The Ultimate Guide to Optimize Your Wellness Today

Do you want to lose weight and build muscle?

Do you want to save time, money and tears?

Yes? Read further!

On my mission to help midlife women become heath heroes, I interviewed Jake Maciaszek, popularly known as Jake the beast. The podcast focus is on optimizing wellness and how holistic nutrition can prevent obesity and result in a physically and mentally happy self. This blog post also includes some amazing benefits of breathwork and cold therapy and how these can be wonderful ways to detox.

Understanding fat, muscle building and functional movement

Health experts mostly advise “move more, eat less” as a constant philosophy for weight loss. Jake Maciaszek strongly argues that this is not a holistic wellness strategy. The move more and eat less concept will make you lose weight but also develop serious body dysmorphia and a terrible body-food relationship. With only this philosophy the body will get zero nutrition and will eat itself away. Severe stress, vomiting, excessive weight loss, literal starvation all generate an unstable health cycle. ‘Skinny fat’ is not the result we should aim for. Do not blindly trust any diet and any authority. Educate yourself on how to lose weight the proper way and achieve your desired self-transformation. The biggest advice is to take things slowly, pick one goal at a time and educate yourself. So let’s begin by understanding the different types of fat, we have different compositions of body fat:

1. White fat

2. Brown fat

3. Beige fat

The white fat is very inflammatory and does not have any function. Visceral fat around the organs or the subcutaneous fat underneath the skin is considered white fat. Brown fat is brown is because under a microscope it’s very dense in mitochondria. Mitochondria look brownish red and it is the powerhouse of the cell that gives us energy. The more mitochondria you have, the longer you live and more the energy you’ll have throughout the day.  Beige fat is the intermediate stage where white fat could turn into beige fat.

Another important concept to understand is muscle building. Muscle building should be our goal because muscle is a good predictor of longevity. It is not possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. If you are trying to lose body fat you have to be in a deficit where the body needs to be eating less calories than the body needs to maintain its own weight. If you are trying to build muscle tissue on the body, you need to consume surplus of food. Building muscle, is significantly harder than losing body fat and it takes a lot longer to build muscle. Do not rush the weight loss process. Take your time, educate yourself, really be in tune with your body because nobody knows it better than you. Make a journal or take digital notes on what you eat and how you feel.

Functional movement is doing exercises that have carryover to everyday life. It can improve the overall function of the body, boosting muscle strength and endurance. It is 10 times harder for females to build muscles because of their hormonal levels. Women are encouraged to lift weights especially as they reach perimenopause and avoid osteoporosis. Some good functional exercises are:

  1. Squatting with weights all the way down until your hamstrings touch your calves.
  2. Pushing something over your head like an overhead press.

Jake recommends three full body workouts a week. Workout on Monday, rest a day or two. Exercise on Wednesday or Thursday, rest a day or two – do it again Saturday or Friday. With this approach we can get the ideal workout frequency and optimize resting recovery.

Some supplements that can be included when on a drastic calorie deficit diet include protein powder and essential amino acids to ensure that the body doesn’t lose muscle while calorie cutting. Multivitamins are not always needed and instead of fish oil it is best to eat the actual fish. In summers Vitamin D may also not be needed.

What are some of the benefits of cold therapy, especially for fat loss and muscle building?

We are conditioned to having everything controlled. If it’s hot, we want cold air conditioning, if we are cold, we have heaters and put on warm clothing. We do not embrace the temperature in our environment where we are located. That is a big disconnect.

Cold is a huge stressor. Jake uses cold therapy for parasympathetic toning and cardiovascular toning.

The body regulates the heartbeat and then shuns blood flow away from the peripheral tissue. If you expose yourself to the cold, the body will get better at shunting blood flow to the peripheral tissue and warming itself. It is an adaptation technique. The well proven health benefits of cold therapy to be cold and discomfort which include:

  • Decreased inflammation. If you’re feeling sore, achy or in pain, cold therapy can help lessen inflammation.
  • Improved metabolism and weight loss. Shiveringly cold temperatures might just help you rev up your metabolism.
  • Better mood and mental clarity.
  • Improved sleep.
  • Balance Hormones.
  • Production of endorphins which are the feel-good hormones.

I would encourage everybody to start their cold therapy journey with cold showers. Start with 3-5 seconds at the end of your warm shower, and it doesn’t have to your entire body it could only be one part of your body. Then move up to a minute then two minutes until you get that euphoric feeling. Find your balance, and identify what you can do and tolerate. I highly recommend doing some breathwork to prepare you for the cold shower and it will allow you to tolerate the cold as well.

We can take inspiration from the Dutch Iceman — Wim Hof, for using gradual exposure to the cold and breathing exercises to train his body to withstand freezing temperatures for up to two hours, and he has taught others to do the same. A recent study even showed that healthy adults can use those techniques to modulate their immune response when injected with a pathogen, leading to fewer and less severe symptoms. Wim Hof is a big proponent of hyperventilating in a way to get your sympathetic nervous system aroused before you jump into water or submerge yourself. The effect of the hyper hyperventilation almost numbs the effects of the cold. For amazing information on proper breathing habits listen to episode #14 of the Self-Care Goddess Podcast here.

The Wim Hoff method is about reconnecting us – to ourselves, to others and to nature. The method is based on 3 powerful pillars:

  1. Breathing

We’re always breathing, yet we’re mostly unaware of its tremendous potential. Heightened oxygen levels hold a treasure trove of benefits, and the specialized breathing technique of the Wim Hof Method unearths them all: more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response that swiftly deals with pathogens.

2. Cold Therapy

Proper exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation that facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins that naturally elevate your mood.

3. Commitment

The third pillar of the Wim Hof method is the foundation of the other two: both cold exposure and conscious breathing require patience and dedication in order to be fully mastered. Armed with focus and determination it equips you to explore and master your own body and mind.

Check out my first Cold Therapy experience video.

Let’s start to experience the benefits of cold therapy in our Self-Care journey today.