Dr. Phil Maffetone 26: Self-Care During Uncertain Times, ‘Risk’ vs Reward of Wearables, Plus: Phil’s Daily Habits for Wellbeing

January 29, 2021


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On this episode with Dr. Phil Maffetone:

Getting strong the ‘slow weights’ way

  • Phil’s new book on strength training: Get Strong (released Nov 2020)
  • Why endurance athletes might reconsider 2-3x a week of heavy and/or intense strength training workouts mixed into their program
  • How and what kind of strength training can inhibit aerobic fitness, and not allowing proper recovery can impair fitness(proper
  • The concept of slow weights and how a strength workout can fit into your day without even having to change clothes or feel sore afterwards
  • Using 80% of your 1-rep max at a self-paced manner for a non-fatiguing micro strength workouts into your day, in a way that compliments endurance training rather than interferes with it
  • Fitting in strength training into your home “gym” with little equipment, or taking it outside
  • Tawnee shares how she approaches slow weights with heavy rocks and how it also made strength training more doable as a new mom

Self-care in uncertain times

  • What are things we can do at home that complement our well-being. Things we can do on our own, that may not require physician guidance 
  • We talked to Phil back in May 2020 where he guided us on seasonal allergies, covid and overeat pandemics, gut health and more, listen here.
  • It all resorts back to controlling the stress we experience
  • Focus on the stress that media exposure and consumption may be causing us
  • Adding more stress crashes the immune system making us more susceptible to illness—covid or otherwise
  • Reasses short term and long term goals with the changes we’ve all experienced in the past year
  • The kitchen is not a vending machine
  • People are buying more junk food than ever right now, but we should be focusing on healthy food more than ever!
  • Covid rescued the junk food injury in a way—junk food is comfort food
  • Make your home a comfortable, happy place. A place you want to be
  • Setting up a cozy home enrionvment; for Tawnee that means NOT having TV streaming all day long
  • Junk food and sugar is an addiction like drugs can be, using them as an excuse to sooth stress and “reward” one’s self is not the healthy answer
  • Social media censoring more content these days, but not comments that are harmful to our health like condoning high junk food intake
  • Do Phil’s strict healthy eating recommendations go “too far” for those of us who may be experiencing or are susceptible to eating disorders / disordered eating?
  • Phil explains the difference between unhealthy restrictive behavior vs choosing healthy food for a genuine interest in one’s health and wellbeing
  • Phil’s case that this is about wanting to feel good every day, and that justifies a more strict approach to food choices and how to let go of unhealthy obsessions
  • The key is understanding control is an illusion, we can’t control it all, and allowing some flexibility is key to success. Not having unhealthy thoughts that we need to be perfect.
  • If one as more at risk for certain health conditions it warrants more need to focus on diet.
  • “Let’s eat like humans should eat!” 
  • Using the example of fish: not getting overly restrictive or obsessive about food choices, but also being mindful of choosing the best-quality fish with lowest toxin load. (Read more at Phil’s article on fish here).

Wearables – the good and ugly of these devices

  • What good can they provide in alerting us to the internal state of our health and measurements of our well-being  but what risks and harms can they introduce into our lives.
  • The key is adjusting your lifestyle if the information your receiving from a wearable is not desirable, but this is where people struggle the most
  • It’s an empowering big step to get the wearable to understand more about your current health, but it’s the follow-through on changing habits where it matters
  • Biofeedback aid – using these tools to intuitively understand our body better, such as the live of intensity we should be working out (eg running at a certain heart rate and being true to that based on what you’ve learned from a heart rate monitor)
  • Phil mentions that it can be hard for people to stick to a strict heart rate without the HR monitor (instead we get too wrapped up in no pain no gain)
  • How it’s changing these days with all our workout data such as power and heart rate info being available on a public platform, eg Strava, Zwift, etc.
  • Measuring your submit efforts is an important part of overall fitness assessment with the gold-standard being a MAF test
  • MAF test and focusing on this component of fitness is a good marker of our overall state of health and wellness (not just speed and fitness)
  • Phi Maffetone: Wearables for an assessment is valuable but not for ongoing, regular use
  • Don’t use devices as a game or part of an unhealthy obsession 
  • KEY POINT: Get to the point where you don’t need to use them anymore
  • Using wearables to set healthy boundaries for ourselves

Phil’s daily practices for ongoing wellbeing

  • Phil shares some of his personal routines or practices for self-care and wellbeing 
  • 5-minute power breaks: alpha wave exercise; going into a type of meditation mindset
  • daydreaming, lying, eyes closed, etc. Having the power to “click into” this state is crucial for health and balancing the autonomic nervous system
  • Do it at least twice a day
  • use it when you need it to counteract a stressful moment or to recharge the brain.
  • Frequency when it comes to meditation or power breaks is most important, because consistently training the brain is key to reaping the benefits
  • Alpha vs theta vs delta states
  • Sleeping habits
  • The caution against using devices to monitor sleep—why they do more harm than good for sleep quality
  • Using wearables nightly for sleep is something that Phil does not see as necessary and that it also may retract from your best sleep 
  • Not that they should be off limits, but just use periodically and for a greater purpose and not as a gamer or competition with yourself

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