In his book "The Biohacker's Handbook," Teemu Arina talks about five pillars of life: sleep, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and work. Many of these pillars can be positively influenced by routines, he says. //next author Markus Sekulla asked the biohacker what routines exist in his life and what, for example, the first and last hours of his day look like.
Markus Sekulla: In the first part of our interview we talked about biohacking in general, future trends and the devices you use. Let’s dive deeper on a few aspects here in this part. In your book, The Biohacker’s Handbook, you talk about 5 pillars of life: Sleep, exercise, nutrition, mind and work. Many of these pillars are tackled by routines. Talk to me about your routines. For instance, how do the first and the last hour of your day look like?
Teemu Arina: Hello Markus! My day starts already the evening before. A good night's sleep is, of course, very important, but the way your day starts begins the evening before. One thing that I do is to write down all the things that are in my mind. And because you wake up in the state of the mind in which you go to sleep I just get the things out of my mind that are going around, and I do some positive affirmations. Studies proved that this is very good for one’s psychological health. If you do some kind of credit, courage, gratitude practice before bedtime, that's the state in which you’ll wake up.
If I have an alarm, it's actually going off based on my sleep cycle and I don't use a regular alarm, but I turn on a daylight lamp or kind of morning wake up light that goes on slowly just to wake me up in a natural way.
I then open up my mobile phone and I check the data of the night sleep just out of curiosity. But I'm not taking my phone out of Airplane Mode yet. No social media no emails. I try to do my morning routines before I take my phone out of that airplane mode or open up my computer.
After checking my sleep, I’m going straight under a red-light device. Basically, I'm using specific wavelengths of light above me that this near infrared and red lights, it's called photobiomodulation, which has a beneficial effect on our mitochondria. It produces energy. And I do a meditation session under this on a spike mat.
A cold shower is next. It wakes me up much better than coffee. It also has metabolic and health benefits to do that for several minutes. I try to be under an extremely cold shower for up to five minutes. And then I take a hot shower. And again, I finish up with a cold shower.
Then I'm doing some basic exercises. Something I like to do in terms of exercise, I'm doing something called “Greasing the Groove”. I'm not going for a full workout that lasts one or two hours. But I'm doing it constantly throughout my day. When I'm having a micro break from the computer, let’s say 30 minutes, I'm do push-ups or pull ups. I'm kind of distributing exercise throughout my day.
Then it’s time for a cup of coffee. A little more upgraded one. With sometimes up to 25 different ingredients.
My advice is that whatever you do repeatedly, you should pay attention to do that in the best possible way. If you sleep, you get the best possible bed and sleeping foundations. If you work at a computer, you get the best possible desk and chair. And then if you drink coffee or tea, you also upgrade that side. Because what you do repeatedly matters over time. If you drink bad coffee, it's not good for you over time.
Markus Sekulla: What does your diet look like? Keto? Paleo? Vegan?
Teemu Arina: My diet is not a religion. When it comes to food itself, we can go from the macro to the micro side. On the macro side I eat a high fat, high protein, low carb diet. But if you go to the micronutrients side, that's where I'm increasing the density of nutrients per calorie. The food choices I make is simply put that I’m picking up the things that are the densest when it comes to nutrients in that category.
In the morning, and for lunchtime, I'm usually avoiding high amounts of carbohydrates. If I'm having carbohydrates, it's mainly in the form of condensed berries like bilberries, blueberries, sea buckthorn, and so on. When it comes to the protein side, I'm going for the most nutrient dense meats. If possible, I'm having wild game, the wilder, the better.
As for fish, I love to eat river fish, myself, and I avoid predatory fish. I eat a lot of eggs that the highest quality, possible organic, free range. There is a lot of misconceptions or old knowledge or just folklore around food - eggs and coffee being bad for you is a good example. But I tend to eat like three or four eggs per day, my cholesterol values are just fine.
I try to eat as many plants and vegetables as possible, but some of them I eat raw, some of them I cook, a good example might be a tomato. The lycopene in tomato doesn't absorb unless it's heated a little bit. So even if I make a salad, I might be heating them up a little bit of before I put them in the salad instead of eating a them raw. If I go for berries or not going for strawberries, for example, I go for the darkest, deepest colors like not even blueberries. I take bilberries, which is the you know badass version of blueberry.
And in terms of snacks, I'm not snacking, because you want to give a rest to your metabolic system. Occasionally, if you're eating all the time, it's not going to help you to reduce any kind of low level inflammation you might be having, because your body needs to process something all the time.
I also think that not eating is one of the best strategies. I'm taking off of eating once or twice a week, basically, meaning I skip breakfast, I skip lunch and sometimes I also skip dinner to only eat the next day. In terms of fasting, I do intermittent fasting for the metabolic benefits of blood sugar regulation/ lowering inflammation, but I'm not going crazy with it and do 2,3,4 days of fasting. I do that kind of thing maybe once a year, because that has different effects. But it's also hard on the body. But if you want to regenerate part of your immune system, doing that occasionally is a good idea.
Markus Sekulla: Let me ask you about work. Everyone I'm working with calls me a work-hacker. I work 90 minutes, I take a 90 minutes break, I work 90 minutes, I stop for 90 minutes, and so on. How much do you work?
Teemu Arina: I think it is important to understand that most growth happens when we rest, it doesn't happen during stimulus. If you go to the gym, your muscles don't grow when you lift weights. The growth happens when you sleep after it. The same goes for learning, if you want to learn something, you really have to take breaks. And if you want to get good results at work it is also the same. You can't concentrate, you know, for hours straight, you have to take breaks. That's what the studies show.
For me the Pomodoro Technique work. It's a Japanese time management technique of doing things, 20 minutes at a time, taking a little break, then then starting again, doing a certain number of Pomodoro without interruption. For me reducing interruptions is the key. Sometimes taking a nap, doing a few minutes of exercise or a meditation are extremely effective strategies to get another few hours in your day of productive time.
In terms of to do lists it's all about my not to do lists. I'm constantly evaluating what are the things that I shouldn't be doing? How can I outsource, automate or delegated tasks?
Markus Sekulla: Thank you, Teemu, for your exciting insights. There is still some work to do for me ....