October 29, 2016
[0:00] Introduction/ TruBrain
[3:56] Introduction to this Episode
[5:29] About Veli-Jussi Jalkanen
[7:47] Vessi's Work Station
[10:53] Vessi's Saddle Chair
[14:46] Sitting-friendly Clothes of Vessi
[22:56] How Does Your Back Not Get Tired with a Saddle Chair
[27:11] How and Why Vessi Plays Tennis with Both His Left and Right Hand
[30:02] Quick Commercial Break/ Indochino
[32:45] Exo Protein
[35:31] Vessi's Workout Routine
[43:03] Vessi's Diet
[47:00] Hunting Scene in Finland
[49:51] Vessi’s Go-To Supplements
[50:41] How Vessi Cured Himself of Osteoarthritis
[56:01] Vessi's Lifestyle-Based Practices
[58:17] Biohackers Summit/ Visiting Vessi’s Farm
[1:01:25] Vessi’s Future Plans
[1:03:45.2] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey. What's up? It's Ben Greenfield. And early morning here at the Greenfield home, and my hair is completely covered with paste, as are my ears. It's a special paste called a polyethylene (20) cetyl ether which assists with the conductivity of electrodes that I have attached to my head. It's called neuro diagnostic electrode paste. And for those of you who haven't heard, I'm about two months in to a pretty intense neurofeedback protocol that I learned down in Los Angeles from, frankly, one of the smartest neuroscientists on the face of the planet down there, Dr. Andrew Hill.
And the interesting thing is that the same folks who designed this entire EMG electrical brain stimulation neurofeedback-type of training that I've been doing, they also created a special formula, a formula called TruBrain, which is based on neurotech data collected from people's brain waves as they do these tests. And they put together a bunch of ingredients that support the biology of neural pathways, things called neuropeptides. Now if you haven't heard of neuropeptides before, basically these are proteins that are involved with replenishing the raw materials that your brain naturally consumes when your brain is processing. So when you replenish neuropeptides at a fast enough rate, it does things like helps you overcome mental blocks and procrastination, and improves your verbal fluency. So there's all sorts of cool little things that happen when you get this stuff in your body. And, no. You don't have to have electrodes attached to your head to do it.
In addition to these capsules and drinks that they've designed to help with things like mental block, and procrastination, and verbal fluency, and distractibility, and sleep onset, and everything else that can occur when you supply your body with the proper precursors for neuropeptides and neuronal firing, they've added DHA which is from an algae-based source to support healthy fats to be available to the brain. They've actually validated the drinks with wearable technology.
They've added a bunch of amino acids, and then they've also put in extra what are called nootropics. So you'll find things like oxiracetam, piracetam, l-theanine, uridine, something called centrophenoxine. It's one of the more advanced nootropic/smart drug-esque compounds that I think I've ever seen. You can get it in a drink form. You can get it in a capsule form. They even have little smart drug sticks that you can put into your coffee. And the idea is that these fit in where caffeine and stimulants fail. So rather than experiencing burnout, and disrupted sleep, and adrenal fatigue, the idea is that in a completely non-toxic way, not like Modafinil or Adderall. You actually get these compounds into your body that allow you to get your brain firing the way it's supposed to, to avoid distractions, to sleep better, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, all the things that happen when you give your brain what it needs.
So how do you get this stuff? It's pretty simple. They're offering everybody listening to this podcast episode a 20% discount, and the way that you get that discount is you use code BEN, B-E-N, at checkout. Use code BEN at check out to save 20% over at trubrain.com, TRUbrain.com.
Now, I need to go clean the electrode paste out of my hair. So I will leave the interview to you with one of the most interesting guys I think I've ever had on the show. Enjoy.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“In my company nobody is sitting in these strong radiation fields. So you should avoid long stays in these kinds of strong field because that's very bad for your health, especially bad for your joints.” “When you pull up your thighs and you get this 90 degree angle in the pelvic, then your back tilts back and gets rounded, and then you need to a back support. But even then, it doesn't work.” “I take some supplements for my eyes. I'm 65 now. I haven't gone to the eye surgery. I drive car, I play tennis, so I don't need glasses or anything.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and I was at a biohacking summit in London last year at a dinner, and I ran into a very, very intriguing gentleman. A 65-year old man whose name I'm likely gonna butcher, but he goes by the nickname Vessi and Vessi, correct me if I'm wrong, but do you pronounce your name Veli Jalkanen?
Vessi: Veli-Jussi Jalkanen.
Ben: Veli-Jussi Jalkanen. I will put the full spelling over in the show notes for this particular episode, but if you want to access the show notes, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/SALLI, bengreenfieldfitness.com/SALLI like Salli, and you'll learn why I use that word Salli in just a little bit. But anyways, I got to speaking with Vessi and, first of all, he's one of the most physically talented older men I've ever met in my life. He competes competitively in things like shooting, and military 3-skill sport, and diving, and sprinting — lives over in Finland, by the way.
He also is an accomplished horse rider. He plays tennis, and I actually want to ask you about this during our call, Vessi, both left-handed and right-handed. He's taught himself how to be ambidextrous. He swims, he skis, he skin dives, he walks ultra distances, he swing dances, he can crank out 25 dead hang pull ups at a time, he speaks multiple languages, he owns several multinational corporations in like the ergonomics and the health industry, and we'll talk about that a little bit, and he looks like he's about maybe 40.
So he's definitely an accomplished guy we can learn a lot from. Everything from clothing, to nutrition, to fitness. And what he's perhaps most well-known for is ergonomically-friendly furniture that he designs, and we'll talk about that a little bit in today's show too. But I guess speaking of furniture, Vessi, I'm looking at you right now, and the folks who are listening via audio can't see you. but you're surrounded by like models of the human skeletal pelvis and all manner of different furniture designs, and it looks like you've got some kind of funky stand-up/sit-down work station desks set up around you. So describe to me what your ergonomically, friendly work station looks like right now. Like how is it that you're seated or standing as we're talking?
Vessi: Yeah. I'm trying to obey what I suggest myself, to stand 10 to 30% of the desk time, and 10% moving around, and the rest sitting on a saddle chair. I have a dividing swinging saddle chair that I'm sitting on with my sitting-friendly clothes. And then the table, what I'm using is what I call Auto Smart. It's one of my inventions. So this Auto Smart is a programmed table with a software. And so it has three 27 inch high resolution monitors so that I can turn my head a lot and so my neck gets some exercise. But the table is something which is has the monitor tree, it has a separate engine, separated from the table. And the table itself runs according to the software.
So it means that when I'm in the morning, come to the table and I say “hello” by clicking the icon, then the table will activate itself. And it first takes the reading position, knowing that first I will start reading my emails. And then it's optimized by the screen height and the table height for reading. But then when I start typing, and I exceed a certain number which is like four keys per three seconds, then the table knows that I'm typing, and then the table goes about 3 inches lower, but the monitors stay on the same size because the table doesn't want me to tilt forward my head, but my shoulder's relaxed lower. And in the afternoon…
Ben: Oh! Interesting. I'm gonna interrupt you for a second. ‘Cause I have a Rebel Desk, which is a stand-up workstation that operates on a hand crank design. And I've actually found that like when I'm reading, I gotta crank it up a little bit. And when I'm typing, I crank it down so my shoulders and elbows can be in the correct position. What you're saying is this Auto Smart desk that you work on that you've invented, it will actually go up or down based on whether you’re reading or whether you're typing.
Vessi: Yeah. That's right. It is sensitive to the keyboard and you don't need to adjust anything. And then you can adjust at how many seconds or minutes you need to wait before it will go up back to the reading position again. And with me, it's 180 seconds, meaning three minutes. And in the afternoon, the whole table set-up and the monitors are about a quarter of an inch or half an inch lower because the spine gets compressed during the day. And so even that, I don't need to adjust myself.
Ben: Interesting. So why wouldn't you just like go hang from an inversion table?
Vessi: Well, you see, people forget to adjust. I have noticed that during the years they forget to adjust. And when you have it automatic in the table, then it really happens and you keep the good posture all the time.
Ben: Yeah. That makes sense. Okay. Cool. So you have this Auto Smart desk. And then you said you're using a saddle chair. Can you describe the saddle chair to me?
Vessi: Yeah. It looks like a little bit like a horse saddle. It has 35 millimeter, about one and a half inch gap in the middle. There is a spring system under so that it swings very easily when you move your pelvic or upper body. This will activate your low back, and so you get more circulation to the low back. And there's the gap in the middle, and then when you tilt your pelvic forward, as it should be tilted the same position as when you're standing. Actually then, the pubic bone, with the genitals, female or male on the pubic bone need the space in the gap while your sit bones sink in the padding.
Ben: Okay. So it's basically like a saddle, almost like you would see, for anybody who's ridden a horse, if you haven't ridden a horse before, I'm sorry, it's a saddle, and it looks — I'm looking at a picture right now, and by the way, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/salli, S-A-L-L-I, you can take a look at these chairs, but it's very interesting. There's a huge gap between both sides. It's like one butt cheek goes on one side, and one butt cheek goes on the other side. What's the idea behind having a gap like that when you're sitting down?
Vessi: Well, it has multiple functions. First, it will take the pressure away totally from the tailbone. Surprisingly, many people have hurt their tail bone and they hate to seat on normally padded chair. And then it takes the pressure off from the pelvic floor, and the pelvic floor itself is full of all sorts of sensitive nerves and circulation, which shouldn't be pressed. But in normal chair, you put the pressure with the paddings on the pelvic floor. You also create the pressure inside the pelvic. In the medicine, we call it the pelvic bowl. And inside the pelvic, a huge number of important things, I mean organs. And then also the genitals on the pubic bone. So it takes the pressure off from that and it gives ventilation, female or male, and you need that ventilation on the pelvic floor and the genital area because the physiology is just designed that way for the humans.
Ben: Yeah. I sat on one when I was at the biohacking conference in London. I actually haven't gotten one yet in my office. I actually have a stool though that I lean against sometimes during the day, and the stool is almost in the shape of a pelvis bone. It's called a MOGO Stool, M-O-G-O. It's made by a company called Focal Upright and they do some ergonomic furniture as well. But your chair is not a stool that you lean against, it's an actual chair that you sit on. But when you sit on the chair, it is putting you in more of a position that would be the same as if you were standing. Is that correct?
Vessi: Exactly. We say that the upper body standing, but because everybody knows that their legs get tired and they don't like standing, that's why we support the upper body with our sit bone, which are big bones under the pelvic. And so the legs can rest on both sides of the body, all relaxed.
Ben: Okay. So basically, a saddle chair, this special saddle chair allows you to sit during the day. Let's say you don't have a standing work station or something like that, but you have the same kinda like ergonomic benefits of standing and less stress on the lumbar spine, less stress on the genitals, et cetera.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha.
Vessi: You get the benefits of standing and sitting in the same package.
Ben: Now you also, and I'm not saying this to insult you, but you wear some strange clothing. Not bad looking clothing, but like when I ran into you in London, I think you'd lost all your bags and you were kinda (censored) because you didn't have like your special clothing with you. Like right, now the way you're standing, like you have this funky like sleeveless shirt and these kinda like loose-fitting, almost like Capri-style pants and you call these sitting-friendly clothes. Can you describe what you mean by sitting-friendly clothes?
Vessi: Yeah. It's an overall. It can be shorts, trousers, overall. And then it can be long trousers, overall, which I have now. It took me quite a number of years and quite a lot of studying the microcirculation before I noticed that the body actually hates clothing. And that's why when you go someplace where you can take all the cloths away, your body really rejoices and says, “Hey, this is what we want.” Or if you go nude swimming, this is what the body says: “Hey, this is what we want!” When you go bare feet walking on the sand, this is what the feet say: “Oh, this is what we want!” So any clothing will strain our skin, which is the biggest organ in the body. And putting pressures and high temperatures here and there, and clothing is really a nuisance for the body, and that's why I'm minimizing the clothing. So I'm wearing an overall so that I don't need any belt or anything to hold up my trousers. But nobody sees that's it's an overall because it looks like a shirt and trousers. Like now, I have these decoration belt on me, which is just for decoration. Really doesn't press me at all, and I have just this one piece of clothing on me…
Ben: So it's just for fashion?
Vessi: Yes. It's for fashion.
Ben: So you're not a complete robot?
Vessi: No, no.
Ben: Okay. Alright. Just checking. This clothing, is it made out of a special material like hemp, or cotton, or something like that?
Vessi: No, no. Yes! I use as natural clothing materials as possible. And nowadays, I've taken the roll, I take to my tailor, fashionable shirts which I can find in any fashion shop, and I just tell her to do my kind of trousers or that shirt. And my kind of trousers have two seams that nobody, normally trousers have one seam, and it's in the middle. And it's okay when you're standing, but especially with boys, men, when you stick your butt out and sit down, that only seam between your legs get tight. And even a small tightness presses your tissues and blocks the circulation on a large area, and the pressure which often comes is not slight. Many men know that they hate sitting down with their regular trousers. In my trousers, the seams are like V-shaped on both thighs and so, they are designed so that the trousers don't get any tighter when you sit on a saddle chair.
Ben: Okay. So if I wanted to do that, if I wanted to, let's say for like my long airplane rides, or times where I'm gonna be sitting a long time, if I wanted to wear the same kind of clothing you do, do I have to know what to go in and tell like a tailor to change my clothing? Or is there like a website where I could just buy clothing like that?
Vessi: Unfortunately, the world hasn't realized this yet. But I'm going to make a revolution. I'm going to try to make a revolution there and I'm going to hire some very famous clothe designer and make them understand about the smartness of this kind of design. And let's see, let's see what happens during the last next few years. But anyways…
Ben: You should talk to that fashion guy on Shark Tank, Damien John. You know who I'm talking about, or Daymond John? He's an entrepreneur. I know he's big time into clothing. You could get on Shark Tank with your special pants and see if he springs for it.
Vessi: Okay. Send me the contact details. I would be interested.
Ben: Yeah. I wish I had him in my Rolodex, but I don't. Anyways, go ahead.
Vessi: But the other development with the clothing is that you're trying to get rid of the underwear. Actually, men don't need underwear for anything because women do need, but very often they get liquid out of their body and they need panties to hold up their sanitary napkins. But we men don't have that problem. But what is very useful for us that we learn to wash our butts after toileting. I know that in all parts of the world, like United States, you don't often have these hand showers that you can wash the butt. But once you…
Ben: Yeah. A bidet, we call 'em.
Vessi: Yeah. But once you…
Ben: That's funny that you bring that up 'cause I just bought one I'm gonna install in my master bedroom because I was down in Malibu at somebody's house and they had like this fancy one that does like hot and cold, and different angles, and everything based off of your sitting type. Yeah, it definitely and I feel like it's something I would have thought would only have been found like a nursing home or a Japanese bathroom, but I'm actually pretty excited to get my little bidet built now. But anyway, I interrupted you. What were you saying?
Vessi: Yeah. You are going to love it. Once you will leave your underwater away, learn to wash your butt one week, there is no way, no return.
Ben: Well, yeah. But the problem is that when you're not wearing underwear, your (censored) bounce up and down when you're exercising. I mean, like you pointed out with women a lot of times who get like incontinence or if they've had children, that it's a whole separate issue, or if it's their time of the month and they need some extra support for what's down there. But for guys, I mean, how do you exercise? How do you do like running, or sprinting, or play tennis without underwear on?
Vessi: I also designed my own tennis shorts. In my tennis shorts, I have these kind of little, very loose under the shorts, where the pockets are. And that takes care of the problem. But it's like net, very, very airy net.
Vessi: Yeah. That's good.
Ben: Yeah. See, 'cause I'm not into briefs. And even my wife is aware of this research that shows that like bras, like tight-fitting bra worn all day can actually be associate with lack of blood flow and even potentially breast cancer in women, and I don't know if you're familiar with any of that research at all. So we're careful with our undergarments. Like we keep it kinda loose, but we also try and strike a balance between fashion and looking good in your underwear which we want to do sometimes, and also the biomechanics, and some of the abnormalities that come with wearing underwear. But it sounds to me like big picture, what you're saying is if you're wearing loose-fitting clothing during the day, you're ultimately going to have better biomechanics and better blood flow.
Vessi: That's right. But not only that, because the physiology has proven a long time ago that the optimum temperature for the testicles is 33. And now if you put underwear and you have trousers on, that you sit on a chair especially on a regular body chair — there is no way how you could keep the testicles in 33, but they are 37. And these 4 degrees extra temperature is so bad for your sperm production plus your testosterone.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Although, did you meet at that same dinner that you and I were at, there as a physician there named Ali, a Finnish physician. You know Ali?
Vessi: Yes. Yeah, I know him.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. I think he only lives a few hours from you, right?
Ben: Over there in Finland? But he sent over research, he actually published an article at Ben Greenfield Fitness showing that red light exposure can actually triple testicle function, and give you a big boost in testosterone and sperm quality when you shine red light on the testicles. Like not when you increase the temperature, but when you like expose the testicles to red light. Have you seen this?
Vessi: No, I haven't seen that.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. It's really interesting. I forget the nanometer wavelength. I actually have, and again, I know folks are probably laughing if this is the first Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast that you've heard 'cause we're delving into the nitty-gritty woo-woo, but I have a whole red light panel behind me right now called a JOOVV, and I'm going to begin doing red light therapy on my (censored) while I'm standing at my desk because this thing can literally just like lean up against my desk. So anyways, it's interesting research on red light therapy. But yeah, it's true what you say about the heat issue and testicular function as well.
So I wanted to ask you a couple more questions about ergonomics, and about furniture, and the stuff that you design. This saddle chair, when you sit in it, how does your back not get tired because there's nothing to actually lean your back against when you're sitting in a saddle chair?
Vessi: Well at the moment, you are standing and I'm standing, and neither of us has any need of leaning back because when we have the back in the standing balance, it is truly in balance and there is no need to lean back. We do have such things as stretching support, so in some professions where you need to work very staticly for a long time, like surgeons, et cetera, then we have something that they can temporarily stretch back and stretch their back over. But that's a different thing. So in a well-designed saddle chair where the pelvic turns into the position as in standing, you don't need, you don't even long for a back rest.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And is that because you basically have like a wide gap between your pelvis so your feet are planted and your back's more supported?
Vessi: Yeah. Well, the thighs, when they get connected to the pelvic, they balance your pelvic, and you have huge muscles in the legs, and thighs, and buttocks, and core body. So they are used to keep your upper body in balance. So there is no problem at all. But when you pull up your thighs and you get this 90 degree angle in the pelvic, then your back tilts back and gets rounded, and then you need a back support. But even then, it does work.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Yeah. Because like I mentioned, I had this stool that I lean against, this MOGO stool, and I find that it acts kinda similarly, I kinda like lean against an angle, but I'm not actually sitting on it. I'm more leaning on it, and that's interesting. I guess I haven't sat in one of your saddle chairs for long enough to know that the back doesn't get tired. But you originally came up with this design by riding horses, is that correct?
Vessi: Yes. Well, I've been sitting on the horse back since 1970's. I started riding when I was past 20, and the first 10 years I was just riding in my woods, checking up my woods, and planning work, and then I started competing. And I was a competition rider for 20 years. At 1990, I went to see a doctor, a friend of mine, and I asked him that, “When I'm sitting on the horse back, I can sit for hours, but when I go to my office, I get tired with my back very quickly.” A specialist of physiatry and rehabilitation said that, “Yes, the riding sitting would be much better for you, and actually you should have chairs which give you this kind of position.” And that's when I started experimenting.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So do you think that part of the reason that you can sit on that chair for so long, just playing devil's advocate here, is because you're a horseback rider or have you had other people who use these same kinda chairs that you use?
Vessi: Well, we have about 400,000 of these chairs out in the world at the moment. And it takes one to two weeks for people to get used to this. And we have saved, well, fifty of the hundred thousand health, back health from people and them from getting to early retirement, et cetera with our technology.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. Interesting. Well, I'll put a link to all of the furniture that you talk about. I know we even have a discount code for folks who are listening in for, I believe it's the US distributor that we have a discount for or just for people who get it anywhere? Like i know backdesigns.com is the website URL, I think. Is that correct?
Vessi: That's right. Back Designs.
Vessi: Yes. I leave all of its design. She’s an old friend of mine, she's a physical therapist and she knows sitting inside out.
Ben: And that's in San Francisco? Backdesigns.com?
Ben: Okay. Cool. But I'll put a link in the show notes, you guys, so you can use code if you wanna get like the desk or the chair that Vessi talked about. But I also have some other questions for you, some other intriguing things I learned about you. For example, you play tennis with your right hand and also your left hand. Can you tell me why you do that, and how you figured out how to do that? ‘Cause I'm a tennis player and I completely suck with my left hand.
Vessi: I started playing tennis when I was an early junior and played a few years. And then when I came to [0:27:36] ______ after my university, I started playing, and then I've built up my own tennis court. I built it up 1977, and it was 1980… about 1995 or 6, I had a small injury in my hand and I couldn't hit backhand anymore. I had fairly good backhand, but still, as we all know, we need to struggle with our backhands. Then I was waiting for a rehabilitation couple of weeks, and not much happened.
And so I got very impatient, then I started, “Well, maybe I should try hitting with my left hand so that I could get back to the court.” And I was stunned how quickly I learned to hit better forehand with my left hand than my 30 year old backhand. And since, then I have been teaching dozens of people how to learn to hit with their left hand — the forehand, hit with the left hand. And it goes surprisingly fast. If I teach juniors to do all the rehearsals first with the left hand, and then with the right hand, you can't see the difference.
Ben: Interesting. So do you think that there are benefits, I mean, do you do this in part to help to keep yourself young? Like do you think that there are neurological benefits to learning how to do something ambidextrously? And if so, do you do this in other areas of your life? Like do you teach yourself how to eat with your right hand and left hand, or brush your teeth with your right and the left hand, things like that?
Vessi: If I do some outside garden work, and so I've told myself to do a little bit of shoveling and raking on both sides just for muscle reasons. But, no. I'm quite absolutely right-handed guy, but I know that learning this with a left hand is easy and there are so many benefits in tennis about that. First, you'll avoid the injuries. Then you build up your muscle structure the same on both sides of the body, then you can reach much more on the left side. Then your opponent cannot tease you on your backhand as they normally do. They just put the ball on your backhand knowing that you are weaker on that side.
Ben: Hey, quick interruption here. I wanna tell you how to look better. We talked a little bit about clothing in this interview and the kinda things that you can wear to keep yourself more comfortable at work. But let's say you just need to look like a million bucks. Well, as I mentioned on the podcast a few weeks ago, I ventured down to the great land of Beverly Hills. Yes, I emerged from my hippy forest and I went to Beverly Hills, and I got fitted there for a custom suit, a made-to-measure suit. And I was able to wander through their show room and choose my fabric, I chose a nice olive green fabric.
And then I was also able to choose the interior lining, I went with gray and white polka dots. I was able to choose my collar style, my button style, my pant style, things that I kinda consider myself to be a dummy in when it comes to the world of fashion, but things that the very, very helpful folks in the show room there helped me to really dial in. And they helped me to create a suit that supposedly, according to them, is one of the more fashionable suits on the face of the planet. It even says Mr. Greenfield on the inside of the right lapel.
So the name of the company that I worked with to have this is done, and they have showrooms all over the place in North America. So you can pick from dozens of different fabrics and patterns, and choose your customizations, and have your body measurements taken, and then just kick back, and relax, and get ready to step into a perfectly fitting suit within just a few weeks. The name of this company is Indochino. Indochino, I-N-D-O-C-H-I-N-O. And here's the deal, if you wanna go through the exact experience that I went through because it was very simple, the suit arrived at my house, it fits like a glove. It's amazing. Indochino, INDOCHINO.com, and what you do is you enter code ‘Fitness’. And when you do that, you get 50% off their price for a made-to-measure premium suit. And just to give you an idea of what that is, comes out right around $389. And to put that in perspective to you, I used to fly to Thailand to get custom-made suits when I happen to go to Thailand, and that's what I would pay over in Thailand. And now right here in the States, you get the same custom made-to-measure premium suits, customized exactly how you want 'em, and you go to indochino.com. Use promo code ‘fitness’. So check 'em out if you wanna look like a million bucks and you wanna look just like me, wear my Mr. Greenfield suit, then go grab yourself and Indochino suit.
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Ben: We have a lot of people who listen in to the show who are kinda like in the 40 to 70 year old age range, which always surprised me. I always thought that folks who listen in would be like 25, 30 year old, whatever, triathletes, and Spartan racers, and body builders. But actually, most of the people who listen to the show are older, like Baby Boomer plus, kind of a mix of male and female, and a lot of them are interested in things like anti-aging, and longevity, and how to look good as you get older, and also how to live a longer time. You're one of the more, I guess I should say, well-preserved older guys that I've met. And I'm curious, first of all, what is your body fat percentage?
Vessi: Body fat?
Vessi: It's 17.
Ben: Okay. 17. So it's pretty low. And you're 65?
Ben: Okay. What's your workout routine? Do you follow a special workout routine?
Vessi: Yeah. Well, I do 6 to 10 hours of different kinds of exercises in a week. And in my office, I have 16 kilograms which is about 35 pounds and then I have about 55 pound kettlebells. And when I'm doing phone calls I swing them.
Ben: You swing a kettlebell when you're talking on the phone?
Vessi: That's right. This is part of our sitting concept. So that is like the work and gym part in the…
Ben: How do you maintain a conversation while you're swinging a kettlebell?
Vessi: Well, what I would suggest to people is to keep the phone away from you. So use this kind of small ear device, Bluetooth device. And as you can see, my phone there on the table, it's like three meters away from me.
Ben: Yeah. I see that.
Vessi: I need to roll and reach to get that. But when I get the phone call, I just put this Bluetooth on me and I don't touch the phone. And with this one, you can click the phone on, and when I get the phone call, then I go there, and I have half a dozen different kinds of gym things in my office and I do them during the phone calls.
Ben: What else do you have other than a kettlebell?
Vessi: I have a bar. I hang there and do pull ups. And then I have a Flexi-bar.
Ben: What's a Flexi-bar?
Vessi: I'll show you.
Ben: And by the way, for those of you who are listening, I'm recording this on video and I'll put it in the show notes. He's showing me — oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! It's like that bar that bends and flexes. Yeah. I know what you're talking about now. Okay.
Vessi: And I have an old Bullworker from the 1960's. I have also a tennis racket with the cover on, so there is a lot of wind resistance. I do my tennis swings…
Ben: Aw, yeah. So you could swing it for distance.
Ben: Dude, that's an amazing — I never even really thought of that. Such a simple idea, but I never even thought of that. What was the thing you said that was invented in the 1960's?
Vessi: Yeah, this Bullworker. I'll show you.
Ben: Bullworkerr? Alright. Let's see what this thing looks like. Okay, so now he's holding up — for those of you listening in to the audio — so that's like a weight that you walk with?
Vessi: No, no. There is a spring inside. So you keep pushing it together.
Ben: Oh,! Yeah, yeah! Okay! Wow. And so what you do, like your method, is you'll work during the day, okay, I see it now. You'll work during the day, but you use like a Bluetooth headset. And when you're doing your phone calls, et cetera, you're basically just exercising with all these little toys that you have around your office.
Vessi: Yeah. I try.
Ben: Do people ever think you're having like a cardiovascular incident or something like that when you're talking on the phone with them and breathing so hard?
Vessi: (laughs) Well, I usually do only two or three minutes so that I don't start heavy breathing. And so, I just do enough to produce some BDNF in my brain, then I stop. So they don't know that I'm doing this.
Ben: Why don't you have a treadmill workstation?
Vessi: I have been reading some studies and experiments that the treadmill and typing at the same time doesn't seem to work out very well. One of us in our team has tried it out, she wasn't very happy about it. So I haven't got it.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Yeah. I have a treadmill workstation that I use when I am, similar to you, when I'm talking on the phone, or occasionally when I'm being interviewed on podcasts if I can keep it quiet. And then similar to you, I have a heavy punching bag and some weights in my office, and then I also have the JABRA 930 headset. And I originally got that JABRA 930 headset to be able to dictate when I'm writing because I use the Dragon Dictation software so you can…
I don't know if you've messed around dictation much at all, Vessi, but rather than typing, which can sometimes be a little bit biomechanically uncomfortable on like the elbows and the wrists especially if you do a lot of pull ups and stuff like I do, you can dictate your e-mails. And you can dictate even like books, and articles, and things like that using this JABRA, but I never actually thought of connecting it to my phone and then exercising while I'm doing my phone calls. So the next person who talks to me on the phone may actually hear me start going through a set of kettlebell swings using your approach. So you have all these toys in your office that you use to stay fit. Do you do things outside of the office? Do you have like structured workouts that you do outside of the office? Like are you into Crossfit? Are you into triathlon? Do you do things like this?
Vessi: I have a gym upstairs. I have some bench, and chest press, and I have about, well, a little more than 10 different machinery up there. And sometimes I go there, but I do this H-I-I-T, HIIT, high intensity interval training, two times a day, two times a week in the pool, and then I also go do stairs running, also with the same principle, 25 to 30 second intervals. I play volleyball a couple of times a week, I ride horses. But it's funny that even if I do pull ups, very seldom, I mainly only just test myself. But my testosterone level and my body functions are on so good level that I can keep up these 25 really without exercising.
Ben: Yeah. It's really interesting. Most of the guys who I run into, and the girls who are doing a really good job from an anti-aging fitness standpoint, they are doing a wide variety of activities, like a huge variety activities. Like I was talking recently about how I was down at the home of the guy used to own Bally's Fitness, who now is famous for having invented like the hardest workout in the world, Don Wildman. And he does like the underwater pool workouts, he does a bunch of mountain biking, he does paddle boarding, he has like a special Nautilus-based machine workout that he does three times a week. So it's almost like everybody I meet who has a really good kinda like anti-aging routine for exercise, it's a mix of a routine with variety.
So it's like you have this consistent routine, but then it's also a consistent routine that's not the same thing day in and day out. I think what you touched on, that brain derived neurotrophic factor and the end the improvement in neural function when you do stuff like that is profound rather than just, say, like this is one of the reasons I quit doing just Ironman triathlon. I didn't wanna be that guy who just swims, and bikes, and runs, and that's it. Because I think that that chronic repetitive motion, rather than exposing your body to a lot of different angles, is probably inferior.
Vessi: The latest finding, what I have done that when I do my swimming in the village pool two miles away, I often spend about 10 minutes there standing on the bottom and I paddle very strongly forward and backward with my arms. And so I get very nice exercise to my shoulder blades and to my chest muscles as well.
Ben: Yeah. I'm a huge, huge fan of the water for fitness. Now what do you eat? Do you follow a special diet?
Vessi: Yes. I have a very strict diet. So I have developed this smoothie, which is probably the better one I have seen anywhere. It has about close to 10 wild berries, and it has soaked seeds, different kinds. And there, I mix one banana, some plums, and about 10 different kinds of super super foods. I have one glass of that in the morning a couple of hours after waking up, and then one in the afternoon. And there, I get huge amounts of fiber.
Ben: Now are you concerned at all, like when you do a lot of fruits like in the morning for breakfast, do you get concerned at all about excessive fructose intake and how that might affect triglycerides or the liver?
Vessi: I don't eat all that much fruit. I eat mulberries. The wild berries from the forest, they don't have all that much sugar. They quite…
Ben: Yeah. You guys have a lot of berries like the — what is it like bilberry and the buckthorn, the sea buckthorn berry?
Vessi: We have blueberry.
Ben: And blueberry.
Vessi: Yeah. Blueberry. Blueberry is our main because it is the most healthy wild berry you can find. It's the same as you have the Alaska wild blueberry, which you respect a lot in the US.
Ben: Yeah. Absolutely. I just finished writing an article about berries in particular because of their sirtuin activating properties. Are you familiar with this?
Vessi: Yes, yes. They have so many good properties.
Ben: Yeah. Sirtuins are like this family of age-related proteins that regulate a whole bunch of different cellular functions like cell death, and metabolism, and longevity. And one of the things they do is like, there's one called SIRT1 and it modulates like brain plasticity and memory formation. And then there's one called SIRT6 that decreases the rate at which your telomeres shorten. And some of the highest containing foods when it comes to these sirtuin activators are the berries that you talk about. There's some others like dark chocolate, and green tea, and capers, and even like the tannins in wine, and stuff like that. But that's really interesting. So you're doing a wide variety of berries as part of like a morning smoothie.
Vessi: Morning and afternoon. And you need to have a very strong mixer because the berry seeds are very tough and hard. And so you need a very, very strong mixer which can certainly break them because 40% of the nutrients of the berries are in the seeds.
Ben: Yeah. That's something a lot of people don't realize. Even like an avocado, which is kinda like a big fruit, a big berry has a ton of antioxidants in the seed. And I have this video on YouTube of me using a powerful blender. I don't remember if it's like the Blendtec, or the Vitamix, or whatever, but you can even blend avocado pits, avocado seeds, and get a host of antioxidants you wouldn't get from the avocado fruit itself.
Vessi: Okay. I didn't know that.
Ben: Yeah. It's interesting. Now what else do you eat that you would say is like a staple in your diet?
Vessi: Well, I don't eat any grains except oats. Oats has been found to be the best by their fiber quality. Sometimes I eat oats porridge, what you would call oatmeal, but we have our own organic oats flakes, what we get from our own farm. And then we have, on lunch I eat huge amounts of organic vegetables and sauerkraut, plus a little bit of protein. In the afternoon comes this smoothie again. And then for dinner, I have again quite a lot of vegetables and some protein, a lot of fish. I don't eat any red meat except [0:46:46] ______. So I hunt elks by ourselves, and the elk meat is so much more healthy than beef. But we eat some chicken, a little bit of…- quite a lot of fish, actually.
Ben: Interesting about the elk. How is the hunting scene over there in Finland? Are you hunting elk with bow, with firearm? Is it well regulated over there? How does that work?
Vessi: It's very well regulated. So I have my elk hunting party by myself. We have a certain area of [0:47:15] ______ plus some neighbors. We are 10 people in that, a couple of women, the rest are men. And then we have dogs, and they chase the elks in front of the rifle men, and then we shoot down. So our hunting for this autumn is over. So we got one mother and two cubs, and that's all our license could do.
Ben: That's very interesting. I've never heard of hunting elk with dogs before. Out here, typically the animal that you'd hunt with dogs would be the mountain lion. Some people hunt bears with dogs. But typically with elk here, you hunt them a lot of times with two people. You have one person calling, like with a bugle or a diaphragm call, and then one person who is hunting kind of in front of the caller, and this would be for me when I'm bow hunting. And so you're calling in the male elk or the female elk, and then you're basically firing as they come in.
Ben: But it's fantastic meat. You're right. So you do lean meat, you do berries. Yeah. I mean it sounds a little bit almost like paleo-esque, with the exception of like the oats and the grains. What about like milks and dairies? Do you do those?
Vessi: I take sometimes organic yogurt — plain yogurt, organic yogurt. One glass, I mix a lot of seeds and other fiber in it. Then I sometimes collect also organic milk from a neighboring farm. So without pasteurizing, without homogenizing. I make a hot chocolate of that. Actually, that's one of my favorite evening bedtime drink. So this organic milk with raw chocolate powder, and when I take that my tryptophan level shoots up and it's so easy to sleep after that.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now what about supplements? Do you use any type of nutritional supplements?
Vessi: Quite a lot. Quite a lot. So I eat about 30 different kind of supplements.
Ben: Oh, wow. That's another thing that I've found quite interesting about a lot of the folks that I talk to who are kind of dialed into the anti-aging thing is you'll get some people who say, “Oh, you can get everything you need from food,” and then you'll get — most of the folks, everybody from myself, to the Dave Aspreys, and the Tim Ferrisses, and guys like you, and older gentleman who I've interviewed who are doing like 15, 20, 30 different capsules, or tinctures, or oils each morning to kind of like tap into better living through science. I find that more, often than not, as inconvenient as it is. It seems to be kind of like the necessity when fighting an uphill battle against living in a relatively toxic post-industrial world. But what would you say are some of your go-to supplements when it comes to your routine?
Vessi: Well, I take some supplements for my eyes. I'm 65 now. I haven't gone to the eye surgery. I drive a car, I play tennis. So I don't need glasses for anything. And this is quite exceptional. And then I, of course, take some supplements for my cardio health. The regular antioxidants, and then also I take some supplements for my joints. I've become also famous in Finland as a man who healed osteoarthritis from himself.
Ben: How'd you do that?
Vessi: I improved some of the supplements and some routines. So I got rid of the osteoarthritis.
Ben: Tell me the specifics. You can't just skim over this. I wanna know exactly how you dealt with osteoarthritis 'cause there's a lot of people that have joint pain who I bet would be curious to hear about it.
Vessi: Okay. In early 2000, my insurance company wanted to see the X-rays from my knees. And once they saw them, they said, “No way. You are not going to get any insurance on these knees.” And then I realized that my cartilage really is getting very thin, and so on, and so on. So I looked for the right kind of supplements. Nowadays, I do electric acupuncture on my knees once in a while. I do also electromagnetic treatments a couple of times a month. I took these supplements, and I'm very, very careful not to keep my knees in 90 degree angles anymore. And when I try to revive them a few times a day.
Ben: Okay. So…
Vessi: And also, one very important thing. I also eliminated the earth radiation from my bedroom.
Ben: What do you mean?
Vessi: There is a phenomena called — you have these, how do you say, radiomagnetic radiation…
Ben: Yeah. Like electromagnetic pollution?
Vessi: It's partly man-made, it's partly natural. But it reflects from the ground, so that it builds up in certain places and so on. And I have seen a lot of sad cases that people have not learned their lesson, and they have kept their bed in the same time, in the same place, and so on. Now I have learned to be quite a specialist about detecting where this earth radiation sits. And it's actually quite easy to ground it away from the bedroom.
Ben: So are you talking about the natural magnetic field, the Schumann resonance frequency that the Earth naturally emits that people would usually grounding or earthing for the positive benefits? You're trying to avoid that? Or is it something different?
Vessi: It's different. It's different. So this electromagnetic word is so complex. How would I put it shortly? I know the guy who has been preparing like 15, 20 years, the Ph.D. thesis about this phenomena that I'm talking about. But those old guys on the countryside who can look up the well for you, they find where to dig to find water. They are very well aware of this phenomena, and they can tell you where not to put your bed.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. Like a well witch. I actually had one of those guys come up to my house when I was prior to building my house. One of the stipulations for the land that I bought, on the contract that I signed on the land was that we had to be able to find water on the land. So I had a well witcher up with one of these rods, these metal rods that kind of like rotates ever so slightly when you're standing over a spot where there is water in the ground because the magnetism of the ground changes in that section.
And I remember he tapped his foot in one specific location. He said, “Drill here, you'll get water.” And sure enough, I mean we had water. I don't remember how many feet we went down, but that's what I drink now every day is that well water. And it sounds to me like what you're saying, there are pockets of higher amounts of electromagnetic pollution that could be coming from the actual surface of the Earth itself and you're shielding yourself from that in your bedroom somehow?
Vessi: That's right. And I've also tested all the workstations in my company that nobody is sitting in this strong radiation field. So you should avoid long stays in this kind of strong fields because that's very bad for your health, especially bad for your joints.
Ben: Can you send me this paper that you're referring to or maybe like a link to some of the research that you're referring to? Because I'm familiar with installing like kill switches in your bedroom, or turning your WiFi router off at night, or not using too many Bluetooth-based appliances in your home, but I don't think I've heard before of a method of like limiting the amount of high magnetism from planet Earth in your bedroom. That's a new one for me. So I'd be curious, if you have anything you could send me on that, I could put in the show notes for people to go read more perhaps.
Vessi: Okay. I'll look up something in English.
Ben: Okay. Cool. I'm very curious. So your osteoarthritis, sorry to interrupt, you did acupuncture? You changed your sitting style so that you weren't sitting at 90 degrees, you did like pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, is that what you did?
Ben: Okay. So PEMF. And then you ate a lot of berries and a lot of antioxidants. Obviously, you're very active. You shield yourself from like dirty electricity. Are those the primary strategies that you used for osteoarthritis?
Vessi: Yeah. Plus I eat some of the natural supplements which also build cartilage and also increase the circulation in the cartilage.
Ben: What type of supplements would those be?
Vessi: There are different kinds. So there is something from the shark, something from the blue shells.
Ben: Okay. So things similar to like glucosamine, chondroitin?
Vessi: Yup. About half a dozen different things.
Ben: Okay. Interesting. Fascinating protocol for osteoarthritis. And by the way, if you're listening in and you have questions, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/salli. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/SALLI and I'll have the show over there. I'm also curious about your spiritual practice, or your lifestyle-based routines. Do you have routines in which you're meditating, doing yoga? Do you have like a gratitude practice? What do you do from a spirituality or a lifestyle standpoint, in addition to the exercise, and the nutrition, and the supplements?
Vessi: My meditation, when I want to rest my brain and so on, I go do garden work or then I go to the forest to do something simple, mechanically simple. But then I let my brain be like free. Then I start riding with my horse also cross-country. No sport riding. I like, and I need this kind of very quiet, peaceful time for myself. I do meditate. I'm a Christian guy, so I need some peaceful time with myself and find the bigger picture where I'm living in.
Ben: Yeah. Interesting. I'm also a Christian, and so that's a big part of my morning routine is I typically have about 15 minutes in bed where I do like a, I read the Bible, and then I do gratitude journaling, and write notes about what I read. And then I actually, this is kinda funky, but I do a cold water swim every morning. And during my cold water swim, when I come up for air, that's when I pray. So I think about things I wanna pray about while I'm underneath in the water, swimming back and forth, and then I come up and I say my prayers. It's kind of this interesting like, I don't know if it's because my vagus nerve is highly activated when I'm in the water or what, but I almost have like this intense spiritual connection with God when I'm praying and combining it with the rigors of underwater, cold water swimming. It's worked for me so far, I guess.
Vessi: Yeah. My most typical place to pray is when I'm in the village, doing my swim exercises and when I'm sitting in the sauna because usually I'm one of the last guests over there. There is nobody else. So I'm sitting in the village swimming pool sauna by myself, and that's a very inspiring environment for a spiritual meditation as well.
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Now we have some people who are actually listening who will be attending, along with me, the Biohacker Summit in Helsinki, Finland. And I believe, possibly, some of us might be actually making it over to your… what is it? Like a ranch, or a farm that you have over there?
Vessi: Yes. It's about a 2,500 acre farm.
Ben: And what do you farm?
Vessi: Well, mainly forestry. I'm an expert in forestry, and development forestry, and putting the latest science into the growing trees. So our forests are very important to me, economically, and also mentally, and as an environment. I love forestry.
Ben: Do you have some pictures of your forest, of your ranch, or your farm there?
Vessi: Yeah. When you go to the farm website sahalankartano.fi.
Ben: Oh. I totally did not pick that up. You might have to send that URL to me, but I'll link to in the show notes if people wanna take a look at your farm. And also, if any of you are listening in and you plan on going to the Biohacker Summit in Finland, you might get a chance to meet Vessi over there. Really, as you can tell, very fascinating guy. And I'll put a link to my show notes as well to the November 18th, I believe it's November 18th through the 20th, Biohacker Summit in Helsinki. And there's a discount code in the show notes that you can use on that as well as on any of this furniture that Vessi designs. And Vessi, if you send it over to me, the information about the magnetic pollution, and also the information, or the link to your farm over there, I'll put links to those in the show notes as well if people wanna explore that stuff. But finally, I wanna thank you for coming on the show today and sharing this stuff with us. You're a really fascinating gentleman.
Vessi: Thank you so much. I'm looking forward to myself what the life will bring us because I have a line of different sitting applications coming up in front of me. And I'm also, nowadays, in development of the bed because the bed and sleeping has not been thought over at all. And so I have taken it, my business to do that. Like probably the first guy.
Ben: Well, there is one company — I mean, I sleep on a bed called an Essentia, or mattress called an Essentia that is basically built over organic wood produced by a company called Erik Organic is the name of the company. Then there's another company, I believe it's called Samina, something like this. They've been all over the place in the US. They were at the PaleoFX conference and the Bulletproof conference, and they actually design bedding. I need to remember to the name of it because you might be familiar with it in. It's like a bunch of wooden slats that kind of adjust when you get on the bed, and adjusts to your body similar to like a waterbed would, but with an actual firm foundation. Are you familiar with this company? Samina! S-A-M-I-N-A. Samina Beds.
Vessi: No, I'm not. But my goal is much, much further than that. So nowadays, I'm aware that elderly people like me often have the aching shoulders and so on. They don't need any pressure of the shoulder. Then there are a lot of people who can't move at all. So you need so much work force to turn them during the night and the day time, and then they get these bed wounds and the circulation doesn't work. So my new invention is going to put an end to all of that so that all these people will get good circulation without any risk or without any effort.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Well, you'll have to posted about that as well. And again, folks if you're listening in and you have questions about any of this stuff, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/salli, S-A-L-L-I, and I'll put links to everything we talked about; from Salli stand-up furniture, to the Biohacking Conference in Finland, to red light therapy for your balls, and a lot of other goodies. So check that out. And Vessi, thank you for coming on the show today and sharing all this stuff with us.
Vessi: It was very, very pleasant and very nice to be with you.
Ben: And I'll put the video on the show notes as well for those you wanna see Vessi a giving us a little tour of his office. Alright. Well, until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with the Vessi from Finland signing out. Have a healthy week.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
At last year’s Biohackers’ Summit in London, I met an intriguing 65 year old man named Veli-Jussi Jalkanen.
This guy goes by the nickname “Vessi”, and he is one of the most physically talented older men I’ve ever met in my life. He competes in several sports on a national and competitive level, including shooting, military 3-skill sport, diving and sprinting. He also rides horses, plays tennis both left-handed and right-handed, swims, skis, skin-dives, walks extremely long distances and swing dances. The guy can crank out 25 pullups, speaks multiple languages, owns several multinational corporations and looks like he’s about 40 years old.
Vessi’s primary business is the Finnish company “Salli Systems” which develops ergonomically friendly furniture based on some very unique sitting concepts, like his “Salli Saddle Chair” (a unique seat modeled after horse-riding techniques) and electrically adjustable tables with elbow and wrist support.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-Why Vessi only spends about 10% of his day in a standing position, and what he does the rest of the time…[7:45]
-How a desk can automatically detect whether you’re typing or reading…[8:50]
-How a saddle chair allows you to sit but “fools” your body into thinking you are standing…[10:50]
-Why clothing is an unfriendly nuisance to your body (and the sitting-friendly clothing that Vessi uses)…[16:30]
-How Vessi gets away with not wearing underwear all day long…[18:45]
-Why you really don’t need a backrest behind your chair…[23:10]
-How Vessi taught himself to play tennis with both his right and left hands…[27:20]
-The 6 toys that Vessi keeps in his office to stay fit…[35:30]
-Why Vessi eats so many berries, and only one specific type of grain…[43:00]
-How Vessi healed himself of osteoarthritis…[50:25]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-The November 18 Biohackers’ Summit in Helsinki, Finland (use 10% discount code BEN)
-The Luxe Bidet Ben uses
-The JOOVV light Ben now uses to “shine on his balls” for testosterone
-The MOGO Upright stool Ben mentions
-The JABRA 930 headset
– Vessi Super Smoothie
– Health Spices Effects
– Vessi Supplements