“Air is our number one source of fuel. Water being number two, and hard food being number three, if we were to rank them in their order of critical importance.”– Mark Divine on fueling
This is the second of Mark’s solocasts about fueling and The Three Pillars of Longevity. This week, he talks about breathing and hydration, and the importance of learning how to breathe properly and making sure you’re adequately hydrated. He emphasizes that macronutrients are not the only part of fueling. Would you like to learn more about different aspects of fueling so that you can get the most from yourself in every way?
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Transcript & Shownotes
Hey folks, this is Mark Divine. Welcome to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today. Today we have another solocast. You may recall recently I did a solocast I titled the “Three Pillars of Longevity,” and I addressed the first pillar of fueling, but I only got into the macronutrient aspect of fueling, and I mentioned that the other two aspects of fueling are breathing and hydration so I’m going to hit that up today.
Before I begin, please rate the podcast over at iTunes so that other folks can find it and if you’re not on our email list go to unbeatablemind.com/podcast.
So like I said I wanna continue to share my ideas on how we can become our own healthcare system and avoid the effects of food related disorders and stay out of the hospital forever, basically. Unless, of course, you have an accident. God forbid, knock on wood. And I say essentially that optimal health, the kind of health that will allow us to become our own healthcare system, and eliminating this need to visit a doctor or hospital for a nutrition-based disease is found through these three pillars of excellence.
Those pillars, I mentioned are fueling, recovery and integrated training. Now they’ve been around for a long time and a lot of people have figured this out. And I know some of these ideas are nothing new. But they have been distorted by nutritional science and the pharma- sponsored healthcare industry.
Now a lifelong quest to work on these pillars will improve not just your health, but the quality of your life. We want to live into our hundreds with great vitality, purpose, and mobility. So in this podcast let me address breathing and hydration.
I would argue that air is our primary source of fuel. Consider that we can survive for weeks or months without hard food. And we can survive for days without water. But reality is that we can only survive minutes without air. So that tells me that air is our number one source of fuel, water being number two, and hard food being number three, if we were to rank them in their order of critical importance. And indeed, over the long-term, they also tend to rank in this order. Though it may seem to us on the surface, that food is the most important.
Breathing brings vital fuel in the form of oxygen, nitrogen, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide into and out of our body. These elements power up our physical bodily system. Moreover, breathing well brings vital life force or Prana or Chi into our energy body, fueling and enlivening our energy body, which helps maintain health of the physical body and our immune system, and our electrical system, and all of our systems. In reality, our physical body’s long-term health is dictated by the health of our energy body. This fact is well-known to the eastern medical community, the Ayurvedic and Chinese medical… but largely ignored here in the west. Although recently is starting to get some attention.
So if we focus on improving our breathing, then our combined physical and energy body systems are elevated and integrated for optimal health. Anyone who’s been to a SEALFIT or Unbeatable Mind event know how much I believe that breathing is critical for us. And most of the time I talk about the mental benefits for mental control, but the physical benefits for health and longevity are equally as powerful.
Learning to breathe[4:12]
Now learning how to breathe for optimal performance, health and longevity is definitely hard to convey in a podcast or a blog post. It really requires some in-person training. And we have some great videos on this by the way in our new Kokoro Yoga online training program. You can find out more information about that at unbeatablemind.com. And it is something we train in person at our SEALFIT academies which we run a few times a year.
Now I’ll limit my discussion here to the nuts and bolts. First, an average person has undeveloped breathing muscles. Now even though many athletes have worked hard to develop their muscles and breathing, they still don’t consciously use them well for optimal performance. Or use them at all when they’re not performing.
The breathing muscles include your chest muscles, intercostal, diaghragmatic contraction muscles and your abdominal muscles. Now training of these should be done daily, and done with specific breathing exercises, which will allow for powerful and complete inhale and exhale cycles. Undeveloped musculature of the breathing apparatus and unconscious breathing will lead to shallow, quick breaths which utilize less than 50% or so of our lung capacity. Consider that’s 50% of the fuel, the life force that you need left on the table, or in the air, so to speak. without fully and forcefully exhaling, furthermore, the entire lung’s contents, then we leave a toxic residue in our lungs. This toxicity will build up over time and deplete your energy, harming your body. And proper breathing can lead to suboptimal composition of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our tissues as well, degrading our performance and health.
So clearly we need to train for optimal breathing for the fueling effect. And when we do, we’ll naturally settle into a pattern where the inhale and our exhale are linked in long, slow and rhythmic patterns. And these patterns will have 6 to 8 breaths total per minute.
Compare this to the 16 to 18 short, unconscious, unhealthy and mouth breathing pattern of the average person. This slower pattern is done through the nostrils and endeavors to fill up the entire lung and to energize your energetic body as well as fuel your physical body.
Now, the breathing practice that we use to train this I call “box breathing.” And most of you have heard about it or read about it, maybe in one of my books. Box breathing is a great way to kick off your breath training. It will ensure that you begin to train the muscles of the breathing. It’ll teach you and create the habit of breathing through your nostrils. Breathing through your nostrils will release the trace amounts of nitrous oxide which will help the delivery of the fuel to your cells. And you’re going to be slowing your breath down, so our typical Box Breathing, when I introduce it at SEALFIT or Unbeatable Mind, is done with a 5-5-5-5 pattern. So a 1-1-1-1 ratio, which leads to very, very calm, steady mindstate. Now, consider that that’s a twenty count breath, if you’re doing a 5 second inhale, a 5 second inhale hold, a 5 second exhale and a 5 second exhale hold. That’s 20 seconds. So we’re really doing 3 breaths per minute with the Box Breathing training. And then when you start this, if that’s a little bit hard for you, a lot of people say that the exhale hold is hard for them, they experience a little anxiety. Just take the exhale hold down to 3 or 2. So you do like a 5 inhale, 5 hold, 5 exhale, 2 hold. That’s fine. And that’s a 17 count breath. Still just a little more than 3 breaths per minute.
So the Box Breathing is done in a quiet place. It’s like a meditative… It is a… it doubles as a concentration training. But the primary thing I want you to learn here is that we’re taking in a full lung capacity by inhaling deeply through our nose. Filling up our lungs from the bottom to the top, or from the top down, or from the center out. Those are all different techniques, you’re training the musculature and you’re rehabituating… You’re creating a new, unconscious pattern of breathing by doing it consciously day in and day out in a new pattern. A pattern that disrupts the old pattern, it overrides it.
Now when you begin, you’ll find that you go back pretty quickly to your old pattern during the day. But, you know, the point is to do this every day. Ideally for 20 minutes. You don’t need to do it any longer and a minimum of 5 minutes suffices. And I like to do this in the morning when I wake up, and we also train to do this before our workouts at SEALfit or at US Crossfit, and we do it every single… or some version of this every single Kokoro Yoga session. And in those sessions, I typically do it for 20 minutes.
Now you can also do spot drills throughout the day. While you’re driving, box breathe. Anytime you’re not doing something that requires a lot of cognitive movement, like a conversation or Crossfit workout, or anything where you can have a calm breath. I find myself box breathing when I’m reading, or when I’m driving, or when I’m doing mundane things, I can box breath. So you can train pretty much throughout the day this way.
The benefits of this breathing are hard to convey here. I just ask you honestly to just try this out for 30 days. Box breathe. Every day in the morning, when you wake up for 20 minutes for 30 days and I guarantee you it will change your life. There will be life before this podcast and life after. And you’re going to want to learn all you can about breathing, trust me.
All right, let me move on to hydration. Little less interesting to most people, but it’s really important. You know my son just went and got his blood test, and one of the main things that they found out is he’s seriously under-hydrated. Now I’ve been telling him about that and about his nutrition. He listens with one ear closed and the other one even more closed because I’m his father. So this chiropractor did a blood test and came up and said, “Okay, one of the main things, Devon, is you’re under-hydrated.”
And under-hydration can lead to systemic imbalance. And we need to address that. So when we get really serious about being our own healthcare system, it’s definitely apparent that putting anything but fresh water or fresh vegetable or fruit juice into your body is nuts. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m a total purist here. I do admit to drinking a cup of coffee every day. I mentioned I have Bulletproof type coffee. And I have had my share of cola drinking growing up, but I don’t touch that stuff anymore. I haven’t for years. I drink fresh water for hydration, but I also employ the SEALfit 80-20 philosophy when it comes to other beverages, which are used for other purposes than hydration.
For instance, I occasionally drop a Rock Star or a FitAid during a SEALFIT Kokoro camp. Or I enjoy some beer or wine socially. But again, I don’t drink these things for hydration, I drink them for pleasure and in moderation.
I obviously don’t think they’re going to lead me to optimal health, and in moderation, they shouldn’t impact my health negatively.
Now imagine your body is close to 80% water. That shouldn’t be hard to do because it is. Now would you like your water to be a stagnant, cesspool or a fresh, flowing river that you could drink out of? I choose the later. I believe that many people, though, are stagnant are cesspools, and that physical imbalances in disease will stem from that poison of stagnation, sugary, chemical-laden, toxic water that’s in a body. Not getting constantly flushed through exercise or through fresh water flowing in your body constantly. So my antidote here is to drink a glass of fresh water first thing when I wake up in the morning and again at bedtime. There’s two.
And then to consume a moderate amount of fresh water throughout the day in small quantities. It’s better to use a drip system than a hose, meaning sip water through the day, rather than chugging a glass here and there.
Now I think it’s a myth that we need to consume half of our body weight in ounces per day. ‘Cause this ignores the fluid that we take in through our other macronutrients, obviously. Especially the vegetables. And if you train hard and sweat a lot like I do though, you may need that or more.
So your body will need to consume essentially what is gonna make it feel in balance. And it will need a good amount of water to maintain that balance. At 195 pounds, I have trouble tracking the half my body weight in ounces consumption, so what I do is I keep a 20-ounce bottle of water near me, and I drink from it when I’m thirsty. I’ll down one to two bottle during and after my morning workout, and then at least another one sometime throughout the day. When I add that to morning and evening drink, and an occasional ample meal-shake then I’m about 80 ounces a day, not including water from food.
So here’s a thought question: Can you drink too much water? Yes. Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water and your kidneys in that situation would be unable to handle the excess. This situation leads to a dilution of your electrolytes in your bloodstream and will result in low sodium levels and a condition called “hyponatremia.” We’ve seen this on occasion at our endurance events like Kokoro camp when there’s a dearth of water because someone is busy, and then they gorge water in large quantities. We need to supplement in those situations with tons of electrolytes and/or sodium.
Consider parched survivors who’ve gone long periods without water. They’re not nursed back to health by gulping gallons of water. They can’t do it. They start by wetting their lips, and then a drip IV.
At any rate, there is a lot of hype about water. But one last thing I want to talk about when we’re talking about hype is ph water. Ph water’s now on the shelves of most stores, usually a 9.0 ph level. And honestly, I don’t know if this is beneficial or not. We’ve had a system at SEALFIT called Kangen water for 5 years. Kangen water electrolyzes the water to a ph level of 8, 8.5 or 9. And I’ve been drinking the 9 for a while, like several years. And I confess, I can’t tell if there’s been any health benefit. Now granted, there’s a lot of other things that I do that are healthy, so it’s possible that’s the one thing. But honestly, I can’t really tell. I don’t know if the health claims about ph water are real, or whether there’s any real science behind it. I’ve heard both sides on this issue. So essentially, I’m gonna continue to drink it, because it does taste good. And I guess it’s an insurance policy if the science proves out. I’m willing to take the risk and be my own research division in my own health care system. But I encourage you to do your own research.
There’s tons more to say about breathing and hydration and macronutrients, but I’m gonna leave it here for now. Next time I do a solocast, I’m going to move on to the second pillar of longevity which is sleep and recovery. Until then, breathe deeply, hydrate well, eat lots of good healthy whole foods and think about what it means to be a healthy human well into your hundreds. Sounds good to me.
Coach Divine out.