TN50#138, “You Use to Be So Much Sharper”, 06 November 2023

Hi Team,

Has an off-hand comment ever changed your life?

If you said, yes, me too.

No s%#@, there I was: a commando at the highest level having a conversation with my beautiful wife, Carly (who never put up with much BS when I wasn’t deployed).  We were agreeing to disagreeing about something and as she worked in the kitchen Carly said something to the effect of, “you use to be so much sharper”.  What I really remember is she wasn’t even talking to me at that point, she seemed to say it under her breath, just stating a fact to herself.  I was very offended overhearing the comment as I walked out of the kitchen and the reason I was offended is, she was 100% correct.

Happy Monday and welcome to The Next 50 #138.  I like to think of personal performance in 3 components: physical, mental and emotional.  My frameworks focus on 4 Buckets: Eat, Sleep, Move and Think.  This blog is my sandbox for sharing information that you might find useful for your personal performance.

That comment led me down a more focused path regarding the care and feeding of my brain.  Thank you, Carly!

Fast forward about 10 years to 2023 and a forum discussion on brain health; now that sounds very official so let me be clear, Pepperoni Hot Pockets were brought up as part of a potential therapy stack for TBI and as I understand it the guy recommending them is one of the smartest retired commandos in the bunch and a jokester.  Obviously a very unofficial discussion by a group of humans that can and have solved many unsolvable problems.

The more serious members of the group were commenting about all the potential cutting-edge brain repairing therapies that are out there: HBOT, psychedelics, hormone therapy, TMS even stem cell therapy.

As I read through all the comments, I thought about the guys I’ve seen in the gym over the decades arguing about the perfect “branch chain amino acids” in their prework out drinks, mean while they can’t do 5 decent pull ups.  This individual is out of sequence and needs to focus on the basics or fundamentals of strength and performance.

The remainder of this blog will be my personal learning and experience focusing on the basics or fundamentals of brain care and maintenance.  For those new to the blog, this is not medical advice as I am not a doctor, consider these reflections of an old commando who’s trying to take care of his brain.  For all of you who have or will explore healing with any or all of the therapies previously mentioned, including an occasional pepperoni hot pocket (hey, if it makes you happy…) please focus on the fundamentals of maintaining your brain health before, during and after those advanced therapy sessions.

Here’s my personal top 3 healthy brain basics:

  1. Minimize Inflammation
  2. Get the best sleep you can
  3. Maintain a high VO2 Max for your age

I’m sure other people have said it but the first person I heard say it was Dr. Peter Attia, “if it’s good for the heart, it’s good for the brain.”  As it turns out my personal healthy brain basics align perfectly with this, they are all also very good for the heart.

Here’s a few things to you can do:

  1. Minimize Inflammation
  • Eat healthy, avoid highly processed food and any food or drinks that makes you inflamed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat Salmon every day OR take a lot of quality omega 3 supplements; I take about 3 grams of DHA and EPA along with pro resolve mediators every day
  • Use a Dry Sauna 5 or more times a week
  • Use other supplements as needed to minimize markers of inflammation that can be measured with simple blood tests.
  1. Get the best sleep you can
  • Consistent bed and wake-up time, give yourself at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep time
  • Perfect environment: pitch black, cool, quiet, comfortable
  • Pre-Bed Rituals: relax the body, calm the mind
  • Mind the clocks:
    • Master Clock: get real sunlight throughout the day, minimize bright light once the sun goes down,
    • Electronic Sunset: turn off your electronics at least an hour, preferably 2 or 3 hours before bed
    • Food Clock: stop all calories at least 2 hours, preferably 3 or 4 hours before bed; Alcohol wrecks sleep, have your adult beverages at breakfast so the alcohol is gone by bed time (only slightly kidding)
  1. Maintain a high VO2 Max for your age
  • A high VO2 Max means you have a high functioning circulatory system, a major component of brain related illness is a reduction in the micro vasculature of brain matter. High VO2 Max = healthier micro vasculature in the brain
  • Do a lot of Zone 2 Training
  • Do some Zone 5 Training
  • HIIT Training/Classic CrossFit will also improve VO2 max

In summary: make sure you are knocking the basics of brain health out of the park before, during and after you worry about the advanced therapies like stem cell therapy and psychedelics; give yourself the best chance possible for those high-end therapies to work as best as possible.

Oh, and if you’re finishing this article up thinking, “BS, I’m different!”  There’s a 99.9% chance you aren’t a special little snowflake so go back to the top and get focused on the basics.

As always share the post with your team and anyone who might find it useful and let me know what you think!

Have a good one, Alex

PS. Need more information, just ask:

PPS. We’ll get back to Adventure Ready next week.

PPPS. I now have a professional relationship with Thorne, my go to supplement provider.  I would love to talk to you about your supplement requirements, how Thorne can meet those needs and the SWEET discount I can provide you as a Thorne Client.  Please reach out: