People have a lot to say about others, how they live, what they do, what makes them happy, etc. There are also people who care so much about what others say and think about them that they don’t realize they’ve lost the ability to live life as they want it to be. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauristen have a great discussion with certified nutritionist, public speaker and author Sid Garza-Hillman on living life around a bubble that society has established upon us. Sid touches on the subject of social media, diet, coffee and other mundane things that we have grown accustomed to. Learn some powerful insights on life as Sid talks through all these things and so much more about living and enjoying life.
Listen to the podcast here:
Why You Should Never Be Sorry About Living Life The Way You Want With Sid Garza-Hillman
Prior to starting, we always engage in fun banter, which inevitably, it’s always, “No. Hit the record button. We’re going to lose this.” First of all, Sid has a tip for the ultimate hack for sustainability. He’s going to share about the number one most sustainable thing a person can do in their lives. We’re going to leave you on a cliffhanger, reader. Before that, what have you got in your mug? I’m curious what’s in the mug and what do you fill in with your day with?
First of all, there’s an electronic thing going on in the mug. This is an Ember. Whitney, do you know what an Ember Mug is?
I am well aware. I’ve thought about getting one. Sid, this is a great conversation to start off with for my personal sake. I don’t know if the readers care about this. If you drink coffee, this should be of interest. Even if you don’t, if you drink tea like Jason, if you’re into matcha, this will apply. I looked into the Ember Mug, Sid, because I was on a hunt to find a way to heat up water on my road trip that I did cross country. I came across the Ember Mug and it wasn’t suitable because from my understanding, it doesn’t heat up water. It just keeps it hot. Is the point of the Ember Mug is you can pour in a beverage and it keeps it warm all day?
Correct. It is not a heater. It’s a maintainer. I was finding with a cup of coffee that I want to hang with it a little bit and it gets too lukewarm too quickly and it’s a bummer because, second note, what’s in this cup is magic. I don’t want the magic to last, which is this home-roasted coffee beans by me. I had been I’ve been roasting my own beans for years. This is home-roasted coffee, so I don’t want to waste a drop. Cultures live and die by this magic, so that’s why I got the Ember Mug to maintain this. This is going to stay hot. I’ll finish this and it won’t even get cold.
I sent it in our behind-the-scenes chat so Jason can see this. We’re going to talk about Sid’s book and we talked about the Ember Mug. I sent it to Jason and if you’re watching on YouTube, you can see the expression on his face. Sid, have you seen the copper color of this mug because I hadn’t? The copper is absolutely stunning. Is that what you’re looking at, Jason?
First of all, the copper is dead sexy. Secondly, you can set your temperature, customize presets, and receive notifications with your smartphone. What kind of notification do I need from my coffee mug? “Your coffee has gone to an ambient temperature of 72.8 degrees. It is now ready to consume.” You can also customize the voice.
I don’t use the app, by the way, because it is a nerd level and it makes me upset. I tried it and it’s like, “Your coffee has reached its optimal temperature.” I’m like, “I know because I’m drinking it.” It’s there if you need it.
I would totally use the app because I’m the app person of the three of us. I track everything. On the topic of fancy technology that works with apps, my obsession, Sid, that I’d love to know is the Hidrate Bottle. Have you heard of these?
This measures your water intake so that you can make sure you get your minimum daily requirement of water which, as you know, everybody is a little bit different when it comes to how much water you need. You use the app to set and figure out how much water you need every day based on your body and what you’re doing to exercise all that. This thing measures it. There’s a sensor on the bottom of it and when you place it down on a surface, it measures to see the weight of it to see how much water you’ve been drinking throughout the day.
Every time you fill it, it remeasures and it’s like, “I’m full now.” The coolest thing is that it lights up as a visual cue to drink your water. I always keep this within my peripheral vision and I’ll see it lighting up as a reminder if I’m not on top of it. It’s trained me. I’m on top of drinking water. Speaking of apps, it has an app that I have connected to my watch. I can glance down and see where I’m at any moment’s notice how much water I’ve had for the day and how close I am to my water goals. It’s satisfying.
I hate to one-up you, but I will. I have one question first, which is does it take into consideration what you eat? This is the thing as a nutritionist on the water intake. If you’re eating a high salty diet, yes, movement and things like that but can you funnel in, “Here’s my basic diet. I’m Whitney and I go to McDonald’s three times a day.” It might need to adjust on that or is it purely by activity?
I don’t know if the Hidrate app does that. However, the Hidrate app works with the Health app on your iPhone, which I also use. The Health app can connect to another app where you can track your food. If you want to nerd out on this, Sid, you could probably find an app that increases your water intake based on things like your salt intake. I’m sure they could all sync together and adjust on the fly. In all seriousness, this can be a game-changer because Jason and I talk a lot about reducing screen time and we’re big advocates for that.Social media isn’t social. Click To Tweet
That’s part of the reason I like my watch. I just glance at my watch. My default screen shows me how much I’ve moved my body, how much I’ve stood up, how many calories I’ve burned, and how much water I’ve had. I glanced at it but I can put my watch on Do Not Disturb, so it’s not giving me notifications. It’s not tempting me or drawing me in. I’m not using it like I would with a phone. I’m a big advocate for a wrist device like this for tracking and reminders for my health.
It also reminds me to breathe. It alerts you if you need to take a deep breath. You can use it for meditation. It’s remarkable if you want to use technology but of course, there are drawbacks to all of that. Going back to your Ember Mug though, Sid, I’d love to touch on coffee as a starting point because I’m personally interested in coffee. I wrote a book about it called The Mindful Mug and it took me down this whole journey of learning about how coffee impacts us individually but also the world and animals.
You were saying how people live or die, if I was quoting you correctly, of coffee and certainly, there are different ways that you can take that. There are people that love coffee so much that it feels they can’t live without it, but there are also all the people that are creating coffee, growing it, farming it, and the whole production level of it, and then the coffee roasters and all that. It’s cool that you’re roasting your coffee and I’m personally interested in that because I want to start doing that. It impacts the quality of your coffee. Quickly, since this whole episode will not be about coffee, but I’d love to know how long you have been roasting your coffee? What was the before and after like for someone like me who wants to start doing it at home?
We’ll get back to the screen thing because that is interesting to me, too. In my coaching, I use technology in limited ways but to remind people to take deep breaths and things like that, it’s not automated. We’ll get into that because that’s super interesting to me. I’ve been roasting coffee for over twenty years. The short super CliffsNotes version is I had a band. I used to be a full-time musician in LA and the band was called the Sid Hillman Quartet. We were a coffee drinking band.
We would smoke cigarettes and drink coffee at rehearsal. My bass player worked for the Salvation Army and they were looking into opening some coffee houses as a way to bring in income for the Salvation Army. He found out that there was this roasting community of people roasting and he said it to me because I’ve always loved coffee. He’s like, “People roast at home.” I was like, “The big roasters?” He’s like, “No. They have little roasters.” I was like, “What?” I looked into it and sure enough, there’s this whole culture of people who roast at home.
We always used to roast at home. Roasted coffee buying is relatively new. It started in the 1920s. Before that, people would buy the raw beans and they would put them in a frying pan and dry roast, which I’ve done and it works darn well considering. That’s when I started. I started roasting at home and I’ve been doing it for many years. It is super easy. I get fair trade, shade-grown organic beans for $6 a pound and I roast in small batches every few days. It’s been incredible. I’m super addicted to that. I like the process of it.
I don’t drink a lot of coffee but if I do it, I want it to be supremely good. Hence, the Ember Mug and the roasting at home. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m a crazy person about it because I’m like, “Why can’t everybody be roasting?” They think that I’m a religious convert person about it. It’s easy and good that you never want to drink coffee anywhere else. The best cups of coffee I’ve ever had in my whole life and I’ve been all through Europe have been ones that I’ve made myself. Nailed it.
That last part gives me a lot of excitement, Sid, because for years on my coffee journey, I was on that hunt for buying elsewhere. I’m going to the best cafe and I still enjoy that experience. It’s true when you start getting into coffee but the same is true of tea and this can lead to our whole discussion on health because it’s a great example of how it’s such a journey. My journey with coffee has been years and years in the making like anybody else’s. Jason and I have a mutual friend named Ross who’s also into coffee. He was telling me about his friends that roasted their own beans and I was like, “What? That’s extreme.”
Another one of our mutual friends, Jason, is Melissa. Her boyfriend is into coffee. I remember going to their house and he had all these coffee gadgets. I was like, “Why do you need all this stuff?” I didn’t get it and a light bulb went off where I started learning a little bit more. I’m going through all those different stages of getting more and more into coffee and when I was doing the research for my book, it was overwhelming.
My aim was how can I simplify it? You have to learn everything in order to simplify it. As you know, Sid, having written multiple books, you go down this research rabbit hole in a topic like health or coffee or whatever it is. There’s so much information out there. For authors, as all three of us are, we have a whole other level of respect for other authors because the process of writing a book is so much. The Mindful Mug is the book that I self-published. I went through that point of like, “Why am I even doing this? This is so much work. Somebody is going to pick it up and scroll through it and put it down maybe in a matter of a few minutes.” The amount of work that went into that person’s five-minute journey with something I poured all this passion into. It can feel frustrating at times. One leading off point for you, Sid, is how are you feeling that you have this book? How are you feeling about basically giving birth to another project? Do you think you’ll write another book?
I feel it’s always that point where you go, “I’m done. The publisher has it.” You get a minute reprieve and then you go, “I’ve got to start making sure it gets out there.” You’re wading through the mental train wreck of, “What if it’s not well received?” All this kind of stuff. You give birth to it but you almost want it to be eighteen, so it’s leaving the house. You’re like, “I hope I’ve raised you well. Good luck in the world.” That’s the mindset I want around the book. It’s out of my hands now.
On the screen thing, I quit all social media in 2018 because it wasn’t serving me that well. I’m at a point where in my YouTube channel, if I launched a video, I turn off comments away. I am trying to be focused on my work. I can do another book and I have an idea for another book but not right away. A lot of it is trying to, in a way, shield myself from the feedback. It’s out there. There’s nothing I can do about it. If they love the book, that’s great. If they hate the book, I can’t do anything about it. The less I can be exposed to that, the more focused I can be to maybe embark on another book. As you know, it’s a huge undertaking to write a book and put yourself out into the world. You have to prepare yourself for that kind of thing. It’s getting maybe a little easier, but it’s definitely not easy, per se.
Sid, I have many questions and the first one that comes up as an offshoot of you getting off all of the social media. First of all, I want to know about that psychological process and how it affected it, if it did at all, your mental health, sense of health, and emotional wellness. Also, as an author, health coach, and nutritionist, all the wonderful things you do to support the world. You talked about feedback and people leaving these critical comments on social media.
If you’re off of social media and you’re promoting a book, there are a few questions in one here. Via what channels then as an entrepreneur and an author are you going to use to promote the book? I feel whether one is working with a publisher or you’re self-published, there’s a lot of pressure to leverage social media as a marketing tool. Whether that’s Instagram, buying ads on Facebook, getting on TikTok or doing Clubhouse rooms, etc. The first question, getting off social media, why did you do it? How did it affect your mental health, emotional wellness, and overall health in general? How are you going to market the new book if social media is not on the table for you? I’m curious about that.
First, the quitting of social media. I took it to an extreme because of the work I do as a small steps coach in helping people manage their stress and their happiness. I find that if you can manage that first, then your choices around things like food are a lot easier and a lot more sustainable. I re-read Jitterbug Perfume. If you’ve never read that novel, I highly recommend it. I’m going to paraphrase him, “You have to prepare your mind for wisdom.”
I like that idea of before you learn or before you utilize the knowledge, prepare your mind to have it come in. That’s how I coach people to manage stress so they can then make the decisions. If they learn about food or if their stress is managed, they can implement that knowledge in a way that doesn’t burn them out and overwhelm them. For me, I found that the balance of social media was more detrimental than it was advantageous for me personally.
I didn’t feel good about it. I would go on a trail run and began to go, “That looks good. That’d be good for Instagram.” That was my first thought. It’s not like, “Let me experience this thing in the world.” It was like, “How would that present?” I didn’t like that mechanism in me. When I was writing my second book, Raising Healthy Parents, I was having a hard time focusing. I could write for about five minutes and all of a sudden, I’d be on YouTube or Facebook.
By chance, this feed on YouTube was a TED Talk by a guy named Cal Newport who wrote a book called Deep Work. If you’ve never read that book, I highly recommend it. He has no social media, nothing. By the way, his book that is a best seller was with no social media. First of all, I was like, “It’s possible. Maybe it won’t work for me but it’s not you have to have it.” While I’m trying to write my book and get it to the publisher in time, I took a little foray and read that book. If I ever meet that guy, he saved that book because I shut things off.
I didn’t quit at that time. I quit later but I shut things off and I was able to retrain my brain to focus. I felt like I was losing focus. I couldn’t sustain focus for longer than 5 to 10 minutes and it was starting to scare me. I remember telling Lisa, my wife, “I cannot focus. This is crazy.” I took it to the extreme and said, “What’s it going to not only stop it but quit it and delete it?” I’m not joking when I tell you my hand was shaking when I was deleting my Facebook. I was like, “There’s something wrong with the fact that deleting a membership is making me twitch and be nervous.” There’s something weird about it.
What I say in Six Truths, one of my truths in the book is social media is not social. I want to make sure that people have the right mindset around social media to use to connect with people and that’s great. I’ve had clients who have digestive issues and they want to talk about food and yet I’m going, “You’re on five hours of Facebook where you’re arguing with people all day. Your diet is good. This is a bigger picture than what you’re eating.” You’re putting yourself in a situation of vitriol and people behaving in ways they would never behave in person, but they do it because they have the protection of the screen and everything else. It’s anger and vitriol and I didn’t like it. What I say in that book is, “My career took a hit by quitting social media but my happiness got a boost.” It was a tradeoff that I was willing to make at that time.
As a tiny bit of backstory, Whitney and the readers know this because we’ve talked about it in previous episodes with all of the societal and health implications of social media, that I have been wanting for months to jump ship completely. If we’re entrepreneurs, authors, and creators as the three of us are and many of the readers are, there’s such a deep enmeshing that for me, the fear of, “What is this going to do to my income? What’s it going to do to my career? What about all the opportunities?”
It’s basically FOMO, but you saying that gives me hope that we can break through that illusion of fear that perhaps not only our self-worth but our sense of value in society as a creator, entrepreneur, etc., is deeply enmeshed in that we can break away from it. I love that you’re living that example. Cal Newport is one of our favorite authors. Whitney and I both read Digital Minimalism and it was transformative with his perspectives.
Also, we had a great guest who you would dig, too, Sid. His name is Corbett Barr and he also got off of social media. He still has his newsletter but he jumped ship. He’s like, “I need to reset. I need to reimagine my approach to this whole thing.” I love that you’re yet another I’ll say leader in that movement of breaking through the wall of fear and choosing happiness over whatever we might sacrifice.
Here you are, you’re living and you’re thriving. You have a book and you didn’t die. I want to thank you for giving that visual of your hands shaking because I have had a moment of being close to hitting the delete button and I didn’t do it because I had a similar like, “What’s going to happen on the other side of it?” You’re on the other side of it. Thank you for sharing that. To that part B question, as you brought up Cal and his successful book and work, do you even have a marketing plan with the book? Are you just going to birth it into the world and let it be what it is and not do any traditional marketing with it?
I have to promote it and being on your show is a way to promote it. My blog is a way to promote it. I’m a guest on a few podcasts here and there. When we open back up, I speak around the country at various events and veggie fest and things like that, and that’s a tool of promotion. That’s it. At the time that I quit social media, I would say most of the work I was doing there was, in a way, promotional. I never found it to be super effective. I’ve got to be honest.
If you’re not there right when the Instagram post hits, you missed it. I’m not advocating everybody to quit as I did. I took it to the extreme because of the work that I do and as my own way to guinea pig myself on it. There’s a better balance to be had. At the time I wrote my book, The Six Truths, I was doing research on it and one of the leading causes of death for children 10 to 19 years old in the United States is suicide. A profound substantial factor to that is social media and social isolation, which is ironic. That’s why the truth is called social media isn’t social because they’re the safest they’ve been in terms of physical safety.By missing out on some stuff you’re experiencing other stuff. Click To Tweet
They’re not walking around the streets. People are at home, but it’s the social isolation that is creating anxiety and increased depression. That’s for kids and I have three of them but also for adults, I find that has been detrimental. It was this looking at it like, “How can I negotiate my life better if I took away the pressure of having to be on social media?” When my first book came out, everyone goes, “You’ve got to get on social media.” I wasn’t on Twitter at the time. I lived under that pressure cloud for years until finally, I was like, “Do I?”
I’m sure I’m not going to sell as many books, maybe as if I were on social media. I don’t know and that’s out of my hands. I will say I’m naive in the sense of, “If you put good work out into the world, people will find it.” That could be me being a complete idiot but at the same time, I have that belief on some level that if I put a piece of good work and talk about it a little bit when I can, it’ll spread if it spreads and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. That’s the best I could do. Publishers look at that stuff. “How many followers do you have?” You know well as I do that you can buy followers on Facebook. I never thought that was real. It seems fake and weird. I love how publishers are like, “Yeah, 100,000 followers.” Whether that person bought them or not, they buy into that away. It’s a hard question. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s relatable. This is one of the biggest topics we have on our show. Depending on when someone’s reading this, the timeline is different. In early 2021, Jason and I talked about this movie called Childhood 2.0, which is to me required viewing for parents, especially parents that haven’t dug into this. I know some people can feel inundated by technology. I saw that movie and it opened my eyes to things you’re saying, Sid, about what kids are going through with technology. I said in that episode that I was going to be dedicated to educating myself and now it’s part of my daily research.
I go and I try to learn or tune into at least one thing that kids are going through so I can stay aware and I can stay active. I’m part of this Facebook group. I’m not a parent but it’s called Parenting in a Tech World. It’s eye-opening. Speaking numbers, there are over 100,000 people in there but unlike what you were talking about, Sid, they’re active and there’s great information in there and people will respond. I go on almost every single day and read about what parents are going through, the questions they are asking, and the experiences they’re having.
It’s been eye-opening for me. It’s an incredibly important topic because part of this conversation is that we can’t focus on ourselves in our bubble. We have to know what’s going on and I didn’t know what was going on with children. I didn’t know what was going on with racism for the most part. I was ignorant. I was in my little safe bubble of being a white woman. One of our big aims on the show is to step outside of our bubble or at least look outside of our bubble because people are going through different experiences.
One of the big issues I’ve seen with social media is there’s so much anecdotal evidence. It’s like, “This worked for me, so it’s going to work for you.” This is true with health, too, so we can certainly explore this from many different angles. That anecdotal evidence is driving me absolutely crazy. I used to be someone that would use a lot of anecdotal evidence, too, but I’m trying not to. I will own the fact that it’s my experience but I’m not going to assume that my experience is somebody else’s. That is incredibly detrimental.
One thing that came up for me on this social media element was on March 14th, 2021, I was in a Clubhouse room that was discussing social media. It got me activated because it was the same people reiterating these sound bites over and over again. Everybody was yes and-ing each other. One thing that I wanted to contribute but didn’t even have the opportunity to contribute because everyone was talking over each other the whole time.
That’s when I started to step away. It’s back to one of your points, Sid. Social media platforms in general, a lot of people wanting their opinions to be heard and not necessarily taking into consideration that not everybody has that experience. We either look for opportunities to argue or we look for opportunities not to argue. It’s like, “Can we find more of that in-between area where we have a discussion with each other and we listen to what other people are saying without waiting for a chance to speak?”
One book I’m reading is called The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek and there’s another book called Finite and Infinite Games. He makes up a lot of good points there. It’s overall about business but it can be attributed to a lot of things. One of the things he says is, “True value cannot be measured by arbitrary metrics.” In my opinion, numbers are meaningless if they’re not creating connections. If we play this infinite game, we start to view life as no finish line and no winners, which is something for you to talk about because you do so much running. When you’re doing something like running, I often think it’s all about getting to the finish line, being the winner, and being the best. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and all these different mentalities that we hear.
I’m a big advocate for creating content that resonates and advances your cause versus creating content because you want to get something from it. That’s made a huge detriment. That’s the reason these mental health issues are getting worse because these teenagers are susceptible to what other people think of them. That’s part of being a teenager. You’re trying to figure out your place in the world. When you have this access to something that’s constantly comparing you to other people and you become obsessed with metrics, measuring up, and being a winner getting to this finish line, as adults we know, it’s hard enough to balance all of that mentally.
That journey that you’re on, Sid, of not using social media can feel challenging when everybody’s constantly saying, “Get on social media. You need to have social media. You’re missing out.” As Jason was saying, the FOMO is tough, so I want to commend you for doing that. This is such an important dialogue. I’d love to know your perspective on finite versus infinite. If you’ve dug into that at all, Sid, but even if not, I’m sure these words resonate with you about playing more of the long game and not looking at it as a constant goal and finish line and winners versus losers.
There’s a lot that you said. I’ll wade through as much as I can. I use ultra-running as a metaphor for lots of things because when I fell into ultra-running, I’m not an ultra-runner. I joked about this on my own podcast. Anybody who would meet would be like, “You’re totally not an ultra-runner.” That’s not my thing and yet I love it. To me, 90% of ultra-running is showing up to the starting line, not the finish. The reason I like it so much is because only about seven people care about winning the race.
Most people want to finish it and they don’t even care about the times because different runs are different. The terrain is different from races. Just because you did one race in seven hours, doesn’t mean you can do another race anywhere near that because it’s about particular to the race. It’s about the process. It’s about being outside, being on a trail, and being focused because if your mind wanders when you’re on a trail, you fall. In a good way, it’s forced meditation, presence, and attention. There’s so much I love about that as far as that goes.
To me, I’ve talked about FOMO, fear of missing out, but I have also talked about JOMO, the joy of missing out. There’s one thing that you’re missing out on when you don’t do this thing, but you’re not realizing by missing out on some stuff, you’re experiencing other stuff. It’s not like you giving up social media and now you’re sitting in a vacuum with nothing happening. It’s just that I started reading physical books for crying out loud.
I’m reading five books. I was like, “Why can’t I read multiple books at the same time? Why do I have to read one novel?” I have a stack of books and I read a few pages out of House of Spirits. I put that down and I pick up Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I read that for a few minutes. I’m reading more than I have in years. I’ve written a whole album’s worth of new music. That happened when I quit social media. I used to do music full time and all of a sudden, I’m like, “I’ve got my stuff back.” I started writing again and it started coming.
I realized that it was plugging me up in a way that was detrimental, to use your word. It was taking up too much mental real estate. It wasn’t like I was on social media for hours a day. When I removed that from my life, it was the joy of missing that out because it opened up all this other stuff that I’ve been doing ever since. Writing another book and becoming an oxygen breathing coach. I started training for breathing and running. All this stuff opened up. The fear of missing that out went away and all of a sudden, new stuff has presented and that was for me ultimately was a good move. Who knows?
You got certified as a breathing coach. Tell us more about that because I have a mental picture of what that might mean but I want some nitty-gritty details. What’s that all about?
I’m a nutritionist. You guys know that. I became certified as a running coach because I’m into running and a lot of clients were asking me about it but didn’t have the training that I wanted, so that happened. I’ve been doing the Wim Hof breathing for a few years every day. The cold therapy and the Wim Hof thing. I’ve been interested in breathing and I read a book and I’m sure you guys know about it. It’s called Breath by James Nestor. It’s a good book.
In that book, it’s talking about carbon dioxide and how it’s necessary not a waste product the way that we’ve thought about it. It opened my eyes. I thought it was weird and I saw it as a good fill-out. I’ve been saying to clients for years, “Take a deep breath.” I’ll text them, “Deep breath.” I’m having them set alarms like what Whitney is talking about. I’ve instinctually been in this place of, where does breath fold into the overall living healthy and happy kind of thing?
My first book is called Approaching the Natural so there was much of an idea to return to a more natural way to breathe. I found a program called Oxygen Advantage. It’s owned by this guy named Patrick McKeown, an Irish guy. I was researching different things and that was the one that made the most sense. It’s all about functional breathing. I still do the Wim Hof but I see it as a different approach to breathing. It’s a short-term hormetic stress thing, whereas oxygen advantages how to build in functional breathing over time through some exercises and things like that. It’s applicable to athletes but I’m more of a regular person coach. I work with a regular folk that probably living better day-to-day.
I went and I took his course and it was incredible. I’m working with my first two clients and I’m absolutely loving it. To me, it plays into the idea of managing overall stress, strengthening your body by keeping stress levels managed most of the time, little spikes but in general most of the time, and how that translates into better choices that we want to make. They’re more in line with who we are individually in our lives. It’s been incredible and I dig it. Those are my three prongs, nutrition, fitness, and breathing altogether as one big package.
Other than your running, I’m curious if as a vocalist and a singer, these breathing techniques have assisted with breath support with these new songs that you’re writing. Has that affected your music and your vocals at all?
Long term, that could possibly happen but I have transitioned completely to some nasal breathing. My whole life has been mouth breathing only, so this is going to be weird if we’re going talk about nerdy. I’ve been taping my mouth shut for a few months and have been able to transition. For a couple of weeks, I would wake up at some point in the middle of the night and go, “Whoa.” I’d take the tape off and go back to sleep and breathe through my mouth. For about two months, I’ve taped my mouth shut and I breathe through my nose during the entire time. When I’m running, it’s 100% nasal breathing.
Do you only tape your mouth shut when you’re sleeping?
I haven’t heard of that. I’m glad that you brought this up because all jokes aside, I heard that could help with snoring, too. It was coming up in research but I would love to learn more about this.If you try to eat 100% perfect you’re probably going to burn out. Click To Tweet
Not only snoring but everything else. It’s incredible. During all exercise, I’m nasal breathing. During my runs, I nasal breathe. When you’re nasal breathing, you’re naturally going to slow down your breath. You proceed with your mouth and you can go to take a quick breath. You can’t do that nasal-wise. By closing your mouth, you are slowing your breath down. You’re allowing a little more CO2 to build up in the blood between breaths. We were over-breathing in our stressful culture and we’re blowing out too much CO2.
When you don’t have enough CO2 in your bloodstream, you can have a lot of oxygen floating and attached to your hemoglobin. It won’t release into your tissues in the absence of a substantial amount of CO2. When CO2 increases and you allow it to increase enough, it’ll trigger the release of the oxygen from the hemoglobin into the tissues. That’s what we want. We want the oxygen to go into the tissues but because we’re over-breathing, we get all this oxygen in but not enough CO2 because we’re blowing out too much CO2, so oxygen is sticking in our bloodstream and not releasing. By transitioning to nasal breathing through various exercises, you’re allowing CO2 to be at a higher level in general and therefore, in general, are increasing oxygenation of the tissue.
That’s what these exercises are all geared toward doing. It’s to desensitize your body to CO2 and allow more CO2 in your bloodstream at all times and that allows for more efficiency of oxygenation. I’ve been doing it every day myself for about five months and I definitely see a transition. My running pacing has gone up. My sleep has gotten better. No snoring. It’s completely gone. My wife too started taping her mouth shut and it’s gone. She’s been sleeping better, so there are lots of improvements in that regard.
I’m curious if in public, Sid, you have gone out with your mouth taped and been like, “I’m wearing a mask. What do you mean? Look at this. This is my tape mask.” Has that been an attempt?
No. What happened was one morning, my mouth was taped and it’s little like you’re a First Amendment activist at all times. You’re keeping your mouth shut to protest, but that’s what you looked like. My dog got up a little too early one morning about 4:00 AM and jumped out of bed. I’m screwing up or something. She’s running out of the room, so I ripped the tape off without thinking about it and pulled the skin off my bottom lip. There is a danger. Be aware. I ripped it out and I went, “Holy God.” That happened but usually, because we’re wearing masks, I can keep my mouth shut. I don’t tape during the day but at night, I definitely do.
What brand of tape or type of tape do you use though? That also is another big question. I’ve seen there are special tape. I don’t know if it’s gimmicky but is there a type that you use? Is there a name brand? What can you look out for?
I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve tried about five different ones. I’m not tied to anybody financially, so I’m not selling it. My favorite one is called Simply Breathe. The one that I ripped off my mouth and tore my lip was a 3M Micropore Tape, which some people use. My wife uses it. It’s fine. I tried it and I was like, “Maybe I’ll try that again.” It’s too sticky for my skin or whatever. Simply Breathe is the one that I use most often. It’s sticky enough. It stays on all night but it’s easy to take off in the morning.
There’s a bunch out there, it’s definitely a new frontier of breathing. Even their background in children, the development of our jaws and nasal path passages, and things like that when you grew up mouth breathing versus nasal breathing is significant. I’m urging parents to help their kids turn into nasal breathing if they’re mouth breathing now because of what can transpire later with regards to their exercise and oxygenation. Everything else is cool. It’s a cool habit to get into. I didn’t do it early on. I’ve had, in a way, break that habit. I’m probably going to end up taping forever because when I’ve tried to not tape, I go back to mouth breathing. It’s many years of that habit. Most nights, I’m going to be taping my mouth shut forever but that’s okay.
I looked up Simply Breathe and they’re not Amazon which is cool because Jason and I try to recommend products off of Amazon. Would you buy them directly through their website or are they available in stores, too?
I get it from their website. It’s definitely not on Amazon. I purchased it from Simply Breathe.
I want to go back to a question that has been lingering from the beginning of this show. Going back to coffee as an example of something that I think about all the time. The three of us are into research and looking at data and studies and also clearly, the three of us are life experimentalists. That was a gem you shared about taping your mouth shut, Sid. It’s something I want to look into, too. If we go back to coffee as an example of experiments and bio-individuality, what works for one body and one person might not work for the other.
I love the taste of coffee. I love the ritual of it and I’ve tried a lot of different varieties of it. In fact, my last coffee phase was when I was writing my first book Eaternity and most of those late-night writing sessions were powered by some form of coffee. As I started to listen to my body and become more sensitive and more self-aware, I realized that it was rocking me in a way that did not feel good to the sense that on the one hand, it was giving me the energy to write and create. Also great for pooping, by the way. It’s great for regularity.
I’m curious, Sid, if you have any input on this and Whitney, too because you’ve researched this, whether it was my adrenal glands or my endocrine system, something in my body, for lack of a scientific term, felt cracked out. Every time I would drink coffee, whether it was low acid, fair trade, shade-grown, or organic, no matter what variety or style of coffee, I always felt like I was on crack. I was nuts. I’m already a high-energy guy.
The reason I stopped drinking coffee was because on an energetic level, I found that it made me anxious, it increased my stress, and I was on edge all day. Even though I was “productive” I couldn’t wind down from that coffee high. For my body, I stopped drinking it not because I didn’t like the taste. I love the taste and the ritual, but my body was like, “You have to stop this. This is not sustainable.” I’m curious, what is it that’s going on in the human body in terms of chemical processes that create that effect? Why are some people like myself so much more sensitive to jitters, crashes, and anxiety than others? I don’t know. I’m curious about what you’ve both found in your research on this.
I’m going to get this chemical wrong. It’s called adenosine, the effect of coffee in the body. I do know that it absolutely affects people differently. A couple of things that I want to say about it. One, I have moved in the last couple of years to drinking coffee only in the morning and I limit myself to about 1 or 2 cups total. When I was at UCLA, I could drink coffee up to 11:00 PM and go to sleep. While some people can drink caffeine late and still go to sleep, it does affect the quality of sleep, specifically deep sleep. It’s what they call NREM.
Even though with caffeine, you can go to sleep, “I slept eight hours,” it may not be the best quality of sleep. I have moved my coffee intake. I’m done with caffeine by 10:00 or 10:30. Once I was able to wean myself off that afternoon coffee, I have more energy in the afternoon than I ever did before when I was drinking coffee. I don’t know what that did. I do know that there’s a natural boost of cortisol from about 8:30 to 9:30 in the morning and again in the afternoon. I let my body get up with a natural hit. I’ll have a couple of cups of coffee first on the early side of the day and I’m done with caffeine. A couple of things to note that I always tell people. The darker the roast, the less caffeine. That’s always what people that the opposite of what people think but the reason why hipsters love light roast coffee and medium roast coffee is because it jacks the crap out of you.
I’m old school dark roast, less caffeine. I’m going to throw that out there and it also tastes better but anyways, dark roast is less caffeine. It’s interesting, people are getting a little more caffeinated than they might think because they’re sticking to a lighter medium roast. That’s all I say about that. For me moving it up to the first part of the day so by the time I go to bed that caffeine is out of my system completely and I have felt that my sleep has improved as a result of that. That and the mouth taping. It’s all falling into place, but it’s all that same deal.
There’s not much more for me to add except that I started to become mindful about the coffee that I was drinking specifically and how it was making me feel because some coffee is more acidic and the light roast versus dark roast. I didn’t know that until I started writing my book because it seems counterintuitive. I’ve always liked rich coffee, so I would assume that dark roast meant that it was going to be rich. This is a complicated thing.
Sid said one thing I didn’t mention, I’m mostly a cold brew drinker because I like intense-tasting coffee. Mostly because I don’t drink it black, I always mix it with some milk. I’m curious to see if you’re the same way. I absolutely love experimenting with different plant-based milk. It’s one of my favorite things to do when I go to the grocery store. I check and see if there is new plant-based milk? Is there a new plant-based creamer? Is there a new plant-based half and half?
I love playing with the ratios. That so fun because I don’t enjoy black coffee unless it’s an espresso or something. Every once in a while, a Nitro cold brew I’m into. It’s funny. I rarely drink warm coffee and that’s probably another reason I’m not into the Ember. To answer your question, Jason, I’ve been experimenting with the amounts of coffee I’m drinking every day, the timing that I drink it, which coffee I’m drinking, how I brew it too. I found that my body takes a little time to adjust as well. The beans that I have now are pretty intense and the first time I used them to make cold brew at home, I felt awful.
I felt nauseous. I felt a lot of things that you’re describing, and I started experimenting with the ratios that I was brewing my coffee. I also started easing and working my way into it to build up some tolerance and paying attention to when I had it, how much I had, what was I eating? There’s a lot of alchemy, I suppose, going into coffee. It’s not as easy as picking it up and drinking coffee. Some people think that’s what it is. They just drink coffee.
Some people I’m sure, Sid can agree with us too. They don’t care where their coffee comes from. They don’t care who makes it. It’s coffee to them. They’re drinking it to get by. My experience of coffee is much tied to the ethical side of it and all the elements that go into it but also how it tastes. How does it make me feel? All of these factors. It has become an art form and increased my awareness of how it’s affecting me and other people.
I drink coffee black. I’m pretty simple. I don’t think about it too much and I totally get where you’re coming from because I’ve gone down that rabbit hole of coffee. I use the AeroPress now, which was my travel one when I’m speaking around the country. I was like, “I need a good travel one,” and now I use it all the time. It’s my favorite. I make one for my wife and one for me in the morning. That’s my thing. I’m pretty simple that way. It’s super high-quality beans because I roast my own. Rarely will I ever have a coffee out and about if it’s not going to be good. I love coffee, but I’m not to the point where I’ll drink it from 7/11. I’ll be like, “I don’t need coffee today.” It’s not worth giving up. I’m not going to take that chance. It’s either going to be good coffee or I’m not going to have it at all.
I have two follow-up questions to that, Sid. I want to know, there is an art form. I tried to verbalize this when I was writing my book and found it hard. How do you know if it’s going to be good coffee or not? Unless you’re reading the reviews and get a recommendation, I found, for the most part, I’m curious if you agree, Sid, that you can judge a book by its cover when it comes to a coffee shop. There are visual cues I look for and I had to become conscious of what they were that alert me whether it’s going to be good coffee.
Beyond whether or not it says it’s organic, fair trade, and shade-grown. If they’re roasted in-house, that’s usually a good sign but I started taking note of the smells of the coffee shop, the machines that they’re using, the energy that the baristas are giving off, and the people. There are so many factors that you can take in. I can walk up to a coffee shop and almost guarantee I’m going to know what that coffee is going to be like by those cues. Do you agree with that or are you not as into that if you’re going to get your coffee from someone else?
I 100% agree with you. You can judge lots of things by the cover. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge most books by their cover. Here’s why. If you know that they’re paying attention to the furniture in a coffee house, the aesthetic of it, and how cool it is, there’s at least a better chance that they’re paying attention to the quality of the coffee. I will defend that stance until the cows come home because it doesn’t guarantee good coffee, but you’re increasing the chances that it’s good because they give a crap about the other stuff. On a wine bottle, it’s well designed and it’s this beautiful thing, there’s a pretty good chance that the wine inside is going to be from the same ethic of this is a higher quality deal. I’m totally into that. I completely agree. It makes us crazy.Nobody in the modern world does anything 100% naturally. Let’s do the best we can. Click To Tweet
It brings me so much joy because I am always paying attention because coffee is such a love of mine and it’s interesting because this makes it easier to not drink coffee at cafes because it is rare that a coffee shop meets every single checkbox that I look for. I don’t want to waste my time, money, or intake on bad coffee. Everybody has their own versions of bad coffee but it’s so not worth it to me. I’m also the same way when it comes to buying bottled coffee.
Every time I go to the grocery store and I look at that their coffee section, you can usually judge by the bottle because a coffee company that puts a lot of effort into the label as you’re saying with wine, there’s a good chance it’s going to be good coffee. You can turn it over and you can read about it. If they print their story, details, have their sourcing, and include all that information, the same goes with buying beans, it is growing your awareness about what the labels mean. It’s another inspiration for me writing my book, The Mindful Mug. It’s so confusing. My dad is a great example. He loves the AeroPress, Sid.
I don’t have one but every time I go visit my family, I get so excited to use my dad’s AeroPress. I’m perfectly fine with my French Press because I use it to make my cold brew now but the AeroPress is fun to use and such a great tool. My dad has not gotten into beans yet. He got his first nice coffee grinder. My sister and I gave it to him as a birthday present in 2021. The beans are tricky and it’s because it’s overwhelming for people. All these things we’re talking about and Jason might be bored out of his mind at the moment, but a good coffee will list and disclose and be transparent. Also, probably put some effort into their design for all these reasons that were mentioning, Sid.
Beyond the taste, there are many factors in that transparency that are important and it’s sad to me that coffee, tea, food, beverages, and what we consume in general has become so overwhelming and confusing to people. That’s why judging something by its cover is important because if somebody puts effort into it, they’re making the experience a little bit easier than for somebody who doesn’t know what to do. If you’re drawn to a pretty package, maybe you’ll buy it and it’ll happen to be high quality, but the other element is the price too and that’s the biggest thing that comes up when it comes to coffee, tea, food, and drinks.
So many people are afraid to spend money on things even if that ends up being a much higher quality experience for you and others in the long run. That’s something I’d love to touch upon with you, Sid, too. It’s that relationship you have with spending money on high-quality food and beverage, but also your clients. What do you find with people when it comes to making purchasing decisions? Along with all the things we’re talking about, it’s generally not cheap. The Ember Mug is expensive. The Hidrate Bottle is expensive. The Apple Watch is expensive. All of these things that we have chosen to purchase for our long-term health or preferences add up. A huge roadblock for many people is how much does it cost and is it worth it for me? I’d love to hear how you approach that personally and with your clients.
I argue people are going expensive to eat healthily. I have a couple of things to say about that. There are ways to do it much cheaper, for sure. Exercise is a perfect example. Sometimes I run barefoot. It cost me nothing. I’ll go out the door. I buy one pair of shoes a year tops. There are ways to be healthy that don’t cost a lot of money, that goes for food too. It’s hard to compare a Big Mac and cucumber because you go, “The Big Mac is way cheaper.” You don’t get as much with the Big Mac. You get what you pay for when you buy healthy food.
I work at the Stanford Inn and Resort. I run the wellness center there. We get criticized sometimes because the food’s expensive. It’s organic and it’s incredibly high quality. You can’t apples to apples between that and even another plant-based restaurant that’s not organic and that’s buying cheaper food. Part of it is this ethic of you get what you pay for, spend the money on things. I find that it’s an allocation issue more than it is an overall cost issue.
There are things I don’t spend money on. I don’t have a gym membership, for instance. We don’t have a TV. I don’t have a DirectTV. People are spending $150 a month on DirectTV. To me, I spend more money on health. I’ve prioritized health as the thing that if we don’t have that, the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter as much. To me, it’s allocating your resources. It’s that Gandhi quote, “Action expresses priority.” Where are you spending your money because that’ll make you realize what your priorities are?
Maybe it’s slightly more expensive to eat healthily but you get more from eating healthy. I don’t spend money on Tylenol and Pepto-Bismol. My family takes no drugs over the counter or prescription, nothing. There’s less money allocated to the effects of bad eating because we spend a little bit more money upfront on eating healthy most of the time. For me, that is to appreciate quality. Have less stuff but higher quality stuff is how I would look at instead of having eighteen pairs of shoes and having two that are nice quality that lasts you for a long time that cost a little more money. Less waste in the world, etc.
When it comes specifically to coffee, I will say that’s why I’m such a huge fan of roasting. I know which farms I’m getting my beans from. There’s a company in LA that I’ve been using for over twenty years. I’m not connected to them. They’re called The Coffee Project. They layout exactly where the farm comes from, the backstory of those beans, exactly where they’re sourced from, their fair trade, they’re heavy relationships with independent small farms. Those beans come over, I buy those beans, and I roast them myself.
I’m connected to it. It’s $7 a pound or whatever. It’s way cheaper because I’m doing the roasting for myself. By the way, less packaging because I get a fifteen-pound bag all at once and then I put it in my closet and I roast in small batches. There are ways to do things that lower overall cost and maintain the highest quality possible. When it comes to healthy living and happy living, you do get what you pay for and ask yourself where are you spending your money? There are probably ways you can shave a little bit here and there and allocate a little bit more to the healthier behaviors more often than not.
I can’t believe this hasn’t been brought up yet in this episode. Sid is wearing a shirt that says, “Nutty Nut Nut.” My mind goes to Sid’s either invested in a trail mix business, he’s either has a macadamia farm in Hawaii or he’s encouraging healthy ejaculation. We don’t know which one it is. It could be all three. I don’t want to assume. Sid, what does Nutty Nut Nut mean on your t-shirt? I’m dying to know.
First of all, you earned yourself Nutty Nut Nut t-shirts that are coming to you from me. I made this shirt. This is a What Sid Thinks podcast shirt. I use the term Nutty Nut Nut for years. I have two best friends in Los Angeles. It originated in our group. I don’t know who started it. Nutty Nut Nut means nutty, weird. For years, In my podcasts, Approaching the Natural Podcast and What Sid Thinks, it comes out. I’ll be like, “I read something super Nutty Nut Nut. This guy is a total Nutty Nut Nut.” It’s a term that I’ve used.
You can have good Nutty Nut Nuts that are weird like we are weird doing weird stuff. There are the Nutty Nut Nuts that are not the good Nutty Nut Nuts. Until then, my cousin in LA bought me this for my birthday, which is a Nutty Nut Nut nut holder because it’s become a thing. Nutty Nut Nut is a term I use and it’s defining. When I made this shirt years ago, I sold out of them right away. There are other Nutty Nut Nuts out there and they’re like, “Nutty Nut Nut shirts.” They started buying them up. I’ve had them ever since. That’s the story behind that.
It would seem to me that there is an organic heirloom roasted nut butter business that wants to be born from this. Call me crazy but I’m sure you’ve considered this. Since we’re talking about aesthetics and we’re talking about judging a book or a label by its cover, if I saw a nut butter called Nutty Nut Nut and it was fun, vibrant, and cool, I’d probably buy that nut butter. Not that you need another thing on your plate, Sid. You have arms like Shiva balancing all the things in your life. As a consideration, a Nutty Nut Nut nut butter. There’s a theme song there too, Sid. Get on it, Sid.
I’m hoping that Jason will do one of his impromptu jingles. I’m going to put you on the spot, Jason. If you were to make a Nutty Nut Nut jingle for Sid, what would it sound like?
It would be like, “Nutty Nut Nut nut butters. It tastes good that it’ll make your eyes flutter. Best nuts in the entire world. Tastes good that you’ll never hurl. Nutty Nut Nut. Nutty Nut Nut.” I don’t know. I pull stuff out of my ass. Not bad, though.
I thought that was excellent. “Not available on Amazon,” something like that.
Sid, I love that you’re embracing the fun side of this. One thing over the years of doing this, I’m curious if you both agree or disagree. This might get uncomfortable, maybe you disagree. Much of the health and wellness field sometimes can be serious. We’re talking about healing, detox, and colonics. We’re talking about getting rid of the parasites and everything’s serious. I remember when I got into the business, that was my overall perception of it. It’s like, “Everyone’s serious about this stuff. Why can’t it be fun, joyful, and make jokes?”
Your approach to it, Sid, is on that line of like, “Yes, healing can be a serious thing sometimes and people taking responsibility for their health and wellness. Why can’t it be fun?” Joyfulness and fun should be a part of this conversation. I assume your clients work with you because they like you. They come to you for your wisdom, your experience, your perspective, the guidance you give them. I’m sure people want to work with you because you’re you. Would that be an apt ascertain too is that they like you because you’re you and want to work with you specifically because of your approach?
I hope so. If you look at my YouTube videos and listen to any work I’ve ever done and even read my books, whether you like comedy or not, there’s comedy there. That’s why I like you guys when I first met you years ago. I did a podcast called The Bearable Lightness of Being. I don’t want to say should because I don’t like the word should generally. People come to it initially because they want to feel better and be happier. That’s a pretty simplistic way of looking at it. That’s 100% correct. What happens is, as the more I spoke around the country, even in the vegan plant-based world, a lot of militancy, a lot of rigidity, a lot of measuring, counting, and weighing at the expense of living a happy fun life.
For sure, my clients do come to me because they know me already. They’ve seen me on the videos. There’s comedy. It could be a failure comedy but my attempt is to bring that to all the work that I do. When I’m on stage, I’m ad-libbing and cracking jokes. I’m trying to lighten the mood. If we go to 1,500 lectures on heart disease and the effects of a plant-based diet on heart disease, that’s great information. It’s there. It’s real science. It’s awesome. Let’s not forget that we are choosing to live better and to be happier. That means fun, joy, and using food sometimes for pleasure but other times as a tool to make us feel good and to be able to do cool stuff and a lot of it and as much as we can. That means being present with our families, friends, and all those things that we can do when we feel good.
Humor is a crucial part of that. That’s the good part of Nutty Nut Nut that I talk about all the time. I love Nutty Nut Nuts. I love people that are weird and into weird stuff. I love my wife because you attract the weirdest people. I’m like, “I know, I love it.” I’m always the weird dude in the gym that everybody avoids. He’ll come up to me and I’ll be, “Yes, let’s get this done right away.” It’s interesting. I don’t have to talk about the weather. That’s the fun part of being alive. More power to people like that.
I want to talk about something that you hit on, Sid, when you were talking about going on tour, meeting the vegans and the plant-based, and how strict and militant they can be. Purity culture, we’ve talked about this in previous episodes. It’s a puritanical, clean, almost perfectionist culture that is a part of the health and wellness industry. It’s like, “I need to drink my alkaline water. I need to do my 8.5% ph coffee colonics. I need to swap out my blood like Keith Richards.” There are a million different things. We know people that are A-Type about all of this.
I want to talk about the flip side of purity culture, which is the topic of vices and that one can eat organic, exercise, meditate, and do whatever the thing is for their regimen. Maybe they have a vice or two. I have my vices and I’ve gone through a journey of having people over the years shame me for them, like, “You’re this public figure. You write these books and do these things. You eat this way and you live this way. You do these 1 or 2 things that are ‘not healthy’ for you.”
I’m curious from both of your perspectives, do you have vices, Sid and Whit? Do you have things you consider vices? To live a full human experience or a balanced experience, do you feel that vices can be good? It comes up to me because I see people shaming people for drinking coffee. I see that like, “You know coffee is bad for you. Wines are bad for you. Cannabis is bad for you. This thing is bad for you. You shouldn’t eat gluten.” There’s are a million examples. I could go ad nauseam on this. Vices, are they good? Are they an important part of the human experience? If so, why do humans gravitate toward them? Is there such a thing as a healthy vice?Don’t get food confused with an ethical decision. Click To Tweet
Here’s my approach. I am working with people and trying to spread a message of self-care. I look at it as an ethic and maybe it’s because my Master’s degree is in Philosophy but this is entirely what the new book is about. It’s an ethic of self-care. To me, it’s right or wrong self-care. What that means is that self-care can be things like healthy eating to make you feel good but self-care can also be having a glass of wine with somebody because that feels good too. I want to try to change the conversation around vices per se to say this, self-care, take care of yourself. That means having fun.
I was on a panel one time in Texas, the Marshall, Texas thing. I was sitting next to Howard Jacobson. Do you know who that is? He co-wrote Proteinaholic and the book Whole. Howard Jacobson is an author. He co-wrote it with Garth Davis. He’s a PhD and a super smart guy. We’re sitting on this panel there were about six other people. This person in the audience raises her hand she says, “What do you guys think about red wine?” The microphone was grabbed by the celebrity chef and she said, “Never drink red wine.” This other doctor grabbed the microphone and she said, “A glass of red wine per month raises your risk of breast cancer by 30%.” I go, “Holy crap.”
I had met Howard Jacobson that day but we linked up and I leaned over to Howard and I go, “What were those people eating? One glass of wine raises, who knows?” He grabs the microphone and he goes, “Interesting thing about almost every single blue zone in the entire world, every Blue Zone of people who have the most longevity, there’s one through line, they all drink.” I almost want to get away from this idea of vice. I call it MOTT, most of the time. Your health and happiness are based on what you do most of the time.
If you try to make it perfect, if you try to hang on to somewhat like a never veering what you see is the perfect diet, you’re going to cause yourself so much stress that it’s going to be antithetical to the diet itself. I’ve seen this time and time again, people who are holding on so tight that I’ve described it as like a powder keg, it’s ready to blow. SOS, no salt, no oil, no sugar. They use the word compliant. This isn’t compliant. I’m like, “What are we in, a Star Trek episode?” “It’s not compliant.” We’re not robots. If you try to eat 100% perfect, somehow, you’re going to probably hold on so tight that you’re going to blow out. You’re going to burn out. You’re going to overwhelm.
My point about this is to say I have vices. I love scotch whiskey. I’ve talked about scotch in both my podcast. I will have a scotch while I’m doing my podcast. I too, Jason, have gotten criticized for that. Nobody in the modern world does do things 100% naturally. You can try to eat the 100% perfect diet but first of all, it’s all farmed, so it’s not even wild anyways. Second of all, you’re also adjusting the heater in your house if you get a little bit too cold. We’re in this little pocket of comfort in many areas. We’re driving places. I do, too. Let’s do the best we can. To try to achieve in one area the so-called perfect thing, usually, you’re going to sacrifice other parts of your life.
I am all about setting a most of the time and allowing yourself treats and fun. Number one, if I drink scotch every day, wouldn’t be fun for me. Number two, it would tank my health. If I have a scotch on a Saturday night, I’m digging it. I’m 100% behind it and I don’t even think it’s a vice. It’s part of living a life in a modern world that’s a little Nutty Nut Nut. Having a drink with friends is freaking amazing and great. Nobody should apologize for that stuff.
I’m finding more of an issue with people who think that having a little bit of oil is going to kill you. Sorry, it’s not going to kill you. Is it healthy? No. Oil is not healthy. Lots of things we do are not healthy. Release some pressure and then find a balance of how much you do those, like coffee, in a way that doesn’t tank. If I drink coffee all day, I won’t sleep well and my health would fail. If I have a couple of cups, that works for me. Jason, you’re a little more sensitive to it. Probably no coffee works for you. You made that decision about it and not because of a rule set by somebody else or by a book. To me, that’s good living.
I love that, Sid. That’s in alignment with how Jason and I feel too. We’ve talked about this a lot on the show. I step back and reflect on it because I’ve been there too. I used to want to eat the perfect way, find the right way to eat, and get super strict about it. I also have a history of disordered eating. I had to step back and say, “What exactly am I doing here?” What you’re describing feels a lot like disordered eating in some ways. This desire to eat perfectly and to live perfectly does lead to burnout for many of us if that brings you joy, great.
I also have an issue with people trying to say that what works for them is going to work for everybody else. It’s making things worse, especially because disordered eating is a huge issue. You don’t have to have an eating disorder to have disordered eating, in my opinion. A lot of us are obsessed with trying to get things right in life. We are encouraged to do that through food and a lot of that is part of capitalism, in my opinion. A lot of that is trying to get us to stick to something so we’ll continue buying certain things, whether it’s food, books, supplements, workout programs, or whatever else.
If you take a step back, there’s often somebody who’s benefiting from convincing us that we have to do something a certain way. That affected me growing up and led to a big issue with disordered eating. I take a big stance on this. On the opposite end, people have even accused veganism as disordered eating. I’m like, “This is ridiculous.” Leave people alone and let them make the decisions for themselves is a huge thing that I believe in. For people to make smart choices for themselves that work in however they define smart, they do need to feel less confused. They do need to feel freer to make those choices.
The more that we focus on restriction and positioning food as right or wrong, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy is not helping us because it ends up to people feeling confused and people feeling afraid. A lot of this control is based on fear. The fear that if you don’t make the right decision, you’re going to have to pay a consequence. The fear that we’re all going to die someday and then maybe I can prevent it for as long as possible by controlling what I eat. To your point and one of the biggest points of all about being present is none of us have that control.
If you want to have a scotch and that truly makes you happy, that is probably the best choice for you at that moment because it does make you happy. To your point, Sid, if you’re drinking scotch every day because it’s a habit and it’s not making you happy, you’re doing it because you are used to doing it, that’s a different story. Coffee brings me so much joy. There’s so much judgment in the coffee world too, let’s not forget. This whole, like, “Do you drink black or not?” Ironically, the black and white thing, there’s a gray area when you mix coffee with milk. That’s where I like to be in general in life. I like to be in that gray area. Part of the reason I like drinking my coffee with milk is that I love the nuances of the milk that I add.
Every single time I make a cup of coffee, regardless of milk, it’s a different experience. As you know, Sid, part of the fun of coffee is it’s never the same in my experience even if you grind the beans the same way and you measure them out. There are many things. The water affects it. Everything affects coffee differently. I find joy in adding milk to my coffee. I enjoy the nuances. I enjoy the discovery process. The sad thing is, in the back of my head, I do think about, “How much milk am I adding? Is this too many calories? Is there too much sugar?” All of those things. Probably for me, it’s because of my history with disordered eating. It’s also the result of these approaches that many people take about right or wrong. I think about the packaging.
I’ve made videos encouraging people to switch out animal dairy for plant-based dairy. I’ve had people come and attack me because of the plant-based areas in packaging. You know you can make it yourself and that’s the more eco-friendly route. This is going back to social media, Sid, and something that you are certainly missing out on for a good reason. Going back to the fear of missing out, just because you’re missing out on something, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. The good thing that you miss out on, Sid, is the constant criticism over every single thing you do.
All three of us know and I’m sure the readers have experienced this too, you’ll be focused on helping people with one thing like for me. Did you know you can swap this for that so that you can be plant-based? Did you know you can swap this or that so you can reduce your sugar intake? Every time I do something like that, someone picks apart something else and it’s often packaging. It’s like, “But you could make your own.” It’s that, “Yeah, but,” constantly that’s exhausting about social media. That social media perpetuates this obsession with perfection.
I found a great piece by not being involved in that stuff. Honestly, the irony is that when you don’t have that much noise, you get to think about stuff. I did a video on Intermittent Fasting. Of course, it’s all the rage. I do it food-wise but I made an argument that intermittent fasting is what I call mental nutrition. Meaning because of social media, we’re feeding our minds. I call it mental nutrition. Physical nutrition is the food but there’s what we put in our heads.
I’m an advocate for intermittent fasting with that meaning downtime. The time you’re not putting stuff in your head. The time that you can process and think. There’s so much noise out there that we don’t have moments to process the knowledge that we’ve learned and understood. There’s a lot of chatter going on. To shut ourselves off completely from that for at least periods of time, daily if possible, like we do to stop eating now and then allows the business of the mind and body to be more efficient and more effective.
I found that too, Whitney. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. What about packaging? What about it? It’s still way better on all counts. Do what you can. There’s the ethic of self-care. I’ve been accused of being militant about food plenty of times because I’m plant-based but I’ll be drinking scotch and people are like, “You need to relax.” I’m at a party and I’m having a whiskey. I’m in a great mood and you’re going to say that I’m uptight. I want to make this one little point. I’m talking about myself. I don’t eat 100% healthy. When somebody says I’m militant about food, I always find that can be funny because I don’t eat 100% healthy. As Jason was saying, we have vices and stuff.
I do eat 100% plant-based. The reason I eat 100% plant-based has nothing to do with food. This is where it gets complicated for people to understand. I’m not militant about food because I don’t eat 100% healthy food. I have vices and I relax about it, so they don’t have to hang on tight. I allow myself some treats now and then. On the balance, I eat well. I’m militant about not harming animals. I am militant about ethical things. Also, when I when I’m on stage, I make this joke, I go, “Everybody says everything in moderation but here’s something I don’t even do in moderation, I don’t even kill people in moderation, not even a little bit.” I always make that joke, “I don’t kill people, not even a little bit.” I’m militant about not killing people.
When it comes to personal ethics, don’t get food confused with an ethical decision. I don’t harm animals needlessly on purpose. I’m sure I hit insects on a car ride but I don’t purposefully harm animals. I am militant about that in the way that I’m militant about not hurting people and in the way I’m militant about not stealing. Yes, I am militant about those things. Don’t make that mistake between that and me being militant about food because I’m not militant about food. To me, it’s a mindset that I want people to understand the difference between those two things. Don’t confuse militancy around food with an ethical decision that one might make.
My issue as I’m talking to thousands of people by this time and you guys too is a militancy around food. To me, that’s not ethical. I’ve never met somebody who is super militant around food that I find particularly happy. That could be my perception of them. I get it. When I’m talking to somebody who is measuring, counting, and weighing super about food, super can’t get veered off the highway even by the minute little bit who is afraid of having a drop of oil, I don’t look at that and say, “That one more that.” For me, I go, “They look like they’re holding on way too tight to that. It doesn’t seem particularly a fun way to live.” That’s where I’m at on all that stuff. You’re out there offering, like, “Try this plant-based milk.” Somebody is going to take you to the mat because it’s packed. They caught you because it’s packaging still and it’s like, “Everybody, calm down a second.” I saw that so much on social media that I was like, “I’m done. I don’t need it. I don’t want it.” I felt better for not having it.
Sid, I want you to leave us with one final golden nugget, which goes back to the beginning of this episode, which you teased of the most sustainable thing. I said, “Sid, is this the most sustainable thing you could do for your beauty?” You said, “No. It’s the most sustainable thing.” I don’t want to leave the readers on a cliffhanger anymore. What is this sustainable thing that you have found that is uber sustainable, the pinnacle of sustainability? Please, share with us.
When I said I was going to one-up your data thing, Whitney, is this ring. It’s an Oura Ring. It’s all about the freaking day. It’s my thing because of the breathing I’m doing, it tracks heart rate variability. This is the ultimate nerdy one ring to be the nerdiest of all. That’s that.
I’m aware and thank you for reminding me because I’m going to add that to my list. I’ve been wanting to purchase one for a while. That’ll be up there on my next financial splurge.
It was a birthday gift. It’s nice. It tracks your resting heart rate, your heart rate variability, your deep sleep, and things like that. It won’t be a long-term thing, I hope. It’s cool for me to track that as I’ve been transitioning my breathing anyways. First of all, when we got on, I said, “In the time that we’ve seen each other, all the hair has transferred from my head to his head.” That led us to the next subject, which is the most sustainable thing. Please take note. Get your pen and pencil out to take notes on this, it is to be bald.
First of all, I told Jason that I use my wife’s hair conditioner as my shaving cream. The whole head is done. If you quantify the amount of shampoo and conditioner I have saved over twenty years, the whole Amazon rain forest would be untouched. That’s an anecdote and we’ve talked about that. I’m going to say it’s true. As most anecdotes, it’s true. No deforestation with the amount of shampooing and conditioning I’ve saved. I’m throwing it out there to your readers. If you guys go bald, a lot of things get solved.Prepare your mind for wisdom. Click To Tweet
Sid, this is good because I have started to lose my hair in the back and have slowly started to freak out about it. I’ve been freaking out. I’m like, “I like my hair. I enjoy having hair. I’m starting to slowly lose it. I’m not happy about it.” You’ve given me hope that this could be a blessing from the hair gods that by losing my hair, I can decrease my footprint and save a hell of a lot of money. I’m curious, have you done the math over two decades of what you have saved by not purchasing shampoo and conditioner? If you haven’t, could you throw out a wild number? How much money do you think you’ve saved?
I’ve never done the actual math on it but I will tell you that it probably enabled me to buy a sauna. That’s probably how much I’ve saved, a whole saunas’ worth of conditioner and shampoo.
I feel better that years from now, if I’m in the club, Sid, maybe I can invest in my Tesla Roadster or something. “I’ve saved so much money on shampoo and conditioner, I bought a Tesla Roadster.” We’ll see.
The non-hair club for men is what I call it.
There’s an offshoot podcast in here somewhere.
I love this topic though because it’s refreshing to hear men talk about any insecurity around their bodies and aging. For me, it’s gray hair. As the gray hair starts to accumulate on my head, I’m like, “Am I going to keep it? Am I going to dye my hair? What am I going to do?” Every time I start thinking about that stuff, though, I wonder, “Why does this even matter? Why do we care so much?” There is a lot of data around hair being such an important part of our appearance in terms of how people perceive us. It makes sense that we get this concerned. I’ve told Jason this before, I don’t notice it. I’m like, “Alright.” It’s not like, “Whoa. I’m examining Sid to see if he’s worthy of my attention.” It’s like, “No. I’m not trying to date either of you.” Why does it matter?
A lot of the men that I’ve dated have had some concern about going bald, losing their hair. It’s something that has come up a lot in my dating life. Honestly, they always end up caring so much more than I do. This is such an important reminder for everyone and a good note to end on because this does tie into happiness. Personally, Sid, you’re saying the relief that you’ve had going bald, I feel that way. I’m fairly sure that I’m going to let my hair go gray and not dye it. I could be wrong, so don’t hold me to it. I don’t want to obsess over getting my hair dyed all the time. That sounds like such an awful way to live for me.
Some women like getting their hair done. I have never liked getting my hair done. I get my hair done every nine months at the most. I might move it to six months because my hairdresser is like, “You went a little too long this time.” Honestly, it’s such an afterthought for me. It’s sad that we get obsessed with how much hair we have, what color our hair is, how long is it, how it is styled, all these factors.
To your point, Sid, a lot of those decisions aren’t even good for the environment or long-term health. Every shampoo and conditioner has an effect. It’s the packaging, the ingredients. What are the ingredients doing for the planet? What are the ingredients doing for our bodies? What’s the packaging doing for us? How much does it cost? There’s so much involved with buying shampoo, that decision alone. You then add in the cost of getting a nice haircut. You add in the cost and the effects of getting your hair dyed often, the fumes, the ingredients, the waste, all that stuff. What if we went simpler? I’m not going to shave my head but I might let my hair go gray and not worry about it.
My wife let her go silver gray. I love it. She gets complimented all the time. She let it go. I’m joking about people going bald. At the point that I started losing my hair, I was like, “We’re good.” I got my clippers out and shaved my head and I never looked back. It was the easiest decision. It’s low maintenance. The less I have to do with hair care is all a bonus. Every few days, I’d shave in five minutes and I’m on my way and I value that time saved and money saved. That’s real stuff. Maybe people can use that mindset for other areas that they can shave a little bit of time off and free up more time for other cool stuff. That’s a decision I made.
Pun intended, shave a little time off. Jason, you’d probably look cool going bald. It would be something to get used to. Honestly, Sid, I’m used to that look for you. I don’t remember you having hair. This is what you look like and I accept it. Hopefully, we can do more of that in our lives. Even that note that you said about your wife, hearing that from a man is important too. We get afraid of what people are going to think that we don’t even realize that somebody might prefer us the way that we look naturally. What if we spend all this time, money, and resources trying to change our appearance when either somebody doesn’t care, or perhaps they prefer us looking the way that we naturally are? That contributes to all of our happiness. Maybe we’re doing ourselves and others a disservice by trying to change and control ourselves too much.
There’s some wisdom to be had there. My wife is gorgeous. I love the hair the way that it is. I like that part of her that said, “I’m letting myself go gray.” There’s a sexiness there too. I’m throwing it out there that I like that she was like, “I’m not dealing with this.” She looks great. She maintains herself but she didn’t care about that and I like that she didn’t care about it. That was a valuable thing there that I dug. We’ve been married for years. Something’s working. I like that and it’s cool that way.
I didn’t realize that I am grayer. If you look back on a few videos, I let my beard grow out. It was full-on Santa gray. I was like, “Whoa,” because I shaved, I don’t know if I’m gray or not and I am. Jason, do not shave your head until maybe we do a video where you shave your head. Don’t shave it without checking with me first because I want to be there for you when you do it the first time. We’ll do it on video or live or something. I want to plant that seed.
The last thing that I have for this episode is I don’t know when that point is. Everyone’s got that point of like, “Do I want to do the comb-over in the middle stage? The hell with it. There’s no middle stage. I’m starting to lose it. It’s going.” I’m not quite there yet. I’ll know if I get to that point. I’ll be like, “No middle stage. No comb-over. No toupee. It’s gone.” I’m not there yet. Everyone has that point. You said you got to that point where you’re like, “No middle stage. It’s starting to go. Goodbye.” Is that accurate? You didn’t have a middle stage.
No middle stage. I was like, “This is happening. I’m moving on.” I’m not pressuring you. I’m saying if you get to that point, I want to be there for you.
I will put that invitation, that sticky note on my board. I’ll keep you updated. We reconnected on the show for a reason. The last time we physically saw each other was when Whitney and I came up to visit at Stanford Inn back in 2012. We’ve kept in touch through email. You were a great contributor to our Take Charge series. Years ago, Sid contributed an amazing interview with some great insights to that Take Charge series. Sid, You’re amazing. This was such a wonderful reconnection. We adore you. We love your approach. We love the energy you bring to this conversation. Thanks for adding so much value and love here on the show.
It was a pleasure to be here. I’m a huge fan of you guys. I’m always keeping up with what you’re doing and you’re doing such good work. Thank you for having me on and allowing me to hang out with you. I hope we reconnect physically at some point soon and that we cross paths somewhere and somehow. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and I’m going to send you both Nutty Nut Nut t-shirts. I put that on record. You got to let me know where to send them. They’re organic cotton. They’re coming to you.
I can’t wait for this.
It’s a good encouragement for our readers to check out our YouTube channel so you can keep an eye out for when we start wearing the shirts. I guarantee Jason will wear it one day, even accidentally. He won’t even be thinking about it. One day he’ll happen to be wearing it and I’m going to call him out on our YouTube channel and putting it out there!
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- Sid Garza-Hillman
- YouTube – This Might Get Uncomfortable
- Hidrate Bottle
- The Mindful Mug
- YouTube – Sid Garza-Hillman
- Jitterbug Perfume
- Raising Healthy Parents
- TED Talk – Quit social media by Dr. Cal Newport
- Deep Work
- Six Truths
- Digital Minimalism
- How to Reinvent Your Online Identity with Corbett Barr – Previous episode
- Parenting in a Tech World
- The Infinite Game
- Finite and Infinite Games
- House of Spirits
- Between the World and Me
- Approaching the Natural
- Oxygen Advantage
- Simply Breathe
- 3M Micropore Tape
- Nutty Nut Nut T-Shirts
- What Sid Thinks
- Approaching the Natural Podcast
- The Bearable Lightness of Being
- Intermittent Fasting – YouTube video
- Oura Ring
- Take Charge! Interview Series with Sid Garza-Hillman
About Sid Garza-Hillman
Sid Garza-Hillman is the author of three books: Approaching the Natural: A Health Manifesto, Raising Healthy Parents: Small Steps, Less Stress, and a Thriving Family and Six Truths: Live by these truths and be happy. Don’t and you won’t.
He holds a BA in Philosophy from UCLA, is a public speaker, podcaster (What Sid Thinks Podcast), certified nutritionist & running coach, and founder of smallsteppers.com. He is the Stanford Inn & Resort’s Wellness Programs Director and Race Director of the Mendocino Coast 50K trail ultramarathon.
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