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‚ÄčThe Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode # 32- ‚ÄčDallas Hartwig 

‚ÄčDallas Hartwig is the New York Times bestselling co-author of The Whole30 and It Starts With Food. He is a sought-after speaker, nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner and physical therapist who specializes in treating lifestyle-related health issues. He's appeared on Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, The View and Nightline, and is the co-host of The Living Experiment podcast. In his newest book, The 4 Season Solution, Dallas shares a paradigm-shifting plan that shows you how to boost energy, improve health, and feel happier by living more in tune with the seasons.


LEARN MORE AT:

‚Äčhttp://dallashartwig.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dallashartwig/
https://twitter.com/dallashartwig

SHOWNOTES

‚ÄčThe 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives

‚ÄčThe Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #26 -  Noelle Tarr

02:50 - LISTEN ON HIMALAYA!: Download The Free Himalaya App (Www.himalaya.fm) To FINALLY Keep All Your Podcasts In One Place, Follow Your Favorites, Make Playlists, Leave Comments, And More! Follow The Melanie Avalon Podcast In Himalaya For Early Access 24 Hours In Advance! You Can Also Join Melanie's Exclusive Community For Exclusive Monthly Content, Episode Discussion, And Guest Requests! 

03:00 - Paleo OMAD Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!

‚Äč03:30 - BEAUTY COUNTER: ‚Äč‚ÄčNon-Toxic Beauty Products Tested For Heavy Metals, Which Support Skin Health And Look Amazing! Shop At Beautycounter.com/MelanieAvalon For Something Magical! For Exclusive Offers And Discounts, And More On The Science Of Skincare, Get On Melanie's Private Beauty Counter Email List At MelanieAvalon.com/CleanBeauty!

07:30 - Dallas' Cabin Upbringing  and natural Circadian rhythms

‚Äč12:00 - The Food and Inflammation Connection Epiphany

15:00 - The Role Of Early Years In Development 

‚Äč19:00 - The Need for Oscillation In Our Genes

‚Äč22:20 - Diet Vs. Light

24:25 - Bright Light Exposure In The Morning

28:30 - JOOVV: Use The Link Joovv.com/melanieavalon With The Code MelanieAvalon For A Free Gift From Joovv!

29:15 - How Does Modern Sleep Compare To Hunter Gatherers? Deficiency of  Sleep Vs. Darkness

32: 00 - Sleep Quality

33:40 - Finding The Jumping Off Point

34:20  - ‚ÄčThe Appropriate Amount Of Sitting Vs. Activity

35:55 - stress, inflammation, and balance

36:50 - Blue-light Blocking Glasses For Sleep, Stress, And Health! Go To BluBlox.com And Use The Code melanieavalon For 15% Off!

‚ÄčThe Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #31 - Andy Mant (BLUBlox)

39:40- The Perpetual Expansion Of Society 

Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World ‚Äč‚Äč

‚Äč42:20 - The implications of caffeine 

‚Äč43:30 - What Role Does Biohacking Play In The Natural Rhythms Of Life? ‚Äč

‚Äč49:10 - Healing On An Island

51:00 - The Hierarchy of Needs and Role Of Social Connection 

‚Äč53:30 - Pivoting From The Summer To The Fall

‚Äč55:10 - The Role Of Health As An End Goal

56:45 - Longevity, Enoughness, And Doing What You Yearn For

‚Äč1:00:40 - ‚ÄčEndless Summer And The Need For Recovery 

1:05:30 - The Seasons And Neurotransmitters

1:08:40 - What Is Aging? Would You Want To Live Forever?

‚ÄčThe Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #17 - David Sinclair

‚Äč1:11:20 - The Need For Death?

‚Äč1:17:45 - ‚ÄčUsing Anchors To Ground Yourself

1:19:00 - The Seasonality Of Intermittent Fasting

1:22:00 - The Need For Social Support

1:25:25 - Could IF Be An Anchor?

1:26:30 - What Are Natural Hunting And Feeding Pattern?

1:28:20 - The Role Of Movement

1:32:40 - Prep Dish: Prep Dish is an awesome meal planning service which sends you weekly grocery and recipe lists, so you can do all your meal preparation at once, and be good to go for the week! The meals are all gluten free or Paleo, which is fantastic if you're already doing so, but also a wonderful way to "try out" gluten free or Paleo with delicious meals, and no feelings of restriction! Get A Free 2 Week Trial At Prepdish.com/melanieavalon

1:34:40 - The Need To Be Productive,  And The Alienation Of Social Media 

1:40:35 - Faces and Circadian Rhythm

1:42:30 - zeitgebers: reprogramming the body's response to stimuli vs. changing the Environment

1:44:20 - Mediation And The Meaning We Give to Events

1:46:45 - the role of Consciousness and sense of self: left vs right brain

1:49:50 - Enoughness, Gratitude, And Abundance In The Moment

1:59:00 - The Continuing Cycles: Synchronizing and Periodizing


TRANSCRIPT

Melanie Avalon:
Hi, friends. Welcome back to the show. I am thrilled to be here today with a man who honestly needs no introduction, but I will introduce him anyway. I am here with Dallas Hartwig. He is the New York Times best-selling coauthor of something listeners are probably very familiar with, The Whole30 and It Starts with Food. He's a sought-after speaker, nutritionist, functional medical practitioner, physical therapist. He's been everywhere, Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, all the things. He also has a podcast. We were just talking about that before we started recording. It is The Living Experiment podcast.

Melanie Avalon:
He's here today because he has a new book out. It is called The 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives. Listeners, I will say, so I got this book, I was really excited from the beginning because the whole season idea and I thought obviously that it would be a lot about seasonal eating which is something that I am very, very much a fan of and was really interested in exploring more, but this book goes way, way beyond that. It is not just about food. It goes into so many aspects of life. It's honestly a truly almost haunting book.

Melanie Avalon:
There's so many moments reading it where I was speechless - well I was literally speechless because I was reading and not talking, but I was almost left speechless with the beautiful things that were portrayed in it and I really felt empowered to make changes in my life, especially in today's modern crazy, always-on society. Dallas, thank you so much for your book and thank you for being here.

Dallas Hartwig:
Thank you for having me. That's an incredibly generous introduction, so I'm already feeling the pressure to perform.

Melanie Avalon:
No, seriously, it was amazing. I'm just so excited to dive in deep with you on everything that you discussed in it. To start things off, it's so funny, I was like prepping for this interview and I was like, "I just want to talk about the whole book," and I was like, "I guess we can't do that. That's what reading the book is for." You start off the book talking about your personal upbringing, and guys, it's fascinating cabin upbringing, something I don't even know if I could ever quite do. Would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your upbringing and also the trajectory of your life beyond that and what ultimately led you to this point of writing this book?

Dallas Hartwig:
You make reference to the cabin upbringing. My parents in the mid '70s living in Eastern Ontario, Canada bought a little what was basically a rundown cabin on 100 acres at the end of a dead end road and decided to live an extremely simple and effectively what we would call off-the-grid lifestyle where we, well, this was before I was born, but they basically took a cabin that was 80+ years old and totally broken down, made it habitable. It had no electricity. It had no running water. A couple of years after they made it habitable, I was born, and for the first five years of my life, that's where we lived.

Dallas Hartwig:
We were homesteading effectively. It was extremely sparse. We had one luxury of a single light bulb wired to a car battery and I think later we got one of those propane lanterns, but that was the modern luxury. When you think about it, we heated with wood in the long cold Ontario winters and we had a very large vegetable garden. We spent a lot of time outside. My mom worked part time in a very small town which is nearby and my dad stayed home. We were home and outside and living a very, very simple life for my first five years.

Dallas Hartwig:
Part of that very simple life was an extraordinary connection to the natural world, both by simple virtue of being outside but also by virtue of not having electricity. We couldn't just flick a switch and turn the lights on at 10:00 PM because it just wasn't there. I have always slept really, really well like for my whole life. I partially attribute that to the first five years effectively being, I guess, a perfect circadian rhythm where I wasn't disrupted by artificial light. When the sun started going down, our behavior changed by virtue of their not being available light. That, of course, looks a lot like what our evolutionary past looks like from a hunter gatherer or paleolithic standpoint or even just pre-industrial standpoint.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'm deeply grateful to my parents for choosing that lifestyle when I was really young. When I was five, my parents decided that we needed to be closer to town, we needed to go to conventional school, etcetera and we started living a more conventional life but certainly still spending a lot of time outside and deeply connected to natural rhythms, which I've always really honored and felt and valued in terms of time in nature, time spent, whether it is just camping and hiking or exploring but being outside and feel a deep connection to the natural world, again I think in part because that's what was ingrained into me not by intention necessarily by my parents, but just simply like that was what the world was, so that was what I absorbed in those early formative years.

Dallas Hartwig:
Even later, when I went to more conventional schools and went away to university and became a young adult, even then there's still a real strong connection to the natural rhythms of the natural world. I studied anatomy and physiology in college and finished my master's degree in physical therapy and practiced physical therapy for almost a decade and all the way along had an interest in nutrition and athletic performance. I played competitive volleyball and always cared about the athletic performance part of it.

Dallas Hartwig:
What basically happened for was I was healthy-ish. I didn't have a major health crisis, major breakdown like a lot of people do in this world that got them started on their health journeys, but I did have some lingering issues. I had some chronic low-grade skin issues, eczema and acne. More importantly and more problematically for me, I had a shoulder inflammatory, some sort of tendinitis or something that nobody could quite figure out what it was or why it wouldn't go away. As a physical therapist, I was supposed to be the expert on healing that stuff and I couldn't heal myself.

Dallas Hartwig:
Around 2006, I stumbled across some early research by Loren Cordain, looking at some of the connections between dietary lectins and systemic inflammation and a light bulb went on for me and said like, "Oh, hey, maybe there's a connection between my current diet which at the time was conventionally healthy, whole grains and low fat dairy and all that standard stuff," and I started doing some experimentation and started eliminating some of the things that seemed to be potentially problematic at least in populations that had autoimmune proclivities.

Dallas Hartwig:
Six weeks later, my shoulder was completely healed. Again, it's not been a problem in that decade plus since then. That really got my attention and that really started my both profound personal interest in nutrition, then later other aspects of evolutionary health and also my professional trajectory into writing and speaking about food.

Melanie Avalon:
I love it. There's so much there. Something I was thinking about was, so you were at the cabin until age five and I've read before that until age six is when at least from like the brain perspective, a lot of our brain is developing and forming and our habits and our intuitions and personalities even really solidify by age five and I've always seen it in the context of the brain specifically, but it does make me wonder because you're talking about everything coming from the perspective like your sleep and the physical implications and the seasonal living. I wonder if that is also something that gets crystallized when we're young? I'm just throwing this out there. I have no idea.

Dallas Hartwig:
I don't know, but that sounds really plausible to me because really in those early years and particularly in the preverbal years, all of those implicit memories, there are ideas and concepts about the world that we carry with us for the rest of our lives that are encoded in those early years, that are not even really accessible to our conscious minds into our ability to describe them verbally. We have feelings and senses. We have the gist of things without clear language to explain it. I think that's probably what goes on from a developmental standpoint there as well that what we experience is what we expect later in those early years.

Dallas Hartwig:
Think about it, let's say, from a trauma standpoint, if we experience disturbance and attachment with our primary caregivers and chronic stress and circadian rhythm disruption and malnutrition, those experiences are encoded literally into our structure from an epigenetic standpoint and from a neurophysiological standpoint, so later in life, we continue to expect more of those same situations even if the context has radically changed. I think I would conceptually agree with you even I don't have research to confirm that.

Melanie Avalon:
It's so fascinating. It's really got me thinking. Do you mind if I ask, were you born in a conventional hospital or did your parents go a completely natural birth route as well?

Dallas Hartwig:
I was born in a conventional hospital. My parents were an interesting mix. They didn't necessarily have a deliberate like back-to-the-earth, off-the-grid, natural concept. They were really deeply pragmatic and very frugal and very like, "Let's be a bit counter cultural because the world around us isn't really that awesome." They weren't fully integrated into that. I was born in a conventional hospital with a vaginal birth and I was breastfed and some of those kind of things that again, are either from a conventional hospital standpoint, not so awesome, but at least I had a vaginal birth and at least I was breastfed.

Dallas Hartwig:
If you take babies that are born by C-section and have some traumatic birth experience and then are either exclusively formula fed or only breastfed for a few months, it's a pretty significant influence on the trajectory of your life, just from those few moments or hours early in your life. It's a crazy thing to think about what seems like small decisions, but over the course of long distances of time, that trajectory can get really altered by some of those small things.

Melanie Avalon:
You literally took the words out of my mouth. I was going to say that at least with the birth perspective, they do the studies on babies that are taken away from their mothers and have to be in ICU or something like that and the implications of that from their social connections later in life, it's really, really fascinating.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's all kinds of stuff. I'm a pathologically curious person and little idiosyncratic things always catch my attention. I read a paper a while ago that was looking at the emotional development of school-aged children, and they were looking at earlier life factors that influenced the emotional development for little boys. Anyway, for whatever reason, this study happened to be just in boys. For little boys, the use of a pacifier, of a binkie, beyond about four, five, six months seem to significantly impair emotional development at age six.

Dallas Hartwig:
The hypothesis was when you have a soother, when you have a pacifier in your mouth, you're doing less experimentation with your own facial expression, so you're getting less of the mirroring back of caregiver's facial expressions which is one of the ways we learn about emotions and that relational model. If we impair that early on, it does change the trajectory of development later. That stuff fascinates me. Also, as a parent, it also makes me terribly guilty and overwhelmed with all the things that I've done that in retrospect I'm like, "Oh, what was I doing?" but here we are. Life goes on.

Melanie Avalon:
That's crazy. That's a twist ending. I thought you're going to say because the baby's trying to comfort themselves that they're not receiving comfort, but the mirroring of the facial expressions. Wow. Crazy.

Dallas Hartwig:
Crazy.

Melanie Avalon:
Well, we just talked about the idea of these patterns and such being ingrained in our bodies, in ourselves. In The 4 Season Solution-

Dallas Hartwig:
I like The Four Seasons too. It's a great place to stay.

Melanie Avalon:
It's an awesome hotel. I was actually wondering, what was that at all part of using the title? I was wondering that.

Dallas Hartwig:
It wasn't. It's comical. My agent says that the title discussions between me and the agent and the publisher and my editor was the most protracted and excruciating title discussion she's ever been through. We had dozens and dozens of title discussions. Finally, we landed on this as a nice, I think pretty descriptive synopsis, but no, we didn't deliberately make a reference to The Four Seasons, but it works.

Melanie Avalon:
It works for sure. In The 4 Season Solution, there is this idea of natural cyclical and seasonal variations in life. I think people often will think of these like think of the seasons, the weather. I think people are pretty familiar with the idea of seasonal eating and we can go into that in more detail, but something you started the book off with is this idea that actually these seasonal variations and this need for oscillation is something that is ingrained in our bodies on even a cellular level. Would you like to talk a little bit about that? Why is there this need for oscillation and constant change? Where is that in our actual bodies?

Dallas Hartwig:
That's actually in our genes, literally in our genes. Most organisms, from single-celled organisms all the way up to complex mammals, have genes that drive the circadian rhythm, that influence most metabolic processes in the body. From just simple biological standpoint, that's easily explained by the fact that most organisms, again accepting some of the ones that live in the extremely deep ocean where there isn't a day night cycle, but most organisms spend their entire life in that dark light 24-hour circadian rhythm.

Dallas Hartwig:
The way we behave again this on every organism level is partially dedicated by the availability or absence of light. Whether we are nocturnal or not, that rhythm still drives behavior everything from eating, sleeping, sex and reproduction, metabolic activity, alertness, cognitive function, emotional reactivity. All of these things are all influenced by circadian rhythm. In humans, that gets transmitted primarily through the eyes. The retina gets connected to this super chiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus and that light signal is what gives our brains, it's the primary way, not the only way, it's the primary way that we get information about what's going on in the environment.

Dallas Hartwig:
The presence of bright light and particularly the blue wavelengths tell us it's daytime. We should be alert. We should be mentally sharp. We should be on guard and vigilant. That makes total sense because during the daytime, it's when we are both doing our, again I'll use the hunter gatherer, ancestral perspective, it's when we do all of our hunting and gathering. It's when we're most vulnerable to predators or any warring tribes that are nearby. Light is a signal for alertness and the absence of light is the opportunity for rest and restoration.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's a really important idea because with the advent of artificial light, we totally disrupt that system. We send inconsistent messages at variable times of day that give our bodies, again through the retina, messages about whether we should be alert or on guard or whether we can down cycle and rest. I do argue in the book that the advent of artificial light is one of the most significant disruptions in human physiology and the history of humans.

Melanie Avalon:
I think the implications are profound. Like you mentioned in the book, you were saying that with your original book, It Starts with Food, there's the emphasis on food and diet, but you drew attention to it starts that part of the title. There's actually so much more beyond diet and you drew attention to, like you just said, the actual profound implications of sleep and light and how that affects so many things. Would you subscribe almost pointless because we obviously want to optimize both of them, but when it comes to like different lifestyle changes, diet versus sleep, how do you rank those?

Dallas Hartwig:
I don't know. I used to say easily, and again, It Starts with Food is a great example. I used to easily say food is the single most impactful lifestyle choice. I'm not sure if I would still stand by that statement. I'm not sure I've completely inverted and saying, circadian rhythm, light dark cycle, sleep cycles is the single largest thing, but I appreciate its impact a lot more than I did five or 10 years ago. A lot of this is we have a lot better, deeper, more detailed research on circadian rhythms, on clock genes, on metabolic effects at different times of day. We know a lot more about the effect of light on our sleep.

Dallas Hartwig:
We just have more research now than we did 10 years ago. I certainly would say that properly calibrating our light dark cycle which is a little larger of a topic, a little larger of a discussion than just sleep hours slept, time slept, I think exposure to light and dark is really the larger umbrella there and sleep nests underneath that. That's a much larger driver of human health and that I previously appreciated and I think that's probably true for a lot of researchers as well. Maybe I'll say they're tied. I don't know. It's tough to say one specific thing, but it's a much higher priority than I then I previously recognized.

Melanie Avalon:
It's almost a pointless comparison to make, but I think it does do the benefit of emphasizing the importance of sleep at least. If you saw all of the stuff that I go to to try to optimize my sleep in our modern world, when you wake up, the intentional bright blue light exposure of course, but although now I'm on the fence with that I'm like, "Should I even be doing that?" because with so much blue light exposure all the time. Do you do that? Do you have like the bright light in the morning?

Dallas Hartwig:
I do have bright light in the morning, but it's invariably natural light because the thing that's really interesting and I write about this in the book as well is that unless you have a lightbox that's 10,000 lux or brighter which feels extremely bright in the morning in particular, most artificial light sources fall way, way below the threshold for qualifying as "bright light" for that early morning. While a lightbox that's a very cool temperature that has lots of blue light and can definitely function as a stand-in either if you're getting up really early or if you have shift work, we have an altered circadian rhythm or if it's just super gray where you live and there's just not much sun.

Dallas Hartwig:
Even if it's overcast outside, there's a ton more light like factors of 10 more light outside an overcast day than you would get inside even at somewhere brightly lit like a department store or grocery store. I don't do any of the deliberate artificial blue light first thing in the morning because fortunately, where I live, I've got a bunch of windows that are east and south facing and I can sit at my dining room table and basically look at the sunrise and that's a beautiful thing. When it's warmer outside, I'll just go outside the deck and be outside. I do put a much higher priority on natural light exposure, but to your point, the blue light is a great stand-in when you don't have that option.

Melanie Avalon:
That's fantastic. Actually I moved on within the past year and one of my non-negotiables, I was like, "It has to have tons of windows and light exposure." I was like, "Non-negotiable. Non-negotiable."

Dallas Hartwig:
For sure. I built a house where I live now a couple years ago. Just by virtue of how it's located, I ended up putting a huge bank of windows both on the east side and on the south side, that intersect to the corner. At the time, I wasn't thinking as much about the morning light exposure, but I'm so glad that I put such a big bank of windows in the east side because it makes morning light wonderful. That has become a non-negotiable for me.

Melanie Avalon:
So important like moving forward, although I do have a quick question because you said at the very beginning that you didn't struggle with insomnia and things. Has that continue to this day? You still sleep pretty well?

Dallas Hartwig:
I do sleep pretty well. I haven't really had any chronic insomnia. What I've had the past two or three or four years and this is just highly correlated with stress in my life and as I occasionally a couple mornings a week will wake up super early at 4:00 or 5:00 and have that early cortisol pulse and then have a hard time going back to sleep. I think that's less a function of a circadian rhythm disruption from a light standpoint and more function of stress and anxiety and some of that mental health stuff more than a light issue.

Melanie Avalon:
Got you. We can definitely tackle all that as well.

Dallas Hartwig:
So many things are interrelated.

Melanie Avalon:
I have so many things, I know. I'm very jealous of you right now with that, but it's not of the cortisol awakening but the generally good sleeping. For me like my system at night, I transition through three different blue light blocking glasses. I start with the clear ones, then I transition to the yellow, then to the red. I do the ChiliPAD to keep the sleep temperature correct. I do the EMF-blocking canopy. I do like the night goggles. The nightlights are all red. I do the to the Joovv red light. There's the system.

Dallas Hartwig:
Are you doing Joovv morning and night or just the night?

Melanie Avalon:
I do morning and night. I actually turned it on during the day as well. I don't know. It just has a profound effect on my mood.

Dallas Hartwig:
Nice. I just got one just about a month ago. I'm still tinkering with that. I actually haven't really concluded what its effect is on me yet.

Melanie Avalon:
Awesome. Do you have one of the bigger units?

Dallas Hartwig:
I've got one. I forget, is it called the Solo?

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah.

Dallas Hartwig:
It's a long, skinny one.

Melanie Avalon:
Do you have any muscle recovery issues or anything like that?

Dallas Hartwig:
Yeah, I do a lot of rock climbing, a lot of connective tissue stuff and that's one of the reasons I'm working on that. Yeah, that's my primary driver there.

Melanie Avalon:
You have to let me know. It's profound, in my opinion, and there's been a lot of clinical literature on it as well. I will say one more thing about the sleep while we're talking about it, something that was fascinating in your book was you did compare our sleep patterns today to hunter gatherers. Something I found really fascinating was you noted that actually we don't sleep less now than hunter gatherers, but there's this idea that we probably need more sleep now or sleep isn't as restful. What are your thoughts on that? How does our sleep compare to hunter gatherers?

Dallas Hartwig:
There was an early hypothesis in the ancestral health world saying that, "Oh, with the advent of artificial light, staying up well after dark because of the light that modern humans slept less than our ancient ancestors and that was part of the reason why we had all these chronic health problems." The research doesn't seem to bear that out when we look at contemporary primitive tribes. I think I discussed this in the book, some of the researchers like, "Oh, cool. Nothing to worry about. We sleep the same as these primitive tribes. The sleep deficit that we should think is actually not an issue. Don't worry about it."

Dallas Hartwig:
I interpret that research a little bit differently and my take on it is we may spend a similar number of hours actually asleep compared to some of the primitive tribes which are rough approximation of our ancestors, but the difference is that we spend far, far fewer hours in darkness. I make the distinction in the book between time spent in darkness and time spent asleep because it's a radically different thing from a hormonal standpoint and all of your listeners will know that blue light in particular but bright light in general will block the secretion of melatonin.

Dallas Hartwig:
Melatonin usually starts to rise a couple hours before our normal, our habituated sleep time. If we have the presence of light, in particular blue light, if we're not doing blue blockers or we're on our screens or whatever, it delays that melatonin pulse. That's something that would be a really significant difference, sometimes off by a couple hours, just a pretty significant difference in terms of the actual circadian rhythm. The time spent in darkness is really a thing that I hone in on in the book and that's a really big difference from the primitive or ancestral world to the modern world.

Dallas Hartwig:
In the modern world, we're trucking along doing our thing, cooking dinner, winding down, doing whatever we're doing. Then, we turn off the lights and expect to immediately fall into a deep restful sleep. Of course, for many of us, that doesn't happen even if we are doing mitigating things like blue-blocking glasses and all that stuff. I interpret that research really as, "Oh, what we actually have is deficiency of darkness, not necessarily a deficiency of time spent asleep." The other part of that, and I didn't discuss it in detail in the book, but I'll comment on it here, the other part of it is not all sleep is the same sleep, right?

Dallas Hartwig:
We have different sleep architecture, different times of night. Hours slept, well, it's an easy way to count it up for research purposes, is not a complete picture of how deeply restored we are when we awake in the morning and I'll go one step further, when we're comparing, of course, one of the primary functions of sleep although there's many but its restoration time. Its rest. Its recovery. It's the downtime. It's not the like passive, just the lights are off and we're just being inert, we're doing detoxification and we're doing all these recovery processes during sleep.

Dallas Hartwig:
In the modern world with our stressors of all sorts, whether it's environmental toxins or light pollution or financial stress or whatever, the requirement for that restoration, that recovery time logically, is greater than when we're living in a lower stress, more natural environment. There is also a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison between primitive and ancestral sleep patterns and the modern sleep patterns because even if we were getting the same amount of deep restorative sleep on the same number of REM cycles and all that as our ancestors, the requirement for sleep is conceptually higher in the modern world because of all of our chronic stressors.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's still some weakness in the science in comparing them those two things. It's complex and there's no simple like, "You need X number of hours of sleep or X number of hours of darkness." For me, I'm a big fan of simple heuristics. One of the heuristics in the book is essentially, "Look, if you don't know what to do and the research is unclear and this is true of food and everything else, if you're not really sure, strip it back to the thing that we did for most of human history and that's your best jumping off point, right?" It's an Occam's razor kind of thing.

Dallas Hartwig:
It's the same conceptual reason why I, broadly speaking, subscribe to a paleo-type diet because with all of the different nutritional factors and personal differences and genetic things and athletic performance things and all this stuff, all of that aside, the best jumping off point is what we did for most of our evolutionary history. That's true for both sleep and for food and everything else.

Melanie Avalon:
Speaking to that, it's so interesting to think about with the hunter gatherer populations and the sleep because you're speaking to how we might have more of a need for sleep due to our greater stress that we experienced today. I find there's so much irony there because it's on the one hand, we are seen as a more sedentary population, so you would anticipate less energy expenditure, but ironically, the way we're engaging with life seems to be massively draining and creates even more of this need for rest and restoration.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's the kind of the thing with take something like exercise or just movement in general, is that there's a sweet spot because we know that in a lot of cases, moderate or intense exercise is actually really good for people's circadian rhythms in their sleep. There's this situation of being sedentary, has its own sort of inflammatory downstream consequences, and also on the other extreme, the overtrained under-recovered athlete is also ironically enough in a deeply inflammatory state. Even if we zoom way out and just skip over the biochemical details, stress and inflammation are really tightly intertwined, really tightly intertwined because not all inflammation, of course, is problematic and pathological.

Dallas Hartwig:
Inflammation is just a mobilization of the immune system which is necessary and beneficial for, of course, fighting off external infections and those sorts of things, but it's also how we recover from everyday life which is one of the things we need to do a lot of during sleep. The connection between stress and inflammation is really, really tight and which is why any of the chronic stressors, the list is mile long, any of the chronic stressors that contribute to inflammation, which virtually all contribute to chronic disease.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's such a tight correlation there that really the principle underlying virtually all of my recommendations is balance out the stress and recovery equation which is really balancing out the inflammation recovery equation. We want to have the ability to mobilize our immune system to recover from all the different assaults we have and then be fully rested and recovered in a resilient state, the next day or the next year or whatever.

Melanie Avalon:
Exactly, like you said, it seems to always go back to this ... It is an oscillation, rest and recovery, expending this energy in a healthy way, recovering compared to just constant drain, drain, drain, on, on, on with no recovery which is the big, big problem.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's the story of civilization, is perpetual expansion. From both a biological standpoint and also a little more of philosophical standpoint in the preagricultural world, there was a beautiful, elegant and self-perpetuating balance between expansion and contraction because that happened on every conceivable timeline. Basically, it's a fractal pattern, where we have it in our sleep cycles, in our ultradian rhythms, in our circadian rhythms, in our lunar cycles, in our annual cycles and across the course of our lifetimes. I didn't discuss this in the book, but also conceptually beyond the course of our lifetimes into a species-level expansion-contraction cycle.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'll argue that the advent of agriculture and civilization accelerated humans into this enormous over expansive long cycle as a species. Probably I'll step on some toes here, but whether we're talking about economic growth as a perpetually expansive model or whether we're talking about biological pieces, imbalances between expansion and contraction are deeply corrosive to the health of whatever system you're looking at, whether it's a single cell organism or whether it's a human, or whether it's a civilization.

Dallas Hartwig:
Michael Pollan just wrote a book on caffeine which I've not yet listened to. It's an audiobook, but I know one of the things he talks about in there is the difference between caffeine being beneficial for humans as an organism, the human organism from a biological standpoint versus the civilizational component of it. He makes a distinction between caffeine being a boon for civilization, but not necessarily a boon for the organisms themselves. I think that's a fascinating idea that I leaned into a little bit in the book is making a distinction between what is "good" for civilization which is of course, expansion and productivity and success and stockpiling resources and ownership and all this kind of stuff that is not necessarily good for the health of the individual organisms or the tribes themselves. I think that distinction is a really important and under-addressed one.

Melanie Avalon:
I am so happy that you brought up the caffeine thing. That was actually something I was musing over was the implications and the role of caffeine, specifically in one's individual oscillation throughout the day because I was thinking on the one hand, something like caffeine or really any other compound that would create this effect, but caffeine is the perfect example, you could use it constantly to stay constantly on and never have that off moment. Then on the flip side, people will say, "Okay, we'll just cut out caffeine. We shouldn't have caffeine," but then they think, well, maybe there is a role for caffeine. I'm going to have to read this book by Michael Pollan because I'm dying to know what it says.

Dallas Hartwig:
Me too.

Melanie Avalon:
Because I was thinking having caffeine in the morning when it's in line with your natural alert state, people say cut out caffeine for insomnia but maybe something like that can actually decrease insomnia because it's making you more energetic in the morning and then not having it at night. It does make me wonder, especially since I'm all into the whole biohacking thing, I'm always like wondering to what extent should I be of trying to live this "natural life" without this biohacking, and with things like biohacking, is it making life better? Is it still in line with our natural rhythms and the way things should be?

Melanie Avalon:
I think it's a very complicated topic because in a way, I was wondering, do you think biohacking is somehow in conflict in a way with the way our natural bodies should be?

Dallas Hartwig:
Right. Well, it's interesting. The short answer is I don't think it's in conflict with our natural rhythms and our intrinsic physiology. This is not any statement about you personally and I'm less tapped into that in recent years than I have been previously, but what I've seen in the biohacking community is the very natural, very human desire to get something for nothing, the desire to take a shortcut the desire to do the "easier way" because ultimately what we're doing with biohacking if you and I define it similarly, is we are looking to leverage insights about how the human organism works to optimize different aspects of our human experience, whether that is cognitive performance or athletic performance or whatever.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think there is an opportunity to apply those scientific insights and fascinating ideas and quirky cool little gadgets that really can be profoundly beneficial, but I think what often happens is that we will apply some of those strategies or tools or supplements or whatever, hoping to bypass the much more significant meaty and sometimes difficult and arduous process of changing the way that we live in order to actually extricate ourselves either in small port or potentially in large part from the really, really unnatural world that most of us live in.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think there's no moral judgment there, whatsoever. I'm not even saying that biohacking is not something that you should do. I think what I'm saying is really work hard to recognize not only the Occam's razor simplest way to address many of the issues we try to resolve with biohacking, but probably still the most effective way to optimize is actually to return closer and closer and closer and closer to what our genes to what our physiology expects. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to live as a hunter gatherer.

Dallas Hartwig:
It doesn't mean you have to abandon all modern technology, etcetera, but it does mean you probably have to make some uncomfortable changes in your life because I don't think for the most part a lot of the biohacking strategies and tools in general, even if you're using extensive well-researched strategies. In general, they don't seem to be strong enough over the course of time to overshadow the downsides, the cost of living in a really messed up modern world. As a compensatory strategy for things you can't control, absolutely wonderful, but I don't always see people using it that way.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'll often see people, for example, trying to work their high stress jobs with a disrupted circadian rhythm and intense psychological pressure to perform while using a supplement to optimize their cognitive performance or whatever. I'm like, "Hey, listen. You can do that stuff to offset some of the costs, but it's still going to fall below the threshold of what actually normalizing your physiological and psychological health is going to, the benefits of doing that." I don't know, I rambled there, but it's a difficult thing.

Dallas Hartwig:
Just to your point, I used the red and near-infrared tools too. I play around with morning light exposure and blue blockers and I do all that stuff, but I don't take it very seriously. It's one of those things where I think about it's just icing on the cake. I think we sometimes forget that the real important part is the cake itself.

Melanie Avalon:
I think this is such an important conversation to have, and honestly, I'm shocked I haven't had it yet. Having a biohacking podcast, I think a lot of people are drawn exactly like you said to the biohacking concept. Like you said, they want to get something for nothing, maximize everything with minimum investment or they want to live this perpetually-on lifestyle and they need these "biohacks" to sustain that artificially, arguably. I personally come to biohacking more in line with what you were saying on the food side of things.

Melanie Avalon:
Honestly, I am looking forward to the day that I never feel the need to take a "biohacking" supplement because I just want to be able to eat food, real food and not think about, "Do I need some methylated blah, blah? Do I need some NMN?" although I will say NMN has been helping my NAD levels. That's something I think I will be happy to exit gracefully the biohacking food world. I have got issues. That's why I tend to dwell there a bit.

Dallas Hartwig:
Let me ask you a question. Are you doing that primarily from a therapeutic restorative healing standpoint? Is that your primary focus at this point?

Melanie Avalon:
Yes. The primary focus is like give the body the support it needs that it might not be able to due to the state that it's in, received adequately. It's funny. You said in your book, "How long would it take to heal?" I think. I don't know if you're talking about like diet or lifestyle or what it was, but you're like, "If you could just drop somebody on an island, it would happen." I was like, "Yeah, I wish somebody could pick me up and actually just drop me on an island. I actually think it could be radical."

Dallas Hartwig:
I think that's the underlying principle here, is the truly optimal, in biohacking we use the word optimize a ton, but the truly optimal situation is a situation that most closely matches what our physiology expects. When we think even about the concept of evolution, evolution is the perpetual fine tuning of our current physiology to match our environment which of course is constantly changing. The closer we get to match environment and what the physiology expects the healthier we're going to be, could you get dropped on an island and everything would sort itself out in a matter of months or years? Yeah, I think so.

Dallas Hartwig:
Because virtually all of us have psychological and physiological costs to the way we have lived in years and decades past and perhaps are still living, I think there's a perfect role and place for leveraging all of the modern technologies and research that we have including lots of biohacking tools to help us dig ourselves out of the very deep hole that we've dug. Then, I think there's a natural transition which I hear you looking forward to, but there's a natural transition where you don't have to continue living that way.

Dallas Hartwig:
As far as I'm concerned, and this is something that I don't say explicitly in the book but I've said in many conversations, it's like, "I've been doing this nutrition, health wellness education now for over a decade and that's not counting my years in clinical physical therapy and I'm getting really bored of talking about health as an endpoint." If you think about it from sort of Maslow's hierarchy of needs standpoint, all the things that we address physiologically with biohacks and nutritional strategies and sleep strategies and with exercise, all we're really doing is addressing the very rudimentary base of that pyramid, the most simple hierarchy of needs.

Dallas Hartwig:
The really interesting human experiences and the things that set humans apart from simpler and/or nonconscious other creatures, other animals is all of the interesting stuff that happens toward the top of that pyramid where we're getting into complex community relationships and thinking about legacy beyond our lifetime and contribution to something greater than ourselves and self-actualization and transcendence of self, right? That's the interesting stuff. To me, health is only interesting to the point that it unlocks the opportunities for this more interesting experiences.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'm at this place of I'm like, "Cool, I've done 10 years of this speaking and writing thing on health and wellness," and really what I want to say is like, "Use the insights that I and bajillion other people have written and spoken about to the point where you can exit to use your word, to exit the paradigm where we're constantly focused on self and we're constantly focused on fine tuning and optimizing success and performance and actually look outward into our relationships, our personal romantic relationships, our family relationships, our community and tribe relationships because that's where the really fun interesting stuff happens."

Dallas Hartwig:
In the book, I write about the seasons of our lives concept. I think there's an interesting parallel between the annual seasons and the phases that happened during the course of our lifetime and the high-stress, productivity-oriented, high-pressure modern world as effectively a summer mode, right? It is, long day, short nights, lots of stress, lots of stimulation, perpetual expansion. It's on the go all the time. That's normal both in the summertime literally and also normal in the summertime of our lives. The problem is that we don't honor the fact that there are three other seasons that should come and go and ebb and flow annually and also across the course of our lifetime.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'm 41. I'm looking forward into my next couple decades and saying, "What do I want to do here? Where do I want to go with this life?" and it's not more books, more bestsellers, more programs, bigger speaking engagements. It's not necessarily more of the summer productivity and success experiences. I'm anticipating in the coming years pivoting slowly over the course of time to start thinking more about a fall ethos, which is more along the like Thanksgiving lines of presence and gratitude and generosity and connection in community and leadership and contribution to something outside of greater than yourself.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's the interesting stuff, but we don't give ourselves the opportunity to get into that phase in our lives often until we're retired or maybe never depending on how we live our lives. I think that there's a really tragic last opportunity to experience some of those very deep, intuitive, emotional experiences much early in our lives than we do. One of the things I really am advocating strongly for these days including in the book is honoring the shift from a perpetual expansion, on-the-go success productivity summer efficiency mode and saying, "Let's pivot and slow down and let's get into this space of honoring other ways of being besides that chronic high stress." I totally commend to hear that part of the conversation.

Melanie Avalon:
No, there's so many things you touched on. I was like, "Oh, this is amazing." One of the things that resonated with me so much was the idea you're talking about it not being all about health. I'm paraphrasing, but there's this one quote that has stuck with me for so long and something to the effect of, "When you have your health, you want the world or you want all these things, but when you don't have your health, all you want is your health." I feel like that's the thing. It's like health in a way, I don't think that should be, like you said, the end, all be, I'm healthy.

Melanie Avalon:
It shouldn't be this moral achievement that that's what we're striving for. I think we should strive to reach these bodies that because they're healthy are able to be vehicles for us to pursue our passions and dreams in the world and the things that bring us meaning. I just think that's so important.

Dallas Hartwig:
Well, there's a great tragedy there because we often come to seeking health through diet or lifestyle or biohacking or whatever because we're looking to repair and reclaim our health, but there isn't necessarily a simple either metric or deep s intuition that would prompt us to say, "Oh, well, I'm actually fundamentally healthy now. Let me reorient the way I'm living to look outward and to stop focusing on the very inward facing," what was I think a really appropriate strategy when you need therapeutic restorative approach.

Dallas Hartwig:
At some point, that inward facing optimization piece starts to become pretty, I guess, narcissistic, very self-serving and self-centered because we forget that actually what makes humans deeply gratified and this is pulling from some of the Blue Zones research on longevity and on happiness. What we know is that what makes people live good lives, good with a capital G, is the sensation at the end of your life that they had contributed to something that transcends their actual life. Perpetual optimization of one's health probably doesn't fit into that category.

Dallas Hartwig:
There isn't a nice neat and tidy transition where a flag goes up and says, "Okay, cool. You've optimized things enough. You've healed enough. Now go do something else." I think that's one of things I want to cue people to introspect on is, "How much is enough? How much biohacking optimization health-seeking do you need until you can take your foot off the gas a little bit in that realm?" I think there's an unfortunate and unholy marriage of the health and wellness industry and a deeply economically driven paradigm where we're trying to sell people on the idea that they need to buy the newest book and the newest supplement and the newest gadget and there's new research on this new dietary thing.

Dallas Hartwig:
Really, I think the kindest thing to say to people is, "Find your way to health such that your everyday life is not detracted from, and then over the course of time, start to redirect your gaze to something that is out there in the world, pick your head up and look out there, instead of doing so much of the inward-looking, inward-facing, self-serving stuff because that's a perfectly appropriate and important strategy to heal yourself when you're broken. That's not a thing that is contributive to a larger hole if you will, a community, a tribe, a legacy if you continue that lifelong.

Dallas Hartwig:
I recognized that I run the risk here of being very strident and judgmental and moralizing and all that. I certainly don't intend that, but I do want to really encourage people to say and to ask themselves there is no correct answer, but ask themselves, "How much is enough?" and whether that is, "How much is enough? How much money have I accumulated? How big is my retirement account? How much is enough with health optimization and performance?" because performance, whether you're talking about something very quantifiable like athletic performance or whether you're talking about performance and success more broadly, that still conceptually speaking confined to a summer mode.

Dallas Hartwig:
One of the things that I really strongly direct people towards in the book is self-assessing and saying, "Are the things that I feel called to do in my life now, do they deeply match up with my yearn for?" I think a lot of times a lot of our coping mechanisms and certainly addictions are anesthetics for the pain of having the mismatch between what we yearn for and what we're actually doing on an everyday basis. The solution is not more coping strategies. The solution is getting a closer match between what we yearn for and what we're doing and that requires painful introspection and sometimes really radical shifts in the way that we live.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's what being a human is, is perpetually shifting and changing and updating. That's what I've done a ton of over the past few years and probably need to do about another 10 lifetimes of, but I don't have the opportunity for that.

Melanie Avalon:
Speaking to what you just said, I'm just thinking about this out loud right now, I feel like there are two almost types of situations that people often find themselves in, where it is a matter of like, on the one hand, you have people stuck in for example, chronic illness situations and because the focus is on the illness, it just you know, perpetuates itself. There's not any room for moving beyond that because it gets tied into one's identity in a way. Then on the flipside, there are people who seem to be performing and constantly going and doing all the things, but that's being sustained by an artificial foundation of caffeine and light and all these stimulating things that they aren't actually creating support and they're ultimately wearing you down.

Melanie Avalon:
You talk about this idea. It's so funny. I read like the first part of your book where you started talking about the seasons, and listeners, you've got to get this book, it's just fascinating, how the seasons align, what they look like with movement, what they look like with food, what they look like with all these things. I read that and it was before you use this phrase and I was like, "Oh, my goodness. It's like we're living an endless summer," and then you're like, "We're living in endless summer." It's a really fascinating concept. I did have a question about that and this actually ties into the whole biohacking thing and everything.

Melanie Avalon:
It's in complete conflict to the idea that we need oscillation and everything, but could a "summer lifestyle" and that energy expenditure be sustained indefinitely if one were to engage in summer lifestyle diet practices which sustained it or is that a pipe dream in a way?

Dallas Hartwig:
It's a super good question. I think in short, and I'll tell you why, I think it's a pipe dream. Let's take this 24-hour rhythm as an example. What we're doing with optimization or biohacking is we're trying to wring out every little bit of experience, of productivity. The reason we have stress hormones when we are alert and active and doing the thing whether that is intense work or raising children or whatever it is, stress hormones improve our performance. That's why we have them right. That's normal. That's a good thing because it's adaptive and it helps us to match up what we need to do with what is asked of us.

Dallas Hartwig:
The problem is that what happens during those stressful times, during those challenging times as we accrue costs, we accrue structural damage, we accrue inflammatory byproducts, we accrue toxins. There has to be and I think it's a pretty safe statement that there has to be a period of recovery from that situation where we actually completely reset and restore the inflammatory and structural and metabolic and neurochemical costs of that stress. I think you touched on something really interesting which was the coordination of all of these different factors.

Dallas Hartwig:
In the book, I talked about four factors. I talked about food. I talk about movement, which includes but is not limited to structured planned formal exercise. I talked about sleep, but just because it's a shorthand. Really what I'm talking about is the light dark cycle and sleep. Then, I talked about connection. Connection there includes four subsets, connection to self in terms of self-awareness, self-compassion, self-love, self-acceptance and just simple knowledge of self. I talked about connection to place, where we're from, where our roots are and this gets a little bit soft and woo woo sometimes, but just the connection to Mother Earth, the sensation that we are a part of the super organism of Earth, connection to others and that's where we talk about all the social connections of all sorts, and then, connection to a sense of purpose to something greater than ourselves.

Dallas Hartwig:
All of that to say, we coordinate, there's different behaviors under each of those factors for each season, both literal season and longer season of our life. If we match up the seasonal behaviors for summer and we did all of those things in the summer mode during the literal and figurative summer times, we would have the optimal summer experience. Part of the optimal human experience more largely requires the other aspects, the other three seasons because they all have different functions. If you think about it from a circadian rhythm and hormonal standpoint, I break down times of day literal seasons and figurative seasons into hormonal and neurotransmitter headings or symbolic markers, and so, morning and springtime and youth all go with dopamine.

Dallas Hartwig:
Dopamine is associated with excitement and anticipation and novelty and motivation and the movement towards things. That's the experience we have in the morning when we're well rested and we're healthy. It's experience we have in the spring when we're looking at getting back into the garden or spring cleaning in the garage and it's experience that we have in the youth of our lives, where we are backpacking through Europe and we're doing all these things. There's dopamine. There's adrenaline and cortisol which are the hallmarks of summer and midday because that is what optimizes our performance and optimize our success during that time.

Dallas Hartwig:
Then, there is the pivot, the movement from those two expansive seasons of spring and summer into a contraction phase which includes fall and winter or evening at night. The neurotransmitters and hormones that go with that are serotonin and serotonin, of course, is associated with connection, belonging, sense of community, sense of generosity, sense of leadership, sense of contribution, because that's what we do at Thanksgiving, right? There's all of those things encapsulated the experience of Thanksgiving.

Dallas Hartwig:
Then fascinating to me, serotonin is biochemically transformed to melatonin. We have is two linkages of dopamine being converted into noradrenaline and adrenaline. There's a biochemical continuity there between spring and summer. There's also a biochemical continuity between fall and winter of serotonin into melatonin. That's one of the reasons, of course, why the early light exposure that causes the synthesis of serotonin during the daytime allows more melatonin to be available to have a nice pulse when the sun goes down and we're ready to sleep.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's this fascinating fractal pattern of biochemical conversions that exactly mirrors the emotional and psychological experience, which exactly mirrors the figurative experiences over the course of a lifetime. I just think that stuff is super-duper interesting. Long winded way of saying, I don't think that expansion and stress, which is really what summer is about, is something that will allow you to have the optimal human experience over decades and over the course of an entire lifetime, even if you are optimally matching up all of the factors and perhaps some microstrategies in a biohacking sense because you're still trying to wring out the sponge to its maximum in that summer mindset and missing the next natural phase.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think that when we start to bend what our physiology and our psychology expects, we start to run into trouble, even if we're doing it in a pretty coordinated fashion.

Melanie Avalon:
It's so fascinating. I guess it ties in a lot to the whole concept of what is aging and the implications there because if aging is damage accruing, there would be this need for repairing that or if it's something more about the work of David Sinclair and this loss of information could in a way that be perpetually if we could figure out how to restore that information, would that mean that we could live forever? I'm just dying to know if you are given the opportunity to live forever, would you take that?

Dallas Hartwig:
Such a fun question. I don't think that I would. I think maybe I'm shooting from the hip here, but I think this is actually evidence of how deeply I personally believe in this phasic approach to living because the things that I find the moments in my life when I have felt the most on track and gratified and peaceful and connected and deeply awestruck by the wonderment of life, have all been the times when I have been in alignment with where I am in my life. I've not sought to harken back to the past and to keep it the way it used to be.

Dallas Hartwig:
I've not looked to the future and tried to make it different, but I've just been here and now and I've been present to what's actually happening in my life. Therefore, my psychological state matches what's actually going on and I am here and only here. That to me is the richest form of living. Part of that from my perspective means that there is change over time. As my external environment and as my own internal physiological and psychological environment changes, my ability to stay present to the things that change and to change with those things means that I can have a higher percentage of my life spent in that completely connected peaceful, joyous awestruck space.

Dallas Hartwig:
Living forever, depending on how you would define that or what that would look like from a physiological standpoint, but living forever would probably mean that there was a mismatch between what was going on with my psychosocial or emotional headspace and what was happening in the world around me. Also, honestly, I don't see the world getting a lot better and I'm not sure I want to be around in a thousand or a million years to see what happens. No, even from that standpoint, I don't think I would choose to live forever.

Melanie Avalon:
So fascinating. Now, I'm just thinking that in the paradigm that you're presenting with this need for oscillation and the paradigm of rest and recovery and expansion and contraction, if we weren't born, if we were just in a perpetual state of expansion and contraction, then perhaps there wouldn't be a need for death in your paradigm because it would just be a constant state of expansion and contraction, you could live forever but because we're born because there was a beginning, in a way to close that narrative, you must have death.

Dallas Hartwig:
Absolutely. I think that's a really, really good point and certainly in alignment with the way I think about it. It allows an opening that point creates an opening and opportunity to reframe what death really is. The winter of our lives which are the years, the latest years of our lives, we often think about those as sad and morbid. We have such an avoidance of looking at mortality in the same way that civilization is obsessed with youth and success and productivity. We're really saying all we care about are the spring and summer aspects, the expansive aspects.

Dallas Hartwig:
As soon as we start thinking about aging and contracting and slowing down, we start to get nervous because ultimately, the end of that trajectory is our own death. We're so uncomfortable with our own mortality, whether that is because we have a religiously steeped background where something terrible happens when we die or at least the risk of something terrible happens when we die or the more pragmatic and biological belief that the lights go out and that's the end of your human experience.

Dallas Hartwig:
Either way, we tend not to think about or our own mortality, but there's a really beautiful opportunity and there's a diagram in my book right towards the end of a vertically oriented upwardly ascending spiral. What I'm expressing with that is the recognition that over the course of years and decades and phases of our life we can have commonality. Each year will have some commonalities, but each year also builds on the experience and wisdom accrued from previous years and decades. Each year, we'll actually look a little bit different.

Dallas Hartwig:
If we're paying attention and we're adapting to what we've learned over time, each year will actually get progressively better. We will get closer to this sense of purpose and contribution to that thing larger than ourselves, to that transcendence of self. Actually, there's an opportunity I think, when we think about coming full circle, the winter time is the time when the seeds are prompted to germinate. The seeds spend time in cold and darkness and that is required for germination in the spring. I think the same thing is true across the course of a human lifetime that the germination of beautiful future requires the participation in a dark cold winter preceding that.

Dallas Hartwig:
My lifetime might end at the end of my own winter, but hopefully if I have done all of the phases of my life with gusto, with presence, with throwing myself wholeheartedly into that experience and really completing all of those phases, I don't have the sense of arriving at the end of my life sad and morbid and dark and alone. What I have is I've done the thing well and there's something brighter to look forward to in the next generation in the future. There is a sense of legacy and contribution to the future that I don't have to be present for, but I can still feel invested in. I think that's a beautiful way to reframe what's otherwise a very dark and morbid thought about our own death.

Melanie Avalon:
It's such a fascinating thing to think about. I'm always wondering about that question what people think because I don't know. I don't know if it's a reflection of just where I am in my life right now. I think I would love to live forever. At least, that's the way I feel right now, but the thing that scares me isn't death. It's the idea of losing something or not being able to function. It's not the death. It's the aging process. The thought of losing capabilities or accruing damage that can't be recovered from, that's what scares me ultimately, but then I'm like, "If I was living forever, I could keep powering through it." I don't know.

Dallas Hartwig:
I guess to me, I think about and hopefully it doesn't come across as arguing with you, but if you think of living forever, living forever in that perfectly balance, balancing of expansion and contraction and balancing recovery against this stress cost of existing that would theoretically require perfect. That's a dangerous word, but perfect behavior choices for the entirety of your life because if you ceased to make "perfect choices," it would thus alter and unbalance the relationship, the ratio between stress and recovery and all that kind of stuff. I don't know. I feel like you would conceivably dramatically extend the human's lifetime at a very high quality.

Dallas Hartwig:
Forever is not to me conceivable, and also, I'm not an expert like David Sinclair. I will defer to his expertise in that world for sure.

Melanie Avalon:
I guess it would require perfect living or it would require perfect repair processes, I think, like the analogy I always think of is like buying a new Mac versus buying refurbished electronics. They're always like, "Yeah, it's completely new," but you're like, "It's going to break."

Dallas Hartwig:
It doesn't feel quite the same. Totally.

Melanie Avalon:
You're just like, "It's going to break." It's like this idea that newness is only at newness and that I think it might be a bit of a facade to think that you can return to that. Something that you pointed out or you're speaking about and it's something that you talk about a lot in the book is this idea of anchors. In a way, it can seem ironic because we've been doing all this talk about contraction, expansion, this idea of opposites and things changing, but there's also this idea at the same time a very grounding idea of anchors and that there is something consistent in our daily life.

Melanie Avalon:
I actually don't think I said this yet the whole podcast. For listeners, in the book, you might have said it or I might have said it, I don't remember now, Dallas does have four tenets that he basically goes through. It's a way that's organized. There's sleep, move, eat and connect. He does explore all of these and then the oscillation within them, the changes that happen, what that looks like, but then there is at the same time this idea that there is a consistency, even with these changes.

Melanie Avalon:
I would love to talk a little bit about that. Diet for example and maybe this is a good way to both tie in your perspective of what these look like seasonally. With diet, you talked about seasonal diet. I love what you said. You say that basically diet is one of the easiest ones to live by seasonally because you can just shop at a farmers market and it does it for you which is really awesome.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's a couple other spinoffs there too, simple shortcuts or heuristics and I know given your work on intermittent fasting, one of the other comments because I get questions about fasting all the time and I'm like, "Okay, let's talk about a shortened feeding window." One of the easiest ways to think about from my perspective to think about when you should eat is only eat when it's light out because in the ancient past, you're not foraging in the darkness, you're probably not hunting in the darkness and you might be eating around the fire after dark, but it's by pretty dim light, and mostly you're eating, of course, during the daylight hours.

Dallas Hartwig:
Simple heuristic, you eat during the daylight hours only which means the feeding window changes dramatically over the course of the year because in the summertime, there's a very wide feeding window. In the winter, it's much narrower if you're in a temperate climate. There's lots of little things that give you an anchor point, and to point about there being anchors in the book, all of these oscillations occur around some pivot, some anchor points.

Dallas Hartwig:
Whether you're picturing some celestial orbiting body around a midpoint, around a homeostatic point or whether you're picturing a sine curve that has midpoints between the extremes or whether you're picturing a pendulum with a pivot, there's always a reference point. There's always a place to return back to. I wrote about anchors in the book partly as a way to honor the fact that for each of the factors, food, movement and sleep which again is shorthand for the light-dark pattern that we have and connection, we need reference points.

Dallas Hartwig:
The anchors both describe the lowest common denominator, the most simple access points for making changes in each of these four areas, but they also give us an order of priority. So many times, we do get off in the weeds and we get lost in the details and we really miss the forest for the trees. If someone came to me and had no idea about anything about physiology or research or biohacking or evolutionary history or anything and they're like, "I just need to get my life in order. What do I do?" and in a handful of sentences, I would be like, "Eat a good source of complete protein, typically animal protein at each meal during the daylight hours and do movement that includes very useful three dimensional functional strength movements most days.

Dallas Hartwig:
Move a lot throughout the course of the day in the same way as our ancestors would have. Recognize that the more closely we align our circadian rhythms to the natural light cycle outside the better we're off we're going to be. When you do that, you naturally get more and better sleep anyway, both as a function of spending more time in darkness and also function as exposing yourself in natural light during the morning and midday. Recognize that we as humans are deeply social creatures." From a physical and psychological safety standpoint which is a really huge driver of human behavior broadly speaking, what makes us feel safe is having someone or a small collection of someones who have our back when it matters.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's an interesting research looking at social support that actually the perception that we have, people who will socially support us, is actually more influential for our health in terms of balancing stress response than actually receiving that social support. Really building the mental model of, "Hey, I have a tribe that has my back is a really important feature for mitigating stress," because it gives us this psychological experience of being protected and being included. If we are excluded and/or unprotected, we're in a very precarious place as humans.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's those anchors that I discussed in the book that if you just did those basic things where you're invested in a handful of people who are really close to you in a very vulnerable and present and connected way and you had a good source of protein at each meal during the daylight hours and you did functional strength training and a large range of movement and you aligned your light-dark cycle with what's going on outside and you did nothing else, I think that would sort out the vast majority of both existing chronic disease issues and also prevent most of the chronic disease to come.

Dallas Hartwig:
The anchors is the most basic starting point and then all of the oscillation and the fine tuning and the synchronization that goes on after that is better, but it's secondary to the most foundational anchor behaviors.

Melanie Avalon:
I think it's so profound. Actually, just looking at the anchors that you put out there, they are things that I've naturally gravitated towards, for example, with diet regardless of different dietary approaches, protein has always been the anchor for me. I just don't feel complete without it and then I fiddle beyond there. I was fascinated, of course, given my audience and my listeners will know this, your perspective on intermittent fasting and positing it or putting it forth as this idea that does change with the seasons.

Melanie Avalon:
Fasting, if people are engaging with that for different links based on the season, I would love to know your thoughts, could intermittent fasting be an anchor in a way? I know you were using the dark-light cycle as an anchor, but could eating at a time-restricted eating pattern be like a constant approach, an anchor?

Dallas Hartwig:
Yeah, it certainly could and I'll distinguish between time-restricted feeding and intermittent fasting because to me-

Melanie Avalon:
All the terminologies.

Dallas Hartwig:
The terminologies, I guess, really intermittent fasting is a shorthand, but really, we're talking about time-restricted feeding. When I recognized that all the neurochemical and more importantly in this case metabolic processes are all downstream and regulated by what happens in the super chiasmatic nucleus. Effectively saying, they're all regulated by the light-dark cycle. Then, it stands to reason that our eating windows or feeding windows, because they are directly connected to light-dark cycle and if we're using the light-dark cycle as our anchor for all the other physiological processes, going back to the beginning of this conversation, where I'm like, "Well, maybe the light-dark cycle actually is the most important thing."

Dallas Hartwig:
If that's the case, then the natural ebb and flow of wider or narrower feeding windows across the course of the seasons would just be a natural extension of that. It certainly could be an anchor in the same way that just going to the farmers market and eating the food that is available locally at any given time of year is a really great, direct, simple connection between you and what's going on in your local environment. Intermittent fasting, or in this case, time restricted feeding that matches the natural ebb and flow of the light-dark cycle is another really direct connection between you and what's going on in your environment. Yeah, I think that's a great way of thinking about it.

Melanie Avalon:
I thought you just debated on and on, but people will say that historically we were eating during the day, but then there's the argument that we would be hunting during the day, so we would actually be eating at night. Do you have thoughts on that? I know you've just talked about it, but-

Dallas Hartwig:
I do and what we find when we look at the biggest ... We don't know what happened in the truly evolutionary past, but we can make an educated guess based on contemporary tribes, so we can observe and what we see is that actually hunting doesn't take up the majority of the daytime. All of the tasks combined of hunting and gathering and moving camp and doing maintenance, the things that are necessary for primitive living for hunter gatherer existence really only take up three or five or six hours a day. It's not 14 hours a day of hunting, requiring us to cram our eating into the darkness after the daytime.

Dallas Hartwig:
The hunting that does go on on average, and of course, there's differences day to day, but the hunting that goes on on average wouldn't take up the majority of the day. Therefore, there's plenty of time, both to eat as we forage and also to eat after we hunt that wouldn't require us to be pushed all the way into the nighttime. Would it be conceivable that ancient hunter gatherers ate after dark sometimes? Of course, for sure, absolutely. I don't see a really sound logic for that being the norm on an average, over the course of millions of years in all of the different locations that humans evolved in.

Dallas Hartwig:
I don't see that being such a consistent pattern that it became the norm in our evolutionary experience. Hopefully, that makes sense.

Melanie Avalon:
No, completely, got you. Also, I really, really identified with the movement part of the book and the recommendations that you made there because I personally subscribed to what I call functional movement. I try to just make my life about movement, but then I try to enhance it. I actually wear weights on my body, so then when I'm like grocery shopping or vacuuming, it's a workout. I love you even said like and this is literally how I think, you even said for coffee, grind your own coffee. I'm like, "Yes." Anytime I can ...

Melanie Avalon:
I don't like the shortcuts to get things automatically done. It's like you can add all this movement and people might think, "Oh, grinding coffee, that's not going to burn calories," but when you look at it in a broader picture of just staying constantly active, I think it just leads to so much more helping the body and you don't need all of this concentrated, "I'm going to burn calories," and you can if that makes you happy. You enjoy going to the gym, but I don't think it's like automatically necessary. It's so funny, my cohost Gin on the Intermittent Fasting Podcast, we have completely opposite approaches to ...

Melanie Avalon:
We both do intermittent fasting, but she likes doing meal delivery services. Her meals are always delivered. That's what she does. She hates going to the grocery store. I have to go to the grocery store every single day because I have to feel like, I don't know. I feel like it goes back to this whole hunter gatherer thing. I need to feel like I need to go to the grocery store and I need to physically look through what's there. I need to pick it out and I need to carry it I need to bring it back and I need to cook it. I just feel like, I don't know. I love like what you put forward with the whole movement in our lives aspect.

Dallas Hartwig:
What I hear you saying is that you recognize the value of integration of different aspects of your life, whether that is sourcing and preparing food that you eat or whether that is moving in different ways throughout the course of the day or whether that is walking to the grocery store and carrying your food home from there, an interconnectedness of different aspects of our life. If you're grinding your coffee by hand, you are integrating an experience that otherwise you would compartmentalize and mechanize.

Dallas Hartwig:
Yeah, it might be faster, it might be easier, it might be more efficient, but it's also disintegrated. I think that what we've done with modern civilization is we have mechanized and disintegrated so much of our lives, that what we lack is the experience of being in our lives, where we are the action arm of what happens to us and with us, instead we are consumers of pre-ground coffee or meal services or whatever. I think to me, if efficiency and convenience and success are the most important principles, then mechanizing everything through industrialization is the great way to do it and that's what we've largely done in the modern world.

Dallas Hartwig:
However, there's the tremendous loss of the experience of living and I'll use the example of growing a garden for your listeners that have had any version of growing their own garden, even who has a window pot of some fresh basil. There's an ineffable experience of picking something that you have watered and fertilized and grown and connected with in a way that is not the same as going to the grocery store or not the same as having a meal service delivered. That connectedness in the sense of belonging and knowing, in this case, where your food came from.

Dallas Hartwig:
Your participation in that, it's a deeply satisfying experience that the more we compartmentalize and make more efficient, all of these other ways of living, we lose that ineffable satisfaction and so much of what I'm trying to do with the way I live is to reintegrate and reclaim those things that I have previously taken advantage of efficiencies and conveniences and actually now saying, "Let me take some of those back and bring those back into my life." Having a garden is a great example. When I built my house couple years ago, I made sure to have some garden space, because it is such an enriching experience for me.

Dallas Hartwig:
It's not perhaps in all of this example, but you could take that concept into all areas of your life and make your life a lot less efficient and also a lot richer.

Melanie Avalon:
Exactly. This is one of the things I struggle with so much and I think especially in our modern society that it's so common is this need to always be productive or like you said making things efficient. We feel like that's what's necessary in order to keep up with the Joneses and do all the things. I'm always torn between wanting to feel completely productive in every single moment and have every moment, it's like I have to earn my time or something. It's like I have earn my life by making everything "productive" compared to what is actually providing meaning.

Melanie Avalon:
You're speaking to this need for connection and you do have this whole section on just how alienating social media is today. It's shocking because on the one hand, we're seemingly engaging with so many people all the time, yet I feel like we're lonelier than ever and we're more disconnected than ever, even though we're seemingly more connected than ever. I feel like that's something that we need to address and you go into details about the implications of that.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think social media is a great, very modern because recent in the last decade or so, a little over a decade, it is a great, extremely current example of the way that we as a civilization behave in perpetually expansive summer ways, summer modes because social media, the way I talk about connection in the book is summer on one extreme has the maximal expansion of a large number of relatively shallow, relatively superficial relationships where we meet new people, we keep in contact with lots of different people, but none of those relationships are particularly deep and vulnerable.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's an inverse relationship between the number of relationships and the depth and vulnerability and feeling of real belonging and connectedness. Then, the opposite extreme there which occurs in the wintertime would be a radically contracted number of people that we are deeply connected to, but the key there is that we are deeply connected. Those are our romantic partners, our closest family, our closest friends, our chosen family so to speak, where we are very vulnerable and authentic.

Dallas Hartwig:
You think about our hunter gatherer past, when we lived in small tribes in close quarters, we had virtually no privacy which was good and bad, depending on how you looked at it, but we also had virtually no loneliness. We had no social isolation. There's a tradeoff there. In this summer way of being or in social media, we can have as much privacy as we want because we totally get to filter what we share and tell whatever public story we want which can be very authentic or more commonly not very authentic which leaves us feeling disconnected and isolated.

Dallas Hartwig:
We've put forward this happy face, this great story, this highlight reel, which is not representative of what is going on for us internally. Social media then is the hallmark summer connected experience. It's not wrong. It's not inherently by definition problematic. It's expansive. It's connecting with far more people than we historically whatever have been able to know and connect with in a tribal hunter gatherer away because of most of the research on that, and this is drawing on Robin Dunbar's research, is that most tribal groups are limited to, it's somewhere between 50 and 150 people.

Dallas Hartwig:
There's no such thing as having 1,000 friends or 2,000 Facebook or whatever. We can't have meaningful human connections with that many people. There is a necessary inverse relationship between number and depth and connection. Social media then is perfectly appropriate in both the literal summer of our lives because it symbolizes a large expansive behavior where we are meeting new people and being exposed to new ideas and looking outward in a really big way, but it becomes not appropriate and no longer healthy and sustaining and restorative when we take that summer behavior and I extend it both beyond both a literal summer and also the summer of our lives.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think it is pretty normal to spend time in social media to have lots of contacts and followers and friends and all this kind of stuff episodically, but the key there is it's episodic. It's only for one of the four seasons, and again, both literal seasons and seasons of our life. Even if we shrink that timeline down to be a 24-hour timeline, what it means is that we are only biologically, physiologically and socially normal to be looking outward to a world where there are tons of people that we have relatively superficial interactions with during the middle of the day, during the summer of the day, so to speak.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's one of the reasons why I argue quite strongly in the book and elsewhere that it's important for us when we come home at the end of the day, end of the workday, end of the school day, whatever, to really deliberately put a way to social media because what we're doing is we are honoring the shift into a more present, connected, grounded vulnerable fall and winter-type mode which requires we don't put our attention on 1,000 Facebook friends. We put our attention on the people who are in physical proximity to us who we have the opportunity to be deeply authentic and vulnerable with. There is that same expansion-contraction cycle even across the course of a day.

Melanie Avalon:
You answered one of my questions I was literally going to ask was, because I had read before that actually looking at faces at night could actually interfere with circadian rhythm. I had assumed that was due to because we're socially interacting with people during the day, but then earlier when you were talking about the role of darkness and how we're not in darkness anymore, I was thinking maybe that plays a role because literally at night, even if you're with other people, you wouldn't see them.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think part of the answer or part of the explanation there is that there is a dopamine response to eye contact, face-to-face experience with people. Because we are, dopamine, of course, is highly involved in attention and focus. When we are looking at someone, humans are incredibly exquisitely tuned to facial expressions, to reading information from the widening of the eyes or a squint or a twitch of the mouth, some of these incredibly nuanced small things. We have a dopamine response to that face-to-face experience.

Dallas Hartwig:
If we're looking at faces or we're having face-to-face experiences under bright light into the evening hours, we're having a dopamine response and dopamine is not a thing that's good for sleep, right? If we're taking in exactly the same way as blue light is effectively sending our brains the message that it is blue sky, midday, you should be alert. We're giving ourselves a mismatch signal if we're looking at faces, either real faces, under bright light or faces on social media or whatever. We're giving yourself a mismatch signal in the post-sunset hours.

Melanie Avalon:
It's so fascinating and it's like on the one hand we could have the ultimate solution to all of this if we could somehow just ... Because you talked about the, I don't know how to say the word, zeit-

Dallas Hartwig:
Zeitgeber.

Melanie Avalon:
I learned a word when I read this. How do you say it? I should know this because I'm German.

Dallas Hartwig:
You are German. That's a German word. Zeitgeber.

Melanie Avalon:
Zeitgeber.

Dallas Hartwig:
Zeitgeber is a German word meaning time giver or timekeeper. It's basically a physiological anchor for the circadian rhythm.

Melanie Avalon:
You talked about that. Actually, I read that and I learned what that was and now because I'm always reading scientific studies and now I'm seeing that word everywhere. I'm sure I was seeing it before but just didn't really realize what it was. There are all these factors that are telling our bodies different things and our bodies are interpreting them and it's affecting our health and everything. On the one hand, it's like if we could just tell our body that it's okay and it doesn't have to respond to any of these things a certain way which makes me wonder something like meditation, if one could enter a state of reprogramming their body to respond differently to these things, I don't even know if that's possible, but could that be a solution compared to that's probably very, very hard for most people to achieve?

Melanie Avalon:
The flipside is doing this approach like you outlined in the book where you are consciously working with your environment, working with your movement, working with your diet to support the natural system. I don't know if it's possible to full reprogram.

Dallas Hartwig:
It's a really interesting idea and I think my smartass response is like, "Well, if you had the infinite lifetime that we were talking about, you probably would have enough time to reprogram all of those things." My more pragmatic approach is like, "Change your environment before your environment changes you because undoubtedly, our environment changes us in so many ways, both perceptible and imperceptible." To your point about, for example meditation, there's profound opportunities to learn how to respond differently to environmental stimuli, to give a different meaning to a stimulus, such that we don't have to feel threatened by a particular thing that we may be used to because we gave it a particular meaning.

Dallas Hartwig:
That being said, not everything is directly mediated by the conscious perception, right? For example, it might be difficult to or perhaps impossible to through mindset work or meditation or the mind-based reprogramming override the physiological response to light as mediated through the retina and the super chiasmatic nucleus because that's just a neurological response, right? That's such an ancient evolutionary response that single-celled organisms had. Given how recent human consciousness in the evolutionary history, and I'm coming to this just as I'm speaking, but I think what we probably have the most opportunity to mediate through meditation and being present and being really mindful are the things that have changed in our world and in our experience of being human since we developed consciousness since we became human in that way.

Dallas Hartwig:
The things that developed pre-consciousness before we were the humans, as we largely think about them now may not actually be accessible via altering our consciousness or via reprogramming, to use your word, because they predate the development of consciousness. I think that's probably consistent with the idea that we can significantly massively alter our perception and the meaning that we give certain events from both conscious and subconscious psychological perspective. Can we change the meaning that we give environmental stimuli? Yeah, to a really large degree.

Dallas Hartwig:
For things that don't have inherent meaning and aren't necessarily interpretable as something other than the stimulus that they are, I think it might be harder to change via something like meditation.

Melanie Avalon:
You literally just walk down the path I was looking towards, which was, I guess, it does come back to this idea of what is consciousness and what is our sense of self because I am fascinated beyond belief on the studies on split brain patients and realizing that parts of our brain and our sense of identity and who we are our brain can create. For listeners, and I've talked about this a lot before, but basically different parts of our brains are responsible for like our left brain is more about stories and language and our right brain is more our animalistic behaviors, movement, things like that.

Melanie Avalon:
When those parts of the brain aren't connected, they realized in studies that there are different concepts of self. Our left brain, the story part of our brain, can literally create stories about things that happen that didn't even happen. It's shocking. It's just made me realized I literally know nothing. What I think I'm experiencing, I have no idea. I have no idea.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'm not a memory expert, but the science of memory fascinates me. Broadly speaking, human memory is not data retrieval. The way an external hard drive of a computer would be. Human memory is a conjuring of an emotional experience and then a retrospective reengineering of the narrative to match the emotive experience. Every time that we access that "memory", that experience, we tell a slightly different story. Fascinatingly, the memory research seems to suggest that the more our most vivid memories are probably the least accurate because we've accessed them and rewritten them and iterated them so many times to add detail that may or may not have ever existed in the original experience.

Dallas Hartwig:
They are made vivid by the repetitive accessing and the augmentation of that experience, but all done retrospectively, all done in an iterative process. I think that stuff is fascinating, but it highlights the opportunity for us to tell a different story and to give a different meaning to an experience. This is something that psychotherapists and trauma researchers have known for a long time is that we have the opportunity to tell a different story and thus to make a totally different narrative out of our lives if we don't rely on the memory that we think happened to us, and instead, we open up the door to tell a totally different story.

Melanie Avalon:
Exactly. It's simultaneously terrifying to think that what we're experiencing might not even be "reality", but at the same time, it's so freeing because it means that we could at the same time almost experience any reality, and then tying it back into what we were talking about though, could you reprogram, have meditation, do all of that versus making all these lifestyle changes and affecting those environmental and external factors? I feel like it can all come together in a way because you can consciously choose to follow all these practices and things that you outlined in the book to encourage an environment that is in line with the biological, the environmental factors that things that support our "natural" way of being.

Melanie Avalon:
At the same time, you can still know that you can be okay with any experience and yet that you can have any experience and I love what you're talking about earlier about this feeling of that, "I am enough," that we are enough. That's just something I've personally really been thinking a lot about and have been trying to encourage this idea that I am enough. At any given moment, everything is okay. I can do all these things like you talked about in the book to just optimize and be in line with my natural self, and at the same time, be okay with it all.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think the cost of enough is a beautiful idea, that sense of adequacy, this sense of, I guess, ultimately, abundance. I layer this and I don't get really deep into this in the book, but I do mention it, if you think about the expansion mode, the dopamine and adrenaline and cortisol-driven expansion and the seeking, the chasing the success, the efficiency, the accumulation of resources, all of that is driven by the desire for more. The flipside, the equal and opposite contractive mode, a fallen winter, that is serotonin and melatonin-driven is the sense of adequacy, is the sense of enoughness. Along with that recognition of enoughness is the recognize is the experience of gratitude.

Dallas Hartwig:
One of the things that I deeply value in my personal life is the recognition and this requires presence. Actually, I'll test this idea here, there's a potential book idea embedded, but this pivot out of chronic summer and into a restorative fall and deeply therapeutic winter experience is a pivot out of the chasing more and a pivot into being present, recognizing the adequacy and abundance of what is in the present, this exact moment, not next month, next year or even tomorrow, but this exact moment. You and I are having a conversation and I'm in a warm house with a roof over my head and I'm well fed and there's a perfect complete abundance experience there.

Dallas Hartwig:
When I take the time through mindfulness and potentially meditative practices and I really experience that presence, what spontaneously arises for me is this incredible sense of gratitude. That sense of gratitude immediately and spontaneously turns itself outward into a desire to express generosity. As a mode of being, fall is a mode of presence, gratitude and generosity which lines up with what we do intuitively in the fall anyway which is gather together, celebrate the harvest and give thanks for it.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think it's such a beautiful idea because we've been doing this forever. We have harvest celebrations in every civilization that we know anything about at all because that is the natural thing that happens when we have enough and it is the distortion of civilization that convinces us that we need more. We need more financial resources. We need more performance. We need more optimized health metrics. We need more friends. We need more of whatever. That is an expansive spring and summer mode. One of the reasons why we get so out of balance and why so many of us are hungering and feeling the deep deficiency of that enoughness is because we've got stuck in that chronic summer mode.

Dallas Hartwig:
The opportunity here is to consciously deliberately make the pivot to getting present often facilitated through mindfulness and meditation. When we get really present, abundance, gratitude and generosity spontaneously arise and I think that's a beautiful idea.

Melanie Avalon:
Exactly. I've been thinking more and more about how is there this idea that at the foundation of every human being that it is love and gratitude and it's just fears and anxieties and things that clouded because I think people think oftentimes that they need to get things to be grateful for they need to find people to love. They need to have these things in order to feel gratitude or love when maybe there already is gratitude and love. It's just our fears and anxieties and stress that clouds it. I know for me and this is something that you talked about as well is that there have been moments where I've had a moment where my fears and anxieties are gone. It's a moment of meditation or just this moment where that is gone for a moment.

Melanie Avalon:
I realized that below all of it that there is just this foundation of gratitude and love. What's so interesting is when that happens, when it's been happening recently is actually my initial response is this overwhelming sadness because I'm like, "Wow, this is there all along." It's like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz. It's like, "Wow, this was there all along and I could have been experiencing it." When you experience it, you want it to stay. Like I said, it's just what makes us complex human beings.

Dallas Hartwig:
I disagree with one little fraction of what you said there, and otherwise, I'm totally on board and I love it. I don't know actually if the experience of being in that present, grateful, generous space is something that we conceptually could experience in perpetuity in our lives because I think part of the experience of gratitude requires the recognition of something new, requires the like, "Oh, I didn't see this before." There's a transition from not seeing to seeing, a transition from not being present to being present, a transition of not being grateful to being grateful.

Dallas Hartwig:
I think that contrast is required to really experience the deepest parts of that in the same way that it is required of us to go through the spring and summer phases of our lives and experiences to fully again experience and appreciate the later in different seasons and phases where, of course, fall would be so deeply grateful and connected and generous. I think that that does require the loss of perspective and the loss of connection to self and others and the loss of honoring, the way we would live in our deepest alignment in this summer of our lives.

Dallas Hartwig:
There is this almost Hero's Journey overlay here where it requires us to, and it is a normalizing, getting lost and out of sync and going astray so to speak. I think that is part of the human experience. Then, the return home, the recognition of the beauty and love and gratitude and abundance that was always there, it requires us to forget and I think it's normal for us to forget and it's normal for us to go astray and get lost and it's just as normal and equally beautiful for us to recognize that we've taken a path that doesn't always lead us to peace and harmony and beauty and presence.

Dallas Hartwig:
Then when we go back to that place, what we have is this overwhelming sense of wonder and awe and gratitude and connection that we wouldn't even have any reference point of something different if we hadn't gone astray and gotten lost, so to speak. I don't know. I overlay the Hero's Journey on to this entire human experience because if we didn't leave home, so to speak, in a differentiation sense as children, as youth, as adolescents and as young adults and we didn't get lost, so to speak, by venturing way out into the world, getting in over our heads, making some choices that ultimately end up being painful choices and then finding our way back, what we will be left with is incredibly contracted small limited existence.

Dallas Hartwig:
The expansion-contraction cycle, this largest overlay in the book, is about going out, and yes, expanding, meeting new people, doing new things, working hard, chasing success and productivity and optimizing in health and metrics and all that doing all of that and then pivoting away from that and saying, "Actually, my life is made richer, recognizing that I have done those things, and now, it's time to do something different." I think that completion of each of those phases is ultimately what adds up to the completion so to speak of a life well lived that allows us to arrive at the end, plus the Hunter S. Thompson quote of, skidding in broadside, all banged up and saying, "Man, what a ride."

Dallas Hartwig:
I think that's the experience that I want to have at the end of my life, the winter of my life rather than a series of regrets of roads not taken.

Melanie Avalon:
I'm so glad you said all of that because actually that leads to pretty much the major epiphany that I had at the end of your book that I was dying to tell you because it was a really actually a radical mindset shift for me. I was talking to my therapist, I was like, "I had this huge epiphany." It was basically that it's literally what you just said, this idea that we oscillate between things. I think like for me, I think for a lot of people, if you feel like you're drained out by in this endless summer, you can feel like you need this fall pivot, this winter restoration.

Melanie Avalon:
In a way, prior to reading your book, it was like that was the end all. It was like, "I need to restore and heal and then I'll be back to in the summer forever and I won't let this happen again." That was daunting to me because it was like, "Okay, I'll heal. I'll be able to deal with everything. I'll deal with social media, all the health like everything. It'll be great and then I'll just be like sustainable," when really no. What is so reassuring is that there is always seasons. Thinking about that, I was like, "Okay, I always can have the summers and I can always have these falls and winters. I don't have to heal permanently, recover permanently and then be good to go and never need to rest again." There's always a cycle.

Dallas Hartwig:
What I'm hearing you say is once you are in alignment, you can then oscillate very naturally, right? Again, it's that upward ascending spiral idea. It's a little bit too nerdy and technical, but one of the phrases that works the best for me to think about how to coordinate and put all these oscillating pieces together is to synchronize them in their season where you are in the literally year, where you are in the course, the season of your life to synchronize those things and then periodized them, meaning let them move in synchrony, periodize them, let them oscillate together, so it's synchronized and periodized.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's actually the order of priority as well as is match up these different behaviors in your current life, in this space where you, get into alignment with where you actually are in your life, and then, all you have to do is press the play button again and let everything move in concert. In the book, I have a couple of illustrations that are hand drawn and rudimentary, but they're of concentric circles. I originally presented this material at the ancestral health symposium and I had actually a poster of concentric circles that basically he had a clock hand that was tied to each of the concentric circles, so there's four factors.

Dallas Hartwig:
There would be 4:00 hands. What you're basically doing is each of the cardinal points or 12, three, six and nine on the clock would represent one season and you point all of the clock hands at the behaviors that match that season, and then, they all move in synchrony across the course of one full cycle, whether that is a year or a lifetime. When you get into alignment which is really matching up where you are in your actual lifetime, in your actual environment, whether you're talking about something specific like what time of day it is or what month of the year it is or you're saying, "Where am I in the progression of the seasons of my life?" when you get into alignment and you've recalibrated so to speak, then it's actually really easy because you just let things progress incrementally, naturally in concert.

Dallas Hartwig:
It's not a perpetual battle to heal and shift and massively overhaul everything. You're just letting the system do what it intuitively wants to do at that point once you're back in coordination or back in alignment. Does recalibrating or resynchronizing, all of our currently mismatch behaviors require a lot of work to get it back on track? Yes. What I'm describing in the book is a pretty significant shift from what the way most of us live. Once it's back in alignment to whatever degree you intuitively intrinsically feel you need, it's easy.

Dallas Hartwig:
It's so easy because all you're doing is letting all of the parts of you, your physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual parts all just move together in a way that is easy, is intuitive, is natural is biological. In the same way that if you start seasonal eating and you start tuning into some of your intuitions about what you crave or desire or feel like eating at any given time of the year, it becomes really easy because I don't want to eat a bunch of strawberries in January because it doesn't make sense for me. I live in Salt Lake City. There aren't strawberries growing outside in January, but it's really easy to do that natural intuitive oscillation because I just learned to trust the wisdom and the intuition that is in me already and then is in all of us.

Dallas Hartwig:
One of the things I say frequently about this book is that some people have said, "Oh, it's a genius new plan." Even the subtitle we wrote, "It's a groundbreaking new plan." This is not a groundbreaking new plan. This is an old plan. It's so old it's encoded into every single one of our genetic expectations for what the world around us is supposed to be. It's elegant, but it's not elegant because I invented. It's elegant because it's how we have always been intended to work.

Melanie Avalon:
I think like you just said that's what makes your book so radically different from so many other books is because so many other books provide this plan and it's like, "Do this plan," whether it is "natural" or more artificial but, "Do this plan, then you're better, then you're good to go," and it's like the end. For your book, it's not that at all. There actually is if listeners are wondering because I know we've been very esoteric in our conversation, there actually is in the book like a plan. It can be-

Dallas Hartwig:
We skipped over that.

Melanie Avalon:
I know. We'll just have to get the book for that, but there actually is an implementable timeline-type plan that can be implemented, but if the book had ended with that, it still would have been incredible because of the paradigm shift, but if it had just ended with that, I think people might have been left with feeling the need to do this plan, and then, I'll be good to go, but no, there's this super, super important followup which is, regardless of where you're coming from, you can do this healing restorative phase, and then beyond that, there will always be these oscillations, there will always be times of expansion, there will still be rest and recovery.

Melanie Avalon:
You don't feel like you have to be this perfect like, "I did the plan. I'm fixed, and now, I got to be perfect forever," instead, there's always things to look forward to on both the four movement and the rest in recovery. That's what I found just so encouraging and so wonderful.

Dallas Hartwig:
That's really nice to hear. Thank you for that.

Melanie Avalon:
I found it very, very, very implementable for me. I know we've talked about a lot, and perhaps, this is time. There's still so much more like I could talk for hours, but I want to be respectful of your time. The last question that I ask every single guest on this podcast, you will probably appreciate, it's just because I've realized how incredibly important mindset is about everything and perspective and gratitude. The last question I always ask is, what is something that you're grateful for?

Dallas Hartwig:
Well, in the context of talking about a book that I've got coming out, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to take a lifetime of what I used to think of as mistakes. Now, I think of it as simple experiences and to take a lifetime of growing up in a log cabin and having chronic inflammation in my shoulder and stumbling onto research on autoimmunity and dietary lectins, to stick all that stuff into this soup and to be able to synthesize something that has been so deeply healing and enriching for my life. I really hope that that is the experience that readers have as well.

Dallas Hartwig:
I'm so grateful to be able to offer that to the world, because in a different lifetime and a different era in a different body, I wouldn't be able to do that. I'm grateful for all of the painful choices I have made because they have allowed me to contrast that pain and to alchemize that into what I think are really powerful ideas. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share that with your audience.

Melanie Avalon:
No, thank you. Thank you so much for your work, groundbreaking like we said it's in the subtitle, but your work, The Whole 30, the effect it's had on the population is obviously undeniable. Now this new book, I think just takes it to the next step by having the whole encompassing picture. I'm so grateful for all that you're doing. I think it's changing the world. Thank you for your time. Thank you for coming on this podcast and I look forward to all of your future work and hopefully talking again in the future.

Dallas Hartwig:
No, I thank you so much. It's has been a wonderful conversation.

Melanie Avalon:
Thanks, Dallas. Bye.

 

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