11 Biohacks to Increase Your Daily Performance

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Mark Moschel

Plus A Virtual Walk Through The Bulletproof Biohacking Conference

 

Mark Moschel

Mark Moschel

Dec 2, 2015 · 20 min read

On Oct 23rd, biohackers from around the world gathered in Pasadena for the 3rd Annual Bulletproof Biohacking Conference. It was a whirlwind of a time. I’ll share what I learned so you don’t miss out.

But first, we gotta talk.

- Real Talk Zone -Let’s get real for a moment. We’re going to learn a bunch of biohacks in this post, many of which I’ll ask you to try yourself.Feeling is understanding”, one of the speakers said. When you try a technique yourself and experience what it feels like, you’ll understand it at a deeper level. So commit to trying these techniques with me and be mindful of how they make you feel.We’ll do this together. Are you in? Good!

Let’s do our first biohack.

Don’t worry! We won’t be doing these today 🙂

Gratitude

The conference started with Dave leading everyone in a moment of gratitude. Let’s join him in this practice now.

Our goal is to feel gratitude in our heart.

In a moment, close your eyes and try these steps:

  1. Visualize one thing you are grateful for.
  2. While holding this thought, breathe deeply. Imagine the air flowing in and out of your heart.
  3. Say “I am grateful…” to yourself as you breathe and notice the feeling of gratitude expanding.

Give it a try.


How’d that go?

Share with someone what you were grateful for. Text a friend, tell a stranger, post it as a comment below, tweet it, or just say it aloud to yourself.

As Alison Cebulla said, the kindness you share in the world finds its way back to you.

Inside the Biohacking Carnival

The biohacking conference is not like most conferences. Yes, there were talks and networking opportunities, but there was so much more. At all times, there were people…

  • getting injections of vitamins and minerals
  • being pulsed with low doses of electricity
  • doing full-body workouts in 2-minutes of adaptive resistance training
  • sampling their poop in the bathroom
  • meditating within virtual environments
  • doing handstands on vibration plates
  • getting full-body composition scans
  • sitting in infrared saunas
  • attempting to balance on indoor slacklines
  • tasting superfood and bulletproof concoctions
  • breathing flavored oxygen from an oxygen bar
  • lying in hyperbaric chambers
  • driving cars that look like butter down the sidewalk

It’s more an interactive carnival than conference.

Here’s an attempt to organize as many exhibits as I can remember.

Over the course of the weekend, a few themes emerged. The biggest one started two days before the conference.

On Wednesday and Thursday, 155 future Bulletproof Coaches got together for a 2-day in-person event. Surprisingly, the focus of their time together was not on the Bulletproof Diet. It was on Presence.

“We coach from a state of Presence”, Dr. Mark Atkinson instructed, “and we teach others to live from that state as well.”

Presence & Mindfulness

What is presence, what does it have to do with biohacking, and why was it mentioned by just about EVERY speaker at the conference?

Dr. Mark defines it as an optimal flow state of consciousness.

It’s the state from which clarity, connection, creativity, happiness, and high performance arise.

He references this quote from Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual author of The Power of Now:

“In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. We may call it presence, awareness, the unconditioned consciousness.”

In simpler terms, it’s the experience of living right now, in this moment, without thoughts of the past or worries of the future.

Normally, you live in your head. If you stop and ask, “where is my attention right now?”… it’s in your head. You’re thinking.

We spend most of our time there.

Our heads are controlled by our inner labrador, as Dave likes to say. That’s the animal part of our mind that reacts to primitive needs. It’s always afraid we might die, wants to eat, and likes to hump things. It’s main task is to keep us safe. To do so, its always looking around for threats and thinks just about everything is one.

Running late for work… threat!
Traffic… threat!
Person in elevator glanced at me weird… THREAT!!!!!!!!

The poor labrador is super freakin’ stressed. The chatter in our heads matches that. We’re thinking about that thing we should have done yesterday, the work task due at 5pm, or the girl we like and all the things we did and didn’t say to her.

These thoughts and labrador-triggered emotions form a fog around our head. Needless to say, this is not a state of high performance.

Presence, then, is the state of clarity when the fog has dissipated away.

We achieve presence through the practice of mindfulness. Dan Radecki and Phil Dixon, from the Academy of Brain-based Leadership, gave a talk on the neuroscience of mindfulness and how it builds resilience in the brain. They shared this definition.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”

Mindfulness is the practice of observing the fog. This simple awareness of the fog can begin to clear it away.

Dan and Phil shared a study from the Marine Corps that showed as mindfulness training increased, the participants performed better on working memory tests and reported less negative and more positive emotions.

In his talk on the Science of Happiness, Dave shared research on how a practice of mindfulness is associated with an increase in reported happiness and a decrease in negative thoughts.

Bill Harris, in his talk on the new science of super awareness, showed how awareness of our attention is directly associated with all six characteristics of the flow state. This awareness, then, helps allow the flow state to happen.

Emily Fletcher, Dr. Tami Meraglia, John Gray, and Alison Cebulla also mentioned the importance of this present-state awareness to decrease stress and increase performance.

If just about every speaker mentioned it, it’s probably something we should take seriously.

** RECAP **

  • Presence = a state of clarity and flow that enables our peak performance
  • Mindfulness = a clear, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment that moves us closer to Presence.

The formula, then, is this:

Practicing mindfulness → increased performance.

But how do we “biohack” our way to enhanced mindfulness?

Neurofeedback, like Dave’s 40 Years of Zen training, may be the most direct route. However, there are plenty of other techniques that are also highly effective.

Here are 11 I learned at the conference. All of them can help you increase mindfulness. Of those listed, meditation (#3 below) has the most research and experience supporting its effectiveness.

Best of all, they are all biohacks you can try right now.


1. Breathing — Wim Hof

Plenty of speakers talked about the power of breath awareness, but special guest Wim Hof was the most intriguing.

Wim Hof, known as “The Iceman”, is well known for his superhuman ability to withstand extreme cold.

Here’s a few incredible things he’s done:

  • In 2007, he climbed past the “death zone” altitude on Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts.
  • In 2009, Hof completed a full marathon in −20 °C (−4 °F) dressed only in shorts. He finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes.
  • He currently holds 21 Guinness World Records, including the longest ice bath at 1 hour, 53 minutes, 12 seconds.
  • He once injected himself with toxins (under doctor supervision) to demonstrate his ability to control his autonomic immune response. He consciously raised his cortisol levels and lowered his blood concentrations of cytokines using only his meditation techniques.

One of his techniques is called the Wim Hof Method and it’s a breathing exercise. Aside from enabling him to achieve all the amazing accomplishments above, Wim’s breathing practice claims the following benefits:

Ability to voluntarily influence your immune system (here’s a study done on 12 people trained with Wim’s methods that show this effect).

Increasing blood circulation, which improves muscle endurance and recovery.

Increasing your concentration and mindfulness.

From the stage, he led the audience in one round of this technique. Let’s do another round now.

Try this:

First, warm up with a few deep breaths. Draw air deep into your abdomen, hold a moment, then exhale completely, pushing out all the air in your lungs. Do this a few times.

Now follow these steps:

Step 1: 30 power breaths

Strong inhale through the mouth to fill the lungs and belly, then exhale through the mouth to push all air out. Short but powerful bursts, like blowing up a balloon.

Inhale… exhale…
Inhale… exhale…
Inhale… exhale…

Do that 30 times.

Your body will become saturated with oxygen. Symptoms could be light-headedness or tingling sensations in the body. If you feel dizziness or pain, stop the practice and breathe normally again.

After 30 reps…

Step 2: breathe out fully and hold

Relax your body and mind. Notice the oxygen spreading around your body and notice any feelings that arise.

You’ll be able to hold your breath with no air in your lungs for much longer than usual. He challenged the audience to hold for 1 minute. It seemed almost everyone did.

When you are about to gasp…

Step 3: inhale fully again and hold for 15 seconds

That’s one round.

Ready for the full thing? Do this:

1. Before doing the Wim Hof Method, do as many pushups as you can. This will be baseline.

2. Now do 4 rounds of this method (4 rounds of 30 reps)

3. After exhaling and holding on your very last rep, do another round of pushups. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Read more about Wim’s methods and watch his fascinating Vice documentary here: http://www.icemanwimhof.com/innerfire

2. Cold — Wim Hof and Dave Asprey

Wim and Dave both mentioned the benefits of cold therapy. You don’t have to be as extreme as Wim — he runs around in freezing cold temperatures in only his shorts — but you can start to move in that direction.

Some documented benefits of cold therapy:

Enhancing immune function (here’s a study where it increases glutathione levels).

Releasing adinopectin, which helps break down fat and repairs muscles.

Increasing cell longevity, similar to calorie restriction and intermittent fasting.

However, my favorite benefit of cold therapy is simply the ability to overcome your fear. Knowing you will be uncomfortable but jumping into the cold anyway is a great life skill to practice. Afterwords, you’ll feel ready to conquer the world.

Try this:

Option 1: Cold Showers

This is the easiest option to try today. Here’s what will happen. You’ll be terrified to jump into it because it’s going to be COOOOOOOOLD. That’s okay. Overcome that mindset. As Wim says, embrace the cold as your power.

Option 2: Ice Baths

Buy two bags of ice from a nearby gas station. Drop it in your tub and fill with cold water. Let it sit a few minutes and then plop yourself in.

Alternative: Submerging just your face, which is supposedly easier but similarly effective.

Option 3: Cryotherapy

Dave, in a talk on his day-to-day biohacking, showed a picture of the cryotherapy tank in his biohacking facility. He uses it just about every day. It has a host of benefits (read about those here). Like all things biohacking, it’s best to experience it yourself and observe how you feel.

Option 4: Go outside in the freezing cold

You could also be like Wim and walk around outside in your shorts during the winter. I haven’t tried this one yet, but since I’m in Chicago and winter is coming, I’ll be experimenting with it very soon.

3. Meditation — Emily Fletcher and Dave Asprey

Meditation is the intentional practice of building mindfulness, clearing away fog, and moving toward presence.

There are lots of different ways to meditate:

  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Ziva Meditation
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Breathing Meditation
  • Zen Meditation
  • Guided Meditation
  • Holosync Meditation

All are practices to declutter the mind and clear away fog. Any of them can work. More information on meditation techniques is here.

Try this:

Here’s one meditation technique that Emily Fletcher shared during her Friday talk. Watch the video and do the guided meditation with her.

The video is from a prior talk at Google. The meditation part is ~6 minutes long.

4. Internal Generator — Brendon Burchard and Dr. Robert Cooper

In the opening keynote, Brendon Burchard shared the 5 traits of high performers — clarity, energy, productivity, influence, and courage. A common misconception is that you HAVE these things. With that belief, you become a victim when you feel lacking in one of those areas.

Instead, think of yourself as a power plant. You GENERATE these traits.

Feeling low energy? You can generate energy from within you.

Dr. Robert Cooper echoed this idea in his Saturday keynote when he asked the audience to evaluate their current level of energy and focus.

High performers, he said, move through their day with a constant awareness of these levels. They notice when those levels dip and consciously raise them.

Try this:

Let’s do a quick check in. At this moment, what’s your self-rating? Circle or click on a number for each.

Energy — 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Focus — 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Now consciously increase your energy level by 3. If you were a 6, generate the energy to become a 9. Do you feel the spike in your actual energy?

Now increase your focus by 3. Aren’t you suddenly much more focused?

This is a tool you can utilize at any time, and, as Dr. Cooper said, high performers always do.

5. Power Poses — Max Gotzler

Max Gotzler gave a talk about tracking and hacking testosterone. In it, he shared a trick for giving your testosterone a quick boost. Watch the video below and do exactly what they do. Hopefully you’re in a crowded, quiet space 🙂

Power poses, like those in the video above or image below, can very quickly boost your testosterone and decrease your cortisol levels.

Try this:

Hold one of the power poses below for 2 minutes and you’ll feel a change in your confidence, mood, and energy.

6. Laughter

I met one entertaining individual who told me about his laughing meditation practice. A small group of us participated in a session. It’s easy and effective. You can literally do it right now. Just start laughing.

Laughing has a few benefits…
— It reduces stress hormones
— It boosts your immune system
— It makes you happy

Try this:

Think about something that stresses you. Maybe a work deadline, a conversation you’re second-guessing, or an event you’re not looking forward to.

Now, pretend you are pointing at it and start laughing out loud. Even if the laugh is fake, it still works. Your physical state can alter your mental and emotional states.

Keep laughing while you act out the thing that stresses you. Make it goofy.

You’ll feel the stress of the situation melt away. It’s a wonderful feeling.

As MC of the conference, there were times I felt the burden of stress. Fortunately, I’d frequently run into my laughing meditation friends and they’d immediately burst out into laughter, which would prompt me to burst out into laughter, and then suddenly I’d feel a whole lot better.

It may sound silly (and it is!), but laughter is a surprisingly powerful biohack.

7. Daily Prompts — Brendon Burchard, Emily Fletcher, Dr. Tami Meraglia, and Dr. Robert Cooper

We’re forgetful creatures.

We have intentions to be more kind, to eat better, and to be more mindful, but we often forget about those intentions in our moment-to-moment actions.

A few speakers shared a simple but effective trick to overcome this: daily prompts.

We may forget our best intentions, but we never forget to check our phone when it buzzes.

Brendon Burchard recommended setting daily alarms on your phone as a reminder of what’s most important to you. What 3 words best describe the type of person you want to be? Set those 3 words as your reminder.

Emily Fletcher suggested a similar practice. Use reminders on your phone to be more present throughout the day. You might include a message in the alert that says “Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself to be present in this moment.

Dr. Robert Cooper also suggested a daily prompt. Every night, he asks himself “What did I learn today that was new?

The brain will create what Dr. Cooper calls an anticipatory performance rise. In other words, because you know the question is coming, your mind will seek out new things to learn each day so you are ready to answer it.

Try this:

Choose one of the three examples mentioned by our speakers as your daily prompt:

— Brendon: 3 words describing who you want to be — Emily: “Breathe and remember to be present in this moment” — Dr. Cooper: “What did I learn today that was new?”

Create a new alarm in your phone and set the title or label as that reminder.

It sounds simple, but don’t forget, we’re forgetful creatures.

7. Daily Prompts

We’re forgetful creatures.

We have intentions to be…

… just kidding 🙂

Since we are forgetful, though, let’s pause a moment for a quick reflection. Join me in the grey box!

We talked earlier about the fog around our head. This is a long article and I’m sure fog has developed. Take a moment to clear it now.Bring your attention back to the present moment. This is your chance to practice mindfulness.So far, we’ve described these biohacks:- Gratitude
- Wim Hof Breathing Method
- Cold Therapy
- Meditation
- Internal Generator (check-ins)
- Power poses
- Laughter
- Daily PromptsWe have 4 more biohacks to cover. Let’s continue!

8. Eat More Butter & Fat — all attendees

Most people are starting to learn that fat isn’t as bad for you as we once thought. The benefits are documented nicely here: Why Saturated Fat Is Good For You.

Biohackers have taken it all the way to the other extreme. We believe the right kinds of fat are VERY good for you.

We’re clearly practicing what we believe. In the 3 days of the conference, 600 lbs of butter was consumed.

Let’s put that in perspective real quick.

Warning: we’re about to go on a wild butter tangent. If you’re interested, jump into the tangent box with me. Otherwise, skip ahead to the next biohack.

** Butter Tangent Box **600 lbs of butter in 3 days.That’s 0.5 lbs per person.
1 stick of butter is 0.25 lbs (and 8 tablespoons).
So each person ate two sticks of butter, or 16 tablespoons.
The USDA recommends a total fat intake of 2 tablespoons per day. Each person had almost 3x that in butter alone.

In total, that’s 75 gallons of butter consumed at the conference.

That’s a LOT of butter!I also saw people who brought their own sticks of butter. As if there wouldn’t be enough. It seems sticks of butter are to biohackers what Kit Kat bars are to teenagers on Halloween.

This guy really liked all the butter
There was fat in other surprising places too.Like the water…

And the toothpaste…

And the moisturizer…

Even local restaurants began serving more fat.This was one of the most under-appreciated parts of conference. Seven restaurants in Pasadena adjusted their menus to serve Bulletproof meals. That means they had to learn the fundamentals of the Bulletproof diet, teach it to their staffs, change their suppliers to source higher-quality ingredients (including high-quality grass-fed butter), and adopt new cooking styles to meet Bulletproof standards.That’s amazing!I’m not sure if they’re still serving these Bulletproof meals now that the conference carnival has left town, but I am confident the people who worked the restaurants those days are a little more conscious of healthy eating. That knowledge will stay with them as they continue to evolve their menus over time.

A local sushi restaurant prepared sashimi with Brain Octane oil.
While we’re speaking of Butter…Have you ever seen a car that looks like a stick of butter? Neither had I. But when butter-loving biohackers get together, things like this just happen…

The Concept

The Real World

I sat in the coffee cup as we drove the car around the block one evening. People gave us very weird looks 🙂

We’re out of the tangent box!

Try this:

  • Add grass-fed butter to your coffee
  • Add grass-fed butter to your tea
  • Add grass-fed butter to your veggies
  • Add MCT oil to your sushi and salads

9. Quit Alcohol (or biohack it!) — James Swanwick

We all know alcohol is bad for us. It’s a toxin and toxins aren’t good for the body.

James Swanwick, in a talk on how to hack, reduce, or quit alcohol, shared some of the negative consequences of drinking:

– lowers testosterone
– reduces libido
– kills brain cells
– leads to leaky gut
– makes you fat
– disrupts sleep
– dehydrates your skin
– is expensive

Obviously, quitting alcohol would provide a boost to our health and performance. The only problem is that quitting is hard! There’s a lot of social and societal pressure to drink.

James eventually quit drinking and hasn’t looked back. Here’s how you can experiment with this too.

Try this:

First, commit to 30 days without alcohol. That’s only 4 weekends. It’s really not too much time. Then use these tips to make it easy.

Tips:

  1. Reframe your thoughts. You are not making a sacrifice to quit; you are giving yourself a gift by quitting. Remind yourself about this each day (daily prompt?).
  2. Tell yourself “I will ONLY drink water or juice tonight” rather than “I will NOT drink alcohol”.
  3. Commit to having the MOST fun of anyone at the party.
  4. Order this: “water, ice, and a piece of lime”
  5. Make early morning plans so you don’t want to stay out late.
  6. Use this as an opportunity to genuinely care about other people and to learn more about them.
  7. Don’t apologize to anyone for not drinking, but also don’t judge others for drinking.
  8. Find a friend to do it with you.

James leads groups in 30 day no alcohol challenges here: http://30daynoalcoholchallenge.com/

Not yet ready to give up alcohol completely? There’s another option. Biohacked wine.

Dry Farm Wines was at the conference serving samples of the world’s first biohacked wine. It’s organic, chemical-free, sugar/carb-free, low in alcohol and sulfites (meaning you can drink a lot and not have hangovers!), and friendly even for Ketogenic diets.

You can read more about their wines here: https://www.dryfarmwines.com/lab-tested-diet-friendly/

Quit alcohol or drink the good stuff. Both are good options in my book.

Speaking of books…

10. Read Books — Tai Lopez

Tai Lopez, in his closing talk on Sunday, challenged everyone to read more.

Why? Because reading is the ultimate superpower.

Bill Gates was once famously asked, “if you could have one superpower, what would it be?” His answer: “being able to read super fast”. Warren Buffet, who was with him at the time, agreed.

As Jim Kwik said at the conference last year, “leaders are readers”.

Imagine if you could download the thinking and knowledge of the smartest and most successful people from all of history directly into your brain. That’d be a pretty sweet biohack, right?

Well, you can already do that. That’s reading!

Books are years of thinking, knowledge, stories, and life lessons packed into a handful of pages. When you read them, you are consciously choosing to put those ideas into your head. They are inputs to your system. The output is learning. You become wiser with each book, guided by the greatest mentors of all time.

Try this:

  • Spend a few minutes today revisiting a book you already own. Tai recommends treating books like relationships and returning often to the ones that are most important to you.
  • Pick a new book to start building a relationship with. Read a few pages this evening before bed.

In fact, you’re biohacking by reading this article right now! Thanks for choosing to download some of my knowledge and experience.

downloading… 87% complete

11. Find your biohacking allies

Here’s something I’ve noticed: when I hang around biohackers, I do more biohacking things.

Surprising? No.
Powerful? Yes!

You want to biohack your way to better health and performance, right? Then hang around other people who are also biohacking their way to better health and performance.

We are what we consume. And much of what we consume is the words, actions, and beliefs of the people around us.

This is why I love events like the Bulletproof Conference. They are opportunities to hang with other passionate people.

That’s also why I started the Chicago Biohacking meetup group. And that’s why you should join or start a meetup in your city as well.

If you’re interested, email me. I’ll help you set it up.

The conference was packed with incredible people. Every single person had wisdom to share. We could only cover a small fraction of it all in this post. There are so many other takeaways we didn’t cover, including all those from our other incredible speakers.

  • Dr. Tami Meraglia — on hormones
  • John Gray — on relationships
  • Daniel Vitalis — on re-wilding ourselves and setting our inner animal free
  • Steve Fowkes — on strategies and supplements for designing your optimal brain
  • Joy and Jay from the Jingslingers — on how to cook delicious Bulletproof meals
  • Ariane Resnick — on how bone broth can improve your health
  • Reed Davis — on understanding Metabolic Chaos
  • Mattias Ribbing — on enhancing your memory
  • Alison Cebulla — on practices for spreading kindness and gratitude
  • Anthony Colleti and Charlie Faraday — on why we should always believe that anything is possible

When biohackers get together, amazing things happen. Fat mobiles are created. Insights are shared. Everyone is inspired to take action.

I’ll leave you now with that challenge — to take action.

Your Challenge

Most of what we learned just now isn’t new to you. You know mindfulness is important. You know laughing, meditation, and reading are good practices.

The real question is, are you ACTUALLY doing them?

You know what to do. Your challenge, now, is to do what you know.

Here’s how:

1. Pick one of these biohacks

– Wim Hof Breathing Method
– Cold Therapy
– Meditation
– Internal Generator (check-ins)
– Power poses
– Laughter
– Daily Prompts
– Eat more butter and fat (try Bulletproof Coffee)
– Quit or biohack alcohol
– Read books
– Spend more time with other biohackers
– Practice gratitude

2. Commit to try it for 21 days

Tell a friend or tweet me (@MarkMoschel) to make your commitment public.

“Of the top biohacks from #BulletproofConference, I’m trying _______”

To ensure this new habit sticks for 21 days, run it through this 9-step habit framework.

3. After 21 days, evaluate

Remember, “feeling is understanding”, so evaluate how it made you feel.

Then, pick another biohack to try for the next 21 days.

Not sure which to start with? Try gratitude.

Speaking of which…


Thank you

… for sharing your time and attention with me, for being an active participant in the goofy antics of this post, for staying with me to the end, for caring about your health and performance, and for choosing to experience something new today. I hope you take something you learned from this post and apply it to make your day a little better.

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world’s most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WRITTEN BY

Mark Moschel

Partner and Health Evangelist at @DryFarmWines. Aspiring writer with 3rd-grade drawing abilities. @Bulletproofexec conference emcee. Previously CTO @Factor75.

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