February 18, 2022

Ep. 16 | Brain Health: Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, and Being of Sound Mind

Having a healthy brain is key to living a full, robust life, but it’s often something we neglect in our lives. In this episode, Nathan shares his story of undergoing extensive brain analysis, therapy, and training at the National Intrepid Center of…
Life on Target
Life on Target
Ep. 16 | Brain Health: Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, and Being of Sound Mind

Having a healthy brain is key to living a full, robust life, but it’s often something we neglect in our lives. In this episode, Nathan shares his story of undergoing extensive brain analysis, therapy, and training at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and he offers practical advice for developing personal habits and family rhythms that support brain health.

The events of the last two years, tell us a lot of things, but one of them is that a large portion of the population isn’t willing to do the work that is required to be healthy. And I want to give you some tools today to be healthy, specifically, to develop habits that will help you cultivate and create an environment in your body where your brain can be healthy, where you can repair damaged brain cells, you can grow new neuro pathways that enable you to fulfill your God-given potential here on this earth.

But that’s going to require that you do the work. And I’m going to tell you a little bit about my story and how I stumbled onto this, or how I had the privilege of learning a lot of this stuff, wrongly assuming that it was things that happened to me in the military trauma that I had got from explosions and parachute landings—thinking that was the primary reason for my brain not functioning as it should.

And then learning that I—even though I was in a culture bent focused on elite performance—I was missing a lot of the primary tools. And I think that I experienced it at a high level in the military, but the same problems that I had with my habits and my way of living are plaguing our society. And that’s why I’m bringing it to you in this podcast episode.

Welcome back to the Life on Target podcast. I am your host Nathan spearing. As always, we endeavor to enable you to live your life on target, through productive content, prescriptive content that enables you to change things in your life now to help you perform better at what God has put you on the us earth to do.

My Experience at Walter Reed Medical Center

So, for those of you that have never been to Walter Reed in, I think it’s in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of the D.C. beltway and experienced the environment of what it costs many of our citizens, many of our military service members on a personal level to protect our freedom, I would encourage you to make a trip up there, even if you don’t go within Walter Reed itself.

I think that that you are able to go in there and see; it will require you to go through a checkpoint because it’s a military installation, but at the very least hangout outside of Walter Reed and see the veterans that are going to the Metro stop outside there, and families moving and getting dropped off and things like that.

You will see in a short amount of time—or at least you did when I was there—many service members missing their limbs in wheelchairs, on crutches or recovering from or dealing with injuries that they will never recover from with the medical systems of our military.

The First Time I Went to Walter Reed

The first time I went to Walter Reed was in 2005, visiting my buddy Jose, who had been shot through the leg right up by the femoral head, shattered his hip. We were maneuvering against armed insurgents, and one of them shot an AK burst, and it caught him, and he had to be evacuated. There were other Rangers up there from the same deployment. This was in 2005 that we were sweeping through the Western part of Iraq. And the fighting was fierce for every single unit that was engaged in combat on the ground. This is not an episode about that.

Entering the National Intrepid Center of Excellence

The next time that I went back, I was a patient going through NICoE, which stands for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. And it is a specifically designed program or research facility to study brain health and focuses on natural ways or non-invasive ways to improve veteran health.

And they have about eight or at least the time that I went there, they have about eight guys going through at a time together through a four-week program. So, there are only ever 32 veterans going through this program due to the nature of it. It is very intensive. You’re spend about from 7:30 in the morning, till around 4:35 in the evening, going through a battery of tests. You meet with physical therapists, psychiatrists, all the different doctors in the different disciplines that have a factor to play in brain health. And I went up there because I was about to get out of the Army. It was April, 2016. I was about six to nine months away, hadn’t quite decided the date I was going to be getting out, but I had made a fundamental shift at the end of my career to focus on repairing my health for a successful transition into the civilian sector.

Battling Decreased Brain Performance

But I was not going to have access to the Army’s medical systems and service anymore because I was leaving. I was leaving before retirement. So, I was not going to get any benefits that extended past my career there because I didn’t retire. And I wanted to make sure I learned as much as I could about how to make my life better. I went through application process to go to this clinic. We had to catalog the different ways that I had received, or my brain had experienced, trauma from service.

I had noticed a decrease in my own ability to remember things. I was running into things that normally like if I walked around on the table or I was walking around the bumper of my car, I wasn’t gauging where that stuff was in space. And so I was routinely running into corners of the table. When, when people tossed me my keys or tossed me something, I noticed that I was missing my—I was athletic, not, you know, NFL style athleticism, but as an athletic guy I wasn’t able to grab. I was missing pretty simple tosses of little objects and things. There’s some blurred vision, different kind of things.

I Thought It Was All from Combat

I just, I felt completely frazzled at a mental level. And my assumption was that that was because when we went through the process to apply for NICoE, I had been exposed to over 5,000 blasts in close proximity. Some of them larger than others. I’d had several really hard parachute landings where I came in specifically with a several-hundred-pound bundle touching the ground before, and then me getting catapulted into the ground, vehicle rollovers, all these different things. And my thought was that—none of them being anywhere to the level that a lot of veterans experience, but that these repetitive, almost consistently mildly traumatic events happening through almost 14 years, I was in the military—that this was all kind of coming to a head for me.

And I was experiencing a lot of things that was just a compounding of traumatic brain injuries. So, I applied to go to this clinic. They have limited availability, and based on the demand, you never know if you’re going to get in. So, you do this packet, list all your issues and why. And graciously—God’s grace—I was accepted into this program. So, I, I went up there in April–May in 2016 and lived in Walter Reed. They have some kind of outpatient facilities to live in and just my health, fundamentally brain health, but all aspects of my health became the priority.

And they have you—if you’re on medication, if you have an issue with drinking and stuff, they sit you down on the first day. And they say, “For the purpose of this program, we’re asking you to bring all your medication that you’re on,” all the different things.

And they do a really thorough inventory of everything that you’re taking. And they ask you to essentially quit everything cold turkey and be off of all the medication—if at all possible—and experience or try to go through the program on what you are naturally and establishing your baseline mentally, physically. What are you and where are you without there being any outside factors influencing their assessments?

I went up there. I had been prescribed Adderall because I had moved into a certain portion of my career where I was trying to do tons of administrative tasks. And the people that excelled at my job are high functioning ADD types. And I was drinking more probably than I had ever consumed alcohol in my life. It was kind of a regular thing to have a beer or two at dinner and maybe two or three on the weekends. Not every night, but you know, it was more than what I had normally done.

In some sense, I had kind of been prescribed an upper, which is like Adderall and this high focusing stuff for the military and then was using at the end of the day, a downer to simmer out. And going through this program and saying, “Look, I’m going to go for a month. I’m not going to drink for a month. And I’m going to turn in these medications.” I have aches and pains. So, you know, Motrin and Celebrex and these different drugs to help tolerate the inflammation in the joints and the things like that. And just lagging injuries from breaking my foot in Afghanistan and just had pushed through all of these things.

And this was a chance to just spend a month focusing on my health. I felt like I probably wasn’t sleeping that well. So, you do sleep studies and all this stuff.

So, it was a phenomenal experience. And we talked in a previous episode about mental performance and me giving kind of specific to work on your thoughts and things. This is going to be more trending towards taking care of your physical body and your physical brain.

Why Brain Health Matters

And I’d like to go ahead and pause my story with respect to this program and talk about why it matters. And we look at Romans 12:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, and what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV)

So, by focusing on, on brain health and by focusing on things, the physical body and the things that we do with our body and the practices we take, it is going to help us be a living sacrifice.

It’s going to help us be transformed by the renewal of our mind. And we renew our minds by right practices in our daily life. It’s easy to think about it, just literally be “I want to renew my mind and think the proper thoughts” like we talked about before in elite mental performance, go back and check that out.

So, it’s taking every thought captive and not just playing those broken soundtracks that you’ve been listening that you assume are true because you hear them inside your head, but that you have to actively take control of those. But this is more so to say this a way that you help actively take control of those thoughts and you help perform mentally is by doing things with your physical body. We’re going to get to that here shortly: How you can do that and what I learned in this experience, but I want to lay that biblical spiritual foundation for why this is important.

The Church Should Lead in Health

There’s a lot of us in the church—I was just looking through the photos from the 2021 General Assembly of a leading denomination. I don’t want to say what the denomination is necessarily, because I don’t want to give y’all a peg to react and hang up and make my message less receptive because we’re putting these denominational names out there. But I looked at this as pastors, the people that are supposed to be leading us spiritually, and their bodies aren’t saying a good story.

And this is not me to make you feel guilty. If you’ve got issues with your weight and there’s things that are underlying health conditions that you’re dealing with. But by and large, if you’re going to set yourself up as a leader, like we talked about in the previous episode, focusing on you leading yourself first, you have to be serious about your physical health, the health of your physical body and realize that everything is connected, your spiritual wellbeing, your soul, and your spirit are entwined with your physical body and connected.

And so if you’re a pastor that’s fat and overweight and has a large gut hanging over, and when you go home, if you’re young and you’re your kids greet you and you’re trying to play with them and you’re gassed, and you’re sucking wind because you can’t run around with your young kids, because you’ve been sitting in your chair, reading the Bible and getting really good with your theology, but you’ve been neglecting the physical body, shame on you. Get this under control now.

And if you’re a man and you’re supposed to lead your families in spiritual matters in being good stewards of creation and exercising dominion, where you are, get your health under control. Now this is not me to say that you, every one of us needs to be seeking to get our pro bodybuilder card and to be posting photos of our ourselves without shirts and flexing in the mirror and things like that.

Nope, I’m not saying that. I’m saying: Where are you now? Set an as fix on yourself on a target and make progress in that erection because it matters. We’re going to get to that here in a second. Let me go through one more verse here to kind of hammer this home. First Corinthians 1:20, “For you are bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”

The brain is a physical organ. It informs your spirit. We talked about the spirit being your intellect, your emotions, your fears, your passions, creativity, et cetera. We see in 2 Timothy 1:7, and we have different versions of the verse, “But we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV) And that last self-control in the King Kames is “sound mind,” and in the New American Standard it’s “of power, love, and discipline.”

The Five Fundamental Aspects of Brain Health

So, this is what we’re going to talk about: that self-control, that sound mind, that discipline, the physical disciplines to inform your spirit, your intellect, your emotions, your fears, and that that is important. So, when I was up at this NICoE, the National Intrepid Center for Excellence, they talked about the five fundamental aspects of brain health being:

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • brain training
  • regulating and understanding the parasympathetic nervous system,

The parasympathetic nervous system is essentially that aspect of us that controls the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic being stuff that informs the spirit, informs these emotions, can put us into fight or flight, the effects our moods have, and how do you regulate that?

Nutrition: Giving the Body Proper Fuel

So, let’s just quickly run through nutrition. Now I’m not going to go through right now, dieting and things like that for you. But I would say that our food system in this country is broken.

We have figured out to make all these readily accessible, quickly-heatable convenient meals that are highly processed, that are full of sugar, that are full of types of food that our body has difficulty breaking down and turning into a state where we can use them. And the very fact of the matter is like, we’ve talked about before, if it’s cheap, it’s not good. That’s the reality because the free market system adjusts prices and you get what you pay for predominantly in this culture. So, if you’re shopping exclusively at the cheap grocery stores and you’re buying the processed foods and your life is not set up to spend time preparing and cooking, gathering meals, then you’re likely have a lot of improvements that you can make for your health. And that’s one of the reasons why our family has committed to starting a farm, to moving out onto the land, to having a very real relationship with our food, to be able to grow it from scratch from chickens.

We got another batch of chickens showing up this week and next week, predominantly egg layers, some meat birds, but we’re growing our second and third batch. Our first batch of chickens that we bought are laying eggs for us. Now we’re routinely of going over there and getting ten, twelve eggs out of the coop. And in a sense almost—with just our first batch of eight or nine chickens—able to keep up with our family’s egg consumption from just a few chickens being raised.

So, the closer to it being in its natural state and being produced, not through hormones, not through steroids, not through artificial means, but well on the farm, pasture raised is the way that we want to go with. It’s the way that my family is going with our food. So, we’ll talk about that more, but you need to be serious about eating the right things because what you put into your body affects your health.

It affects your mind. And like we’ve talked about; we’ve been bought with the price, and we need to glorify God with our mind. And that means what we eat.

Fitness: Strengthening the Body

Second, fitness. They talked about in the class at NICoE, how five times a week of 20 minutes of cardio specific study can revolutionize what you are able to do as far as sleep is concerned, the benefits of sleep and health, just from five, 20-minute workouts of cardio.

Now, I don’t want all my CrossFit listeners to get triggered by the cardio. I think that we’ve also talked about how Jordan Peterson and Jocko talked about on their podcast together, how weight training is shown to be one of the most significant things that you can do specifically as a man at a point where your muscle mass starts to kind of slope off indefinitely towards death, being active and lifting weights and pushing weight and building up that muscle tissue,  combined with some cardio and getting that heart rate up for an extended period of time.

For most of us, it’s just a short amount of time. And I’ve done some social media posts. I wear a pair of comfortable shoes to work. I have a t-shirt in my vehicle, I’m a member of a local gym that has a 24-hour gym, Anytime Fitness. My buddy Tristan owns it. There’s two locations here in town. There are locations all over the U.S.  I can use a fob. I can badge in at any point and I can dip in there. And I use the fit Bob app. And I go in there, and I told it wanted to focus on strength training. So, I’ve basically resourced, or I’ve hired away, and I’ve optimized my environment. So, that doesn’t matter if I get 15, 20 minutes in a day, I can dip into Anytime Fitness. I don’t have to change anything, but maybe just change my shirt real quick.

So, if that one that gets sweaty I can go back to my other shirt that I’ve been wearing. I don’t have to change my shoes. And I get an app there that I just hit the button and the workout, it’s a 30-minute workout. I do a little bit less rest and I can do a 30 minute workout on this app in 20 minutes. And I can be back out the door. And it’s been hard for me to—and John Acuff talks about this in the book, Finish, that the perfectionism that we have with our goals can prevent us from even starting.

I had 14 years where I was working out an hour, hour-and-a-half, two hours a day, and it was my job to be in shape. And so, it’s easy for me in this kind of the afterlife of the military to think I have to be able to carve out an hour, hour-and-a-half to do the workout.

That’s not true for most of us. And you need to figure out how to carve out 20 minutes to do some weights, to do some cardio, to get your heart rate up, to move weight as a means to get better brain health, to function more well from the brain’s perspective.

Sleep: Restoring the Body

The third factor is sleep. There was a sleep hygiene course that I will not be able to give to you in a short amount of time, but essentially caffeine. These are the key practices that I employ in my life now: No caffeine after 10:00 a.m. And a lot of us are drinking those Monsters, those energy drinks, hitting a cold brew coffee at four o’clock to get us through the slump. It’s wreaking havoc on your sleep. And they talked about the half-life of caffeine is 12 hours. So, when you drink a cup of coffee at 10:00 a.m., half the caffeine of that cup of coffee is still in your system at 10:00 p.m.

So, that’s for me, I try to, even in a sense, I’m drinking my coffee. I’m getting up at five. I’m drinking my first cup around 5:30 a.m., 5:20 a.m. I got my second cup. It’s 7:00 a.m. right now. I’ll be finished with my coffee for the day likely before eight o’clock. And every now and then I do a third one, because I’m like that. And it’s two shots of espresso. It’s an Americano essentially. And I’m done with my coffee. I’m done with anything related to caffeine, really prior 8:00 AM.

They were saying that all of the caffeine doesn’t get metabolized till five times the half-life. So, you’re looking at two-and-a-half days that you still have caffeine from that cup of coffee in your system. And that is inhibiting your body.

“And everybody says, oh, I can drink a cup of coffee and I can go right to sleep.”

Yes, you can. You will be sleeping, but we have to look at sleep with the different phases of sleep and that you are not achieving the natural phases of sleep that are fundamental to your brain, regrowing cells, your brain processing what’s happened. And to allow you to wake up ready for the day, mentally refreshed the other one.

This is going to hurt, guys: alcohol. If you drink a beer at dinner, if you drink a beer like in the evening, your sleep is shot for the night. The alcohol being in your system like caffeine, it is inhibiting your body’s natural ability to get to REM to repair. So, I have gotten to the point with my rhythms and with my life that if I have a glass of wine at dinner, or I drink a beer at night, I can tell the next morning that I did because I have actually experienced what good sleep is and how it feels to wake up before the alarm and be ready to go.

Another one is screens. Your body is slowly producing melatonin. And some of y’all sleep nerds are going to be like, “This dude doesn’t even know. He’s getting it wrong.” This is just an overview. And you got lots of resources to go out there and find more info on sleep, but essentially your body is producing and timing the release of melatonin. As you notice, when the sun goes down, your body’s rhythms releasing at naturally occurring melatonin. And when you are looking at a screen, that blue light from the screen, the fluorescent light bulbs, throw our bodies natural rhythms off and we’re not able to really follow the rhythms and just tank off into sleep.

 I have all my devices set up to, to go to night mode.

The Golden Hour

And that was kind of a new thing when I went through NICoE. So, we didn’t have a lot of definitive stuff on that, but essentially changing all your devices to go to night mode. But then working—they about the “Golden Hour” and having an entire hour prior to going to sleep where you have not looked at your phone. And for me, that’s putting the phone, plugging the phone in one room away. It’s a very decisive act. I plug the phone in out of the room. I’m setting it down for the rest of the night, and I have a book beside the bed. I have a reading light to spend some time reading a couple pages of the book, chatting with my wife, getting a rhythm of not having your screen all the way to bed.

And a lot of people keep their phone beside them in the bed.

And if they can’t sleep, they’ll like pull their phone up and scroll Instagram, whatever. It’s terrible. Just have this light hitting your eyes is disrupting your body’s ability to downshift and to be ready to just tank off and to sleep. And you have to put your practices into place there. And I would say too, just another thing is from a performance perspective, you’re probably staying up to you late and getting up too early or staying up too late and having trouble getting up early. And we read in the Psalms that, you know, in vain do you rise up early and stay up late. (Psalm 127:2

So, there’s an idolatry in thinking that the world, this hustle grind culture that, “I can’t sleep. I got so much going on.” Rubbish. Get better at optimizing your time and get into a good rhythm of going to sleep early with your body’s natural rhythms, the sun setting your natural release of melatonin.

You’re putting the phone away. I try to be in bed by 9:15 p.m. and asleep by 9:30 p.m. because my alarm starts a sunrise cycle at 4:40 a.m. I think is when it goes off. It does a 20-minute sunrise cycle and goes off at five. And I really like it. My wife got me, this it’s called a Hatch alarm clock so I can set it with the app. It has a go to sleep sequence so I can tap it and have some lower light and do some breathing exercises to kind of chill out, let my body relax. And then it’ll shift gears. It’s got some noise, white noise making, and then it actually emulates a sunrise cycle.

And today, like I went to bed at 9:10 a.m., 9:15 a.m. last night. I’m pretty sure I was completely out. So, I had no device next to me, whatever. I was out immediately. And I woke up partway through the sun cycle refreshed before the alarm even went off. The light was coming in, and I woke up. I was ready to go, and I was able to do coffee with my wife early and get in here and record this podcast. So, you know, look at your sleep. Some people say, “Oh, I don’t need a lot of sleep.” You just likely haven’t experienced how refreshing it is to get a full seven-and-a-half or eight hours. My target is seven-and-a-half hours because that’s in 90-minute cycles, which is essentially roughly what your body’s doing.

And I can almost tell if I wake up seven hours, fifteen minutes of sleep, or even a little bit less that I’m getting pulled out of one of those deep cycles that I needed. And I can feel the mental stuff immediately. I can feel the degradation when I wake up and I didn’t get that full hour. So, disciplining yourself to do that.

 And that equals brain health because they know that when you get into these good sleep cycles, when you don’t have this caffeine and alcohol in your system, your brain regrows cells. So, those of us that have traumatic brain injuries and have severed neuro pathways, the brain actually will make pathways around and regrow pathways that enable us to regain that lost brain function. And it’s different with everybody. And it’s, there’s still a lot of things they don’t know about the brain, but when you don’t allow your body to get to a chemical state in sleep, that doesn’t have the drugs, that doesn’t have the sleep medication, that is when your body’s able to repair and regrow.

And then the brain training, they specifically talked about old people that do Triple Coupon Thursday, go to bingo night, go out and walk. Those are the people that function, their brains function late into life because they’re doing many different types of activities. They’re exercising all those types of brains. But for me, I just try to live a full life. I try to be in company with people. I think the rhythms of the church help this, that you get out, that you are able to study and concentrate. You sit still. I get outside. I exercise, I have four or five different businesses that move me around all different types of activities. My brain is going. My brain is exercising in a lot of different ways, and I’m also taking time to wind down and to read and to sit still and to put the phone away.

And I need to get better at this—all of us could probably do better at it. But doing these things that allow your brain—all different types of your brain—to be exercised.

Breath: Managing the Parasympathetic Nervous System

And then the last one being breath and regulating of the parasympathetic. This one little sweet, old lady that’s a doctor of breath, essentially. I don’t know what it’s called, but she was in her late seventies, probably early eighties, been doing breath work for so long and studying that.

I got hooked up to all these different diodes and had to try to drive a race car with my ability to regulate my different systems through breath. And they basically tried to induce frustration where you messed up and pull you out of homeostasis like we talked about and having control to just do your breath, your respirations at a natural rate.

And she studied me. And I think when she first talked to me, my, my breath rate was shallow and wasn’t as deep as it needed to be. And so I was doing 17, 19 breaths a minute, maybe 22, you know, kind of thing. And she showed me how for me, optimal performance for me was around 11 breaths a minute. And then even if I wanted to try to induce being calm and to try to slow that whole cycle down into maybe seven-and-a-half eight breaths per minute. So, the reality is consciously taking control of this bodily function that is both involuntary and subconscious enables us to cue all the systems into place.

And so, I have a 10-minute breathing cycle at the beginning. And when I wind down, I don’t do it every night, but essentially doing a very slow inhale, hold. Exhale, hold. In like two to three second pause at each respiration at an equal inhale/exhale rate. Inhaling through the nose, out through the mouth. This isn’t going to be a yoga audio track, don’t worry. But taking times and throughout the day to control and to not let your body ping. If you feel that emotional thing rising, literally just taking time, getting yourself—and there’s apps that will kind of give you that bubble. I think the Apple Watch has it. So, just taking that time to just breathe a few minutes. I’ve done it before. When I’ve had a particularly hard day at work before I pull into the house, or before I pull up to the house, I’ll stop at the end of the driveway. And I’ll just breathe a little bit.

You can put on a, a Psalm track, Brian Sauvé. I found his, his Psalm music because of the more recent stuff that’s going on with him. Put on the Psalms, breathe, spend that time with you and the Lord to calm down before you have to go in and be on target for your family, to be able to be helpful there, to regulate the nervous system in a way that allows you to function optimally and not be at this high level.

And they specifically said about us special operations guys that we will ping. We are really excellent at being chill and calm until we had to. And then we were able to ramp up to go mode extremely fast, but that we historically, operate, stay up at that high level for a long time. And we really are bad coming back down off of that.

And I think that that’s something that the human population in general and, you know, red blooded American males can struggle with that. We’ll ping. We’ll ramp it up. That’s we’ve been created to do. There’s a threat to our family. There’s somebody that’s trying to do something that’s not right. Boom, we’re ready. We amp up. We’re ready to go. Whether that’s engage in a defense of those verbally or physically, we can flip the switch and we can get after it. But we’re really bad about coming back down and being chill.

Clearing the Body of Chemical Influences

And so, the conclusion of my trip up there at ICO was I was looking for kind of these external things. And I had an Army psych, she was a really sweet lady, she’s like, “You’re medicating with alcohol.” I said, “No, no, you don’t understand. It’s just one beer, one, two beers.”

She’s like, “No, when you are doing it more than what you did before, and you’re doing as a means to relax, as an external thing to calm down. And you’re taking uppers, and you’re using these downers and you’ve created this chemical environment for your body. That’s not good.” And to hear that from somebody that’s not a Christian and then to reflect on it, it kind of hit me hard.

And I was going to this clinic, and I was looking for them to prescribe to me different medications. And I thought, Oh, maybe my sleep is bad and I need to get a CPAP machine. If I just put this machine on, then my sleep’s going to be amazing. It’s been bad all these years. And now I’m going to be able to do these external things that require, allow me to keep drinking, keep taking these medications, not work out as much as I was before.

And think that my brain is going to work well, and that I’m going to have good performance. That’s not the case. That’s not the case with anything in life. You have to do the work. You have to be disciplined. You have to have self-control.

Putting Alcohol in Its Place

So, coming away from that, my wife accused me of being no fun when I got back from it, because I was really big about the Golden Hour and trying to optimize things. I’m not saying to never drink, never enjoy wine or whatever, but predominantly doing it as a time set aside for celebration. My personal practice now is we do a really nice meal after church on Sundays. So, I I’ll have a beer or a drink or something with the Sabbath meal on Sunday, in the middle of the day. And I won’t have a lot, it be one glass of wine, one beer, something like that.

It gives my body some time to kind of process and break that down. It’s a celebratory thing. And then that’s it. And then I’m disciplining myself. I kind of had a really crazy day yesterday. I got home and I was like, I’m going to have a beer. I just, I took one sip, and I was like, I can already feel that, or it triggered for me the reality that I was going to drink this beer at six o’clock and I was going to have bad sleep. But I didn’t. So, I poured it out in the sink and I’m here early in the morning. I’m recording this podcast for you. And I’m about to shift gears and go get on my mini excavator out at the land and roll right into a full day, firing optimally with my brain because I did the work. I put the screens away.

I didn’t drink. I’m eating good food. I’m exercising. And it works all together to help you be more on target in your life.

Practical Next Steps

I know this is a crazy long one. I really appreciate y’all still being here with me. I hope that this will help you now have a conversation with your spouse, with your children, showing them how you’re serious about health. That you’re going to do the work. If you’re a man and you’re carrying around some extra pounds and you’re convincing yourself that that’s your zombie apocalypse kit built on board. No, dude.  You need to get in shape. You need to be working out. You need to be serious about nutrition and don’t go home to your wife and flip the tables and say, “All right, dear, we’re going to meal plan. We’re going to do chicken breasts.” And she’s trying to raise your kids.

She’s trying to deal with all your laundry and stuff, and you roll back and say, we’re going to, this is how we’re going to reinvent our life.” No. Sit down with them, with your wife, sit down with your spouse, have these conversations, and identify tangible things that you can do, the steps that you can take in each one of those areas instead of being radical. You don’t go into the gym and try to one rep max on the dead lift after not working out. You get in there; you do some form work. You do some air squats; you do some light weight, and you build yourself up to where you can do this.

The same with these habits and these practices for brain health, you have to start out slow. You have to optimize things, but then you need to not lose the momentum. You need to maintain that momentum and trajectory towards health because it enables you to glorify God, to enjoy him, to help others around you and form and be the best version of yourself, capable of not being fearful, not being ruled by emotions, by passions, being as creative and intellectually sound as you are able to do, to produce, to get productive property, to have a durable household and to benefit the city where you live.

As always, if you got value from this, please share it. We’re seeing our growth numbers go up of the number of people listening, but we’re not seeing the compounding growth that we could see if you shared an episode, every episode that you got value from with one person, one new person. A social media post, obviously like I say is extra credit. Get the word out. I’m trying to help y’all live a fuller life. I’m trying to build this movement to be able to affect the cities where we live, the families that we’re in charge of leading, for God’s glory. Thanks for tuning in. Look forward to having you back soon. Talk to you later.