20 Body and Brain Upgrades From Ben Greenfield To Start Today

We have an enduring and complete lack of realization of our full human potential, but what if this didn’t have to be? What if we adults, you and I, could leap out of bed each morning and tackle the day with the extreme ferocity of an electrified tiger? What if our performance, fat loss, recovery, digestion, brain, sleep, hormones and spirits were optimized and firing on all cylinders? What if the ability to loom, feel and perform at the human body’s full capacity wasn’t the stuff of lore but was instead our status quo? What if you could have it all, total optimization of body, spirit and mind? You would be in a word, boundless, in mind, body and spirit.

It is possible. I know it to be so from my personal experience and from decades of research and practical study with the world’s experts and through programs tested personally and with my clients. It is possible also for you. To get started, here are 20 upgrades from my book “Boundless” (Victory Belt Publishing, January 2020) that you can do this week to unlock your full human potential.

Boost the state of your neurotransmitters

Instead of drinking that afternoon cup of coffee, enjoy a cup of decaf or herbal tea or some sparkling water with stevia. If you have already consumed a couple of cups of coffee and want to start undoing the potential damage, add fish or eggs to a meal, or add some chlorella or spirulina to a smoothie or shake.

Support your blood-brain barrier

The health of the vagus nerve, a raging appetite and normalized blood pressure are all critical to a healthy blood-brain barrier. To address all three, take cold showers or splash cold water on your face. Each morning for the next week, try to take a two- to five-minute cold shower or splash cold water in your face 10 to 20 times.

Manage your energy with breath

There are so many forms of breathwork, but it is handy to know at least an energizing form and a relaxing form. Energize your body before a workout or during a bout of tiredness with one full minute of Wim Hof–style breathing (short, rapid, forced inhalations followed by short, rapid, unforced exhalations.) Second, before bed or during a stressful time of the day, try to engage in one full minute of alternate-nostril breathing (breathing in through your right nostril with a finger covering your left nostril, exhaling through the left nostril with a finger covering the right nostril, then repeating with the opposite nostrils).

Embrace healthy fat consumption

Each day as you settle into healthy fat consumption, your task is to incorporate the mighty avocado bowl into your diet. Take an avocado, slice it in half and drizzle it (or drench it, if the spirit so leads you) with a high-quality, spicy savory extra-virgin olive oil, then add sea salt and whatever zests might titillate your taste buds, including turmeric, black pepper or, one of my favorites, a slab of mouthwatering coconut manna. For a snack, eat half the avocado, or for a full and surprisingly satiating meal, eat the whole avocado on a bed of arugula or other dark leafy greens.

Experience a nootropic

Never tried a nootropic before? This is your chance. Add a touch of lion’s mane with a smattering of psilocybin and niacin to a morning cup of green tea to induce the sprouting of new neurons, toss 100 milligrams of L-theanine into a cup of coffee to cause a slow, non-jittery bleed of caffeine into your system, or use a nicotine toothpick during your next afternoon of hard work.

Train your brain

Download an N-back training app and commit to practicing for just five minutes a day, or choose one activity that makes smoke come out of your earls, like learning a new song on an instrument or learning a new instrument, playing pingpong or tennis, doing a crossword puzzle or reading a book about a complex topic.

Prioritize your sleep

Each morning this week, preferably within a couple of hours of waking, expose your eyes, ears, skin or entire body to as much natural sunlight or blue light as possible (just 10 to 20 minutes counts). Each night, eliminate as much artificial light exposure as you can by wearing blue-light-blocking glasses (or in a pinch, sunglasses), limiting screen time or installing blue-light-blocking software on your electronic devices. Alternatively, try reading a paper book instead of staring at a screen.

Turn your body into a lean and mean fat-burning machine

Tomorrow morning, perform “Strike, Stroll, Shiver,” a potent 1-2-3 fat-loss technique. First, consume some caffeine in the form of coffee or tea. (If desired, take a few other choice supplements, such as bitter-melon extract.) Second, perform 10 to 40 minutes of light, fat-burning aerobic activity. Finally, take a two- to five-minute cold shower. That’s it. Make this practice a staple in your life to help keep you lean year-round.

Train really slowly

Take an upper-body weight exercise (such as a push-up or pull up) and a lower-body exercise (such as a lunge or squat) and perform the movements as slowly as you can. It should take at least 30 to 60 seconds to get to the top of one rep and 30 to 60 seconds to return. Repeat to total exhaustion. This technique, known as eccentric, negative or super-slow training, is a fast-track method to build strength and mass. For an additional bonus, do this workout with BFR bands or a Kaatsu training device.

Use high-intensity intervals

The body responds quite favorably to short, all-out bursts of activity followed by long rest periods. The next time you get on a treadmill, bicycle, elliptical trainer or any other exercise machine, do a brief warm-up, then go as hard as humanly possible for 30 seconds. Rest for four minutes by moving slowly. Do these four times through. That’s it. That’s the whole workout. Our workout programming often becomes too complex, and research proves that this is the type of exercise that gets safe and fast results.

Train on the go

Begin to build your own travel exercise kit. Find some elastic tubing or elastic bands with a handle, a portable foam roller, a jump rope and a suspension trainer similar to a TRX. Boom, it’s that easy. You are now equipped to exercise anytime, anywhere—even in a quiet little seaside town.

Put your feet up

After your next workout, try one of the simplest recovery techniques that you can do—inversion. Once you have cooled down from your workout, lie on your back with your feet up against a wall for about five minutes. Not only will you reactivate your rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system, but you will also recover far faster as blood and metabolic byproducts make their way out of your legs. For an added bonus, use alternate-nostril or box-breathing techniques.

Chew your food, really

Here is a simple strategy to help your digestive system that you can begin immediately: Every time you eat a meal, chew each bit of food 25 times. Yes, 25. Your mouth, like your stomach, is full of digestive enzymes, such as salivary alpha-amylase, so by taking your time and chewing, you are giving those enzymes a chance to do their job. You are also allowing optimum time for your gall bladder to release bile into your stomach. Chewing thoroughly also can activate hormones like cholecystekinin, which will make you feel fuller, faster, stimulate hydrochloric acid to begin breaking down proteins, and even stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system so that you are not eating in a stressed fight or flight state.

Research your genes

Order a genetic test. It’s so simple and affordable these days to have a genetic test kit delivered to your home from a company such as 23andMe, drip a bit of saliva into a tube, and within just a couple of weeks, you get a report that allows you to see your ancestry and identify genetic variables that will affect your diet. You also can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/rawdata to see a host of websites that allow you to import your genetic data and find out plenty more about how you should eat, supplement, exercise and much more. Practitioners like Dr. Ben Lynch at StrateGene, Bob Miller, CTN, at Tree of Life, and Mansoor Mohammed, Ph.D., with The DNA Company can help you make even more sense of the data and personalize your diet based on your genes in a very precise manner. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and salivate.

Shake it off

Your lymph system responds quite well to the G-forces generated during exercise and, more notably, when bouncing on a trampoline. But another technique for enhancing the movement of lymph fluid is even easier: Plant both feet on the ground and let yourself bounce up and down while wiggling your hands and fingers. Do this for five minutes tomorrow morning when you wake up and notice how your entire body feels more energized and awake. This whole-body shaking technique is actually an ancient qigong practice. For bonus points, begin gratitude journaling in the mornings or at least write down or think of one thing for which you are immensely grateful.

Embrace self-quantification

It is time to start self-quantifying. You don’t have to buy a fancy $10,000 full- spectrum blood test from a longevity institute—considering how inexpensive and accessible DNA testing is, it can be a perfect place to start. So invest in yourself. This week, order a simple at-home DNA test. If you’ve already gotten one, open up your results, look at your disease risks, and see what you can do to address them proactively. For example, if you have higher than normal risk of prostate cancer, you can start getting more lycopene from a fresh tomato every day. Or if you have a high risk of Type 2 diabetes, you can begin saving any carbohydrates that you eat for after an exercise session, when your blood sugar levels won’t be as prone to fluctuation. You get the idea. DNA testing is probably one of the less expensive and more informative tests available.

Breathe through your nose

Mouth breathing is a big cause of facial asymmetries. So for the next 24 hours, see whether you can breathe only through your nose, even during exercise, unless you are doing something for which nasal breathing proves extremely difficult, such as singing, swimming laps or getting deep into the throes of high-intensity interval training.

Live well daily to live longer

The world’s longevity all-stars live longer but they live better, too, with strong connections to family and friends; active lifestyles; clean air, light and water; a distinct life purpose; an avoidance of smoking; an overwhelmingly plant-based diet that incudes fasting; moderate, daily physical activity; and a sprinkling of other natural practices. When asked, centenarians also attribute their long lives to mild amounts of good stress—meaning Spartan conditions combined with a life of manual labor, along with a strong sense of community. In addition, modern biohackers and longevity gurus and scientists are increasingly turning to a host of better living through science tools, technologies and tactics with a strong focus on mitochondrial and stem-sell support, caloric-restriction and fasting strategies, supplements, IVs and injections.

Embrace the darkness

This week, do an experiment to see how little you can use artificial light. Sunlight? Fine. Candles? Check. Have a fireplace in your living room? Great. A real paper book at night instead of the phone or Kindle? Perfect. Forgoing switching on the kitchen lights in the morning and instead making coffee in the dim morning light? That counts, too. Grow accustomed to less light and see what happens to your sleep cycles. I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised

These are simple plug-and-play practices that you can start now. In “Boundless,” you can find deep resources and well-tested routines to upgrade your brain, optimize your body and defy aging. The moment you begin to implement them into your life consistently is the moment that you transform your energy and your life for the better. Become boundless.

Read more about Ben Greenfield here, and to discover more resources on any of these upgrades, visit boundlessbook.com/book-resources.

Excerpts and images reprinted with permission from Ben Greenfield.