Iboga, Listen to your body, We’ve been putting science on a pedestal, Connecting to your lineage, and more.
Guest: Matt Walrath
Matt also writes about behavior change, including how to fuel an athlete for less than $7 per day, on his personal website. As an athlete, Matt was a three-time All-American lacrosse player in college, and has competed at the CrossFit Games California Regional with his team, Paradiso CrossFit.
In this episode, Matt shares with how breaking his leg changed his life trajectory, how iboga helped him expand his horizons, his view on eastern vs. western medicine, why nutrition is more than food, and much more.
Who is Matt Walrath?
Matt Walrath was always into sports, he played lacrosse in college, and discovered CrossFit from a friend in 2008. Because he and his buddy were so competitive, he ended his first 3 workouts throwing up.
Matt had a plan to play lacrosse professionally post college, and go on a lacrosse tour, but all of his plans went out the door after he broke his leg in 2012. Of course it didn’t happen while training, else while doing something stupid, Matt jumped off a roof into a pool with a camera in his hand. 🤦♂️
Eventually, breaking his leg helped Matt explore more avenues in life besides sports. A couple of his friends wanted to start a business, and he decided to join them. He was working on an app designed to help people get more engaged during events.
While Matt enjoyed going to a bunch of events, he wasn’t fulfilled by his work. He realized he was giving away mostly BS stuff to people, and it wasn’t contributing to a better world. After he did an iboga trip, he realized his path was out of his values. He realized he wanted to get more into CrossFit and nutrition, since he was spending his spare time researching about how and what to eat, and doing CrossFit and weightlifting.
Iboga is an African root bark, and a very potent hallucinogenic. A typical iboga trip lasts 72 hours! It only peaks after 12–16 hours, and Matt was purging for 12 hours on his first iboga trip! While you’re on iboga, you have almost no motor control, and both your vision field and sound get distorted. 😵
Although it’s not an easy experience to go through, the power of iboga helped Matt unlock his ability to integrate experiences better and helped him tune up, putting him in line to where his truth is. Now when Matt acts outside of his truth, he can really feel it.
Post iboga, Matt felt like a lot of things he was doing work wise, weren’t his thing actually. What he really enjoyed doing was moving his body in a healthy way, rolling around on the ground, and climbing trees.
Learning about alternative medicine
Matt went to Chapman University, where he has learned about alternative medicine, and the bridge between western and eastern modalities of healing. The first class he took was on eastern philosophy of health and healing, which really opened his mind to new ways of thinking. His teacher had the class meditating, and taught remote viewing and native American philosophies.
Eastern vs. Western healing philosophies
Eastern is more comprehensive in the way it looks at a human being. It looks at the total system, addressing energy fields, emotional state and trauma, etc. Western is more specific, it looks to fix stuff around an injury.
Long-term approach to health
When it comes to nutrition, if you want to make a change that will last, you need to develop long-term perspective. Moreover, long-term thinking doesn’t necessarily inform action, you need to break down long-term philosophy into short-term actions. We now know that exercising and working on nutrition helps humans live longer.
“Long-term thinking is the key to sustainability in anything you’re doing.” — Matt Walrath
After Mike had a hernia injury, he thought he would get back into weightlifting after a month. A few weeks post surgery, he realized that wasn’t the case, and more importantly, he realized his lifestyle may have not been really healthy for him.
Mike has also learned from an injury, he had a lot of time for reflection, and an opportunity to think long-term. He realized competing in weightlifting wasn’t doing much good to his body, and was leading him to unhealthy behavior.
“What do I need to do today so I can still wipe my own ass at 165 (years old).” — Mike Bledsoe
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Nutrition is more than food
Taken from Eastern philosophies, nutrition is more of an idea of nourishing yourself. Nutrition doesn’t only include how you eat, else how you are moving, resting, sleeping, building resilience to stress, reducing stress, and more.
A lot of people associate exercising and nutrition with sexy things because of marketing. They think about getting a beach body or getting jacked, tanned, and shredded. People think they can buy exercise and nutrition, it is perceived as very tangible, which is also why the supplements industry blew up. Supplements are the only thing in fitness industry that you can put in a bag and take home.
Matt thinks that one of the most important things to nourish yourself is sleep. If you train hard, eat well, but don’t sleep well, you’re not gonna get great results. Your best option is to keep your mind open, because every few years humans get a better understanding of health.
It used to be thought that nutrition was 80% of the health game, but now we understand sleep is a huge factor. The new frenzy now is low-carb diets, which doesn’t seem to be a great choice for people who train often.
“Everyone is looking for a silver bullet, which is the thinking that my vision is to change that. There is no silver bullet, you have to take a comprehensive approach.” — Matt Walrath
Only 10 years ago, people were taking C4 and Jack3d, which worked like magic, and had good data on it. It turned out, Jack3d had some sort of dimethylamylamine (DMAA) ingredient in it, which is an illegal substance. Ingestion of DMAA can elevate blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack.
Pro tip: Keep your mind open, keep your eyes open, keep your hears open, and make smart, informed decisions.
Listen to your body
When it comes to his clients, Matt takes a quantity first approach to nutrition, prioritizing calories and protein for energy balance. Next on his list is to take food sensitivity tests, as some people feel good eating grains, and some people get tingly sensations after eating apples.
Everybody has a slightly different reaction to food. It’s important you don’t make decisions just by outside data, else listen to the feedback your body is giving you. For example: Barley is known as a healthy grain, and didn’t show up in Matt’s sensitivity results, but he felt it always gave him belly gurgles.
You may find out you think you’re in touch with your body, while you are not. Mike used to think he was in touch with his body because he was deep in the fitness industry. He thought the way people were describing their subtle sensations was BS.
A lot of times weightlifters desensitize the way their body feels to go deeper into the pain cave. The majority of Mike’s desensitization to his body happened through his navy service. It worked as a survival thing. He then continued in same pattern while competing in weightlifting, where discomfort was constant.
Pro tip: Don’t just trust your blood work, listen to your body feelings and sensations.
“Every time you go pee, look at the color and quality of it, the frequency of it. Are you peeing every 20 minutes and it’s completely water clear? Probably over-hydrating. Are you peeing every 2 hours and it looks like gatorade? You are probably under-hydrated… If you can trust your intuition by developing a skill of listening to your body, that’s the best thing you can do.” — Matt Walrath
We’ve been putting science on a pedestal
Culturally, we are starting to realize that beyond science, our internal experience is very important. We have been putting science on a pedestal, but the way it works is that it’s only valid if we all agree on it, it’s subjective thing outside of ourselves.
Science can lead us wrong sometimes, for example: Science has shown good results on whey protein and casein protein, but those have been proven to not sit well with many people. It destroyed both Mike and Matt in the past.
Matt is a fan of Alan Aragon’s work, who touched on we can start with the science, and then work on our internal experience, but not vice versa. Alan Aragon is a nutrition researcher and educator, known as one of the most influential figures in the fitness industry’s movement towards evidence-based information. He co-authored Nutrient Timing Revisited, the most-viewed article in the history of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Matt really strays away from supplements, especially because people come to him wanting to talk about supplements first. People usually want to supplement away sleep, overtraining or over-stressing.
He also doesn’t recommend caffeine to his clients, as research on caffeine, and on most supplements, is very short sighted — usually done over 10 days or 12 weeks, and usually involves unrealistic doses, such as 300mg in the case of caffeine.
The only supplements he recommends are either ones that have been well studied: Creatine, beta alanine, and citrulline malate, or adaptogens. Adaptogens help inform you and get you more in tuned with your body, so you can make better, healthier choices.
Matt have his clients take an adrenal stress indicator test, and based on the results he might recommend supplements to help with adrenal fatigue, such as adaptogens. He likes ashwagandha, which has performance benefits, and medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi and chaga. Matt takes reishi every day, and he recommends it to people with anxiety and sleep issues.
Pro tip: If you are a male, waking up with a boner is a sign of good health.
“If you can take something that is supposed to bring you back into homeostasis, and you’re getting boners, you’ve driven yourself so hard you’re killing your sex drive.” — Mike Bledsoe
Connecting to your lineage
Recently, Matt felt very connected to his lineage, which he thinks is Important to get in touch with as a long-term thinker. We need to be thinking about future generations.
“I’m the experiencing node for my lineage. They’ve put energy into me and they’ve passed on out of this physical realm, but like that energy they’ve put into me, that appreciation she [my grandmother] gave to me for nature, that lives on. And I can call forth in that moment, and really experience the warmth of her love, and also just go and touch and eat fruits of a tree, and smell things. And be just like, ‘this is what she would be doing if I as walking through this fruit forest with her’, and I think that’s important, but also realize, yes I can be experiencing node of my lineage in this cross section of time. The energy that I put into this world is going to affect you, and my eventual kids if I have them, and all these things are going to continue to go out. It really put me in touch with the idea O want this earth and humanity to be a good place for the kids I want to have.” — Matt Walrath