through both the traditional or conventional notions of success, and then also could be present and evolve into being a great father. And I know you have a lot of incredible mothers in your audience and probably some great fathers as well. So that's the inquiry I'm on now is how do we in modern society, really move in a beautiful way through the various chapters of our life, such that we can be the greatest source and contribution for those we love. And so, you know, those are some of the tools that I've used. I wouldn't by any means, say I'm necessarily an authority, but they've been very, very helpful in my own evolution. And I've seen them be extraordinarily helpful in the lives of others.

Katie: Well, first of all, I'm so sorry for your loss. I haven't lost a parent yet, but I can only imagine. That's a very difficult loss.

Michael: Thank you.

Katie: I hadn't heard of this group, but the need for community, I think you're absolutely right, that this is something that maybe becomes a little bit more naturally to women or at least I see this in my own life and in friends, as women are more inclined to create moms groups or girls nights out or whatever it may be and form communities if they don't naturally happen. And it feels like this is maybe a tougher thing for guys or at least I just don't see it happen as easily and as often. And like you mentioned earlier, we know even from clinical data, that community and relationships are so important, not just to our mental state, but to our actual physical health, as well. And I feel like this is something that's so difficult in today's world. Like, there's so many factors that make it harder and harder to form those really solid relationships and really great communities. And it's something we do have to be more intentional about in today's world. And so it sounds like this is a great tool for that that many listeners could pass on to their partners or husbands as a resource. Any other tips for building community because this is something I talked about actually quite a lot on this podcast. And I still get so many questions from listeners of how do you actually practically do this, especially if it's not something that's just built in where you live?

Michael: Yeah, I think you totally hit on it there, Katie. I mean, I think that's exactly right. So Harvard's longest longitudinal study of its kind demonstrated the single greatest corollary, which I referenced a little bit earlier, the single greatest corollary to our long-term health and happiness. The single greatest is the quality of our long-term relationships. Now, that study in some way was flawed because they tracked only men. So I'm hoping that, you know, there's greater studies to come but I think that the base of the information is accurate, right? I think community, which is one of the great challenges of our time because we live in such an individual-centric society, at least many of those listening is medicine. And I think there are a variety of ways in which you can forge community. It's actually the topic of the book I'm writing presently. So it's something I care deeply about. But largely, you know, I think we need to look to our ancestors in some ways and think about what are the mechanisms they use to build community. You know, we had a sacred ritual in my family that I thank my mother for every day, which is that, you know, when we had dinner at 6:00 pm, every night, the whole family was there. You know, no phones, no television, and we had that chance to sort of bond as a family. And, you know, around every holiday, around, you know, on weekends, we would extend that out into our community, and to our neighbors, you know, have a barbecue, etc. And I think, you know, there are various modern kind of cultural events, like sporting events, you know, obviously, dinner parties, these are all, you know, opportunities I think to forge community. But I think we also have these modern tools, you know. I mean, you have this incredible podcast. I can say that, since I've started my podcast, I've developed incredible relationships, as well with some of my guests, and have been invited into incredible opportunities.

So there's an example of a digital platform, that's actually a very modern-day platform that's led to some really beautiful community and invitation to some incredible events. So, I actually have so much to say about the topic. I'll try to be, you know, a little bit concise. But in essence, I think it's thinking about really mindful, you know. You know, there's this notion of something called social capital. And I think it's a flawed term. But in essence, it's thinking about how you invest in your relationships and which relationships give the greatest return? And I think all of us in life have encountered people that traditionally we look at as, you know, there'll be denoted as either a giver and a taker, right? Some people in our lives seem to always take without giving. I call those people black holes. You know, and then certain people are batteries in our life. You know, they give us juice. They give us life. They give us vitality. They give without expectation of return. And I think ultimately, that's how we wanna show up as a catalyst and as a node for community is being a giver, and being a source of value, and connecting. You know, one of my practices in my morning routine is actually to send a voice notes to different people, or a thank you note, handwritten in the mail, to let people know how much I care about them. No expectation. No ask. Nothing but it's simply an offering. And, you know, offerings have been using communities and cultures since time immemorial as a way to pay reverence and be in a place of gratitude, which we also now has the corollaries to our state of happiness. So, I think basically, we want to find a way to be a battery to those around us. We wanna surround ourselves consciously. And this is what my book's about. It's how to consciously create your relationships. I think many of us kind of fall into default patterns. But I think you can, just as you would, your finances really look at who's showing up as a battery in my life, where are their black holes?

You know, our most valuable resource on planet is our time and, you know, the health with which we have to live that time with people we love, you know, with our relationships. That's the true currency in life to me. And so, you know, I think there's a various… I have actually seven principles, but basically, ways in which you can cultivate consciously the kind of relationships, the kind of community that will have the greatest corollary, and hopefully your life, and your long-term health and happiness. And, you know, depending on what you value… For me, at least I know, you know, having looked at death, lately with the man I loved the most on the planet, my father, is really thinking about your legacy. And his great legacy lives on in me and that he was such a battery in my life, the way he showed up for me, the way he both balanced business and showed up to, you know, all my sporting events, and was always present when I needed him. You know, I think mothers are so great at that. I think some of us as men get to catch up to you all in terms of your level of service and the degree to which you are batteries in the lives of your children. But in essence, I think, to me, there's a great passion around how do we consciously co-create with other batteries in our life? And to me, you know, I have a lot to say about that. But in essence, I think there's few greater exercises because I know at least for me on my deathbed, I will look back and think, you know… I don't care if I have a Lamborghini in the driveway. I don't need an eight-bedroom house, but I will have lived a valuable life if I have been a source for those I cared deeply about and have had quality experiences shared with those I love. And to me, that's a life worth living.

Katie: I am very much in line with you on that. And to echo what you said as well, I believe you're absolutely right. I've said for a long time that I think mothers are one of the most powerful forces on the planet, not just because we have such a daily impact on the next generation, but I think a mother's tone often sets the tone for the whole household and for their children's inner voice later in life. And so it's been an absolute honor to be able to be part of this community of moms who I think have such a tremendous ability to impact outcomes on a world scale. Absolutely. I also love that you brought up those inner points and I wanna touch on your morning routine in a minute. But a modern thinker, I really admire Naval Ravikant, he says, that, "Basically, no matter what level of wealth you create, there's three things that seem to be actually most aligned with happiness." And the beauty of these things are it doesn't matter if you are, to use your earlier example, Bill Gates, you can't just buy them. You have to actually do the work. And that is a calm mind of the body and a happy home, and the happy home, of course, to the relationship side. But those are things that doesn't matter how much material or success you have on paper, you have to actually put the time and effort into building, and curating, and creating, and maintaining, which to your point, I think those are some great tips for doing so. And you mentioned your morning routine. Anytime someone is successful, especially on such a large scale, I'm always curious what their morning routine looks like. So what is your morning like?

Michael: Yeah, well, my morning looks… It depends on… Right now I'm traveling, as I mentioned, I'm in Jackson Hole. So there's sort of a broken-down aspect of the process. But generally, when I'm home, my morning routine looks like waking up. You know, when I'm really good. I like to wake up before the sunrise. That happens less frequently than I would like. But in ideal in an ideal world, I'd like to really move with the circadian rhythms, you know, the movement of the sun. I think it's one of the great under spoken about elements of health and wellness. And the more days I can watch the sunrise and the sunset, the better. And generally speaking, my process starts with gratitude. So, really, when I first wake up thinking about two or three things that I'm grateful for, right, to set that sort of mindset up in a good way. You know, the second thing I do is I meditate. So I've done a variety of different meditation practices. I studied Vipassana when I lived in Srilanka. I've also done Vedic Meditation, which is incredible, which uses sound as an anchor for your meditation practice. And I've kind of created my own mindfulness practice. But usually, I'll set Insight Timer, which is, you know, it's an app on my phone for 10 minutes because I know, just like your audience. You know, a lot of busy moms, a lot of times don't have the luxury of a ton of time. That said, I think the great hack for busy moms and busy parents is how much we can create time for ourselves in the morning, you know, in the case of your audience and perhaps, you know, before their kids wake up. And so, for me, you know, it's gratitude. It's meditation. I don't do this every morning, I'd love to say I did. But I like to do the morning pages. You know, Julia Cameron wrote that great book, "The Artist's Way."

And if you can create time, I think even just to write one page in your journal, even if it's a nonsense, I think that act of writing is so powerful, that act of reflection. It's also… As I think about, you know, if I ever had to leave the house, the first things I would grab in a hurry would be my journals. So, journaling is a part. I do hydration. So I think, you know, a glass of water, ideally, with some kind of, like, minerals. So, like, some type of hydrating minerals or even like an Irish or a Celtic salt. And then I do do coffee. You know, various people feel various ways about coffee. I'm a huge fan of coffee. And of late, I've actually been practicing intermittent fasting. So I'll do black coffee, so it's not to break my fast. And I generally do an eight-hour feeding window. So I'll go from 12:00 to 8:00 pm. And then, you know, and I'm not like hardcore about it. By the way, I also believe in joy. I don't believe in beating yourself up. I don't think you need to, like, be hard on yourself, all of us. You know, it's like I'm at a party and I wanna have some birthday cake, I'm gonna have a birthday cake. So I think life is also about joy. But in general, those are the precepts is I try not to at least during the week. You know, I'll do black coffee until about noon. But that's usually… And then I'll sort of reflect, and ground myself, and take a few deep breaths, and think about what I want to achieve that day. And that's kind of the core tenants. There are other aspects. You know, I live by the ocean. I'm fortunate to live by the ocean. So, in an ideal world, and what I was doing for quite a long time is I would get a workout in first thing in the morning. You know, a lot of my research shows that, you know, the most accomplished CEOs, you know, the President and Michelle Obama to, you know, Oprah Winfrey on down, would do exercise in the morning.

And I do exercise in the morning and then when I'm really good, if I'm home, I'll jump in the ocean and get that cold plunge in because nothing wakes you up more effectively, that a little Wim Hof breathing into the cold. It could either a cold shower or the ocean. So, that's in essence my routine. And I just wanted to… Just because it was on your last point, it's a little bit of a non sequitur, but to relate to what you said about moms, which is I was just listening to Melinda Gates yesterday. And she reiterated something I think really powerfully about, which is, in the context of Global Citizen, when you look at the qualities of what has the most profound potential to change the world. The most profound potential to change the world is actually the empowerment of women and moms around the world. Because moms inherently I feel like have the mindset and as well as the practices and behaviors to be a catalyst, again, to bring a sort of full circle, to be a battery, not just for themselves, but for their family and for their communities. And so as you see it with the Grameen Bank, and with a variety of different, you know, Jacqueline Novogratz in the Acumen Fund, if you empower women and girls around the world, it will have the greatest corollary on our chance of hopefully righting this shift in such a way that we can live on this planet for many, many years to come. So, I just wanted to say that because you had mentioned the power of moms, and actually research has shown that the greatest investment we can make is in the future of women and girls on this planet.

Katie: Awesome. And I think that that's also a perfect segue talking about your morning routine into another question that I had for you. So my husband met you before I did. And he said you guys had an amazing conversation about all kinds of different biohacking tools and practices that you've tried. And I'm really curious, what you would consider the top needle movers with everything that you've tried, if you had to kind of 80/20 all of the things out there, what would make the cut for you?

Michael: Yeah, great question. For me, contrast therapy is my kind of current fascination. So, for those listening, moving from, you know, high heat to cold, cold, and doing breathwork in the midst of that process. So, you know, I'm grateful to have a sauna. But, you know, I'm always mindful of, you know, not everyone has all these tools. I think that said, I think if you can find a way to move from the heat, and there's various ways to do that, that are very economical to cold. And that can look and often looks like for me a cold shower. You know, sometimes it's going into a hot yoga class into a cold shower. Sometimes, you know, it's going from a sauna into, you know, a cold tub with ice and doing breathwork. You know, I could go into the myriad of benefits, but the benefits are profound in terms of, you know, reducing inflammation. I think the mindset benefits are profound. So, contrast therapy is one of mine. I did a whole podcast on it if people wanna go super deep. But contrast therapy is one of my current, you know, fascinations. I would say breath is one of the most underrated and also most accessible biohacks that any of us can utilize. So from holotropic breathwork to tantric breathing, you know, I think our breath has the opportunity to unlock worlds that we are only coming to fully realize. You know, the Tibetans knew that with tummo breathing, which is the basis for, you know, now we see Wim Hof. I did an interview with Laird Hamilton, the world-class big wave surfer around breathing. And many of them are getting there. Their insights from this ancient Tibetan secret practice, traditionally secret practice called tummo breathing. But I think that breathwork has the possibility to unlock huge health and cognitive benefits that all of us have access to. You don't need to buy any expensive equipment.

It's a truly expansive and unlimited frontier in regards to the way that we can use our breath together with a mindfulness practice. The other biohacks that I'm playing with up late really is this notion of circadian living and fasting. There's a great talk, I can't remember, if you just Google TED talk on circadian biology, I'm trying to remember the name of who I listened to, but in essence, you know, some argue that, that when we eat is almost as important as what we eat. And, you know, I think we've oftentimes gotten out of sync with, again, this goes to ancestral biology. But, like, traditionally hunter-gatherers, you know, would go from feast to famine in some regards in terms of their eating cycles. And so, for me, I think the idea of fasting and its potential to increase health benefits for me, that's largely intermittent fasting. You know, I did a podcast with Dr. Stephen Cabral. He advocates for a weekly also, like from Sunday night to Monday night doing, like, a weekly fast through that day. Obviously you wanna check with your healthcare provider. You know, I'm not a medical practitioner. And then he does a quarterly sort of week-long, cleanse fast, which isn't a dry fast. But, you know, we're seeing now the benefits of fasting are profound. And, you know, in terms of autophagy and, like, all of the different elements that it can bring in terms of, like, cellular regeneration and sort of the resets that we can create. And so for me, I'm really looking at also getting sun and as much as possible, you know, being in rhythm with the natural cycles. So, during the day, that looks like, you know, trying to eliminate and, you know, probably many of your listeners already do this, but, like, eliminating blue light after dark. So I try to watch the sunset if I can. I try to do some sun gazing, get that 10 minutes of sun, get that vitamin D.

Also huge right now for our immunity. You know, vitamin C, vitamin D, elderberry, as we're amidst, sort of coronavirus that prevents it, but just in terms of bolstering our immunity and really thinking about how to move through the day in a way that enables us with what we now know is one of the core tenants of our health and wellness, which is great quality sleep. And so, for me using candles at night, using blue light blocking glasses if I'm using my device, watching the sunset, and just establishing a little bit more of that natural rhythm. And all that kind of boils down to the greatest biohack, for me, if you will. And when I interviewed Ben Greenfield, he said the same thing. If you were to distill all that down, well, with the one thing be? And for me, it's getting into nature. So to me, I'm just trying to approximate the natural rhythms of our ancestors in modern life. And, you know, use some of the great tools and hacks that have been prevalent for millennia, and try to approximate them in modern living. And so, for me, you know, my favorite thing in the world if I can find a hot spring, next to a cold Creek, I'm in heaven because that's the ultimate contrast therapy because I'm also taking in the fresh air, the nature, the splendor of just being alive in this life, which I think gratitude is one of the greatest corollaries to living well. So, nature brings me back to where I need to be. And that's my ultimate biohack.

Katie: I love that you brought up the idea of circadian living. And I will make sure that Ted Talk is linked in the show notes as well. But I think this is one of those relatively free things to implement that's so overlooked, and there are great researchers like Sachin Panda who talk about, but just the idea of restricting the things that signal awake and asleep to the right times. So in other words, in nature, to your point, we would only encounter certain spectrums of light when the sun was out. So, trying to keep those bedrooms light to the hours when we would normally encounter them. We would also only be eating during certain hours. So trying to eat as a general rule when the sun's up and not eat when the sun's not up. And then beyond that, like you said, you can shorten that window to experiment with that thing I've found benefit from as well. But the beauty of that is it doesn't cost anything. You're just moving around the times, you're already doing these things. And you can see significant benefits from doing that.

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Talk a little bit more about contrast therapy and how this can be implemented. I think from what I've researched, there seem to be almost distinct benefits from the different extremes on their own and then also together. So in other words, they were really well-documented benefits of heat in the form of sauna or whatever it may be. Also benefits of cold on its own. And then when you combine them in the form of contrast therapy, it almost comes with a whole separate host of benefits.

Michael: Yeah, that's exactly right. So I did a whole podcast on this on my show, which is just "Peak Mind" with Michael Trainer on contrast therapy, but in essence, sort of short-form version, you said it perfectly. So, you know, heat brings its own benefit. You know, there's sort of the biological as well as sort of the psychological benefits that come with both heat and cold. So, you know, cold has been used, you know, by athletes for ages, right, to prevent injury, to reduce inflammation. It basically is a constrictor, so you get that vaso constriction, right? And so when you combine that, for example, with heat, you're moving… And obviously, this has actually been practiced in certain cultures for ages, right? In Russia, in Scandinavia, these had been practices in some of the longest, you're talking about longevity, you know, and some of the longest living populations. But you move into the heat and, you know, you're getting the detoxification effects, right? So, for example, I personally have been exposed to mold and many of us have, right? Like, there's estimations that 50% of the buildings in the U.S. could be moldy, right? So, there's environmental toxins, which I think, unfortunately, is now a corollary to modern day living. You know, even children that are unborn are exposed now to chemicals, beyond anything we had previously reckoned with. So the idea of creating detoxification pathways is so central and so elemental, I think, to modern-day life and living. And the sauna is one of the greatest ways to use you know, your skin basically and your sweat to excrete many of those stored toxins. You know, so I'm about to do a heavy metal test. But I've done everything from… I used a lab called vibrant labs. I did a cardiac test. I've done a gut health test in terms of testing my microbiome. I've done, you know, cognitive test.

I've tested my mitochondrial health in terms of my cellular abilities. And I'm now using heart rate variability. We now all have access to, like, tools like Oura ring, or the Biostrap, or the Whoop band, and start to train sort of our heart rate. But the other benefit of heat obviously, is you start to get your heart pumping, you start to sweat, you're removing toxins, and then you move into cold, and then you create that constriction, right? So you're kind of just like the breath or waves in the ocean. You know, you're creating that contraction and expansion, and both bring profound benefits. The other thing is you're creating resilience, right? So, like, both in a biological but also in a psychological state. No one that I know of wants to jump into a cold plunge. I mean, there probably are… I'm sure there are people that are sort of masochistic that love getting into a cold bath. I do not love getting in, but I love the feeling of getting out, right? Because, in essence, you know, I know that I've reduced inflammation. Inflammation is the source of many of our inflammatory diseases, right? Like, talk about the developing versus the developed world. You know, diseases… You know, like dementia is a disease largely of the developed world. I mean, these are inflammatory diseases. Some people are looking at this, calling it type 3 diabetes. You know, we now have, unfortunately, more obese people on the planet that non-obese people. You know, this is a whole nother podcast. But, you know, we don't have access to the same nutritious soil. A lot of people live in food deserts.

So the degree to ensure that we can reduce inflammation, given how much obviously that food, comes through nutrition and using healthy oils, and all the different things we could talk about. But I think the other piece is the tools that we can use that are anti-inflammatory in contrast, therapy is incredible in terms of reducing inflammation. Those are all to our benefit, right? Because it sets us up… You know, there's germ in the terrain theory, and we're all now exposed to more germs, more toxins. So the more that we can take care of our terrain, our home turf, the better. And I love contrast theory for it's anti-inflammatory properties. I love the idea of excreting toxins. I love the degree of creating sort of blood flow, that contraction, that expansion, the oxygenation of the blood, that I think is profoundly helpful. So, I could go on and on. But in essence, I think contrast therapy using heat and cold, and you can do that in nature is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Katie: Another topic I'd love to touch on if you're willing. I know you mentioned your dad and the dementia side of things. And I know this is an area where we're doing a lot more research right now. And I've heard it in the research referred to even is like type 3 diabetes. And there's, like, a metabolic component there… I'm sure you've done a lot of research in this area, because it was so close to home for you, that I feel like that's something we're seeing an increase in. Do you have anything that you've come across in your research that people can do preemptively at younger ages, that we can do in our own families to help protect against that?

Michael: Yeah, so I think, unfortunately, and having had deep personal experience with this with my father, who I love dearly, I would not wish cognitive decline on anyone. It's one of the most devastating conditions. I feel for any of your audience members that are experiencing cognitive decline or have a family member with dementia or Alzheimer's. You know, symptoms start, they say, and the onset is 30 years before the first symptom, right? So, all of us listening, you know, if you're 35, 40 years old on up, it's beneficial to start thinking about bolstering your resources sort of say internally, so as to mitigate against the risk. Now, there are certain biological and genetic markers that do have corollaries to onset of Alzheimer's, something called the APOE4, which is gene. You get one from your mother, one from your father. If you have one APOE4 allele, you're three times more likely to get Alzheimer's. If you have two APOE4 allele, you're somewhere closer to nine times more likely to get Alzheimer's. So, there is a genetic element. However, what I'll say is, even if you have and forgive the analogy, a loaded gun, genetically, that doesn't mean that you ever have to pull the trigger. So epigenetics, in other words, diet and lifestyle are our greatest defense against cognitive decline. And I'm not a doctor, I have done a tremendous amount of research on this. And I've gone into it pretty deeply on my show. But I will say Dale Bredesen has written an amazing book called "The End of Alzheimer's." He correlates, you know, the causation with sort of your roof. And it's not one thing but it's many holes in your roof. For example, you know, environmental toxins, how heavy is your load in terms of environmental toxicity? What are your genetics? What's your diet and lifestyle like? Are you consuming inflammatory oils you know?

You know, ideally, you wanna stick to, you know, not a lot of the dirty oils that are used, you know, in a lot of conventional cooking, right? Sticking more to like your olive oils, and your coconut oils, and your avocado oils. So oils can be inflammatory. You know, foods obviously… And I'm sure you've done a ton of these shows, Katie, but, you know, basically moving away from anything that promotes inflammation in the system, what crosses… You know, just like you can have leaky gut, you can have leaky brain. So if you're not… You know, your gut is also your enteric nervous system. It's your second brain. You know, I'm sure you've done a great number of shows on gut health. But maintaining great health with your gut… My father unfortunately, had a wheat allergy and had celiac. He didn't know that until later in life. You know, much now of our grains and our gluten have glyphosate, you know, the Monsanto sort of pesticide, which can wreak havoc on our guts. So, this is obviously a huge topic. But if I were to point to a couple of resources just in the time we have, Dale Bredesen's book is amazing. Dr. Mark Hyman's work is amazing, in terms… He does a series called "The Broken Brain," which I highly recommend. I've done several podcasts with Dr. Terry Wahls. I'm about to do one with Dr. Bredesen, Dr. Mark Hyman, probably folks that you've had also on your show but in essence, you know, really seeking out the best functional medicine doctors. But I think doing also the testing, we now have access to those tests. So you can find out if you have an APOE4 allele. For example, I quit alcohol/ I didn't have an alcohol problem. But about 11 months ago, I realized that for my genetics, alcohol was not ideal for me.

And so, I've at least for the last 11 months, stopped drinking. So I think there's a lot of different things you can do proactively that sort of help, again, maintain your terrain in the best possible ways to give you that resilience. And in essence, you know, I mean, the brain is such a frontier. You know, there's still so much we don't understand about it. But the more that you can practice, you know, lifestyle practices, and nutrition, and exercise, you know, increasing BDNF, doing muscle, you know, extending exercises, getting that cardiovascular exercise in, all of those things are integral to creating that terrain that helps to prevent dementia. And then there's, of course, great supplements. You know, you wanna be getting your, your great clean omega 3s, your vitamin D, B. There's a whole protocol, which I've spoken about. I have a list, if anyone wants to message me, they can feel free to. But, you know, supplementation, nutrition, diet and exercise. Many of the tenants that you are an expert in and talk about frequently on your podcast, those are core tenants, and then looking to the experts. As it relates to, you know, how to prevent if you do have those genetic markers and/or you just have a lot of inflammation, how to get that down so as to kind of help enhance your epigenetics. So that, you know, again, using that analogy, even if you do have a loaded gun, you never have to have pull that trigger.

Katie: So many practical tips, I'll make sure we'll link to all of the resources you just mentioned in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. And as we get toward the end of our time, a question I selfishly love to ask because I'm always looking for new suggestions, if there is a book or a number of books that have dramatically impacted your life, and if so what they are and why?

Michael: Oh many. I have so many books that I love. I think reading is one of the great gifts we have in our time on the planet. I'll mention a few that I love "The Obstacle Is the Way" by Ryan Holiday. I think it's an exceptional book. All of us are facing challenges. I know you've got a lot of moms listening, that, you know, feel like their time isn't their own and are pulled in all kinds of directions from their kids that they love dearly. And also, you know, being a parent, a partner, and also trying to manage your own individual desires, challenges, needs. From just an inspirational point of view, I love the book "Love in The Time of Cholera." I think it's a beautiful love story with incredibly eloquent prose by Gabrielle García Márquez. I'm about to read "The Overstory Everyone Is Wax Prophetic." I haven't read it yet, but I'm about to. I think for men and husbands out there "Way of the Superior Man" is an incredible book by David Deida. It really goes into this notion of what it looks like as it relates to kind of polarities and how to step up into being a more embodied man and owning the embodied masculine. Another great book in that regard is "King Warrior Magician Lover." In terms of cognitive health, you know, I love Dale Bredesen his book. I think "The Grain Brain" by Dr. David Perlmutter is incredible. You know, there's a variety of different health resources, books that I love. But, you know, I could go on for ages and ages. The book I'm reading right now is "Braiding Sweetgrass," which is a really beautiful story. And there's a book by Boyd Varty. And I just had him on my podcast. He was incredible. He's actually a lion tracker. He doesn't hunt lions, but he uses tracking as an analogy for living and talking about being on track and being off track. I can't remember the exact title. You could probably Google it. I think it's like "Lion Tracker's Guide to Life." You could also find it through my podcast, "Peak Mind," Boyd Varty. That book blew me away. And I went deep. He did a 40 day Solo Excursion in the bush felt in South Africa and podcasted on it every day. And I listened to that on my road trip. And it was amazing. So, I'll stop there for now, but those are some of my favorite books.

Katie: Awesome. I'll make sure all of those are linked in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. And lastly, if people wanna stay in touch and keep learning from you, where should they start? It sounds like maybe your podcast, "Peak Brain?"

Michael: Yeah, "Peak Mind" is the podcast, "Peak Mind with Michael Trainer. And, yeah, I would love… That's probably the best place I'm putting out, you know, podcasts weekly, sometimes twice a week. Peakmind.org is the website. And the best way to reach me in terms of messaging is through social media. So I'm just at Michael Trainer, M-I- C-H-A-E-L T-R-A-I-N-E-R on social media across platforms. So feel free to message me. I always love hearing from people. I try to reply to absolutely everyone. So that's the best way really, and I'm just, you know, like everyone else, you're just trying my best, working to be the best citizen I can and the best, you know, family member I can. And so I'm very grateful for you to having me on the show because I know… I've learned about the show years ago from the folks at Thrive Market, and just heard how passionate, and how committed your audience members are. So, I honor you for being the standard you are in the world.

Katie: Well, thank you so much. And thank you for your time today and for all the work you're doing in the world.

Michael: Well, thank you. It's an honor and a pleasure.

Katie: And thank you as always for listening, for sharing your most valuable resource, your time, with both of us today. We're so grateful that you did, and I hope that you'll join me again on the next episode of the "Wellness Mama Podcast."

If you're enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

384: Building a Village, Creating Strong Relationships & Biohacking Tips With Michael Trainer, Source:https://wellnessmama.com/podcast/michael-trainer/