I’m often on the hunt for affordable augmentation to the basics.  The pillars are: eat well, sleep, hydrate, exercise, mobilize and gratitude.  Arguably, if you are doing these things regularly, and have no barriers to these basics, why integrate the hacks? Hopefully, they provide mission critical support and allow one to discover and stack the benefits along with “the basics”.

Most of the weird shit I get into is also about having fun, testing and exploration. For example, the Optio 2+ was $25. A purchase that seemed more reasonable than taping one’s mouth shut. Other hacks can send you climbing the financial ladder and may just be out of reach. I would love to try the chiliPAD, for example. But, with a $500 entry point – it’s just too much. Especially, if cutting out all that alcohol is what’s needed to reduce the late night sweating sessions. But, for each hack and its return on investment sometimes the $$$ might be worth it. Everyone is unique. Bio individuality is trending.

Crossover Symmetry

Several years ago I was having “tennis elbow”. At one point it was pretty bad and it  had side me lined me in a major way. Cleans, pull ups, and BMX “bunny hopping” seemed to be the biggest offenders. I backed off the volume of movement, did some acupuncture, cleaned up my diet,  and let the inflammation heal up.

When I am being a “good boy” a quick band work session is always recommended before my favorite action sport. Light up the neuro pathways and get those biomechanisms right from the get go. Band work is part of the arsenal on rest days, too. I typically use the lightest resistance – 7 lbs. (Image – www.russellclarkphoto.com)

I learned that over use was the real deal. Kinda funny that it hit me when I was “peaking” in my Crossfit journey. About year three. That was hard pill to swallow. But, a bigger piece to the puzzle was correcting my biomechanics.  During this time I came across a mountain biker/physical therapist on You Tube who enlightened me to correct my mechanics and reset my neurological pathways. I ordered some “knock off” Crossover Symmetry bands, hacked the movements from the internet (30 day shoulder fix) and began to reanimate!

I learned that I was not letting the big muscles do the work. Imagine pinching a pen in between your shoulder blades before pull ups, cleans, etc. In other words, pull your shoulders down and back before you engage. That’s a very short explanation, not necessarily universal, by the way.  I made some adjustments with my cleans – tilting my grip position. You may be having an ever so slight error and the shoulders and elbows do not comply… If shoulder function is thrown off, even just slightly, it will add extra compression to the tissues in the space. In the case of BMX, some of the positioning is just not negotiable. You do what you can. Sometimes that means doing less.  Now, I keep a set of rubber bands in the truck and I warm up properly (much of the time). Same for pre-WOD warm ups. Band work with proper form has become part of the routine. Live it.


I’ve been using the Alpha Stim now for a little over four months. I primarily use it right before sleep. I set the device between 2.5 and 3.0 and for about 40 minutes.

The Alpha-Stim. Gonna be honest here. This is some expensive gear. They claim that over 200 Department of Defense (DOD) practitioners and over 92 Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals use Alpha-Stim with military personnel for acute, chronic, and post-traumatic pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia treatment.

The stim works it’s magic in very short order.  Hypnagogia seems to occur much faster with the device. (Transitional state from wakefulness to sleep: the hypnagogic state of consciousness) These are some of my favorite moments in the day and typically I am asleep within minutes.

I have not used the device intentionally for pain management. Perhaps, I should. They claim it works for this such things. I am still recovering from a tail bone injury and it may be helping with that more than I realize. I have used it infrequently during the day at work. But, not regularly. I can only report a general sense of wellness is maintained.

“Your brain naturally has electrical currents. The Alpha-Stim cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) device delivers a natural level of microcurrent, via small clips worn on your earlobes, through the brain to stimulate and modulate specific groups of nerve cells. The microcurrent is tiny, just millionths of an ampere, and so gentle that most people don’t even feel it. The patented Alpha-Stim waveform, application, and protocols result in significant anxiety relief, mood normalization, and better sleep (both in quality and duration)” https://www.alpha-stim.com/

Infrared Sauna

When I first started using the infrared there was no notable ROI. It felt nice to be warm and gave me permission for a little “quiet time”. It’s also become a time for stretching, lite compound movements, contemplation and listening to podcasts.  But, does it help speed recover? Lately, I am less concerned about beating myself up at gym. In theory, the lights should help get those tissue fluids on the move.  I’ve been healthy and am less sore, overall. Maybe that’s all I need to know. In the words of Ferris Bueller, ” It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” Or… build your own.

Myth busting! According to Donald Smith (a professor of environmental toxicology at UC Santa Cruz, who studies treatments for metal poisoning) almost all toxic metals in the body are excreted through urine or feces. Less than 1 percent are lost through sweat. The kidneys and liver are the organs responsible for detoxing your body (not the sweat glands). https://tinyurl.com/wgmtoah

Investment – pictured here: $165 lights, 30$ hardware. Speaker stand: $30. https://sauna.space/pages/articles . Lights: RubyLux NIR-A Near Infrared Bulb Grade A

Companies like Sauna Space get pretty damn serious about their designs. Shielding is a big selling point for them. “SaunaSpace understands the serious problem of EMF stress: man-made magnetic and electric fields have been shown in many studies to be nervous system stressors. You definitely don’t want EMF stress coming from your therapy device! ” A result of that shielding is a very BIG price tag. I like the idea of shielding. But, I have not researched it deeply. Some of the possible EMF problems are true for many devices in the home and elsewhere. I am setting right next to my wireless router: new research substantiates that that is not a very good idea. I think its worth exploring and considering further. The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs. I can see my wallet getting lighter unless I get committed to ditching my tech. There are definitely some good reasons to do that. But, that’s a separate post I have yet to write.

My original design included four lights. But, the lower 1/2 was missing. I added two more lights pointing at – just above the quadriceps. This has been a nice improvement. I am satisfied with this set up, for now. I would imagine, however, more lights can mean less time in front of them. Exposing the back and front of the body simultaneously would simply speed up my current exposure time. With this set up my ideal session is about thirty minutes rotating the body’s exposure. Follow up with a cold shower. And, the result is a little bit of bliss out!

DIY set up. Save yourself some cash. Pretty basic stuff. I’ve since added two more lights to the bottom of the stand bringing the total to – 6 lights. No issues with electrical. The forth and fifth lights really took it to the next level! 20 minutes in front of the lights followed by a cold shower is INCREDIBLE!


This is a daily practice and has been for over 10 years. So, not sure it really fits into hacks with the taxonomy I’ve got going. But, it is so important IMO that it needs to be discussed and implemented.  Blending can get you on the fast lane to feeling good. I blend about 70 ounces per session. Digesting roughly three 16 oz containers per day.  Grab a high-quality blender like a Vitamix and food prep will be a snap. 

Having select bottles of low glycemic carbs allows more granular control of your macro ratios and all that fiber goodness is utilized to support a healthy gut microbiota.  I use a color of the rainbow approach.  Get as much variety as possible. Avocado and turmeric are common adds. This is a whole food and micronutrient symphony.

Rarely, do I add fruit. It’s not taste thing for me. This is utility and fuel. Although, I have seen some artesian and foodie approaches to blending that look amazing.(https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/healthy/slideshow/green-smoothies-juice-recipes).

If you need get all foodie on your ingredients to motivate you to BLEND then by all means – do it. Blend. Blend. Blend. Everyday. Forever.

Cold Thermogenesis

So cool. Literally. Even saying it, “I practice Cold Thermogenesis” sounds sexy. It’s Stoic. That’s trending. CT may no longer be trending like it was several years ago but this a hack I’ll keep on ice.

What’s the therapeutic dose? Research varies. Most agree that you’ll need to break the 55 degree or lower threshold.

This is one of those practices that provides immediate data feedback for your evidence based journaling needs.  I’m fortunate that the water to my home comes from surface water collection.  In the winter months it’s under 50 degrees at the tap. I stand in this for about 2 minutes at the end of my regular shower routine. I don’t time it so I’m just guessing here. When the discomfort goes away and I’ve got control of my breathing – I hang for a little bit longer just to be sure the stimulus has credibility.  Simultaneously, I visualize gratitude, love and goodness to whomever, whatever comes to mind.

So lucky that the water to our home can get as low as 46. Exhilarating. Thermal contrast bath therapy (i.e. exposing your body to both extremely hot and cold temperatures in one session) has been shown in a variety of studies to aid recovery and mitigate inflammation. While the exact molecular-level mechanisms are not yet fully known, it can be thought of as a vascular and lymphatic “massage”. https://tinyurl.com/wvbpg7s

Then, the magic happens. The feeling of accomplishment and rush of goodness. Better than coffee… maybe. I hoot and holler and the house knows the cold shower has commenced.  Everything else becomes a little easier.   In a very practical sense your body wants to maintain that core temperature. Thus, your metabolism ramps up to do so. If you want to burn fat this is just another tool to accomplish that.  Google it. Your H2O not cold enough? Make your own set up. (https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/how-to-make-your-own-cold-tub-setup/)  

Survive the cold and you’ll survive the day’s unknown with a little more savvy.


It’s interesting… I realized at some point that I rarely feel compelled to seek out message therapy.  I think that after 5 years of Crossfit my muscle skeletal has changed quite remarkably. It wasn’t an easy road. Especially the first 1-3 years. That remodeling was hard at times. Injuries came and went.  Learning to back off or adjust body mechanics has been part of the equation to thrive and evolve.

Foam roller. Never leave home without it. Foam Roll in the Morning to stimulate lymphatic movement. Lymph (through which fat and white blood cells flow) doesn’t have its own circulatory system – it requires muscle contraction to be pumped throughout the body. Foam rolling allows oxygenated blood to nourish and hydrate the fascia, therefore boosting lymphatic drainage (AKA the body flushing away toxins). How long should you foam roll? – 3-5 minutes. Where specifically? – The lat muscles (there are lymph nodes under the armpit). https://tinyurl.com/rebg5dx

Books like “The Supple Leopard” have been tremendously valuable. The foam roller is essential. Rubber bands are a main staple. Voodoo floss, various massage balls and Yoga routines all have their place in the toolkit. Practicing an anti-inflammatory diet is huge. Rest is huge. Breathing. Breathing. Breathing.

It is absolutely essential to have a mobility and tissue manipulation practice. The truth is if I saw a message therapist weekly or monthly I would probably shine even more. But, I don’t need it to survive like I once did. Once upon a time it seemed the only hope to fix those stubborn pain and aches. Glad those day are over, for now…


I’ll admit it. Closing the door and stepping inside a dark, noise free, humid, and confined space was not immediately appealing. My imagination ran wild. Is there something in here with me? Turns out, yes. Your mind. And, it’s endless wandering. Your emotions and there ability take over EVERYTHING.

The float. Consciousness exploration multi tool. Personal narrative reflector machine. Can I relax? Am I relaxed? Did I relax? 90 mins later… Try and stand up! Gravity is real.

You just gave yourself 90 mins of solitude. It’s hard to do that. That’s interesting. Just one of the many revelations of the float.

Inevitably, it’s time to get back on the bike and gravity is back. Empathy, kindness, and joy are now more clearly legible on the control panel. Thank you float.


CBD – Full Spectrum Whole Plant Hemp Oil

Right now, I am using around 20-40 milligrams every other day for general wellness. I often use it before bed but sometimes I’ll take it in the mornings. Counter intuitively, sometimes, I have anxiety as a result. However, its not on the scale of anxiety that can occur for me with THC which tends to be more existential and for longer periods. Not always a fan of that transition. (But, I’ve also noticed that it can be good therapy to face those thoughts, feelings and let it ride.)

Canna Honey. Local. Electuary: a medicinal substance mixed with honey or another sweet substance. Super delicious. https://realcannahoney.com/

CBDs anxiety producing affects (fore me) are short lived and followed by a “smoothing”. This is an infrequent experience, but noteworthy. I have not correlated this anxiety to anything in particular, yet. I’ll keep tabs on correlated mental state, long day, stress, etc. I’ll see if I can find more adjacent causation in the future. In general, I like the idea of its potential benefits which I’ve discussed here: CBD Canna Honey Post.

OptiO2 +

“The OptiO2 Sport™ works by inhibiting oral airflow, thus forcing nasal breathing during use.  Nasal breathing has been shown to be optimal during performance, but this can be easier said than done, especially at higher intensities. The OptiO2 Sport™ removes the option of breathing through the mouth completely, ensuring you are capitalizing on a list of physiological benefits, including:  natural production of nitric oxide (NO), Maximum oxygen uptake by muscles & tissues, Maximum oxygen uptake by muscles & tissues, increased CO2 tolerance.”

I asked my wife if she had any 3M Micropore Paper Tape at work she could bring home. She said, “Wait, To do what?!” “To tape my mouth shut while sleeping. You know, to maximize my oxygen uptake by muscles & tissues.” “Hell no! You are not doing that, especially after a night of drinking IPAs.”

Since the mouth taping was not going over well with my wife. I ordered the Optio. I tried it first at Crossfit. Wow. Man those workouts were rough. The inclination to rip that thing out of your mouth and gasp for air is pretty severe. I also used it riding my bike. And, eventually lost it in the woods mountain biking. I am going to order another. There was just something about the need to use the chest and mid line to breath that was sadistically appealing. Never did try it while sleeping. More to come on this…

Kettle Bell LOVE

I suppose if I was stuck on a desert island and I could bring one piece of athletic equipment – it just might be the kettle bell.  It’s versatility seems unmatched. There are so many modality variations that can be utilized with this thing.

I only have one and it’s… like… perfect. For my needs, it lands in the medium/high (30 lbs.) weight range. Heavy enough to do some work – not so heavy that pre-warm session required.

This weight range (for me) allows the KB to stand on its own for a bigger workout.  But, since I mostly work out at the gym I find myself using it as a activity transition tool. For example, I may be hitting a long stretch at the computer.  I’ll take quick break and do 15 KB swings, 6 KB walking lunges per side and 10 KB push presses per side. Heart rate goes up and I feel snapped out of my computer induced hypnosis.

Pictured here is the Apollo purchased at Play it Again Sports in Corvallis, OR. This was new – $68. Admittedly, feels a little pricey. It’s the shipping that ramps up the cost. Better finish also jacks the price.

“Because a kettle bell has an off-set center of gravity, usually about 6 to 8 inches away from your grip on the handle, it is harder to control. So, any kettlebell exercises are going to require strict and controlled form and body mechanics.” – Lifehack

The most important requirement I have when choosing a KB is handle smoothness. I’ve tried the cheap ones from Walmart and Big 5. Both had the same problem. Jagged non uniform handles. I contemplated filing them down to save a little money – feared that might not go as planned – and bailed on the idea.

Recently, I ended up finding an AMAZING finish and build at Play it Again Sports in Corvallis, OR. The Apollo Kettlebell with a mat finish – must be pre ordered. Shipping is free. Damn I LOVE this thing!