April 8, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/michael-chernow/
[00:01:10] Podcast Sponsors
[00:11:28] Michael Chernow's early life and addiction
[00:21:39] The beginning of a new life
[00:30:01] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:43] Several successful restaurant business that led to the Kreatures of Habit
[01:02:15] Michael's daily routine
[01:25:22] Closing with Ben
[01:32:27] Work Hours
[01:36:59] Packing Up From Work and Heading Home
[01:40:41] Dinner is Family Time
[01:43:32] Nightly Routine
[01:48:54] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Michael: Every single day when I leave the office, I clean this room and my desk. So, it's immaculate. I want it to be spotless clean. And, the reason why I do that is because I really do believe that environments impact how we feel. So, if I were to walk into my office every day and my desk was kind of a mess, it's going to make me feel a bit chaotic, it's going to make me feel a bit messy. And, I don't want to feel messy, I want to be organized on top of my stuff. And so, every single day, I clean my desk. I've used that habit. I call it “Leave it the way I want to find it.” I have parlayed that habit into every other area of my life.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
Alright, let's talk ketosis. When your body churns out ketones, it is a state of metabolic efficiency, mental clarity, improved athletic performance, better metabolic health. The reason for that is that ketones are 28% more efficient at generating energy than sugar alone. That means you can do more with less. And, ketones are usually made when your body's push to the limits, when it's deprived of carbs, when it's fasted, when it's had a whole, whole bunch of fat, coconut oil, and butter, and all the things. But, you can also, using the magic of science, shift yourself very rapidly into a state of ketosis that you'd normally have to fast for days to get into by supplementing with liquid ketones.
You can usually drink ketones to do this. And, there's one form of ketone brain fuel called Ketone IQ, fittingly enough, and it is literally, quite literally brain fuel. None of the insulin spikes, or caffeine jitters, or mid-afternoon energy crashes you get from most energy drinks. You just fuel with Ketone IQ, one serving of this stuff, and it shifts you into the state of ketosis that you want. Again, without being fasted or restricting carbohydrates. So, it's almost like you'd have your cake and eat it too. Or, if you're already into ketosis and you want to put the icing on the cake and get even deeper into ketosis, this stuff works fantastically for that too.
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Alright. So, let's say you want to start your day with the equivalent of about a dozen salads without all the raw roughage and the fiber and you want to concentrate all these nutrients. Well, there are 11 different superfoods that can detox your body, help you to feel amazing, and you can get them all in just 30 seconds with no shopping, no chopping, no juicing, and no blending. And, this includes 100% USDA-certified organic powdered superfoods, including 600 milligrams of the extremely powerful ashwagandha, which allows you to react to stress in a healthy way. It's what's called an adaptogen that helps to also decrease cortisol and maintain normalized cortisol levels and also incidentally helps to reduce food cravings. So, this green powder has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, it has moringa, chlorella, spirulina, beets, turmeric, mint, wheatgrass, lemon, and coconut water all working together in this fantastic symphony for an incredible energy boost, an incredible detoxifying benefit. And again, not a lot of the labor that you put into hunting down all of these superfoods not to mention the expense of getting all of these in one location.
So, this stuff is USDA organic, certified gluten-free, certified glyphosate residue-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, non-GMO, and 100% organic whole foods. It's called Organifi Green Juice. A few scoops of this during the week, a little bit in an icy cold bottle of cold water in a Nalgene. That's the way I like to do it. You just shake it up and oh, it's so good and a fraction of the cost of what you pay for a really expensive green juice at a juicer. And, it's super easy to make, super easy to travel with, too. Organifi Green Juice is something you can now get for 20% off. You go to Organifi.com/Ben. That's Organifi with an i.com/Ben. And, you can get this Green Juice. It's amazing and it's so convenient, so good for you. Organifi.com/Ben. It tastes really good too, by the way. 20% off at Organifi with an i.com/Ben.
Alright, folks. Your feet are important, skin on the bottom of your feet has thousands of nerves used to control your movement and your posture. The more you feel your feet, the more you feel the ground, the better you move. A lot of injuries, orthopedic injuries, knee injuries, ankle injuries, hip injuries, even shoulder injuries start with the feet.
So, this genius group at a company called Naboso has developed a whole line of products just for your feet. We're not talking about toenail clippers, we're talking about things like their Neuro Ball for triggering proprioceptive receptors in the bottom of the foot, Splay toe spacers you can wear while you're asleep or during the day to allow your toes to become more ancient humankind's toes rather than the modern compressed toes we walk around with these days. They got Activation Insoles that keep your feet alive and turned on while you're walking around in your shoes. They allow for increased proprioception any time of the day, which of course improves athleticism and performance. They even have Recovery Socks that you can wear even if you aren't wearing the insoles and you aren't wearing shoes. And, the Recovery Socks also increase your proprioceptive feeling in the feet. They even have a mat. I keep it in my sauna that allows for better foot health and foot recovery and balance while you're doing things like yoga, for example.
So anyways, Naboso has this great suite of products. I have something from Naboso on my feet spot every day. Go to naboso.com/Ben and use code BEN for 10% off. That's N-A-B-O-S-O.com/Ben and use code BEN for 10% off.
Alright, folks. Well, I just finished a little bit of a change-up from my usual breakfast. So, I don't think it's any secret out there for anybody who listens to this podcast frequently that I tend to have this habit of consuming a raw liver smoothie many mornings of the week, which is bone broth and little frozen raw liver bites, stevia, sometimes I throw a whey protein in there, a little cinnamon, a little salt, blend it all up and top it with stuff like cacao nibs and bee pollen. And, it's not half bad. I kind of like it. Most people think it sounds gross, but when I give it to friends, they think it tastes like chocolate ice cream. And then, I occasionally take my sons out to waffles in a traditional breakfast once a week or so. However, this morning, I changed things up pretty dramatically. I did overnight oatmeal.
Now, this was not just any old overnight oatmeal, this was this stuff that was actually sent to me by today's guest. So, I'm looking at the label of it and I'll show you a video here if you're going to watch the video version of this podcast. But, I'm holding Peanut Butter Banana superfood meal made by this company called Kreatures of Habits, spelled filled with a K because a C just won't do when you want to sound cool. So, Kreatures of Habit Peanut Butter Banana flavor. And then, on the back, the label says rolled oats, pea protein, roasted pumpkin seeds, peanut flour, organic brown flax, organic banana freeze-dried powder, organic chia seed, Himalayan pink salt, cocoa powder, an amylase blend which is like a bacteria and fungal amylase, almost like a digestive enzyme, monk fruit extract, Bacillus subtilis, which is a probiotic, and organic vegan vitamin D3, 350 calories, 32 grams of protein in this stuff. So, I've got six different flavors up in my pantry. Last night, I took about a cup of water and I emptied the packets of this Peanut Butter Banana into a bowl along with the water. I covered that and I put it in the fridge.
But, because I'm an overachiever, I then did the same thing with apple cinnamon flavor and then did the same thing with the maple syrup flavor. And, I just got done sampling all three for breakfast. I have to admit I cheated, I put a little dollop of yogurt on top of each just because I like my gut-healing yogurt that I make in the morning sometimes. And, it was pretty amazing oatmeal. I have to admit, it was right up there with the raw liver smoothie I would say in terms of the enjoyment and the health factor, and the satiation factor. I'm full and I obviously need all three packets because that would have been a thousand calories, but I probably had about a quarter to a half of each packet. So, 500 calories or so of oatmeal and it's good, it's really good.
So anyways, the reason I'm telling you all this is the guy who sent me this stuff is a guest on today's show. And, I didn't even know that he made oatmeal when I invited him to be on the show. That wasn't the purpose of doing the podcast. I imagine I could probably talk for an hour with somebody about overnight oatmeal, but the reason that I wanted to get this guy in the show is because I heard him interviewed on a podcast about daily routines and habits for optimizing not just health but also personal productivity, connection to family and faith, fitness, and a whole lot of other topics. And, it was so intriguing that I reached out. I think it was the folks at HVMN who interviewed him and I reached out to them, got a connection, and I got connected to this guy, Michael Chernow, C-H-E-R-N-O-W. So, I'm going to put all the shownotes and links to Michael, links to this oatmeal, anything else we talk about if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Chernow. That's C-H-E-R-N-O-W.
But, a quick intro to Michael, he's a Serial entrepreneur, he's a restaurateur. So, he's owned and operated restaurants. He's a podcast host of a podcast called Kreatures of Habit. Again, spelled with a K. And, he studies up on a lot of this stuff, wellness and fitness and nutrition, and also entrepreneurship. As a guy who has a background in the restaurant industry, he has a great deal of experience with running a business and also has been 17 years sober. And, that's been a big part of his transformation as well. So, he's got a really cool story. I think you guys are going to give a big kick out of Michael. So, Michael, first, welcome to the show. Second, thank you for the oatmeal.
Michael: Well, man, I don't even know what to say after an introduction like that. Thank you for having me. And, I'm fired up that you enjoy the oatmeal. It's so funny before we went on live here, I asked you what you thought and you said, well, let me give you a in-real-life update. Oh, my gosh. Yeah, Ben, because I know Ben is not afraid to say how he feels. And man, I could have gone one of two ways. But, I'm really excited that you like it, dude.
Ben: I'm picky, I'm a foodie. If you ever heard of that company Magic Spoon cereal.
Ben: Yeah. They do a protein-rich gluten-free, blah, blah, blah, cereal, but they made it to simulate a lot of the old comfort food style cereals we had as kids like Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs, et cetera.
Ben: And, they did a pretty good job nailing the flavor profile. I actually like that stuff every once in a while, again, when I stray from my liver smoothie. And, I got the same impression from your stuff. It gives me that old Quaker Oatmeal paper packet emptied it into some hot water and stick it in the microwave type of experience. But obviously, as people probably heard when I read the ingredient profile, way healthier. And dude, it actually tastes really good.
Michael: Thank you, man. I'm sure we'll get there, but there's a really fun story of how Kreatures of Habit came to be and specifically that product. I mean, that's all we sell. The only thing we sell right now is this instant and overnight oat product called Meal One. But, it wasn't like I just came out of nowhere and just said, “Hey, I want to launch an oatmeal business.” There's some real nuts and bolts to it.
Ben: Okay. Yeah, I want to get into that too because I got plenty more oatmeal now I got to consume. I hit it in the pantry because my sons love oatmeal and I had to make sure it didn't disappear before our podcast even though I think you sent me 70 packets or so. But, you never know, they're 14 years old and growing weeds.
So, that's actually something that I wanted to ask you to kind of get things kicked off here and we'll probably rabbit hole a little bit. But, I would love to learn a little bit more about what Kreatures of Habit is and how it came to exist, how you came to be so interested in habits and then form this company.
Michael: Well, I'll start off by–I'll kind of give you the story, the full-on thing. I'll try to truncate it as much as possible. I grew up in New York City. For whatever reason, I have thought entrepreneurially from as early as I can remember. I always wanted to make stuff, create stuff, and be out there. I got a job in a restaurant when I was 12 years old. I just kind of was the first place that would really hire me.
Ben: When you were 12. I was going to say is that legal?
Michael: Definitely illegal, 100% absolutely not legal. Actually, the funny thing is is that I was working at a place called Couch Potato Videos before that right down the street. So, I was delivering videos for Couch Potato. A friend of mine who was a year older was answering the phones in the delivery department at this restaurant right up the street and said, “Hey, man, you're delivering videos, you should also come and deliver food at the restaurant.” And so, that's what I did. And, I fell in love with the world of restaurants. Literally, I walked into the restaurant, I felt there was something about that ability to connect with human beings, especially older human beings at scale for me that I really fell in love with. And, I worked in restaurants from that day that I got hired there until about two and a half years ago when I sold a bunch of equity at my last company, Seamore's in New York City.
But, getting there wasn't a pretty awesome journey, and very dark at some stages. And, really now, the majority of my life is far more positive. But, I had a pretty rough and tumbled home. My dad was a tough dude and we really had a hard time getting along. So, I was looking to get out of that apartment as fast as I possibly could, as often as I possibly could. We lived in a very small one-bedroom apartment with my mother, my sister, myself. It was a 600-square-foot apartment. It was tight. It was uncomfortable and I wanted out. And so, that's how the restaurant business became such an awesome escape for me because I was able to work at night. So, I was in school during the day, I worked in the evening and I went home and went to sleep.
And, like many restaurant people do when you work in the night, you kind of get exposed to the things that happen in the night. And, I was a young kid working in restaurants, ultimately ended up working in nightclubs. And, I really took advantage of the things that happened at night. I was using drugs and drinking alcohol pretty heavily and intensely from 13 to 23.
Ben: You started using drugs when you're 13 or alcohol or both?
Michael: The first time I used drugs is when I was 12.
Michael: I was smoking cigarettes in seventh grade and then I smoked weed and then I started about 13, 14 years old. That's when things really started to take off for me in that way.
Ben: By the way, that's a total foreign thought for me. I grew up hyper-conservative, North Idaho, homeschooled, Christian family. I remember the first time I tried, I guess, we would classify as a drug besides having some beer in college. And, that was marijuana. You know how old I was when I tried marijuana for the first time?
Michael: How old?
Ben: 32. And, that was the very first time I'd used any type of substance besides an occasional drug and a cigarette at a party and a few beers. And so, yeah, I can't imagine being 13 years old and having that kind stuff going into the body.
Michael: Well, I think growing up in New York City, you're exposed to a lot. Growing up in New York City and then working in the restaurant or the nightlife business, you're exposed to an enormous amount. And, the interesting thing about being a young person in that business is everybody thinks you're cute, everybody's just like, “Oh, this cute kid. Let's get him [BLEEP].” And so, I remember the first time I smoked weed, I was in probably the summer between sixth and seventh grade. I was at my friend Danny Nash's parents' house in Long Island. She smoked weed already and we smoked weed for the first time or I smoked weed for the first time. I remember it like it was yesterday. And, I loved it. It offered an ability for me to really just get out of my own head.
And, quite frankly, alcohol and drugs for me at that stage in my life were amazing. I don't want to say they saved my life because who knows. I was definitely a depressed kid at that age and that took me out of that depression. They really did help me stop blaming myself for the abuse that I got at home. And so, I enjoyed drug and alcohol until I was about 18 and then it became way more of a obsession and something that I needed to do.
Ben: Yeah, addiction, escapism, et cetera. Yeah, not to derail your story too much, but I do remember the first time I used marijuana I was like, “This is incredible.” I was sitting on the couch, I was watching the fire burning in the fireplace and all of a sudden the fire was amazing. And, I had all these creative thoughts sparked. I picked up the guitar and I was playing the guitar and just started engaging in hyper-creativity for two hours that evening. It wasn't couch lock and Netflix. And, since that experience over the years, I've learned about the neurotoxicity and some of the reactive oxygen species leakage, particularly in neural tissue in the brain and decreasing hippocampal volume and memory loss, and a whole host of factors that dictates that nowadays about the only time I'll use THC would be for a long-haul plane flight where I need to fall asleep and don't want the constipation-inducing diazepam or valium or something like that. or, if I've had a significant injury and I don't want to use an opioid painkiller or something along those lines. And then, occasionally micro dosing for sex, which I think it actually is pretty good as a sex-enhancing drug. But ultimately, I don't want to glorify marijuana although when I first used it, I did find it incredible for creativity. I just don't like the brain cell-killing trade-off.
Michael: Yeah. And, I can honestly tell you that it 100% fried a bunch of my brain cells. But, I think marijuana is probably the least of my brain cell frying problems over the years. I mean, I got into all sorts of stuff. In my late teens, early 20s is when things got really dark, really ugly, not fun. I didn't enjoy it. I was doing it because I was addicted. I overdosed. People were telling me, “You're such a great person, you're going to die. Why are you doing this to yourself?” I couldn't see the light and then one day I was able to. And, my boss at the time. I'd slept through work. It was a pretty bad night for me. I was ready to kill myself, honestly, I think at that point.
And, my boss at the time said, “You're fired. I love you, Mikey.” I've been working for him for three and a half years. And, he said, “I love you, but I'm not going to watch you kill yourself on my dime, I'm just not. You're going to die. And, everybody around you knows it.” And, it was really hard for me to–my job was the last thing that I felt I had. And, I begged him for my job back. I was bartending for him at that time. And, he said, “Look, kid, if you get sober today and you show up at the restaurant at 8 o'clock in the morning for the next 30 days and clean the restaurant with the porters, call me at 8:00 a.m. If you call me a minute later, you're fired. If you drink a single sip of alcohol, you're fired. If you do a single bump a coke or pill of anything, you're fired. And, if I find out about it. I'm giving you a shot.” And, that's what I needed. I knew I needed it. I needed to get a kick in the ass for my boss. And, for whatever reason, that was the last day I drank and did drugs.
I stepped into recovery pretty hardcore. And, this is where my story really begins. I knew that I had a superpower with people. My ability to connect with human beings is really, I think, at my core, probably if we have to say we have superpowers, my superpower is really connecting with humans. I really, really love doing it. It is what drives me.
Ben: Which is great. By the way, for the restaurant business, my mom owns a restaurant. She runs a coffee house and pub in Moscow, Idaho. And, I mean, even before she began to own and operate a restaurant, I've always remembered her for being a hyper connector, a matchmaker. She would always get our house dinner in the evenings is always the Island of Misfit Toys, people from all over the community, and kids, and college students, and old people, and homeless people. And, she's always been very good at bringing people together. And, that's what she does is she hyper connects.
And so, now, if I go visit her in Moscow, Idaho, she spends her entire day just running around a restaurant greeting people, helping out employees, managing bands and I mean, for somebody who connects and especially someone who's extroverted and doesn't get exhausted by connecting, it kind of is a perfect business to be in if you can handle the stress.
Michael: It really is and it really is what drives me. I just love connecting with people. I really do. I really, really do. And, lucky for me, because I love to connect with people, when I decided that I was going to get sober, I had no problem asking people to help me. I knew that it was something I needed to do. I literally did not see it before I made the decision even though people were telling me that what was going on in my life was unacceptable and inappropriate and wrong, and how can you possibly be doing this. Once I made the decision, it all became clear that I knew what I needed to do now. And so, I asked for help and I got a couple of guys who I was introduced to who were Muay Thai kickboxing competitors. I also think that there was a fear for me in making the decision to get sober that my life was just going to be lame that all sober people were just boring.
Michael: I couldn't have been more wrong because all people that are in recovery are actually the craziest of the crazy. They're the ones that really needed to change because they were so nuts.
So, I got introduced to these two guys and the first thing they did was they dragged me into a Muay Thai kickboxing gym. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a ninja. That's the truth. I watched that movie, “The Last Dragon” with Bruce Leroy, that just set my childhood up, man. I just wanted to be Bruce Leroy. And, I never thought that that would be a possibility for me. And, I'm not saying that I became a ninja, but I became a damn good Muay Thai practitioner, like very good.
Ben: Oh, man. And, Muay Thais, I mean, that's tough. I've done some training for that very, very amateur in Thailand and then spent about two years doing MMA and strike training along with Muay Thai in a local gym here in Spokane. And, it feels often like someone's taking a baseball bat to the size you're humorous, to your shins. I mean, it's a very impactful sport in often a disturbing and painful way.
Michael: Yes. I have to be honest, I feel that is exactly what I didn't know I needed at that time in my life. Towards the end of my drinking and using days, I was getting into the fights, I was not afraid to punch somebody in the face, which is terrible but it's the truth, it's my truth. And, I told these guys my story and they said, alright, we're dragging in here. So, they dragged me into the Muay Thai kickboxing gym. The second day, I think, I made the decision and they said, “Look, man, we're going to teach you how to get back up here. We're going to kick your [BLEEP] every day. We're going to teach you about integrity. We're going to teach you how to be a real adult. And, if you do what we ask you to do, the chances of you being happy and successful are far greater than if you choose to live the life that you've been living. So, here's what we're going to ask you to do, wake up early in the morning as early as you can, hit your knees right away, and ask God for help. It doesn't matter if you believe in God, if you don't believe in God. If you have a God that you think of when you say God or not.”
Ben: When you say hit your knees, you mean, yeah, get on your knees, drop to your knees, you don't mean literally strike your knees? This wasn't a Muay Thai tactic?
Michael: No, no, no, it's not Muay Thai. Yeah, yeah, get out of bed, drop on the floor, get on your knees, and ask for help. And, they said the reason why we're asking you to do that is not because we're forcing religion or God on you, but we're telling you that you have not been able to ask for help for the last 10 years because you've destroyed your life. And, we want to get you in the habit of asking for help.
Michael: So, if you wake up and first thing you do is drop on your knees and ask God for help in a humble way, it'll get you into the habit of asking for help. And so, ask for help, get up, splash water on your face and go for a run. That run could be a block. That run could be two blocks. That run could be a mile, 5 miles, 10 miles. Whatever you want that run to be, we just want you to get out and go for a run in the morning first thing. As soon as you get back from that run, we want you to have a bowl of oatmeal. You've been feeding negativity into your body for the last 10, 11 years, we want to start feeding you positivity through healthy nutrition. That's easy, easy. It was the ticker there. So, make yourself a big bowl of oatmeal. Add whatever the hell you want to it.
And then, right after you have the oatmeal, you're going to meet us at this recovery meeting. We're going to meet there for an hour and we're going to go straight to the gym. We're going to kick your ass in Muay Thai. You're going to go home, you're going to make a chicken and broccoli salad. You're going to take a nap. You're going to go to work and then you're going to have chicken and broccoli for dinner and you're going to go to bed as early as you can and then you're going to rinse and repeat. If you can do that, that is what it will take to really change your life and create something that you could never imagine.
Ben: Pray, run, gym, and bricken. That's what you used to call it in bodybuilding, the broccoli and chicken and as few carbohydrates as possible and sometimes a little bit of salt and you just straight-face suck it down and pretend you enjoy it every time.
Michael: Pretty much. I mean, that was pretty much it.
Michael: And, that's where my life and habit started. I did exactly what they told me to do. I became insanely passionate about Muay Thai. In 90 days of doing what they told me to do, I went from a bloated red-faced, fat finger, fat feet person, hating myself, truly hating myself to a shredded beginning to develop self-confidence, self-care, self-love human being. And, I trained Muay Thai for 12 years. I had a number of fights. While I was training Muay Thai, I went out to Thailand and trained out in Thailand. I also became very passionate about nutrition. So, nutrition became a huge part of my life in terms of really understanding, dissecting, learning about nutrition and how nutrition impacts my performance. And then, ultimately my aesthetic because I eventually graduated from Muay Thai into bodybuilding, which I became pro at as well.
Ben: Oh, wow. So, the broccoli chicken went on to serve you well.
Michael: Yeah. I learned a lot from the broccoli and chicken. And, you know what the funny thing is, so obviously we're going to learn why Kreatures of Habit started with Meal One as an oatmeal product. I think I just kind of spilled the beans there. But, I still do have oatmeal as my first meal every single day. And, for the most part, chicken and broccoli is my second meal every single day. It's just I am a true unadulterated creature of habit.
Michael: If I find something that I like that works really well for me, I do it until I either get completely sick of it, which is rare because if I find something that's awesome that I like, I kind of do it forever. It's kind of like candles. I'm a candle guy, I like to set up my environment. So, every single day, the first thing I do when I get into my office, I light a candle. It's just what I do.
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I am coming to London June 16th through the 18th and I'm going to be a part of the Health Optimisation Summit over there. And, if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar, you can check out that event. Fantastic. Kind of like biohacking meets wellness meets massive health technology expo. But, while I'm there, I'm going to be in London with my whole family and we're actually going to head to Italy afterwards and cycle through Italy. But, I decided to put on a very special private, intimate VIP event with me while I am in London. It's at this crazy place called HUM2N, HUM2N, like human except of the 2.
So, HUM2N Labs, they are a creme de la creme biohacking facility. I mean, the best hyperbaric chambers, amazing selection of IVs, super nutrient cocktails, cryotherapy, red light therapy. We're basically going to party and biohack and do a Q&A with me and the fine proprietor of that facility, Dr. E, who's a wealth of knowledge in and of himself at that event. It's Monday, June 19th, so it's going to be private networking, live Q&A, great food, great cocktail/mocktails, experiential biohacks, a variety of healthy gourmet foods is just going to be really amazing. You're going to get a swag bag too. Your swag bag includes super nutrient IV, cryotherapy, red light therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen. That's worth 750 pounds alone. Then you got the HU2MN supplements. They're going to give you their brain sharpener and their super blend protein. You get a travel voucher to take you to and from the event, meaning using a company called Uono. They will bring you to and from the event if you have trouble finding it or don't want to drive.
So, there's a lot more that go into those swag bag too. But, right now, I have to tell you, this thing is going to fill up fast. It's in London, June 19th, and you get there by going to BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon. And, that will allow you to claim your spot at this fantastic event. So, BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon
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It's like Groundhog Day. A lot of people who follow habits and routines and display massive amounts of productivity and personal growth because of those habits and routines tend to, when you step back and look at their day-to-day habits, live a highly predictable lifestyle without a great deal of complexity. And, they've even done research in nutrition, for example. But, the more predictable your meals are, the more consistent your meals are in terms of their macros and even the ingredients that you put into them, the more successful you are at your given goal for adopting a nutrition habit like weight loss or muscle gain or anything else.
And, when you talk about your daily routine; honestly, like I mentioned, I found out about your oatmeal later on. But, the reason I want to get you on the show today was to go through a lot of these habits and routines that you've developed because they're impressive and I think they're going to help a lot of people. But, yeah, reduce complexity, reduce decision-making fatigue, predictability of the daily routine, and not having to think about these things that become as automatic as brushing your teeth, it lends so much more structure and productivity to your life. And, I would say that even though this wasn't really in my vernacular prior to meeting you or starting this podcast, I would probably classify myself as a creature of habit also.
Michael: I've been listening to your podcast for a while. I was really fired up when you reached out. And, I was like this, Ben and I, I mean, he's a quintessential creature of habit. One of the greatest elements about being someone who can actually do what they say they're going to do is that you could kind of do anything. It doesn't mean that you're going to do it habitually. Once you have the confidence of consistently doing something over and over and over again and seeing in most of these habits that we do on a regular basis, it's really more of a long-term gratification kind of thing. It's like longevity or ultimate health or it takes years to build muscle. Unless you're an early-day body, the first time you're lifting weights for the first year, maybe you can pack on some muscle, for sure, 15 pounds of muscle maybe, as a medium or advanced bodybuilder strength trainer, it's very hard to build muscle. So, the habit of strength training and lifting weights resistance training is like, “Hey, I want to put on 5 pounds of muscle,” it's going to take me two years at this point if not more where I'm at at my level of strength training. And so, that's where the habit is so beautiful is that if you could just say, “Hey, I'm not making week-long goals,” I'm saying I just started doing CrossFit.
So, I decided to stop strength training in the form of bodybuilding. And, I started doing CrossFit in September. I'm 42. I know there's no shot of me getting to the CrossFit Games in my age group now, 40 to 44. Impossible, won't happen. However, I am going to gun to get to the games when I'm 45. that's my goal. So, I'm giving myself a strong three and a half years to get to the CrossFit Games at the bottom of the age group 45 to 50 or 49. I think it's 45 to 49. So, I just think that when you live this lifestyle of habit, you're able to easily make decisions that are for some people, how can you possibly set a goal three to five years out? And, I'm like, it's just what I've learned over the years to actually make sense and work. The short-term gratification, the instant gratification stuff is flash in the pan from my experience.
A lot of the things that I have a wealth of experience with that have been instantly gratifying are either not good for me, not good for the people around me, or don't actually carry the weight that I'm looking for.
Ben: Right. Yeah, I agree. I mean, what you're talking about, it kind of makes me think of a few things. First of all, we tend to overestimate, you've probably heard this and there's various ways to phrase it, what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. I think that that's one of the key positive elements of habit is that you develop these consistent things. I write 20 minutes a morning. I don't ever write three or four hours on a weekend and then don't write the rest of the week. I work out consistently, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes a day, and rarely do that I skipped five days in a row. So, I'm going to have to do some massive workout on the weekends. I do intermittent fasting daily and a little bit of a detoxification cleanup every Wednesday of the week rather than getting to January and having to just full-on juice fast detox for 30 days. And, those little tiny habits, this isn't really a news flash for most people, but they add up and they stack over a long period of time to allow you to be massively successful over time.
And then, related to habits, I believe it was–was it Mark Manson who I heard say this? I'm blanking on who said this, but basically, it's this idea that when it comes to habits, if you miss a habit once because I think a lot of people will beat themselves up if they actually do miss, I don't know, writing the 500 words in the morning or doing the gratitude journaling or having the oatmeal because they, I don't know, slept in and had eggs hollandaise at the diner or whatever, they tend to beat themselves up. But, I like the way that–I believe it was Mark who phrases this. He says, “If you miss a habit once, it's a mistake. But, if you miss a habit twice, it's a new habit.” I mean, it's my Duolingo Italian that I'm doing right now. I got 167-day streak. God bless the little streak freezes that are built into that app because if I miss a habit once, it's okay, it was a mistake. But yeah, if I miss a habit two days in a row, there's this little cognitive hum at the back of my mind. It's like, “Well, you missed it two days in a row, why go back? You broke your streak, bro.” So, yeah, I think that the consistency is key, and allowing yourself to make those mistakes occasionally without letting them stack is also key.
And then, finally, and I want to get back to where we derailed your story from getting from the Muay Thai and the bodybuilding and where you wind up going to the restaurant industry after that. But, you said I'm a quintessential creature of habit, we just have to make sure we spell quintessential KW to stay consistent with your with your moniker. So, yeah, I'll take it, the kwuintessential, KW.
So, anyways though, you're on the story of how you got into bodybuilding. By the way, is that oatmeal that you're eating?
Michael: No. Interestingly at 2 o'clock every day, I have a can of sardines.
Ben: That's right, creature of habit, baby. Can of sardines.
Michael: I'm a creature of habit. Sorry, I'm doing it. But, funny enough, I learned about why I should be having sardines through Wild Health. When I got my Wild Health results back and did my consult over there, they were like, “You're training really hard and you need to bump your omega-3s. So, we would suggest eating a can of sardines every day.”
Ben: Yeah, that's good. The omega index, I think, is an underrated reporting that you'll get from a lot of tests that are decent blood work panels. But, I think the reference range is a little bit low. They'll give you a green light thumbs up if your omega index, I think, is around 3%. But, I did an interview, I forget the name of the couple that do a lot of omega research a couple years ago. I'll hunt it down and put a link in the shownotes. But, they said for your omega index, you should be looking at a percentage closer to about 7 to 8% for your omega index, which is kind of reflective of your omega-3 saturation and your omega-3 to omega-6 ratios. And, very few people can accomplish that without either A, having a serving of that smash style fish: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, or herring once a day along with all the oils and bones and skin and everything in the fish; or B, supplementing with slightly higher dose fish oil. You see most the recommendations out there for 1 to 2 grams, a lot of people need closer to 4 to 6 grams to really get that omega index up. But, there's a lot of research between that and lower risk of all-cause mortality. So, I think, yeah, 7 to 8% is a good goal to shoot for. But, you taking a bite of sardines just derail this from your story but that's okay.
Michael: I feel lucky that I genuinely love the flavor of sardines. I didn't think I was, but I love it. I could eat it all day.
Ben: Yeah. The only sad part is they're such a convenient canned airplane food, but you really annoy people on the airplane with the sardines. That's the one place where I've kind of dialed back the sardine consumption. But yeah, if you walk into my pantry, it's like, what's it called, Wild Planet, Florida shelf ever, all the tuna and the salmon and the sardine, they got canned chicken, everything. So, anyways though, so you got into bodybuilding, were you still in the restaurant industry during that time?
Michael: I got my job back at Frank restaurant where my boss really sort of kicked me in the ass and gave me this sort of motivation to change my life. And, that's when I got into Muay Thai and I stayed working at Frank until I was 28 years old. In that time, I obviously became very passionate about Muay Thai, like I said, nutrition. I went back to school. I went to culinary school, the French Culinary Institute. I got my degree in culinary arts. I also, at that time I was there, Cornell has a very, very prominent, if not, the most prominent hotel and restaurant management program. And so, they partnered with French Culinary and they put together a really cool truncated restaurant management program that I took. So, I kind of piggybacked the restaurant management program at the tail end of my culinary arts and I did two years in culinary.
And then, I said, you know what, I had built this confidence which I didn't have before really. But, because of the habits, because of the fitness, because of my dedication to nutrition, because of the dedication to myself, that's ultimately what it came down to. Once I started to actually dedicate to myself, invest in myself, I began to love myself, which ultimately gave me the confidence to say, “[BLEEP], I'm going out to create my own business.” And, when I was 28 years old, I wrote a business plan. I put it in front of every single regular at Frank restaurant, these guys and gals have watched me grow from a 20-year-old maniac kid into a man. And, 14 regulars of that restaurant wrote me a check to open up my first business. And, I opened up a restaurant called The Meatball Shop in the Lower East Side of New York City, 38 seats, was a phenomenon, man. It was an absolute grand slam home run insane restaurant.
Here's why I did The Meatball Shop. As I said, nutrition was a big thing for me. I worked at this amazing Italian restaurant. Everybody that came to that restaurant whether they were — the cool thing about the restaurant was that the food was pretty reasonable. It was pasta dishes started at 13 bucks and went to 22 bucks and then entrees were 18 bucks to 35 bucks. However, the wine list at this restaurant, there was over 500 bins of wine, 500 different wine options and they were anywhere from $20 to $2,500 in wine. So, I was the king of selling people with $13 bottle, a bowl of pasta and a $13 bottle of wine. That's like I was king of that. And, that $13 bowl of pasta was called the Rigatoni al Ragu. It's a rigatoni pasta dish with meatballs and sausage and the best tomato sauce you've ever had in your life.
Michael: And, what I used to do late night because I didn't want all that pasta was I would order the rigatoni ragu sans rigatoni. So, they would give me a bowl of meatballs, sausage, and tomato sauce. I'd get a side of broccoli, a side of spinach, and a beet salad. And, that was my family meal most nights.
Ben: Yeah, ketogenic carnivore-esque Italian.
Michael: Right. And, people just started asking me like, “What is that? What are you eating?” And then, one day, it just clicked and I said, “This is a restaurant concept.” I can make any protein into a meatball. I can make vegetable balls. People love meatballs. They just love meatballs. And so, my childhood best friend, actually the guy who got me a job at the Kennel Café, which was ironically the vegan restaurant that I got hired at when I was 12 years old, he and I became best friends, and we opened up The Meatball Shop together. We started cooking meatballs for our friends at my apartment in Brooklyn. Every Sunday night, we would cook meatballs, we cook a bunch of sides, and that's how we developed a brand, the concept. And, we opened it up and the opening night, 250 people were on line to eat there. And, that line didn't stop and it was insane. And, within six months, we paid back our investors, we were cooking meatballs on Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon in Chelsea. I mean, it was insane man. It was just totally like, “Good Morning America, today's show.” I mean, it was nuts. It was totally nuts.
Ben: I got to ask, by the way, what's the best meatball in your opinion when you look at the different meat options out there? Please don't say vegetables. If there's a meatball that just clicked, what would that be for you?
Michael: It's a great question. And, I think it's also got a really kind of fun story. I'm not a lamb guy. I kind of am way more now than I was, Ben. Then I was not a lamb person. However, we made a Mediterranean lamb meatball that was done with lamb mint, a little bit of yogurt, and some spices. And, we served it with a yogurt sauce. It could be the best meatball I've ever had in my life to this day. And, we have a great cookbook called “The Meatball Shop Cookbook.”
Ben: Oh, no way.
Michael: Yeah. We've sold, I don't know, hundreds of thousands of copies of the cookbook. I mean, it's got a lot of our–not all the recipes , but it's got a lot of our recipes. I think there's 35 meatball recipes in there and a bunch of sides.
Ben: Wow. I did just order a bunch of ground lamb from U.S. Wellness Meat, so I know what I'm going to do in it when it shows up now. Awesome. So, I'm a massive bison person. The majority of the meat that I eat is venison that I harvest myself and bison that I buy at a farm out of Montana, excuse me, out of Idaho called Glacier Grown, which I love. They're a great place.
Anyway, so we have great bison balls in that book but also the Mediterranean lamb meatball. We got investment from some of the original investors and we opened up five more of those restaurants. I got a crash course on what it meant to be a real business person. I mean, I had no choice, I had to learn on the job. But, my role at the company was really the culture guru. I was a culture guy. I believed in culture. People came to the Meatball Shop at first because of the food. And then, ultimately, we developed this culture that was just sort of infectious. And, people wanted to be a part of it.
We played awesome music at the restaurant and it was in the thick of the Lower East Side where it became this place. And, I'm so grateful for it. About four years in, I decided that I wanted to try and see if I had what it took to open up a second restaurant concept. I became incredibly passionate about sustainable seafood. And, I said to my partner, Dan, “Hey, dude, you want to open up in Connecticut? I want to open up in LA, why don't you just take the brand and run with it? I'll stay on the sidelines as a board member. I'll obviously be here for whatever you guys need, but why don't you buy some of my equity so that I can go create another brand which is ultimately what I feel like I'm really good at and I want to do?” And so, that's what we did and I opened up Seamore's in 2015. Exact same thing happened.
Ben: Seamore's with seafood?
Michael: Yeah, I wanted to sell underutilized underappreciated fish to the New York Market. Everybody thought I was totally insane. Like, blue fish, blackfish–
Ben: I was going to say what's an underappreciated fish.
Michael: Bluefish, blackfish, red fish, hay haddock, pollock, porgy.
Ben: Yeah. A lot of the stuff you'd normally just use for a broth or fish tacos or something like that.
Michael: Yeah, fish tacos or fish and chips. I mean, the crazy thing about it is that from Montauk or from Maryland to Maine really, there's a wealth of delicious species of fish. The seafood industry is very much like every industry. Marketing is what wins. And, tuna, halibut, cod, salmon, lobster, and crab have amazing marketing behind them, unbelievable. They've won the marketing arena in seafood. All the other fish have lost the marketing arena. They don't have a good marketing plan behind them. And, that's why they don't win.
Another thing, Weis tuna and salmon happen to be essentially depleted or will be depleted if we continue to eat seafood the way we are is because they're fatty and it takes a lot less time to portion out 20 pieces of fish from a larger fish than it does from a smaller white fish porgy or whatever.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. And, they got great PR agents, the tuna and the salmon.
Michael: They do.
Michael: And so, that's what I did. And, I opened up that restaurant in 2015, same thing happened. It was super successful. I opened up five more of those. And, in 2019, I said to my partner who we knew that it was going to be a five-year thing for me. I said, “Hey, why don't you buy some of my equity? I'm going to go out and create again.” And, that's when in November 2019, I sold a bunch of my equity at Seamore's and began the process for Kreatures of Habit. Kreatures of Habit was initially going to be a restaurant.
Ben: Oh, really?
Michael: I did not think I was going directly into CPG or direct-to-consumer product. I built out this amazing business model where I was going to have this awesome restaurant. And, I wasn't going to scale the restaurant model, I was going to use the restaurant as an incubator for products to then launch CPG from. Because a restaurant is an amazing, amazing test lab like live test lab for product.
Ben: And, it seems to me that a lot of the more successful restaurants out there in the same way that a comedian profits from merch, some comedians, they're making more money for mercs than they are from tickets, a lot of solid restaurants are making money from packaged goods, CPG, like you mentioned, cookbooks, media, et cetera, and goes above and beyond just sitting people at tables.
Michael: That's right. So, that was the plan. And then, ultimately, we got hit with a global pandemic.
Ben: We did. I don't remember this pandemic you speak of.
Michael: Yeah, man. It was a thing.
Ben: Especially for the restaurant industry.
Michael: Oh, dude, my world shattered. It literally shattered. A, I didn't know if The Meatball Shop and Seamore's were going to make it through. And, those were insanely passionate about those businesses, of course, I founded them. I wasn't going to invest a bunch of money into a new brick-and-mortar business, so I literally got posed with this “Your career is kind of over” moment in my life. And, that's when I took an opportunity to pack up our stuff in Brooklyn. We had a house about two and a half hours north of New York City that we bought in 2013 that we were using on the weekends to get out of the city. And, I said to my wife, let's take the kids, and let's go hunker down. And, we did and it was the best decision I've ever made in my life. We live up here now. It's unbelievable. And, about three months into living up here, I took a little time, I hired an executive coach. I really wanted to sort of unpack some stuff, look at what I was really good at, what I was really passionate about.
Michael: And, I found out that I'm a creative entrepreneur. Restaurant medium for me.
Ben: With a K, with a K.
Michael: Yes, kreative with a K.
Ben: [00:55:04] _____ every time, brother.
Michael: Yeah, man. I appreciate you for that. and, she really helped me to see that I didn't need a restaurant. So, I was on a run, alright, almost all of my creative juices get flow on runs. I intentionally take long runs when I need to work things out. No music, no podcast, just think and it all came to me on a run. I was on this run, I said I need to create something that's incredibly authentic to me like I've always done. I want to do something in product so that I don't have to be confined to four walls anymore or a number of different four walls that I can work really anywhere. I've been eating this oatmeal every single morning for the last 18 years. I've added so much to it. It's 14 different ingredients that I have in my house. It takes me 30 minutes to make. If I was able to come up with a way to package this into a pouch, I would definitely buy it and I think I'd be able to help a bunch of people out and make their mornings way more convenient, way more healthy, give them 30 grams of protein to start their day because protein is the most undervalued macronutrient in the world, I think.
Ben: There's 32 grams in this packet I'm holding right now. And yeah, you're right, was it 14, 15 ingredients in it? By the way, it's more difficult done than said this process. There's one guy, he's been a podcast guest of mine. I'm not going to say his name on this show, but he also has a smoothie that he loves. It's got 30 different ingredients, all these anti-aging compounds and NAD and creatine and collagen and everything. And, he came to me a couple of years ago and asked me with my contacts and the raw ingredients in the supplements industry if his smoothie could be turned into just a package that he can not only sell to friends and customers, et cetera, but that would vastly reduce the complexity of his mornings because he could just open a package and dump it in.
We spent seven months with flavor profiling agents. People working on the texture, the processing–and, this guy was very picky, it had to have the exact amount of foaminess and the right temperature and everything. We hit wall after wall after wall trying to replicate this dude's morning smoothie. And, I was one of the test guys, I was getting all these packets sent to my house every week and nothing worked. I was like, dump this into the blender, put this amount of ice and this amount of water, and blend. And, this guy was super picky about it coming out. We never actually launched anything because of the difficulty in nailing the texture, the flavor, everything else when you take a bunch of ingredients that you'd think you could just put into a packet, and voila, there you have it. And, it doesn't quite work that way, does it?
Michael: I'll tell you, it took me over a year and 65 different iterations to create this product. And, it wasn't like I was able to go to the lab because the formula house that I was working at with was in California and I was in Upstate New York. So, it was a very tedious process. And, the thing that I think made it so difficult was I wanted versatility in Meal One. I wanted you to be able to have it overnight, which is the way I suggest everybody have it. But, I also wanted to be able to have it on the fly with hot water. You just pour hot water into it. You mix it. You let it steep for a minute or two and it's good. You could throw it in the microwave. And then, lastly, you can make a really delicious smoothie out of it very easily. You just pour it into a blender.
Ben: By the way, because I have these three half-eaten bowls of oatmeal left over from this morning's experimentation with Meal One, tomorrow morning, my plan for those bowls is I'm just going to mix them up with the raw liver and make a Meal One all over smoothies. Yeah, it turns out. So, I'm going to send you a text —
Michael: Let me know how that goes, man.
Ben: I'll send you a text about 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning and [00:58:38] _____ over a garbage can, but we'll see. Either way, so yeah, you got even the smoothie component.
Michael: It's a super versatile thing. I came up with a really brand is very important to me. The other thing that I want to just make a mention here is this business is a business that I feel most aligned with why. This product was pivotal for me in a massive transition in my life. It was a symbol of positivity for me that I needed honestly. And, not only have I been able to make a business out of this thing and I think a lot of people–I mean, I know a lot of people like it at this point, but it's also given me an opportunity to tell my story, man. It's never too late to change. It doesn't matter how far gone you are.
I OD'ed two weeks before I got sober and I was dead. And, I was able to come out of that and create this awesome life, man. I'm going to marry to the woman of my dreams. I met my wife in my first year of changing. We've been married for 16 years. We're together 18 years. I've got two wonderful kids that I love more than anything on the planet. They love me back. I just never thought that would be a possibility, man. I just didn't. And, it is honestly all because I've been able to stick to habits. I mean, I really do believe that the decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis really do determine our success. And, that doesn't mean monetarily, it could and it probably after a while it can certainly. But really, success is, in my opinion, it's [BLEEP] how you feel, man. How do you feel, right? You could be loaded to the gills and hate yourself. Is that success? No, I don't think so.
Ben: Yeah. I would tack onto that how you feel, how you make others feel. That's the deathbed moment. Did I love and was I loved? And, yeah, I think that if you can structure your life in such a way that you're maximizing your unique purpose to make maximum impact on this planet, whatever reason God has put you here and you're doing so in a spirit of loving other people, that love is going to come back to you. And honestly, back to how you feel, well, you might not be happy all the time but you're at least going to feel fulfilled and pretty good most of the time if you're loving and you're loved.
Michael: That's a 100%. I spent years looking for self-love. I didn't know how to find it. I was stuck in my own way. And, once I finally brought faith into my life in a real way and took some of the strain of the weight of the world off my shoulders, and turned it over to my higher power. And, that's for me, it doesn't have to be for everybody. I do have a relationship with a higher power that I believe really does help me out, really does look out for me if I offer myself and really look to be of service. And, I've been able to create this life, man. And so, I launched the business in August or early September of 2021 and it's kicking, but we got some cool things coming down the pipe that I think you'd like. I'm going to send you some of the new stuff that we got coming out.
Ben: Don't tell me it's meatball oatmeal.
Michael: It's meatballs oatmeal, dude.
Ben: I'm in.
Michael: But, I guess this kind of leads me into the morning routine stuff.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. That's what I was going to ask. And, not only do I want to hear how you've woven faith into that, but with your oatmeal kween spelled with K, of course, KW. And, your kids, how you're carving out time for family, too, because when I heard some of your story, I felt your routine could be super helpful for my listeners. So, let's go through it.
Michael: I want to mention that this is not for everyone. My morning routine has taken years and years of trial and error to get to where it is today. And, I also want to be clear kind of touching on something that you said earlier. If you commit to doing something and you miss it, it's okay. If you miss it again, it's probably still okay. But, if you get into the habit of missing it, that means that you're not committed. So, I was just on vacation in Mexico. I didn't have access to all the shit that I have in my house that I do every single day in my ideal world. And, I didn't beat myself up. I came home and I got right back to it because it's the lifestyle that I'm living. I also want to say one last thing before I dive into the habit, into the morning routine, I kind of think of habits as a three-phase process.
At first, it's a chore. And, that chore phase could be anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on how hard this habit that you're trying to commit to is. Then, it sort of graduates into a habit phase, which could be anywhere from a month to two years as a habit. And then, of course, once you get through this habit, it becomes part of your life and it's like brushing your teeth.
Ben: Yeah, I would probably throw one other thing in. And, that's that we should have that big giant red caution flag when we're talking about habits that sometimes they can cause what Napoleon Hill would define as a hypnotic trance. Meaning that we can get so caught up, tied to, and attached to our habit that they detract from us being able to serve other people and love other people.
A perfect example of that would be for me and many of my followers and listeners because they originally discovered me through triathlons and in many cases, Ironman Triathlon. And, when you're preparing for an Ironman, you develop this weekly routine of swimming on certain days, cycling on certain days, riding on certain days, core work and weight training on certain days, recovery days, and then you cross the finish line of your Ironman and you did it and you're done and you go back to your routine and you keep on exercising like a madman. Almost like you're addicted to swimming and biking and running. I had two years where I was like, “I had to reprogram my brain.” I'm not doing triathlons anymore but, hey, got to go swim and Friday is my run day and Wednesday is my bike day. So, understand that you do have to mentally be prepared for habits to adopt and change. I don't really like this phrase much, but I'm going to use it anyways when they're no longer serving you or more specifically serving other people. So, just because a habit is laudable such as say exercise or a specific diet. Well, if your specific diet means you're not having dinner with the family or your specific exercise routine means that you're neglecting faith or business or something else, then you may want to reconsider those habits.
Michael: I could not agree more. I couldn't agree more. I think you said it perfectly. Don't allow your habits to inhibit you.
Michael: Positive habits should be positive for you and those around you. I've got a pretty structured regimented evening routine, morning routine, and then I have a number of habits that I like to uphold throughout my day.
My morning routine is I wake up at somewhere between 4:45 and 5:00 a.m. I've got an Eight Sleep Mattress that warms me up starting at 4:45, and I'm typically eyes open by 4:46 to 4:58, something like that.
Ben: So, I have the SleepMe system I did. I don't really use the warm water function. I've thought about it though.
Michael: Yeah, dude. I mean, without a doubt. And interestingly, before that mattress, I had another one that didn't have that warm water function and I still woke up because I go to bed at the same time every night and I wake up. But, I will say that that warm water function definitely is viable.
Ben: Yeah, getting up that early, what time you going to bed the night before?
Michael: 9:30 every night.
Ben: So, a decent amount of sleep. Are you doing any type of nap or siesta later on in the day?
Michael: I wish I could say I was. I'm not. My sweet spot is seven hours typically. That is my sweet spot. And, on the weekends, I actually give myself a little bit more time. So, I will happily sleep until 6 a.m., so I'm getting that full eight. But, anything north of 8 for me tends to make me a bit groggy. So, 7.5 is like perfection, perfection, 9:30 to 5:00 is really, really good for me. And so, what I do every single morning first thing when I know that I'm awake is I flip back my sleep mask. I've got an amazing sleep mask that I love. I flip that mass back. I open my eyes. I look up at the ceiling and I smile from ear to ear and it sounds cheesy, sounds corny, pearly whites like this. If anybody's watching, you'll see how ridiculous this looks, but this is what my smile looks like in the morning.
Full blown and I hold it for about 15-20 seconds. I go right into gratitude immediately. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love my house. I'm so grateful for this bed. I love my truck. I love my work. I love being able to help people. I love when people help me. I live a great life. I'm so grateful for my life. I go right into this gratitude, boom, immediately. Why do I do it? I do it because I, like most human beings, wake up with anxiety, wake up with the oh-damns.
And, I learned from a friend who actually came on my podcast a number of years ago that smiling first thing in the morning really does release serotonin and those good-feeling hormones into the system immediately. And, if you hold it specifically, it really does bring you into this warm cozy comfy place and happy place. And so, I hold that smile.
Ben: Action. Action creates emotion. Action creates motivation. It's the same reason that people will sometimes do power poses before they go step on stage. And, the same reason that if you frown, it can literally decrease your spirits. If you aren't happy already, smiling can make you happy. It's a cool little loop.
And then, the gratitude thing, by the way, so many people talk about but I don't think a lot of people intentionally do it. I've even gotten on this kick lately, I do this with my son sometimes also, there's a few different breathwork apps that we use but there's one called Othership and they have a 14-minute–it's kind of like two, three minutes of Wim Hof style breathing and then you're dwelling upon something you're grateful for during the long exhale and then you do that two more times, so you got three different things you're grateful for, then you set intention for the day and go on with your day. And, you'd think just thinking at some point, I don't know, before breakfast or whatever what am I grateful for would work, but when it's part of your routine and intentional and scheduled makes a massive difference. I don't know why. There's just something magical about it.
Michael: It's been something that I've been doing for a while. I can honestly say it's the easiest habit that anybody listening to this podcast can implement. That will make a massive impact on your life period. It is so easy. It's uncomfortable. I'm going to be very clear here. It feels awkward. One of the coolest things about it though is that if you're open to it and you try it, you actually give it a shot consistently. Try it for 30 days.
The way I can promise you that you will know it's working is when you're doing it. Smile ear to ear, pearly whites for 10 seconds and then stop smiling and see how you feel. Try that right now listening to this podcast. Hold a smile for 10 seconds and then just stop smiling and feel the difference in the energy.
Ben: I'm doing it. I'm doing it.
Michael: It's crazy.
Ben: Yeah, it is.
Michael: And now, stop smiling.
Ben: Okay. Yeah, you feel it. You feel a little rush. The other cool thing about the gratefulness is you can use it as manifestation. I didn't do this, but I will do things like this often. I could have woken up this morning and during my gratitude practice said I'm grateful that Michael and I had a fantastic conversation or I'm grateful that Michael and I are going to have a fantastic conversation. You can be grateful for something that hasn't occurred yet and that also I'm not one of those magical speaking of Napoleon Hill, the secret type of guys who face a Ferrari on my bathroom window or something like that or a bathroom mirror. But, I do think there's power to using gratitude for manifestation also.
Michael: Well, I'm going to get into that because that's part of my stuff.
Michael: Alright, so I do the smile first thing in the morning and I pop out of bed with intention. I do not like hang out there. I am lying down when I'm smiling. But, as soon as I'm done smiling, I pop up, I throw my feet down on the ground and I get out of bed with intention. And, I'm pretty fired up at this point because I'm stoked. Some mornings, I get an out loud laugh because it's so ridiculous that I'm holding this smile. I kind of think about if somebody were to see me doing this, it'd be kind of pretty freaking weird. And so, it makes me almost laugh which is even better if I can get a little out loud laugh.
Now, my wife doesn't wake up early. My wife doesn't do any of the stuff that I'm talking about now. So, I have to kind of sneak out.
Ben: Same boat, same boat. I'm right there with you. She doesn't do anything I do. And, she's usually in bed till 6:30 and I'm up at 4:30.
Michael: I mean, the one thing that she does love is the blackout curtains. She loves the blackout curtains. She loves the white noise and that's about it. So, I sneak out and I head down to the kitchen where I have a pre-made jar of water with LMNT. I love LMNT. I used to do pink salt and lemon juice. Now, I throw an LMNT in there and I pound that. It's about 24 ounces of water first thing, room temp. And then, I head into the bathroom for years when I was competing and bodybuilding, I would not drink water first, I would go step on the scale to check my daily weight dry. But, now I'm not competing in bodybuilding, so I don't do that anymore. I rarely step on the scale.
Michael: I go into the bathroom. I take a piss and I splash some cold water on my face and then I hit my knees. I say my prayers. I've got a morning prayer that I've been saying for the better part of 18 years, if not a little longer, and that prayer consists of asking for nothing for myself. That prayer is asking for help and guidance and I pray for everyone I love and everyone who I struggle with. And, I want nothing but awesomeness for everyone in my life. And, what I learned about doing that is resentment is really a shitty place. Resentment sucks, it's dark, it's ugly. And, the only person that really is affected by a resentment is the person that's resentful.
So, somebody taught me early on that if I said people's names that I was beginning to develop a resentment towards in my morning prayers and asked my higher power God to bring awesomeness to their life, to bring positivity into their life, I was now incorporating that person's name in a positive really, really intimate positive way. And, those resentments started to melt. So, I do that every morning now.
Ben: Yeah. I think, by the way, prayer is a habit. This is something that you see a lot coming from the Eastern Orthodox Church who adopted this habit from a lot of the early Christian desert mothers and fathers. You'll see in Catholicism a little bit more too than Evangelical Christianity. But, using something like the Jesus prayer, “Oh, Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And, they'll do that a hundred times during the day and often use a bracelet or a necklace and slide the bead every time that that prayer is done. And, even though I don't pray a prayer like that a 100 times a day, I think that setting up your day–and, this is key for habits, so that there are cues for prayer.
So, I have a prayer that I do every time I jump in the cold pool. I have a prayer that I do every time I finish up a breathwork session in the sauna. I have a book of Puritan prayers on the coffee table in the living room and it's one prayer from that every day after family devotions, always a prayer last thing when the head hits the pillow at night with my wife. One prayer before breakfast, one prayer before lunch, one prayer before dinner. And so, structuring the day so that you have these brief prayer pauses because honestly, I get guilted sometimes when some of my pastors or, I don't know whatever you want to call them, hyper-spiritual friends talk about these 30 to 40-minute prayer sessions that they do in the morning. I'm like, “Prayer is great, but I have other things to do also.” But, almost doing mini workout snacks throughout the day, this idea of setting up your day so there are certain cues, the cold pool, the meal, the pillow, et cetera, that just calls you to pray, I think, is a really, really cool way to maintain that connection to God throughout the full 12, 16 hours that you're awake.
Michael: I couldn't agree more. I mean, I use the Serenity Prayer. And, that came from recovery but I use the Serenity Prayer multiple times a day in my head when necessary. After I do my prayer, my prayer typically is somewhere between three and five minutes depending on how many people I'm praying for. And then, I go right into push-ups, so I'll do 50 push-ups every morning, straight, full, chest to floor push-ups, and then I go into my morning stretch practice, which is not long but it's typically a blend of down dog, up dog, cat-cow, stretching out my shoulders, and I'll do that for about five to seven minutes. And, at that point, I'm prepping my red light panel. I go right into red light and I sit in front of the red light for 20 minutes and I alternate front of the body, back of the body every other day. And, that's where I do my breathwork.
Ben: You got to get the double panels by the way, man. Saves time. I sandwiched myself in between two of them now. It's kind of funny. Same thing for me with the stretching, I set my clock and I give myself depending how busy the morning is either 10 or 15 minutes and that's my free time to use foam roller, lacrosse ball, stretch, yoga poses, anything to basically get the body put together at the beginning of the day. And usually, I listen to my Bible reading during the time that I'm doing that. And so, by the end of the week, I typically amassed 75 to 90 minutes of deep tissue work and stretching. Even if I don't get a massage or go to a yoga session, I think it's key. I wish more people would do the morning stretching, morning foam rolling thing.
Michael: The coolest thing about what you just said and also for me is that I like to double-task when I'm doing these things. So, when I'm doing my red light, I'm doing breathwork. I double it up. And so, I'll do that for 20 minutes and then I walk out of the guest bedroom where my red light panel is. And, I start heading over to my sauna and I hop into the sauna. Sauna is an infrared sauna. I wish it got hotter than it does, but it sits at about 175 degrees. And, I sit in there and that's where I get done my meditating and my reading. And so, I will meditate for somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes on average every day. And then, I try to read 10 pages of a book every morning. And then, I hang over, so I don't know if you've ever done Rolfing.
Ben: Unfortunately, yes.
Michael: Yeah, this Rolfer that I worked with, she said something to me that just stuck. She was like, “You need to stack your bones. You don't stack your bones.” When you stand up, your feet are wide, you have a wide stance. It's kind of shoulder widths apart. Your feet should really be underneath your hips at all times. That is where your feet should be so that you're using your bones for what they were built for and not creating weird muscle in places that are unnecessary.
Michael: So, she also told me that she wanted me to hang over my legs like ragdoll style for three minutes every single day. So, once I'm done reading, I put my feet pretty close together about hips-width apart, little less than hips-width apart. And then, I just ragged all over my legs for three minutes. And, that's when I start the negotiation of my cold plunge.
Ben: The resistance that's in–by the way, what time in the morning is that by this time just so folks are on track? Sounds to me like 6:30, something like that.
Michael: Yeah, yeah. I'm getting into the cold plunge at 6:30 every morning.
Michael: That was good, Ben.
Ben: I'm tracking, I'm tracking.
Michael: Put that thing together, dude, kold plunge with a K, kold with a K.
Ben: That's right.
Michael: That's where the negotiation happens. It happens every morning. That's the truth, man. I'm still in the almost sure phase. And, I've been cold plunging for a long time, but cold plunging, no matter what and maybe some people are just super fired up to get into that cold water. I do it every day. I never allow the negative voice in my head that tells me definitely don't do this to win. I always fight that guy back. But, I still negotiate. I still have the negotiation. I kind of find it comedic a little bit.
Ben: I've been doing the cold plunges for 10 years. I don't have the cognitive resistance is if I've just finished a sauna session. Then, the cold plunge is easy but besides that–now, granted my cold plunge is either after my morning sauna session and/or in the afternoon as my wake me up and get me going to last all the way through dinner type of quick excitatory event. But yeah, the resistance never goes away. If the resistance went away ever, the cold plunge would probably quit being useful.
Michael: I love the negotiation. And, I hop in there. I've evolved my cold plunge game over the years. It went from a trough with ice to a chest freezer to now a tub that stays cold that's got circulation and the whole thing. And so, it's made it so easy. And so, I just opened that bad boy up and I do a little breathwork, a 30-second sort of Wim Hof style breath work sesh, and then I just pop in there. I dunk under and I sit in that thing up to my chin and I hang out in the cold plunge for about four minutes on average. I'd say anywhere from three to five minutes, but I average out about four minutes. It's about 30 long slow breaths. It's weird. I've got this thing with my hands. My knuckles and my hands always sort of seize up.
Ben: Yeah. Is it like a Raynaud's thing?
Michael: Yup, I've got Raynaud's.
Ben: Yeah. Have you have you tried sublingual nitric oxide tablets, by the way?
Michael: No. Please tell me.
Ben: Dr. Nathan Bryan. I'll hunt him down and link to him in the shownotes. I think, it's N101. You dissolve them under your mouth. They're kind of Viagra, except it's nitric oxide. You don't need a prescription for it. And, the amount of blood flow you get from those can help out a ton with the vasoconstriction that can contribute to the Raynaud's.
Michael: Yeah, I've got bad Raynaud's, unfortunately.
Michael: So, I get that at my 15th breath, my joints open up and it's easy breezy from there. I've got to really power through the pain of my knuckles and in my feet and in my hands season up. And then, I hang out in there and then this is sort of the way I kind of cap off my morning routine. And, I love this one.
So, I get out of the cold plunge. I feel like a bazillion dollars. I've really just stacked up a bunch of awesome things that I love doing that I really do believe make me feel great. And, my family is still asleep, so I'm not sacrificing time with my wife and kids for this. I get out of the cold plunge and I walk over to the mirror. And, I don't have a long list of affirmations that I don't tell myself that I'm going to be a billionaire, I don't tell myself I'm the best guy in the world, I don't tell myself that I'm something I'm not. I literally just walk over to the mirror, I look at myself in the eyes, really I make very, very strong eye contact with myself. I smile and I say, “You're a good dude, Mike. You're a good dude. You're a good man and you love your children, you love your wife, and they love you back, and you're going to have a great day.”
Ben: It's a Little Stuart Smalley-esque, dude, but I like it.
Michael: Yeah. So, I do that and then I head out back into the house. That stuff all happens in my garage. I used to invert on my inversion table after the cold plunge, but I did it for a little while. It just didn't stick. And so, I kind of invert on the weekends because I do really like the inversion table but I don't do it on the daily anymore. And then, I head back into the kitchen, if my kids and my wife are awake, I go right into family mode and it's all about them for the next hour an hour and a half. If they're still sleeping, I'll bust out my journal and I'll do a quick journal entry. I do have an awesome journal practice that I love. I've made my own journal that I sell through Kreatures of Habit. I really think it's a great journal.
Ben: Oh, wow. What's your Journal called?
Michael: It's called “The Habit Stacker.” Kreatures of Habit journal. It's on the website.
Ben: We should trade journals. I did one called “The Spiritual Disciplines Journal,” but I'm constantly experimenting with new journal. So, I kind of got sick of mine after three years. Not that's a bad journal, but I like to check out other journals as well. So, I'll send you a copy.
Michael: I took the greatest hits from all the journals that I've used over the years. I think that when you get these sort of prompted journals, there are some things that you just do and then there's other things that you just don't do. And so, I just started taking note of the things that I don't do. And, the things that I do do, I just added to this journal and I made sure to not do the things that I don't do. The thing that I love most about my journal or just journaling in general is writing out my day. If I can rely on my journal for my day as opposed to my phone, I'm in a much better place. Because every time I look at that thing, I'm distracted in 14 different ways. So, it's a journal and a planner and it asks some really very relevant questions and then it gives you an opportunity to free flow right. So, I'll do that either before the kids get up or if they do get up, if they're up or if they're getting up right when I get into the kitchen, I'll just hang with them and then I'll do journaling right when I get to my desk in the morning.
Ben: You've got a lot in before the family even gets up. Now, I should mention here, I'm embarrassed because I just looked at the clock and I have four minutes until I'm coming up on my hard stop. And, we've gotten into your mid-morning-ish so far. So, I sometimes do this with guests and I don't know how you would feel about this, but what would you think about recording the rest of your day. And, I'll continue to put it in here right here where I have to hop off pretty soon for my next show, but we could basically put your mid-morning up to your evening routine and so we can keep going because I don't want to leave people hanging about the routine but we just had such a fascinating discussion leading up to it that I also want to rush through it.
Michael: Totally, dude. Let's do it.
Ben: Okay, sweet. Alright, so folks, if you're listening in and I won't even edit this part out because honestly, I just want to be hyper-transparent with everybody. I just did a really bad job watching the clock and we're having such a fun discussion early on. We aren't getting into his afternoon routine quite yet, but you have some things that I know that I've heard you talk about before, Michael, such as when you shut down at the end of the day and how you structure that so that you're able to be a present family person during the day, some of your workplace habits, some of the things you do throughout the afternoon.
So, A, what I'll convince Michael to do for those who listen in is he'll just record a little bit more audio for you guys to be able to go through the afternoon-evening routine. The other thing is this oatmeal, I believe that Michael gave us a discount code on it, that's 20% or something. So far, I really dig the Peanut Butter Banana, but if you guys want the oatmeal, if you go to the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Chernow. I highly recommend you do the overnight version because it's pretty amazing.
And then, if you're listening, if you have questions, comments, feedback from Michael or your own little routines or habits to add, go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Chernow, C-H-E-R-N-O-W, and we'll put them in there. I'm fascinated with Michael and what he's up to. He's got a podcast called Kreatures of Habit as well. So, go to the komment section with a K, K-O-M-M, and leave your feedback. Michael, dude, I almost thought–well, let's just do a round two, but I know that means we'll be booking in September and I want to get this out to people sooner than that. So, let's just keep it rolling with you tacking a little solo here on the end and we'll give people a fantastic show.
Michael: My brother, I really appreciate you taking the time. This is awesome, Ben.
Ben: Oh, yeah. It's been great chat and we'll keep in touch for sure. I'm going to email you afterwards. I want to send you my Spiritual Disciplines Journal and my cookbook. And, I want to trade that for your journal and your meatball book. What do you think?
Michael: That sounds like a good swap. I also want to try your protein bars, man.
Ben: Oh, the energy bars? Okay. I'll hook you up. I know a guy. They would taste amazing, chopped up and sprinkled over the oatmeal for a little crunch. Those Kion Clean Bars, yeah. I'll get you the new formulation just came out. It's like a Rice Krispie upgraded. So, you're going to love it.
Ben: Alright, folks. Michael will keep going. Thanks for listening. Again, the shownotes are at BenGreenfieldLife.com/C-H-E-R-N-O-W.
[01:27:31] Solo Casting with Mike: cont. with Morning Routine
Michael: Alright. So, this is Mike Chernow solo casting the rest of this episode. So, we ended up with me walking back into the kitchen where either my kids and my wife are awake or just getting up or if not, I do take that whatever it is 5 to 10 minutes to bust out my journal, light a candle and get my journal entry in for the day. However, if my wife and kids are awake or about to get up because I can hear them upstairs. I will not do journaling, then I will wait till I get to my office. And, that's when I open up my journal.
Let's just say wife and kids are up, I make my way in, I give my kids and my wife a hug and a kiss for the morning. At this point, I am on fire. I'm fired up with all the shit that I just did. Most days, I mean, of course, there are some days. I'm a human being, we're just like, even though I've just done a long list of awesome habits that are there to make me feel great, I can still be pretty bummed out or in a shitty place. I'm human. Things happen. But, most of the time, I'd say 85, 90% of the time, I'm fired up and ready to take on the day in the best possible way.
I love my family with my kids. And, that's when I walk over to my tea kettle and I put on some hot water. I grind my coffee beans and I bust out my pour-over coffee Chemix maker thing and I make my coffee. I roast my coffee nice and slow. In my coffee, I put collagen peptides and I put a little bit of MCT oil powder. And then, I also put in this little packet of something from this company that I love called Mindright. It's this coffee enhancer, this nootropic Mindright thing. I love it. I put it into my coffee pretty much every morning. And, I make myself a cup of coffee and I grab my coffee. I grab a little bit more water and I sit down with the kids and the wife while they're having breakfast. I do intermittent fast most days.
And so, I just hang with them and it's all family time in the morning from 6:30 till about 8:00 a.m. where either I take my kids to school or my wife will take them. We switch on and off every other day. If she takes them right when they leave the house, I bust out my computer and I will work from home for about an hour and a half. And, that's my time to really just get done major things that I know need to happen throughout the day for the day. That's big emails that need to go out. Those are just really important things that I just have to make sure that I am either starting or getting done to kick start the day.
Then, at about 9:25, I prep my stuff for the day. And, that is I bring out my overnight oats, my Meal One from Kreatures of Habit. I put that in my bag. I pull it out of the fridge. I threw it in my bag. I make all of my lunches the night before as well, so I bust out my lunch from the night before. I put that in my bag. I bring my can of sardines in my bag and I bring a–I love this, I love this slate milk stuff as another snack that I have every day. And then, I always typically have a meat stick of some sort in my bag. And, that's what I put my bag, I put my workout stuff and I get my truck and I leave to go to the gym.
And, I train CrossFit these days. I'm training from 10:00 a.m. till about 11:15. And then, right after I get done training CrossFit, I hop back into my truck and I immediately eat my Meal One. I eat it in the truck almost every single morning. I love it. I crave it. It is the best thing to put into my body every single day to start my day nutritionally. So, at about 11:20 is when I eat my first meal. It is always Meal One. And, the only time where I really have Meal One before I work out is if I'm doing a super heavy lifting day. I will eat Meal One around 8 o'clock or 7:30, 8 o'clock in the morning at home if I know that I've got a super-duper heavy lifting day where I just want to have those extra carbs in there to help me get through a super heavy lift. But, most days, I am eating Meal One as my first meal to break my fast at around 11:20, 11:30 at which point I drive right to the office, I'm at my office by 11:30 most days. I if I hadn't journaled in the morning, that's when I'll bust out my journal. I'll journal for about 10 minutes.
And then, I have a block of time from 11:30 to 3:30 where I'm uninterrupted work time. And, that is a block where it's a four-hour block of time where I am able to get done all the things that I need to get done that I write down in my journal, all my to-do list. That's where I'm knocking things off the list. And, I try not to take meetings in that time. I really try to take my meetings for an hour and a half to two hours a day between 3:30 and 5:30. That is really the time block meeting time for me because I feel meetings can really get in the way of getting things done. So, I try to really limit my meetings for an hour and a half to an hour and a half a day if any at all. I do believe in communication. I think communication is so key and crucial to happiness and success. However, I do think that people tend to take way more meetings than are necessary. And so, I try not to take as many meetings as I used to.
So, here I am, I'm at the desk, I'm journaling and then I am cranking things off the to-do list. That's really my time to crank things off the to-do list. Then, I do that until 3:30, but I typically have a few meetings between 3:30 and 5:30 at which point at 5:30, this is a very strong and hard boundary. I shut my computer. It doesn't matter what's going on. I shut my computer. I pack my bag. There's a habit that I want to share with you guys that I think is also really important, something I forgot at first, but I'll share this one before I share the one that I just forgot.
Every single day when I leave the office, I clean this room and my desk. So, it's immaculate. I want it to be spotless clean. And, the reason why I do that is because I really do believe that environments impact how we feel. Our environments impact how we feel. So, if I were to walk into my office every day and my desk was kind of a mess, it's going to make me feel a bit chaotic, it's going to make me feel a bit messy. And, I don't want to feel messy. I want to be organized on top of my stuff. And so, every single day, I clean my desk. I've used that habit. I call it “Leave it the way you want to find it.” I have parlayed that habit into every other area of my life. So, I have a home gym. When I lift at home, when I work out at home, everything is put back perfectly. So, the next time I walk into that gym, I am so happy that it's clean and neat and nice and I don't feel at all chaotic. I do the same thing with my bathroom. I do the same thing with my closet. There's this thing where people's closets, it takes 30 seconds, if not less.
When you take your clothes off at night before you go to bed, to like fold up your pants or hang your T-shirt or hang your hoodie, you could also just throw it on the ground and create a mess in a pile. And, that pile just grows. Or, you can just take the 20 seconds to fold up your stuff and put them away properly. So, I typically say you open up someone's closet, what that closet looks like tends to paint a picture of what's going on in that person's brain, that person's head.
I really do like to set myself up for success in every possible way. So, cleaning up after myself, doing the dishes while I'm cooking dinner not waiting till dinner's over to have a big stack a pile of dishes. I kind of like do the dishes while I'm cooking so that when I'm done with dinner, I don't have a big pile of dishes to do.
And so, that's what I do at the office when I leave at 5:30, but also when I get to the office every morning at around 11:30, it is really important for me to set the environment. I'm walking and the room is clean and my desk is awesome. I light a candle and I put on some light music, put on some music that I'm stoked to listen to whether that's super calm, classical music or some ambient, or some trip-hop. Or, some days, I want to fire it up a little bit and I'll listen to something a little bit more upbeat. But, I really do like to have music on in the background. I really love music. And sometimes, if I got major focused stuff to do, I do listen to 40 megahertz bionic sounds or whatever that stuff is called. I like that stuff if I'm really in a need to focus. I always wear blue light-blocking glasses when I work on the computer. Like I said, I try to optimize. So, any opportunity I get to not mess with my circadian rhythm, not send any unnecessary signals to my brain. I try not to. So, I do wear blue light-blocking glasses pretty much all day when I'm staring at the computer. And, I get a bunch of work done.
At 5:30, I close the computer, I pack my bag, I get into my truck and I drive home. Now, this is a relatively new habit that I've started probably about a year nine months to a year ago and it was basically energy is a real thing. Energy is a real thing and energy from work even though I'm typically working alone by myself–my whole entire company is remote, so everybody is doing their own thing in different places around the country. There's still that energy, that intense energy of running a company being a CEO of a company. And, I don't want to bring that intense energy home to my wife and my kids. I'm very, very cognizant of energy.
And, there was a day about a year ago where I was not doing what I'm about to tell you that I do now. And, I walked into the house and I had my phone in my hand and my older son looked at me and was saying, “Dad, dad. Hey, can you help me right away?” He wanted me to help him with something, and I just had this intense energy and I said, “Hey, dude, I just got home.” And, it was just this energy that was so unnecessary to bring into his life, bring into his world. I think we really overlooked that and he didn't like it. I saw it in his face. He was really like–I hope it wasn't a traumatic situation for him. But, he really didn't like it. He got really sad. And, it made me really sad. A little thing but you don't realize how these little things can make big impacts at times in your life.
Anyway, so what I started to do from that day forward was I would pull my truck into my driveway. And, I wouldn't pull all the way up to the top of the driveway, I would stop halfway up. Turn the car off. It's about 5:55. I turned the car off, I put my hands and my arms on my quads, on my thighs sitting in my seat. I close my eyes and I go through a breathwork exercise. That is one of two things. It's either box breathing where I'm breathing in through my nose for four seconds holding the breath at the top for four seconds out through my mouth for four seconds and holding the breath at the bottom for four seconds. And, I'll do that for 10, 20 rounds sometimes to really bring myself back to baseline or I'll do another breath exercise, which is a little bit more intense which is a double inhale through my nose kind of looks like and sounds like this. So, I'll fill my stomach up pretty quickly with air. And then, once my stomach is filled up, I'll fire up another breath of air that'll go into my chest and sort of fill me up pretty quick. It's not a long slow breath, it's a pretty intense breath. And then, I will very, very, very slowly allow that breath to exhale, sometimes 15-20 seconds it'll take to exhale. I will do that 10 times. It's very impactful.
What does that do for me? That clearly separates and delineates the energy from work to the energy that I want to have with my family, which is pretty much baseline energy, the energy that I'm waking up with is my baseline energy. That's where I want to be. And, that breathwork really allows me to get there pretty quickly within three, four or five minutes of doing that breathwork so that by the time I am walking into my house, I'm in a totally different headspace than when I pulled into my driveway. And, I do that every single day and it gives me an opportunity to be way more present. I walk into the house. I put my phone into airplane mode. I put it face down on the kitchen counter kind of tucked away in the corner, and I don't think about or look at my phone for at least two hours most of the time, two and a half hours.
From 6:00 to 8:30 is all family. We sit down. My wife is European. She's Danish. She's hardcore. She's very structured. And, at 6 o'clock every single day, Monday through Friday, she has cooked dinner. She's an amazing cook. And so, I always look forward to a cooked awesome meal waiting for the family to sit down and devour and enjoy together. And, we pretty much sit down at the table as a family every single night. I can't remember the last time we didn't have dinner together at the dinner table. I can't count on one hand the amount of times I had dinner with my family as a kid growing up. I literally can't count on one hand the amount of times it happened. So, this is a new thing for me having dinner with the family every single night. It's so wonderful. I am so grateful that my wife brought that into my life. And, I mean, I'm so grateful for my wife for so many things. But really, that's such a special thing to sit down the dinner table and have dinner as a family every single night. And, the food is always delicious.
And, what we do as a family every single night around the table is it always starts, my son Finn always sits to my left. And, I say, “Alright, guys, let me hear it.” And, we do rose, thorn, bud, and seed. Rose is one thing that you loved about your day. Thorn is one thing that you didn't love about your day. Bud is something that you're really looking forward to. And, seed is something that you did to be of service and help someone else out today. And so, we all go around the table and we tell our rose, thorn, bud, and seed. And, it's fun, it makes all of us think about our day, reflect on our day. I think that's the beauty of that tradition, that Chernow tradition is like it's a cool way to connect with the family but it also really gives you an opportunity to think back on your day, reflect on your day, how often are you doing that, how often do awesome things happen throughout your day and you just don't take the time to appreciate them, how often do things that are not awesome happen and you beat yourself up about them. And, instead of thinking about them in a proactive positive way like, “Hey, that wasn't awesome, that was something that happened that wasn't awesome, I wonder how I can be better there” as opposed to like, “I suck. And so, we do that.
And then, we have dinner, it's typically 30 to 40 minutes, we're eating dinner together. And then, after dinner, we try to play a game and we have this game that we really love. It's called the animal game. My younger son, Dakota, typically jumps on my wife's lap. And, my older son Finn jumps on my lap. And then, we go back and forth and we come up with an animal. And, the other team has to guess what the animal is by asking a whole bunch of questions. And, it's just super fun. And, we do that for a while. And then, sometimes we bust out some Yahtzee or we'll play some Monopoly. But, we typically play games at the dinner table for about 30, 40-ish minutes at which point it's around 7:00 7:05. And, my wife and I go back and forth with the kids who puts them down. I love putting my kids down. My wife gets more nights down because their mom's boys. But, on average, we switch on and off every night.
And so, when I put the boys down, I've got a pretty awesome nightly routine that I do with them that I love more than anything, makes me emotional just talking about it. But, we go upstairs, we brush teeth together. I make them compete against each other or they actually love it. But, I basically, it's a toothbrush off and I give them 60 seconds and I count from 60 down to one. And, whoever brushes their teeth best is the winner. It's always a tie every night. It's a tie, always, but they still compete hard. They brush their teeth like animals. It's really funny. I've actually taken some videos and posted about it because it's just so funny. I announce them and they walk into the bathroom as wrestlers. It's great.
Anybody looking for a way to get their kids excited about brushing their teeth, you should try it. We brush teeth. They both take a piss and then I walk them into their bedroom, they share a bedroom. And, we get down on the floor, we get super cozy. I read chapters of two books or two short books. And then, they give me a hug and a kiss and they crawl into their beds. And then, we have the 13 things. And, 13 things are what I've been saying to my boys since they're born, both of them, every night that I put them down and they know him by heart and their values that I am super passionate about that I think really do have helped shape me as a man and a human. And, I want to give it to them. So, every night, I say, “Alright, guys, let me get them.” And, they'll go back-to-back.
And, the 13 things are always protect your brother. Ladies always go first. Squeeze an eyes. Remember people's names. And, squeeze and eyes as handshake when you give somebody a handshake. You give them a nice squeeze and you make eye contact. So, squeeze an eyes. Remember people's names. Lift up the toilet seat when you need to go to the bathroom and put the toilet seat back down when you're done. Always wash your hands. Look to the left when you're crossing the road. Look to the right when you're crossing the road. Highness always wins. Be kind to mommy when daddy's away. Always walk with courage. And, I love you.
And, those are the 13 things that my boys and I say to each other every single night when I put them down. And then, I say to them, “Hey, guys, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up and your dad's going to support you. You don't have to be the best at them, but you should try your best. And, what's it going to take?” And then, they say back to me, “Courage.” My younger son says, “Courage, courage, courage.” My older son says, “Courage.” And then, I say, “What is courage, dudes?” And, they say, “Being scared and doing it anyway as long as it's for the good.” And then, I say, “Alright, boys, I love you to death.”
I sing them two songs. And, the song that I always sing is “Stand By Me” every single night. I sing “Stand By Me.” I hang out in there for about five minutes. I do some PT stretches and exercises that I've been prescribed for my physical therapist for my lower back stuff while they're passing out. And then, I go downstairs and I make myself the smoothie that I have typically every night at around 8 o'clock, 7:45, 8 o'clock. It's a protein smoothie. It sort of replaces any sweet thing that I want to indulge on. It's really great smoothie. It's a bunch of ice. About a half a cup of frozen blueberries, 2 ounces of frozen cauliflower, a scoop of protein powder, a little bit of cinnamon, about a half a cup of almond milk and a cup of water and I blend it in my blender and I eat it with a spoon. It comes out nice and thick. It's about 8 ounces of ice, so it's got a lot of ice in there. And then, I eat that as the last thing I have for the day.
And, that's when I'm hanging out with my wife and we're either watching something on TV, typically watching a Netflix show for about an hour and a half. And then, we make our way up to the bedroom at 9:30. In the bed, I've got my mattress topper that keeps my bed nice and cool. We've got blackout shades. I've got my sleep mask from Dream Recovery. They make the best sleep mask on the planet. It's this silk sleep mask that I absolutely love. If you do not use a sleep mask, I highly recommend. Out of all the things I just said, mattress cover, blackout shades, white noise, whatever sleep mask is such a game changer. So, I would highly recommend everybody use a sleep mask. Check out Dream Recovery.
And so, I got my sleep mask. I say a little prayer right before bed. And, that prayer sounds like this. “God, thanks so much for another awesome day sober.” And, that's it really. And then, I crawl into bed. I always listen to a audiobook or a podcast as I go to sleep, but typically an audiobook. I put one Airpod in and I set the timer for 15 minutes. I'm asleep in about 30 seconds. And, that's my night. I'm typically asleep by 9:35 most nights.
And, there you have it. That's my stuff. This was so much fun. And Ben, I appreciate you. You're like a brother from another mother. I really do appreciate you. So, thanks for having me on the show. And guys, check out Meal One from Kreatures of Habit. It would mean the world if you did that. I really appreciate it. And, you could find me @MichaelChernow pretty much everywhere predominantly on Instagram, but I'm also on TikTok. Alright, guys, peace.
More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.
My new friend Michael Chernow is a creature of habit.
His company Kreatures of Habit (KOH) is an in-your-face lifestyle and wellness brand that reimagines how you establish healthy habits and routines in your life.
Michael is a serial entrepreneur, restauranteur, podcast host, and expert in the worlds of wellness, fitness, and nutrition. After years in the restaurant business in NYC, he realized that his calling was to be of service in a more personal way, with the ability to impact more lives. Honoring his 17 years of sobriety by launching his newest venture, Michael's goal with KOH was to create easily-accessible nutritional products rooted in adopting the positive habits that transformed his life (btw, his overnight oatmeal is crazy good and there’s a 20% discount with code BGL20 if you click here).
In this episode, Michael openly shares how he transformed his life from a struggling addict to a successful entrepreneur who developed multiple successful restaurants, eventually leading to the creation of Kreatures of Habit. He also gives you an inside look at his biohacked daily routine to maximize productivity and efficiency which includes various practices such as meditation, exercise, and a nutrient-dense diet. And you may be happy to find out that while his routine is thorough and structured, Michael does let himself watch an hour and a half of TV daily!
So, if you want to create new habits and discover daily routines that will vastly enhance productivity, fitness, health, and beyond while maintaining a connection to faith and family, then our inspirational conversation that goes way beyond restaurants and oatmeal is for you (but also, you need to try the oatmeal…trust me – especially the Maple or Peanut Butter flavors!).
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Ben's morning habits…06:37
- Ben's usual morning raw liver smoothie
- Ben dramatically changed his morning routine after he stopped triathlons
- Overnight oatmeal for breakfast
- Superfood meals
- Kreatures of Habit (use code BGL20 to save 20%)
- Ingredients in the peanut butter banana flavor
- Rolled oats
- Pea protein
- Roasted pumpkin seeds
- Peanut flour
- Organic brown flax
- Organic banana freeze-dried powder
- Organic chia seeds
- Himalayan pink salt
- Cocoa powder
- Amylase blend
- Monk fruit extract
- Bacillus subtilis
- Organic vegan vitamin D3
- 350 cal., 32g of protein
- 6 different flavors
- Apple cinnamon
- Peanut butter banana
- Maple caramel
- Blueberry banana
- HVMN podcast #203: From Kreatures of Habit to Creators of Habits with Michael Chernow
- Michael Chernow
- Serial entrepreneur
- Kreatures of Habit podcast host
- Studies wellness, fitness, nutrition
- Great experience with running a business
- 17 years sober
-Michael Chernow’s early life and addiction…11:28
- Magic Spoon cereal (use code BENGREENFIELD to save 5%)
- Made to simulate old comfort food cereals
- Ben's favorite cereals
- Kreatures of Habit (use code BGL20 to save 20%)
- Michael grew up in New York
- Always wanted to make and create stuff
- Got a job at a restaurant at 12
- Worked at Couch Potato Videos delivery
- Started delivering food for a restaurant
- Worked in restaurants for many years after
- Seamore's until two and a half years ago
- Rough and tumble home
- Wanted to leave as fast as he could
- Exposed to nightlife in restaurants
- Started with alcohol and drugs very young
- An addict at 18
- Ben’s experience with marijuana
- Michael hit bottom in his late teens/early twenties
- Just wanted to die
- Fired from his job and begged to get it back
- Given a second chance
- That was the last day he drank and used drugs
-The beginning of Michael's new life…21:39
- Communication is his superpower
- Loves connecting with people
- Ben's mom's pub, Bucer's Coffehouse & Pub
- Had no problem asking people for help
- Introduced to kickboxing
- Became a Muay Thai practitioner
- He required certain daily routine
- Wake up as early as you can
- Kneel in prayer (get into the habit of asking for help)
- Healthy nutrition – bowl of oatmeal
- Going to the gym
- Chicken and broccoli salad
- Going to work
- Sleep and repeat
- Went from a bloated, red-faced person hating himself to a shredded human in 90 days
- Started to develop self-confidence, self-care, and self-love
- Trained in Muay Thai for 12 years
- Nutrition became very important in his life
- Went from Muay Thai to bodybuilding
-Several successful restaurant businesses that led to Kreatures of Habit…35:19
- Kreatures of Habit (use code BGL20 to save 20%)
- Being a creature of habit
- Habits enable you to set and reach goals
- Importance of constancy – Ben's routine
- Missing a habit once, it's a mistake. If you miss a habit twice, it's a habit – consistency is key
- Michael’s Wild Health results
- Suggested eating a can of sardines as a daily habit to bump Omega-3
- OmegaQuant Omega-3 Index Test
- Podcast on fish oil with Drs. Bill Harris and Kristina Harris Jackson:
- Wild Planet Sardines
- Went back to school, got a degree in culinary arts
- Invested in himself and built the confidence
- Working at an Italian restaurant
- He liked rigatoni dish without pasta
- Realized people love meatballs
- Decided to start his own business
- Opened The Meatball Shop
- The Meatball Shop Cookbook
- 35 meatball recipes
- Opened 5 more restaurants
- Sold part of his equity in The Meatball Shop to open another concept restaurant- Seamore’s in 2015
- Sustainable seafood
- Sell unappreciated fish to the New York market
- Also became a great success
- Opened branches in several locations
- The seafood industry is like every other industry – marketing is what wins
- Again sold part of his equity in Seamore's to open Kreatures of Habit in 2019
- Started Kreatures of Habit (use code BGL20 to save 20%)
- Wanted to use a restaurant as an incubator for products
- COVID pandemic
- Moved with his family and brainstormed his future
- Realized he didn’t need a restaurant
- Wanted to create an authentic product
- He was already having his special oatmeal for breakfast
- Had been his breakfast for the past 18 years
- The process of creating the product was very difficult
- Took over a year and 65 different iterations to come up with Kreatures of Habits products
- Kreatures of Habits is a business Michael is most aligned to
- Became an opportunity to tell his story
- It's never too late to change
- The importance of habits and faith for success
- Kreatures of Habits was launched in August-September 2021
-Michael’s daily routine…1:01:49
- Took years of trial and error to build his routine
- Habits as a 3-phase process
- Chore – from 2 weeks to 2 months
- Habit phase – a month to 2 years
- Becomes part of your life
- A habit missed several times is a new habit
- Habits can cause what Napoleon Hill called hypnotic trans; not allowing habits to inhibit you
- Ben’s experience with triathlon and reprograming his brain
- Michael has a structured morning and evening routine
- Morning to evening routine
- Wakes up between 4:45 and 5:00 a.m. (8 Sleep mattress warms at 4:45 – for Ben's recommended sleep system, check out SleepMe)
- Smiles from ear to ear (smiling first thing in the morning releases serotonin)
- Get out of bed with intention
- Pre-made jar with water and LMNT
- Splash cold water on face
- Morning prayer (prayer he's been saying for the better part of 18 years)
- Serenity prayer multiple times during the day
- 50 push-ups – straight, full, chest to floor
- Stretch practice from 5 to 7 minutes
- Red light panel for 20 minutes with breathwork
- Meditation and reading in the sauna for 10 – 15 minutes
- Cold plunge with a 30-second sort of Wim Hof-style breathwork
- Journaling with The KOH Habit Stacker
- Hugs and kisses for the wife and kids
- Taking the kids to school or working on the computer for about an hour and a half
- Meal One, a can of sardines, meat stick, slate milk in the bag
- Crossfit training from 10:00 to 11:15
- Eat the Meal One
- Go to the office and work from 11:30 to 03:30
- Meetings from 03:30 to 05:30
- Clean desk and the room (leave it the way you want to find it – environments impact how we feel)
- Home at 05:55
- Breathwork before getting down from the truck
- Family time from 06:00 to 08:30
- Do rose, thorn, bud and seed around the table
- Rose is one thing that you loved about your day
- Thorn is one thing that you didn't love about your day
- Bud is something that you're really looking forward to
- Seed is something that you did to be of service and help someone else out today
- Dinner for 30 to 40 minutes
- Brushing teeth together
- To the kids' bedroom – read chapters of 2 books
- Crawl in bed and do the 13 things
- Always protect your brother
- Ladies always go first
- Squeeze and eyes when you give somebody a handshake
- Remember people's names
- Lift up the toilet seat when you need to go to the bathroom
- Put the toilet seat back down when you're done
- Always wash your hands
- Look to the left when you're crossing the road
- Look to the right when you're crossing the road
- Highness always wins
- Be kind to mommy when daddy's away
- Always walk with courage
- I love you
- Sing 2 songs – one is always “Stand By Me”
- PT stretches and exercises while waiting for the kids to fall asleep
- Go downstairs to make a protein smoothie, typically every night at around 8 o'clock
- Watch something on TV for about an hour and a half
- Bed at 09:30
- Sleep mask from Dream Recovery
- Morozko Forge
- Dr. Nathan Bryan
- N1O1 Nitric Oxide Releasing Lozenges
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- Boundless Cookbook
- Kion Energy Bars
-And much more…
- Health Optimisation Summit: June 17th – 18th, 2023
Join me at The Health Optimisation Summit in London! This is your chance to be part of a community of 2,500 like-minded people and learn from world-leading health speakers. You'll be able to fast-track your health journey, discover cutting-edge secrets and hacks, explore the latest tech and gadgets, and find the cleanest and healthiest supplements and nutrient-dense foods. Don't miss out on this incredible experience! Learn more here.
- Hum2n Event: June 19th, 2023
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn from the best in the field and take your biohacking journey to the next level. You’ll get the chance to be involved with a private network of biohackers, a live discussion with myself and Dr. E, a live Q&A, an experiential biohacking experience, tasty food, and a chance to win some mind-blowing prizes! Learn more here.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Kreatures of Habit (use code BGL20 to save 20%)
- The KOH Habit Stacker
- The Meatball Shop
- The Meatball Shop Cookbook
- Q&A On Ben Greenfield’s Current Morning, Afternoon & Evening Routines: Breakfast Timing, Infrared Light, Siestas, Meditations, Workouts & Beyond.
- The Giant Fish Oil Episode: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Omega 3 Fatty Acids, EPA, DHA, Dosing, Sourcing & Much More!
– Other Resources:
- Ben's usual morning raw liver smoothie
- Magic Spoon cereal (use code BENGREENFIELD to save 5%)
- Wild Planet Sardines
- Meat Stick
- Slate Milk
- Morozko Forge
- Dr. Nathan Bryan
- N1O1 Nitric Oxide Releasing Lozenges
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- Boundless Cookbook
- Kion Energy Bars
- Kion Clean Protein
- 8 Sleep Mattress (for Ben's recommended sleep system, check out SleepMe)
- Wild Health
- OmegaQuant Omega-3 Index Test
- Bucer's Coffehouse & Pub
HVMN: Visit hvmn.com/BenG and use code BENG20 for 20% off any purchase of Ketone-IQ️. This is an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. You can now find HVMN in California Earthbar locations (located within Equinox).
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Naboso: Naboso features sensory-based product lines, created for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and biohackers as a way to optimize their foot health and foot recovery. Better movement begins now. Visit naboso.com/ben and use code BEN for 10% off”
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Kion Aminos: Aminos are building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. Go to getkion.com/ben to receive 20% off on monthly deliveries and 10% on one-time purchases.
Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Michael Chernow or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!