BJ Baker was the first strength and conditioning trainer for the Boston Red Sox and has been involved in the training, preparation, nutritional counseling, and rehabilitation of athletes in virtually every sport. BJ is currently the Head Athletic Trainer at Pure Performance Training and comes on Bulletproof Radio to talk about his experience as a top-level pro in functional movement and physical therapy. You’ll discover why he’s a fan of ‘primal movement,’ the difference between training pro-athletes vs. an average Joe, and what the shortest route to optimal is.
BJ Baker has been involved in the training, preparation, nutritional counseling, and rehabilitation of athletes in virtually every sport. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education/Athletic Training (Magna Cum Laude) at Cortland State University before going on to complete his Master’s Degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Sports Medicine from Ithaca College. BJ has served on the Athletic Training staff at Cornell University, Harvard University and was the first Conditioning Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. He has been married to his wife Laura for 27 years and has two children.
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What You’ll Hear
- 0:00 – Cool fact of the day!
- 0:45 – Welcome BJ Baker
- 4:45 – Top level pro physical therapy
- 8:00 – Being the first strength and conditioning trainer to the Red Sox
- 10:00 – From professional athletes to people off the street
- 13:00 – Functional movement training
- 15:00 – Crossfit concerns
- 19:00 – Remote coaching and the importance of cross discipline
- 24:00 – It’s about the movement PLUS the food
- 28:00 – Primal patterns, primal movement
- 33:00 – Pro athletes and doping
- 39:00 – Laser therapy and whole body vibration
- 43:00 – BJ on supplements
- 46:00 – What’s the shortest route to optimal?
- 49:00 – Top 3 recommendations for kicking ass and being more Bulletproof!
Dave: Today’s cool fact of the day is that the bacteria in your mother’s colon at the time of your birth affects the smell of your gas for the rest of your life. A baby including you was born with a sterile intestinal tract and during delivery, there’s a ton of fluid and other things that carry bacteria from the mother to the baby. Scientist believe that this is the time when the baby’s colon is populated by the mother’s colon bacteria. As a result, yes, it’s true. You actually do have gas like your mother.
Welcome back to Bulletproof Executive Radio. I’m Dave Asprey , your host. First, before we get started on the interview today, a word of thanks. Thank you for making us the number one ranked podcast out there. If you haven’t already done it, please go to iTunes and click like. I just woke up and last night, I went to sleep on the new Bulletproof sleep induction mat and I’m feeling strangely just fully energized this morning. I just have my Bulletproof copy, I am feeling awesome.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the sleep induction mat, it does interesting things to your body. You just lay down on it for a few minutes and it increases your endorphin levels through acupressure points and it feels awesome. Check that out. In the mean time, sitting here in the studio across the internet from me is BJ Baker who is a certified athletic trainer and sports rehab specialist who spent 30 years working with pro athletes from just about every kind of sport you can think of. He’s with Peer Performance Training and here to share some thoughts about recovery with us today. BJ, welcome to the show.
BJ: Thanks, Dave. It’s great to be here with you.
Dave: How did you get to spend 30 years working with pro athletes? What kind of education do you get or how does this all work like a ton of a big number.
BJ: I get that question a lot especially from students and interns that I’m fortunate enough to mentor, but I’ve been really blessed. A simple existence in Upstate New York in the Finger Lakes, grew up in a small town like a lot of young athletes, play football, play basketball on the winter, play baseball on the spring, think you’re a little better than you are, want to play at the college level really, and a lot of people forget back then that there was no internet.
It was a wild west of information for strength conditioning information or power production or plyometrics. That stuff was in its infancy and you couldn’t just go to the internet to look for it. We had to rely on muscle and fitness and USA Powerlifting Magazines. Living in the small town, the captains of the football team got all their stuff together in a trailer and we train together and I was the [surreal 00:03:04] one who would always try to fair it out what was the best progression, how we not beat ourselves up.
Even back then, I was trying to figure out how we could push the envelope physiologically but yet, be precious on game day and that kind of lead me to of course, when you’re an athlete, you get hurt a couple of times, you get to see the local physical therapist and I’m so fortunate enough to be where I grew up about 20 miles from [inaudible 00:03:30] College in Cornell University. We would go over there and use their sports medicine stuff and I got to know their athlete trainers and I got to know their orthopedic surgeons and I was really fascinated by this whole sports medicine concept.
If you even asked a trainer where you’re kind of the team’s first responder where you’re the guy and we see them on our NFL game where someone goes down, a guy that goes out there with a team position is an athlete trainer and you’re nationally certified, you have to go in 200 graduate program and take a national test and you’re qualified to go up there and assess injuries to stabilize neck and spine injuries.
They serve a really important purpose now in high schools because of all the heat, frustration and heat stroke issues that we’re having and of course with all the concussion issues now too, they’re your front line, base line information and they’re basically the ones that take care of our kids in school. I was really interested in pursuing this athlete training curriculum. Go ahead.
Dave: You ended up getting to the top of your game. I mean, you are with the Boston Red Sox, New England Blazers, Cornell, Harvard. You done top level collegiate and top level pro stuff. What made what you’re doing different than what everyone else was doing like how did you end up spending so much time at the very highest levels of your professional because it’s cool. I mean, these are the guys who are the Formula 1 racers of human beings and you’re right there fixing them up. What made your approach different than what everyone else does when you go to physical therapist or something?
BJ: A really well balance education with awesome opportunity. I went to a small university in Upstate New York called Cortland State. They’re known, had won the first athlete training programs at the country as well as the first undergraduates programs in the country to offer things like anatomical basis of movement, kinesiology, biomechanics.
I really got turned on with the science there, had great relationships with my doctors. I was very fortunate to get an opportunity to either graduate assistantship at Cornell and that graduate assistantship was the basketball world because I got to work in a division one athletic settings, do rounds with great orthopedic surgeons but I also did my masters working at the college which probably a lot of people don’t know but is a excellent research-based university that at that time, put out more research, exercise physiology research than any other school exercise in the country.
I really got to appreciate how to do research, how to read literature, how to read the research and understand it. It all pay it off. Did well in both settings, interviewed at Harvard and got to go to Cambridge, Massachusetts, a small town guy from Upstate New York and it was just an awesome experience. Seven years later, I’m plugged in to the Boston scene, the athletic trainer I worked for at the time, Bill Coughlin. Here I am, a newby right out of grad school, put me on the Gatorade Research Board as a representative from the university, got to ask a lot of questions, got exposed the science a little bit more.
The thing that really rocketed my career towards strength and conditioning a little bit more in a way from the athletic training was when I got to Harvard, here’s the largest athletic department in the country. At that time, I think they had 45 intercollegiate sports there, no designated strength conditioning facility.
BJ: As a sports medicine person, I’m like, “If you want to keep these guys off on the field, you need to develop a strength. You need to encourage proper mobility. We got to get them working out.” At that time, I took the responsibility. We built the first intercollegiate strength conditioning facility there. We convert it in old building, 6,000 square foot state of the art, I hired the first strength coach.
It’s kind of my baby and I also developed a good friendship with Mike Boyle who’s become the legend in strength conditioning and functional training. His website, I always refer my students’ website. He does a great job there, strengthcoach.com and it’s just what we’re all about. It’s all being the strength and power with a good foundation of movement. I get this expertise, I get this experience and I was fortunate enough to have the Red Sox come following.
Now, of course, I’m in a Crossroads. My wife is eight months pregnant with our first child. I’m totally happy at Harvard, I’m very content. I’ve got a great setting. I’m stimulated intellectually. I’m in the strength conditioning world and they offer me the job. Obviously, they have a blessing in my wife because I was away pretty much half of the time but we agreed that it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.
I had no idea what a challenge it would be. We will talk a little bit about the challenges of professional sports, but it gave me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve been an athletic trainer working with a team with my whole career even though my master’s degree was an exercise physiology and strength training, even though the strength and conditioning facility was my baby at Harvard, I was not really comfortable. I almost didn’t take the job because they wanted me to be the first strength conditioning coordinator for the Red Sox and that was a big deal.
Dan Duquette took the job there. He had a history of working closely with strength and conditioning. We have lost one of our star players, Alice Berks to a bizarre squatting accident across the street of Gold’s Gym.
Dave: Bizarre squatting accident? Bizarre?
BJ: Yeah. In his wisdom, he want to keep everything in the house and he want to hire somebody who’s qualified and that I was going to be that guy and I almost didn’t take the job and then, I got some very wise advice from Ed Lacerte who’s still actually the trainer at the Boston Celtics today and Ed said, “Listen, you’re gonna be in the big leagues. You’ve got good interpersonal skills. You’re going to make a difference there. People are going to love having you. Don’t hesitate for a moment, go for it.” I did and it was a great eight years of working with, as you referred to earlier, some of the best athletes at what they do.
Dave: What made you turn it all in? Your current approach is you’ll work with anyone off the street pretty much, right? You’re taking this Formula 1 things. It’s like having race car mechanics work on your Toyota Camry. What do people get if they come and they work with someone with just your depth and level of experience, do you get bored? Do you like, “Oh look, okay. You need to lose 30 pounds and maybe if you like walk at lunch or something.” What level of human being comes to you because you’ve been spoiled, you only work with guys who are motivated and make lots of money hopefully as pro athletes. What’s the difference?
BJ: Well, the difference is that you have to really be patient and it’s a whole different kind of animal. Like you said, you got super motivated and not in all cases but for the most part, super motivated athletes at the Major League Baseball level but I think what really resonates with me is when I made the transition from baseball back into the clinical setting where I basically work at a health facility, I do manual therapy part of the day, I coach and train athletes the other part of the day.
Now, I get to work with younger kids and just understanding how we are a movement crisis in this country and you talked a lot about posture and ergonomics and how to sit in the office and all the problems that we incur when we sit for too long period of time as [inaudible 00:11:31] point it out and you’d point it out many times. We know from the research that sitting 6 or 8 hours a day can undo a nice one or two-hour workout. It’s a bad deal. The kids will be shocked. We evaluate kids as young as 8, 9, 10 years old, they can literally not squat. They cannot get down into a squat position.
Dave: Does that have something to do with those ridiculous like hard plastic chairs with their welded [inaudible 00:11:55] like sitting in this little … It’s like cubicle training or something for kids’ seats they have in schools.
BJ: Well, it’s not good for them, that’s for sure but basically they have flexors short enough, then you get all kinds of movement restriction and that’s really why we go about things the way we do here. Everything is … Well, we’d like to say, at least evidence lead but evidence based, sometimes it’s a little frustrating waiting for the research to come out. It’s evidence lead, but when we pull out our athletes, whether it’s a 40-year old CEO of a company or 10-year old that wants to play Little League Baseball or a 16-year old who wants to get ready for college or whatever it happens to be, we have an evidence based progression that we evaluate people with.
The first thing that they do coming to the door is the functional movement screen which is basically a test that’s been set up by famous physical therapist and functional training, his name is Gray Cook. He has his own website and he does a great job of helping you quantify what is missing in those seven primary movements.
Dave: For people listening and there’s other people driving right now, usually about 50,000 people over the first week will hear what we’re saying. I have flew in around the world literally and recommended functional movement screens to some of the top investment bankers and has friend traders around the world over the last year and a half. I have flew in around talking about how do you upgrade yourself to people who are in their position to upgrade themselves.
These guys, none of them have heard a functional movement training but the few of them who has look at that and go, “This is great.” The find the guy in London or they find the guy in anywhere on the planet that can do that kind of work. They’re all super, super satisfied and these are guys who are in desk all the time and they might ride their bike home from work or something. For the most part, they are sedentary and the stuff you’re talking about, their functional movement, Gray’s work, it transforms the office people maybe more so than pro athletes.
BJ: Yes. The impact is dramatic. Like I said, people are shocked when you take them through that that they’re unable to do fairly simple movements that don’t require a lot of strength. They’re missing stability and they’re missing mobility in their joints and they’ve literally lost this from sitting for long periods of time and once they regain that, now, I think the status say something like you’re 85% more likely to be injured while training or playing a sport if you’re a symmetrical or you have a major movement pattern now.
This helps solve that problem and think about it, we want people to come to us and train to get strong, fit, healthy. Nutritions have big part of what we do here as well. That’s actually the foundation for everything and we’ll talk about that I’m sure in a little bit, but we have done very well because of the CrossFit phase sensation now because as we’ve discussed before and you’ve discussed with other guests here, some of the boxes are very aggressive. They do way too much volume. They get hurt. They come to see us, we rehab them. Then, they also see what we’re doing in here as far as our conditioning and our strength programs and they say, “That looks really similar to what CrossFit does.”
I said, “Yes. It is very similar.” We train first responder too. We prepared guys from the military. We have college athletes and pro athletes and they said, “What’s the difference between you and CrossFit?” I said, “Well, I like to think that we put a little more emphasis on our progression and our on-ramp bringing the person who really is dysfunctional, really had some movement issues which I would argue as all probably any office worker in the country or truck driver or person that has a significant [inaudible 00:15:38] and we bring them in. We evaluate them.” Lights go on when they say, “I literally cannot squat.”
I said, “Yeah, you know, in third world countries, people hang out around the fire in an Astro Grass squat position for hours without moving.” You can’t basically go to a parallel squat without falling over. They know immediately there’s a concern there and then, if they think that they can also achieve, become very very fit efficiently, not working two hour work outs. They’re only working three to four hours a week with the right focus , and the right movements, and the right exercises, they’re ecstatic. Once we get people in the door, very few people.
Dave: I believe that in fact I gave a talk at a large CrossFit event in Miami about a week ago. I’m sorry, I was talking about nutrition and recovery for CrossFit but it’s interesting, I think CrossFit is here to say, it’s a growing movement. There’s lots to be pour into it. I have some concerns just that people don’t get to recover enough or are not doing it because I know that if I did a CrossFit level of intensity every single day especially with the amount of time that I sleep in my work schedule, I would probably break.
There were girls there who could clearly wipe the floor with me. I am like, heads off to you. I wonder if there are things you can do as a functional movement coach to help people do a better job in CrossFit, not just form but teaching them the on-ramp, but then letting them take that into the box and doing the things they do. Do you see that a lot with your new client-based?
BJ: Yes. For people that are curious about, how do you get the most out of athletes? How do you get someone who is basically send to a most of the day super fit, super strong, they are able to train a high levels, go and do crazy things, go skiing, play hard on weekends. How do you get them there efficiently? What we do is we set them up on a program, we basically make sure that all their movements are at least a two out of three and if not, we’re working at them.
Then, you introduce therapeutic exercise. Okay. Fancy word, but basically just means exercises that are put in proximity of another exercise in your work outs who have compliments it. It opens up a joint before you use it or It lengthens the tissue after you contracted it, but what it does is it allows you to use your [Risperdal 00:18:19] and doing something active which is one better for recovery anyway and two, very therapeutic as the name kind of lens itself.
Yes. Super density, super training density. You get a lot down in your short amount of time and guess what? You don’t have to lay down with that muscle swollen as [inaudible 00:18:35] forget, your movement patterns get better continually and then, we would just continue to challenge you based on how fast you progress.
Dave: One of the things that I hear from the executives that I coached is that they don’t have time to go somewhere. They go out and they say, “Hey, I’m going to be at this country at this time. I have exactly one hour if I drive through a gym, I drive to specialist.” They want to do something over Skype or they want a program they can do at home. With the style or functional movement you do, can you do an assessment remotely? Can you do an assessment in person and then, give them an exercises and say come back in two months or is this a sort of thing that really in their drive there and physically be there with you?
BJ: We’ve talked about having a Skype model and I don’t think it’s impossible. There’s a challenge because there are certain implements that you use, a two by six and there’s a hurdle step where you’ve got a low apparatus that if you buy the kit, it’s easier to execute but people make them at home. It’s not impossible but I would say it would be easy enough to do a variation of that and then, to do coaching over Skype. Of course, we have clients here that drive from Western Mas, from New Hampshire, from Rhode Islands, fly in from Philadelphia, New York, they will come in. They will book two or three sessions or do a couple of days, get their homework, come back in a month or two.
Dave: That seems so much more preferable. I’ve done some Skype remote work where I’m the client and it’s funny especially for me but my hip flexors especially my right one weren’t working so well and because of the work I’m doing, writing for the full term executive, I am often … At least I was sitting down 14 hours a day more than I used to and I taken that out of some of the movement things that I used to do just being busy.
I’d moved to a standing desk because it’s kind of cool, I’ve got a motorized one. I can raise it up and down to a various heights. I am around it and it’s transformed a lot of what I do, but in order to figure out that those things were shut down, I actually did it over Skype with my buddy [Kye Egosky 00:20:47] down in LA which is not quite a functional system but very related to sort of things you do.
When I saw them in person, there were some more things that came out. I’d say, “If you’re listening to this and you want to do this kind of movement upgrade which is one of the top six biohacks I recommend, you should go see some of the [inaudible 00:21:07],” like fly there, drive there, find the guy in your community, whatever it is and look eye to eye, let them look at the micro way you move and think I have someone like me walked in the door, I am guessing within like five seconds, you spot all sorts of weird stuff just in the way I walk.
You have a matrix vision like everyone just sees some guy walking in and you’d like see every little angle moving in my joints, then you can tell that the right is weak in the left. Am I right? I’m guessing it right?
BJ: Yeah, it’s a career hazard. My wife is always out. We will be driving down the street and somebody will be running and I am like, “Oh.” The valgus force on her knee is killing me, I can’t believe that leg whip she has. She needs to see it and she’ll just roll her eyes and stay on that kind of thing but you made a good point, I would encourage people regardless of who you choose, find somebody who’s well-versed on function movement screen.They have certifications actually, I think you can even find people who is certified to do it going on the website.
Dave: The Google Maps stuff. Yeah.
BJ: Well, it’s actually functionalmovement.com.
Dave: Okay. Cool.
BJ: It’s the FMS site and when you come and see a practitioner like myself, that’s just one tool that we used. That’s one evaluation. I do a pretty thorough orthopedic assessment for arranged emotion, mobility, disability type of stuff and there’s this whole other schools that we follow and live in. There’s the PRI’s, the Postural Restoration institute, has some great stuff on hip alignment and breathing techniques. Then, there’s a DNS which is basically based on the prog school’s thought which is all about very similar but it’s basically anatomically, we tend to do certain things and we know that if we evaluate someone and when we see what their tendencies are that we can prescribe therapeutic exercises to really help them.
Of course, there’s a soft tissue work. We do a lot of instruments that sit off soft tissue here, Graston techniques, fascial scraping, Chinese cupping and that stuff even a couple of treatments sometimes will open people up, make them feel like they’d never felt before and now you start to systematically apply therapeutic exercise on top of that range that you’ve gained with the tissue and you give them little myofascial tweaks, self-myofascial tweaks they can do a foam roller, a cross ball, therapeutic stick. See? They take all that home with me and now it becomes home work and they just drive.
Dave: All right, BJ. You’ve convinced me. Next time I’m in Boston, I am going to look you up because you said Chinese cupping, myofascial scraping, how could I say no to that?
Dave: Next time I’m there, we’re going to spend a couple of hours making me try which is good. I’m actually really excited because you’re doing cross discipline work which it seems to me in the type of performance work that I do, if you stick to only one discipline, you tend to just miss out on so much and I see this in medicine, I see this in business and everything else and you need to pick and choose the techniques at work without too much dogma and it sounds like clearly you’re focused on movement but you’re going very cross disciplined and also, your way into nutrition.
Let’s talk about why nutrition became a part of your training system even though your background is more on the movement side, strengthen, and conditioning and [inaudible 00:24:35]. When did you make the transition from it’s about the movement to it’s about the movement plus the food?
BJ: Well, it was interesting because my colleagues were actually ahead of me on this a little bit. I have consulted nutrition, sports nutritional people since 1986 and I’ve always thought I was on the cutting edge of everything and I’ve had great success working with people. One of my colleagues, Mike came up to me and said, “You really got to look into this Paleo diet.” To me, it just sounded like a tag line and he’d explained it to me and goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I pull on the back burner,” and I believe things happened for a reason.
I think, two days later, Robb Wolf was on the Strength Coach podcast and I listened to him and there was an epiphany for me, lights on. That makes absolute total sense, what we should eat, what we are made to eat, have a nutrient dense, low information diet, low toxin, sustainable. It all made sense. There was this intuition that it couldn’t be wrong but then, of course I did due diligence and I went on the internet and I read and I tried to basically disapprove Paleo to myself. I will tell you what?
Dave: [inaudible 00:25:59] approach to just approving Paleo didn’t work.
BJ: What I ended up doing, I did it for 30 days. I did it for 30 days and I did it strict and I tell you that my body had changed in probably close to 20 years. I was securing the same amount of muscle. I’ve always been lean. I’d never considered myself I have a problem in those areas at all. I never really paid much attention to my lipids and my blood work because I never had any problems but I heard all the things that Robb said and what I did is I did that for 30 days, I lost 10 pounds. My abs came back. My face leaned out. My work outs got better. My sleep got better.
All of the things over here, the desk talk about, but until that happens to you, you just don’t understand the power of just experiencing that and I’ve said, “This works.” When people say, the only real way to prove it is do 30 to 60 days and see what it does for you and I would tell you I have done this with force people here, it changed people’s live. I’ve got some unbelievable stories if you want to share them with you. That is really powerful.
I don’t know that anybody who shows to be disappointed off to basically follow the guidelines that hasn’t been life changing for them and what’s really frustrating is that it’s very hard when you’re in the referral based network like we are to find western medicine doctors that will get on board with you on it.
Dave: I actually started listing them on the website, Bulletproof Precisions and there’s a surprising number of doctors now who are carrying Bulletproof copy and Brane Octain oil and Glutathione and things in their practice because they’re like, “Well, patients like it and it benefits like they’re getting the outcomes I want.” They’re recommending this kind of a diet whether it’s Paleo or Bulletproof.
There is some differences between them but one of the things that stands out in both of those approaches is that when you have the idea that you have to change one variable at a time, a lot of times nothing happens because if you have 15 things that are smacking over the head, well now have 14, nothing happens. You experienced it and you’re going to share some stories from some of your clients. I am just thinking from a movement perspective, is it the same deal? Can I just change one thing? You need to change the things that are lined up, all of the things at once or at least most of them?
BJ: Well, literally there’s an algorithm. The FMS system, it’s set up so there are priorities. Thoracic spine is really important, pelvic position, hamstring length, core strength but except the screen is set up in such a way that you know if you don’t do well on the librates that you have to work and address that first or if your Thoracic spine is a symmetrical and we’re going to take a look at that first and then, we’re going to look at your librates.
We’re going to take the worst movements, if you have one or two in that scale of three, you’re going to take the lowest one, you’re going to back that down and it’s interesting the way the body’s wired. I’m a big believer in primal patterns. If people have movement patterns that are out, we know if you go and start to bear crawl, if you start to do simple rolling progressions, if you start to do something as grounded as close chain as like a kettlebell swing and then you go back and you retest, a lot of those movements are restored.
A lot of times, just moving properly in a primal pattern and I think that’s why move matters having so much success because not only you’re outdoors and having fun, but it’s actually healing people and getting people stronger and addressing a whole bunch of different things all at once.
Dave: You can’t use the aid for it. If you say heal, that means at some sort of medical thing, you know you have times like 50,000 licenses and a whole bunch of insurance and it’s hit by compliant. Now, moving out, it doesn’t heal anyway. It just makes it feel really good. Come on, man. We don’t want to make relation here.
BJ: It makes them feel better for that. [crosstalk 00:30:09] By the way, I love doctors. I’m happy we have medical regulation. I also like it when people can say, “My scar heals even if I’m not a doctor,” but hey, maybe it’s right.
Dave: Yeah, maybe. Let’s go back to the story side of thing. You have a couple of examples from people who totally rock it when they combined the food approach with the movement approach that you work with. How fast does it work? What happens to people?
BJ: Well, I think probably the best example that I have of the potential and this happened a couple of times with different clients. Let’s take our client and we’ll call him Bill. Bill comes to us and he’s basically referred by his physician because he’s on Statins, he’s on blood pressure medication. He’s 40 pounds overweight and he has atrocious posture. He lost two inches in his height since college because he’s so kyphotic.
We bring him in. We do our thing and guess what? After about a year of … Actually less than a year, I think it was like eight months, after just doing work out his movements, addressing his posture, his ergonomics getting up from a desk, doing things periodically throughout the day, addressing his tissue length and all very simple stuff, that time intensive in any way, shape or form, modified his diet, of course, I don’t even think that we did an aggressive 30-day with him. We just cleaned his diet up a little bit and took a lot of the inflammatory foods out of there.
Dave: Like gluten and margarine, I’m guessing were the first two?
BJ: Yeah. Yeah.
BJ: Oils. Within that eight months, off Statins, off blood pressure medication, lost 40 pounds, gained an inch and a half back in his height and people say, “Well, how has that happened.” I said, “Well, you become aware of your posture. You improve your core strength and you reestablish tissue lengths and you incorporate strength that you are going to actually literally regained some of that compression and that kyphotic head forward position that you develop because of bad habits for the last 20 years.” We don’t guarantee results like that but I would argue that they are typical if people really adapt the program and take the reading in their nutrition seriously.
Dave: That works for non-athletes, people who are high performance but not necessarily in track and field or on the court. What about the pro athletes when they do this kind of stuff? I know that LA Lakers just came out of the closet, like, “Look, we’re eating burger and meats, drinking Bulletproof coffee, etc, etc.” In fact, I am going to have Cate Shanahan on the show pretty soon, the physician they’re working with.
Dave: In your experience, that’s one level of increasing performance for these guys but a lot of them have been accused of doping and other things like that. How prevalent do you think it is? I know that if you were working on some of those doping, you wouldn’t know they were, that’s not your game at all but how prevalent do you think this is in part of sports?
BJ: Well, I’ve been away now for almost ten years. It’s hard for me to have perspective currently and I think I always tend to be a little naive, I give the athletes a credits from the hard work.
Dave: I do too.
BJ: I am a little naive. Some of my colleagues in the industry laughed at me because they think I am naive, but did you see the 16 minutes interview with this guy who is supplying Alex Rodriguez?
Dave: Yeah, I did. I think he was on the Joe Riggan’s show the day after I was on. God, it’s running in my brain. [crosstalk 00:34:05] It starts with a B. All right?
BJ: Yeah. The things that he is saying about this Gummies, this Testosterone Gummies that they take and the timing and knowing how fast it clears from the systems and they’ve got it down to a science and he was tested X number of times and didn’t come up positive and I was like, “Wow. Okay. I guess the science is being ahead of the testing which I think most people believe that the science stays ahead of the … The masking science stays ahead of the testing science.”
Dave: It’s funny. In pro sports, I suspect that will always be the case and I wished that they will just say, “All right, here’s the limits of what you’re allowed to do. We have to tell everyone what you’re doing because in Formula 1 racing, things like seat belts and all the other safety innovations that are in your car today end up happening at the very highest elite levels of performance but because it’s something that can trickledown, I think that there’s probably all sorts of stuff like the clear or whatever else that is but probably would benefit 50-year old people greatly that remains hidden and that’s one of the reason I am very open. Yes, I used testosterone.”
I’ve used it since I was 30. I was obese and my natural testosterone levels are either low or below low normal most of the time. In fact, always. They have been even though I can raise them somewhat with nutrition, I don’t raise them enough. I take bio-identical hormones and I’m super open about it, but I know there’s a lot of people who still say, “I’m doping. I am a bad person.”
I’m seeing more guys who are just like, “Look, I’m getting older. I like to perform like I am younger. I am just not going to do it. I am a listed athlete anywhere.” They still don’t want to talk about it because there’s something like, “My testosterone turned to estrogen, I might be a girl.” Do you see guys who come in or women who are on hormones who are making out of their holistic approach to increasing their muscle mass to functional movements, having their brain turned on all the way or is this just mostly just food and exercise or maybe I just don’t know?
BJ: Well, I don’t know if it is happening because I addressed from the food and exercise stand point. I am totally with you, I think because we have vilified androgens and performance enhancing drugs and it’s just because, I think we were very territorial, “That’s our sports. How dare you corrupt our sports? Shame on you and we’re never going to forgive you for doing that.” It causes a lot of problems and I am not going to deny that and especially when a lot of the pros athletes that I used to talk to is always saying, their concern isn’t as much for themselves. It’s stuff for their kids.
They don’t want their kids to have to make the same decisions or have those options on the table. It would be nice if everybody just played queen and you didn’t have to think about things like that but medically and just driving, I’m concerned that we don’t look at the possibilities because we’ve vilified those androgens and the testosterone and why shouldn’t we be able to take a look at someone’s testosterone level, monitor the liver enzymes, put them on … Sort that they’re productive, they’re stronger, they have more energy. What happened until they’re 80s and 90 years old? Honestly, we’d all like to just live a great life and be fit and just drop dead one day.
Dave: I tell you what? When I’m 90, I will have the testosterone levels of over 30-year old. There’s no question about it because I smear the armpit cream on my arms everyday and that’s part of my anti-aging strategy but I know that’s that not as common, it’s becoming more common and I know if I get stagnant as athletes aged, that they’re not allowed … Even pro athletes, that they’re not allowed to keep their levels where they should be because I think we would see some pro athletes in their mid-40’s who are still hitting it hard because they were able to hormonally manage their health, not to levels above normal.
Why is it fair that a 20-year old on the court if you’re competing with 20 or 30, why is it fair that they get to have more testosterone than you just because they’re younger? That just seems like a rip off but anyway, like I say, people don’t always tell you about what they are doing there but it’s an interesting thing because I think some of your clients who are seeing anti-aging physicians at the same time that work with you would see even more benefits from the type of things you do with nutrition and with these other things.
BJ: Yeah. I don’t want people to misunderstand what I’m saying either. I think we just limit some of the possibilities we have to just little more productive healthy life. I am not suggesting that we should take them just to play better in sports, perform better in sports. I am worried about the big picture. [crosstalk 00:38:42].
Dave: It’s about breaking down, even just getting old. I am not worried if I am getting old. I am going to get old. I just don’t want to get broken as I get old. Anything that is going to help stop that including functional movement, including eating lots of good quality fats, all of it. Everything humanly possible I am going to do. Let’s talk humanly possible. What about complicated machinery, electrical stimulation, lasers, ozone, all that kind of highly radical stuff. Did you ever play with that stuff? Do you see people doing it doesn’t work or what’s your take on it?
BJ: We do use lasers a little bit in the physical therapy setting, cold laser, some and they do help healing. I have not had the opportunity to be on a lot of cutting edge stuff like that. I was in the sports medicine realm basically from the mid-80s to 2,000 and really, there’s a lot happening in the last ten years as far as people using hyperbaric chambers for healing and using the bodpods for body composition and that stuff is all cool.
One of my good friends, Ray Barile is a trainer for the St. Louis Blues for I think for over 20 years now and they get to play with some really cool stuff. It’s all about getting the guy’s back quickly and healing and that’s one of the reasons that I fell in love with your podcast because you’re very good about getting these guys that are on the cutting edge on all kinds of technology.
Dave: Best technologies.
BJ: Yeah, best technologies. Some of it is a little strange but almost always by the end of a podcast, you’ve got me convinced enough or that guest has me convinced enough that I am going to research it further.
Dave: BJ, thanks. I am honored that you listen to the podcast. Thanks a lot because that’s a top of your game. All right. A couple of more questions for you. Whole body vibration, do you ever play around with that?
BJ: I have. In fact, I used your unit.
Dave: Oh, you have. Do you have one?
BJ: One of my clients who has his own fitness center in his building that he provides for his employees basically just buys everything that we suggest. He’s totally into it.
Dave: Do he want to be interviewed? Because I am looking for CEO’s to do that. I do the same thing for my employees, they got all sorts of way Bulletproof things. Would you introduce us?
Dave: Okay. I want to talk to them.
BJ: I’d be happy to do that. He’s a great guy and he’s really passionate about fitness and nutrition and he bought one of your vibe units and I was like, “Jeez, we really need to get something like that here.” He says, “Well, I will bring in [inaudible 00:41:18] for the weekend.” We had it here and I took a lot of my clients and athletes on it and we did all kinds of stuffs, single leg squats and pushups and what I find interesting in one of his comments is he has a little nagging shoulder injury that we try to stay on top of.
I get some … Well, put elevated pushups, the vibe plate, he goes, “My shoulder felt amazing after that.” I said, “You know what, that perturbation, that vibration probably actually encourages your rotator cup to turn on, keep ahead of that humor centered glenoid and probably cuts down and pin any kind of dysfunction in there why you’re doing your push up.” He goes, “I don’t know why it works, but it felt great.” It’s cool.
Dave: Wow. That’s so cool. Well, if you decide you want, you let me know and we’ll hook you up. It’s something that I do sometimes with pushups, I have a ladder. There’s like a loft here where I do my biohacking. I put my legs up in the ladder and I am doing almost an inverted push up and you get a huge pumps from it but there’s something about the vascularization, but what I believe is really happening is you’re getting the nerves and the muscles, there’s the proprioceptors there to sense what’s happening and because if you’re doing a squat, your brain is like 30 times a seconds squat.
It does some neurological adaptation thing and I think that’s what we don’t understand about it but I do know, I feel better and I lean out really quickly. I’m a fan.
BJ: Yeah. I’ve heard you say that. I haven’t been able to use it long enough to make any kind of conclusions but I enjoyed using it.
Dave: All right.
BJ: That totally makes your work outs intense.
Dave: Awesome. By the way, didn’t know you’ve ever had one and I am not trying to sell my stuff here like we didn’t set any of this stuff ahead of time for people listening, I am just curious. We’re coming up on the end of the interview, but I want to ask you about supplementation on top of food before we lined down, whey protein, collagen, eggs, I don’t know. Egg is not really a supplementation, vitamins D. Do you tell people to eat anything like that?
BJ: Well, it depends on the person. Most of the time, I try to address everything with nutrition and I start them there but as we know, even a Paleo dieter, Bulletproof diet as the [inaudible 00:43:40] brought up with micronutrients and their vitamins. We have to take a look at those things and if we’re deficient, is that causing some of our problems? I would probably venture to guess that I am typical on what I supplement. In other words, people that are Paleo, they listen to your podcast, they listen to Chris Kresser. They listen to Rob Wolf.
Dave: The K2, Mag.
BJ: Exactly. Magnesium, K2, D3. I’m big on fermented cod liver oil, butter oil, combination from green pasture, I think people sleep better on that. They get a little bit of fermented food on their diet as long as they are not bothered by histamines and those things and they also get the K2 from the butter oil in there. It’s just a great food to add and magnesium is big and some people like to use the natural comp, some people like to use the glycinate, chelated glycinate which works well.
I don’t really have a strong preference either way there but I know most people need magnesium and the way from routine is it’s actually always a challenge. We try to get quality grass fed and it usually comes down to yours, I’m trying to think of the others, the Warrior Way or I think SFH also has a grass fed.
Dave: I don’t understand what SFH is. Okay?
BJ: Stronger, faster, healthier. Something that might be the side, but I would say yours has the least reactivity from people that are sensitive lactose or dairy.
Dave: Thanks for letting me know about that. For people listening, here’s the deal with whey, mine or anyone else is. There’s a huge variation in [coli 00:45:21] up there, there but even mine, don’t take too much whey. I see body builders in particular who are kind of … They hacked their bodies but they are not anti aging and longevity or even inflammation focused as much as some other disciplines but they have great knowledge but they will do like eight scoops of whey a day and that much methionine and cysteine is going to cause the inflammation.
That’s why, whatever whey you get, take two tablespoons a day and then use other forms of protein that aren’t going to cause as much inflammation because excessive protein is not going to help you.
BJ: I also use your collagen.
Dave: Oh, you do? Thanks as well. I totally didn’t know if you’d ever tried any of my stuff when we got on the line. That’s awesome. Thank you for letting me know. Now, that’s a great answer on supplementation. I love that. All right. Shortest route to optimal. If you had just to offer a little bit of advise for people that they want to optimize everything given the things you know, what’s the path for getting there? Working out more? Eating more? If you had someone that have two weeks and just need to get as optimal as they can get with the average person, what four or five things they just need to do?
BJ: Well, they have to make sure they’re moving properly.
Dave: Okay, let’s start with moving.
BJ: Movement, as far as the fitness and the wellness aspect, moving well is super important. I think, physiologically, lymphatic drainage, all that stuff, pain, function. It’s super, super important, but that all has to sit on top of … If you’re really talking about highest possible level, that has to sit on top of good sleep, managing your stress.
Dave: Move, sleep, stress.
BJ: Move, sleep, manage your stress, have awesome nutrition but I usually define nutrition being like science evidence -based, low inflammation, nutrient dense, low toxin, immune system boosting, executable, affordable and sustainable.
Dave: There you go. You’re pretty [inaudible 00:47:33].
BJ: Yeah, I mean that’s basically what you preach as what Rob Wolf. He preach as … I mean, that’s one of the most Paleo people that you’re trying to define it. It’s almost become a cliché in other circles, right? Everybody is like, “Oh, you’re going to stay that again?” All that stuff undoes any kind of physical progress that they are trying to make.
If you don’t, literally you have a weak link in there, you’re in trouble and probably the one that Chris Kresser’s brought to light especially in his latest book that I didn’t really have an appreciation for is social connectivity. I knew we were social creatures and that’s important to us. He’s showing out research in there that’s basically suggesting that that’s even or at least as important to living long and healthy and avoiding sudden death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Dave: I mean, from aging perspective, he’s totally right there. There’s a lot of personality variance there as well if you do the different typings. If some people really need less and some people like they are going to die if they don’t get more. It’s almost like a genetic thing, the same thing with … I’ve been doing a lot of work with my client but once you don’t resolve quickly from inflammatory conditions on the Bulletproof diet, it’s always one of those genetic things where you ran your 23 [inaudible 00:48:51] genetic genie and it’s just personalized.
For you, folic acid is like kryptonite and for you, it’s fine. Those individual variations are important to understand but like I said, there’s four or five things that you’re talking about, it’s the recipe and if you want to do three out of four, you’re host, right? You got to get at least 80% of the way there on all five of them because if you drop one of the balls, all other balls don’t go in either. Cool, right?
BJ: I am totally with you.
Dave: I like your list. All right. Now, final question, one that you probably know is coming. Top three recommendations for people who want to kick more ass in all domains. Not just from your career but just the wisdom you’ve learned in your life. Lay it down.
BJ: Okay. One, I’m always been a science guy. I’ve always been anatomy, physiology, show me the evidence kind of thing and I’m totally going to throw you off here and I’m going to go a little more spiritual, emotional, behavioral. Yeah. I’m a big believer and that we have to be better about living in the moment. We have to learn to enjoy here now whether it’s happiness, observations, learning, contemplation, adversity.
Pain is not the exception. It’s a critical part of the story. We’re so preoccupied and busy that I don’t think that we’re good at just taking in what’s going on. We have to be present more and not distract it. I am pretty big on that and I am not good at that. I tend to be all over the place. I have been working on my focus and just to appreciate that a little bit better.
Dave: We can help them.
BJ: Yeah. I also believe that you need to make your relationships a priority. Surround yourself of high energy, inspirational, positive people that are critical thinkers, they are mentors. They don’t bring you down, they compliment you. They make you better. Life is too short not to find those high energy people and those people you can learn from and interact with and what’s the same winning? Winning is not the thing, helping others win is the thing. Just really give and back and then, I guess that leads into showing gratitude and I thought I was unique and you’ve had quite a few people say that on your podcast, I think and what was really cool to hear is that JJ brought some science to bear with that, right?
BJ: There’s actually some science that says, ” Being grateful, showing gratitude is really good for you.” I think we just have to realize how blessed we are and appreciate it and give back and have a servant’s heart. Make time for people, contribute, leverage your energy and knowledge and put it towards something good. I really try to do and it’s help me a lot and it’s kind of the older wiser thing when you’re young, you’re full speed and you’re just all about the science and you’re all about just doing what you need to do at the end of the day and then you just take a deep breath and you go to sleep and you do it all over again and then, I think as you get older, you have children.
Life becomes a little more interesting and you just take all that stuff and you appreciate it a little bit more and you realized that it’s what you do with other people in your relationships and how you help other people that makes you better.
Dave: Very well said, BJ. Speaking of gratitude, thanks for that and thanks for being on the show.
BJ: Well, thank you. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my buddy, Dave Jack for putting us in touch, David Jack, he’s a good friend of mine and I know that you guys have spoken a couple of times and I have to thank my wife, Laura for this too because truth be known, I wouldn’t even know about you if it weren’t for her. That’s probably not true because we travel enough circles by now that I would have listened to your podcast or whatever but true story, we were looking, trying to find a way to have coffee with some kind of cream because I always drink a black before and she needs something, I am like, “You got to cut the sugar and cream out.”
She found your Bulletproof coffee recipe, I read that. I read the back story on it and I said, “This guy is pretty cool. I want to see what he’s all about and the rest of the history.” I appreciate all you’re doing for the industry and just making people more aware of performance and health. It makes people on the trenches like myself, it makes our job a lot easier when I can refer a high quality podcast like yours and it’s nice that’s evidence-based, you provide references in a world today that’s a lot of it is just anecdotal. Thanks for what you do, Dave.
Dave: All right, you got it. For people listening, if you’re grateful that you’ve just heard this awesome interview with BJ, I would be grateful if you took a minute to go to bulletproofdietbook.com and drop your email address in there. You’ll get a copy of the very latest Bulletproof diet info graphic. This one is completely redesigned. It’s extremely professional. It looks better than before. You’ll also get the first chapter of my book as soon as it’s done being written and the reason I am asking you to do this today is because I am showing publishers the interest levels of my book and when you sign up for that, I cannot show that number to publishers who I am speaking with now and say, “Look, this is the book with demand for it.”
I would really appreciate if you take a minute to do that and you really get something that’s really valuable in return. BJ, thanks again for being on the show. Everyone else, see you again in a few days.
BJ: Thanks, Dave.
Dave: If you haven’t had a chance to learn about on your sleep induction mat, check it out on the website at upgradedself.com. It’s a brand-new Bulletproof product that allows you to reach a deeper sleep more quickly by triggering an endorphin surge. You basically unroll the mat, lay down on it and enforces your body to relax. Your sympathetic nervous system, your fiber response freaks out and when you tell it to calm down and you just keep laying on the mat, then your whole body just relaxes and you melt into it and it feels really good and it helps me get to sleep faster and very specifically, to get more deep sleep.