October 19, 2015
Since it's been nearly eight months since I unveiled the nitty-gritty steps of my morning routine, which includes occasionally disgusting detail and everything from my giant green smoothie to my nearly naked cold shower…
…I figured it is now high time to release Part 2 of this series, in which I'm going to describe every meal strategy, biohack, healthy living trick and other features of my daily routine, specifically from where we left off in the last post at 9:00am in the morning, all the way up the beginning of the evening routine.
As I mentioned in the last article, I don’t know any successful people who do not have some kind of a relatively structured and occasionally elaborate daily routine. So without further ado, for your entertainment and education, here is mine.
Ben Greenfield's Daily Routine
Breakfast finished, shards of green smoothie still stuck in my teeth, it is now time for work to commence.
At this point, I am supercharged with nutrients and caffeine, and I'm ready and raring to launch into the morning's activities. As you learn in my article “4 Steps To Getting More Done During Your Peak Time Of The Day“, your most attention-demanding, left-brained tasks should be performed during your peak hours, and your most creativeness-demanding, right-brained tasks should be performed during your non-peak hours.
Based on the results of my Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire, my own personal peak hours occur from about 9:30am until 1:00pm, and so, during this time, I work my friggin' ass off.
I am not kidding.
During these peak hours, I am like a horse with blinders, completely focused on my primary tasks for the day. I do not snack, I do not answer my phone, I do not text message, I put in headphones so that nobody can bother me, I do not dabble in the fiction book I am writing and I completely avoid any social media such as Twitter or Facebook. Instead, I focus on whichever tasks fall into that day's “bucket” (a strategy I outline in detail here).
In other words, on Friday, which is a day I reserve for writing, I will simply hunker down and write for about four and a half hours. During this time, I alternate from seated to standing to lunging to kneeling to lying, etc. exactly as I outline in the video below:
Until I moved into my new home, I eliminated physiological issues that would arise during these work “marathons”, such as brain fog, tiredness, lack of focus, etc. by completely cleaning up any forms of electrical pollution around me. The video below shows the exact tactics I used to do that.
Now that I am living in my new home, my office is completely hardwired with shielded Cat-6 ethernet cable, and contains no bluetooth devices, no stand-up desk motors or treadmill motors and no Wi-Fi. I've done extensive testing of the EMF fields in the office using a Tri-Field EMF meter and the amount of dirty electricity or electrical pollution is virtually non-existent.
It's like working on a mountaintop, without the wind chill factor.
To increase wakefulness and simulate sunlight, all the bulbs in my office are “Awake & Alert” blue-light bulbs by Lighting Science. To decrease cortisol levels, I generally work with pine or evergreen essential oil diffused via a cold air diffuser placed near the door of the office. To ensure fresh air, I keep a variety of NASA approved air filtering plants such as Weeping Fig, Peace Lily and Boston Fern scattered throughout both the office and the rest of the home. You can learn about all these type of air, lighting and electricity tactics, and many more, in my book “How To Biohack The Ultimate Healthy Home “.
Finally, although I am working in one long intense burst, I take brief breaks to reset my visual balance by stepping outside and focusing my eyes on a series of close trees, more distant trees, the far horizon, the sun, and any moving objects such as cars or birds.
Technically, if I wanted to be ultra-scientific with these breaks, I would incorporate the proven method of “52 minutes on, 17 minutes off”, but frankly, I've found that 52 minutes is too short and 17 minutes is too long, so I instead work for about 60-75 minute chunks with relatively brief 5 minute breaks.
Eventually, I finish my morning of research, book chapter writing, article writing, podcast recordings, phone or Skype consults, and video recordings sometime between 1:00 and 1:30pm. At this point, I haven't eaten since breakfast, but I sip on my wife's plain jane homemade kombucha recipe, a glass of TianChi on ice, or sparkling water, and continue to do so in the afternoon.
Once I've slammed shut my laptop and turned off my working brain, the very first thing I then do is assess whether the day is a “nap day”. If I am coming off a non-taxing day of exercise the day before, I have an easy recovery day planned, or I have completed at least five 90 minute sleep cycles the night before (exactly as discussed in this podcast with Nick Littlehales), or I'm simply not tired, I will typically forego my usual post-lunch nap.
But most days, I nap.
So just before lunch, I take something that will help me wind my busy mind down enough to fall asleep after lunch. Since I typically take CBD in the evenings, my afternoon napping weapon of choice is Inner Peace, which is a blend of Chinese herbal adaptogens that allows me to sleep like a baby every afternoon. I pop three of these just before lunch.
But before the post-lunch nap comes something very important and epic must occur…
…my Big-Ass Lunch Salad.
Many folks have raised an eyebrow at my claims that I personally eat 20-25 portions of plants each day, but today, as I write this article, I took a break to photograph my lunchtime salad. In the photo below, you will see:
-2 servings of kale
-1 serving of squash
-1 serving of carrots
-2 servings of nori seaweed
-3 servings of tomatoes
-1 serving of avocado
-1 serving of olives
-1 serving of a scrambled egg
-1 serving of pecorino cheese
You can do the math. I'm averaging eleven servings of plants with lunch alone. My Big Ass Morning Smoothie you read about in the first part of this article series contains another eight to ten servings of plants…
…and I haven't even yet gotten to dinner. Frankly, this intake could put the average vegan to shame in terms of total daily plant consumption. Anyways, I top this cornucopia of vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, Aztec salt, black pepper, and turmeric.
Then, with olive oil and tomato juice drizzling down my chin from wrapping my salad contents burrito-style in a nori wrap, I generally eat outside in the sunshine on my porch, either listening to an audiobook or podcast, reading a magazine, watching an instructional video on YouTube (e.g. cooking, guitar, documentary clips, etc.) or doing anything else that is relatively non-stressful.
On a big training day, such as a Saturday or a Sunday that might include a two hour heavy ruck, two hours of obstacle course training, a long bike ride, swim or both, I'm often still hungry after lunch or I know I need to eat more to fuel activity later in the day. On days like this, rather than opting for a pre-workout meal, which often leaves me feeling food sloshing in my stomach during the workout, I'll simply have a snack after lunch, typically:
-a few drops dark chocolate stevia
Is there a “science” behind this concoction? You bet: very few carbohydrates, easy to digest fats in the form of medium chain triglycerides and essential fatty acids, and easy to digest proteins in the form of amino acids. For this mix, I don't use a blender, but simply stir it all into a cup and eat with a spoon or spatula.
My post-lunch napping routine is a science honed down over years of practice, and I can now fall asleep within five minutes and wake completely refreshed. In addition to the Inner Peace I mentioned earlier, my napping process is as follows:
Step 1: Unfold and plug-in Biomat on floor of my office, bedroom, living room, or wherever else I plan on sleeping.
Step 2: Place SleepStream app in “Power Nap” binaural beats mode with “Sleepstream Mix” as white noise in background (you must wear headphones for this to work properly, and I generally just use my ho-hum standard white Apple iPhone headphones).
Step 3: Put on SleepMaster wraparound sleep mask, which generously cover both eyes and ears.
That's it. And if your napping time is limited, you will be pleased to know that the Power Nap setting on the Sleepstream app will allow for adjustments of 10 minutes up to infinity, gently lulling you back into a wakeful state without any harsh alarms.
As discussed in Podcast #331, I've recently taken a transcendental meditation (TM) course and for the past month have been experimenting with substituting the day's nap with 10-20 minutes of TM. I'm still quantifying my body's response to TM with heart rate variability measurements, and still consider myself to be a TM rookie, but stay tuned for an upcoming podcast episode with a TM expert to learn more about how TM can be potentially used as a substitute for either napping or even several hours of sleeping.
At some point between 2:30 and 3:00pm, I wake up, and this means I usually have a good hour and a half to kill before my two sons get home from school.
What do I do with these 90 minutes?
So that I can spend quality, undistracted time with my kids, my goal is to be completely finished with any stressful work, time-consuming tasks, or fires that need putting out before they arrive home. That means that this is now my time to make a cup of tea (I generally use mushroom blends such as the cordyceps, chaga, reishi, etc. discussed here) and do any or all of the following:
-Making phone calls.
-Opening mail and packages.
-Checking blog comments, e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Since my peak morning hours are now over and my creative hours have not yet struck, this late afternoon period is the perfect time of day for these relatively less productive and less creative activities, which are typically also activities that tend to follow Parkinson's Rule, which states that tasks will expand to the time you allot to them. Because I only allow a maximum of 90 minutes for these activities, they don't wind up taking too much precious time.
The boys arrive home. And now the fun begins.
If you read my book “10 Ways To Grow Tiny Superhumans“, then you know that I include my kids in my workouts. Since testosterone, body temperature, reaction time and post-workout protein synthesis all peak between the hours of 4:00pm and 6:00pm, this becomes the perfect time of day to throw down a hard workout, which can include things like:
1. Body Weight Workout:
-20 feet backward and forward crabwalks with kid riding on waist
-20 reps overhead child presses with squat
-20 feet bear crawls with kid on back
-10 pushups with kid on back
-20 feet crocodile crawls with kid on back
-10 arm curls holding kid upside down by their legs
2. Pool Workout:
-2 lengths underwater swimming with kid on back
-2 lengths doggy paddle with kid on back
-20 reps pool pullouts with kid on back
-2 minutes treading water with kid on back
3. Kids Mini-Version of My Workout:
-I sprint hill in weighted vest, kids sprint hill weight-free
-I do 10 reps barbell squat, kids do 10 reps body weight squat
-I do 10 reps barbell deadlift, kids do 10 reps sandbag deadlift
-I do 10 reps kettlebell swing, kids do 10 reps smaller kettlebell swing
-I do 30 burpees, kids do 10 burpees
-I spend 30 minutes in infrared sauna, kids join me for first 10 minutes
You get the idea. Sure, sometimes my workout simply isn't conducive to including children (e.g. 40% incline walk on treadmill for 45 minutes), but I try to save these “adults-only” solo workouts for when the boys have some kind of post-school activity such as tennis, Awanas, piano, etc.
Why do I go through such trouble to include my children in my workouts?
A fascinating study at the University of Essex looked at the perception of children about their parents’ activity levels. In the study, researchers asked schoolchildren to rate how active they thought their parents were. Then they had those children complete a test of their own cardio fitness. In this case, they used a “bleep” test, which is a common way to measure basic fitness levels.
What researchers found was that the likelihood of the child having greater fitness based on their performance on the bleep test was directly influenced by how active that child perceived their parents to be. In other words, kids who were under the impression that their parents didn’t exercise very much, did not appear themselves to be exercising very much. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in their fitness compared to peers who rated their parents more highly in the physical fitness department.
This means that no matter their age, kids really do pay attention to and mimic their parents. So a big step to getting your kids fit is to be an example yourself. It makes a much bigger difference than you may think.
If you don't have kids, I still, for the physiological reasons outlined above, recommend you save your hard workouts for late afternoon or early evening, and use your morning for less stressful activities such as yoga, Tai Chi, morning walks in the sunshine, etc.
As you can read in detail here, nearly seven days a week I finish up my afternoon or early evening workout with a glass of red wine.
Three main reasons, really.
First, I love the taste of wine, but I’m also well aware that alcoholic drinks and the fructose and other sugars therein can make you fat if you consume them in a fed state, so I instead consume my daily glass of wine in a “fasted” state post-workout (vs., say, having a big glass of wine during dinner or after stuffing my face with dinner). In this post-workout situation, the fructose sugars in the wine simply help to replenish my liver glycogen stores (muscles do not contain the enzyme to store fructose as glycogen, but the liver does), and the glucose and sucrose sugars are far less likely to spend significant amounts of time in my blood stream.
As for protein, if my workout includes any eccentric, muscle-damaging activities such as running or weight training, I also pop 10 amino acids tablets, which help with muscle repair and avoidance of tissue catabolism. I do this because any precious proteins I get from dinner usually won't be rolling into my body for at least another two hours.
By this time of day, I'm also inching back into my creative hours, and since our family typically doesn't eat dinner until 7:30 or 8:00pm, I now have plenty of time for:
-Taking a class (e.g. boxing, tennis, etc.)
-Preparing or cooking dinner
-Walking and plant foraging
So that's how the afternoon ends: nearly every day of the week, I sip my wine and write while I sit for 20-30 minutes in compression boots (I swear by these boots for making my legs feel light as a feather for the next day's workout), and then I venture into any other pre-dinner creative, learning or fun activities.
But wait, Ben!
What about what happens after 7:30pm? Dinner macronutrient ratios? Sleep routines? Evening hacks? Sex? Black-out curtains? Epic fireside dance routines?
Alas, time is up. But you can simply stay tuned for Part 3 of this series to get all the juicey-ness that is my evening routine.
In the meantime, if you dig this kind of “inside-the-life-of-Ben” stuff, you may (you creepy stalker, you) enjoy the first article in this series “My Exact Morning Routine Unveiled Step-By-Step“, and you may also like “A Day In The Life Of Get-Fit Guy“.
Another place where you can find the routines of some interesting folks much more famous than me is the excellent book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work“.
And remember that I post every one of my workouts and many photos of my meals inside the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle.
Of course, if you have proposed modifications to my daily routine, you want to describe your own daily routine, or you have questions, thoughts or aggressively good-humored ridicule, then feel free to use the comments section below!