[02:36] Ari’s Background
[06:48] Ari’s Nutrition While Preparing for Ironman France
[09:10] Some Tips to Maximize Exercise Productivity
[13:31] How Ari Used HRV
[17:51] Other Ways Ari Keeps Fit
[22:39] Apps Ari Uses
[25:25] Fitness Tips
[29:09] Doing Less and Nutrition
[36:28] Productivity Tips Unrelated to Fitness
[46:46] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. If you’re into productivity, biohacking, getting the most out of your time, and ensuring that you get fit, stay healthy, and eat right in the process, then today’s podcast is for you. I have the author of an awesome blog called lessdoing.com, as well as the podcast host of a podcast by the same name, Ari Meisel, on the call with me today. And Ari has experienced with Ironman, he’s got experienced with Crossfit, he’s done a combination of yoga, nutrition, natural supplements, and pretty rigorous exercise programs to support his health to get through Crohn’s Disease, which, as many of you may know, is an inflammatory disease of the digestive tract. But he’s also really into biohacking and productivity, as you could probably tell by the name of his lessdoing.com website. And today, he’s going to share some of his top tips with you in the realm of biohacking and finding more productivity out of fitness, out of nutrition, out of health. So, you’re in for a real treat. Ari, thanks so much for coming on the call today, man.
Ari: Yeah. Thanks, Ben. I’ve been listening to your podcast forever. So, it’s really an honor to be on here.
Ben: Well, cool. That’s good to hear. And I’ve taken a listen to yours as well, and it’s definitely chock full of good info. So, the place I want to start, Ari, is you’ve got kind of an interesting story. Not only do you have twins, just like me, which I think is very cool, but you’ve attended the Wharton School of Business, you’ve got kind of a little bit of an educational background, a fitness background, a biohacking background. Can you give us an overview of your story and how you got into all this?
Ari: Yeah. Sure. So, I actually started my first company when I was 12, which was a website design company, and then two other technology-related companies before I graduated from high school. So, I’ve always been working on stuff. When I went to the University of Pennsylvania and to the Wharton School, I basically majored in real estate and entrepreneurship and graduated a year early. And I also minored in art history and psychology. So, I had kind of a diverse range of interests, but I was never, what I would call, someone who’s very academic. So, I got out, and I started working for an alumnus who was a Japanese real estate development company. I was working in their Austin, Texas operations, and I was home for a visit, and I went upstate to Binghamton, New York to visit a friend of mine. And while I was there, he showed me these old buildings from the 1860’s actually, and they were these old cigar warehouses. And I had this vision that I could build a loft district in Binghamton, New York, having grown up Soho.
So, I was 20 years old and fairly naive, but I made an offer to buy the buildings that day. And then basically the deal was that anybody that worked on the job had to teach me their trade. So, in the next three years, 18 hours a day working in every construction trade there is, and really learned real estate development and project management. And from there, I sort of got into green building and LEED certification stuff, and became a specialist in green building materials. Had a blog called the LEED Pro, and that turned into a book that came out a few years ago. And that’s basically what I’ve been for the last 10 years, I’ve been a real estate developer.
About seven years ago, I got diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. And Crohn’s is a pretty horrible illness, it’s a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Very, very painful. Leads to malnutrition, and lots of visits to the bathroom, and lots of really unpleasant situations. And it’s considered to be incurable. So, I was put on a lot of medicine. I was taking 16 different pills a day at one point, and they were helping, and hurting, and helping, and hurting. And really, I was just feeling awful. And I was gaining weight, and losing weight, and feeling weak, and having brain fog, and all sorts of just terrible things were happening, until I got to a particularly bad low point where one night after dinner, I was in so much pain that I went to the hospital and I was convinced that I wasn’t going to make it out of the hospital alive, basically. I did, and then basically decided that something else had to be done ’cause the medicine wasn’t doing it.
So, my wife, who is a yoga instructor, basically, together, we sort of worked on rebooting my body. And I went on this journey of self-tracking, and self-exploration, and self-experimentation, and six months later, I was off my medicine completely. And then, I did my first Olympic distance tri a few months after that. And then, about a year later, was able to compete in Ironman France. Months before that, I had trouble getting up a flight of stairs without feeling like something bad was going to happen. So, it’s been an incredible journey, and now I’m almost five years without pain and without medicine. And where Less Doing came from was that I got to this point where I was feeling really good, and I had figured out, I felt that I figured out the nutritional aspects, the supplements, the fitness and sort of stress management was the part that hadn’t come to light. So, the whole concept of Less Doing was that I wanted to help myself and other people be less stressed. And the best way that I could think to do that across the board was to help people reclaim as much of their time as possible so they could use their brains for the things that they want to do, and that’s where Less Doing was born from.
Ben: Now, I know that today we’re going to be talking about productivity and biohacking a little bit, but got to ask you, just based off the fact that you did Ironman France with ulcerative colitis, did you need to use something special for your nutrition while you were out there in the race?
Ari: So, first of all, it was Crohn’s, and they’re related. Ulcerative colitis is basically Crohn’s, but it’s confined to the large colon, whereas Crohn’s can be kind of anywhere in the digestive tract. So, that was the fine one. The coach that I worked with didn’t want to work with me originally because she was convinced that Ironman was going to, and the training was going to kind of push me over the edge. I had to do a lot of experimenting with things. And I was still in the process of healing at that point, but Gu’s and gels are gross, but you got to eat ’em. There’s no way around it. And the most disheartening thing was I had gotten really used to Hammer Nutrition, and I really actually kind of like the taste of Hammer Nutrition. They have a chocolate gel that is not too sweet and not too liquid-y. I thought it was really good. And then I find out, which apparently is common knowledge among people who do Ironman, but you basically have to use Powerbar stuff because that’s what they have for the races. And if you lose your bag or something, you have to be able to use that.
Ben: Yeah. You got to be ready for it, at least.
Ari: Exactly. So I literally spend three nauseating weeks acclimating myself to the Powerbar stuff, which I still hate. And I did that, and then we get to the race, and race day, they’re like, “Great surprise! We have a brand new Powerbar flavor!” And the flavor was mango passionfruit.
Ben: That sounds like just like a blended nasty concoction for your gut, right?
Ari: Yeah. Basically. But as far as with Crohn’s though, really, what I had to focus on, other than just getting used to that stuff, was salt intake. So, I did a lot of SaltStick because dehydration and Crohn’s would not have worked out very well. So, I was just really on top of my salt intake.
Ben: Nice. Okay. So, cool. Let’s jump into some of the unique things that you have to offer to our listeners in terms of productivity and, especially, kind of getting fit in less time, or being productive while you’re getting fit. So, for you, or people you’ve had on your podcast, ’cause you get a lot of productivity experts on your podcast who I know share some of their knowledge too, what are some of the cool tips that you use or that you’ve learned to get fit in less time or to be more productive while you’re out there exercising?
Ari: That’s a great one, especially with the Ironman training when it was 20, 25 hours a week. You have to use that time for something, right, other than just training, which seems like the training should be enough, but it’s never enough. So, as far as getting fit in less time, I’ve actually gone through some interesting cycles with this. So, I have done the 25 hours a week of hardcore Ironman training, and then I really got into HIIT training, high intensity interval training stuff, and Crossfit endurance. The Crossfit endurance programs, I think, are really amazing. The way that they sort of mix in a little bit of long-distance stuff, but it’s really a lot of that high intensity interval training which, you can read up dozens and dozens of studies of how that is as or more effective than the LSD kind of training that most people…
Ben: Yeah. And you don’t need, of course, to train, most of our audience kind of knows this anyways ’cause we’ve talked about it before on podcasts, you don’t need to train that 25 hours a week if you’re using what you’ve just described. Did you use the specific Crossfit endurance protocol, like the book by Brian MacKenzie, what’s it called? Power, Strength, Speed? Or something else?
Ari: So, I didn’t actually at the time because I wasn’t aware of it. I’m a huge fan of Brian’s stuff now. And if I had to do it over again, I’d probably be doing my training in like five hours a week. What I will say though is that, I think generally speaking, for the average person who wants to do triathlon stuff, Crossfit endurance alone is probably good enough for up to a Half Ironman. But as you know, Ben, the mental aspect of Ironman is something that I don’t think is as easy to train in a short amount of time. You have to basically make yourself used to being in the saddle for five hours if that happens. And even if you do that once in a while, I would still probably have done that less, but for Ironman, there is that element, the mental training. However, there are short cuts to that too.
Ben: What you mean by short cuts?
Ari: Okay. So, I know that you know about heart rate variability training. Right? So, I feel like the, it’s just a stressor. The boredom one is kind of, I feel like that’s an easier one to get over. With the boredom aspect of just being and doing something like that for so long, there’s all sorts of visualizations. You can play songs in your head, you can go through, I used to go through movies in my head all the time. But the heart rate variability stuff is so interesting for training your resilience. So, you’re basically, I think Dave Asprey said this the best, which was that your body can handle an enormous amount of stress if it doesn’t view it as stress. So, basically, I feel like the heart rate variability training was instrumental. And the training overall and just seeing where I was at, kind of two sides of it, actually. One was getting up in the morning at four in the morning if it was a bike day and seeing what my number was on the heart rate variability scale essentially, and knowing, regardless of how I actually felt, knowing if that was where I could go for a hundred percent or if that was a day where I had to kind of take it a little easier because my body was experiencing stress that I wasn’t aware of.
Ben: Yeah. I think that’s a super important point that you make in terms of getting the most training bang for your buck. And it’s actually, in my opinion, like one of the downsides to working with a coach sometimes, is they’ll lay out your training plan for you, and you might wake up one day and your heart rate variability, if you’re testing it, is low. And that’s kind of an issue I’ve had before is if you’re trying to adhere to a strict program, heart rate variability is low, technically you should just go out and be easy on yourself. And I think sometimes, people get sucked into the rigidity of a training program sometimes. But I’m 100% agreement with you that for making your workouts more efficacious, simply placing your bigger workouts or your harder days on those days where heart rate variability is high gets you a ton more productivity in your fitness routine. How did you use heart rate variability to train yourself to be able to handle kind of like the mental rigors of Ironman or be able to do something like ride five hours less?
Ari: So, what I found, I haven’t worked a lot with the HeartMath ones, the emWave2. I mean, I’ve tried them. But there’s actually a really cool iPhone app from Azumio called Stress Doctor that I have found to be really, really effective. You basically just put your finger over the iPhone lens, and it gets your heart rate from that. And then as you breathe in and out, you see your heart rate rise and fall, and you’re basically trying to get as rhythmic as possible, and it’s like an immediate biofeedback mechanism. This is sort of a tangent, but my wife kind of inspired me to do my own yoga teacher training, and I did that and got certified as a yoga teacher, but I always found meditation to be really frustrating, or meditation in the traditional sense. Because for me to calm my mind is kind of a difficult thing. I feel like in five minutes of the heart rate variability training with the Stress Doctor, I was benefiting from like an hour of really genuine meditation. And I would do it sometimes, well, I try to do it every morning and night regardless. But there were times when I would sense that I was getting stressed about something and I would try to stop and do it just for five minutes, and the effect of that was really amazing.
Just bringing that awareness back to your breath and your self is something that is so easy to lose track of and having this sort of immediate feedback loop to do that made it so that I just felt more resilient. The way that I sort of tested that is that I’d have like a two-hour ride as I was building up over the weeks, and then I would try to jump up for much longer ride. Maybe my coach has scheduled me for a three-hour ride, and I’d do a four-hour ride just to see, trying to train that limit. But remembering the breath and being able to do that without the app or without any kind of device while in that moment was actually easier than I thought. You got a cadence when you’re on a bike, you have sort of a rhythm anyway. So if you can just sort of become aware again that you are breathing and you can feel your pulse in your ears and all that stuff, you’re just trying to bring that all back to center, it really did work. And I didn’t believe it would worked in the beginning, but it did.
Ben: You know, I suspect that that technique really works because of its link to brain wave interaction, because of that heart-brain interaction. The alpha brain waves are your zone, when you’re in the zone, when you’re in focus mode, and you can just go, and go, and go. It’s what you experience when you’ve got the runner’s high or when, for people who maybe have done an Ironman or a century bike ride, it’s that point where you’re just like, “Yeah, I could do this all-freaking-day long.” And I think that, based off of what you’ve just explained, maybe a lot of people don’t realize that you can train yourself to get into that zone when you’re not out riding or when you’re not out exercising and then pull yourself back into that zone when you’re out there. And I don’t know about for you, Ari, but for me, breathing is the biggest part of that. Like I’ve learned a lot about rhythmic breathing and about deep nasal breathing over the past several months and I’ve been using it in my Ironman training, and you can just go, and go, and go. It’s crazy.
Ari: Absolutely. And that’s a really good one, actually. So, I started to notice, not so much in the swim, I mean on the bike, but in the run, the run is my least favorite of the three, there was a moment where I could start to begin to breathe only through my nose. If I tried to do it before that moment, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t getting enough air. I was getting stressed immediately. It just wouldn’t work. And I realized that over time, I was getting to that point fewer minutes into the run, basically. The first time, it took me an hour or kind of a long slow run to finally settle in. And then by the end, it took 10 minutes.
Ben: Yeah. It’s interesting stuff. So, you’ve got that strategy of heart rate variability that you used to kind of let yourself get fit a little bit more quickly without having to do all these five-hour bike rides. What other kind of little tweaks do you have? And they don’t have to be Ironman tips. For people out there who are wanting to get more fit, biohacks you’ve found, websites you use, protocols you’ve used, things like that.
Ari: So, there’s two kinds of main things. One is, and I’ve learned this with the kids, and I’m sure that you’ve probably seen this as well too, but there’s this idea of an active lifestyle versus structured exercise to me is a fascinating one. And I’ve calculated, on the average day, I will do 100 squats with a baby in my arms because it’s four or two, depends on what’s…
Ben: How old are your twins right now?
Ari: Well, I have two, so, my twins are 11 weeks. But my son, Benjamin, is 19 months almost.
Ben: Oh, man. You’ve got lots of babies. So, you do baby workouts?
Ari: Yes. So, I’ve actually, I’ve made lots of Evernote notes about this, but I have stroller lunges, so pushing a stroller and doing lunges while I’m out. I’ve done thrusters with either one of the twins, which is okay ’cause they’re each about 14 pounds. Or I try it sometimes with my son Ben, who’s 32 pounds, and that’s a different kind of experience. Yeah. So, I think that that’s part of what has enabled me to actually “work out less”. So, I would say that I do one work out a week right now. And that’s going to change. I’d like to do more, but as far as like maintaining fitness and feeling like I’m not getting winded or anything, I’ve been able to do that with the one workout a week. So, the first one is the active lifestyle. The second one is compound movements, basically. Basically, I don’t have the time to isolate muscles, or just do cardio, or just do mobility. I feel like you have to kind of pack it into all-in-one movements. So, I am a huge fan of a complex called “The ManMaker”. Do you know it?
Ben: No. Tell us about it.
Ari: Okay. So the ManMaker, I don’t know if Mark Divine from SEALFit created this or not, but he demonstrates it very well. So, the ManMaker, you’re standing up, you take a dumbbell in each hand, and you drop down to a push-up, you do a one-armed row, push-up, one-arm row, and then jump forward into a squat thrust, basically, and then you squat clean the dumbbells, stand up, and push press them. So, that’s one movement.
Ari: This is the best part about that. So, I do that, I’ve worked up to doing that with 50-pound dumbbells, and I do three sets of three with three minutes in between. That’s it. I feel like I’m going to die halfway through the second one, and it never gets easier, and I feel like I work my cardio, I work all my muscles, and at this point, I feel confident enough that I’m doing the moves properly that I’m working in that mobility into the deep squat and the overhead press with the shoulders. It’s just one of those things where I feel like I did enough. And it takes 12 minutes, basically, or 15 minutes.
Ben: Nice. I’m going to put a video of that in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com for people who want to see the ManMaker being performed. ‘Cause I know there’s a vidoe of Mark Divine, the SEALFit guy, doing that ’cause I just Googled it while you were talking and it’s definitely there. So, I’ll put that in the show notes for folks. But for you, Ari, doing one workout a week, I assume you’re not training for Ironman right now?
Ari: No. No, no, no. No, I’m not. So, I actually got big into the obstacle-style races after Ironman. I don’t know if I’ll ever do an Ironman again. Maybe a half, but the Ironman just requires so much of your time and it’s so hard. It’s so hard. It’s a hard one to motivate. Plus, France was just, it was just an amazing experience. Yeah, so I’m doing one workout a week to sort of maintain and feel good, but we’re in the process of moving right now and building a house, and I’m building a really nice gym in our house. And when we get to move in, which will be in about a month and a half, then I’m going to start working out more often.
Ben: Nice. So, one workout a week. What’s your workout? Is it that 12-minute ManMaker or do you have something else that you do?
Ari: I mean, that’s actually, I guess I’m being a little bit unfair. So I do the one work out, which is ManMakers, and that’s it. But then, I also try to do at least one or two yoga sessions a week. I feel like I need to maintain as much flexibility as I can right now while doing everything in my life, following after babies, and taking out babies, and all of that sort of fun stuff.
Ben: Do you use any type of technology in your training? Like do you use apps to track your fitness, aside from that heart rate variability app that you talked about? Or do you use special pieces of software, anything in kind of the technology realm to help you or help others improve their fitness or track their fitness?
Ari: There’s any number of activity trackers, and whether it’s Runkeeper, or Fitbit, or those kinds of really…
Ben: They’re a dime a dozen, right?
Ari: Exactly. If you’re doing Crossfit-style stuff, and especially if you’re doing endurance training, you do want to keep track of those numbers and how much you lift, your average cadence and stuff. But honestly, the tool that I have found to be the most useful is an app called Ubersense, which is a camera for, basically you film yourself doing whatever movement it is. And it can be swimming, well, you probably want to have somebody else film that. But it could be swimming, it could be a box jump, it could be doing a high bar back squat, because having an eye on those things, even if you’ve done it for a long time, it’s really easy to fall out of a rhythm of doing it correctly, and then that’s just a path to danger. And it’s interesting seeing my videos over time, how I’m able to get deeper into a squat, or when I do the box jump, this time how high I bring my knees. And the swim video was my savior.
Ben: Who’s filming you? Like someone you’re working out with, or a friend, or something?
Ari: So, when I’m doing weightlifting stuff, I’ll just prop the iPhone up on a windowsill in my gym or put it on another weight set, whatever, and just point it at myself. But what’s cool about it is that you can slow it down to frame by frame on the camera and you can draw lines. So, I’ve used this with my golf swing, which has been really cool, to show if I’ve kept the arc where it’s supposed to be. It’s just like watching football on TV where they draw lines of where the players go. It’s exactly like that. So, I’ve found that really helpful. And Ubersense also has videos of professionals doing a lot of these kinds of movements. So, I’ve used it for running, ’cause I used to be a heel striker, not anymore. I’ve used it for swimming in a big way. When I learned the total immersion method, which was a life-changer as far as Ironman swimming for me, it was eons beyond what I was doing before. But when I had my first video session and somebody filmed me, I realized exactly and immediately what I was doing wrong and was able to correct.
Ben: Nice. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. It’s free. That’s great. I’d never seen that one before, but I might be able to use that for something like the swim video analysis I do.
Ari: There’s a similar one [0:25:06] ______. They’re very similar.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. Cool. Any other little tips you want to share with people as far as fitness goes? Whether they’d be someone who’s hard-charging, Crossfitter, triathlete, or someone who’s just kind of trying to burn a few extra pounds?
Ari: We have some thin walls.
Ben: It’s a familiar sound. Don’t worry.
Ari: They probably lifted something that’s too heavy for him to drop it on his head. So, I have this thing about doing sport-specific [crying in the background]. I’m sorry. Can we just pause for one sec while I…?
Ben: Yeah. Sure.
Ari: Yeah. One sec.
Ben: No worries. Go ahead.
Ari: So, what I’ve come up with for myself is sort of optimized fitness formula, which I, wellness is a big part of Less Doing because I feel like as technologically efficient as you might be able to become, it’s still predicated on the fact that if you’re not sleeping right and you’re not eating right, there’s a limit. So, that does definitely play into productivity. So, the optimized sort of triad that I work with is, oh, I’m sorry. The optimized fitness formula for me is one part of a strength/skill, one part of high intensity interval training, and one part mobility. That sport-specific or strength-specific one is a really interesting component for me. So, I feel like there are skills that are fitness-related that we need to work on. It’s one thing to get on a bike and just spin for four hours. It’s also the same thing to run or to lift weights, which anybody can do these things. But to just work on doing them right doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time. But it’s just about having that kind of intention and that dedication to really deliberate practice of the movement that you’re doing and the action that you’re doing.
Ben: It’s a really good point. I think that in Europe, it seems more so that the focus is on when you practice, it’s deliberate practice. That’s something that I’ve really found, it seems simple and stupid, but for me, when I’m on the bike, I’m in the present. I’m trying to be aware. And even though I’ll to listen to podcasts sometimes and things of that nature, I’m focusing always on something. The pedal stroke, the relaxation of the upper body, the breathing. When I’m swimming, I’m never just swimming to swim, swimming to get the yardage. But you’re actually deliberately focusing on something. I think it really ties into Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours of Practice rule where those 10,000 hours that turn you into an expert, or that make you really good at something, I think that the hours of those 10,000 that are spent just mindlessly doing chronic, repetitive motion don’t really count. Which is why you can see, whatever, 50-year old women who have been running for 20 years who still have super crappy form and haven’t put on any speed at all ’cause it’s not deliberate practice, right? They’re just out burning calories, pounding the pavement.
Ari: Exactly. Which is why I would probably say to anybody that if you’re doing any activity that allows you to read while you’re working out, then it’s probably…
Ben: You know what? I did read an interview with Andy Potts, professional Ironman triathlete who says that he has perfected the art of reading while pedaling at his Ironman race pace on an indoor trainer. He might be one of the few people on the face of the planet who can pull that off. But in most cases, I’m in agreement with you. If you can read, it’s probably not worth your time. You want to shift focus and talk a little about nutrition and diet tweaks that you’ve found to really be helpful in terms of pursuing that ideal combination of health and fitness?
Ari: Yeah. I’d love to!
Ben: So, what kind of diet do you eat? And more specifically, what kind of biohacks, or apps, or supplements, or things have you found that kind of fall into line with your whole philosophy of doing less?
Ari: So, I would say that my diet is basically high fat and, I’m not going to say low carb, it’s high fat and low sugar.
Ben: And low carb is all relative, right? For some people, it’s 5%. For others, it’s 30.
Ari: Exactly. And this is coming from someone who’s, when I was doing Ironman, I think, I mean I believe I was up to about 9,000 calories a day and probably 85% carbs. And where I am now, which is probably around 4500 calories a day and 70% fat, and it’s like a world of difference for me. The fats for, well, the main motivation for me with the fats is the things like grass-fed butter, and olive oil to most extents, and avocado, and things like that are anti-inflammatory. So, basically my motivation for everything I do is to be anti-inflammatory because Crohn’s is a chronic inflammation issue, and most, maybe that’s not fair, but a lot of chronic illnesses have an inflammatory component to them. So, yeah. So, my diet is a lot of fat. I don’t vary it a lot, but that’s not like a rule. It just kind of is. Like I’ve got a taste for these things that I like and it’s easy to make things that are fatty that are good for you and that fill you up. And another thing, with the kids, you need to be able sometimes to say, “I can’t have breakfast right now. I don’t have the time.” And that’s got to be okay. And the only way I’ve ever found to be able to do that is with fats.
Ben: So, what are some, like if you didn’t have time to have breakfast, what would you eat?
Ari: Well, I just wouldn’t eat breakfast…
Ben: At all?
Ari: I’d probably wait until lunch. But I basically, I have like a 2,000 calorie smoothie every morning. It’s my elixir.
Ben: That sounds familiar.
Ari: But I still do that. And that short of sets me up for the day, and then I don’t have to, food is a distraction sometimes when you’re a busy person. Honestly. I put a lot in the smoothie, but it’s my thing. It really fuels my day and it fuels my mind. That’s another thing is the fats have fueled my mind in a way that had been so noticeable and the clarity that I’ve gained from it is really, really immeasurable. Actually, I have measured it.
Ben: Now, do you use apps, or technology, or software, or anything like that to get more bang for your buck out of your nutrition?
Ari: Yes. So, I actually created my own sort of feedback loop thing, which, I’m sure that maybe an app exists that does this, but not one that I have found that does it the way I want. There’s a website called ifttt.com, which is one of my top, top, top recommendations as far as a productivity tool, and what it does is it stands for “If This, Then That”. So it basically creates these automations between different web services. So, if this happens here, do this here. Simple stuff like if I favorite a video on YouTube, then tweet it. Those kind of things. I created this very crude and easy loop where I take a picture with Instagram, I’m not worried about calories at all, I’m just worried about what, all I care about is how the food makes me feel. So, I take a picture with Instagram and tag it with “FT”, which stands for “food tracker”. By doing that, because of a recipe that I’ve set up with IFTTT, I think I have it for three, but it might be two, two or three hours later, I get an e-mail saying, “How do you feel after having eaten this?”
Ari: Yeah. So, it’s been really, really cool to do that because food sensitivities can hit you from a half an hour to an hour and a half later. But when I get that e-mail, it reminds me, whatever I’m doing, I can stop and be like, “I’m actually really tired,” or, “I’m feeling kind of down,” or, “I’m feeling really good and up and clear,” whatever it is.
Ben: You know, that sounds kind of similar to the heart rate variability app that I use, the SweetBeat app. It has what’s called a Coca Pulse Test on it, where it will automatically remind you to put your finger over the lens or use your wireless heart rate monitor and take your heart rate every X number of minutes after you’ve eaten a food if you care to track your heart rate in correlation to your food. Actually, one of our friends, Dave Asprey, just did kind of a podcast on that over on his Bulletproof Exec website where he talked about, in a little bit more detail, about tracking heart rate correlations to kind of get food sensitivity, and he interviewed the folks at SweetBeat and everything. But, yeah, that’s interesting. So, you tie it into IFTTT. You take a picture of your food, and then it automatically sends you a message, and you go in and say how you felt?
Ari: Yeah. Actually, the Food Sense app from Dave and SweetBeat is really cool, and I think it’s an amazingly inexpensive way to try to drill down food sensitivities. For me, there’s two reasons why my systems worked better for me. One is a lot of it is about that awareness. If you’re a finely tuned individual and you’re aware of all the things that are happening to you, that’d be great. But most of us, even if we were, there’s so many other distractions. So, part of it is just being reminded three hours later when I’m feeling kind of logy or whatever that I happened to eat [0:34:29] ______ this morning or whatever it was. Who knows? But the point is just reminding myself and bringing that awareness, which I believe is, you can sort of train your awareness. But the other thing is I’m not looking specifically for, “Do I have a reaction to agave?” “Does this specific element have a reaction?” It’s really more turning something that’s kind of subjective, which is how do I feel, into something more objective. And as I respond to those e-mails and track those results, I’m able to correlate that to times of day and how much sleep I got the night before. There’s any number of things that you can tie into that. But adding that element of how does what happen two and a half hours ago or three hours ago make you feel now or contribute to how you feel now, I think, is really interesting.
Ben: Nice. I like it. Anything else that you use?
Ari: I don’t know how you call this thing, but the Blendtec blender is one of the most amazing blenders ever. I’ve tried many, many different blenders, and it wasn’t the videos of the guy chopping up golf balls or crowbars that got me sold on it, but it just, it makes my smoothie taste better.
Ben: Uhuh. I use one called the OmniBlender just because it’s more powerful than the Vitamix and it’s half the cost. And I think you can get it on Amazon or whatever. But, yeah, the blender is our friend for sure. Now, as far as other productivity tips, I mean you’ve got a ton of stuff on your website, but I do know that we have some nerds that listen in, some people who are into computers, technology, something that goes above and beyond just fitness and nutrition. You have any cool tips that you think are big wins for folks that maybe simply have to do with less doing and more living and don’t necessarily have a direct tie-in to health and fitness?
Ari: Yes. So, without just doing a plug, I do have a course on Udemy of “The Art of Less Doing” that goes through kind of the nine fundamentals…
Ben: What do you say? YouToMe?
Ari: Udemy. Like academy, but Udemy. And I’m happy to provide a…
Ben: Oh. Udemy. Cool. I’m just taking notes so I can put links for folks.
Ari: Yeah. And I’m happy to provide a discount code for your listeners, which I’ll give you after. So, there’s a lot of really great fundamental stuff in there in how to spend less time on e-mail, and spend less time running errands, and all these kinds of things. But one of the top things that I almost require of people that I work with when I coach people on productivity and stuff is that I feel like everybody should have the experience of working with a virtual assistant at some point in their life. And because you can get a virtual assistant as cheaply as $25 a month, there’s no excuse for almost anyone to not try it at least for a month ’cause it’s an educational experience for you in terms of how you effectively delegate and outsource tasks.
Ben: Yeah. And there are lots of websites out there. You list a few on your site, but Zirtual, I know, is one.
Ari: Zirtual offers dedicated assistants where you’re always dealing with the same person. And I love Zirtual for the right person. FancyHands is an absolute game changer. fancyhands.com, you can pay, I think the cheapest kind is 25 bucks a month, and you have access to literally thousands of assistants. You don’t ever deal with the same person, but that’s okay for most tasks, and you’ll get things done quicker, and 24 hours a day, it’s just amazing.
Ben: What’s an example of something you’ve used that for?
Ari: Oh my gosh. So, I do an average of 150 tasks a month. Every podcast that goes up is edited and posted by an assistant. Most of the posts that are put up are actually, I curate the content, but they’re actually put up by assistants. Anything that has to do with appointments, researching stuff for the family, whether it’s a health insurance plan, or a mortgage, or whatever it is, gosh, you name it. There’s literally 150 things a month that I have other people do.
Ben: I love it. I’m actually a big fan of that myself. Sometimes people ask me how I get a lot done. I’ve got five virtual assistants kind of spread around who do things. And, yeah. And it’s little things like that, for example, when I have somewhere I want to travel, like let’s say I want to travel somewhere for a race, I’ll have a virtual assistant actually dial in hotel, airline. They have access to my awardswallet.com account so they can access all my awards points and decide which one is going to be best for that particular travel, line up the shuttle from the airport to where I’m staying and back. Those little things, there’s 30 minutes right there, probably more, that I could be out training or hanging with my kids or something like that. So, I’m on board with you when it comes to virtual assistants for sure.
Ari: And then, an important thing about that is not just the 30 minutes, it’s the mode change that requires you to get into the mode of having to do that and get out of the mode that you are in.
Ben: Yeah. Now what about TaskRabbit?
Ari: TaskRabbit is also a really great one because TaskRabbit is for the stuff that’s in person. They’re pretty much national, but that’s where you can have somebody pick up your dry cleaning, or come and install a TV for you, any number of things that happen in person.
Ben: Now, you can even have someone pick up groceries for you and bring your groceries to you with something like that, right?
Ari: Oh, yes. So, the nice thing about TaskRabbit is it’s not just a delivery service. It’s not just like a virtual assistance service. It’s as far down the road as you want to go. You can tell somebody to go to Ikea and shop for the item that you need, bring it back, and then put it together for you, and then organize the closet that they just put together for you. Again, you take it as far as you want.
Ben: That non-virtual labor comes in very handy as well. Like I have somebody come to my house twice a week and they pick up checks and bring them to the bank, and deposit ’em in the bank, and drop off all the mail, and pick up all the mail, and open up all the bills. And when I’m traveling, they scan, like they take my mail, and take it home and scan it, and then send the important stuff to me so I can look at it. And this is all about fitness, right? Because all of this stuff is stuff that allows you to either relax when you’re off, maybe traveling to a triathlon or doing whatever, or wanting to go get a workout and not wanting to like go through all your mail instead.
Ari: Absolutely. Absolutely. Especially if it’s, excuse me. Especially since a lot of that stuff is going to be not important.
Ben: Right. Exactly. And you obviously work from home, I take it.
Ari: Yes. I do! Sorry about all the bells and…
Ben: No. That’s okay. Our listeners are used to strange sounds like toilet flushing and kids screaming in the background. So, Ari, any last helpful tips for our audience. I definitely want to throw this in there again, you can go over to lessdoing.com and check out Ari’s website. Ari and I have absolutely no financial or affiliate relationship or anything like that. I just think his stuff is school. So, check it out. But any last tips, Ari?
Ari: Well, thank you very much. So, the virtual assistant one is a big one, honestly. Another one though that I think is really important, and it’s not an unknown thing, but Evernote, most people should know Evernote, but it’s basically a note-taking application. It’s one of those things where I try to push people to overuse it because it can become like your external brain. Basically, if you have an idea in your head, it’s got to get out of your head. Because we don’t have the time and there’s too many things going on to basically waste our brain resources holding on to those ideas. Because of the way Evernote is sort of laid out, it’s searchable, it’s archived. You always have access to it. You really can become, start to rely on it for those things that you don’t know if it’s relevant now or if it will ever be relevant. But it doesn’t matter, just get it out of your head.
Ben: Yeah. Clear-head thinking is so important. I mean, I use Evernote, I use it to write my book, and I also keep track of all my tasks on Evernote. Like I basically have note for each day, like Monday through Sunday, that kind of has the task for that day on it that I can go and access. But you know what I use to keep a clear head, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, I read a lot, like I read a ton. There’s all these blogs that I follow, and people are constantly tweeting me articles to read and stuff like that, and I don’t want to be sitting in front of my computer browser reading them just because, frankly, I get freaking sick of staring at a computer screen or I want something mobile. So I use the SENDtoREADER service. Have you heard of that one before?
Ari: Of course! Yeah, love that!
Ben: Yeah. So, you basically open up an article and you send it to your Kindle. And then, whatever, I can read it later on while I’m sitting in the park and my kids are playing and I’m on a park bench, or when I’m using my SquattyPotty in the bathroom, or whatever. So, I tend to use that a ton just because, otherwise, it’s like you’ve got all these articles hanging around in your computer, waiting to be read. But if you know that they’re tucked away safely somewhere, in my case, like on my Kindle, I’ve got a clear head and I know that I can get to them later. So, I agree with you.
Ari: Do you know about SoundGecko?
Ben: No. Tell me about it.
Ari: Okay. So, I’m a huge, huge podcast guy. Whether I’m playing with my kids, or I’m working out, or whatever, I’m almost always listening to a podcast. I rarely actually listen to music anymore. It’s all podcast. So, SoundGecko is a website or web app where you get an e-mail address, and all you do is forward the article URL to go at SoundGecko, and a few minutes later, it will be transcribed and audible. And then you get your own personalized podcast feed, so it just shows up in your podcast reader.
Ben: So, who’s reading it?
Ari: It’s a computer voice, but it’s really good.
Ben: Really? It’s not like an annoying voice?
Ari: No. It’s not. It’s kind of amazing.
Ben: Interesting. SoundGecko. I’m going to have to write that. And by the way, folks, if you’re listening in, I’m taking notes on all this stuff, so I’ll throw the resources over there in the show notes. That sounds like a cool one. I’ll have to check that out. Very cool. Well, you have given us a ton of helpful tips, Ari. So, what I will do is I’ll link all this in the show notes. If you do, I know that udemy.com that you run is a paid service, but you said you might be able to give us a discount later on if I want to put that in the show notes.
Ari: Oh, absolutely. I’m happy to.
Ben: Alright. Cool. You need an assistant to answer your phone.
Ari: Yeah. I’m at my parent’s house right now and it happens because this is where we’re moving to.
Ben: Oh, nice.
Ari: So, I’m not in my own setup. So, these are their phones. I would never [0:45:38] ______ phones ringing. Believe me.
Ben: That’s alright. It’s all good. It’s all good. Our audience totally understands stuff like this. Alright, cool. Well, folks, check out his website. It is lessdoing.com, and he’s got a podcast by the same name. I’ll put a link to everything we talked about, even the killer ManMaker exercise, in the show notes. And Ari, thanks so much for coming on the call, man. It’s cool stuff that you’re doing, and I’m sure that our audience will dig it.
Ari: Thank you. Thank you for having me!
Ever wished you could be as productive as possible, even when you’re exercising?
How about use special “biohacks” to help you eat the right way?
Or have little tricks to save 10 minutes here or 5 minutes there?
In today’s podcast episode with Ari Meisel (pictured above) from GetLeverage.com, you’re going to learn how to biohack your workouts, your diet and your life to get more done in less time.
Resources that Ari and I discuss in this episode:
–UDemy.com – use 50% discount code “GREENFIELD”
-The ManMaker exercise (video below)