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Brian Mackenzie: Pushing All Boundaries Of Health & Wellness

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy:  This week we welcome to the show Brian MacKenzie. He is a human performance and movement specialist. He is the innovator of the endurance, strength and conditioning paradigm. He has studied performance and movement since 2001 with altitude, hypoxia, breathing mechanics & methods, along with heat and cold exposure. He has spent a lot of his time training and understanding in and around the water, and desert. He has participated in Ironman (Canada 2004), and has run the Western States 100 and the Angeles Crest 100 mile endurance runs. He co-authored the books Power Speed Endurance, and The New York Times Best Seller UnBreakable Runner.

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Questions we ask in this episode:

  •  When it comes to training, I’ve heard you say quality vs quantity and methods are many, principles are few, please explain?
  • What areas of exercise modalities would you encourage the weekend warrior who wants a rounded approach to their health, movement and longevity?
  • You free dived with Great White Sharks. Why?
  • Where does your passion for breathwork come from?
  • You’re currently collaborating with Stanford University’s Neuroscience Dept. on how breath can influence our ‘state’, what have you discovered?
  • I was intrigued by your book Unplugged, what can the reader expect from this?

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Full Transcript

Guy

[00:01:00] Hey guys this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition. Of course welcome to another episode of the health sessions, where we are connecting with leading global health and wellness experts to share the best and the latest science of thinking that power us all to turn our health and lives around. And this week, our fantastic guest is Brian Mackenzie, who is a human performance and movement specialist. Not only that, he’s a top bloke and a lot of fun and just got a stack of wisdom and experience behind him, so it was great to have him on the show today. He’s studied performance and movement since 2001 with altitude, hypoxia, breathing mechanics, methods along with heat and cold exposure as well. And we also dive into his more recent project, The Art of Breath, which of course I’m pretty passionate about as well. We even get into his book, Unplugged, and why he recently free-dived without a cage with great white sharks as well, which just blew my mind. So it’s all in there. I don’t care what you do. There’s nuggets of wisdom for everyone in this podcast, and I have no doubt you’re going to enjoy.

And I also want to mention, don’t forget guys, we are offering all the podcast listeners a 15% discount on any of our 180 Nutrition products at the moment. All you have to do is go back to the shopping cart and enter the discount code 180 podcast and you can receive a 15% discount.

[00:01:30] Yeah, what I will mention as well is check out our new organic hemp blend protein as well, guys. It is phenomenal. We literally just launched it this week, and the laws have been changing around hemp. We’ve been excited to bring this protein to the marketplace as well, cause it’s an all plant-based protein, and personally, I’m in love with it at the moment. Anyway, you can check that out as well, and the discount code applies for that too.

Anyway, let’s go over to Brian McKenzie. Enjoy!

[00:02:00] Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cook, as always. Good morning, Stu.

Stu

Hello mate!

Guy

And our awesome guest today is Brian Mackenzie. Brian, welcome to the show, dude.

Brian

Thanks for having me, boys. Pleasure.

Guy

It’s been a long time coming. Your name has popped up on different views and podcasts over the last 12 months at least. So it’s like oh, we gotta get Brian on the show. So yeah, very appreciative of your time, mate.

Brian

Yeah, absolutely.

Guy

So we have a question we ask everyone when we kick off, and that is, “If a stranger stopped you on the street and asked you what you did for a living, what would you say?

Brian

I don’t know.

Stu

Don’t speak to strangers.

Brian

[00:03:30] Yeah. Literally I’d say, “I don’t know.” I could equate doing yard work to that’s part of my job or working out, that’s part of my job, or screwing around with breathing or screwing around with a kettlebell or whatever, or walking my dogs. That’s part of work, you know? It literally is, because I’m trying to understand things, connect dots, and make things happen in a way that … you know I’ve been able to … I do believe I’m fortunate, but I do believe that I’ve kept something that a lot of people just really ditch and think that they gotta get in, like “I gotta get a job,” which I understand that. I’ve played that game, but I’ve remained curious enough to be able to develop things that have allowed me to do what it is I really want to do.

Guy

Fair enough.

Stu

I like it.

Guy

[00:04:00] I gotta say as well, mate, you first came on my radar many years ago with CrossFit Endurance, I think it was when I was in CrossFit, and it always appear, from the outside looking in … I don’t know how true it is, but you always seem to be pushing the boundaries and going down these rabbit holes of fitness and movement and exercise, whatever it is, you know? Where does that … for you, take us back a bit. Where does that curiosity come from?

Brian

[00:05:00] Oh, this kind of came up this morning, too, and my wife and I talk about this all the time … we talk about it more frequently than not. And it’s been more recently, and I equate a lot of what I do to being an adult child. I used to love, when I was really young, I used to live behind this forest and we would go build tree forts to hide and to stash our nudie magazines, and that was cool. And that was life for me. Going back into the forest, getting lost, doing dangerous stuff, being rebellious, building tree forts. And so I equate, more or less, what it is I do with … It gives me that same feeling of, “Am I building a tree fort again? Am I doing this same thing or this same kind of thing that’s giving me that feeling of I’m going to pursue this until it’s un-pursuable.”

[00:05:30] And the odd thing is … and this is where the curiosity comes in, it hard-rights, it hard-lefts, it goes up, it goes, and then I wind up on something that I saw, I wouldn’t say a hole, but I see an opportunity where somebody’s not looking at it under a specific light, you know? There’s specific musicians that do things that are so phenomenal, and they’ll redo somebody else’s music, and they do it in a way that’s just profound and somebody goes, “Whoa!”

[00:06:00] There’s nothing new in human performance, in nutrition, in whatever. You can’t … nobody’s doing anything new. It’s how are you presenting it and how are you showing people something unique about this that allows us to evolve or get forward of it. And I think that’s what I see joy in.

Guy

Totally. It makes sense. Have you ever been proven wrong? Like you’ve been of strong opinions of certain things and gone down the rabbit hole and gone, “Holy shit, I was so wrong it’s not funny.”

Brian

[00:07:00]
Oh, yeah man. Everything. Everything. I mean, I was a long, slow distance endurance athlete. That was my religion. That was my life. And people don’t know that. People think just cause the CrossFit Endurance thing, that was … dude, that was not what I did. I was literally slogging it out and doing what I was doing, and then I was falling apart. And a mentor of mine was like, “You need to change things. You need to look at things a little differently.” And then another buddy of mine was like, “You should start squatting again. You’ve got a background in strength and conditioning and you don’t even do anything in strength and conditioning. You just ride your bike and run and swim.”

[00:07:30] And I’m like, “Alright. I’ll try it.” And that literally started a process of reinvestigating things and changing and altering things. We hit roadblocks building what is now PowerSpeed endurance but became CrossFit Endurance. We were doing things that were way too intense, we were getting shattered on. But we were learning from that. We were paying attention to it and going, “Alright. That’s probably going to hurt somebody. That’s probably going to mess some people up.”

Guy

[00:08:00] Yeah, right. What were the key … Sorry, Stu. What were the key fundamentals of CrossFit Endurance? Cause I remember coming across that thinking holy shit! This is so radical to anything I adhered at the time because like you said, endurance athletes, it’s all about mileage and racking up the numbers. It was almost like everyone was just trying to out-exhaust each other. I don’t know, but …

Brian

[00:08:30] Yeah, and I get it. But the problem is that … one of my other business partners, he’s a neuroscientist, his name’s Dr. Andrew Huberman. We’re creating some new language around things like this, and what that is is nothing more than the narrowing of things that bring us pleasure, which is addiction. And whether it’s exercise or it’s drugs or whatever it is or food, it narrows in and I can’t be happy unless I’m doing this. Like I’m suffering my brains out doing something, but still addiction. It’s manufactured addiction, man.

[00:09:30] And I was there, but the essence of what we did, the simple way of outlining it is really it’s a skill-based approach to endurance training. Skill, intensity, volume. Layering skill development, use some intensity to understand where you start to fall apart, and that varies. That’s what varies. 400-meter repeats are not five kilometer runs, so the intensity is a varied thing, right? A five mile run, right? And back squatting is not running. And somebody who’s brand new to squatting, who hasn’t squatted, shouldn’t be squatting a house or they shouldn’t be doing things. That skill approach really layers into where do you stand at that ability level within that.

[00:10:00] And the irony is that endurance training was one of the last sports to the docket on using strength and conditioning. Like I was really the guy who said nobody’s doing strength and conditioning here. And now they’re all doing it to some degree, whether it was influence by me or not. I mean, Dave Scott, who’s arguably one of the greatest triathletes of all time, only trains his athletes in ways that we really were talking about 10 years ago.

Stu

Yeah, it’s fascinating.

Guy

Interesting.

Stu

[00:10:30] On that topic of training, I’ve heard you say quality versus quantity, methods are many, and principles are few. So can you just tell us about that?

Brian

[00:11:00] Well that’s actually a Bruce Lee type thing, but I use it, and I use it a lot. Because everybody comes out with some sort of method that they’re selling, because they figure out, “I’ve got something good here and I could market this and make something out of it.” I’ve never been able to really wrap my head around that, and that’s why I’ve always had a problem selling things. Like you’d probably find it interesting that I own a supplement company. You didn’t know that, did you?

Stu

Didn’t know.

Brian

[00:12:00] Yeah, I don’t run around promoting shit because I’m terrible at it and I don’t want to … people heard about … whatever. Methods come out of principles. If I start to incorporate a few principles, I can then thus create something that can work, and that can have an impact, but that doesn’t fit all the time and that does not work all the time for everybody. Let’s take the breathing thing that’s raging right now. Wim Hof is a pioneer in what he’s done, and he’s a friend of mine. I love him to death. His method does not impact everybody in the exact same way. People don’t get the same reactions, and some people should probably not be doing it, especially if they have heart disease or things going on where if I hyperventilate, I could cause a heart attack, things could happen. And that’s not to say that’s what’s going to happen, but based on physiology, if I hyperventilate and I vaso-constrict the blood to the heart and I’m somebody who’s suffering from heart disease or I have heart problems, that’s not a good thing, right?

[00:13:00] So this is why in yoga, like in kundalini practices like breathify or kabala bhati, they come with stern warnings. This is where holotropic breathing, similar to Wim Hof, comes with stern warnings. This does not discount that these are not great things and great tools to be used, but there’s principles behind them. What are those principles? And one of those things is a hyperventilation technique, it can be used to up-regulate somebody. It can be used to induce adrenaline in a situation that maybe, “Oh hey, I just got stung by a bee and I’m allergic to bees,” which, by the way, we’ve been in those situations and we’ve utilized breathing in order to bring more adrenaline into the system, suppress immune response, which … This is in learning about all of these things.

[00:13:30] So there’s some principles in there that things can be utilized and incorporated, and there’s no reason why long slow distance training, even though I went off on a tangent early on in my career, which was a big mistake. It was just it was early, people were coming at me hard and they’re like, “You can’t do that. You have to run long. You have to go spend time on your feet. Any world-class athlete’s running this long or this much,” and it’s like yeah, but where did they start? They all started short distance and getting really good at short distance, and the general population is missing that gap.

[00:14:00] So I had to change language and reappraoch and think about it differently and be like, “Okay, so what are the principles we can take from that and understand these things and apply that so that we’re dispelling the whole … ” There’s nothing wrong with going and following a method. I think it’s great. Go spend some time learning. Figure out what works for you with it, then move on. Take what worked for you and apply that and learn something else.

Guy

[00:15:00]
Totally. So, question that popped in there. For our listeners, and I’m thinking of somebody like myself, right? I’m in my 40s, I just exercise to feel good, mentally get there, and look after my health. There’s no kind of ego-driven thing anymore about how much weight I lift or competing, when I was back playing rugby in Wales, all that kind of stuff. So for the people out there that just sit in that space, what would the principles you would suggest to people? Cause some people still might be caught up, “Oh man, you gotta run to stay healthy and look after your heart long-term or you gotta lift weight or you gotta do yoga or whatever it might be.” You know? What would the principles you would suggest to have a rounded approach moving forward?

Brian

[00:16:00] Well, let’s take a look at what’s important to you, right? You gotta move. Movement’s key. We are a being that thrives on moving, and now we live in a time and a place, the first time in our history where we have to manufacture suffering in order to do what our ancestors did daily, right? The healthiest people on the planet are those that are in farming and gardening cultures, right? People who work basically all day, low-level aerobic activity, and lift things heavily, randomly throughout the day, right? And they just tend to be very happy because they’re grateful for the food they’re getting, they treat their animals with respect, they’re not beating on them. It’s not a slaughterhouse to where it’s this thing. Regardless of where you come from and how you eat, you gotta think of these processes and being a part of this thing.

[00:16:30] So I think, in looking for health, what is health? And there’s a lot of things we’ve gotten really good at. We’ve gotten really good at training our cardiovascular system and our muscular systems, but we have neglected the mind, we have neglected our pulmonary and respiratory systems, and so we see athletes, I mean professional athletes, world-class athletes, who pulminarily are like general population, 40th percentile pulmonarily. That’s insane.

[00:17:30] So how are we looking at fitness or health to start? And so I think it really comes down to what is it that I actually want to do? And you’re in a good place, in my eyes, because it’s, “I don’t have any ego really attached to what I want to do right now, but if I want to learn hey, what are the things that are going to benefit me?” We understand strength training. We understand aerobic training. We understand mobility. So these things become principles in understanding what I should be applying throughout my day or even week so that I can incorporate these things and feel healthy and get about my life, right?

[00:18:00] Or here: the opposite of what addiction is … like I said earlier, the narrowing of things that bring us please. The broadening of things that bring us pleasure is what our lifestyle should be. So if I’ve got a practice that is actually forcing me to want to get outside more, to want to be more connected to my family, to want to be happily involved with my community, being positive generally. If that is what your practice is doing, you’re probably on the right path, right? Regardless of what that is, and I don’t want to sit here and tell you you should be squatting twice a week, you should probably be doing some interval work twice a week.

[00:19:00] Yes, I run programs. Yes, we have programs online. They’re for training. It’s basically a way for people to integrate a lot of the thinking that we’ve put out, and it’s not a ton of training, but it’s enough for the general population, who’s the working class, to actually do enough to really get integrated to all of these kind of principles and not have to be, “Well, what’s the program?” And it’s like there is no real program except for the fact that each new cycle, which is eight or nine weeks, we literally do a progression through that in order to learn something new or develop something new.

Guy

Yeah. Great answer. It’s interesting, cause I think about us still. You know, we’re two minutes from the bloody beach for a surf, literally. And we can get in there, and I’ve been learning. I’m not a great surfer by any stretch, but I’ve got a nine-foot [inaudible 00:19:19] right-hand break at the pass in Byron. And I’ll get a smile on my face if I catch one of those that nothing can compare to.

Brian

Nothing.

Guy

Nothing. Like it’s just amazing. I know Stu had a dolphin nearly knock him out the other week as well.

Stu

[00:20:00] I’ll get him next time. So where does … I’m kind of intrigued about breath work as well, because like you said, this whole Wim Hof method and movement has just kind of popped out of nowhere and it’s now on everyone’s radar. So where does that sit on your interest scale of everything you do, and how important do you think it is to focus on breath work as part of our overall wellness?

Brian

[00:21:00] I think in today’s day and age, if you don’t have a breath practice, you’re going to be missing out on probably the biggest components, the lowest- hanging fruit that exists. We are living in a time where we’re more stressed than ever. I just dropped a post out, cause Thanksgiving is about to happen in the United States, which is a big, big holiday, right? And it’s like two days away, and everybody’s talking about nutrition. And it’s not like we don’t … and there’s nothing wrong with these diets. There’s nothing wrong with being vegan. There’s nothing wrong with being paleo. I just got this question the other day, “You’re paleo, right?” And I’m like, “I guess. Maybe? I don’t know.” I’ve been around enough to where yeah, there was a point in my career I was like, “Yeah, I’m paleo,” but then it was like what am I fucking doing?

[00:22:00] But I put this post out, and it literally got down to the fact that we are so stressed that it doesn’t matter what we’re eating. Because if you and I were to eat the same thing, and let’s just call it the cleanest meal of all time and everybody agreed, but we stressed you out, Stu. Like we just put you in a room that was death metal music and going off and had you eat that meal. And then put me in a room and put me with my wife who’s like, “Hey babe, I love you. You’re great, you’re awesome, you’re doing amazing,” all this stuff, and I ate that meal, what do you think is going to happen as that digestion goes down?

Stu

Yeah, that’s a good point. Cause I would imagine that I wouldn’t digest that meal very well at all.

Brian

[00:22:30] No, right? And with where we’re at, unfortunately … and I think Dr. Patrick McKeown has done an incredible job. He wrote the book Oxygen Advantage, and he took the Buteyko method, which is almost a near impossible thing to go and understand without going to some crazy seminar that they do in some obscure place, and he broke it down in layman’s terms. And he provided people some information that is great. And the fact is that CO2 is the only reason we breathe, and most of us are so CO2 intolerant that we over-breathe, so we’re chronically hyperventilating. We’re mouth breathers.

[00:23:30] And Wim Hof, although it’s a hyperventilation technique, we’ve classified this as a super-ventilation technique, where things like Breathify are a super-ventilation technique. Holotropic breath, a super-ventilation technique. So these are principles, right? It’s a principle. Here’s what this is. We’re wanting to apply this, not a chronic issue, where if we get people to just slow down their breathing for 10 breaths a day in a specific pattern, because … this is where the research portion of what we’re doing right now came into play.

[00:24:00] We started figuring out not everybody responds the exact same way, but because we’re all stressed, there’s an area dedicated in the brain to respiration. And unconsciously, we breathe at that respiration rate. That respiration rate is tied to the lungs and how intolerant I am of CO2 in my lungs. Not my blood, okay? The blood becomes a byproduct of the lungs and how much I’m scrubbing off CO2 or utilizing CO2 and oxygen. So how diffusion is happening and how well it’s happening.

[00:24:30] So it really … we live in a world where we’re super stressed. We sit too much, we don’t move enough, we breathe mainly through our mouths, which is an emergency vehicle. Like I’ll talk right now for an hour with you guys and I’ll feel a little bit exhausted. I mean I’m sure you guys have felt this. Hey, I went and talked for an hour or I did a presentation, whatever, and I was exhausted afterwards, but I didn’t work out. Well, that’s because you basically were setting yourself off in a sympathetic state by opening that mouth. And so you’re doing this all the time throughout our day, and we buffer this off by going and working out, which then puts us in more of a sympathetic state.

[00:25:00] We’re never coming down, and so this chronic area … this is where sleep comes in. It’s like how well are you sleeping? How well is your digestion? Oh, it’s not that great. It’s not that great. Weird. Maybe it’s time to settle down at certain points of the day. Look at our animals. What happens to them? My dogs, did you hear them bark earlier?

Stu

Yeah.

Brian

Well, that’s what they’re both doing now, and they’re not on Instagram or Facebook talking about what just happened, where the rest of us are sitting there talking about the drama of what happened, the squirrel that was outside, and it’s like what are we doing? Food. What are we doing? Nobody’s done anything revolutionary in nutrition in the last 30 years. Nobody. I don’t care what you’re weighing and measuring, how many macros, if you’re vegan or pescatarian or whatever. That would have solved the entire crisis if it was something that was supposed to. You’re stressing everybody out. That’s all we’re doing is we’re stressing them out. “If you’re not doing this, you’re evil! If you’re not eating this way, you’re terrible! Or you’re not going to make gains!”

It’s like I go to put it in my mouth, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! What am I doing?”

Stu

So have you got any quick reset or calming tips using breath that you might relate to at any given stage in your day.

Brian

[00:27:30] Yeah. One, I really think that if you can just slow … look. If you can breathe out of your nose, be more aware of breathing out of your nose throughout the day, your physiology is going to change in the next two weeks. You will literally be impacted by this. This is a resistance breathing device. This offloads CO2 really quickly. This has a filter system set up in it. Hairs, sinuses, mucus, nitric oxide. All of this plays a role in your immune function, and it helps keep the lungs healthy. When I breathe through here, I have none of that. So that in itself can change your entire life.

[00:28:30] Secondly, if you’re in a situation where you know you are stressed, just slowing your breathing down will alter the physiology. And my buddy Tony Blauer talks about this all the time cause I helped him out with this cause he was going through some terrible stuff. He teaches self-defense stuff and he’s really great at it, but he said, “Holy crap, dude. Psychology chases physiology and physiology chases psychology.” If you can interrupt the physiology when the psychology is getting out of wack, you have a fighting chance to change or alter what’s happening. So the respiration becomes the … your breathing is the remote control to your brain and nervous system. Literally. So if can just slow it down in situations of stress. Like look, I just went great white shark diving in September where I got out of the cage.

Stu

Oh, did you?

Brian

[00:29:30] Oh yeah. It was for a research project we’re doing at Stanford medicine to understand fear and anxiety. And we’re putting people through virtual reality so that they’re diving with great white sharks. Not in a cage. Out of the cage, right? And we got to get out of the cage. Had I not controlled my breathing, I would have been flipping a lid. But I watched these guys do it, they’ve pioneered a method at it, and this is an extreme but look. The reason it’s being done is because it’s an opportunity for me to understand why some kid has social issues or somebody doesn’t want to walk out of the house, and yet there’s a respiration rate that’s basically doing the same thing with everybody. And if I can just slow it down, put it in my nose, control what’s happening for just a minute, whether you’re in traffic, whether you just worked out, look. Slowing down your breathing through nasal breathing will actually teach you to recover quicker.

Stu

That’s fascinating. I was just thinking. I have been cage diving with great white sharks and I can’t ever imagine-

Brian

I’m sure you have. You’re Australian.

Stu

I can’t imagine myself getting outside that cage. Crikey. That must have been terrifying.

Brian

It’s like getting out there with dinosaurs man. Going, whoa. But it’s really interesting. Once it’s done, you realize … and I observed this. I caught this the first day, and it was the third day that I got out of the cage. The way these guys pioneered it is they don’t act like prey. The moment you act like prey, that animal only knows one thing: get it.

Stu

Yeah, eat.

Brian

If I’ve got a guy with a camera in front of him and I go at it and that camera now comes at me, that shark literally … I watched it 20 times. The shark just literally went at the person, the guy went at it, and the shark turned.

Stu

Right.

Brian

You just gotta have the tenacity. You just gotta have it together to literally be like, “I can’t run. If I run, I’m done.

Guy

That’s incredible.

Stu

Yeah. That would make a good tshirt. If I run, I’m done. I like it. God.

Brian

Yeah, act like prey and you’re treated like prey.

Guy

You mentioned the nose breathing as well, cause it was only a few weeks back, my wife bought this little device you stick in your nose when you go to bed.

Brian

Turbine.

Guy

It opens up your nostrils.

Brian

[00:32:00]
Yeah. Now I have those. You gotta be careful. Here’s why: it’s a great idea, but I don’t know … It’s a sole product. So here’s the thing: if you’re not physiologically adapted to going a specific metabolic rate with those nostrils pinned wide open, that is going to cause some issues. I learned that the hard way. I’ve blown out sinuses, bloody noses, all of it using these things before, but if you allow yourself the time to adapt to nasal breathing. They’re great for warming up, not going real hard, it’s perfectly fine, but if you go outside that comfort zone of your ability to actually process, metabolically, what’s happening, that’s where we run into issues.

One of Australian kids who I worked with in CrossFit this last year, James Newbury.

Guy

Oh yeah, we know him.

Brian

[00:33:00]
Yeah. His entire endurance program leading up to the games was all nasal breathing in the first segments of it, and when he first was training, he could only get his heart rate up to about 149 nasal breathing. Within six weeks, we had him up to about 179, 170-ish. And he felt like he could go all day at that point. So that’s allowing the adaptability to happen, versus if I threw those on him, he’d go harder, but what would happen to his sinuses, all of that stuff.

Guy

Totally. I just want to mention, I’ve only been wearing it when I go to sleep.

Brian

Perfect. Great idea.

Guy

And I slept like a baby. Same amount of time-

Brian

That’s the difference between nose breathing and mouth.

Guy

Stu, you gotta try it.

Brian You’re breathing through your mouth.

Guy

[00:33:30] Yeah, it was quite incredible. And you can really feel it. I plug it in, I lay down, I’m like, “Oh my God. This is interesting.” I’ve been doing it for about a week and I notice it.

Stu

[00:34:00] I wanted to, kind of on the topic of breathing and the Wim Hof stuff as well, cold exposure. Because we had a chat to Laird Hamilton earlier on in the year, as well, and he was talking to us about using heat and cold exposure to support recovery and performance and stuff like that. So tell me what your thoughts are on those two.

Brian

[00:34:30] Well, Laird’s a good friend. We’ve spent many of training days together, and I do a lot of contrast work. I think it has its place. I also think that you should also do them singularly as well at times. If you’re going to do the cold exposure and then you’re getting into the heat, you’re not really allowing for the ability to really adapt to the cold all the time, right? Because you’ve got this outside heat source to warm you up.

[00:35:30] Cold exposure itself, I think Wim Hof has also really revolutionized that. We were doing it long before we met Wim. Not to take anything away from him. I think he’s done a great job. It’s helped the whole process. It’s helping plenty of people. The cold exposure can really do profound things. I think Tim Ferriss wrote about this in one of his books also, The 4-Hour Body, where he did cold work to lose body fat and absolutely that will do it. You’ll actually put on muscle through it because of density building, getting stiff in the cold. Cold shock proteins work a lot like the heat shock proteins. Your cells in your body respond to things that if … your physiology is a great, amazing thing, but it’s a give-and-take business, and if I don’t use it, we lose it. And your cells are hard-wired to adapt to the cold. If we just don’t do it, it gets difficult, and then we get cold really easy. Cold exposure can change all of that.

[00:36:30] Heat is a radical … If you’re an athlete these days or if you actually care about your health, there is no reason why you should not have a heat and cold setup. From a health standpoint, there’s reasons why both of these things have existed over hundreds if not thousands of years, especially sauna. In the colder communities or world that exists, anything above that 33rd parallel, man, that was their means of staying warm, cleaning themselves, doing things that radically allowed them to survive and exist, and it has profound effect on performance as well.

[00:37:00] Most of us, the reason we break down when we do when we’re training or competing is heat. Heat mitigation. Even if you’re in a cold climate, you can overdo the heat. But I got introduced to heat training years ago when I was doing ultra-marathons and I got the opportunity to pace somebody through Badwater through Death Valley. I was like, “I need to prepare myself,” so I got a sauna and I started doing some heat training, and it was rad to see the transition that happens through the body when you actually acclimate to the heat and the heart rate just drops out and your body feels like you can then go forever and it’s 120, 140 degrees and something.

[00:37:30] Heat shock proteins are a part of endurance training. Your sweat rate, your sweat system, that’s a part of really cleansing things, but the fact is breathing is actually the big, big thing in cleansing, but 70% of all toxins are removed through respiration.

Stu

Is that right?

Brian

[00:38:00] Yeah. So when we talk about things like sweating, it’s this really impactful detoxification, no it’s not. It’s not that great. But getting your body sweating and teaching it how to respond quickly is a very good thing. Spit, urination, defecation, sweating, that’s 30%. That’s 30% removing toxins. Breathing, respiration is 70%.

[00:39:00] So when I teach or I talk, I usually bring up the fact, I’m like, “We’re so concerned with things like training or nutrition.” And it’s like how long can you go along without eating? 30 days. How long can you go without hydration? Three or four days. How long can you go without breathing? Three or four minutes. Think about that. Put that in a hierarchical level. And we don’t. We’re so dogmatic about how we train and eat and drink and how hydrated we are and all this stuff, and it’s like I think we’re missing the point.

Stu

Yeah, that’s right. Big picture. On the heat stuff as well, we’ve got access to different types of exposure to heat in terms of spa bath, steam room, sauna, infrared sauna. Which ones, in your perspective, are the most effective to really get stuff happening?

Brian

All of them. But my favorite is … I’ve got this barrel sauna, and Laird has one of these. Laird was why I got one. There’s just nothing that gets that hot, and once you start to acclimate to that kind of heat, you’re just really impervious to a lot of things.

Stu

Okay. A barrel sauna? I’m intrigued. I should look at that.

Brian

There’s a great Canadian company that builds them. They’re called Dundalk Leisure Craft, and they’ve got a really good program going. So if you have the coin for them, they are a little expensive, they’re like four or five thousand dollars for the lower end one, for the smaller ones, but you’re talking about a lifetime investment in something that we use daily. We don’t not use it.

Stu

[crosstalk 00:40:26]

Guy

Go on, Stu.

Stu

Well I was just saying, I think we could just go for a dirty old, plain old barrel and just roll it into the Australian sunshine. I think we’d be right up-

Brian

Got that, brother. Yeah, you could.

Stu

I’ll give it a go.

Guy

I’m curious, Brian. From a house perspective, how often would you be exposing yourself to the cold exposure and the heat exposure, cause they are stressors at the end of the day, right? Which is the adaptation that you want, right?

Brian

[00:42:00] Yes, sir. Stress is stress, brother, but it’s how you’re responding to stress. Look, I’ve seen somebody give themselves shingles by trying to go and literally do too much ice and heat on the first time they ever did it. And he was in the middle of the training cycle for jiu-jitsu, getting ready for a competition and he was like, “Oh, I’m going to go jump in the heat and the ice,” and went in there and he’s like, “Fuck, I gave myself shingles.” And it’s like, “Dude!” You can’t just … you don’t go out and start breaking records the first day. We’ve got kind of rules … I don’t have rules, but I’m like, “Look. Use 10 breaths for the cold. Go get in an ice bath and use 10 breaths, and try and make those 10 nasal breaths.” And as you adapt, you’re going to be able to slow that breath down more and more and more to where somebody like Wim, 10 breaths is going to take 10 minutes. I’m probably in the realm of five, five and a half minutes when I’m adapted really good. When I’m not adapted, it’s interesting, I’m right around two minutes. That’s where 10 breaths is at.

Like I was saying, that breath is hard-wired to that brain and nervous system. And so when I’m not adapted and the stress is up, the respiration rate’s up and I can’t control it as well, but then when I start to adapt, I start to learn.

[00:42:30] The heat is pretty easy in that when you get to that first inkling of claustrophobia, you’re good. Get out. You’re good. Your body is about to stress out. Once you get past that first inkling, it starts to get pretty gnarly. But if you’ve done enough of heat exposure, you know how to kind of hang in there a little bit. But as you start to adapt to these things, what happens is your body learns to respond back like my dogs, who are now asleep.

Guy

[00:43:30]
Totally. It is fascinating. There’s a few of us who live up our way. We all spent a week with Wim last year in Melbourne, and my mate’s got this huge chest freezer that he’s just converted into an ice bath basically. And we actually just meet up once a week for a coffee and an ice bath. And the rule is, if you’re new, 30 seconds to a minute, whatever. Just concentrate on the breathing, and then we all do five minutes each. Otherwise there can be up to 10 of us, and the bloody day’s gone.

But just the act of doing that alone has felt phenomenal once to consistency kicked in over the last three or four months. Where before it’d be sporadic, and you’d go and expose yourself to Wim and do a retreat and if you’d follow on and you’d come back and then it would die off, but having that access has been quite incredible. Quite incredible. For sure.

Brian

Yeah. That’s a good thing to do.

Guy

Yeah, totally man. With breathing practices, I’m curious, how do you apply it to yourself? Do you have a daily practice that you do? What does that look like?

Brian

[00:44:30] Yeah. So I’ll try and break this down as simple as possible. Excuse me. So, a breath cycle is an inhale, a breath hold, an exhale, and a breath pause. Obviously you don’t need the hold or the pause, but you always have an inhale and an exhale, okay?

[00:45:00] So each of those things does various different things, and this is what we teach at the Art of Breath. They’re supposed to do specific things, but between the three of us, we’re all going to have variant response times to the stressor. So as I inhaled and I hold, how long do I inhale, how long do I hold, how long do I exhale, what am I trying to achieve so that I don’t set off something that I don’t want to or I am trying to set something off that I want to.

[00:46:00] So my world was turned upside down when I really started understanding this, and I’m like, “Oh wow,” I literally have the controls of how I want to alter my day or my state or what I’m doing. So it really depends on what I feel when I wake up in the morning. After I’ve gone through some things that I do in the morning, like I first start with cleaning the dishes, doing the kitchen, cleaning it, getting it ready so I feel task prioritized. Then I’ll do some water stuff, some hydration stuff for my wife and I, leave her cup in there, drink mine, then I usually get a coffee, head out into the room. And it’s still pitch black, and I just sit there and sip on my coffee and kind of feel where I’m at, what I’m feeling. And then I basically go into a rhythm of what it is I want to do and what I want to learn and what way I want to go.

[00:47:00] It used to be much more regimented, like I’ve been through Wim’s stuff. Years ago. I went through all that. I did that for a few months, strictly, understanding it and then playing with different ways of doing it and breath holds and whatever. And then it was pranayamas and understanding those, and [atme 00:46:34] and some of the free diver stuff and doing tables and stuff like that. And they all have places and … get good at something, and right when you’re about to get really good at it … This is CrossFit, man. This is what Greg Glassman talked about years ago is like once you get good at it, right at that point where you get really good at it, go do something different. Expose that practice, and guess what? Ido Portal talks about the same thing. Expose your practice, right? Expose it. Don’t practice exposure.

Guy

[00:47:30] Great advice. Yeah, totally. Totally. You can get hooked up on these things. Moving on, I know time’s chugging away, but I was intrigued by your book Unplugged that you brought out a little earlier this year. Would you mind for everyone just sharing a little about the concepts within that book?

Brian

[00:48:30] Yeah. Dr. Andy Galpin and I, who’s a good friend of mine, we both come from different worlds. He’s a scientist. I’m guy who’s screwing around with things, kind of get people to think about it a little differently. But I utilize a lot of tools that Andy would, and so I’m kind of this scientist as well to a large degree, although I’m not doing research in the traditional sense. I’m doing it in a way so that I can share it with people. And one of the problems that we have as a species right now is really that technology is accelerating in a way that we are not evolving to, but we’re going to need to embrace the fact that it’s here to stay. And we need to understand it and how we can actually evolve and create a better way of coping, dealing, or what we’re calling how we stay plastic, man. How we evolve, and we can be plastic within ourselves to evolve with these things.

[00:49:30] And, like we were talking about earlier, that narrowing of the problem that’s happening with fitness tech is that people are narrowing their field of these things that they think are bringing them pleasure, where they need their watch or their heart rate to go work out. Or they need to have their FitBit on or whatever or their tricked out shoes in order to go out and run, right? And you don’t need any of that, but all of that can be used as a tool to learn from and for you to get back or closer or connected to, I think, the things that really do matter. And the thing that really does matter with our evolution is really going to be our behavior. History is only dictated by that.

[00:50:30] History is nothing more than stories that we’ve agreed on, and most of them are lies. Legitimately. It’s just an altered story of whatever, and that’s perfectly fine because that’s how we revolve throughout our day, but the fact is our behavior is what dictates all of this stuff. And if we don’t change our behavior, we’re going to soon wind up with people with AI embedded in them that are going to be better than the rest of the class that does not have it. All we have to do is take a look back on even Australia’s history. That continent started off as a country full of convicts, if I’m not mistaken, left to exile. And how we’ve treated populace or even people of different color, it’s a direct thing, man. This is our history. It’s behavior, and we’re about to enter into a place to where certain people are going to have damages that others aren’t, and if we don’t watch it, we’re about to go right down the tubes.

Guy

Yeah, technology is an interesting one. It certainly disconnects us as a being and what we’re feeling. And I think about that technology often-

Brian

Well it’s really no different. I really don’t think it’s any different than things like alcohol or even drugs to a large degree. There’s nothing wrong with either of them if they’re used properly. I mean, it’s okay if I have a glass of wine or a beer, but if I’m going to go drink 20 or I’m going to be shooting heroin … it’s probably not a good idea to go shoot heroin at any point, but the fact is, Western medicine has saved many a lives and changed many a lives. And there’s a specific place for it to be used to a degree, but unfortunately, we’re in an opiate-addicted society at this point.

Stu
[00:52:00] I think so. And I think one of the issues that these devices, these blooming smart phone … and I talk about these all the time with my kids as well. They are just hard-wiring these habits into us now where we feel jittery if we’re not checking something. And there are so many things to check and we get notifications about everything now. I was speaking to my two … I’ve got two young daughters, and one of them picked up the phone this morning and I said, “What are you doing?” She said, “Oh, I’m just checking.” I said, “What are you checking? It’s breakfast time. Why don’t we just speak and enjoy what we’ve got right here, right now.”

[00:52:30] And then I started to rant about when I was a boy, I used to go out on my bike all day long and adventure and we used to do this stuff, and I just realized that we’re slowly becoming really bound to these things. And it is infiltrating all the other areas of our lives, like our sleep, like our social interaction. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I don’t like where it’s going right now. It’s a real tricky one.

Brian

[00:53:30] Yeah. I think there’s a balance to it. You can’t ignore the fact that the smartphone is here to stay. To what degree? This is kind of like what I just did a post on Instagram about because of Thanksgiving. It’s like people don’t care about where their food came from anymore. Religion has done a great job … and religion’s done some terrible things, but religion has done a great job of, “Hey, we’re going to give thanks before we eat this stuff and we’re going to respect where it came from.” You just de-stressed your food. You just brought it down. You just got grateful about something. There’s tools everywhere, and what you’re doing with

Guy

There you go. You’re back.

Brian

There it is. Sorry about that.

Guy

That’s okay.

Brian

[00:54:30] What I was getting at was you’re doing a perfect thing with your daughter, like, “Hey, no. We’re going to have breakfast. We’re going to have a conversation. What things are you getting that are more important than this right now?” And look man, I was part of the generation that was really … the tail end of where all that stuff was happening. We sat at the dinner table. We had dinner as a family. We had meals as a family and we were supposed to and we were supposed to be home for that, and that died right after my whole thing, my upbringing. And I think there’s a time and a place. Look, this isn’t to say … I mean I know plenty of friends who have families and they shut down. There is no technology at dinner, and there’s a time and a place. I try to do the same thing. My phone automatically shuts off and goes into night mode at like 7 PM so nothing happens. I don’t bring it into the bedroom.

Stu

[00:55:00] That’s right. I think it’s just an awareness of how to manage what we’ve got, what we’re exposed to every day in a healthy way cause it can tip the balance and it can become very unhealthy.

Guy

Totally. You can catch yourself filling all the dead spots. Sometimes you just need to be quiet and enjoy the moment, but then you go, “Oh, I’ll check what’s happened on Facebook. I’ll check what’s happened on Instagram,” and it’s so easy to do. Stu, your camera’s still off, by the way, mate.

Stu

There we go. I’m back.

Brian

There he is.

Guy

There you go, mate. We ask a couple of questions to finish the show, as well, for everyone. The first one is, what are your non-negotiables to be the best version of yourself each day?

Brian

[00:56:30] Non-negotiables. Getting as close to the truth. Like I just cannot veer … or ego and what I understand about it cannot get in the way. And I can’t compromise that with anybody who I’m around. I won’t get into business with people anymore that I see that with. I don’t care how big of a deal it is. And there’s been some big ones that it’s just like I can’t do it. I don’t want to be a part of that. I already know what that means. That starts with me and just being really honest about where I’m at and who I am and I say the best version as I can of the truth, because I’m still uncovering a lot of that stuff, man. And it takes time. It takes a lot of time. What does really matter at the end of the day? I think not getting lost in all that is really important.

Guy

Totally. There’s a lot to be said with know thyself. For sure. And the last question is, mate, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Brian

I’m going to go with as of recently … I’ve been given a lot of great advice, but as of recently, and it was that shark dive, and it was an inadvertent thing that Michael Muller, who’s the photographer who we were working with who took us out of the cage. Right before I got in the cage to go down to 40 feet, he just looked at me and he said, “Don’t get mesmerized by them,” and that applies to just about every single situation you could possibly be in.

Stu

Yeah, true.

Brian

[00:58:00] It doesn’t matter how big of a deal. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care how famous you are. I don’t … really it’s just like don’t get mesmerized by it. And be able to see it for what it is, because you never know if there’s another one behind you that’s going to eat you.

Stu

That’s true. We were probably given similar advice. They said, “Whatever you do, don’t focus on the one here because there’ll be one below you that will take you.” It’s true, isn’t it?

Brian

[00:58:30] That’s it. There were five or six of those suckers out there when I was out, and it was like try not to be too head-on-a-swivel, but know where they’re all at, at all times. And it’s like look, go into a room and don’t ignore everybody, don’t get mesmerized by one person. There’s a lot of people there.

Stu

Absolutely.

Guy

Full credit to you, mate. That’s incredible. That’s incredible. Mate, can we expect to see you in Australia anytime soon? I believe you just came, didn’t you?

Brian

[00:59:00] I didn’t. My team did. We taught Art of Breath. Yeah, I couldn’t make it. There was some stuff that came down and some business stuff that got really heavy that I needed to be here for. But I would suspect in the next year or two again I would probably be down there. I gotta go to Europe in the spring, but I try not … I did 100,000 miles in the last 9 months from traveling. So it’s a full-on thing and it’s big commitments and it’s like, “Okay. If I go, what do I have to navigate and how do I have to do it?”

Guy

Fair enough.

Stu

I get it. Can be draining.

Guy

For everyone listening to this, if they want to learn more about you, your work, and what you do, where’s the best place to send them, mate?

Brian

[01:01:00] Right now, powerspeedendurance.com. That’s kind of where I’ve housed everything we do. We run the Art of Breath out of there, and then our new business will be popping up pretty soon. If people want more information on that … we’re developing an app that’s going to be the first technology that’s ever been developed that utilizes non-meditative ways of altering state. Breathing, vision, auditory. So we’re taking what we’ve learned with Stanford medicine and applying … We’ve got a breath assessment on Power Speed Endurance that’s a minor version of what this is about to become. And that kind of fingerprints an individual for specific breathing protocols and what they can do for them. It’s a really intricate process, and if you’re looking to get started, it’s well worth the $125 or so that it costs for the test. It gives you six different protocols on what to do throughout the day, and this will be integrated into that. There will also be visual stuff that’s going to be in there to help understand visual process and how to navigate that, because actually vision is the quickest way to alter state. And if you know how to do it and you really get these tools, you really start to become higher functioning, especially with the fact that we’re in front of technology. If I start to learn this stuff, how can I alter state in order to shut down or decompress and step away.

Guy

When’s that app coming out?

Stu

[crosstalk 01:01:19]

Brian

End of January, early Feb.

Guy

I’ll keep an eye out for that. That sounds awesome.

Brian

[01:01:30] And so the ArtofBreath.com people can sign up there and get more information about when that’s going to launch and when that’s going to happen.

Guy

Beautiful. Beautiful. Look forward to it.

Stu

Brilliant. Fantastic.

Brian

And then my social media, if you want, Instagram: @iamunscared, Twitter: @brianmackenzie, Facebook: Brian Mackenzie.

Guy

Awesome. We’ll drop all the links when the podcast goes up mate.

Stu

Right [crosstalk 01:01:45]

Brian

Beautiful. Thanks for having me, guys.

Guy

Brian, thank you so much. That was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us.

Brian

Thanks, Stu.

Stu

Thank you, buddy. Great to hear your stories, and I can only picture you swimming outside that cage with the great white sharks.

Brian

Yeah, we get a few pictures on Instagram already. Go and check that out if you’re on that. If not, you’re doing a hell of a job with those daughters and keeping them away at breakfast, brother.

Stu

I’ll try. Thank you, mate.

Guy

Thanks legends.

Stu

Bye.

Brian

Bye.

 

 

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