We are often insulated from our environment. In the winter, we warm our homes. In the summer, we cool them. But we may be unintentionally harming our health by not challenging our bodies to deal with the ambient temperature. A panel of experts today explains how we can benefit from cold therapy, offering practical first steps for those who are new to the practice. They also cover the problems with artificial light and the importance of getting more sunlight on our skin. They share how living more in tune with nature, as our ancestors did, can help alleviate a host of health conditions and reinvigorate the body.
The panelists are Dr. Mike T. Nelson, Katie Newman, Thaddeus Owen, Christa Rymal, Heidi Sime, and Nic Zahasky.
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Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda
In the winter months, we heat our homes. In the summer, we cool them. Unfortunately, by insulating ourselves against the weather, we are unintentionally hindering the body’s ability to naturally adapt to the climate around us and we may be negatively impacting our health as well. What if we turn things around and began using cold, heat and light therapy, our very environment in effect to improve our health? This is episode 282, and we have a slew of guests: Mike T. Nelson, Katie Newman, Thaddeus Owen, Christa Rymal, Heidi Sime and Nic Zahasky. These are a team of experts who cover the benefits of cold and heat therapy.
Mike is a doctor of Exercise Physiology. Katie is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Thaddeus is known as the PrimalHacker, a researcher who combines the best of what science and ancestral wisdom have to offer. Christa is the Founder, Co-owner and CEO of The Point Retreats. Heidi is an ancestral artist. Nic is a culinary chef and a functional fitness trainer. Together on this episode, this elite group offers practical steps for getting us started with cold therapy. They explain how fifteen minutes of shivering is worth an hour of working out. They also delve into the benefits of light therapy, going over for example how the sunrise sun gives our body hormonal cues. They go into the problem with artificial light and what we can do to get more natural light in our lives. I conducted this interview at The Point Retreats in Minnesota.
We are here at the beautiful The Point Retreats in Minnesota with a lovely crew who have come from all over the world to learn about ancestral living and particularly about fire and ice, the importance of cold therapy, and heat and light therapy. We’re going to talk about these things and a few other topics of interest. I’m going to have these panelists introduce themselves and then we’ll get going with some pertinent questions. Let’s start with Christa Rymal because she is the owner of this place.
I’m Christa Rymal. I am the Cofounder and Co-owner of The Point Retreats.
I’m Dr. Mike T. Nelson. I’m a faculty member of Carrick Institute, Owner of Extreme Human Performance, and host of Not Another Fitness Podcast and Iron Radio Podcast.
I’m Heidi Sime. I am a co-host of the Barefoot Life Podcast. I’m also a mother of 4/6 children, and that is a job I take seriously. I’m also an ancestral artist and a meditative art guide.
I am Thaddeus Owen. I am the Founder of PrimalHacker. I teach about ancestral wisdom where it merges with the latest science.
I am Nic Zahasky. I am an ancestral and biohacker chef. I have the great luck to travel around and do this fun thing about food.
I’m Katie Newman. I host the Barefoot Life Podcast along with Heidi, which is a holistic living podcast. I am a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, personal trainer, and holistic health coach.
We could spend an hour with each of these individuals and learn so much, but we are limited to time so I’m going to ask each of them a few questions and dive deep into this whole concept of this retreat, fire and ice. Christa, why don’t you tell us where the idea for this retreat came from?
As Thaddeus, Heidi and I started to talk about having a winter retreat, we were looking at how we could use some primitive and ancestral components of health. I reflected back on my background, which is in Western medicine as a nurse administrator. I thought about the things that made a difference in people’s health. Here’s what I came to, Hilda. I have pushed a lot of medications. I’ve been involved in a lot of big interventions and been part of some big life and death moments. Here’s where I saw the most thank yous. When I would bring someone something simple like a warm blanket, I would always get a thank you. When I would bring somebody something like a bag of ice to place on an inflamed area of their body, I would always get a thank you.
I would rarely make eye contact or say thank you for interventions that were complicated and complex. It’s some of those simple interventions that meant the most to people. They were simple acts of human kindness and care. As I started to think about this more and how we could translate that into what we have accessible here in Minnesota, we have a lot of ice in the winter. As I started to use more of the sauna therapy, we have a lot of warmth. We have a lot of heat. It’s edgy. It’s a little primitive. It’s ancestral. It’s got all of these fun dynamics to it that drew me in. I hoped that it would do the same to others. When I shared the idea with Thaddeus and Heidi, they were like, “Yes, fire and ice. That’s it.”
It seemed to be so fitting because as we look at what our ancestors used for health, they had some of the most simple, basic things that I still saw make a difference in Western medicine. When you look around where we’re sitting, we’re sitting in an ancestral place. This has a lot of ancestral history, Native American history. As The Point Retreats continues to grow, what I’m finding to be most valuable, even though we have doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, PAs coming, what I see being most meaningful is some of the most basic interventions and the basic things that we offer here. Fire and ice are two of them.
I for one can vouch for how healing this space feels, but we’ve also done some extreme things here. We jumped in the ice holes. I don’t know if our ancestors were doing that though. Let’s talk about why would you call thermogenesis? Can you get into that a little bit, Dr. Mike?
There’s a bunch of different reasons to do cold water therapy or cold water immersion. A lot of neuroscience is looking at possible ways of controlling inflammation, looking at different adaptations in the body. You can view it from either the physiology stand and then also a mindset side. On the mindset part, I’ve always thought about, “Are there harder things you can do almost each day that will make you a little bit better?” I think cold water is one of them. I always think about if I’m a shower, “Maybe I should put it on cold,” and every time I’m like, “That’s a dumb idea. I don’t want to do that. That’s why I should probably do it for a little while. It’s not going to be that damaging. I’m not going to hurt myself. Every time I’m done, I feel a little bit better.” There’s a mental component to it of training your brain to do those little things that are initially hard but have benefits from it.
On the physiology side, there are some interesting studies looking at how it affects different body systems from brown adipose tissue to possibly glucose metabolism, fat use, maybe body composition, and expanding outside your comfort zone a little bit. Humans are homeotherms. We want to keep their body at the same temperature all the time. One way we can train that is not necessarily by expecting our body temperature to change, but can we put our physiology into different conditions and expect it to try to hold that temperature within regions.
For example, we went and jumped out in the lake here and we had Todd cut a big hole in the ice and Jade helped. Granted the water was very cold and near 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but we were not in there for a super long period of time. It feels cold. It’s hard. You’re probably going to get some benefit from it, but you don’t want to stay in long enough for you’re going to get to the point of being damaged. Going outside your comfort zone a little bit within an area that’s safe can provide other physiologic benefits that in general are being stripped away by modern society.
The way I’ve heard you put it, Thaddeus, you’ve said that we’ve somehow done away with winter. What does that mean?
Unlike Game of Thrones, winter is not coming for most of us. We have pretty much canceled winter. That means no matter what climate we live in as humans in modern society, our car seats are heated. Our homes are at 72 degrees. Our gyms, our schools, our workplaces, we rarely experience cold. Even though our bodies have some ancient pathways built into them, for adapting to cold and for extreme benefits from cold adaptation, we never experienced cold in our modern society, nor true winter. As our ancestors would have prepared for cold and winter, they would have been sleeping more. They would have gotten colder. They’re not going to heat their homes to 72 degrees, depending on where they live, because they can’t afford to from firewood or any kind of a standpoint, except in the recent history. When we do that, our eating patterns, our sleeping patterns and our daily life patterns never change, no matter what time of year it is. We always experience the same light, the same temperature, the same food, and that’s often to our detriment and we do need like our ancestors did, to bring winter back for optimal health.
I hear what you guys are saying. I’m wondering, who’s done this and can testify to its benefit, some of this bringing winter back like Thaddeus is talking about? Katie, you said you had a story or two, do you want to share?
My health journey started with changing my nutrition to some of the Weston A. Price Foundation philosophies, adding more healthy fats, and cutting all my carbs. Once I did all that, I had the energy to explore some of these other avenues to improve my health. Cold therapy has been one of the best. The diet and nutrition drastically changed my health, but once I got into the cold water, magical things started to happen. I was stricken with a whole handful of severe autoimmune diseases, lots of inflammation and Raynaud’s. Once I started the cold therapy, it all seemed to disappear. I do want to make a little statement about the Raynaud’s. I’m not telling everyone whether or not to go jump in the cold water. There are precautions, protocols and safety measures to be taken, but it changed my health for the better. It’s been amazing.
People need to take it gradually when they start doing this cold thermogenesis. I want to know some more stories. Heidi, what do you have to say about CT?
Everything was going along warmly before biohacker moved into my house. My practice changed and my morning routine became part of how we live. Thaddeus and I talk about this stuff. He talks about science. I try to decipher it to the people who aren’t understanding what he’s saying. The science is out there. You guys can read about that, but when you practice it, it’s a whole different deal. I do that every day. I’m a leader in my home. It’s one of those ancestral things like whatever mom is doing in the house and the ducklings will follow. We have six children between us. That’s a lot. Thaddeus and I are outside every single morning and I wear a Kiniki bathing suit so we can get sunlight and CT. My son, Michaelangelo, has started to follow in our footsteps. He’ll take his shirt off and go up before us. It’s cool to see how that is a ripple effect on our children’s lives. It’s a way of life for us. Thaddeus doesn’t skip. That’s something we should know about him. He is seven days a week outside, CT and morning sunlight. I’m 6 out of 7. The day I skip is the day I’m like, “Something is a little off.” I know that when I come back inside, because we live in the Northern climate, that I’m going to feel superhuman. It’s fantastic.
Can you be specific for people who have never tried this before? What would you recommend as a first step for getting some cold therapy? How long do you stay out?
It depends on the temperature outside. We live in Wisconsin. If the temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, we can stay up for twenty minutes max. Once we were outside and it was negative three below, and we didn’t even know that because we’re so cold-adapted. It’s going to be different for everybody, but if you’re first starting out, take baby steps. If you follow our Instagram channel, we always say that, “Please, take it slow and ease your body into it.” Step outside for five minutes in a t-shirt, or go for two minutes, go for a walk around the block in a sweatshirt. The next day, take the sweatshirt off, wear a t-shirt, and then gradually, increase time and decrease your clothing.
That is a shiver walk. That’s a neat way to think of it. I do that as well. You’ve said also, Thaddeus, fifteen minutes of shivering is worth an hour of working out because when we shiver, we’re depleting glycogen from the muscles and that’s the same effect of an intense workout. I feel like I’m more defined than I was before, even though I’m working out less, thanks to the benefits of cold thermogenesis. What’s been your experience, Nic? Can you give one step for the reader to try CT?
I got involved with CT because of running. I train for endurance sports. I always knew that the last race of the year was going to be in the early part and the end of October. In Fargo, when I ran, it was the end of October. We ran through a pond and we had to pull ourselves across. I started doing showers to get acclimated to it, going outside, shoveling and doing those things. I quit running for many years, but lately, I’ve been getting out at sunrise or sunset for a twenty-minute run focusing on my breath. That is how I have introduced it.
A couple of you have mentioned the sunlight. I want to also talk about that because the other part of the retreat is fire and ice. Heat and light therapy, who can speak to the science on that? Mike?
In terms of light, there are all sorts of benefits that we’re seeing. One of the main benefits that people I’m sure to have heard of before is the circadian rhythm. One of the biggest tips I found with clients is getting outside in the morning as soon as you can and getting some sunlight. It doesn’t mean you go out and stare directly at the sun or anything like that. Get out when you can, even a couple of minutes would be beneficial. Ideally, I tell clients to take a walk for 10 to 20 minutes. Even if they sleep in a little bit later in terms of circadian rhythm effects, they’ll still see some of the effects of it. What’s fascinating is a lot of those receptors in the eye are on the bottom part of the eye.
They’re almost designed for even as the sun is overhead, that you’re still going to get those effects. You don’t have to stare directly at the sun or do anything like that. I’ve noticed anecdotally, even clients with weird circadian rhythm stuff, if they can do that every day for about two-ish weeks, they’ll start to feel better during the day, they’ll have more energy and they’ll be tired at night to go to bed. When I asked them, “Why? What’s going on?” Usually, they’ll report that they feel tired in the mid-afternoon. They get better towards the end of the day. They try to go to bed early and they’re wide awake and they can’t figure out why they can’t go to bed early. In the past, I yell at them, “Why don’t you go to bed?” That never worked. Now I say, “Can you get up and get some movement first thing in the morning?” There are also other benefits that Thaddeus can talk about too in relation to the different colors of the light, especially getting more red light from the sun in the morning has other beneficial effects too.
I’ve heard that people with dogs live longer. I wonder if it’s because they’re out for that 10 to 20 minutes like you were talking about.
Someone emailed me and said, “I did your course and I bought a dog.” They sent me a picture of a dog they bought because one of the things that I recommend is if you’re an animal lover, get a dog. Go adopt one because you’ll have to get up in the morning. I’ll have to take Fido out for the walk. Usually, Fido doesn’t sleep in real late. They usually tend to get up early so you’ll go outside. You’ll get some movement and you’ll get your sun exposure all at one. Oddly enough, humans will do it for a dog more likely than they would do it for themselves.
I had a small group and when we were talking about blood sugars and continuous glucose monitors. There were a couple of nurses in the group, which I love. We were talking about this particular case of someone who is newly diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes. He was on a two-week continuous glucose monitor. In week one, you could see that later in the day, he had a lot of blood glucose elevations. We reviewed his results after week one. In week two, what we found is that we had a number of different things that we could try and remedy, but out of all the things that we could potentially do to help correct those blood sugar spikes, he picked that he could take a half-hour walk with his dog after dinner. For those of you who are in this continuous glucose monitor group, at the end of the second week, we saw a dramatic improvement in his blood sugars. Here was someone who did not want to go on medication. He was limited in what he could do with his lifestyle, but he did say, “I can take my dog for a walk for a half-hour.” That probably prevented him from having to go on medication.
Thaddeus, it was a challenge on this show. It was episode number 161, Biohacking Our Health, because I refer many people to it. You said, “I challenge everyone to get outside within 30 to 45 minutes of sunrise.” Why is that important? Why are you so passionate about people doing that?
It is super important for optimal health to be outside. The reason is when we built our homes and installed man-made artificial lighting, which I refer to as junk lighting, like junk food. It’s processed artificial lighting that in no way represents the lighting outdoors from Mother Nature. Look at any animal on planet Earth and they’re not wearing sunglasses, covering up a sunscreen, wearing clothing and living in little boxes. They still are under the sun. The sun is designed to work with our bodies for optimal health. When we come inside, there’s study after study that says, “Being under these artificial lights are associated with heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.” There are known problems and most people don’t think about that, nor do they know that our indoor environments were not designed with our health in mind.
When we get outside, especially at dawn, we are giving our body the natural cue that all of our ancestors would have received because they lived in concert with nature directly through their eye and their skin for what time of day it is, what time of year it is and what hormones to start producing when. It is super important. The Nobel Prize in medicine in 2017 was given for circadian biology because of its huge impact on health. Getting outside at dawn is what has been shown to set your circadian rhythm for the day to wake you up because cortisol is increasing and making you alert, which it should be. It makes you sleepier. Getting outside at dawn allows you to be sleepier at night when it’s time to go to bed because you’re in sync with that cycle of the Earth finally. The indoor lights do not give us those cues to sync our bodies to the right time or environment.
Let’s say we don’t have a dog. I want to ask a few of you, how do we go about doing this? How do you hack your light? What’s a simple step that the readers can do to start living this way if they don’t have a dog?
I did this before I knew any of the science. I knew by getting out in the mornings and going for a run helped set my day up for success. My husband would sit back and have a cup of coffee and said, “Go have fun with that. I’m going to relax and hang out.” I knew that my morning run is my cup of coffee. After meeting Thaddeus and learning the science behind it, I’m like, “It all makes sense.” In the winters, when I would go onto the treadmill in the gym because I was afraid of the cold, I would not get the same results. It’s all come full circle. Getting out in the morning is a good step, but I started the cold therapy with hot-cold showers. That’s a simple step that the average person can take. Start your morning off with the coldest water you can tolerate for as long you can. Usually, start with 30 seconds and then build your way up and go back and forth. I started with a minute and built my way up to ten minutes. I started doing more extreme stuff like jumping into the frozen lake.
She did it a couple of times. One was when it was dark outside. Nic, what would you recommend somebody do if they wanted to start getting some more sunlight in their life?
I’ll reiterate what everyone said is getting outside first thing and foremost. I love to forage. This is a new-found thing for me. Getting outside, especially even in the wintertime, the stuff that you can find when we had the honor to have Sean here. We went outside and found cedar, spruce and made this amazing tea. There are many things that we can do. We’re all driven by food. How to find what’s in our environment, that inspired me no matter what time of year it is.
Heidi, what about you?
My light environment starts with my sauna space in the morning. Red light therapy and my Kundalini yoga practice. That is how I set my day up before. My circadian rhythm is synced to the sun, so I wake up early and I go to bed early. When I wake up in our Northern climate where we live, there’s not a lot of daylight in the time that I’m waking up. That’s when Thaddeus and I both go do what we have separate practice and I go into the sauna. I sit in the sauna for probably 20 to 30 minutes and I let the red light absorb into my body. I do my yoga. Sometimes I sit in silence, it depends on what I feel for the day.
Immediately, I put my blue blockers back on. The important part is I do not look at my phone without blue blockers before I see sunlight. That’s a mistake that a lot of us are doing. We’re quick, we got to get up, look at your phone, look at your alarm and turn your alarm off. Neither Thaddeus nor I ever look at our alarm or turn it off without fumbling in the dark for our blue blockers and that’s important. We set the stage for our children to do the same. We step outside, we see the sunlight, and then the other blue lights in the house. After sunrise, it’s okay to then look at any screen or blue light.
I wanted to say the absolute simplest thing you can do because people find it challenging sometimes, “I work a job. I’m driving to work. I’m indoors and I can’t break away when the sun is rising.” If at all possible when you drive to work, crack your windows. The windows block 50% of the red and infrared and almost all of the ultraviolet. You’re getting an altered and alien spectrum of light through your window. If you’re at your home office, at your home, in the office or the car, crack the window, and that natural light will come in that you’re not getting normally indoors. It’s super simple. Everyone should be able to do that within reason. I know there are some people that work in offices where the windows don’t open or they’re in different environments, but if you can open a window or take a “smoke break” or a bathroom break, this light information is quantum. That means a tiny amount makes a huge difference. Take your bathroom break and step outside for one minute.
Christa, how about you?
I’m going to simplify it even more. What you do is you find a spouse, who’s a forester who raises grass-fed beef and you marry him. That’s my husband. We have all these debates because he’ll look at me and he’d be like, “You have this covered of nutraceuticals, you’ve got red lights and saunas, and you’re methodical about all of these things that you do for your health.” He looks at me like I’m half-crazy or fully crazy a lot of the time. I look at him and he simplifies it so much to the point where I’m like, “Why do I make it complicated and it’s simple for him?” He is incredibly healthy. As I’m staring at my mother-in-law across the way, she’s set the path for that. There’s a lot of lifestyle pieces that we make complicated. We live in a time where it’s complicated when I would meet with patients and coach them.
It’s not always easy to make choices that are fighting the evolution of where modern man, modern women or modern lifehood is going. I love the fact that I am married to someone who keeps it simple. I would say that we are going where we’re going with modern-day society. What we can do is when we do take those times to restore, be intentional about where we go. When you have those moments where you can take a break from modern life, are you going to go and put yourself in an environment where you’re inundated again with all of the same modern-day stressors? Do you try and say, “I have a couple of weeks a year where I can go and reset myself, and I’m going to be intentional about where I go to do that?” Take time to go out into the woods. Take time to go and put your phone away. Take time to go and set your circadian biology. Take time to find the simple aspects of health. If that’s all you can fit into a year, that’s okay. From there, it fosters and grows. Secondary to that is find a grass-fed beef farmer who’s a forester and marry them.
You make it sound so simple. I want to dive deeper because I know you have four pillars to boost our health. I feel like that’s a simple philosophy that you can share with our audience.
We had an opening presentation as we started the fire and ice retreat. As I was trying to think about how fire and ice fit into the pillars of the point, our four pillars are grounded in ancestral health. It’s nutrition, it’s sleep, it’s restoration and it’s movement. They’re primitive. They’re primal. They’re ancestral. They’re basic. It’s not what I was formally introduced to in my education. I was drawn to Western medicine and as I explained that, the more complicated, the better. I wanted more tubes, more interventions, more surgeries, more technology, and more medication. I thought the more we could do, the better. I’ve slowly been taking steps to reverse that over the years.
I’ve come down to the fact that it’s those more basic interventions that offer the most healing. I share that I was on a flight where they were calling overhead for a medical person to come to aisle three to help with someone who is having a medical emergency. I went up there and what I did was breathe with her and ask her to stay present with me until we could get to the ground. That’s exactly what we did. I know what she likely had going on was something where she could have collapsed at any moment. I certainly recognize that this won’t work in every situation, but it worked for us. She stayed with me and I stayed with her. I had the AED close by and thank God, I didn’t have to use it, but over and over, I had those moments where I’ve realized it is those human-to-human connections, the most basic connections that you can make that offer the most healing and the biggest difference in someone’s life.
I know this is resonating with everybody who knows anything about the show because it’s food, farming and the healing arts. We’re all about those connections and community. I feel like we’ve been sold a bill of goods with what our conventional medical system and our government has told us for so long. I want to ask you guys this, as we pivot. What is the biggest lie we’ve been sold and maybe bought when it comes to health? Thaddeus?
Here we are at fire and ice talking about cold adaptation and how our ancestors lived with bringing winter back. This is crazy because even my mother who’s a nurse practitioner, the medical doctors tell her this, “Your son is going to get pneumonia from getting outside in the cold.” It is crazy. You don’t get a cold and sick from being out in the cold. Yes, if you run your immune system down and you do it for too long, but we are building resiliency. We are protecting our immune system. We’re upgrading ourselves by being outside. The medical community needs to understand that bringing winter back and making more resilient humans keeps people out of the medical space.
I think it is looking for something that’s outside of nature. We often look for a cure for something by going to a white lab coat versus listening to internal instinct. I got introduced to all this through food and a healed depression, anxiety, years of head traumas. It’s looking back to the roots. I am going to reiterate what Sean says because I was nodding in the corner last time. The atrocities are we’ve been sold a bill of goods of, “These are the commodity foods that you should eat for health.” Forget all about the indigenous things that are around you. That’s why we’re in this boat. That’s the biggest lie I’ve been told. Once I decided to break out of that, there’s something new that I’m finding within the food or within the environment of being indigenous-like is building my health.
I want to elaborate. It was Sean Sherman who been on this show before. He’s known as the Sioux Chef. He also has an organization, a nonprofit called NATIFS, which is committed to lifting up indigenous wisdom and having us eat more traditional local foods. He is helping particularly the Native Americans reconnect with their own foodways and then bringing that to all of North America, but then helping indigenous people all around the world reconnect with their foodways. These benefits us all. It’s a powerful thing. It was phenomenal and he prepared a fantastic meal. Any other thoughts on the biggest lie we’ve been sold, Heidi?
I’m going to piggyback off of Nic. In my search for health and wellness, I came across a doctor named Dr. Wallach. He wrote a book in the ‘80s called Dead Doctors Don’t Lie. I am probably going to offend some people, but listening to doctors. I am sorry, but his research and the statistics that he came up with are profound. They die sooner than a regular person. That’s a little crazy. Following in the Western A. Price tradition, going outside the box, and looking at somebody who you’re taking advice from is an interesting thing. It’s like, “We blindly believe that person has this credential.”
Take a look at who’s giving you advice. If the person that’s giving you advice isn’t healthy and living the thing that they’re doing, maybe look at something else. That’s what Dr. Price probably did. He was looking at the children around him. Also, sometimes even just doing what other adults do is a funky thing. If we ever take a look at what our children do and do a little bit more myopic investigation and watch them, something that I have committed to do. I don’t even know why I started doing this. When my kids are outside in nature, I mimic them. If they go under the fence and we’re on a hike, they are crossing the pond, doing whatever and jump over the tree, I mimic what the children do. Our children are our teachers as well. That’s important that we observe that.
That’s a beautiful sentiment.
It is like an epiphany for me. Even as a chef and cooking for years, as I walked into a grocery store, I realized even in a health food store that most of the food there isn’t real. I was like, “There’s no energy here.”
Nic is basically saying, “We bought the lie that the food they’re selling us is food.” Katie?
I feel this is my revelation because being in this field for years, I’m constantly like, “That was a lie.” I go off on these. I get passionate about all these lies that I discover and try to share my knowledge with everyone, but my biggest revelation is science. I know Dr. Mike is into science, but I feel like in our society, we’re led to believe that we need that science, but we’re all intuitive beings, the answers and the wisdom lies within us. Listening to your body and what feels right, good and what you’re called to do. We chatted in our podcast about deep listening. Not just listening to others, but listening to yourself. I think a lot of that can come with meditation. If you take five minutes a day to sit with yourself and listen to what your body needs and wants is huge. In our society, we do not need science. You can just listen to your body and get all the answers.
Let’s go on, Christa. What do you have to add?
To piggyback off of what Heidi was saying, coming from the traditional medicine space, I’ve never spoken this. One of the biggest lies is that in the non-traditional space, physicians, nurses, and clinicians don’t want to do good because that is exactly why they go into the profession. We all do what we’re taught. We all do what we know. MDs and even some PhDs are doing what they know and they’re doing the best that they can. What I would say is that the lies are physicians don’t want to do more and do better because they do. They just don’t have very many spaces where they’re given permission to do that.
When we have continuing medical education retreats here for clinicians, what I see happening is eventually they let their guard down and they become human instead of their degrees. They’re searching for all the same things that we’re talking about here. As a matter of fact, to go back to the fire and ice principles of what we’ve taught, we had a couple of clinicians jump into the cold water early last May. They sat in this room afterward and they were glowing. They were like, “I’ve never felt alive. I’ve never felt invigorated. I’ve never felt healthy.” We perceive that those who know the most are the most distant from those of us who seek holistic health.
They oftentimes are the ones that need the most permission to dive into ancestral health. They have the fewest outlets to do that safely. I want to break down that wall of saying, “It’s like physicians here, holistic practitioners here.” At the end of the day, we’re all looking for the same thing. Where do we have access to go? Where do we feel like we can safely be and explore? Physicians want it too. They’re hungry for it. Nurses, PAs and NPs want it. We just get trapped in where we are, even if we’re feeling burnt out. I will say, physicians have one of the highest rates of suicide out of any other profession in the country and nobody talks about that. It’s because they aren’t free to explore these kinds of things. It’s critical that we provide spaces where they can know what they know at their highest level and degrees, but they can also go back to those basic roots of health and healing. It’s okay to do both.
Who said, “Physician heal thyself?”
In other words, they want that too for themselves and their patients. Mike, do you want to say something about the biggest lie we’ve been sold?
I think probably the biggest lie is that everyone tells you it’s going to be easy. The reality is that most changed for most people is not easy. Telling them that it’s going to be easy is setting them up for failure. The second part of that is they confuse easy with simple. A lot of the tips we learn here are relatively simple to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be easy for you to do on a routine basis. Realizing that you can take simple tips, you don’t need them to be incredibly complicated, then figure out how to work them in your life, knowing that it’s probably going to take some work, but there are going to be benefits to it and it will be well worth your time to do it.
If you don’t have a dog get a dog. That is the simplest thing to do, then you have an accountability partner. I was going to piggyback off what Christa was saying about doctors. Something else that I’ve been swirling and I’ve been reading about is doctor’s education. When they’re through their training, what are we teaching them? What we’re teaching them is the same thing over and over, “This is the answer. The surgery, the pharmaceuticals.” Back to Dr. Price, it’s probably somewhere beyond that, chunking that down and thinking about how could we change the way we train our doctors and our nurses. Christa, you’re in the field and you see that. We can look on the inside, and I’m not in no way shape trying to offend anybody, looking at it from a perspective as a whole.
What you’re saying is not the physician, but the system.
This is going to be the lightning round. I’m going to ask a question for each of you. We’ve had this amazing experience and we all admire you also. We want to learn about you a little bit more. Tell us your personal favorite health hack. In other words, something that you do that you’re like, “This makes me feel alive and ready to face the day every day.” We’ll go around this rapidly. We’ll start with Katie.
I’m also known as Keto Katie. I have to say ketones. I find my biggest health hack and weapon throughout the day, especially if I’m going through the weekend, is to eat a lower-carb diet, maybe do a little fasting, get the ketones rubbed up and get my brain fired up.
Christa, what about you?
I would say blue blockers and red light therapy. For me, being a recovering night owl nurse and healthcare administrator, I tend to be someone who tends to stay up and work late at night in front of the computer and screens. For me, having blue blockers and then red light therapy to mitigate that has been crucial for sleep.
I would say enhancing the flexibility or adaptation of your body and metabolism. You can look at metabolic flexibility, how I’ll use fat and carbohydrates for physiologic flexibility. How well can you adapt to being cold, being warm and think outside of what other beneficial things can your body adapt to overtime?
Mine is setting my intention for the day. How you set up your day, the first thought that you have when you wake up on your pillow, that’s your opportunity to co-create your day and setting up that intention. My intention has been love. I do have an ancestor that hangs out with me. I had an epiphany and your daughter, Amelia, helped me realize that and she’s an incredible human. She helped me figure that out in my ancestral grandmother or great-grandmother, whoever’s hanging out here, she keeps pushing me to show more love and that has had many returns. I think showing more love and being loved helps so much.
I would say creating a primal sleeping environment. If you have any money to spend on your health, starting with your bedroom. Those eight hours or more, or maybe a little less for some of us of sleep are so crucial to allow your body to relax and heal itself. If your environment is not set up in the right way, you are not going to get primal healing sleep. That is important. That is my number one hack.
What about you, Nic?
People are going to think that as a chef say, “Have a good breakfast.” It’s further from the truth because the cooking environment is probably one of the most stressful environments, so as medicine. Coming from a past of that for the last few years and then having a stressful home environment as a child, I discovered a few years ago that the biggest thing to combat that and the biggest hack is breath. This is the first thing that brings us into this world. It’s the last thing that takes us out. It has a time in the morning where I connect to myself for twenty minutes doing chakra and alternate nostril breathing, but all gratitude on love and sharing to the universe that I’m here.
For this next question, you might have the same answer or different. I want you to direct those of us in this room and those reading. This is a question I always pose at the end of the show. If the reader could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do? This is not just your own personal favorite health hack, but it’s something you would tell a client or a friend, “Just start here.” Let’s start with Katie.
I personally believe that it all starts with a mindset. You can do any type of diet you want, paleo, keto, high carb, low fat. As long as you have a positive, healthy mindset around it, you’re going to see a change. I think starting your morning off, I have a three-step process rolled into one. Having a good mindset and outlook, and then spending those few minutes from that mindset to be with yourself helps you tap into your intuition, which helps you live a good day and what you should be taking in and giving out.
The most important thing to do is to start with something that you can achieve. A lot of times, the healthcare provider will direct the patient in terms of what they should do for their health. It’s most important for the patient or a person to say, “What’s realistic for me to do with my health? What can I do and get a win?” Start with a place that you can succeed. Don’t start with what’s necessarily the most difficult thing for you to do, but what’s realistic for you to do and start there. I would say build a support system, work with a coach or work with a PhD. Anybody who’s going to offer you that encouragement that you need to make sure that you continue to propel yourself forward to where you want to go. Having a person or the patient direct their goals.
I would say alternating exercise and nutrition. On day one, do some type of weightlifting or high-intensity interval type training, probably have a little bit higher carbohydrates on that day. The next day, alternate that with more fasted, moderate-intensity aerobic or cardiovascular training. Have fewer carbohydrates on that day and then alternate back and forth between those two.
There are a lot of external modalities that we might get caught up into. Investigate what is happening inside. We always forget that there is the stuff that’s going on inside and doing the internal work and taking an investigation observation of, “Here’s an instance that I feel stressed. Here’s an instance that my child made me angry. Why is that? Why am I angry? He didn’t make me angry. I’m angry for a reason.” Byron Katie wrote this wonderful book and it’s called The Work. Do a deep investigation because everything that manifests in your physical world first comes from your internal world. Start in the internal and then branching out and get a pair of blue blockers.
Whether it’s raining, cold, snowing, cloudy, foggy or sunny, get outside way more often than you do now at any cost. It is important for your health to be outside in nature. At least do that once or twice a day, but make time and make space in your life to get outdoors more often.
I’ve been thinking about this for years and what I’ve come up with is Heidi is like my female doppelganger in mindset. We had shared the same ideas and it was the internal work. I think the biggest aspect is to stop looking at I and looking at we. Looking at dropping the dogma because everybody’s trying to get to the same place. Everything that we look at here is like, “You should do keto. You should do paleo. You should be carnivore. You should be vegan or wear blue blockers,” or anything else like that. As Bruce Lipton says, “It’s the power of our mind.” We all subscribe to one thing which becomes dogmatic, which then affects our health in a negative and or positive way. Drop the dogma.
Trust me that the Wise Traditions folks are all about that. We’re about looking to the wisdom of the past, which is not much like anything we see nowadays. We all appreciate everything you’ve brought to the table. This has been an amazing experience. I hope it means as much to the readers as it does to all of us in this room. Thank you for being on the show.
About Christa Rymal
Christa has a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, a Masters Degree in HealthCare Leadership, Advanced training from the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the Institute of Functional Medicine, and the American Academy of Functional Medicine. Christa worked in the healthcare industry for over 20 years in emergency medicine, cardiac care, orthopedics, primary care, diabetes education and endocrinology. She is committed to bringing the science and practice of lifestyle medicine to more people living with a chronic disease or aiming to prevent one.
About Heidi Sime
Heidi is an abstract artist and meditative art educator. She explores life through design, art, biohacking, primal living, experimenting, meditating, celebrating, welding, metal working, archery, drawing, painting, reading, sailing, bindi-wearing, love, traveling, exploring, hiking, and sleeping. She is the mother of 4 children, 2 stepsons and a truth seeker. She began biohacking before the term was “coined” by making molecular water and experimenting with high fat sardine/berry/nut fasts way back in the 1990s. She is devoted to parenting, emotional intelligence & seeking higher spiritual truths.
About Katie Newman
Katie has over 20 years of experience in holistic health & fitness. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, Holistic Lifestyle Coach & a Certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializing in Paleo, low carb & therapeutic ketogenic diets. Her passion for holistic living grew after witnessing several clients’ miraculous health transformations including reversing a multitude of her own autoimmune diseases & her husband’s cancer remission. She thrives on improving the lives & state of well-being of others with nutritional therapy, using food as medicine, lifestyle & mindset.
About Mike Nelson
Dr. Mike T. Nelson CSCS has a PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Minnesota, an MS in Mechanical Engineering (biomechanics) from Michigan Tech ,and a BA in Natural Science. He has spent 20 years of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier. He’s an instructor for Rocky Mountain and has published research in both physiology and engineering journals. He has completed ongoing education from Z-Health as a Master Trainer, National Strength and Conditioning Association as a CSCS, Postural Restoration Institute, Anatomy Trains, the Institute of Motion, Be Activated, and others. He’s even been called in to share his techniques with top military agencies.
About Nicolas Zahasky
Nicolas has been an executive chef since 2002. Nic has launched, run and redeveloped restaurants and food-service programs in Nevada, California, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. In 2011, Nic retired from his executive chef role and left “the corporate lifestyle” to pursue self-training (and shortly after, training many others who sought him out) with functional fitness and Paleo nutrition. He began racing for the first time with this new-found energy, strength and passion, and began to consistently win national obstacle course races and competitions. Quickly becoming a public figure and personality for Paleo nutrition and ancestral health, he designed Cultivate in 2016 to bring more awareness and accessibility for ancestral nutrition, his Low-Impact model and functionally appropriate movement to the international stage.
About Thaddeus Owen
Thaddeus Owen was recently named one of the most influential biohackers on social media. Known as the Primal Hacker, Thaddeus combines the latest science and ancient practices to promote optimal health. He investigates what works and instructs others on the how-to’s required for building and upgrading their own health. He explores and shares what he has gleaned from ancient sages, spiritual masters, health experts, and the latest science, uncovering ideas previously hidden. Thaddeus has a BS in Chemical Engineering, and an MS in Holistic Nutrition.