High Performance Principles for Your Life and Health

Improving Breath, Movement, Connection, and Mindset with PJ Nestler

Coach PJ Nestler and I talk about the integration between breath, movement, mindset, nutrition, and connection. Learn how you can look at everything in your life as performance, and actively improve your wellbeing with high performance principles and habits no matter where you’re starting from or what your goals are. Plus: How to use extreme stressors like ice baths and sauna therapy without overdoing it, and strategies for adapting your response to fear.

In This Episode

Episode Intro … 00:00:45
XPT Background … 00:04:36
Transcending Health Problems … 00:11:18
The Pillars of XPT … 00:14:35
The Spiritual Connection … 00:17:55
Temperature Contrast and Mental Clarity … 00:23:14
Self-Talk … 00:25:02
The Role of Coaching … 00:33:15
The Mind-Body Connection … 00:40:17
The Role of Fear … 00:54:35
The Role of Recovery … 01:05:38

High Performance Principles for Your Life and Health - Podcast313 PJ Nestler

Subscribe for future episodes

  • Apple Podcast
  • Google Podcasts
  • Spotify

Download this Episode (right click link and ‘Save As’)


Hey everyone. Today I spoke with PJ Nestler, who is with XPT, Laird Hamilton’s outfit called Extreme Performance Training, which has a lot of parallels for those who are mid-stream in their health journey. I want to make sure to clarify that even if you’re not trying to improve your, let’s say sports performance, there is a tremendous amount that we can take from the performance community.

One of the facets of this conversation that we can take from the sports community that I think is really worth mentioning is self-talk and mindset. We discuss how one can delineate negative self-talk from positive self-talk. I make a parallel between the person who’s trying to run a faster mile time to the person who’s trying to not have a negative outlook on having bloating or eating out or what have you. There’s a lot of overlap not only there, but also in how we can use exercise and challenges to have better connection to ourselves and better connections to other people. We also discuss fear and how some fear and exposure to fear can actually be used and harnessed to an individual’s betterment.

So a lot here in this conversation, and one of the main premises is that there’s a bleed over from athletic or sports performance into improving one’s health. I make the analogy or the observation that I see both of these existing on the same continuum. When you’re not feeling well, you need some of the same framing and perspective around self-talk to get through that as well as the ability to expose yourself and to tolerate fear. When you no longer have a health challenge, but you’re trying to feel better, you now continue further on that path and to pushing yourself harder and leveraging even further at the exposure to fear and self-talk. The XPT program is one of the ways that you can go through that with some guidance.

So a really insightful and quite enjoyable conversation with PJ from XPT. Again, a reminder if you’re enjoying the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. That helps us grow and continue to be able to get people who are big names on the show, ones who maybe can’t do every interview that they are asked to do. So there is something in it for you if you leave us a review. Okay, with that we will go to the show.

➕ Full Podcast Transcript

Intro:

Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio providing practical and science-based solutions to feeling your best. To stay up to date on the latest topics, as well as all of our prior episodes, make sure to subscribe in your podcast player. For weekly updates, visit DrRusicio.com. That’s D R R U S C I O dot com. The following discussion is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of this information without first speaking with your doctor. Now let’s head to the show.

DrMichaelRuscio:

Hey everyone. Today I spoke with PJ Nestler, who is with XPT, Laird Hamilton’s outfit called Extreme Performance Training, which has a lot of parallels for those who are mid-stream in their health journey. I want to make sure to clarify that even if you’re not trying to improve your, let’s say sports performance, there is a tremendous amount that we can take from the performance community.

DrMR:

One of the facets of this conversation that we can take from the sports community that I think is really worth mentioning is self-talk and mindset. We discuss how one can delineate negative self-talk from positive self-talk. I make a parallel between the person who’s trying to run a faster mile time to the person who’s trying to not have a negative outlook on having bloating or eating out or what have you. There’s a lot of overlap not only there, but also in how we can use exercise and challenges to have better connection to ourselves and better connections to other people. We also discuss fear and how some fear and exposure to fear can actually be used and harnessed to an individual’s betterment.

DrMR:

So a lot here in this conversation, and one of the main premises is that there’s a bleed over from athletic or sports performance into improving one’s health. I make the analogy or the observation that I see both of these existing on the same continuum. When you’re not feeling well, you need some of the same framing and perspective around self-talk to get through that as well as the ability to expose yourself and to tolerate fear. When you no longer have a health challenge, but you’re trying to feel better, you now continue further on that path and to pushing yourself harder and leveraging even further at the exposure to fear and self-talk. The XPT program is one of the ways that you can go through that with some guidance.

DrMR:

So a really insightful and quite enjoyable conversation with PJ from XPT. Again, a reminder if you’re enjoying the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. That helps us grow and continue to be able to get people who are big names on the show, ones who maybe can’t do every interview that they are asked to do. So there is something in it for you if you leave us a review. Okay, with that we will go to the show.

DrMR:

Hey everyone. Welcome back to Dr. Ruscio Radio. I am super excited today to have PJ Nestler here, who is with XPT. This is Laird Hamilton’s outfit. If you remember back in one of our conversations with Scott Carney about some of this extreme training, I described the guy who has a sauna at 240 degrees where he’s on an assault bike exercising and it’s so hot he has to wear oven mitts, that’s XPT. And PJ is one of the main guys in that operation, and I wanted to have him come on to help us better understand how to use some of these extreme stressors, but maybe not to push too hard like I have, and kind of burn yourself out. So, PJ, super excited to have you here and to be able to pick your brain.

DrPJNestler:

Thank you so much for having me on. I’m excited to be here.

XPT Background

DrMR:

Tell us how you found your way into this world. I’m assuming you have some type of an athletic background yourself?

DrPN:

Yeah, I was an athlete growing up. I played football, lacrosse, and wrestling when I was younger and then got into mixed martial arts when I was in college. So I was an athlete and I was always into the training side of athletics. I was a skinnier child, so I got into strength training at the really early age of like 12 years old. I fell in love with the fitness side of training, the training side of sports very early on. Sports is actually what drove me into studying kinesiology in college, which is what got me into the strength and conditioning field.

DrMR:

Nice, nice. And how did you get wrapped into and interfaced into everything with XPT? And if you would also tell us just a little bit about that operation in case people haven’t heard about it before. Maybe give it a little bit more of a better definition than the crude, tangential one that I did.

DrPN:

Yeah, absolutely. So I believe XPT started in 2015, and it’s really the culmination of how Laird Hamilton and his wife, Gabby Reece, who’s a former professional volleyball player and very accomplished athlete, approach fitness, wellness, whatever you want to call it. I don’t like to use the term fitness or even performance because they look at it very holistically. So it was just kind of this holistic lifestyle system. They were doing it in their backyard with other friends and colleagues, people like Dr. Kelly Starrett, Wim Hoff, and all these other people who are a heavy influence on what they were doing from a day-to-day perspective. They just had people over to work out, train, do breath work, and do some pool training in their backyard for years. I mean, 10 or 15 years.

DrPN:

Eventually one of the other co-founders of the company, Jen Meredith, who’s a good friend of Gabby’s and a former volleyball player as well just said, “Hey, we need to start sharing this with other people besides our friends.” So they started running these retreats, we call them the experiences, but they’re three-day long retreats where people come out to Malibu or Kauai, and now we do them in other parts of the world. They come out and they spend three days with Laird, Gabby, and the rest of the XPT team and just get plugged into all of the different concepts around breathing, movement, training, nutrition, pool training, mindset, and all of the ways that Laird and Gabby approach, health, fitness, and performance.

DrPN:

When XPT started, I was actually a sports performance coach. When I graduated college, I got into strength and conditioning at the collegiate level, and then I transitioned over into the private sector in 2011. I probably spent about 13 years coaching athletes of all different levels, and then really specializing in professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, and UFC. Those were really just my passions; they were the niche sports that I liked to work with the most. In that time, I was also managing a handful of sports performance facilities. In my management role, my job was to recruit and train high-quality coaches. So I started transitioning into this more education-based approach where I wanted to try to bring a systematic approach to all of my coaches and create some sort of structure that could help take these coaches graduating with a kinesiology degree and transition them into being able to train high-level athletes.

DrPN:

At a lot of our facilities we train athletes from eight years old all the way up to elite professional athletes from every sport you could imagine. So I wanted to create some sort of system and structure that could help bridge the gap for these coaches who had no real-world, practical experience. And I really fell in love with that education side of the industry. I found that there was a big gap there for a lot of coaches in learning how to apply their university education to what actually works in the field. I had quit my job at those facilities at the end of 2016 to start my own business which was geared towards education and building these curriculums to help coaches and trainers.

DrPN:

At the time, XPT was looking to scale what they were doing. They’d been doing experiences for about a year and a half. They brought in some outside funding and the big goal was being able to scale outside of these five or six experiences they do per year and developing a certification program that could be taught to coaches, trainers, doctors, and physical therapists around the world so that they could go teach these principles to their clients. So it was just right place, right time. I happened to know one of the investors in XPT. When they were looking for somebody to come in and do that, it was exactly what I was doing for my own brand at the time. We had some conversations and they sent me up to Laird and Gabby’s house so that Laird could torture me in the pool and the ice bath and the sauna. And I survived, so eventually I was able to get linked up with them and I jumped in.

DrPN:

My goal was really just to try to learn all of the amazing things that they were doing, like all of the concepts, all of the principles, all of the crazy stuff that’s in Laird and Gabby’s head around everything performance-based. And then to try to distill that down into some sort of system that could be taught to coaches and trainers, as well as helping to go find the research, because a lot of these things are obviously anecdotal or things that they’ve been taught from other people. Laird and Gabby are very well-read, so they certainly do some research, but they’re not spending every day reading scientific journals. So I had to go out there and figure out what are some of the best protocols for saunas and ice baths, and how long should people be in there. How can we create more of a framework so that all these different people can understand how to apply these with their unique, individual clients?

DrPN:

So that was my whole job for the first year I was with XPT. My job was to become, I won’t say the world’s leading expert, that’d be a big stretch, but to become the most expert I could in these methods around breathing, obviously movement which was my background, and then Laird’s pool training and recovery. Early on, our recovery focus was heavily centered around contrast therapy. So it wasn’t necessarily just recovery, but it was how do we use hot and cold immersions for health, performance, longevity, all of those things.

Transcending Health Problems

DrMR:

Awesome. So a lot there to unpack. I want to try to make the connection for our audience in case they’re saying, “Well, I’m a mom of two and I’m not necessarily lumping myself in with athletes.” In my experience, if you’re one what I’m assuming are many of the people in our audience who’ve had some health challenges, whether it was Irritable Bowel, fatigue, or perhaps an undiagnosed constellation of symptoms that respond to some of what we do in functional medicine, that’s kind of the first step. But what I’ve observed is sometimes people force upon their systems the tools that worked to, let’s say clear a bacterial infection, to go from normal energy in capacity to the next level. And I think a better use of energy and resources is when you go to actively having a health problem to wanting to go to that next level from normal, or layperson to better energy, better sleep, better moods. That’s where we kind of dove into what many athletes are doing.

DrMR:

So it’s not about using more herbs or, “I killed some bacteria to get rid of the bacterial overgrowth in my gut and I felt better. Does that mean even more anti-bacterial stuff is going to make me run faster?” So I think we should all be looking at this road and considering once we no longer have health challenges, how do we get even more performance out of our system? Some of the main things people want are better energy, better mental clarity, and better body composition. This is where I think we can really learn from XPT and similar camps. So I just want to make that connection for our audience. PJ, any observations you have in that regard?

DrPN:

I appreciate the connection and I think you hit the nail on the head. Regardless of who we’re working with, we look at the human first and then we treat the athlete or the performer. We use the term performance only because we look at everything in life as performance. Ultimately, most of the people who come to XPT are seeking an improvement in a performance in some category, but 99% of them are not elite athletes or elite military. We do work with those populations, but when we work with those populations a lot of what we see is that they’re doing a lot of these same things, and we end up sharing resources, ideas, and practices back and forth so that we can distill that stuff down for your average everyday consumer who just wants to move better, feel better, reduce stress, change body composition, all of those things that you mentioned. And that’s why I think that the pillars of XPT and a lot of the principles that we teach are so impactful, because they can have the same, if not more of an impact on your everyday person as they would for an elite military operator or elite athlete.

The Pillars of XPT

DrMR:

Yeah, they have more potential room for improvement. So I think that’s actually a great point. For our audience, don’t forget that a lot of what you may be pursuing is just extending you down into this path. You mentioned the pillars and I’ve picked out a few of them — breathing, training, heat/cold contrast, nutrition, meditation, but can you give us the pillars just so we can start to try to wrap our heads around the framework that you guys are using?

DrPN:

Publicly, we have three pillars that we talk about. We’re expanding that because at our experiences we found that there were two that we talked about all the time but just weren’t part of our main three. But what we look at is people trying to live a high-performance lifestyle and what’s required in order to achieve performance. XPT stands for Extreme Performance Training, and when meeting with Laird and Gabby, my big question was what is extreme performance? Is it elite athletes or is it Laird Hamilton trying to surf a bigger wave? And really to them, extreme performance was about elevating your levels of performance in every area of your life. So instead of being somebody who’s a super high performer in the fitness space, but then your social life, family life, or business falls apart because of it. A lot of people who come to us may be high achievers in the business realm, but they’re pretty low ranking in these other areas.

DrPN:

So for us, and for Laird and Gabby, extreme performance is really making sure that we never neglect these other key areas, and we see how integrated they all are and how each one of them is going to overlap with the others. And that’s really the high-performance model we take from sport. When we look at an athlete, we have to look at these foundational elements of what creates a high-performing athlete, and it’s not just their skills in the sport. We have to make sure we have a model that’s addressing all of those. So we kind of adapted that from professional athletics and that’s the model that I think has been used for 20 years. We try to apply that to the everyday person who wants to be a high performer. What does that mean to us?

DrPN:

So our five categories we look at are breathing, movement, recovery, fuel, and connection. We touched on some of those. Obviously, breathing is a big foundation of what we do. Movement is very wide-ranging. Recovery is a big one for us because that’s an area that people who tend to come to us neglect often. There are a lot of Type A, hard-charging people that at a certain point realize you can’t keep driving a car that fast for that long, and things start to break down. Fuel is how we talk about nutrition, and then connection is a huge piece of XPT that I think we potentially do better than anybody else out there. That’s one of the things I’m really excited to always share, because I think the unique methodologies and systems that we use really expand people’s ability to connect not only to themselves, but also to others in a small group and a connection to things outside of themselves like spirituality and religion, if that’s where people go. So those are the five pillars that we look at that people need maximize in order to achieve a high-performance lifestyle in our definition.

The Spiritual Connection

DrMR:

A lot of what you’re saying resonates with me as someone who’s experimented in this camp with breathwork, with movement, and found that recovery was the one thing I neglected the least. But interestingly I also found that some of this congeals into almost this psycho-spiritual experience, and has at least led me to better be able to connect to myself, the deeper meaning of what I’m doing in the world, and also connect to other people. I think as you get a better sense of who you are and what you’re trying to do, you could say that your frequency changes and you start to attract people with a like mindset.

DrMR:

So yeah, I’ve experienced these things, and I’m glad you make that point about the connection piece, because at least as a theory there does seem to be this kind of deeper meaning that it brings to people. I guess connection is a by-product of that. Is that part of the observation you’re seeing with people regarding better spiritual awareness and then other connections that spawn as a by-product of that?

DrPN:

I think the connection piece is so deep. We look at those three prongs, but I think it was something that’s so often neglected. Even as a performance coach, it’s something that most performance coaches don’t look at until way later in their career when they start to realize that all of the physical stuff doesn’t matter if you don’t have the connection and the psychological piece locked in. We use the term psychological in sports performance, but really we’re saying the same things. You realize that it is the primary driver for all performance and without it, everything else is irrelevant. So one of the things that I think is so great about XPT is we do now have more of a system around helping people to create self-awareness and then develop tools recognizing self-talk and then being able to rewire the negative self-talk that people are programmed with. And we have these really cool and unique methods that automatically trigger those things.

DrPN:

So it provides such a unique learning opportunity. That was something that I thought was so awesome about XPT when I first joined because I could sit here and lecture you all day on sports psychology and self-talk. I could show you all the research behind how important those things are in terms of improving performance, but we all know that if I can just put you in a situation that creates that and then give you some tools where you can practice in that situation, you’re going to learn so much faster and you’re going to care about it a lot more because it’s going to be real for you. So being able to help people connect to themselves is massive, and being aware of developing that awareness of the way that their mind, their behaviors, their habits, their biases, all of those things are dictating their outcomes.

DrPN:

And then also in that same sense, there’s a lot of good research around doing things that are really challenging and the connection and comradery that builds around people who are together. That’s why there’s such great community that’s built in gyms, because people go out and they push themselves really hard and they all work out together, sweat together, and it builds this comradery. So that’s something that we try to continue to harness throughout all of our workouts. And honestly, the best conversations that happen at the XPT experiences always happen in the sauna, because people have already done some really intense pool training where they’ve really been pushed to their limits. A lot of people are pretty scared of the ice bath if it’s the first time they’ve done it. So they’ve gone through their first round of the ice bath, and then they’re back in the sauna waiting for their second round, and the connections that happen there are amazing.

DrPN:

So that connection to others is one of the things that we try to make sure we’re always fostering. And then as you mentioned, that connection to something outside yourself is something that I believe is another by-product of developing that self-awareness. I know for me it was certainly developed and strengthened through XPT, and it was more of a connection to nature, water, being underwater, and all of those things. That was the external and spiritual connection that I felt was developed when I joined with XPT. And I know that’s something that Laird certainly is strongly connected with as well as other people who’ve been through our system.

DrMR:

This is great. A lot there I want to respond to.

SponsoredResources:

This is Dr. Ruscio interrupting my own podcast to remind you to make sure that you are sleeping enough, getting routine exercise weekly, preferably daily, time in nature, exposure to the sun, and also ideally, meditating. If you are not doing these things, you are not going to be feeling as good as you could. So please do not forget the massive importance of these fundamentals. So if you’re not doing them, get on top of it.

Temperature Contrast and Mental Clarity

DrMR:

Firstly, thank you, because you’re making me feel less crazy in this thing I’ve kind of fallen my way into, which I’ve described as cannabis, cardio, sauna, and then contemplation. I’ve fallen into this pattern, whether or not people like the cannabis bit, it’s just something I mainly fell my way into during COVID-19 associated lockdowns where I had nothing else to do. And I said, “Well, I’m going to use some cannabis,” and then, “Well, now I have nothing to do really, so I’m going to do an intense, row workout. Wow, this row workout is magical. I’m having all these thoughts and ideas.”

DrMR:

And then I’d compound that by going into the sauna and thinking, and I’ve had some of the best ideas in the sauna. And not only that, but I brought one of the doctors from our clinic through this protocol, and he had an idea that literally saved him $20,000 and prevented him from a potential legal challenge. He said, “I can’t thank you enough because it got me out of my rut.” This practice, I think it was especially the heat, sparked an idea that he wasn’t able to come up with otherwise for this challenge he had been ruminating on and struggling with for a couple months up until then.

DrMR:

So I have seen some of that, which is great. I’m happy to see that there there’s something there to pushing yourself hard with exercise and then having these temperature extremes. And to your point, I’ve personally found that going back into the sauna after being in the freezer is maybe the most pristine moment for connection and mental clarity. For our audience, if you haven’t done it, it’s well, well, well worth it.

Self-Talk

DrMR:

There’s one other thing I want to make sure not to forget to ask you. It’s something that I am still trying to make up my mind on how I feel about it. There’s the self-talk, like you said, and coming from an athletic background, there’s often this, “When you want to quit, come on, don’t give up.” There’s kind of like that hard talk to yourself. I think if looked at in the wrong context, that could be construed as kind of hateful, non-loving self-talk. At least for me, and you know way more about this than I do, I’m just giving you what I’ve heard myself say and how I kind of rationalize or justify that, it’s coming from a place of needing to work harder not because you want six pack abs or not because, insert vain goal here, but because your physical capacity limits your mental capacity, and you’re here to do important work that helps other people. So in better service of others, you need to push yourself so that you can do more on your mission.

DrMR:

It’s not letting myself off the hook and holding myself to a higher standard. And sure, maybe the language I use is a profanity, but I think it occurs in this context of really caring about oneself and holding a high reverence for physical capacity as it pertains to being able to help other people more. Maybe that is an example of negative self-talk. I’m just kind of wondering how you help people unpack some of that self-talk, and if mine might strike you as pathological or maybe using that as a case study.

DrPN:

So much great stuff there. First, positive self-talk is typically identified as using something to reinforce versus negative self-talk which is usually something that’s limiting. So negative self-talk would be something like, “There’s no way I can do this. This isn’t possible. I’m not going to be able to make it.” Your brain is hardwired for negative self-talk because your entire biology is there to keep you alive. The only purpose of biology is to maintain homeostasis. It’s not designed to help you thrive and optimize your performance. Every system in the body has all of these safety mechanisms that are built into it to keep you safe. That’s why people like to sit on the couch all day long, because your biology is telling you not to exercise and to not do all of these challenging things because we need to keep you safe. In modern society we actually know that’s wrong, but that’s why it’s so much easier to watch Netflix and eat pizza than it is to wake up at 5:00 AM and go do a hard workout.

DrPN:

So because our biology is hard-wired for this negative self-talk to keep us safe, step one is really helping people to recognize that and recognize when these self-limiting beliefs are coming in so that we can start to retrain that. And using positive self-talk is really just teaching people to reinforce the outcomes. We use simple things like mantras, ways of reinforcing self-belief, and actually one of the things that we teach a lot that I got from a sports psychologist I worked with was speaking to yourself in the second person. He says our subconscious mind is much more susceptible to outside influence. So when we use these mantras, instead of thinking, “I can do this.” The body’s not a textbook, so different people can use different things and they work better, but I always recommend trying the second person and reinforcing, “You can do this.”

DrPN:

I won’t use the term athletes because a lot of people we work with are not athletes, but eight out of 10 people find the second person to be a little bit more powerful. But what you mentioned there is also another really interesting thing. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of elite military special forces units, including some of the Tier One special operations units. I had some conversations with some of their performance psychologists about self-talk, belief, and all of this stuff. We were talking about the research on, like in the example you gave, which I still believe is more of a positive self-talk thing, speaking to yourself in what might be looked at as not really a compassionate way. And I think there’s some different beliefs there.

DrPN:

So he had told me that it depends on the individual and it depends on the situation. I’m more on your boat. I read David Goggins’ book and nobody wanted to work out with me for about a year after that. It was around the time I started with XPT, so I’m listening to David Goggins, I’m hanging out with Laird Hamilton and anything I did had to just be harder, more, and more intense and more suffering. So nobody really wanted to be around me to do anything because there was always misery attached to it. I think a big part of that is really understanding where you are on that spectrum. I think there are a lot of people who can benefit from leaning way more into that misery, callousing the mind, and staying hard the way David Goggins talks about it.

DrPN:

That might take some of that more strongly-worded reinforcement to push them over barriers. I know for me personally, I’ve certainly pushed through some stuff because I’ve used similar language like you were talking about. And then on the flip side, I have a close friend who’s one of our XPT coaches and she’s also a psychologist. She said that a lot of the research shows that for most people self-compassion is actually a much better way to drive habit change. So maybe not in this one really challenging situation. If you’re at the end of an extremely hard workout and you’re like, “I just have to suck it up and push through this last minute,” maybe that’s an opportunity where using that kind of language which is a little bit stronger and maybe a little negative sounding might help you push through. But overall, when it comes to changing habits and changing behaviors, self-compassion goes a lot further.

DrPN:

I haven’t read a lot of that research. It’s actually something she and I have had some recent discussions about. But one of the things that we talked about was that people are on either end of that spectrum. It sounds like you and I lean into the side of harder and more aggressive, therefore we would probably benefit more from a little bit more self-compassion. And then there are people who are always letting themselves off the hook and they’re always making excuses. Without the self-awareness to know where you are on that spectrum, you can’t understand where you need to let off the gas and where you need to push harder.

DrPN:

Gabby and I had this conversation too when it came to training during COVID lockdown. I think a lot of people were beating themselves up because they weren’t doing as much as they used to do in the gym. I was one of those people, however, I was probably still doing more physical activity and exercise than 80 to 90% of the population, but compared to what I used to do, like surfing, training jiu-jitsu, and working out, some of my workouts were very lackluster. I was lucky if I just got some movement in on some days. But because I know that I’m the kind of person who will always lean into the suffering and the misery, for me I was working hard and maybe it’s more about being compassionate and knowing that it’s okay that I’m crazy stressed out. I’m working hours a day behind the computer, which is not normal for me. So it’s okay that I didn’t get any movement in today. Or when I did do my workout, it was 10 minutes of stretching, and I need to accept that. But that’s a slippery slope for the guy who always reverts to watching Netflix instead of working out.

DrPN:

You need the self-awareness to be able to not convince yourself that you need recovery today. You haven’t done anything this week. But yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing. Again, that’s where the self-awareness piece is so important, because if you can’t understand where you are on that spectrum, you can’t apply any of these tools properly.

The Role of Coaching

DrMR:

That’s where I would also think having a coach can be helpful because if you’re making all your own programming, it can be easier for you to say, “Well, this week, blah, blah, blah. So I’m not going to do this or that.” But if you have a coach, like Mike Nelson who does my programming and he’s tracking my sleep and my HRV. So while he’s never going to have a total, complete picture of what I have going on in my life, it takes a lot of my ability to make excuses off the table because someone’s monitoring objective data to make sure I’m not pushing it too hard. So it makes it harder for me to justify to myself taking a day off, because I know that this program is being constructed to bridle me from working too little or too much.

DrPN:

A hundred percent. I couldn’t agree more. As a coach, my job has been to understand all things that affect human performance and be able to help people with those things. However, I still probably spend more money than most people do on professional coaches because I realize how important they are and how easy it is to revert back to your own biases and maybe not look at things as objectively as a coach would. So I have a functional medicine doctor who handles my nutrition, does testing, and also was writing my training programs for awhile. I have a sleep doctor who I’ve been speaking with about sleep. I’m always the first person to advocate paying somebody who’s great at doing these things to help you to understand, and again, with the intention of creating self-awareness.

DrPN:

I don’t think anybody should have their hand held by a coach for the rest of their lives, but what you’ll realize is there’s always a next level. I don’t need to hire a coach to tell me what I should do on vacation for my fitness and nutrition when I go away for two weeks. I can adapt that myself. But if I want to improve my jiu-jitsu performance, then maybe I’ll hire somebody who I think can really specialize in that area and take me to the next level. So there’s always going to be a next level that you can explore. But I do see people use it as a crutch. I’ve had clients who train with me for three years or five years, and after the first six months, they’re not making any change because they’re just paying me to hang out with them and be friends and get them sweaty and tired, but really they’re not taking ownership. And that’s where I think having a coach to guide you is huge. It’s like having a mentor. They can certainly help shorten that path for you, but ultimately you’re the one who needs to walk down it and you should eventually be able to walk down it most of the way by yourself. And hopefully the coach can put some guard rails on it for you.

DrMR:

Yeah, I think that’s really well-said. The coach isn’t going to become your keeper. They’re going to make your baseline operating level higher than it was before. They’re going to help map out the road ahead, but you’re not going to become dependent upon them. At least that’s the way these things should be used. To your point, and just to echo this for our audience, that should also apply to your clinicians. Like we harp about on the podcast, your clinicians are there to help you discover what works for you so that then you’re better in the driver’s seat of your own existence and not thinking that every time you feel a little bit bloated you have to go back to the doctor and do a bunch of testing. Hopefully the doctor’s taught you, “When you bloat, typically what happens with your system is ‘XYZ.’ If you do something like a low-FODMAP diet and maybe a bit of upping your dose of probiotics, you can get that back to normal on your own, and you’re more in the driver’s seat.”

DrPN:

Yeah. I love that. I think that’s so important. And we believe the same thing with technology. I think right now the fitness industry or the health industry is way over-indexing on technology. Technology is so great and it can be such a great tool, but it also very easily becomes a crutch. The people that it becomes a crutch for are the exact people who need it to just be a tool.

DrMR:

Yes. It’s the same thing with lab testing in medicine.

DrPN:

Exactly. And I love those things. I use technology to monitor things, but as a performance coach, I probably use less technology even with my professional athletes than, I wouldn’t say your average person, but your average biohacker or person who’s interested in fitness tech. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met and I know who have 14 different wearables and they’ve gotten every lab test, they’re constantly getting testing and measurements and all these things, but they’re not changing their habits. They’re just doing all the testing to do the testing. I’m like, “Hey, I can tell you right now, your fitness is garbage, you don’t train, your nutrition is garbage, and you sleep poorly. So you need to fix those things. I just saved you about a thousand dollars of testing right there.”

DrMR:

Exactly.

DrPN:

I’m a big proponent of testing because I think understanding those things about yourself is great, but not if it becomes a crutch, and not if monitoring and measuring your sleep and your HRV and every other thing out there is not helping you to make informed decisions about you really should be doing. Laird uses his body much more as his barometer or his gauge. He’s used some technology to better understand what’s happening in his body, and that way he can understand when he can push further and when he needs to pull back. So I think that’s a really important thing. And again, that comes back to that self-connection and awareness.

SponsoredResources:

Hi, everyone. After many requests, we’re very excited to announce we have two brand new flavors of our best-selling Elemental Heal. Elemental Heal, in case you haven’t heard of it, is our great tasting meal replacement, hypoallergenic, gut-healing formula. These formulations and flavors aren’t ones you’ll find anywhere else, and better yet, you do not need a doctor’s note to order or use them. In addition to our existing varieties, we now offer Peach in the whey-free version and Vanilla in the low-carb version. These have been through some serious tastes tests, so we really think you’re going to enjoy them. Whether you’re using Elemental Heal as a morning shake meal replacement, as a mini gut reset for a few days, or even using it exclusively for two to three weeks, we now have a formula that should fit your needs. If you go to DrRuscio.com and head to the store, we’re offering 15% off any one of our Elemental Heal formulas. This discount is limited to one per customer. Simply use code TryElementalHeal at checkout, and you’ll get that 15% off. Let us know what you think about the new flavors. We believe that you’ll find them to be not only great tasting, but also really friendly on the gut and can help give you a boost in how you’re feeling.

The Mind-Body Connection

DrMR:

I’ll ask you this offline, but I’d love to get your recommendation for someone who does sports or performance psychology, because I look at that as having a lot of parallels to our audience. A decent facet of them are struggling and are kind of mid-stream of resolving some of their health issues, many of them digestive health issues, which can stink. You can have food-reactive brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings. I look at that as similar to like yesterday, I was doing a timed 5k row, and there are moments when it’s just painful. To your point, with the mantras, I do second person quite a lot. I didn’t realize that was good. So I’ll oftentimes almost hear the voice of my college or high school lacrosse coach or co-members of the team say, “Come on, Ruscio!” There’s a lot of positivity. Even if the language might be kind of harsh, I think it’s coming from a place of love.

DrMR:

What I take away from that is maybe I had inadvertently fallen my way into good self-talk habits, which also helped me through the, “God darn it. I just ate, and now I have that brain fog again. I’m so sick of this.” It’s a painful situation to be in, similar to being at your capacity when you’re rowing and still having 13 minutes left and really wanting to stop, but having to push through and get through the hardship. Again for our audience, to tie some of this together, and this reinforces my posit from earlier, there’s a lot of interplay between performance and going from not feeling well and having a health issue to the performance camp. And so I think that illustrates that we can kind of cross-pollinate ideas, the same positive self-talk for performance could be helpful when you’re not feeling well because it seems to net out to having a hardship that you have to get through.

DrPN:

Absolutely. One of the things I strongly believe is that we are so far from understanding the brain. I think we understand generally how it works, but really the implications. I’ve seen a lot of your work around the gut and the gut-brain connection, and that stuff is relatively new, at least in terms of its popularity. I think that we’re going to continue to start understanding how strongly the brain, the thought processes, the emotional responses, how strongly tied those are to our outcomes in every situation. I’ve done a lot of research recently and am giving a talk about understanding pain at the next upcoming XPT experience because I had been somebody who suffered from chronic low back pain. I have two fractures in my low back, and luckily I found a PT who has a different thought process around pain than most people. That led me to spending a few years exploring the research on pain science.

DrPN:

As you come back to it, you start to realize how much negative thinking, frustration, stress, and emotional disconnection can exacerbate chronic pain. The flip side of that is how well those things can actually help to alleviate chronic pain. I won’t go on too much of a rant on that whole talk, but I think that’s why you see things like people having success. I’m the biggest skeptic when it comes to anecdotal stories of people doing X, Y, and Z, but when you look at somebody like Joe Dispenza, my girlfriend’s a big follower of his, and just watching some of the documentaries you see person after person after person who believes that they cured their illness or their illness went away through meditation and belief.

DrPN:

I’m not saying that it is the real thing, but what I am saying is that I believe there is something more there to discover and it doesn’t have to be one way. I think that’s the biggest thing we’re trying to do at XPT, help people identify that human performance doesn’t live on these poles where it’s, “Oh, I do Wim Hoff and it’s the Wim Hoff thing,” or it’s, “I do this thing,” or, “I do meditation.” All of these things are so interchanging. It’s constantly evolving and it’s a continuum in which all these things are constantly happening. So when you learn how to improve the way you talk to yourself, how to improve your overall psychology, and improve a lot of these other areas, you see people who reduce chronic pain through something simple like breathing and mindfulness.

DrPN:

The disbelief comes from people who get stuck in a dogmatic approach and believe that breathing and mindfulness is going to cure every one of the world’s diseases and cure every problem that’s out there. It could potentially be the only thing that people need to cure whatever, but it also can just be an element of what’s included, and maybe a little bit of that plus some movement and some probiotics is going to be the thing that helps you get past your major limitation. But so many people neglect it. They just want to do the one thing, the pill, the treatment or whatever it is, or hire the trainer. They think, “That thing, that trainer, that person, this doctor, they’re supposed to cure me,” instead of taking that holistic human approach and thinking, “What are the things that I have control of and how can I optimize every single part of that situation to improve the body that this stuff is going into?” So if I am using some sort of supplementation to cure a stomach issue or a health issue, what can I do to improve the platform, improve the body that this is going into and therefore greatly improve the potential outcomes I’m going to get.

DrMR:

Yeah, I agree. I think to some extent this is where some of the “push through it,” Goggins philosophy can be quite helpful. I just see so much parallel to when someone’s not feeling well physically, they start exercising less, they start doing less, and they start to get normalized around a very contracted way of living. They eat less, they do less, they go to fewer places. They push themselves less with exercise, and they can become accustomed to that. I think Goggins says sometimes, “I’ve got on my poopy pants, and I don’t want to do anything.” I’m telling myself a story about how I can’t or why shouldn’t. I had that yesterday; that was my day yesterday. My day got totally derailed. I had very little control over my schedule. I had garbage to deal with, and at the end of the day, I just felt brain dead and I just didn’t want to do anything. I had about 30 minutes of chasing my tail until I could finally get myself to go do a row. I ended up not only doing the row, but then I went and I ran a timed half mile and had a 30 minute sauna session. And when I came home, I felt invincible.

DrMR:

Gosh, just that perspective of the guys like Goggins who help plant that seed in your mind that you’re not alone when you’re telling yourself a crappy story that you can’t, or you shouldn’t, or woe is me. You’ve just got to push through that. I mean, there’s a ceiling at which that can go too far, but granted, I’m not doing twice a day workouts every day. I was for a short term, but I’m not holding a bar so high that it’s broaching on being addicted to exercise. This would be considered my one session for the day, and because the day got away from me or I was kind of tired coming off of the weekend, I really got myself into this bad psychological state. The pushing through got me on the other side of that. To the point of connection, I think this really helped me better connect with that part of myself that I think all of us that want to connect more to. The person who’s doing stuff and who can, rather than the person sitting on the couch being dissatisfied but content with “I can’t.”

DrPN:

Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think that’s such a good point you made about understanding where the ceiling or the bar is, because I think most people are nowhere near that. They’ll use it as a crutch or an excuse and say, “I don’t want to push too hard and I don’t want to get injured,” which I understand that nobody wants to get injured, but there’s always an easy path out. So that’s where I think the mindset that Goggins, Jocko and a lot of these guys talk about can be so powerful because it’ll help you to get through this. And it doesn’t have to apply to fitness. I think a lot of those things can just apply across the board.

DrPN:

This is something that came from working with athletes, but I talked to a lot of people about how it’s about doing the thing that’s hard. That doesn’t have to mean fitness. For most of the athletes I work with, they lean on working hard in the gym and they wear that as a badge of courage. That’s like the minimum for entry here. You guys are professional athletes. You need to lean in and do the thing that’s hard. The thing that may be hard for you is that mobility work that I gave you, or some mindfulness work, or the thing that you don’t want to do, the thing that sucks.

DrPN:

That’s the thing that’s really challenging, and that was really another thing that exploded for me with XPT. I always thought of myself as somebody who pushes way outside of my comfort zone. I pushed myself really hard in the gym, I trained jiu-jitsu, I’ve trained combat sports, so I’ve done all these things that are really hard, but also those are my comfort zone. I know with a really hard bike session how hard somebody should be able to push. And at no point when I’m going all out on that assault bike am I thinking, “Oh my God, this is impossible. There’s no way I can do this.” There’s no fear there. There’s just, “This is hard, but I can push through it.” When I got into Laird’s house that first day, there was real fear. I was at the bottom of his pool. I wasn’t a water person at all and I’m at the bottom of Laird’s pool holding 50 pound dumbbells in my hand with Laird and Gabby looking over at the top telling me to keep walking back and forth.

DrPN:

My mind is going, “Oh my God, I’m going to drown. I’m going to die. I’m going to die.” And then I’m in a freezing cold ice bath thinking I’m going to die. And I’m sitting in the 230 degree sauna across from Laird, and he’s having a conversation as if we’re sitting and having some coffee. I’m there getting tunnel vision, like I’m about to pass out. I left that experience thinking, “These people are crazy and I don’t want to be a part of this. I’m going to go back to training athletes at the gym.” And then seeing that as an opportunity as, “Wow, this is so far outside my comfort zone. There’s so much more here for me to explore about myself personally, and therefore there’s so much room for potential growth”

DrPN:

Fortunately, I took that leap and my own personal growth within the first year of being with XPT was massive. So I think the approach of leaning into the thing that’s hard can be so powerful for people. I always tell them that then that’s where the self-compassion comes in, if you did convince yourself to do that workout that you just mentioned but it sucked and your performance was garbage. I know you are probably very similar to me where I don’t want to go to jiu-jitsu tonight. So I’m dragging, and I finally convince myself just to show up because once you’re there in class it’s going to happen. I have a terrible training session, and then I leave going, “Man, I shouldn’t have even gone. That training session sucked.” But what I need to do there is say, “Let’s just celebrate the fact that I showed up because I wasn’t going to go.”

DrPN:

So the fact that I showed up, maybe that’s the self-compassion that I need to celebrate and keep building that up to build some momentum. So it’s definitely this delicate balance the whole time, but I think it starts with what you mentioned and understanding how far that ceiling really is. I think that’s what guys like David Goggins show us, what is really possible. When you see how far you are from that, it should empower people to reach a little bit further, again, outside of the physical capabilities. You don’t have to want to run an ultra marathon or be a Navy SEAL. Maybe it’s just leaning into your business, or for me, my relationship. That was the thing that was hard for me. That was the thing I avoided. With being the best in the sports performance world and business and all of those things, I avoided the relationship side. That was the thing I needed to lean way more into.

DrMR:

It’s a great point, and also just to kind of echo that in a different frame for our audience, pushing yourself, maybe eating at a restaurant even though you’re afraid of some of the additives, eating new foods, venturing out, not as we’ve harped on in the past, thinking that if you had a SIBO breath test positive at one point in your life that you always have to conduct yourself like you have marked bacterial overgrowth. You don’t always have to be blaming that thing or avoiding certain foods because of that. There’s just this pushing out and the belief that you can do more, and it serves you in all facets of your life.

The Role of Fear

DrMR:

That also ties in with the bit of fear. This maybe a story and a question bundled in one, because I want to pivot to recovery and preventing burnout. I’ve pushed the hot-cold contrast therapy pretty far. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this on the podcast before or not, but the furthest I’ve pushed it was doing cardio exercise, then sauna, and then I’d do a cold tank. I went through this stretch of going face down, and I know holding your breath under water when you’re alone isn’t highly recommended. I was doing it anyway. I wasn’t going too crazy where I was gasping for air and trying to push as far as I could pass that point, but I’d be under, fully submerged in 42 degree water for I’m assuming anywhere between one and maybe up to two minutes. I’d have almost these psychedelic-like experiences down there, and it was intense and it was addictive.

DrMR:

But one time when I got out, I felt beyond cold and I just felt afraid. I remember calling a friend and saying, “If I don’t call you back in five minutes, just come over here because I’m a little scared.” I suppose it was just some deep reflex that we have when you get cold enough, you get a fear response. I’ve felt cold. I’ve felt this bone chilling cold before. I didn’t even feel cold. I just really felt scared. I think in part that was helpful to have, because you get to learn how you respond when you’re scared and you get better at responding. Almost like if someone was rude to you, you reflect on it and say, “Oh geez. I kind of sunk down to their level and I made a snarky remark. I’m going to learn from my response and be better going forward.” I think perhaps there’s utility in learning how you respond to fear so that you can better adapt to other situations like that in the future and have a better response. But thoughts on fear and then maybe we can use that as a springboard into recovery?

RuscioResources:

Hi everyone. This is Dr. Ruscio. In case you need help, I wanted to quickly make you aware of what resources are available to you. If you go to DrRuscio.com/resources, you will see a few links you can click through for more. Firstly, there is the clinic, which I’m immensely proud of. The fact that we deliver cost-effective, simple, but highly-efficacious functional medicine. There’s also my book, Healthy Gut, Healthy You, which has been proven to allow those who have been unable to improve their health, even after seeing numerous doctors, to be able to help them finally feel better. There’s also our store where there’s a number of products like our Elemental Heal line, our Probiotic line, and other gut-supportive and health-supportive supplements. Health coaching. We now offer health coaching. So if you’ve read the book or listened to a podcast like this one, or are reading about a product and you need some help with how or when to use or how to integrate with diet, we now offer health coaching to help you along your way. And then finally, if you’re a clinician, there is our clinicians’ newsletter, The Future of Functional Medicine Review, which I’m very proud to say, we’ve now had doctors who’ve read that newsletter find challenging cases in their practices, apply what we teach in the newsletter, and be able to help these patients who are otherwise considered challenging cases. Everything for these resources can be accessed through DrRuscio.com/resources. Alrighty, back to the show.

DrPN:

Well, first of all, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done the same thing, but I definitely don’t recommend that any of your users go out and do that. It is extremely dangerous. Even just dunking your head in an ice bath is something that you should do with a professional because there are contraindications that can happen, but certainly holding your breath under there is something that we play around with a lot, but it can be really dangerous. But I’ve certainly done the same thing. I’ve never had that experience that you had, but I’ve had the experience of fear more from getting really lightheaded sometimes with contrast therapy, to the point where when I’m doing it by myself, I get a little bit afraid that I might black out and drown in the ice bath or something.

DrPN:

I’ve had the same thing. I’m about to go back in the sauna and I’d text my girlfriend, “Hey, if you don’t hear from me in 10 minutes, call 911.” But your question was more around fear and I think fear is such a powerful tool and so hard to understand. That’s one of the things that I think is so unique about the XPT modalities that we use, specifically the pool training, but also the ice bath, and for some people the sauna. Under expert supervision at our experiences, what we do in a lot of these tools is put people in situations that create these real feelings of fear and anxiety. That’s something that’s really difficult to do in the real world without putting you in danger.

DrPN:

I could do the same thing to you if I took you out and did some crazy Navy SEAL training for three days, sleep deprived you and put you in the ocean, but the cost of that is going to be a lot. One, you’re actually in some physical harm, but done well and with the right supervision, we could make sure that you’re okay. But the cost of that, let’s use my athletes as an example. I can’t take a UFC fighter out there and beat the crap out of him for a week because he’s going to take three weeks to recover from that. But I can actually get them to that exact same breaking point of not believing that this is possible, panicking, freaking out, and having this real fear. I can do that to people when you put them underwater. We can do that even with people who are comfortable in the water, but if you’re not comfortable in the water, it’s even easier. So you’re experiencing all of these real sensations of fear in a very safe environment that’s very easy to scale.

DrPN:

Now, safe is obviously relative. If you’re doing this by yourself with some weights tied to your waist, you can drown very quickly. But in the environment we do it in, you can always let go of the weights and swim to the surface. So you’re very safe, but we can recreate these feelings of fear and anxiety. And then what we can do is we can teach you some tools to help mitigate those things. And that’s where I think this stuff transcends. That’s where people come to the XPT experience and leave saying that this thing changed their life. It’s not because we taught you some cool pool training exercises that you’re going to go do in your backyard pool. That’s awesome, but if that’s all you got out of it, you missed a lot of what a lot of people get when they leave.

DrPN:

They may never jump into a pool again, but they have learned some tools when you experienced that fear or when you experienced any strong, negative emotion that you have a hard time controlling. Whether it’s fear and anxiety or anger, you have an opportunity to learn that between that stimulus and the response, there’s a choice there. What we’re trying to do is open up that gap a little bit and give you a bigger opportunity for choice, teach you the choices and help you to practice and reinforce them so we can create those neural pathways. And then we can gradually increase the stress. We can gradually increase the fear.

DrPN:

I always give the anecdotal examples of the fears that I had struggled with. Claustrophobia and not being big on flying were limiting my life before XPT. I learned tools to overcome those things. To the point that I used to have to be sedated to be put into the MRI machine. It’s a funny story I always used to tell. Right before I started XPT, I had to get an MRI on my shoulder and they put me in the machine like four times because it was at night and I drove myself so they couldn’t sedate me. So they kept putting me in and I kept pushing the button to come back out. I had to come back another day and gets sedated to do the MRI. And one of the biggest things that showed me how powerful these tools were was six months after joining XPT, I had to get another MRI on my shoulder, and I did a 27 minute MRI using the breath, the mindfulness tools, and all of the little pieces that we learned as well as just some of the self-belief and empowerment of, “I can do this. I don’t need anything external. I don’t need some drug to sedate me. I have the tools to control myself in this situation.”

DrPN:

It seems so minuscule to other people, but it was really empowering. Since then I’ve become a scuba diver, which I was afraid of for claustrophobia purposes. I’ve become a free diver, I’ve gone skydiving, I’ve done all these things that fear would have held me back from doing, but I was using these tools to overcome them and live a more high-performance lifestyle by my definition. So it’s a very, very powerful tool that for most people is a crutch, because by the time you experience it, you’re in a dangerous situation where you don’t have the opportunity to practice. You don’t face fear on a day-to-day basis, and if you ever do, you just try to get away from it. Whatever’s creating that fear, you try to get away from it. That actually compounds it, because you’re training your nervous system and your mind that whenever I experience this thing, I need to pull away quickly. So when you can help people to lean into it a little bit, it will improve performance in every category. In whatever category they measure performance, it will improve.

DrMR:

Love it. And just for our audience, remember that the fear can be fear of food or other health-related items. I would advise you, with some degree of caution, to confront the fear and go out into the fear because as I spend more time thinking about matters of the world, I see fear as being the root cause of a lot of people not having the quality of life that they want, whether it be as a parent, as a partner, or just as a healthcare participant or exercise enthusiast. Again, there is a limit, but I think to your point, PJ, most of us are not anywhere near a reasonable limit. Societally, we have drifted to a point where we’re way too coddled and sheltered. And I can say for me, these exposures have made me a far better, stronger person. So for whatever degree that resonates with our audience, try to look at yourself in a different light as someone who is strong, capable, able-bodied, and go out into the fear and confront it.

The Role of Recovery

DrMR:

Just pivoting back, PJ, to the other point of recovery. I perhaps found where my physical limit was in pushing, pushing, pushing some of these things. And I think part of that is just an exercise of finding the line. I know this is probably a very individual thing, but are there guidelines that XPT or just you recommend people follow to try to determine or preempt burnout? Maybe I should say mitigate, because I’m assuming that there’s going to be some burnout. If you’re trying to optimize performance, you’re going to have to flirt with the boundary. So maybe preempt is a better word than to totally negate down to zero. But I’m curious about what you guys are doing for recovery and prevention of burnout.

DrPN:

I think mitigate is a great word, because as you mentioned, you’re going to experience it. If we use physical training, we call it overreaching, which is a time when we’re creating a little bit of over-training on purpose, making sure we’re following up with optimal recovery. You have to toe that line. One of my favorite quotes is, “Only those who are willing to go too far can ever understand how far one can go.”

DrMR:

Love that.

DrPN:

I don’t know who said it, I think it was a philosopher, but I like it because it’s such a great point of how if you’re not willing to push the limits, then you’re always going to be stuck inside this comfort zone to some level. So in order to mitigate though, we look at recovery. The most important points of recovery are really so simple. There are things that are mundane to hear about, but they are the most important. We have to have a solid foundation that we’re building on top of. It starts with the foundation of sleep being obviously critical. Nutrition is critical. And then we look at active recovery modalities. That’s one of the big things that we lean into and contrast therapy is one of those, but certainly there’s plenty of others. We really like people to have an active participation in their recovery, versus, “I’m only going to do things that push me to redline it, and then I’ll take a day off and hopefully that’ll do what it does for me.”

DrPN:

I think something that attracts people to XPT are some of the modalities that we use for recovery. Again, pool training could be a great recovery tool. It’s very low-impact, so when used properly it still allows you to do something, because I know people are athletes or Type A people who don’t just want to sit. If I can be more active in doing something that’ll help stimulate recovery, whether it’s just a really low-intensity cardiovascular style workout that’ll get the blood flowing, increase lymphatic flow, and clear out waste products. That can be great, but that’s the way we look at it.

DrPN:

And then there’s passive recovery stuff. I think the other biggest piece to mitigate recovery is planning. It’s really, really challenging to look at recovery retrospectively or look at your session if you’re not being proactive with your planning and you’re being reactive. You certainly can do that with some self-awareness, but it’s just more challenging to optimize performance, and that’s why a good coach helps a lot. If you’re really looking at performance in any area, any great coach should be looking at your end goal and reverse engineering the plan to get you there. I mean, that’s how you work in business, that’s how you work in performance. If I know I’ve got six months to get you to this end goal, I’ve got to reverse engineer.

DrPN:

And through that process, I need to see where am I going to push really hard, and then how am I going to apply the right recovery? And then I’ve got to be flexible enough to be able to adapt that because it may change based on your work schedule and your travel schedule. All of a sudden you might have this huge day of stress. So I think understanding what the tools are that you have at your disposal that make you feel better and knowing that recovery is muscular, it’s neurological, it’s psychological. All of those elements are closely tied together. I think that seems to be one of the themes we’re talking about here, just how everything is so closely tied together. You can’t break the body into these systems. The digestive system can’t be broken out from the respiratory system. All of those things are so intertwined.

DrPN:

So that’s how we like to look at recovery. Developing some awareness, playing with different methods, and finding out what you believe is going to help you. What seems to work for you? What makes you feel better? What makes you be in a better mood? And then understanding planning a little bit in advance. So if I know Mondays and Fridays for me tend to be more recovery focused and I put it on my calendar. It doesn’t mean I do it every day, but I know on Mondays we have a lot of phone calls back to back, so at the end of the day, I’m smoked. So for me, instead of trying to cram in a redlining workout that day just to push myself, I’m just going to make sure that that day is a recovery day. Maybe that means some yoga, maybe it’s a sauna session, maybe it’s some breath work. Maybe it’s just going to go play video games for an hour to de-stress my mind.

DrPN:

So I kind of plan those into my schedule, but then when you have some tools in your toolbox because you’ve played with them, then you can have the awareness to be like, “Man, I’m crushed today. I’m going to swap this session for this session and just know what I’m trying to do.” Training is an arbitrary term. Training should be what helps you get to your end goal. So training today doesn’t mean I have to crush myself. It could mean I’m going to do something today that’s going to empower me to train harder on Wednesday and on Friday, and therefore overall have a better week of training. And that’s what my training is for today.

DrMR:

Great perspective. And perhaps things that you’ve picked up along the way from different coaches that you’ve worked with.

DrPN:

Absolutely. And the body’s not a textbook. We see this all the time with contrast therapy, ice baths, and saunas. A new study comes out that says ice baths didn’t improve recovery in this group of athletes, and you have all these people who want to throw the baby out with the bath water. There’s so much more to this than what this one study shows. However, we should take this all into account so we understand that some athletes are actually not going to get better from using this type of modality. With some athletes, it might make them worse. With some people, it might improve their mental recovery, which therefore improves their physical performance.

DrPN:

So none of these things are steadfast rules. The biggest thing we can do as practitioners is knowing you’re not going to read all the research as a regular person. You don’t have the time to do that. That’s why we have people whose profession it is to go read all this stuff and then to try it out with thousands of different people and come up with our best understanding of some principles you can apply. And that way you can mitigate 10 years of trial and error by yourself, or expedite, I should say, because you’re still going to have to do the trial and error, but at least you can use our recommendations to put guard rails on that path for you. And then you keep walking down it and test it out. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t keep jamming a square peg into a round hole, try something else.

DrMR:

Well said. I’m a big advocate of the path of scientifically-informed self-experimentation and discovery. I think that’s the best way to look at it. Science gives you the framework, and then you find the nuanced path within the framework, so to speak.

DrPN:

A very eloquent way to put my ramblings.

DrMR:

Nice team effort here. Well, PJ, this has been an awesome conversation. Can you tell people a little bit more about where you would direct them online to learn more about you and/or XPT?

DrPN:

Everything we do with XPT can be found at xptlife.com. I think I mentioned at the beginning, maybe I didn’t, but we just started back up our experiences. We’ve got one coming up in July. If you can take the time and afford to come out to those things, they are absolutely amazing and life-changing. I believe that not because I work for the company, but just from the feedback we’ve had. But we only have a few of those a year, so we’re really excited to be able to be launching some new things this year where people can engage with the brand. We have a new app that’ll be coming out by the end of the year. We’ll be launching XPT Studios near the end of the year, and we’re super-excited to be bringing more things out there that will help people apply all these principles to a high-performance lifestyle. So yeah, everything about XPT and everything me can be found at xptlife.com.

DrMR:

Awesome. Well, PJ, I really appreciate the work that you’re doing. I think people need an easier way to plug into some of this stuff. And I think the retreats and then the centers that you’re going to be rolling out will help people not have to go through buying a sauna, buying a freezer, and will give them an easier entry point. So I just love the work that you guys are doing, and again, I really enjoyed the chat. Thanks so much for coming on.

DrPN:

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

DrMR:

Yeah. Been a pleasure.

Outro:

Thank you for listening to Dr. Ruscio Radio today. Check us out on iTunes and leave a review. Visit DrRuscio.com to ask a question for an upcoming podcast, post comments for today’s show, and sign up to receive weekly updates. That’s D R R U S C I O dot com.

➕ Dr. Ruscio’s Notes
  1. Coach recommendation XPT: Mark Roberts (former Asst Performance Dir for XPT)- [email protected], [email protected]
  2. Sleep doctor: Dr. Michael Breus (The Sleep Doctor)- [email protected]
  3. Sports psychology referral, for our podcast: I really respect Dawn Fletcher[email protected]
  4. Signing up for next XPT Life Experience (only see one listed)- stay tuned, should be listing one for Hawaii in December sometime in the next few weeks, then quickly followed by 2022 dates/locations

Sponsored Resources

Hi everyone. After many requests, we’re very excited to announce we have two brand new flavors of our best-selling Elemental Heal. Elemental Heal, in case you haven’t heard of it, is our great-tasting, meal replacement, hypoallergenic, gut healing formula. These formulations and flavors aren’t ones you’ll find anywhere else, and better yet you do not need a doctor’s note to order or use them. In addition to our existing varieties, we now offer Peach in the whey-free version and Vanilla and the low-carb version. These have been through some serious tastes tests, so we really think you’re going to enjoy them. Whether you’re using Elemental Heal as a morning shake meal replacement, as a mini gut reset for a few days, or even using it exclusively for two to three weeks, we now have a formula that should fit your needs.

High Performance Principles for Your Life and Health - Elemental Heal LC Vanilla L
High Performance Principles for Your Life and Health - Elemental Heal WF PC 12 L

If you go to DrRuscio.com and head to the store, we’re offering 15% OFF any one of our Elemental Heal formulas. This discount is limited to one per customer. Simply use code “TryElementalHeal” at checkout and you’ll get that 15% OFF. Let us know what you think about the new flavors. We believe that you’ll find them to be not only great tasting, but also really friendly on the gut and can help give you a boost in how you’re feeling.


Need help or would like to learn more?
View Dr. Ruscio’s additional resources

Get Help

Discussion

I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *