Jack: When I paired that with doing some writing or some reading over the weekend, I just found that I got so much more done during those fasting periods because I was so focused. It just felt like I had much more time to really think and to work in that moment. It’s a psychological response but it was felt enough like I want to pull the thread on that a little bit more and see what’s there.
Ben: I have a master’s degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I’ve spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet from SEALFit Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and the world’s toughest mudder, the 13 Ironman triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world’s top experts in performance, fat loss, recovery, hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
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Hey, folks. My guest on today’s show is somebody that you’re probably familiar with. He dropped out of college sometime back to start the company Twitter and he is now a well-recognized billionaire businessman. He’s the CEO of Twitter. He’s the CEO and the Chairman of Square. He’s the co-founder of both. But what most people don’t know about this fella is that he also has a keen interest in all things; fitness, nutrition, and health-related. And in today’s episode, we are going to dive into his daily routine, his diet, his stress management strategies, his workout and fitness habits, and what he does to keep his body and brain successful. My guest, if you didn’t guess already, is Mr. Jack Dorsey. Jack, welcome to the show, man.
Jack: Thanks, Ben. Really excited to talk with you.
Ben: Yeah. I actually had–I had no clue that you were interested in or really focused on health or fitness or nutrition. And so, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about what your habits are and how you keep yourself put together running in many directions as you do. Of course, I know that, not that I want to focus on this, it seems from what I can tell, there are all sorts of controversy around you and your company right now and I’m curious. When you get thrown a lot of stress, do you have specific stress mitigation strategies that you use, I mean from supplements to breathe work to yoga to a routine or anything like that?
Jack: I mean, I have a bunch. I’ve learned a lot from your podcast and others that are similar. But I guess I start with–it took me some time to realize this but I learned best through experimentation. I want to experience something and I give myself a week or a month, depending on the practice to really figure out if it has some transformational capability for what I’m currently going through and then organize my life more around that. I’ll say that my routine today is completely different than my routine three years ago but I feel like I have a lot of it dialed in based on what I’m currently experiencing in terms of stress and just what I have to do every day.
Three years ago is when I went back to Twitter and took on another job in addition to running Square, running Twitter as well. And also, at that time, we’re taking Square public and Twitter was going through a lot of turnovers and also in need of a massive turnaround across multiple dimensions. So, a lot of my routine today is all due to what felt like just had to be done in order to not just survive but to make sure that I continue to be performant and I continue to be clear. And there’s been some practices that have been really impactful, some that–I don’t know if they’re impactful just yet but yeah, happy to get in all of them.
Ben: Yeah. Go ahead. I think it’d be fun to geek out on some of the stuff that you do. I would imagine that you, like a lot of people, don’t really adopt a lot of stress mitigation tactics until things bite you in the ass and you realize that you actually have to begin to control some amount of cortisol and do things like sleep optimization and stress strategies. So, just fill me in. We can take as deep a dive as you want. What kind of things do you do?
Jack: Well, I guess I’d rank them by impact. One is around just mental health, and the biggest impact there has been meditation. Number two has been around physical health, and the biggest impact there has been more exercise and sleep. And three has been around diet. So, just to go through all three, I’ve been meditating for about 20 years. I originally just started playing around with it because I heard it from someone. I read some things and it wasn’t a practice; it was more, I would take five minutes, I would take ten minutes to try to figure out what to do. And then, as years went on, I found various practices and it led me to more disciplined ways of doing meditation. I played with apps and I found some teachers, but it wasn’t really until I found Vipassana two years ago that I went really deep in it. It really –
Ben: You mean Vipassana like the full 10-day getaway?
Jack: Yeah. I did my first 10-day meditation last year just outside of Dallas, Texas. I wanted to do it during a time that was more down than my normal day. So, I did it in between the 21st of December and the 1st of the New Year. So, I was actually coming out of silence on the day of the New Year, which was amazing and symbolic to me, but it also allowed me to–during that time, things just go a little bit slower at work and it enabled me to be confident in, number one, like [00:10:59] _______ you’re silent, and that means you’re giving up all reading material. You can’t read. You can’t write. You can’t have a device. You can’t talk with anyone. You can’t even look anyone in the eye.
Any form of communication including holding the door for someone would be against the discipline and against the practice. And the whole push behind all this is to make it feel like you’re on a retreat by yourself and you’re the only person–even though you’re there with 100 other people doing the same thing, the idea is that it feels like you’re there by yourself. The most exercise you can do is actually just walk around the courtyard and all this is just pushing all the focus to your mind. You do two meals a day. You wake up at 4:30 in the morning–or sorry, 4:00 in the morning. You start meditating at 4:30. You don’t stop meditating until 9:00 at night.
Jack: It was intense and I love–in my experiments, I love going to the extreme and then walking back a bit just to find the balance for me, but that was my first time and I–day two was extremely challenging. Day six was probably my hardest. At the middle of the day, I looked around at one point and everyone else looked like they were enlightened and there were all these Buddhas and they were getting something I just was not able to understand and able to get or to feel. And then, at night, there was a discourse that describes a theory behind the practice.
We watch a video and he said something that just resonated with me and my practice right after that felt amazing. I felt the clarity. I felt the focus. I felt what I was intending to get out of the course in the first place. And then, when I woke up, I cried. I was so happy. I was full of joy and peace. But then I went to sleep. I slept very, very soundly but I woke up on the seventh day and it was just back to not understanding what I was doing and feeling lost. But all of that is this training of like you can’t grab onto the highs and you can’t grab onto the lows. It’s all about detaching yourself and being more in control of the reaction.
Ben: What kind of things do you eat when you’re on those retreats for those two meals a day protocol?
Jack: It’s all vegetarian. You have breakfast and you have lunch and you’re not allowed to eat afternoon. You have tea at 5:00 p.m. Newer students can also have like a small bit of fruit, but your meal is really a vegetarian meal at the start of the day. So, breakfast and lunch. Every day, I wake up and I would look forward to two things; hot oatmeal and then Honey Nut Cheerios. And there was one day, I remember, I think it was actually day seven when the oatmeal was cold and I’m like, “Oh man, this is my one thing. This is the one thing I look forward to every single day.”
Ben: Are you saying you were looking forward to Honey Nut Cheerios after the retreat or they had Honey Nut Cheerios during the Vipassana?
Jack: They had Honey Nut Cheerios during the Vipassana. This is a very, very Western–
Ben: I was going to say I didn’t know that was an ancestral healing food.
Jack: Completely different, completely different from when I did my second meditation which was the end of last year in Myanmar. The food varies upon the surrounding locale. I was in the middle of Texas, so one day, we had vegetarian chili for lunch, and that was an amazing day. It’s a vegetarian meal. It’s pretty light and you’re encouraged to go towards healthier options, but at least in Texas, they had Honey Nut Cheerios.
Ben: Yeah. So, when you finish up one of those, do you actually carry those meditation skills into life or do you just switch to using, whatever, Calm or Headspace or Transcendental Meditation or some other form of meditation?
Jack: Well, what the practice asks you to commit to is, number one, doing one of these 10-day retreats every year. And then, number two, every day, practice for two hours. You split it between morning and evening.
Ben: Geez, I thought Transcendental Meditation was a lot because that’s 2 by 20 minutes that you agree to during TM. I have no clue.
Jack: Yeah. I practiced that for about a year as well, but then I found Vipassana. Ideally, as soon as you wake up, you meditate for an hour, and then before bed, you meditate for an hour. That’s probably the hardest one for me. I have to get really strict around when I’m going to bed and shutting down all the devices and whatnot. But I’ve more or less kept up the practice of two hours, two hours a day. I miss it when I travel, but the point is any time you have to practice. If you can dedicate the two hours, it’s amazing, and you carry with you some of what you experienced during the 10 days. But if you can just get 10 minutes, and sometimes that’s all I can find, that’s what I do and I try to go as deep as I can in terms of what I did–building that single point of focus and building that clarity that I experienced directly during the 10 days, both of my ears.
Ben: So, if you’re meditating an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, are you still squeezing in other workout routines? Because you mentioned exercise in addition to meditation, but that sounds like a chunk of time.
Jack: Yeah. This is what I’ve been experimenting with a lot. For two years, I would wake up and I would meditate, and then I would walk into work, and my office is five miles away. So, through a combination of changing what I wore and specifically my shoes, and also my route, that allowed me to get that down to an hour and 15 minutes. Every day, I was walking into work, and rain or shine, I would start at–I’d wake up at around 6:15. I would meditate for an hour. I would get ready. I’d be out the door at 7:30 and then I’d be in the office by 9:00 a.m. And during that walk, I would listen to podcasts like yours, or I would listen to audiobooks, or I would just think.
An hour and 15 minutes over five miles, it’s a pretty brisk pace. It’s moving quite fast and I might look a little bit more like I’m jogging than I’m walking. So, I’m moving really fast and I’m getting everything going. I’m in the sun. I’m directly walking into the sun the way that my walk is organized. I go directly into the rising sun and I try to get as much sunlight as possible and then I begin the day at 9:00. Over the past six months, I decided that I need a little bit more space to think and I decided to work from home on Tuesday and Thursdays. Today is one of my work from home day.
So, coming at you from my living room and I’ve spent the whole day here. I’ve had a few folks over from the office to talk about some of our strategies going forward, just longer-term strategies. I’ve been writing a lot. I read during this time as well. But since I didn’t do the walk, instead I do high-intensity interval training. I do the 7-minute workout. I usually do one to three iterations of that or I get on the Tabata bike.
Ben: That’s the actual name of the bike, a Tabata bike, or you get on a bike and do a Tabata set?
Jack: I get on the air, like a fan bike.
Jack: I think it’s called the Xtreme. I just bought it off the Amazon.
Ben: You might have the same one as me. Does it have a little button that takes you immediately into the 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy, 4-minute Tabata set?
Jack: Yup. That’s exactly what I do. It has a big green button. It has a big red button. It has a bunch of other buttons that go into the set. I love the Tabata. I love the 7-minute workout just because of the flow of the exercises, resting some body parts and engaging others. And then, the thing I love about the 7-minute workout is I never have an excuse. I don’t have a personal trainer. I don’t go to a gym. I travel a lot and all I need in order to do a workout every single day is a chair and a wall and my body weight.
Ben: Yeah. Now, for the 7-minute workout, are you talking about the actual–the New York Times 7-minute workout that was made popular a couple of years ago?
Jack: Yeah. And the best step I found for it is an app called Seven. It also allows you to work in some other variations of the 7-minute workout. You can add burpees or you can add more stretches or more core.
Ben: Oh, really?
Jack: They have one which is the full body, and then I also do a lot of the core exercises, which is again just seven minutes. They have a stretch workout as well. It’s very clean. It’s very simple and it’s always with me.
Ben: I’ll link to that one in the shownotes for people. Shownotes, by the way, for those you listening in for anything Jack and I talked about are going to be over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Jack. There’s a couple of bodyweight workout apps I have on my phone, the Aaptiv one. I know that’s one popular app, but I have a really cheap app that’s very simple. It sounds kind of similar to yours. I’ll find the name of it and link to it in the shownotes, but basically, you’re doing that 7-minute routine every day or just on certain days of the week?
Jack: Every day, every day.
Jack: I need to do at least that because I never have an excuse, even if it’s raining outside or I couldn’t make to the gym or my trainer is sick or whatnot, which I don’t have. I never have an excuse not to workout. So, if I’m in a hotel in the middle of Japan, I can still do it and I can still feel like I at least exercise my body in a way that I found to keep me fit. It doesn’t build muscle but it does keep me fit, does keep me alert and gives me a jolt of energy. I have been playing a lot more with just building more mass for that. I’ve been using a medicine ball and kettlebells, playing a little bit with just a very simple home gym just to do more weight resistance, but I think I may need a little bit more instruction on that. So, it’s not as rigorous as all my other practices right now but I’m just playing around with it to understand what it is and how it might help in the first place.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. By the way, that app that I use is called the VT Bodyweight app. I just checked on my phone, it just has probably about 20 different bodyweight workouts in it, kind of similar to that 7-minute routine. But the weighted vest can work really well because I do that 7-minute workout sometimes and I have a vest. It’s Hyperwear. It’s like a really tight fitting weighted vest. You can get it in just like 20 pounds, and a lot of times, 20 pounds is enough to just jack your heart rate up for that 7-minute workout.
And then, the other thing that I do with–a lot of my clients will do this, too. I’ll have them do a short workout like that short explosive bodyweight workout. And then, for the resistance training, have you ever heard of the book, “Body by Science” by Doug McGuff?
Jack: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. So, it’s like super slow training. It’s just a one single set to failure. It takes 15 to 18 minutes for the workout but it’s one single set to failure for chest press, some kind of pulling motion like a pull-up or a pull-down, shoulder press, row, and then some kind of a leg press or a squat. But you just do one set, time under tension for like two to three minutes for each set to absolute failure. That works really well because the one thing I notice about that bodyweight workout, like the New York Times or any of the rest, just from a peer strength or bone density standpoint, sometimes you got to load the muscle. So, if you do one of those twice a week and then you do like the bodyweight workout three times a week and then you’re walking a lot, you’ve got a lot of bases covered, and you’re doing the Tabata set on the bike. So, you’re kind of hitting all the different parameters.
Jack: Yeah. And even with us having our workout, you do squats, for instance, and a step-up on a chair. With that, I’ll mix in the medicine ball or the kettlebells. I’m just at a little bit more resistance and weight to it. So, just experimenting a bunch, but where I want to get to eventually is more building strength, and that I think is the next iteration for me. The other thing on physical health that has had probably the largest impact just in terms of how I feel but also mental clarity is sauna and cold.
So, about three years ago, I invested in a barrel sauna and an ice bath that has a built-in chiller, and the chiller gets it down to about 37 degrees. I would do this every day as well, usually in the evening. I would have the sauna temperature at around 220 degrees. I would stay in there for 15 minutes, rotate into the cold for three minutes, and then back into the sauna. Start with a cold for about three minutes, go into the sauna and do three rounds of that, ending in the cold for about a minute, and I could wrap that whole thing up in about an hour.
Jack: So, I love that for the feeling. I recently discovered near-infrared. I recently purchased a SaunaSpace, which is a little company out of Columbia, Missouri that handmakes near-infrared saunas. It’s a light array of four incandescent bulbs. The cool thing about it is it’s actually in this little tent. So, it’s really portable. I put it in my garage next to where I do my workouts and whatnot. And the tent itself is also EMF shielded. So, if I were to bring my phone in there, for instance, there’s no signal whatsoever. There’s no radiation EMF from power, from Wi-Fi, from cellular. So, even if I were to go in there and meditate and not turn the lights on, it feels a little bit different because you’re not getting hit by all the EMF energy.
Ben: Yeah. SaunaSpace is one–they’re one of the few saunas that actually does low EMF, near-infrared. I mean, I use the Clearlight. That’s a mix of a bunch of different infrared spectrums. So, it’s a little different but the SaunaSpace is more like a tent that you get inside, like a large tent that you get inside versus a wooden unit like the Clearlight. But the SaunaSpace, they also sell their bulbs. Y0u can just buy their near-infrared bulbs and outfit anything. You could hang a couple of their–the bulbs come in almost like a chandelier that holds four near-infrared bulbs, and you can even put those in your office and you flip them on and stand in between them while you work on your computer, for example.
Jack: Exactly. I have one of those separate solo bulbs right at my standing desk at home so when I do work, I just flip that on and I’m still going to benefit from the near-infrared. Yes, there’s a little tent and there’s a stool, a freestanding stool in the middle of it. And on the far wall of it is an array of four lights and you flip them on and you sit in one position facing forward, for instance, facing the lights for five minutes, and then you can rotate every five minutes four times. They recommend at least 20 minutes. When I do it, I usually go in for 30 minutes to an hour.
Even more so than the traditional dry sauna which I invested in three years ago, I feel a lot more energized. I feel a lot cleaner. I’m not getting the same temperature because the temperature is around 125 externally but it raises my core temperature very, very quickly. So, you sweat much faster than I would in the typical dry sauna at 220 degrees.
Ben: It’s more of a deep sweat like the photons actually penetrate a lot more deeply into tissue, which is why it’s popular for–if you have high heavy metals and you’re returning from travel or you’ve eaten a lot of crappy food, that’s where those things come in incredibly handy.
Jack: Yeah. It feels more restorative, whereas the dry sauna, the traditional Finnish sauna feels a lot more relaxing. Now I use the Finnish sauna more for weekends when I just want to really relax, and then go in the ice tub. It’s just like you going out of that cycle after it’s finished, you just feel like an entirely new person. It’s amazing, whereas the SaunaSpace feels more like daily restorative kind of clarifying and cleansing.
Jack: So, today, my routine is a little bit different, and that I wake up a little bit earlier. I do my meditation. I do my 7-minute workout, and then I go into the SaunaSpace for about 23 minutes before I do my walk. On my Tuesdays and Thursdays–I think I heard this from your podcast but focusing more on the strength building exercises between the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. have a greater efficiency. So, I’ve been moving some of my workouts to that timeframe. But they’re no more than 20/30 minutes at a time. They’re not really going all out but I’ve been experimenting with moving to that timeframing and seeing what effect that has.
Ben: It’s kind of hard in my opinion because, for me, I’m wired up to eat the frog, like I want to get up and just get that hard thing that kind of sucks over in the morning, which is usually like the high-intensity weight training workout or the interval training workout. But yeah, I mean if you wait until the afternoon or the evening, your body temperature is peaked, your testosterone peaks, your post-workout protein synthesis, your grip strength, all these things happen that make that a more conducive time to do a hard workout.
And then, it works well for me and we can talk about your diet momentarily, but I save most of my carbohydrates for dinner just because a lot of times, I’m out. It’s a little bit more of a meal that widely fluctuates, especially when I’m traveling. And so, you’ve finished that workout and you’re in an insulin sensitive state for a few hours. So, you can go and maybe you’re going out to sushi or you’re going to a steakhouse where you might have some of the bread or whatever, but it can be a good way to mitigate a lot of the carbohydrate intake that might take place later on the evening. So, nine times out of ten, I do the same thing. I save it for the evening unless it’s just a super busy day where I know I’ll have so much cognitive fatigue by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. I just need to do the hard thing early.
Jack: Exactly. And that’s exactly what I found. I know that if I do it in the morning, it’s done and I feel like I have a win for the day. But I’m not as focused as I might be in the afternoon. In the afternoon, I’m a lot more focused but it’s all burdened by what happened in the day earlier. It might be in a lot of mental stress or whatnot and that kind of takes away and adds some excuse as to why not to go as hard. But I do feel more focused in the afternoon, but it leaves more room for not doing it than I like.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Like it’s just a little bit harder to get it started. I find an extra cup of coffee or chomping on a piece of nicotine gum usually gets my ass on the garage to do it, but I typically use some sort of chemical to get out there and do the hard thing in the afternoon or evening after a stressful day. By the way, you mentioned the chiller system that you use. I interviewed Rick Rubin last year and he has a pretty complex and very cool, pun intended, chiller system down his place in Kauai and in Malibu. I’m curious, did you do something similar where you’ve just essentially got a tub almost like an animal feed or tub like one of those large oval tubs filled with water and then you attach your chiller system to that?
Jack: Yeah. That is exactly what I have. It’s not a steel tub; it’s a cedar tub, but to turn it into a hot tub but it does take some time to do that. When I was doing it every day, I would do it in the morning and it would start chilling at like 4:00 in the morning to get down to about 37 degrees. It’s also really cold here in San Francisco in the morning so it doesn’t need much help, but usually, when I would get in, it would be about 37 degrees, max 42.
Jack: But yeah, the chiller is far away from it so you don’t hear it and it just does its thing.
Ben: Yeah. A lot of people who are on a budget, they’ll get the chest freezers and do the same thing. I think it was Luke Storey in L.A. I actually published his cold pool setup as well. I’ll link to that in the shownotes for folks, but he uses instead of chlorine, just like a little bit of food grade hydrogen peroxide in the water every now and again. Each time that he bays, he gets out and puts a little bit of food grade hydrogen peroxide in there. And apparently, that does a pretty good job keeping it clean without the use of chlorine if you don’t have something like an ozonator, which also helps it to stay clean without the use of chemicals.
Jack: Yeah. I mean, nothing has given me more mental confidence than being able to go straight from room temperature into the cold.
Jack: I mean, just making that switch, especially in the morning, going into an ice-cold tub from just being warm in bed is–it just unlocks this thing in my mind and I feel like if I can will myself to do that thing that seems so small but hurts so much, I can do nearly anything.
Ben: Anything that tones the vagus nerve will do that. That activates the parasympathetic nervous system and there’s nothing like cold, and especially cold with your face under to do that, if you can train yourself not to take that, like the mammalian dive reflex when you come up and just stay absolutely stone-faced breathing through your nose. That’s a good sign you’re able to control a lot of external stress.
Jack: Exactly. And it took me some time to get there, but now all my showers are cold showers. I don’t do hot anymore. Even washing off, I try to do entirely cold. For me, it’s been better than caffeine in terms of waking me up and focusing me. It’s also like something I have to overcome every single day. Do I really have to do this? Yes, I’m going to do it.
Ben: Yup, exactly. I mean, there are so many side benefits. You get a nitric oxide release. A lot of people will go cold hot, cold hot, which I actually like. One of my guests, Ray Cronise, actually uses that as kind of a fat loss tactic for a lot of his clients as they’ll do a five-minute shower morning and evening with 20 seconds cold, 10 seconds hot, basically like a hot-cold contrast shower. That’s pretty useful for recovery as well if you don’t have a sauna chiller setup. But either way, you’re doing the right thing with the cold. Do you do any kind of supplementation for stress like adaptogenic herbs or cortisol control supplements or anything along those lines?
Jack: Nope, not at all. The only supplements I take are daily multivitamin and vitamin C, a lot of vitamin C. I don’t know why. I just haven’t found the discipline yet to be on something consistently. I do the Athletic Greens every now and then, but if it’s not part of my core diet, I haven’t found myself really sticking with it with the exception of a multivitamin. But I do want to explore more of that. That goes into the third aspect around diet. That’s where I do want to experiment a little bit more and play with. But right now, I’ve just been trying to get the core diet to fit my lifestyle and benefit me in ways that I can feel.
Ben: Yeah. So, you have a little bit more of like a Tibetan monk approach. Those guys do a lot of deep meditation and production of theta brain waves, et cetera, but they don’t use any exogenous supplements. They make their own medicine, so to speak. My take on it is that I think anybody using, whatever, Chinese adaptogenic herbs or phosphatidylserine or any of these supplements that seem to do a good job controlling stress have no business doing so until they have learned how to make their own medicine by doing things like meditation, breath work, yoga, good sleep cycles, et cetera.
Jack: Yeah. Your podcast on more of the supplemental versus ancestral wisdom that you did not too long ago I think was just so on point and resonated with me so much. This concept of we’re born with what we need and figuring out how to unlock it naturally.
Ben: Right. And then, the biohacks are the icing on the cake. The near-infrared sauna is the icing on the cake to your walk where you’re getting outside in the sunshine or using something like binaural beats or some meditation app is the icing on the cake for doing something like free meditation with just your own body.
Jack: Yeah. Or maybe better thought as mirrors or just kind of reflection of what is possible. I think a lot of technology–just my understanding of technology is–a lot of it is a crutch, and a crutch isn’t a bad thing. It helps us get from one point to another. But I think in realizing the effectiveness of it and the tool, what it’s really doing is ideally showing us what we’re already capable of and how we might unpick the pieces and then pick the puzzle to unlock it ourselves. That’s my approach with supplements and technologies and even as simple technologies like the infrared sauna. What am I missing in my life that makes this something that’s valuable right now? Is it pointing to something that I could be changing in my lifestyle? The walk itself, I learned from listening to some podcasts and reading from Ray. I think he does a walk of at least 30 minutes every single day and he does that in the morning–
Ben: Who’s that Ray, Ray Cronise?
Jack: Cronise. He does it in the cold. When I’m doing my walk, I wear jeans, I wear my running sandals, and I wear a t-shirt, and it’s 47 degrees out and the sun feels amazing but it’s cold and I’m moving fast and it’s just an amazing feeling. It’s uncomfortable at times but it feels amazing when the day does warm up or when I do get to the office and I can feel the effects on my energy and I can also feel the effects on my sleep.
Ben: Yeah. I look like a total wanker up here when I’m going on my winter walks because I’ve got my son’s big Harry Potter Gryffindor hat on and then my giant camouflage gloves and my boots, and then I’m wearing shorts. And so, I’ve found a relatively isolated farm road back behind my house where I don’t need to freak too many people out. But yeah, once you get used to it, it’s actually very refreshing. And admittedly, I’ll often jump in my hot tub afterwards for dessert. But it’s a cool way to walk.
Jack: Yeah. That is the word. It’s refreshing. It feels like the crisp air in the morning is just–it’s an amazing feeling. It makes you–it’s just this one of those take-back moments where you’re like, “Wow, I’m alive!” And it’s an exclamation point, you know.
Ben: Plus, when you consider that walking increases your brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and so does cold. You’re stacking two things that allow you to think better and kind of access that whole sage advice to either walk on it or sleep on it to solve problems. And that’s what I’ll do in many cases is just leave all the technology at home and go for a walk and often come back with the answer. And a lot of times, if you’re walking in the cold, I find you’re even more sharp when you return.
Jack: Yeah. And without putting a lot of aggressive stress on my body where–like a lot of people have asked me, “Why don’t you just run to work?” I don’t feel like–I want to have the same sense of joy because it would feel more as if I’m trying to get to point B as quickly as possible rather than enjoying the walk and enjoying what I’m listening to, like thinking deeply with which I get on the walk. But also, in my runs, it just feels like it’s putting so much stress on various parts of my body, and walking is a lot more predictable and lowers stress. I think I get more of the benefits because my body has to deal with less in the stress.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Now to your diet, what’s that look like right now?
Jack: This is where I’ve also experimented a ton both in terms of what I eat and when I eat. I was vegan for two years. When I get into something, I just go hard into it. I went cold turkey in the veganism. I didn’t really understand anything about the diet. I thought I would have to supplement like crazy, which I did. Having all these vitamins to make up for what I thought I was missing and at one point midway through, I went back to my parents for Thanksgiving and my mom opened the door and she said, “Jack, you’re orange.” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” She’s like, “You’re orange. Your skin is orange. Your eyes are orange. Your hair is orange. You’re orange.” And I’m like, “I didn’t even notice the progression.” My friends said there’s progression but I was just having way too much beta-carotene and I was just like completely overdoing the supplements and the vitamins to make a–
Ben: Carotenemia, there’s the name for that.
Jack: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It took my mom to really push me back. And then, she also said like, “I don’t know what to cook for you. You’re not making it easy for me.” I come from St. Louis Missouri, and midway through, I moved back to St. Louis. At the time, it’s really hard to be a vegan in St. Louis, Missouri, at least the way that I approached it. I ended that and then went to more of a paleo diet and did the butter coffee in the morning and stuck with a very strict paleo diet and experimented with that for a year.
And then, I listened to a bunch of Wim Hof podcast. He’s someone that I’ve learned a lot from. A lot of what he says resonates and a lot of what–when I did meditation and Vipassana, a lot of what Wim has stated I found similar to the practices that we’re trying to be encouraged within Vipassana, the breathing techniques, the colds. A lot of what he’s focusing through these forces, whether it’d be breath or through the cold end up having similar results as what you’re trying to get out of Vipassana and just straight meditation. I was listening to one of his podcasts and he said, “I only eat one meal a day.” I’m like, “Wow, that’s extreme.” But it’s also really simple. He didn’t really explain it and I kind of find anything else on it at the time. This was about two years ago. And I just decided, “Okay, I’m going all in on this.”
For the past two years, I only have dinner. I usually eat around 6:30, and I eat until about 8:30 or 9:00 at the latest. And that’s when I can also drink wine, like red wine usually. But I’d wake up. I have about 28 ounces of water to 14-ounce mason jars, basically. And then, I have water all day long. I don’t have any–my vitamin is usually with dinner. Any other vitamins I would have are at dinner. I don’t have anything until around 6:30. And then, I usually eat a really big meal and I have a protein, whether it’d be fish, chicken, or some steak. I try to have a lot of greens in terms of salad, a big arugula salad, spinach. And then, I sometimes have asparagus or Brussels sprout or some other green vegetable. And then, I have mixed berries as a dessert, maybe some dark chocolate. Usually, I can find that everywhere I go. I try to eat at home as much as I can. Every now and then, I’m out on dinners with other friends or colleagues, but I can usually find anything on the menu that would resonate with what I want to do. Yeah. So, that’s been–
Ben: Yeah. I’ve spoken to a surprising number of executives and busy people who do very well on the one meal a day routine. I feel like I could pull off that routine if I wasn’t still competing professionally in things like obstacle course racing and as a fitness guy trying to maintain a certain amount of muscle and trying out new workouts all the time during the day, but just from a pure time standpoint, not having to stop to take a meal. And then, all the benefits that you get from what’s typically and a 16 to 20-hour intermittent fast every single day.
So, you have that press-pull cycling of cellular autophagy, and then your mTOR activation. And like you mentioned, and we were talking about it, if you throw in your hard work out before that big meal, you get a lot of that. That carbohydrate is shoved in the liver and shoved in a muscle. It’s a pretty good scenario. I can’t do it. I simply can’t with my schedule, but I’m intrigued by it. I would imagine as I eventually shift into perhaps a slightly less masochistic extreme exercise lifestyle, I’ll try to pull it off. But do you find that after that one meal a day, you’re just stuffed to the gills or is it pretty reasonable?
Jack: Well, I think the two things I noticed right away, like the first two weeks were really hard. But the two impacts I would point to is after I got over those first two weeks, during the day, I feel so much more focused. I think it’s just this very ancestral looking for where the food is. You have this very focused point of mind in terms of this drive. Certainly, the time back from breakfast and lunch allowed me to focus more on what my day is. But the [00:48:26 unin] has actually been on my sleep. I eat at 6:30 and every meal I have and the food just tastes amazing. It really has increased my appreciation for food and taste because I’m deprived of it for so long during the day and then suddenly it’s just a flavor burst.
And then, I do eat until I feel like I am full. The effect of it has–like when I was eating lunch, I would–I’d eat lunch and I would get tired after eating that lunch and my meetings would drag on. In this particular case, I eat and I inherently feel a little bit sleepy, and I feel more relaxed, and I feel like ready for bed. I feel like I can go to bed and actually knock out in 10 minutes, if not sooner than that. It really changed how quickly I felt asleep and more so how deep I felt I was sleeping in terms of like I was waking up feeling refreshed and feeling like I actually slept and—
Ben: Do you track any of that, by the way? Do you self-quantify? Do you wear like a ring or a wristband, anything like that?
Jack: Recently, I got a new Oura Ring and I’ve been tracking it for the past four months. Yeah, I can get a lot more predictive around like if I drink too much wine, I know my RAM sleep is going to go down. I know my readiness score is going to go down. If I keep to a consistent schedule of sleep, I get higher scores on RAM and I get much deeper sleep as well. So, that’s been a new dynamic. It’s just to check how I’m doing.
The other thing I’ve been playing with recently is not just a single day but doing weekends. I’ll go from Friday ’til Sunday. I won’t have dinner on Friday. I won’t have dinner or any meal on Saturday. And the first time I’ll eat will be Sunday evening. I’ve done that three times now where I do extended fast where I’m just drinking water. I don’t put anything in the water. It’s just water, no food until Sunday dinner when I try to ease back into it slowly, starting with bone broth and then building up a little bit as time goes on, but also as the days go on.
Ben: Yeah. It’s very interesting. A lot of your protocol is based around this idea of hormesis, which we know induces cellular programmed cell death and cell cleanup and longevity benefits, down-regulates a lot of anabolic pathways and up-regulates a lot of catabolic pathways. But a lot of the things you’re doing would kill you if you did them in large amounts, like heat, cold, high-intensity exercise for short periods of time, fasting. Even like plant intake is actually–it’s technically a hormetic stress. I just recorded a podcast about this on the carnivore diet that will probably be out by the time this podcast gets released. But it’s interesting how a lot of your protocol is kind of self-equipping you to do things like handle stress or enhance longevity. But it’s very simple. It’s just all autophagy-based.
Jack: Exactly, exactly. The fasting has been a new dimension. I’ve been doing the one meal a day for two years but the more prolonged fasting has been something I’m experimenting recently. The first time I did it like day three, I felt like I was hallucinating. It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how–the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down.
The feeling of time slowed to a crawl where the day just went on and on and on, and I think it was because there was no meal to really, really separate the thirds of it. And when I paired that with doing some writing or some reading over the weekend, I just found that I got so much more done during those fasting periods because I was so focused and it just felt like I had much more time to really think and to work in that moment. So, there’s a psychological response but it was felt enough like I want to pull the thread on that a little bit more and see what’s there.
Ben: Well, do you have a family?
Jack: I’m single, but I have–a lot of what I do to make up for that is trying to have dinners with my best friends as much as possible and try to enjoy each other’s company over wine and a good meal.
Ben: Yeah. I was going to say that the reason I ask is for me as a family man, it’s like meals are almost like the gathering time, breakfast in the morning, and I don’t really eat breakfast ’til midday because I do an intermittent fast, but I stand there with the kids and chat with them about the day and usually give them a little lecture out of some book I’m using to help build their character while they’re having breakfast. And then, lunches are right now solo, although we’re starting the kids basically into kind of like a homeschooling/unschooling scenario next year. They’re dropping out of sixth grades. We’ll begin to have lunches together. And then, we have a big family dinner together at the end of the day.
So, for me, family is the reason to break up the day with meals. But when I’m traveling and I’m solo, yeah, I can be hyperproductive because either don’t eat or eating is kind of like an afterthought.
Jack: Yeah, exactly. I do want to have family at some point. I feel like right now, I’m just taking advantage of the fact that I do have a lot of time that I can dictate to practices like this that don’t impact someone else and how they’re living. And I want to experiment as much as I can to figure out what is most impactful, what I can lock in, and then as that progresses, how to introduce them to more of a family life as well.
Ben: Yeah. I seem to recall that I saw you, and correct me if I’m wrong, it was a few years ago. I briefly met you with Joe De Sena. I think it was you at a Spartan Race. Am I remembering correctly?
Jack: No, that wasn’t me. I haven’t done a Spartan Race yet.
Ben: Okay. It was somebody else from Twitter.
Jack: I think I’m there yet, I think I’m there yet.
Ben: Okay. Do you have your eyeball on anything like that?
Jack: I would like to. I’d love to understand what’s a good start, but I haven’t gotten into a lot of the challenges like that just yet, but I’d like to start because I do appreciate how that immediate sense of near competition emboldens and focuses. I think that’s what’s lacking in my singular practice right now. A lot of what I do I do completely alone and in solitude, and it’s really–it only benefits if I can raise the bar on myself versus someone else raising the bar on me.
Jack: So, it’s something I’ve recognized as a gap, but I haven’t found the right way to get into it just yet.
Ben: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s a gap. For me, whenever I work out with people, if I drop into a CrossFit box or I have a buddy over for a workout or occasionally people come up here to record a podcast and we go out to the garage and exercise, I just always push so much harder when I’m with people. I feel like I would get injured if I frequently worked out with people. I mean, 95% of the time I work out by myself and then I use–showing up to a Spartan Race or a triathlon or whatnot is kind of like the group fitness scenario. But there are other ways to scratch the social itch. The big thing for me too is when you work out with people, you got to meet them places, you got to drive, you got to wait five/ten minutes for everybody to show up. Socialize for 10 minutes afterwards and your 7-minute workout turns into like an hour-long foray.
Jack: Yeah. I mean, there are trade-offs, but the benefit of doing with other people is that push, but also I think you have higher fidelity of learning in terms of what other people are doing or what tweaks they’re making to a workout that has been more regimented or traditional for you. I think the gap in my current practice is that I don’t have that balance where someone as an observer can observe what I’m doing and say, “Hey, you do this a little bit differently and you get a little bit more efficient or a little bit more productive or have a gain in this way.” I realize like as a self-observer, I can only take it so far and it’s lacking some perspective.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Is there anything else you’re doing in your routine that you think would be interesting for folks, anything that you’ve discovered and found to be incredibly helpful? I’d never heard, for example, that 7-minute app. I’ll be downloading that. I think it’s a good tip for people, that chiller system setup that you have. But anything else that you’ve discovered that you think people would benefit from?
Jack: I think the biggest thing for me is just like what’s the new thing I can experiment with. I listen to your podcasting on freediving recently. I can swim but I’m not a great swimmer, and I think I’ve realized I do have some significant fear of the ocean and just like going deep into it. What’s interesting to me about what was described on freediving is this perfect balance of breathing discipline, really stretching your mental capability in terms of what you think is possible. And then, parallel with a physical practice to train yourself to be able to stay under longer and longer with something that is quite scary, which is the depths of the sea.
Since your podcast, I’ve just been doing a bunch of reading and looking at apps and apnea, training and whatnot. That to me feels like something I want to explore, one, to experiment with in terms of really deepening a breathing practice, but also to get over some fears of the sea and water and whatnot, really put myself out there. So, I think from a general standpoint, it’s like finding something that would make me uncomfortable, and it’s like going headlong into it and finding as much research and conversations I can find to give me more confidence or practices that I can do on my own.
This has really been my life. When I was a kid, when I was four to about seven years old, I had a speech impediment, and it made me super shy and super introverted to the point where I wasn’t even talking with my parents and my brothers or my classmates. It was just very hard for me to get the courage and the confidence to get up and speak or even have a conversation with one person that I’m really familiar with. At one point, I realized that and at fifth or sixth grade, I just decided I can’t live this way. This is holding me back and it helped with my writing, but it hurt with just my everyday talking with folks and I can’t just hide behind writing all the time.
I signed up for the speech class, and in speech class, they do this improv thing where they give you a topic and you get five minutes to write a speech on the topic, and then you have to get up in front of everyone and make a speech and articulate your speech on it. That was a combination of the scariest things I could imagine at that point, like one, they would give me a topic I know nothing about so I have to make all this stuff up for five minutes and speak about it for five minutes and do it in front of people that might know something about the topic that I knew nothing about. So, it really pushed me into a lot of uncomfort and that led me to learning more about speaking and quelling some of the fears that I would have about pronouncing my words or articulating things, which was my impediment.
And it’s still to this day. There’s some portion of my mind saying that you’re about to mispronounce this word or stutter a bit or whatnot. So, I’ve managed by putting myself out there to get over most of it, but it was required for a lot of the work I do. It all comes back to this concept of learning through experimentation and really making myself the experiment. And if I can do it also publicly and share what I’m experimenting with and what I’m learning from it, then maybe some other people benefit from it as well.
So, recently, I’ve been sharing a lot more of some of my practices, whereas in the past, I would not. I shared what I experienced on my last meditation retreat. I’ve been sharing some of the practices around infrared and sauna and cold, just what I’m learning. It’s kind of resonated with some people, some people won’t. Anything that I find, I want to share it as broadly as I can, and that’s something I’ve been doing over the past six months. It’s just trying to find a venue to make sure that I share it and also open to learning from the conversation that ensues around it.
Ben: Is that a blog or just from Twitter?
Jack: It’s mainly through Twitter right now.
Jack: Since I was 14, I have journaled. So, I do keep a personal journal. I try to do that every single day, usually when I’m wrapping up the day. I need very simple things for me to continue them every day. So, I just use the Notes app on the iPhone. It’s searchable. It’s accessible all the time. It’s in the cloud, so I can get to it even if I don’t have my phone. It’s secure. I try to make sure that for whatever practice I’m doing, I look at all the excuses I might have and I figure out how to do it to minimize those excuses, and that’s hence [01:03:50] _______. I always have my phone. I always have a chair. I always have my bodyweight in there. I always have a wall. There’s no excuse. I can do it every single day.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Assuming you’re somewhere where there’s a chair and a wall.
Ben: Well, you’re basically a human guinea pig for the good of humankind. I like it. I would imagine most people can probably find you on Twitter. It’s not that difficult. It’s @Jack. But I will link to everything that Jack and I talked about, some of those workout apps, some of the sauna and cold pool setups, a few different podcasts I’ve done on some of this stuff like that ancestral wisdom versus modern science one he mentioned, and my interview with Ray Cronise. I should introduce you to my boy, Ted Harty, down in Florida for freediving. Jack, if you ever decide to go that route, let me know and I can [01:04:41] _______.
Jack: I would love that. I would love that. I need to get over some fears but I’m going to do it.
Ben: Yeah. Just text me later. He’s a good guy for that. Anyways, I’ll link to all this stuff. Just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Jack. That’s BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Jack. Jack, in the meantime, dude, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us.
Jack: Thank you so much and thank you for your work. I appreciate you and all the effort you put out to share what you’re experimenting with, and also though I’ve just amplified a bunch of the stuff that you’re finding that would take me hours and months and years to access in the form of listening to you in the sauna.
Ben: Yeah. Well, like I say, I put coffee up my ass first to let everybody else know what it feels like. That’s my gig. Alright, folks. Well, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Jack Dorsey signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today’s show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I’ve ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Jack Dorsey dropped out of college to start Twitter and is now a billionaire businessman. He is the CEO of Twitter, CEO & Chairman of Square, and a co-founder of both.
But what most people don’t know about Jack is that he has a keen interest in all things fitness, nutrition, and health-related. So in today’s episode, we dive into Jack’s daily routine, diet, stress management strategies, workout and fitness habits, and much more.
In this interview, you’ll discover…
-The 3 core ways Jack handles the tremendous amount of stress he deals with in his life and work…6:45
- Vipassana meditation(10:10)
- 10 day “retreat”
- No reading, writing, devices
- No talking, no eye contact
- 2 meals a day; wake at 4; meditate 4:30 am thru 9 pm
- Vegetarian diet; can’t eat after noon
- Primary objective: Being in control of your reactions
- Exercise and sleep (16:53)
- Diet (35:56)
- The only supplement Jack takes is a multivitaminand lots of Vitamin C
- Learn to make your own medicine (meditation, sleep, etc.) before delving into supplements
- Technology is a “crutch”
- Jack was vegan for 2 years
- Didn’t understand the diet
- Mom told him he was “orange” – way too much beta carotene
- Switched to paleo diet for one year
- Listened to lots of Wim Hofpodcasts (2 years ago)
- One meal per day: 6:30-8:30
- Drink red wine(code: GREENFIELD10)
- 28 oz. of water in the morning
- Drink water all day long
- Take vitamin with dinner
- Protein, greens, mixed berries and dark chocolate for dessert
- Eat at home as much as possible
-Other facets of Jack’s health and fitness regimen…49:45
- Self-quantification: Oura Ring
- Fast Friday evening thru Sunday evening
- Hormesis; autophagy based
- Desires to do a Spartan race someday
- Pros and cons of working out with other people
- My podcast on free diving
- Jack was extremely shy as a kid
- Took a speech class; improv and speak on a topic you know nothing about
- Pushed him out of his comfort zone
- Journaling since age 14 – end of day
And much more…
Resources from this episode:
-“Seven” Workout App
-“VT” Bodyweight App
–Infrared sauna – Use code BEN for $500 off
–My podcast with Todd White of Dry Farm Wines in which we discuss “one-meal-a-day”
–The Oura ring – Use code: GREENFIELDOURA for $50 off
–Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.
–JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 3 years, it’s the only light therapy device I’d ever recommend. Give it a try: you won’t be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a nice bonus gift with your order! Joovv.com/Ben
–State and Liberty: Whether you’re sitting in an office, traveling for work, or looking to dress it down, these are the best possible dress shirts from style, to fit to comfort. Type in discount code: BEN”to get 10% off your first order, or head to one of our store locations in New York City, Boston, or Chicago and mention this podcast to get 10% off your order!