Men’s Health: The Wisemen Retreat “FIRE” Experience

The Wisemen Project is a men’s group that melds proven, ancient techniques of movement, breath work and meditation with cutting edge scientific research.

The group was formed as a powerful antidote to the seemingly endless noise, stress, disease and disconnection in our modern world.

The primary pillars center around:

Fuel:

Our food and what we “feed” our brains.

Mind:

Cultivating resiliency and proper brain function.

Move: 

Movement to heal the mind, body and soul.

Rest:

Dialing in the proper amount, type, and frequency of rest to allow mind and body to recover and grow.

Social:

Community is interwoven within the fibers of our ancestral DNA, helps to reduce stress/anxiety, improve mental health, and increase our lifespan.

Wealth:

Perspective, action, discipline, and reflection to cultivate an abundance mindset.

Retreat Details:

What: 

This “Fire” retreat is carefully designed to eliminate that which may be weighing you down (extra unwanted weight, poor patterns, negativity, anxiety etc.) and ignite your true potential within.

Where: 

Woodridge, NY

When: 

October 13-16

Men – consider investing in yourself and spending a weekend with a community that empowers you from within, so you can show up for yourself, and for the ones you love.

If you decide to join, be sure to use the code “friend5” for a 5% discount at checkout.

DISCLAIMER: There is no financial incentive or underlying remuneration for wHealth Advisors in promoting this event.

Improving Longevity Through Relationships

Improving longevity through relationships is a crucial health pillar that receives far less attention than it deserves.  As we’ve discussed before when it comes to longevity, it’s well documented that only about 20% of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes, the other 80% is influenced by lifestyle and environment.

While longevity is inherently tied to a myriad of factors, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and founder of the Blue Zones Project, has identified a few regions around the world – now recognized as “Blue Zones” – where people reach age 100 at 10 times greater rates than in the US.

One might assume that factors such as air quality/pollution, proportion of people who are obese, and the amount of daily physical activity might largely influence outcomes. However, it’s been found that these factors only have a small influence on overall lifespan.

It turns out that relationships are one of the most impactful predictors of longevity.

The Science of Relationships

research project that followed data across 308,849 individuals for 7.5 years indicated that individuals with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships. The magnitude of this effect is comparable with quitting smoking and it exceeds many well-known risk factors for mortality (e.g., obesity, physical inactivity).

When multidimensional assessments of social relationships were considered, the odds of mortality increased by 91% among the socially isolated.

Hormones are believed to play a significant role in the causal connection between relationships and lifespan.

For instance, face to face interactions promote the release of a multitude of neurotransmitters. When we interact with others, our dopamine and oxytocin levels increase and our cortisol (i.e. stress hormone) levels decrease.

Said another way, face-to-face interaction increases our confidence, happiness, and empathy and lowers our inflammation-inducing stress.

Dunbar’s Number

The Oxford evolutionary psychologist, Robin Dunbar, is best known for his namesake “Dunbar’s number.” At it’s core, Dunbar’s number is the number of meaningful and stable relationships you can have at any one time. That includes extended family as well as friends.

The proposed number is 150 although the range of variation is somewhere between 100 and 250.

When examining historical, anthropological, and contemporary psychological data about group sizes, Dunbar found remarkable consistency around the number 150.

This number aligns closely to early hunter-gatherer societies as well as many modern groupings: offices, communes, factories, military organizations, 11th Century English villages, even Christmas card lists.

When the number exceeds 150, a network is unlikely to last long or cohere well.

However, after spending decades studying the complexities of friendship, Dunbar discovered many more numbers that shape our close relationships.

Turns out, Dunbar’s number is less of an absolute numerical threshold than a series of concentric circles, each standing for different kinds of relationships.

A quick summary of these layers:

  • 1.5: Our most intimate, romantic relationship.
  • 5: Our “shoulders-to-cry-on” friendships. They are the ones who will drop everything to support us when our world falls apart.
  • 15: Includes the previous five, these are our core social partners – our best friends. They are our main social companions.
  • 50: Our big-weekend-barbecue people.
  • 150: Our weddings and funerals group who would come to a once-in-a-lifetime event.
  • 500: Our acquaintances
  • 1500: The people whose name you know
  • 5000: Number of known faces.

Relationships Are An Investment

The strength of a given relationship is directly correlated with how much time and effort is invested.

Ironically, despite living in the most “socially connected” time in human history, technology has diluted many of our relationships.

Instead of relying on apps/email/social media to stay in touch, use technology for good – leverage it as a conduit for scheduling a deeper, more meaningful check-in (ideally in-person).

In a country that spends more than $100 billion annually on diets, health club memberships, and nutritional supplements – investing the time/energy into the social fabric of our lives is free, low-hanging fruit with immense ROI.

Curating Healthy Relationships

Many relationships change with the seasons.

We evolve and we grow – so, too, our relationships.

As relationships come and go throughout our lifetimes, the loss of certain relationships shouldn’t be viewed negatively, but rather as healthy pruning. 

As Dunbar reminds us, we have a limited bandwidth for maintaining relationships: every fizzled relationship presents an opportunity to welcome a new one.

One of the commonalities of the world’s longest-lived people in the Blue Zones is that they often “curate” social circles that support healthy behaviors.

Healthy habits and behavior are, quite literally, contagious. Conversely, deleterious behaviors (i.e. obesity, smoking, excessive drinking, loneliness, unhappiness) are also contagious.

Jim Rohn was famously quoted as saying that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

The best way to improve longevity through relationships is to begin by surrounding yourself with relationships that fill your cup.

Men’s Health:

Relationships are crucial for men and women in all stages of life.

However, men – especially as they age – are more likely to lack deep, meaningful friendships.

This lack of connection typically leads to one of the most frequent stressors in mens’ lives: loneliness.

CALL TO ACTION:

Men – consider joining me (Dennis) in Woodridge, NY between October 13-16 at the next retreat hosted by The Wisemen Project.

The weekend will combine ancient wisdom with modern science and include:

  • mobility and functional movement
  • yoga and qigong
  • meditative practices and breathwork
  • hiking
  • cold and heat immersion
  • organic chef prepared meals
  • human connection
  • and so much more

For those interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to me directly. If you decide to join, be sure to use the code “friend5” for a 5% discount at checkout.

Attention: Our True Source of Wealth

Attention

Time is often cited as one of the most (if not the most) valuable currencies.

In his recent feature on the Tim Ferriss Show, Sam Harris disputes this.

Sam posits that attention, not time, is our most valuable form of wealth.

Time’s shortcoming: distraction.

Consider how much of our attention is spent on:

  • thinking about the daily tasks that need to get done
  • deciding what to eat
  • buying things (or thinking about buying things)
  • our exercise routine
  • our sleep
  • our social interactions
  • our dependents
  • an “important” thing coming up next week/month
  • social media
  • entertainment (i.e. Netflix, podcasts etc.)

From one thing to the next, there is always something competing for our precious attention.

The problem arises, though, when we attempt to juggle multiple tasks that each individually require our full attention.

Ever try having a live, in-person conversation while typing on your phone (or computer) at the same time? Most (if not all) of us have. Besides the rude factor, juggling these two tasks – or really, any two tasks – happens to be impossible.

Studies show that our brains are incapable of multitasking. Anytime that you believe you are successfully multitasking, you are really just switching your attention from one task to another.

Besides being mentally taxing, multitasking incurs a “switch cost” each time we hop from one task to another. Consequently, it almost always takes longer to complete two tasks simultaneously compared to monotasking.

Research indicates that this “switching cost” may cost as much as 40% of our productive time.

Living An Examined Life

Each time we do something – pleasant or not – it’s worth recognizing that while we’re doing it, it may be our last time.

For instance:

  • there will be a last time that your baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying.
  • there will be a last time that your child asks you to read a bedtime story.
  • there will be a last time that you go to the beach.
  • there will be a last time that you get to enjoy dinner, or a phone call, with a certain loved one.

Embracing our finitude – as morbid as it may seem – can add beauty to all areas of life, even the inconveniences.

Additionally, embracing the fleetingness of life can also help us prioritize how to direct our attention.

Prioritizing Your Attention

We largely become the things we pay attention to.

By cultivating mindfulness and finding peace in the present we’re better able to prioritize what we direct our attention towards.

Are our thought patterns so ingrained that we’re stuck on autopilot as forever victims to distraction?

Or, is it possible for us to ignore the things not worthy of our attention and focus solely on the things that make us better versions of ourselves?

Rising above being passive “victims” of life’s distractions begins with prioritizing presence: being here, now.

Final Thoughts

During the podcast, Sam Harris references the “ghost of mediocrity” that can sometimes loom over the present.

If we’re mindful, we can feel it hanging over us when a conversation is not going well, or when a workout is lacking motivation, or when you’re feeling uninspired/unproductive.

With mindful, focused attention, we can:

  • recognize these moments as they happen
  • cast aside the immediate past
  • and make all that’s ahead from the present moment forward better.

Life is comprised of fleeting moments, finite opportunities, and distractions.

Guard your focus and connect more deeply with what matters most.

Lastly, if you haven’t already tried, visit our previous blog about Living Your Eulogy Virtues. This can be another good exercise for living a more intentional, examined life.

The Changing Longevity Landscape

die young late

Living beyond age 100 may become commonplace.

Now, before I go down this rabbit hole, a disclaimer: Extending lifespan beyond known biological bounds is still sci-fi stuff.

However, also consider modern innovations that were also once considered sci-fi:

  • Airflight (planes/jets/helicopters/jetpacks)
  • Space travel
  • Landing on the moon
  • The International Space Station
  • Driverless cars
  • Mobile phones
  • The internet
  • Lab-grown meat
  • Machine learning
  • Video calls
  • 3D printing
  • Smart homes
  • Underwater exploration
  • Online metaverse
  • Wearable tech
  • DNA sequencing

So with an open mind, let’s dive in.

Aging = A Disease

Research focused on the root causes of human mortality is increasingly pointing towards one common denominator: aging.

Aging? As the cause of mortality? Yes, bear with me.

At it’s most basic level, aging is nothing more than an accumulation of damage: breakages in the machinery of your cells combined with build ups of metabolic waste which lead to the failure of biological systems. With the exception of acute accidents, the most common causes of death (heart disease, cancer, neurological disease/degeneration) all increase as we age.

On June 18, 2018, the World Health Organization even added a new disease code which every country in the world is encouraged to use. The code was MG2A: old age.

Aging From 30,000 Feet:
  • Lifestyle and genetics influence cellular health.
  • Cellular health determines our rate of aging.
  • The process of aging leads to biological misfires, cellular breakdown, and disease/death.

Two Theories of Aging:

While slowing down the process of aging could help in forestalling disease, it’s still unclear to what degree aging can be slowed, paused, or reversed.

As it stands now, there are two basic theories surrounding aging/lifespan:

  1. Biological Limit on Life: According to this theory, humans (along with all other species) have a natural limit to their lifespans that cannot be exceeded. Using mathematical modeling, researchers from the journal Nature Communications predict that after 120 to 150 years of age the human body loses its ability to recover from illness and injury.
  2. Longevity Escape Velocity: Also known as age escape velocity and actuarial escape velocity, this is the situation in which technology extends a person’s life expectancy at a faster rate than they are aging. In other words, the potential for immortality. Some gerontologists believe that the odds of LEV are as high as 50% and that we could learn the answer within the next 15 years.

Regardless of which theory ultimately ends up proving correct, it is quite likely that lifespans will continue to be extended (perhaps dramatically) beyond the averages of today. According to the CDC, the average life expectancy for a female in the US is 80.5, for males it is 75.1.

Odds of living to 100 (with vitality)

Simply making it to the triple digit milestone is currently out of reach for many. Per data from the Social Security Administration, for a married couple where both spouses are 65 years old, there is a 8.7% chance that at least one member of the couple will live to 100.

Now, while the US does have the highest number of centenarians globally (approx. 97,000 people, or 0.03% of the US population), they are a rare bunch.

Getting to 115 is currently a 1-in-100-million proposition. And reaching 130 is a mathematical improbability of the highest order. At least it is right now.

However, for those able to invest in their health and maintain physical and cognitive function over these next 10-15 years, the future is looking bright.

According to Dr. David Sinclair, author of Lifespan and co-director for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School, “if even a few of the therapies and treatments that are most promising come to fruition, it is not an unreasonable expectation for anyone who is alive and healthy today to reach 100 in good health—active and engaged at levels we’d expect of healthy 50-year-olds today.”

The Science

You may have heard the following:

Genetics load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

Studies of family genealogies and identical twins place the genetic influences on longevity at between 10% and 25% which, by any estimation, is surprisingly low. Conversely, your lifestyle accounts for 75%-90%.

In other words: Our DNA is not our destiny, lifestyle plays an outsized role.

With recent advancements in both technology and medicine, our longevity rates may be increasing faster than many realize.

Perhaps the greatest leap forward occurred in 2012 when Shinya Yamanaka discovered what he referred to as the “elixir of life.”

And no, the “elixir” was not a trendy food or supplement. It was the discovery of a process called “reprogramming” – that is, in a crude oversimplified sense: using genome-editing CRIPR technology to revert mature cells into younger cells.

This discovery would earn Yamanaka the Nobel Prize of Medicine.

Following Yamanaka’s discovery, we’ve entered a period of exponential medicine: genome sequencing, RNA transcriptomics, Wnt pathway modifiers, vaccines, liquid biopsies, CAR-T cells, gene therapy, exosomes, and stem cells are just a sampling of the technologies (many of which the world’s billionaires are fast-tracking).

The ability to reprogram cells along with these other interventions could prove revolutionary in delaying biological decline.

For instance, when it comes to cancer, the body is always producing cancer it’s just that our immune system zaps the cancer 99% of the time. Early stage cancers, those in stage 1 and stage 2, are highly curable. It’s when a cancer metastasizes beyond those initial stages that the fight typically becomes more difficult.

In the case of cancer, as opposed to being reactive to the symptoms before it’s too late, there is now proactive screening for 60+ different cancers to catch them in the earlier, more treatable stages.

Proactive care, as opposed to reactive treatment, is the future of healthcare.

Lifespan vs. Healthspan

In a previous blog on the Centenarian Olympics, we discussed the idea of “backcasting” – or reverse engineering – the tasks that you would need to be able to complete at age 100 to maintain independence and how you could begin training for them today. The reason for this is that, for many of us, the goal is not to simply increase the quantity of years lived. Instead, it’s to increase the quality of our years by decreasing the number of years nursing disease.

Between 1950 and 2020 the world population swelled from 2.9B people to 7.8B people. During that same window of time, average (global) life expectancy rose 26 years, from 47 to 73 years of age. While life expectancy has risen, maintaining health, function, and overall quality of life has lagged.

Unlike the average lifespan, which is now 79.3 years in the US, the average healthspan (i.e. period of one’s life that one is healthy) is only 63.1 years old. In other words, roughly 1/5 of an individual’s life is now spent managing end of life morbidity.

With new medical advancements and lifestyle improvements it’s looking more and more likely that there are solutions to close the gap between the quantity of your years (lifespan) and the quality of them (healthspan).

Financial Planning & Playing the Long Game

At wHealth Advisors, we view the traditional definition of “wealth” – your investments, salary, net worth etc. – as a bit limiting and one dimensional. Like the term “success”, true “wealth”… ehmm wHealth… is more nuanced, nebulous, and unique to each of us. What is optimal for me may not be optimal for you.

Therefore, the wHealthy person is the one with a uniquely optimized balance of financial independence, health (mental/physical/emotional/spiritual), rest, and social connection. They are also likely to have sufficient degree of autonomy and purpose in their professional and/or personal life.

All the returns in life – whether in finances, health, knowledge, or relationships – are the product of good decisions being compounded over long periods. Therefore, improving our overall wHealth is not typically something we can change dramatically overnight, it’s incremental.

Final Thoughts

As financial planners, we feel immense responsibility – and gratitude – in applying our technical expertise to empower our clients to be the people, and live the lives, they’ve always dreamed of.

The maxim of “health is wealth” is all too cliché and oftentimes not met with action. Like with finances as is the case with health – the best time to have started investing in it was 10 years ago… the second best time is today.

So, assuming that you could live with vitality to (or beyond!) age 100 – how might that change the way you make decisions today?

Would you make any changes to your current lifestyle?

Would you invest more into (or divest from) certain relationships?

Would you dedicate more attention to any areas of your overall health (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual etc.)?

Would you make different career decisions/transitions?

Would you invest more time, energy, and intention into closing the gap between who you are today and the best version of yourself?

Let us know so we can begin planning for that future today!

Conscious Breathing: Our Hardwired Superpower

Depression, anxiety, and sleep dysfunction rates among both children and adults have reached epidemic levels and are getting increasingly worse. To our own detriment, many of us go through life not aware of the benefits of conscious breathing.

Out of all the daily self-care modalities available, conscious breathing is arguably the lowest hanging fruit. It does not require much time, it is accessible to individuals of all abilities, and it is free.

Benefits:

One of the greatest benefits of conscious breathing – an umbrella term encapsulating different types of breathwork – is its ability to reprogram our nervous system and combat low-grade, chronic stress.

Physiologically, as opposed to the sympathetic “fight or flight” system, conscious breathing turns on the parasympathetic system – also referred to as the “rest and digest” system – which is essential for overall health and longevity.

Breathwork is essentially our inner pharmacy to calm the mind, relax the body, and even provide us with a boost of energy/clarity. It’s no wonder that the Department of Defense and Navy Seals ascribe to different forms of conscious breathing.

Personally, breathwork can be helpful before, during, or after a difficult, or stressful event. It can help keep us calm in traffic or down-regulate our thoughts/emotions before bed. Professionally, it can calm our nerves before a meeting or speaking engagement.

Interoceptive Awareness

Just as we’re attune to our body’s need to eat or to go to the bathroom, so too should we be mindful of our body telling us we need to breathe. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

By getting more in touch with what’s going on within us we can better control how we respond to the world around us.

Explore for yourself and consider teaching your children about the benefits of conscious breathing before their sporting events, exams, and during any moments of anxiousness.

Resources

In our blog post on cold therapy, we shared the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Linked below are some additional videos that we’ve found helpful:

5 Ways To Improve Your Breathing with James Nestor (12 minutes)

Breathing Techniques (4 minutes)

Nervous System Reset – Guided Breathwork (22 minutes)

 

The Centenarian Olympics

Training for the Centenarian Olympics

Training for a long, healthful, and functional life is not the same as training for performanceEminent longevity doctor, Dr. Peter Attia, notes that, for most people, the body will fail before the other systems (brain, heart, etc.).

To identify the training protocols that would allow one to compete in what he refers to as “The Centenarian Olympics,” Dr. Attia suggests we should “backcast” (i.e. the opposite of forecast), or reverse engineer, the activities that we would need to do at age 100 and begin training for them today.

Some things your 100-year-old self may need to do:

  • Play with your potential future grandkids and great grandkids
  • Lift a 30lb suitcase into an overhead bin
  • Get up from the ground
  • Go grocery shopping and carry two 10lb grocery bags up/down two flights of stairs
  • Bathe, shower, and dress yourself independently

Dr. Attia has said: “If you have the aspiration of kicking ass when you’re 85, you can’t afford to be average when you’re 50.”

When backcasting these activities, the training protocols are based around a few essential pillars:

  • Stability
  • Strength
  • Aerobic Performance
  • Anaerobic Output

Let’s talk about each of these:

Stability: 

The foundation of the four exercise components – most people start to fail first with their stability. Dr. Attia recommends working with a qualified Postural Restoration Institute professional. You can also practice stability focused routines/exercises which include Pilates, yoga, and tai chi, to name a few. For those striving to be functional 100-year-olds, light stretching should be part of the daily routine and longer 60-minutes stability-focused sessions can be completed weekly.

Strength: 

Aging robs us of our strength – we lose 35-40% of our strength between age 20 and 80. Approximately 1-2% of our strength is lost each year after age 50. In fact, grip strength alone is shown to be a reliable biomarker for future injury (and death) prevention. To maintain strength, longevity experts suggest strength training three days per week. Some longevity-focused strength training exercises are linked here.

Aerobic Performance: 

Aerobic exercise consists of less intense, longer bouts of activity. Dr. Attia is a big proponent of Zone 2 heart rate training for aerobic performance – that is, the highest metabolic output/work that you can sustain while keeping your heartrate 60-70% of your max + lactate level below two millimole per liter.

In other words, for many of us, this might translate to walking uphill on a treadmill at a 15% incline going 3-3.4mph. Another option is riding a stationary bicycle at a pace that allows you to carry a conversation, but the conversation feels a bit strained (the person you’re speaking with would know you’re exercising). Zone 2 aerobic training should, ideally, account for 2-4hrs of your overall activity per week.

Anaerobic Output: 

Anaerobic activities are much more efficient and therefore do not require as much time as aerobic. This type of activity is more intense and focused on your Zone 5 heart rate (i.e. 90-100% of maximum HR). Anaerobic-focused workouts include HIIT, Tabata, and different boot-camp type workouts. However, they can be even shorter (30-60sec) “all-out” bursts of exertion performed by running/rowing/cycling or anything that gets your HR to Zone 5.

Less discussed, but arguably just as important as your physical training for the long haul, is the quality of your sleep. Take a look at our past blog for ways to improve your sleep and increase your quality of life.

Sleep Hacking: Proven Tips For Better Sleep

By “hacking” your sleep – that is, following proven tips to optimize both the quality and duration of your sleep – you can set yourself up for a successful, productive day.

Impacts of Insufficient Sleep

If having a successful day is not the motivator you need, consider that consistent inadequate sleep is strongly associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive.

For those in their 50s and 60s, the NIH recently concluded a study which indicated that getting six or less hours of sleep per night was linked to developing dementia.

So, whether you’re interested in optimizing your day, or you just care about your health…

Consider the following sleep hacking tips for getting a good night’s rest:

  1. Increase bright light exposure during the day. Living in alignment to the circadian cycle helps your body’s hormones. Daytime bright light exposure can improve sleep quality and duration. Spending 30-45 minutes getting direct sunlight exposure into your eyes (note: exposure, not staring at the sun!) within the first hour after waking is best. If getting daily sunlight exposure is not practical, consider investing in artificial light boxes for your workspace.
  2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening. Translation: Have a “digital sunset” and do your best to not look at blue light emitting devices like smartphones and computers. Reason: Blue light tricks your body’s hormones into thinking it’s daytime and reduces melatonin levels. If staying away from blue light feels unrealistic, consider blue light blocking glasses (or blue light lens that clip onto your prescription glasses) and/or downloading free apps such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop/computer.
  3. Drink your coffee, strategically. The best time to drink coffee is mid- to late-morning when cortisol levels are lower. Upon waking, your cortisol spikes (telling body: time to start the day!) but it dips back down after 2-4hrs of being awake (i.e. between 9:30-11:30am for most people). Aim to drink your coffee during this trough and to be finished at least 6hrs before bed (caffeine can stay elevated in blood for 6-8hrs).
  4. Avoid alcohol at night. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can induce relaxation and sleepiness. While it may help you fall asleep it severely impacts the quality of your sleep due to it’s affects on your melatonin and human growth hormone production. In one 2018 study, low alcohol consumption (< 1 drink for women, < 2 drinks for men) decreased sleep quality by 9.3%. Moderate consumption (1 drink for women, 2 drinks for men) decreased sleep quality by 24%. High alcohol consumption (>1 drink for women, >2 drinks for men) decreased sleep quality by 39.2%.
  5. Optimize your bedroom environment. Minimize external noise, light, and artificial light from devices like alarm clocks. Sleep in a comfortble temperature, for many people this is around 70°F or lower as increased body/room temperature can increase wakefulness.
  6. Don’t eat late in the evening. Consuming food late at night may affect sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin. Aim to finish eating (including snacks) at least 2hrs before bed.
  7. Relax, clear your mind. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or doing guided breathwork/meditation/visualization exercises, the goal is to calm the body and prepare for sleep. Apps such as Headspace, Calm, and even Peloton have sleep-specific meditations (but wear your blue light blockers if using your phone/tablet/computer!).
  8. Rule out a sleep disorder. It’s thought that 24% of men, 9% of women, and 3% of children may have sleep apnea. Signs include snoring, mouth breathing, breathing pauses during sleep, and daytime sleepiness. If you think you may have sleep apnea, discuss this with your doctor, functional dentist, or a sleep specialist that can recommend a sleep study or polysomnogram to diagnose it.
  9. Mouth tape. Say what? This may sound bizarre but many of us breathe through our mouths when we sleep, and the health benefits of nose breathing are undeniable. Mouth taping increases nitric oxide intake (which is produced in the sinuses), reduces teeth grinding, and reduces dry mouth (which is harmful to your oral microbiome & dental health). There are specific types of tape for mouth taping however you can also use medical grade (sensitive) tape which is more affordable.

By making some of these small, yet intentional sleep hacking decisions over the course of our day we can optimize our sleep and improve our lives.

Reminder: Gents – the inaugural Wisemen Experience men’s health retreat still has room available. Consider joining if interested in applying ancient/science-based wellness modalities to improve your life as a partner, parent, professional… and beyond.

Finances for Fathers: Episode 64 of the Dad.Work Podcast

Dennis McNamara had the opportunity to connect with Curt Storring, the host of the Dad.Work podcast, in a wide ranging conversation focused on finances for fathers.

Some highlights from the finances for fathers discussion:

  • The fundamentals of fiscal fitness and why fathers need to figure this stuff out
  • Finding a balance between time, money and health
  • The return on investment (ROI) of doing men’s work
  • Dennis’ quarantine struggles and doubling down on health protocols to come out the other side stronger
  • Being confident, living with intention and having a more deep and more engaged relationship with those around you
  • The importance of an emergency fund
  • And way more depth than you’d usually find in a conversation about finances for fathers!

Dennis’ Dad.Work Bio:

Dennis McNamara is a dad to a three year old, a husband to his college sweetheart, and a comprehensive financial planner at, and co-founder of, wHealth (pronounced “wealth”) Advisors in Red Bank, NJ.

After graduating university in 2011 Dennis was teetering on a mental and emotional breakdown. With $7,000 to his name, Dennis spent a year exchanging his physical labor for a roof over his head on permaculture farms in Portugal and Costa Rica. After learning more about himself through these experiences he dedicated himself to rigorously pursuing purposeful work instead of job titles.

Since then, he’s been the US Director of Business Development at a social enterprise firm, a financial analyst at the private wealth management arm of Goldman Sachs, and most recently – in 2019 – made the leap to establish his own financial planning firm – wHealth Advisors.

Dennis has been mentioned in Forbes, US News & World Report, and Financial Advisor Magazine. He holds the financial designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF), and is a Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP).

Outside of wHealth Advisors he is passionate about compounding healthy habits so that he can show up as the best version of himself – whether that be as a parent, a partner, or a professional.

You can follow along his Instagram @thewhealthadvisor or find more about the work he does with wHealth Advisors at whealthfa.com. There, you can also subscribe to his monthly newsletter which is as much about finances as it is about wellness, personal optimization, and taking meaningful steps to upgrading your life.

Streaming:

The podcast streams on Apple, Spotify, or directly from Dad.Work.

The Benefits of Cold Exposure

As you may know, cold exposure – also known as cold thermogenesis – has numerous benefits, from muscle recovery and fat loss to mental health, mood enhancement, insulin resistance, and immune function.

There’s no better time to explore (and embrace) cold therapy then when nature turns down the thermostat.

The discomfort of the cold is central to many of the benefits that are derived from it – doing hard sh*t makes us more resilient! It also allows us to train our brain and body for the hard things we inevitably must face in life.

Below are some tips and a breathwork exercise to help you start to become more comfortable during deliberate cold exposure.

Tips for Cold Exposure:

  1. Water temperatures at or below 59°F showed clinical benefits/improvements.
  2. Meet the cold with a relaxed, calm, mind and body
  3. Do a breathwork to calm your nervous system (see example below).
  4. Start with switching between cold and hot water during your shower. 15 seconds cold and 15 seconds hot. Increase the time of cold exposure as you progress. Repeat this 5x or for a few minutes.
  5. Try to expose your head and back of the neck at times. The back of the neck is where the vagus nerve connects to the brain.
  6. Try to incorporate cold exposure post-workout as it helps make the cold more tolerable. Your body also becomes more relaxed/tired after a workout, limiting the fight or flight response.

Pre-Cold Exposure Breathwork:

You can use this breathing exercise as priming before you cold plunge, and during to regulate your “fight or flight” response. The 4-7-8 breathing is a great way to calm your nervous system, release tension and calm your mind:

  • 4-7-8 Priming/ 2-3 min
    Breathe in deep through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds
  • 2-3 rounds of 10 nostril breaths followed by a long active exhalation. Your exhale should make a “huuuuh” sound. Hold your breath at the end of each set as long as you can. Please do not pass out – be aware of your limits!

H/T to The Wisemen Project for summarizing the many benefits of cold exposure.

Reminder: Gents – the inaugural Wisemen Experience men’s health retreat still has room available. Consider joining if interested in applying ancient/science-based wellness modalities to improve your life as a partner, parent, professional… and beyond.

Living Your Eulogy Virtues

Awhile back in our piece on Minimalism we touched on the topic of death. Inspired by John’s January newsletter reflections on the passing of both John Madden and Betty White, let’s take a moment to reflect on our own mortality.

After noting “be proactive” as habit #1, Steven Covey, author of the “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” suggests in his 2nd habit that we “begin with the ultimate end in mind.” The ultimate end being our funeral.

This advice is not new.

Seneca, the ancient Stoic, tells us something similar. He famously suggested that a helpful way to understand if we’re living in integrity with what we know to be true is to rehearse our death.

Enter the eulogy virtues.

Let’s flash forward to the future.

You walk into a funeral and realize it’s your funeral.

You see people there to celebrate you and your life. You take a seat and listen to the eulogies.

Who says what? What would your spouse or significant other say? Your kids? Your friends? Colleagues? Random people you may have helped at some point in life?

What qualities would they mention? And what virtues would you hope to be remembered for?

Your kindness? Your courage? Your generosity? Your commitment?

How would your life change if you embodied these qualities and began living in integrity with your virtues today?

 A Quick Trip to Hell

Now, imagine you’re sitting there listening to these eulogies and a door in the back of the room opens and someone walks in.

You turn around to see who it is. They look oddly familiar. They have a radiance and a confidence – a grounded power that’s palpable.

That astonishingly, radiantly alive person is you.

Well, technically, it’s who you could have become if you actually lived in integrity with what you knew to be true. Some would say meeting that version you, the person you could have become had you reached your potential, is hell.

Now pause.

Picture that awesome version of you.

What is one thing they do consistently that the current version of you doesn’t do consistently… yet?

Is today a good day to get started on that?