For those who would live longer, it’s wise to face challenges every day, and put oneself in uncomfortable situations that require growth — physically, mentally, and emotionally. Part of the fun of being a transhumanist can involve measuring your progress across an increasing number of variables and seeing how improvement in one area can create unexpected and even synergistic progress in other areas. My advice would be to establish baselines and sophisticated objectives for strength, speed, endurance, stamina, balance, coordination, agility, skill (perhaps in a growing number of activities), days free of illness or injury, as well as body weight and, of course, the number of years spent being alive. Here are some of the tools to help achieve this.
Five days a week, I fuel my body with over 200 different foods, via a 40 ounce shake that is comprised of an anti-oxidant juice like Acai or Goji berry juice; a non-dairy milk from almonds, hazelnut, rice or hemp; a banana; a raw egg; a scoop each of Jon Barron’s Private Reserve Superfood, Muscle Milk, and Greens & Whey; and small quantities of Flax oil, virgin coconut oil, Sambuca Guard, Carnitine, Creatine, Chlorophyll, Clove, Black Walnut tincture, and Pau D’arco. I also take pills with this: a multivitamin, Joint Vibrance, Q-10, Smart Blend (CLA, GLA, and Omega fatty acid complex), and Hyperdrive.
BODY FAT ANALYSIS
There is the low budget way to do this — have a health club weigh you; then input pinches of body fat from thigh, abdomen and other places into a spreadsheet. And then there’s a more expensive way. Get yourself dunked into a tub of water and, like Archimedes in his Eureka moment, have your density measured. In any case, body fat is a more useful measure than weight, and shame on The Biggest Loser for not using it as their measure of success. The three and seven point pinch test is often done for free by gyms such as Equinox, to give you a baseline and encourage private training.
For $275, I had a non-doctor take drops of my blood and put them fresh from my veins onto slides and under a 5,000x magnification microscope. I then took a three hour tour, looking at everything on a large flat screen. I could see the impact of dehydration, too much animal protein, inadequately circulated lymph, and even the legendary free radicals, which I had assumed were as hard to visualize as neutrinos. Warning: some doctors despise this practice and rail against it on the web. Then again, many doctors are fat, smoke, and eat bacon. No doctor that I know of prescribes Alcor, so read the criticisms and then decide for yourself.
For $150 to $200 you can get a heart rate monitor that allows you to do training in different zones and know roughly whether you are aerobic or anaerobic, and to see your progress over time. For $495, you can get the Garmin 405, which adds GPS. This system doesn’t only measure how far you’ve run, it gives you a graphic profile on their website. To get the information to Garmin, you synchronize your 405 with a wireless device called an ANT that you plug into a USB slot on your computer. Once you have the results, you can email these to friends to show them how hard your heart had to pump to enable you to do your workout.
BLOOD LACTATE TEST
For $195, Phase IV in Santa Monica, CA allows you to know your precise zones for aerobic, lactate threshold, and anaerobic workouts and gives you a suggested program based on your cardiovascular fitness. This provides the best baseline for using a heart rate monitor watch. The goal is to stay within certain prescribed numbers. Interestingly, there are different numbers for recommended heart rates related to walking, running, swimming, cycling and rowing, though each test costs money.
XTERRA TRIATHLONS AND TRAIL RUNS
Xterra is a global phenomenon, with local, regional, national and world championships that — at least up to the present season — allows anyone to run with (well, start running with) the former world champions. For $50-100, you can register for an off-road experience. This can just be a run, or it can start off with a lake or river swim followed by mountain biking, Every Xterra is different, and beautiful scenery is an added value of trail running. Also, with variety, every footfall is very slightly different, so there’s less likelihood of the same repetitive strain injuries from road running alone.
In the last few years, there has been an explosion of ultramarathons. Ultramarathons are any running race longer than 26 miles 285 yards. Typically, runners progress towards an ultimate goal of running 100 miles. First, one prepares to run 50 kilometers (31 miles). Next comes a 50 mile run and, finally, the 100 mile run. Many seemingly ordinary people end up being able to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours, even including runs up and down mountain, and across rivers. Transhumanists will be interested in the almost universal experience of 100 mile completers. Most report that they expanded their sense of the possible, and took that one day experience with them into the rest of their lives. Because most of these races are on trails, runners also develop strong communities of superfit friends, become experts at hydration, nutrition, salinity, and weight, and develop a unique balance or proprioception, as well as low heart rates.
The gold standard for fitness, this is probably the most comprehensive and inclusive program available outside of an Olympic decathlon qualifiers program, for developing strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, agility, and more. For about $300 a month, you can get an hour a day of intense workouts that are creative, challenging, measured, and allow progress to be charted across dozens of variables. If I had to recommend one thing out of all of these, I would recommend becoming a Crossfitter.
This is the brainchild of Dr. James Levine, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. A Google search of the term will show how to turn a normal treadmill into a treadmill desk: simply bolt a tray and a flat screen onto metal arms so that it swings out above the control panel. Dr. Levine recommends a one mile-an-hour slow walking speed. Users who walk (creep along) for eight hours will end up walking 8 miles, and burning about 800 calories. If you did this 50 weeks a year, you would burn 200,000 calories a year, or the equivalent of 57 pounds of fat, or running 57 marathons, all without breaking a sweat. The most expensive commercial version of a treadmill desk is the Walkstation, which sells for $3,000 from Steelcase.
Get yourself dunked into a tub of water and, like Archimedes in his eureka moment, have your density measured
SLEEPING ATOP CHOMOLUNGMA
High altitude living enables athletes to generate more red blood cells and other adaptations that, when they return to sea level, gives them an aerobic advantage. Three companies make machines that — in combination with plastic tents or sealed rooms — allow for the gradual reduction in the amount of oxygen present. After several months of careful adaptation, one can end up with effects equivalent to sleeping on the oxygen-reduced summit of Mt. Everest. A rule of thumb is “Live high, train low.” In other words, sleep in a low-oxygen environment, but then do workouts in a normal gym, because an athlete can’t train as hard with less oxygen. The machines that suck out the oxygen cost thousands of dollars, but for people looking for an edge in their distance races, the price is worth paying.
Alex Lightman is the author of Brave New Unwired World (Wiley 2002), the first book on 4G, and over 120 articles on business, technology and cool people. His first article was published in June ’83, the month he graduated from MIT, as the cover story for The Futurist magazine. He has lost 70 pounds while cutting his body fat from 33% to 16% in the past 13 months using these and other methods. He invites friending on Facebook.