[0:49] National Academy of Sports Medicine
[1:57] FitLife Green Juice
[4:41] Ben, Laird, and Gabby Are People Watching
[5:27] Why Laird and Gabby Live in Kauai
[7:14] Plant Medicine in Hawaii
[11:02] Laird and Gabby's Diet
[16:52] Why Gabby and Laird Homeschool Their Children
[25:27] Laird's Most Valuable Practices To Keep His Body Together
[31:30] Gabby's Special Breathwork
[37:07] Underwater Training
[46:28] Laird's Coffee Recipe
[52:03] Laird's Technique For Bowel Movement In The Morning
[55:31] Staying Young
[1:02:33] What Laird and Gabby Are Doing For The Future of Their Kids
[1:13:02.4] End of Podcast
Ben: Welcome to a very special episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show recorded straight from Kauai, Hawaii, where I was able to spend a great deal of time with professional surfer Laird Hamilton and his wife, professional volleyball player, Gabby Reese. We sat down at Laird and Gabby's home and recorded an epic episode for you in which we discuss everything from anti-aging to homeschooling, to underwater workouts, to biohacks, pooping, and oh so much more. This one's gonna be a real treat for you. The audio may sound a little bit different because I'm traveling with my portable microphone set-up, but nonetheless I guarantee you will love this episode.
Now before we jump in, a couple of quick things. First of all, this podcast is brought to you by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. If you've ever dreamt of being a personal trainer, this is a way to do it and it's a way to do it very efficiently. And as I've mentioned in previous podcast episodes, the National Academy of Sports Medicine is actually a great certification to go for if you're interested in things like biomechanics, and the movement of the human body, and joint integrity. It's perfect for all those things.
And if you go to myusatrainer.com, you'll get a free 14-day trial of their online program, and they guarantee you'll land a job as a personal trainer within 60 days of earning your personal training certification or your money back, guaranteed. So you too can be a personal trainer. That's what I did for 10 years, and I still do some personal training. It's an amazing career. So check out the National Academy of Sports Medicine at myusatrainer.com. Some restrictions apply, but you can check out myusatrainer.com for details.
This podcast is also brought to you by something that is definitely in my travel bag as I get on the airplane, both to and from Hawaii, and that's green juice. Green juice keeps both me and Jessa, who's here in Hawaii with me, healthy and fit, keeps our immune systems pretty much bulletproof while we're traveling. And it's simply this little packet, or powder, you choose that you put into water, or a smoothie, or anything else, and it's a huge blend of superfoods. They've got turmeric in there, they've got ashwagandha, they've got coconut for hydration, you name it. My wife had some this morning and then commenced to hike a 22-mile trail in Hawaii in about six hours. Epic. So if you wanna get your hands on this stuff, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife, you get 20% off anything from that website when you use discount code Ben. bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife with discount code Ben. Alright. That's it. Enjoy today's episode with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reese.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“Of course as you get older, I always say my injuries have made me pay more attention. Everything's fine and you're just going along, you aren't paying attention because you don't need to. So I think age, and injuries, and time sort of brings certain things to your awareness.” “When I wasn't getting food that had enough nutrition, I was eating a lot more. As I get food that's more nutritious, and I have better quality food or been getting the things I need, I'm getting the fats that are feeding my brain, I'm not just devouring stuff like I was 20 years ago.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Laird: See that water, water break in there?
Ben: Yeah. I see the water, water break.
Laird: There's 10 guys in the water.
Ben: Amazing. Yeah.
Laird: And you're looking at Ben Stiller's house straight above it. See that house right above it? In the trees?
Ben: Amazing view. You know, I've spent most of my time in Kona, and we are recording, by the way. I'll look through your bush now, but…
Laird: Do you see those guys surfing?
Ben: You can just set up here with your binos and stalk people surfing.
Gabby: That's a must for Laird.
Laird: Do you see the guys on the wave?
Gabby: Is anyone on one now?
Ben: I don't see 'em.
Laird: Down here further. They're catching them and they're riding 'em right down low.
Ben: Oh. Yeah.
Gabby: There’s one guy…
Laird: See 'em?
Ben: Yep. Yeah. It's like hunting, like hunting surfers. Little spot and stalk. So why do you guys live in Kauai? Why here? What's the story?
Laird: Well, I grew up here. So that's our best excuse, I would think, is I was raised here and so, I felt a natural kind of comfort to be here. Especially with my family and exposing the girls to the environment that I got to be in and then just to all the people that I got to be around too. So it seemed to be, and I somehow convinced Gabby that she'd like it too. (laughs)
Ben: Have you been here before, Gabby? To Kauai?
Gabby: We actually lived here in the mid-90's when we only have Izabella, our oldest daughter, was born and…
Laird: We were newlyweds.
Gabby: Yeah. ‘Cause they say Kauai, nearly dead or newly-wed. But I think it was a little premature at that time for us to live here. I don't think we were ready, or I wasn't ready. And I grew up in the Caribbean, I grew up on an island, but I just wasn't ready. And so we lived on Maui for many years, and we lived on the mainland half the year. And I think after our other two daughters were born, and just kind of as you go through life a little bit, also wanting the contrast for the girls. You know the notion of what we say…
Ben: And how many girls?
Gabby: We have three daughters, one's at university and two are at home. You know, the idea of this, be grounded in your life, be really grounded, but then go in the world, and it's a big world, you can dream to be anything. And so I think Kauai really provides a really grounding effect on all of us. And then it's the idea of, okay, then we take 'em into the world and say, “Okay. It's however you wanna do it.”
Ben: Right. Kauai seems different. Since I've been here, there's been a lot of people talking about psychotics, like psilocybin, and people doing lots of marijuana. Is that something that's pretty pervasive here? Is that tapping into the power of nature via the use of plant medicine? ‘Cause it seems like a very sexy topic these days and people talk about it a lot here.
Laird: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with looking at the environment. The nature here is so alive. I mean, it's the wettest spot on Earth, and it's probably I would say the most, the soil and the plant, I mean, things grow here. There's 10 species of trees that are here and they are the biggest ones of the species here. The trees aren't from here. They brought trees here and they grew to be the biggest of that species. So the connection in nature is a big part of it, but when we grew up here as kids, I mean, weed, we call it weed, that was just like being in France and having grapes. It was just part of the world.
Ben: That common.
Laird: Yeah. And when you look at it, you go, “Okay. Well, alcohol's killing people.” You tell people to smoke weed if they have cancer so they can eat and sleep. I mean our perspective about what certain things are, I mean plants that do certain things for our body now, there's abuse in every aspect. There's a time and place for everything, but the grand architect provided us every single cure that there is in nature. So, it's like my hip's been killing me lately, and somebody made me this incredible Comfrey, fresh Comfrey thing, and I've been putting it on…
Ben: And it's like a poultice?
Laird: I've been rubbing it on and it had probably the most profound effect on my hip in the last few days, and I've had this whole season. Like I've been doing everything to it. The only thing I've done different was put this Comfrey on, and all of sudden I was like, “Wow. My leg's feeling different.” Like it feels different, and so I think that that's a big part of it. I think, as a kid growing up here, we were just a farmer. I mean, we grew up at a taro patch, which is like a rice paddy, and we planted taro, we were in the mud. And any tree you planted, or anything you grew would just, it just exploded. And that created a relationship with nature.
Laird: So then you start to look for, “Okay, hey, this tree, this food,” I mean, I just say in Kauai, you get muddy here. We come here, you get muddy, the kids get muddy, and that gives you a better perspective on our existence, humans on Earth. And then you go and you can go out and see the world, like Gabby said, and you can have the lights, and the…
Gabby: But a level of boredom sometimes, like a small town anywhere. You know, people…
Ben: Feeling of isolation here?
Gabby: No. You know, the problem is if you don't have enough productive outlets, then it's like anywhere. It's gonna swing around like a boomerang, and people are going to get engaged in things to entertain themselves.
Laird: Well, idle hands are the devil's playtime too. I mean, when you get into it, and we have a lot of hippies here.
Laird: We have a lot of peace and love…
Ben: Case in point, within 10 minutes of arriving here at the motorcycle, I was looking at the view. Motorcycle pulled over on the highway, and a lady walked out and walked up to me, and held out a paper bag of weed, and said, “Would you like to buy this? Are you the guy I'm supposed to be meeting here to buy this?” Which is probably what she does to half the people who pull out and look over that cliff.
I just thought it was interesting, and at the same time there's such an intense connection with nature while being here, and I'm curious how that's influenced you guys in terms of your diet. Do you follow a specific diet? Is there like a, there's everything out there right now from the Bulletproof diet, to veganism, to the Paleo diet. I mean, are you guys into food being here or do you follow a specific diet?
Gabby: Well, I don't think, it's interesting that Laird is more disciplined than I am, and I think, I dunno if it's the nature of he's male, and I'm a female. And so I think women sometimes will use food more as an emotional comfort, or what have you. And I don't think were indoctrinated into one way of eating Paleo. If I said we were eating more one way, I would say it's a diet in a lot of healthy fats and probably more Paleo style.
Laird: I mean we were eating Paleo before Paleo was a term.
Ben: Before Paleo was a thing?
Laird: Yeah. Before Paleo was Paleo, we were eating, I mean, I would describe, my personal diet is plants and animals. I mean, plants and animals. Now where those plants come from, and what plants those are, and where those animals come from, that really could be the difference. And we have farmer's markets that we go to here, that we go to on the island that are incredible. They have farmers that are growing incredible stuff…
Gabby: And homemade saurkraut.
Laird: Yeah. And then we have guys that we know that farm lamb, and that farm cows, and that farm buffalo, and then, I mean they'll have friends that know how to fish, that go out and catch fish from 600 feet down. And so whenever we can get live stuff that's closer to nature, closer to it's origin, that's always the best. Like if I had my way, it would just always be like, “Okay. Go to the farmer that's got that food. Get that papaya from the barn, get the avocado, get the fish…”
Gabby: We were gonna…
Ben: Have you paid more attention, I mean, you're both pro athletes, or you've been pro athletes, and now you're transitioning into older age. Has your diet shifted since then in terms of the type of things that you go out of your way to do to take care of your bodies?
Gabby: Sure. I don't know if it's the age, or if it's just the education, and I think you're always looking for things to help minimize the amount of inflammation, or inflammatory responses in your body. I think, let's say if Laird's in his season versus he's in his off-season, maybe his food changes based on his needs, if he's for foiling for six hours a day, or if he's training for four hours a day. So I think it varies, and for me as well. I go with seasonally, even though we live in warm weather all the time. I can feel like certain parts of the year, if I'm working more, or what have you, more or less food, less animal protein, those sort of slight adjustments. Laird has really cut way back on a lot of red meat. And if we do, I mean, did you get the gas station beef? The…
Ben: We heard about the world famous gas station beef and tried to get it, but we weren't successful.
Gabby: And they delivered yesterday because it was Laird's birthday.
Laird: For my birthday…
Gabby: So I think, yeah, sure. Of course as you get older, I always say my injuries have made me pay more attention. Because if everything's fine and you're just going along, you aren't paying attention because you don't need to 'cause everything's fine. And so I think age, and injuries, and time sort of brings certain things to your awareness. It's not even just like how I feel physically, when you get to the point where you eat a food and you feel bummed out an hour later, you start to connect that and go, “You know, it just wasn't worth it.”
Laird: Yeah. And I think, I mean, on my side, I wanna talk about the education aspect of it because there's people like you and other people out there exposing information. We're getting a lot more knowledge now. We have the internet. We're getting a lot of information that's affecting the way we eat. When I wasn't getting food that had enough nutrition, I was eating a lot more. But as I get food that's more nutritious, and I have better quality food or been getting the things I need, I'm getting the fats that are feeding my brain, I'm not just devouring stuff like I was 20 years ago because I was really just, I didn't really know. Even though I ate well, because I was always exposed to good food because we lived, you live in the jungle, you're gonna get good stuff. But the fact is, you were just consuming more out of the fact that you weren't getting the nutrients. And so your body's just like, “Hey…”
Gabby: I wouldn't say we're neurotic. Like I said, Laird's more disciplined than I am, and I don't have big “knows and hows” for the kids because I think that creates another issue later. I don't want anything to be off limits so that the conversation is that dinner is prepared a certain way. Their lunches are a certain way. You expose them to, I always say “what's fun and what's food,” and it's getting them to understand that. And then, so as they get older, like our oldest daughter eats super clean.
Laird: Yeah. But she's making that choice too. And I think to…
Gabby: And it has to be that way.
Ben: You educated her. She's making her choice.
Laird: And it’s foolish…
Laird: Like we're leading by example. Like we're leading by “this is how we eat.” Now if you really wanna have that pasta, or that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or whatever, we'll have it. We'll provide it for you because you're just gonna sneak out on the street, and if you go to your friend Joey's house, you're just gonna be like drinking sodas and…
Gabby: But we don't have sodas. Like certain things I don't buy. There's not gonna Twinkies and soda in my house, but it's sort of that notion of believing that they will come to them on their own.
Ben: Yeah. And I was gonna ask about homeschooling later, but this seems like a perfect time to ask you a little bit about that because you homeschooled all three of your children?
Gabby: The younger two. The oldest one went to a really good school in Maui.
Ben: A Montessori?
Gabby: Well, and then she went to basically a private school and 99% percent of the kids go to college, and that's a school in Maui, when 50% of the kids in public high school go to university or even graduate.
Ben: Why did you homeschool?
Gabby: Well, when Laird and I first met, I was still competing. And so I needed to be in California the start of April through October. And his big wave season that he's still doing and participating in is start of October through April, or late March. And so it just became an organic extension of our lives. And the other idea was I read this book called “Hold On To Your Children As Long As You Can,” and the idea was that parents will be the only one who provide unconditional love for children. And so if you can have a greater influence and impact on them as long as you can, 'cause there come an age at 12 or 13 where their friends will begin to impact them and influence them more than you will even if they're home schooled, that they don't love them unconditionally.
So there was this idea of, well, first of all it can maintain our lifestyle. We can live in these two places which in the end, is maybe a better education than you going to a mainstream school. And then the other side of that was trying to get them to find their own voice as best that they can, and let the cement dry so that when they do go in the world, they haven't been influenced as much by like, “Oh, what are you wearing, and who you hanging out with, and why'd you have them at lunch?” Because as adults, all we're trying to do is figure out who am I, what makes me happy, who do I like, what do I wanna do. And so our girls, it's a real opportunity for them that you try to peel that out as much as you can.
Ben: How do you pull that off without say, relearning calculus and having to teach that to your child? Or spending an inordinate amount of time sitting at the kitchen table?
Gabby: Oh no. I'm gonna admit it straight up. First off, our kids are very stubborn and they would not listen to us one second.
Laird: They don't in anyway.
Gabby: They have school teachers.
Gabby: We have a teacher here and a teacher in the mainland.
Laird: We hired very intelligent women that are actually, one of them has a doctorate in teaching, and we hire them, and they give a…
Ben: They come to your home?
Laird: In one case, we bring our kids to a class at the lady's house where she runs a class…
Gabby: And other kids are there.
Ben: With other children?
Laird: Yeah. With a couple kids. In the situation in Malibu, we have a classroom at our house and a couple kids will join our kids, but we have a teacher that comes there and that is far more intelligent than we are, and that also our kids fear a little bit. So they have a certain respect for her which allows her the ability to teach. And so it's…
Gabby: ‘Cause I wanna be the nurturer. I really admire…
Ben: You don't want the confusion between being the teacher and the nurturer for your children? Is that awkward?
Gabby: I think I've seen people, I know some people, women especially, that are the homeschool, they're the teacher and they do it beautifully. I just don't think I'm hardwired that way. And quite frankly, and I can admit this freely, I think that I'm too selfish to be that person who could dedicate that much time to sitting at the table and like, okay, 3, 4 hours a day, and then do all the activities after. And I say that brutally honest where, while they're at school, either I'm working, or taking care of training, or doing something so that when they're out, I run 'em to their activities to tennis, to this. I just, I don't have the…
Laird: At the end, we would be beginning teachers.
Gabby: We'd be terrible.
Laird: No. I'm saying we'd be beginners. I don't need a beginner teacher teaching my kids. I thought, “Give me an expert.”
Ben: And I was homeschooled K through 12, and I got lucky because I was independently motivated. My parents would literally just shove a math book under the bedroom door, and I would go to it.
Gabby: Do you have siblings?
Ben: I do. And it didn't necessarily work out quite as well for my siblings, but for me, being an independent learner, it worked out. We homeschooled our kids for two years before realizing…
Gabby: Who taught them?
Ben: We did. And then we realized the same thing that you and Laird seemed to have realized, and that is it's hard to be both the teacher and the parent. And especially when other people can do such a better job than you.
Laird: They're pro. They do that.
Gabby: If you have disobedient children too, like I have friends who their children by nature, they came up just sort of more obedient and easygoing. Our children are wonderful.
Gabby: They're wonderful people and I personally really enjoy them, but they are not naturally obedient and easygoing. They are gonna question every, I mean it's gonna be so unproductive because they're just…
Laird: Well, because you're gonna get into a debate with them about things to do with them growing up and being a good person that have nothing to do with them learning how to read and write. (laughs)
Ben: Exactly. There's this…
Gabby: How do you do it with the boys?
Ben: Well, we found a very good private school for them. And there are still issues, I would say with learning in a way depending on how you look at it, that you need to be a sheep, a factory worker. And that was the fear that there would be peer pressure to fit into the crowd. Are you familiar with Seth Godin?
Ben: Yeah. So Seth Godin has this philosophy that if you can outsource your child's education to a good institution where they're learning valuable skills that, again, you don't wanna relearn calculus, or Spanish, or teach that to your child because you might be a novice at that. Your job begins when they walk in the door from school, and that's what I do. That's when I take my kids out and I teach 'em how to shoot the bow, and how to make fire, and how to sell things on Craigslist. So it's a combination of unschooling/homeschooling, but then also teaching them how to play well with others because not to be labored the planks too much…
Laird: Well, you're teaching them life skills. Your job as a parent is to teach life skills.
Ben: Right. And I still from being homeschooled and not having grown up in a group situation, I still suck at playing well with others who are like, “I have to be the leader,” and in a position of responsibility, or else I'm just not in the place I wanted to be.
Gabby: But you would've been that way anyway.
Gabby: I think you would've been that way anyway. If you think about it, I think people who are kind of take their place of what feels good and is natural to them. And now if you were shy and you couldn't communicate and couldn't speak to me about say, okay, we'll maybe you should've been pushed more. If what you're saying is, “Hey, I like it when I'm in charge and it's hard for me to take always the opinions of others,” or what have you, I think that's quite a few people.
Laird: Yeah. I don't think homeschooling would promote that any more than if you went to school.
Ben: Yeah. And it depends on how you do it too. Like some people do a very good job of homeschooling and some people live in the backwoods as prairie muffins and the kids don't get exposed.
Laird: We have the exact opposite problem because our kids are exposed to so many adults and so many people, and that's not an issue of ours. They're introvert, they're not gonna be introverts. They're gonna go and have a conversation with you in the corner and it's gonna something that you engage with.
Gabby: But I wanna be really clear that we recognize that to do it and to do it the way we do is really a luxury. It's cause a lot of…
Ben: It is different. I mean there's the affordability aspect of having a tutor.
Gabby: Well, that's what I'm saying. So I don't wanna be like, “Oh, yeah. Just homeschool and then get a teacher.” I understand. Time and money on both sides because, by the way, you know how long they're at school? 3 hours. Maybe 4.
Laird: But on the other side of that, you can also say that when you look at it, there are intelligent people out there that cost just a little bit more than a babysitter that can run programs and do homeschooling. So it's easy to say, “Well, this is a luxury and we're homeschooling.” We're not sending them to Yale. Right now, we're homeschooling and we get, and you can find educated people that don't wanna ask for a bunch of money. They don't want a huge fee.
Ben: A perfect example of that is a guy named Ben Hewitt who wrote a book called “Unschooling,” and he's been on the podcast before. And his children literally grow on a farm, and they live on a relatively paltry budget, and they homeschool their children. And they don't necessarily outsource it to tutors, but they have a good curriculum, and they make it affordable, and frankly, I've met his kids and I'm impressed. So, yeah. There's many ways to do it.
Now, Laird, you have a lot of toys. You have a lot of gadgets. When we were in your garage the other day, before we went paddle boarding, there was everything from some special cold thermogenesis pool that you figured out how to rig up to cold water, to sauna, to your hydrofoils. What would you say are some of your most valuable practices from a workout, or recovery, or what some people might call a biohacking standpoint when it comes to the things you do to keep your body put together to play the game that you play?
Laird: Well, I think the most simple is the heat and the ice. If you…
Ben: And what does that look like for you?
Laird: If you said I had one tool to use for recovery, and even just longevity, and mood, how 'bout just put you in a good mood if you're not in a great mood is, I would say, the ice and the heater. The two, those are the two. Simple list, most productive tools that I could get a hold of. That and maybe a good body smashing, somebody to come in and put elbows and heels, and smash it.
Ben: What does a heat-ice routine look like for you? Like how do you do that? ‘Cause some people just take a hot shower and then a cold shower, just go sit in a cold bath for 20 minutes after workout. What's your protocol?
Laird: My idea of heat and ice would be optimum, if you can get 210 degree room, maybe a 125 steam, 120 to 125 steam, and then an ice tub, something that's below, in the upper to mid-30s. If you could get it to be 32, that would be great. And then do rounds of heat and ice and…
Ben: How long do you do the heat and how long the ice?
Laird: Normally, about 3 to 5 minutes minimum on the ice and then 15 minutes in the heat, or just until you're really uncomfortable.
Ben: What is the contraption you have here in Kauai in your garage, that plastic blue pool?
Laird: Well, that's iCool.
Ben: It's called an iCool?
Laird: That's an iCool product. It was a gift from…
Gabby: Pat Riley.
Laird: Pat Riley. So the coach Pat Riley.
Ben: And you keep that next to the sauna, this i-cool device? And it makes a cold bath without you having to drag ice out into your…
Laird: That's right. I mean, in Malibu, my optimum set-up is a stainless steel tub and a commercial grade ice machine which, talk about a luxury, this is a luxury, right? So, a restaurant ice machine next to a stainless steel tub, unload the entire bin half water, half ice. That's the king. But iCool is puts it in a 40 degree and I can add a couple bags of ice to get it down in the 30's.
Ben: Now are you working out? Like are you doing heat-cold workout and mixing in those components to an actual exercise routine?
Laird: In the summer time, we implement the heat and the ice within a routine. So we may sit in the ice for 5 minutes, and then go in and do a circuit, and then go lift, and then go back in the ice, and then go back in the heat, and then maybe do some kind of water drill or some other swimming, breath holding, and then just kinda intermittently put ourselves in these different environments as we're training. I have a very short attention span and get bored very easily, so I'm always looking for variation.
Ben: So you're balancing from heat to cold, to exercise to hypoxia, all during one big workout?
Laird: Absolutely. And in the optimum scenario, this time of year, I'm getting to work out in the ocean. And so I'm using it more as a recovery tool. Okay, or Sunday comes and we just do a recovery day, and you do five, six rounds of this heat and ice, and you're good. You can lay down and feel like you did something even though you didn't really move, but you flushed your system and you expanded and contracted, you just feel clean when you're done. You feel like your body's been purged.
Ben: Have you published online, or elsewhere, examples of workouts that you'd do? Like if people wanted to dig in and see what a sample session would look like?
Laird: Well, we're in the process of really doing a very, more professional job. We've had bits of these things, and I do a column for Men's Journal that we expose some workouts in little pieces here and there, but nothing really comprehensively like we're doing right now with XPT. So we have this program called XPT, which will really be a more comprehensive look at what would be a complete workout. Again, I mean we always seem to isolate working out into one compartment. We go, “Okay. Working out.” But it's a lifestyle, right? It's how you eat, how do you sleep…
Ben: It's not exercise in a pill.
Laird: Because you could say, “Hey, I'm working out great and everything,” but you're staying 'til two in the morning every night, and then you're eating like crap. I go, “Don't even talk to me about a workout.” Because at that point, it's a mute point. You're only undermining your health, really. And so looking at everything more comprehensively, whether you're doing eye training stuff as well, like I've been doing a lot of eye drills that really I find are performance enhancing because everything, all the information that we receive is through our eyes, 85% of the information. And so your eye strength and you’re the [0:30:59] ______ .
Ben: That's interesting.
Gabby: What's your app called? GlassesOff?
Laird: Yeah. GlassesOff.
Ben: It's called GlassesOff?
Ben: For those of you listening, by the way, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/laird, sorry, Gabby.
Gabby: That's okay.
Ben: bengreenfieldfitness.com/LAIRD, I'll put some notes for you there in the show notes for some of these things that we're talking about. That's really interesting on the on the eye method. It's called GlassesOff.
Laird: Yeah. Incredible.
Gabby: They'll learn what a [0:31:28] ______ is.
Ben: So, Gabby, myself and my friend Dustin Meyer, and my wife dropped in to your class on Wednesday morning and you finished up this jailhouse-style circuit with 60 people in a warehouse, sweating, and bumping, and grinding, and lifting dumbbells with a special kind of breath work. Can you tell me about what that was, and why you utilized something like that, and how you practice that breath work?
Gabby: One of the many great things about being married to Laird is it's like being, you're in a think tank all the time. And so our friend, Rick Rubin, introduced Laird, maybe about two and a half, three years ago, to a book called “Becoming the Iceman” by Wim Hof. And Laird, who, we're very different. Laird, I always say, is much more of a creative type of athlete, and it's an artistry, and I have a linear sort of quality. I mean, look at my workout that I created. Like it's just on time. It's all these things, right? So Laird diligently started embracing this breathing, and I was like, “You know, I have a friend who teaches yoga and she says you stretch because you think it'll make you more functional. I stretch 'cause it makes me feel good.” And so I'm always like, “What's the endgame?” And Laird was doing it, and then of course last summer, he says, “Oh, Wim Hof's coming over, staying with us for a couple days.” I go, “Yeah. Of course he is.” So Wim came over and also taught everyone just how to do the breathing, the style of breathing a little bit more, and then I started getting involved, and Laird taught me further how to do it.
And so, when you talked about things that we learn as we get older, I think that we've done a lot of right things, and I think I've done a lot of right things. But I think one of the areas that I sort of really neglected was stretching, which at the end of the day, stretching probably oxygenates your system. And so for me, the Wim Hof method, I could put my mind around it. There's a meditative quality to it, which is what I'm always suggesting to people, like actively meditate, find a way to be still, all these things. So at the end of the workout, all I'm trying to do is introduce the class to this idea, so that if they want to expand on it, they can. And I don't have that much time with them. So it's this Wim Hof breathing, just to give them a taste. And then Laird came a few weeks ago, taught them for an hour, and then Wim Hof is actually going to come, and what we're doing is we're gonna open it up to the community for them to spend an hour breathing with him. Actually, next week. So for me, it's sort of, I feel like it's a responsibility if I'm running the class, when I know a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and I can share it with them. I just try to incorporate it, but I have only so much time.
Ben: This week, every morning since I've been in Kauai, because my friend, who I'm staying with, his girlfriend is a kundalini yoga instructor. We've been going through these chakras where we do this deep rapid breathing 'til you're light in the head for 90 seconds, and then you stop, and you hold, and your entire body feels warm and hyperoxygenated, and even a little bit tingly and dizzy. Is this pretty similar to the type of breath work that you guys are doing? This kundalini style?
Laird: Yeah. Absolutely. I think Wim, what I like is that I think he learned a lot of different disciplines of it, and then he created something that was very applicable. Because sometimes when you look at some of this breathing, it's a little bit like certain forms and disciplines within stretching where it's like this little bit ambiguous where you kind of are like, it's hard for you, forms of meditation where you're kinda like are you there, or you're not there, or is this working, am I doing it right, am I not, and Wim's approach is a little bit like, “I don't really care what hole you breathe though, the whole idea is to saturate the system with oxygen, and then deplete the system.” And it doesn't have to be pretty, and so I like that. I like that approach. But yeah, I mean there's, we have a saying in recent innovation or in that world of ideas which is “there's nothing new, it's just a new application of an old idea.” And so you're never gonna come up with something that hasn't been either thought of or done in some form. It's just hybrids and maybe ways that somebody created a technique that was really applicable, that you just implemented, and it was like…
Gabby: Plus, he's a great messenger. He does all these incredible feats.
Ben: Yeah. Wim's been on the show a couple of time.
Gabby: And you know what? There's an innocence to me about Wim and his genuine enthusiasm, and that's what I'm interested in too. Whatever things I'm involved with, we just wanted to be sort of a very open, inclusive feeling. Anybody has the answers…
Laird: Not a magic trick.
Gabby: And it is a puzzle. It takes all the pieces, it's not one. And so, Wim also inspires me that way 'cause I feel he has a real sincere…
Laird: When he lives it too. He lives it, it's like [0:36:35] ______ talks about when you go see a physician, he should work on you with the least amount of clothes as possible so you can see how his work's working on him. Because at the end of the day, Wim lives his work, right? So he does things with his work, you can see it. It's not like he's going, “Yeah, I do this breathing,” and then he's over there…
Ben: That's one of the issues in the health and fitness industry, overweight bloggers in their mom's basement writing about diets and workouts.
Ben: Now, related to this Wim Hof breath work technique, tell me about this idea behind working out underwater. Do you both do that?
Gabby: The pool training, yeah, we've been doing that for about 8 years pretty intensely. It started out sorta…
Laird: That came separately too. That has nothing to do with breathing. That has it's own life.
Gabby: And it's really important too that we don't want to encourage, like the breathing is sort of for the land.
Ben: So proceed at your own risk if someone's listening right now?
Gabby: Yeah, because it's something you can encourage people to do. And the pool training is something…
Laird: Well, we never do things where, in the pool where we're trying to see how long we can hold our breath.
Laird: That's not what we do.
Gabby: That's not the goal.
Ben: You're not combining exertion with hypoxia to the extreme.
Gabby: No. Not really. I mean Laird does do things that are a little bit more exaggerated, but Laird's also been doing certain things a lot longer. And some of the drills sort of take all the air that you have, but the intention going in is never, “Okay, I'm gonna go and hold my breath as long as I can.” It's either reps or trying to get there quickly and back as you can.
Ben: Now what would that look like?
Laird: The workload, the workload…
Gabby: There's so many. So in the deep end, you can do things, just to give you a small example, ballistic movements with no impact on your joints. So for example, you can take one dumbbell, let's say Laird, he holds a 45 pound dumbbell tucks it into his stomach, squat jumps to the top, takes the free hand, pulls himself up, one breath in, on the way down as soon as you break the surface, start to let go of your air…
Ben: Pulls himself up by holding on to the ledge of the pool…
Gabby: No. Not at all.
Laird: Just stroking.
Gabby: And then the head pops out.
Ben: You stroke up through the water?
Laird: Stroke up.
Gabby: So you're doing this ballistic move with resistance.
Ben: Like a weighted underwater squat jump?
Gabby: And then you switch hands. You can do ones, we have super lightweight, you double, you squat jump, then take two really light dumbbells, open your arms in a windmill circle, pull down, one breath in, come down. So you can do deep water, there's a lot of things that they're gonna create in deep water or there's things that we do in 3 feet of water.
Laird: I mean, ultimately the original concept stemmed from Hawaiian rock training, which was to grab a boulder and run along the bottom as far as you can. Now, when we started…
Ben: Really? So you grab a boulder, you're at the beach, and you go out into the water holding a boulder or you find a boulder, and you just run underwater?
Laird: As far as you can. Then you swim to the surface. Your buddy who's on the surface swims down, grabs a boulder, he runs as far as he can. Then meanwhile, you're swimming on the surface, he comes up, you run down, and you go. So that's where it started originally, the concept, because as we grew up knowing about this training, and did this stuff when we were kids. But I wanted to make something that wasn't so directly related to just how long could you hold your breath because when you do that style which is the breath hold training, you're finished in 10 minutes because, I have a theory, but I believe that there's only so much available oxygen in the system, and I don't care how you breathe after, once the reservoirs are completely diminished, you might need the rest of the day to recover.
And so you can either explode all of that reservoir in 5 minutes, like you would powerlifting as much as you could, how many would you do versus doing lighter reps for a longer period of time. So now when you breathe and get a breath between reps, now you can sustain and stretch that workload over a longer period of time. We have 30 different exercises that we do that I can make basketball players jump higher, I can make swimmers swim faster, I can make tennis players hit hard because that environment, first of all, the pressurization on the body is like wearing compression wear, which your blood will flow through your lymphatic system like 20 times faster than it would in the air. So the turnover of the blood through the system…
Gabby: If you're in the water below your neck for an hour, you can…
Laird: Circulate the blood through your lymphatic system, which normally takes 24 hours. So in one hour, that's why you have such a good feeling when you get out of the water. Like people would always go swimming when they have hangovers, and you get this you get this rejuvenation from the pressurization. So that's just one little side-effect.
Gabby: And then you're [0:41:15] ______ he does all these big stretching, and lifting, and, again you can be explosive. If I'm a professional athlete, like a basketball player, and I'm playing on a hard surface, and I'm jumping, jumping, banging, banging, banging, here's an opportunity to either improve my performance without beating myself up 'cause I already have to do that in my season.
Laird: The last thing you need to do as a basketball player is go jump. When you're on your time off. If anything, you shouldn't be jumping 'cause you're gonna jump more during the season than you probably should jump in your life. So go to an environment where you're protected, where you can [0:41:47] ______ , jump as hard as you can and have zero, 'cause no gravity. So you have no impact.
Gabby: And you're in an element, which then begs to the conversation where we talk about lifestyle. So I'm not gonna say outside, 'cause some people might be in a pool inside, but you're an element. You're in water. And you will do this with other people. This is not training to do alone. So then there's the community aspect. The pool training is pretty amazing.
Laird: It's the most amazing thing that we've done, and I don't mean to block you, but I get excited about it because it's the most passionate training that I have. But when I really look at it, you said define it in a couple of words, define pool training, I would define it ultimately as breathing rhythms. That really, it's about breathing, the pool is, because you can't breathe when you're under, and you can only breathe when you're up. And so if you're in these pendulum, up and down movements, it's no breath, breathe, no breath, breathe. And a lot of time, we're exhaling underwater and inhaling at the surface, and so we get in these very nice rhythms that offer a meditative, an active meditative sensation.
Ben: It's a concept that's called vagal nerve tone, when you activate this mammalian dive reflex. Do either of you use heart rate variability measurements at all to track recovery?
Laird: You know what? We don't and I, we have talked with Paul about it before. I mean, you use it. I'd love to do it more. ‘Cause I'm interested.
Ben: I don't do a lot of quantification, but it's one of the few things that I do. And the idea is that by training your vagal nerve through singing, through gargling, through breath holding, through cold water immersion, you can see this score increase. You see your stress resilience increase every day.
Laird: What is it? I mean, explain exactly.
Gabby: I know what it is.
Laird: It's that gap between the beats, right?
Ben: It's the delta, the difference in the period of time between heartbeats which, if there's slight variations in that, it shows a good interplay between your sympathetic and your parasympathetic nervous system.
Laird: And your fatigue level, and it tells you all a bunch of cool stuff.
Ben: Yeah. The first time I ever tried one of these workouts that you're talking about, I was with Neil Strauss up at a 25 meter pool. And he was explaining to me this workout, and we were just putting dumbbells between our feet and going back and forth the deep with the feet elevated above the water. It's quite…
Laird: Neil, the writer?
Ben: Yeah. The author Neil.
Laird: Yeah. Neil, the author?
Ben: Neil Strauss.
Gabby: Oh, you mean the one, oh boy. Okay. Now I get it.
Laird: Yeah. No. Neil the author.
Gabby: Did Neil ever tell you, and I don't wanna get waylaid, but then he became a frisbee player to go to North Korea? You know the whole story?
Ben: Was this a recent development?
Gabby: No. It's a couple years ago. We can talk about it another time.
Gabby: But, okay, I wanna say one other thing that's interesting about…
Laird: He posed as a professional frisbee player to infiltrate and to do a story.
Ben: He's one of the most amazing immersive journalists.
Gabby: Oh, I know. No kidding. You have to ask you about his going to North Korea.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I've read about his sexual escapades in his recent book.
Gabby: And now he has a new one.
Gabby: But one of the other interesting things about the pool training is, there's a couple things. So for example, sometimes you'll come up for air, and you'll think, “I would like more air,” but the amount of air it's gonna take me to keep myself above water is not worth the amount of air I'm actually gonna get. So it's sort of true to life where there's sort of things that go on where you have to go. In a way, this discomfort I'm feeling is gonna be, it's better, and it's better to live with it than what I would need to do to try to get a different feeling.
Laird: It's not worth it.
Gabby: It isn't worth it. And there's a really interesting thing, and the other thing it teaches you too is how to function in that discomfort. You'll be under the water, your finishing a task, you genuinely feel like you're just about out of air, and then you come to a place where you kinda go, “I'm gonna be and I'll have enough air.”
Laird: And it's interesting you talk about that, but there are certain people that the pool grabs, and if you're trying to subject things to aggression, like if you're a trainer or a fighter, those guys usually have the most problem with the pool. Like the eyes go big, and they feel like this vulnerability, which I think is an incredible thing for people to overcome, it's a transformation.
Gabby: And they do.
Laird: I've seen the transformations.
Ben: It's just like a cold shower. If your sympathetic nervous system's overactive, it gets you.
Laird: That's right.
Gabby: It's such a beautiful thing in life because for me, training, yes, I wanna feel good and I wanna look good. But if I also I could learn other things that give me these tools to function in life, and be married, and deal with a stranger cutting me off in the road, or my children, for me that's what training is also about.
Ben: Right. Stress resilience. Yeah. Laird, you have an interesting morning routine. When we came in to visit you, you were making coffee. Can you share your coffee recipe?
Laird: Yeah. I mean, it changes depending on if the ingredients are available or not, but in the optimum scenario it's usually raw butter, and coconut oil, red palm oil, and a few other little…
Ben: Now, I've read palm oil. That's something I hear people talk about a lot.
Laird: I somehow, I came across it and I really liked, I crave it. They talk about that it's supposed to have like a thousand times the beta carotene of a carrot, a bunch of other minerals in it, and so I really was attracted to the flavor of it, but then I started to learn that it had a lot of good stuff in it. And sometimes I think we underestimate our relationship with the flavor of things and what the value is is that sometimes these cravings, or things we really like, as long as it's not a chocolate cake or something like that. There's a line there, there's a line right between your flavors really telling you it's a craving 'cause it's got sugar in it, or it's actually something your body wants. And so this raw butter, coconut oil, and then of course, really high quality bean, because it starts with the coffee.
Ben: And you use an immersion blender, and you put coconut oil, butter, and red palm oil.
Laird: Red palm oil. And I have that exact formula in a, you could…
Gabby: But in the oil.
Laird: No. You can buy that, the Top Fuel…
Gabby: ‘Cause the powder doesn't have the…
Ben: What do you mean the Top Fuel?
Gabby: So Laird has a creamer business…
Ben: Learning all sorts of interesting things.
Gabby: We'll send you some…
Ben: To add to the show notes.
Gabby: So the Top Fuel is the version…
Ben: So you can get each of these components? The butter, the red palm, and coconut?
Laird: No. All in one.
Gabby: Correct. And the high altitude, low acidic bean.
Laird: The three of 'em are all in one.
Ben: How does that work? It ships to your house all in one?
Gabby: Yeah. There is like a [0:48:38] ______ little container of the oil because they're a hot mess if you try to put them in a jar.
Ben: Then you just dump that into a blender with a cup of coffee.
Gabby: Or your immersion.
Laird: Or, if you have to and you're desperate and you're on the road, you can put it some junk airplane coffee or frap, whatever. You could take a terrible cup of coffee and turn it into something that will give you energy and affect you in a way that…
Gabby: And then he has a power that's, I think the powder is dynamic in a different way.
Laird: It is.
Gabby: Because it's coconut oil and powder, but also what they added was Aquamin calcium because coffee can strip your ability to absorb calcium. So it's a cold water calcium.
Ben: Interesting. So you add calcium in.
Gabby: And they also added cordyceps mushrooms to support your immune system. So in the powder formulation, they've put these in there in that consideration. So what Laird and the company's trying to offer is this is something people do every day, and so can you do a little bit healthier. And it tastes really good, and there is a performance element to it. And if you want the hard hardcore, you just his Top Fuel.
Laird: Use Top Fuel. But the Aquamine actually has 72 minerals in it too. This Aquamine is an algae, a calcified algae that sinks to the bottom of the ocean, and they scrape it off in Iceland. They mining it off the bottom of the sea floor. So it's completely sustainable, and doesn't do anything environmental damage. But it's probably one of the best sources of calcium. The calcium that you get from it absorbs like 75 or 80% of it, which most calciums, you absorb hardly any of it.
Ben: That's fascinating. I get random boxes of supplements shipped to my house every week full of different flavors of beef jerky and random exogenous ketones. I've never heard of this blend of calcium coffee, red palm, coconut, and butter. Interesting.
Laird: But for me, I look at as an opportunity, and this is authentic, things that I wanna be involved in, things that are authentic to me.
Ben: And then that you use.
Laird: That I use. It's authentic. I make it. I wanna turn it on to my friends, I wanna have everybody try it. And so the best way to do that is make a product that people can get to use, but it's also an opportunity to get people who aren't getting enough nutrients in their life to put some cool stuff in coffee 'cause everybody drinks coffee. And all of a sudden, it's like sneaking, “Oh, I don't drink smoothies,” but everybody has a cup of coffee. If you can put some stuff that's good for their brain and good for their body in their cup of coffee, then that's maybe one way. ‘Cause you have to, I think you have to approach people where they are, and so if you don't, if I come up with some formula that only you and me eat, that doesn't do anybody any good. And there's a lot of those out there. There's a lot of these really specialized stuff that, it takes a certain ability to eat raw butter melted in a cup, and drink it.
Gabby: What was that stuff you used to eat that smelled like formaldehyde? It has a really interesting name.
Ben: Was it butyric acid?
Gabby: No. He has like those mushrooms, like the shilajits.
Laird: Oh. Shilajits. Yeah. It smells like bandages.
Gabby: Have you ever seen that?
Gabby: Oh, it's disgusting!
Laird: Shilajit. It's a lichen from 20,000 feet.
Ben: It's like a moss.
Gabby: Yeah. Laird would eat the shilajit, and I would just like…
Laird: Because I grew in Hawaii…
Ben: You sound like me. I'll try anything once. I actually…
Gabby: He'll do it though. He'll actually do it. He'll do it as a habit. Like a shilajit.
Ben: Speaking of habits, we don't like to let a podcast go by without at least talking a little bit about bowel and poop. Laird, do you have a special trick that you use to induce some morning bowel movement.
Laird: Well, listen. Honestly, I never have had a problem with movement, and because I've done some pretty intense colon cleanses, like some serious 10 day eat soft food, use a [0:52:32] ______ board, and all that stuff.
Gabby: Yeah. But what are you doing now, Laird?
Laird: No, but I'm just saying how…
Ben: And you do that just for general health, these type of colon cleanses.
Gabby: Two weeks.
Laird: I've done it twice. I've two really, two weeks of eating soft food every single day, somewhere between 5 to 10 to 15 gallons of water…
Gabby: I was never as lean as when I did those.
Laird: Yeah. Exactly. But this latest kind of trend that I'm on is with baking soda. I just use a heaping teaspoon of baking soda and a glass of water in the morning on an empty stomach. And within, I'd say within 10 or 15 minutes, especially if you walk around, you might have already had a movement, you're gonna have another two or three more. I feel, I have an addiction to it 'cause, believe me, drinking baking soda in water is not the most pleasant thing. Like when you drink it, you're just kinda like, “Why would I do this?” But the reaction that my body has after I purge, I like it.
Ben: Not to be done before you hop in the car to go to work.
Ben: My wife actually gives me a…
Laird: Wake early, first thing, but you do it on an empty stomach. So if you get up right away and do it, within that first half an hour, if you're not waking up and getting in your car within half an hour, you got time.
Ben: It's very alkalizing too. Gabby, you're laughing. Do you do any of these? Because my wife gives me a hard time. For example, just to stay on this topic, I like to get up in the morning and just get it all out at once. So I'll go in the bathroom for 15, 20 minutes, and she laughs at me because I'm just in there Facebooking, and then I'm done. I'm done for the day. Sometimes, I'll use the baking soda trick. Sometimes, the lemon juice. But do you laugh at a lot of Laird's little habits or do you incorporate a lot of these yourself?
Gabby: I do some of them. I've done the baking powder, but I haven't committed to it the way Laird has. You know, I've been with Laird for 20 years. So I've seen a lot of this stuff. I'm usually in awe. For example, when we lived here in the 90's, Laird would keep noni, real noni. I don't know if you've ever seen real noni.
Ben: I picked noni when I was out on a hike the other day, and I left at my backpack, and I realized…
Laird: You have to throw your backpack away.
Ben: Basically, I just about had to throw my backpack away.
Gabby: And you keep it in a jar, and you have water, and then you…
Ben: It's the most hideously smelling fruit.
Gabby: It smells like vomit.
Laird: Well, it smells exactly like bile.
Ben: Dirty socks.
Gabby: It's disgusting. So he would, when we first are together he'd take a shot every day, and then refill it up with water. And it's really good. It's a blood purifier. The list is long. So I'm used to it, but also, I have to be honest, and your wife would probably admit the same thing, there's a part of me that, secretly, I'm so glad because I know it's being a positive influence on me, but I may not be taking the full direct hit. Sometimes I feel like maybe I'm getting some of this vicariously, and I don't actually have to do it. But if nothing else too, it's again within your four walls to have somebody who's willing to try new things, and do things, and it's uncomfortable but they still do it, is ultimately good for the other person.
Ben: Yeah. Now you are friends with Don Wildman. I first learned about him in an Esquire magazine article a few years ago in which they wrote about the world's hardest workout, and there was this 77 year old man doing this workout like three times a week. And then I learned the other day that he's a friend of yours, Laird, I'm curious, looking at him, what you've learned from a guy like Don Wildman, what you've learned about yourself being an athlete and moving forward in age, what would you say are the most valuable things that one can do to stay young?
Laird: Well, I mean, that's a magic question. It's the, “What is the fountain of youth,” we think a lot about it, but when I look at anybody that I look up to in that arena, and Wildman is the king, he's at the top of the of the heap, and I mean retain your youthful enthusiasm. I mean, I think that to be enthusiastic about things, I mean, okay, then there's the list after which is the discipline, and keep driving the car, a car moving doesn't break. When you park 'em, they break, but there's that enthusiasm. And when I look at other guys that have a similar style that Don has, it's just in their relentless. So it's enthusiastic and relentless. And it's like if Don's got a broken leg, he's on a stationary bike with a crutch on the other pedal, and he's riding it with a crutch on one side and a good leg on the other side.
Ben: He's not just watching TV, waiting for things to heal.
Laird: He's going full bore, and double knee replacements, and three months later, he's in the senior games. I mean, the guy doesn't…
Gabby: Well, and also, Don does what Don likes. And this is important too because Don has figured out what works for him, and that's what he's doing.
Laird: Yeah. Exactly. No, exactly.
Gabby: He's open to new things. It's not that. But it's kinda like, “No. This is my thing.” Laird is different than him, like Laird believes in stretching and all this stuff, and Don would rather ride his bike and burning calories.
Laird: And also Don has found an arena, the bike, where he has equality. So Don at 83…
Ben: Like a road bicycle or a mountain bike?
Gabby: Any bike.
Laird: Whatever one.
Laird: And whatever, wherever, whenever. You can take somebody who's a young stud, and Don will go out and he'll hammer him. And so at that point, there's true equality, right? Because it's 80, 30, it doesn't, 30 and 80, and all of a sudden, the 80's gone, and you're like, “Well, who's…” and the most technical, single track, loose ground, or road bike…
Gabby: How 'bout the way he downdrafts?
Laird: So he's found the spot where he has equality, and I think that that's something that's important too. And I think there's a thousand ways to do that, but as you get older, for you to feel like you're not losing ground is important. And again, the psychology of all this is that they know, “I can probably do all this stuff that I think is so great for my health and still just croak.” It wouldn't matter. I could live another way and do whatever I wanted and live…
Ben: A guy who's smoking cigarettes and not doing baking soda might live to be 110.
Laird: Well, Jack Lalanne's brother supposedly was 9 years older and he lived 10 years longer than he did, or whatever and never did anything. So it's like, or the guy who told me this story about the martial artist who could go down and put his elbows on his feet and they were so impressed by that, and then his brother showed up, the martial artist's brother showed up, who smoked cigarettes and drank every day. And they said, “Yeah. We're so amazed by your brother. He could put his elbows on his feet.” So that guy came and put his elbow on his feet. So a lot of it's the psychology of what it brings you. I think half because, again, you’re left with your own thoughts always. And so how does it make you feel? Do you feel like you're equal? Does it make you feel fulfilled when you, Don goes out and rides 40 miles. When he comes back, he feels good. And for him, all of it is calorie earning. He just wants to earn his calories 'cause he's worried about not burning enough 'cause he loves to eat.
Ben: Trains to eat and eats to train?
Laird: So his whole thing is eating related, it's burn calories. Hey, listen. I could go, right now, I can have ice cream, I can eat whatever I want 'cause I've burned, and he's counting 'em all.
Laird: He's got counters. Oh yeah.
Gabby: You're very different that way.
Ben: He quantifies?
Gabby: Every counting.
Laird: He's counting every calorie, counting the heartbeat…
Ben: I have to admit, I think about that. I don't qualify, but I think about that sometimes.
Laird: Yeah. I earn it.
Ben: How many calories have I burned today, can I have the extra 1000 calories with dinner?
Gabby: No, but that's what he does. And the other thing I think that he does is he doesn't hang around with people that are like, “I'm tired,” and “This hurts.” He hangs around with people that, it's like, “Hey, you wanna go do this? You wanna go do that?” And I think that's very helpful because…
Laird: Well, you are the company you keep.
Laird: So if you hang out with a bunch of guys that just don't wanna do anything, it's like, he's around younger people all the time, it's always about guys that are, and people that come to him. When they come to him, they know it's a bike, it's a workout, it's something. We're going snowboarding in a helicopter. I mean, we're gonna be doing, so you don't even go see him if you're not feeling like you're up for it. You go with…
Ben: Relentless pursuit. I see that in you, Laird. You and your garage with all these toys, and you invented the paddle board and now you've got this hydrofoil. There's all these contraptions. Is that part of what's keeping you young, like a relentless pursuit of creating things?
Laird: For sure. That's the never ending, there's a saying, right, the anonymous stuntmen, “you never let your memories be bigger than your dreams”. And I think that if you're dreaming, then you have hopes. And so in a way, whatever you have to do to keep that rolling, I mean, that's what you want to talk about, again, retaining your youthful enthusiasm is part of that system. It's part of the system of, you're enthusiastic, you're trying new stuff, and it's like being creative. And that's really, for male, I say it because we can't make babies, so we need to make stuff like us. We didn't have to build buildings, or we gotta make stuff, or we gotta do stuff to make up for the fact that we don't get to produce life.
Ben: We can help.
Ben: We get the fun part.
Laird: We start the fire, but we don't get to sit back and go, “Wow. Look what came out of me.” And so…
Gabby: Moms don't do that. I just want you to know.
Laird: I know. But it's…
Gabby: We don't sit back. Sometimes you go, “Whoa. That came out?”
Gabby: But we don't sit back and go, “Uhuh.”
Laird: No. But I'm just saying that as a male position, we have a certain, the hunt, the pursuit, the feeling of accomplishment. All of that stuff is tied into, you have to figure what way you get that. Like how do I, what brings me that feeling of accomplishment, and…
Gabby: And Don stays connected. He’s social.
Ben: You're both doing a lot in terms of creating, in terms of business. And Gabby, we were talking before we started recording about a new TV show that you're helping to, you are the voice of or the face of this show on NBC called “Strong”. I'm curious, when you look at your children, are you trying to build some kind of a business that your children will run? Are you just kind of like having fun and taking opportunities as they come at you and letting what comes come and just basically having fun with life? Is there a plan with what you're doing or are you guys just living life, and letting adventures come your way?
Gabby: I think it's a combination. I think it would be foolhardy to be, or dishonest to say, “Oh, we're just totally winging it.” Because I think, first of all, you know my hope is, and I have thought about this, “Oh, maybe we can create things that the girls can then take over.” But then Harvey goes, “Well, I don't want that 'cause that's not their vision, their voice, and their path. So there's a part of me that actually doesn't want that because you want each child to sort of forge their own new path that represents them, not, “Oh, I work at my parents' business.” So there's that part of it.
Laird: They'll find their special purpose. Now if their thing happens to be, that they're into being involved in what's going on, but that's, I don't know. I think that's a dangerous setup when you, for me, I feel like these things are more of, these are a reflection of your achievements. So when you look at this, if you can create successful businesses and these other pieces, this is just a reflection of how well of a job you've done at doing the other parts. Like you look back and you go, “Whoa.” You did that which allowed you to do this, and how well you did that will dictate how well these other things do I would think.
Gabby: But the hope is for everything to be as genuine. Like if Laird has his apparel, then he wears the shorts, if I make a supplement company, I take the supplements. If I do strong, I genuinely admire the concept. So really, and to be honest and I'm sure you can relate to this, that can be a lot harder.
Ben: It’s a lot harder to spend time in the trenches, figuring out what works and what doesn't versus…
Gabby: We've done part of that work, 'cause we are older as you stated earlier. I'm just kidding.
Ben: I was trying to figure out the most political way to phrase that.
Gabby: It's okay. We're fine with that. But I'm saying we've been around, a little where you just start going, but there are days, and I struggle with it more than Laird because I'm more detailed in sort of dealing with things on one other level. Like I see every e-mail and I see every sort of some of these other details, but the hope is is that you can create a real business based on something authentically that you've done. And so that is our hope. So that part is not the accident, but it's kind of like Laird surfing, or me playing volleyball, or doing other things. It was never the intention. You did it 'cause you loved it, and then you arrived at a place that, then you were making choices.
Laird: Listen, it takes a certain amount of faith too because you have to also, you gotta believe too. You gotta believe that you can. I mean you can say, “Hey, I have this plan and this is what I wanna do,” but you also have to believe that you can. And it's harder to walk the line too. I can say that I've turned down a lot of opportunities throughout my career because they weren't authentic. Like I just don't eat that, I don't drink that, I don't wear that, I don't…
Ben: No matter how much money is being offered.
Laird: No matter what it does.
Gabby: ‘Cause you have to live with yourself. And I think, Laird always says this to me, 'cause I worry more than Laird. Laird does have, sort of is better at that, but he'll say, “You know, Gabby, it's all gonna be fine.” And then he always says, “And it is fine.” And I think sometimes, like if someone is listening to this and they're starting a new business, or they serve, have a job they don't like and they really wanna try something, I think it's also doing things intelligently. It's even like Laird's surfing, or whatever it is, you don't hook yourself into anything. Right? So it's doing it, but it's understanding your reasons why.
Can you stand by those reasons? Do you believe in that? Are you willing to work your [censored] off when there's no return because you believe in it? And I think if people feel that way, then that is where faith comes in, and believe that it is kind of a formula that works. Now having said that, we've had businesses that, we joke, you start four. And if you're really lucky, one bangs it hard, one kinda shuffles along, and two will probably disappear. So I think it's calibrating all those parts of the formula, but I believe that you, to be a dreamer is important, but I also think you always go with your eyes open during it.
Laird: And Gabby's great to bring, to be realistic. It's like we tell our kids, “Hey, you're not gonna be gymnasts.” You know, you’re always gonna be 6'4″.
Ben: You're not gonna be a 6'5″ gymnast.
Laird: Yeah. You're not gonna be a 6'5″ gymnast. It's not gonna happen. So you also have to be realistic about where you're going. It's like, I mean there's exceptions to every rule, but at a certain point, you can't go and embark off on a road that you just have no experience, and no skill at, and no potential skill at. Like that would be an unrealistic approach to any project. So you kinda have to go, “Hey. I'm kinda good at these things, so let's…”
Gabby: Yeah. And that's where…
Laird: And first you have to figure out where you're good at. That's why I think, for the kids, my number one thing for them is, and I always quote the movie “The Jerk,” but it's like find your special purpose. Like find the thing that you love that you're good at. And because at the end, you will find a way to make a living from that somehow. Even if you can balance a chair on your head, believe me, if you're good enough at it, there's a place that'll pay you and you can go do it every day and you can make money from it.
Ben: That's what I tell my kids is there's three things that I encourage them to have in their life for happiness and longevity: love relationships, family, passion. Doesn't mean that you have to necessarily follow your passion in terms of designing a lifestyle around, say, whatever, surfing, or volleyball, or whatever the case may be. But you must have a passion for the work that you're involved with, and then you must believe in some kind of a greater story for your life. We're not just all pieces flesh and meat hurdling through the universe.
Gabby: Well, I think it's the idea too, right? Like when you give the idea to kids that you can contribute just a little bit? I think that that's a really powerful thing for a person to feel like I can make a difference even if it means within my home, within my block, within my neighborhood, my community. That idea, we tried to let the girls get the idea too that work and service live together, that there is an idea of service and things.
Laird: We have the responsibility.
Gabby: ‘Cause that makes you feel good at the end, even if you selfishly do it to make yourself feel good…
Laird: Yeah. The selfish act of giving.
Gabby: I think it's an important thing because you can get everything for yourself. Attention, money, everything. But if you don't have the other and the things that you're discussing, it's a never ending…
Laird: Never ending treadmill. And that gets back to one, if we can build these businesses, and build these brands, and get into the position to really make a difference. So first of all, when you leave the planet, how big a footprint can you leave? Can you leave just a big old, big impression on the Earth, then you leave and it still goes, but also while you're here, can you really get yourself in a position to make a difference, right? And so first, it starts in your yard, and then it starts in the neighborhood, and then it starts in the town, and then eventually grows from there. And unfortunately, we live in a monetary world. So if you get in a position that you have the ability to make a difference, you can give, and help, and do things when you have a successful company, better than you can almost doing anything else.
Ben: Yeah. Well, you guys are certainly making a difference. And if you're listening in right now and you want to learn more about what Laird and Gabby are doing, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/laird, bengreenfieldfitness.com/LAIRD, and I will link to everything from, I suppose Arm and Hammer baking soda, to the no glasses app, to Laird's website, and Gabby's TV show, and everything Laird and Gabby are involved with. And you can just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/laird to check that out. Laird, Gabby, thanks for coming on the show.
Gabby: Yeah. Well, you were in our neighborhood.
Ben: I was.
Laird: It's been our pleasure…
Ben: Beautiful neighborhood.
Gabby: It is.
Laird: We've enjoyed meeting you and spending time.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
Meet Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece – sporting legends, nutrition and fitness gurus, parents, and – as you will discover on this podcast – deep thinkers and philosophers of life.
Laird is an American big-wave surfer, co-inventor of tow-in surfing, and an occasional fashion and action-sports model. He is married to Gabrielle Reece (AKA “Gabby”), a professional volleyball player, television personality, and model.
In this podcast (recorded at Laird and Gabby’s home in Kauai) you’ll discover:
-Why Laird and Gabby choose to live in Hawaii…
-What it’s like to transition from being a pro athlete to moving into later years of life, and Laird and Gabby’s anti-aging tips and tricks…
-The special breathwork protocol Laird and Gabby both use…
-How Laird combines cold, hot, hypoxia, underwater training and more for the ultimate workout…
-The top biohacks Laird keeps in his garage…
-A special coffee blend that serves as rocket fuel for your body and brain…
-One very stinky fruit Laird takes a shot of each morning…
-Why Laird and Gabby homeschool, and why they do it…
-How to stay young and vibrant, age gracefully, and defy the norms of what we accept for older generations…
-And much more!
Resources from this episode: