Value You

Issue# 43

How we practice and train today can provide a deeper understanding of where much of our frustration or joy comes from. Be aware of what you value most because if there is any confusion, it will present itself in the outcomes. How I feel about myself is the real question, and if I value who I am, then there is a good chance I value the process of what I do and, most notably, what it is teaching me about me. 

When we engage in an activity, we bring an underpinning tone to this. Even in something like weightlifting, where the goal seems to be to lift as much weight as possible, that is reinforced every time we enter the gym. To help make more sense, you will want to understand that in no way does this imply not pushing yourself to move more weight; this may be the path to moving more weight. It may come packaged in a process that does not look like your current way of doing things. 

The lies we tell ourselves

I’d love to tell you that you should listen to your body and that if you do, you’d be more in tune with yourself, but that is just another lie we tell ourselves to hold ourselves back from being great; protection comes in many forms. You’d sooner coddle yourself into passivity than get up and fight for a living if you just listened to your body.

Many Olympic and professional athletes’ vitals before competing, winning, or setting world records and winning a championship would have suggested they not compete that day. And here is another paradox. So which is it? Do I value winning (lifting more weight) or listening to where I think I feel I am? The short answer is both; you just don’t know what that means if you ask that question, which is perfectly fine. This is practice. 

Where you put your value

The longer answer is that this is your ride. You and you alone will get to live out the reality of this. I’ve been with Olympic Athletes, World Champions, and business tycoons who have won gold and lost. I’ve worked with mothers, fathers, kids, and everyone in between. I’ve seen many different experiences in these two opposing experiences of win and loss. The ones who value themselves the most win in humility and lose with grace. It is the ones who value themselves the least that can never entirely stop chasing or letting go of the illusion of winning and the frustration it brings. The context and internal dialogue of what is happening in us dictates the experience.

Win, lose, or draw; the greatest education you will get is in how you learn. 

The Breathing Gear System™

The Breathing Gear System™, developed by Brian Mackenzie

When we think about the respiratory muscles, it is easy to overlook the complexity and nuance of their training. SH//FT’s Breathing Gear System was developed to encourage people to consider the training of our primary respiratory muscles through learning more about differential control of respiration rate (RR) and Tidal Volume/depth (VT), which is the volume of air moved in and outside the lungs in each breath cycle.

However, research (A, B, C) and experience show there is much more at play than we understand about metabolic acidosis regarding nonlinear increases in Ventilation (V̇e) above compensatory thresholds– Respiratory Compensation rate (RCP). If we were to take an unfit and a very fit person and have them start running they would have very different ventilation rates and depths as acidosis would impact them at varying times at the exact same intensities. VT1 (ventilatory threshold 1) a marker we use to mark a significant change in metabolism, namely a rise in lactate. Coincidentally, as lactate rises so will carbon dioxide levels, and a number of other processes. 

In addition, there is a complex relationship between primary and secondary respiratory muscles and the metaboreflex (blood stealing) for regulating ventilation during exercise and bouts of intense stress.

Training the Respiratory System

The diaphragm and the external intercostals are the two (larger) primary muscles involved in breathing. Together, these muscles work in a coordinated manner to maintain proper ventilation during rest and exercise. Contrary to famous speak (even by professionals), these muscles always work; to what degree and how weak they are is a different story, but not one of abstinence. 

Control of Respiratory Rate (RR) and Tidal Volume (VT) are two critical aspects of respiration that can be trained with The Breathing Gear System™. By controlling RR and VT independently in suitable environments, you can prepare your body to regulate your breathing more efficiently under most stress or physical activity. 

Many practitioners (myself included) have used resistance breathing devices and technologies to separate actual human movement from ventilation/breathing. In most testing scenarios, my experience and testing have shown otherwise in keeping breathing assessments connected to human movement and with varying intensities and strategies that our anatomy (nose/mouth) allows us to push our understanding and barriers not seen with isolation. 

Recent research has also shown a complex relationship between primary and secondary respiratory muscles and blood stealing that contribute to the nonlinear response of ventilation above RCP during incremental exercise. In addition, it is believed that central command (Central Governor Theory – Brain/Nervous System) contributes to more than just metabolic acidosis when regulating ventilation (V̇e) during intense physical activity or high-stress situations. 

The Goal is Complete Control Under Stress

Beyond merely increasing oxygen intake, proper training of primary respiratory muscles can help us better control our breathing under stress and even under extreme circumstances. Training these muscles is critically important to anyone participating in exercise or professional sports, as energy and electrolyte balance are downstream effects (breathing and biochemistry directly impact each other). Blood stealing means we are now switching how we use energy sooner than necessary. 

Consider these extreme situations and their reliance on advanced breath work:

  • an MMA athlete fighting in rounds 3, 4, or 5. 
  • A baseball player in the 8th or 9th inning of a longer-than-normal game.
  • a marathon runner midway through a race/training session.

Stronger, more consistently trained breathing muscles delay and stave off breaking points in many activities we do. The Breathing Gear System trains the primary and secondary respiratory muscles to achieve optimal respiration rates and depths required for more versatile rib cages for different levels of physical activity or stressful responses through a coordinated effort with the mind; Central Governor Theory. 

The Breathing Gear System™

Through The Breathing Gear System (BGS), we learn how best to use our breath for enhanced performance while reducing fatigue levels caused–ultimately–by poor breathing patterns. 

With these tools, we can explore how different breathing exercises help us better cope with stressful events by improving our ability to regulate our breathing when faced with extreme circumstances in:

  • physical performance events, 
  • war-fighting, 
  • first responder work, 
  • catastrophic accidents, 
  • public speaking, 
  • emotional outbursts, 
  • and exercise to name a few; limitless. 

The Breathing Gear System is fundamental. 

While not to take away from the years of work in developing this system, here is the briefest overview of the Breathing Gears System™ to help get you started. This work is hierarchically detailed in our Skill of Stress (enroll now) and Art of Breath (coming soon) courses.

Gear-1: Easy Nasal Breathing

  • Equal and easy nasal only breathing
  • RR < 15 (4+ second breath cycles)
  • 75% of training time, up to HRZ-2

Gear-2: Power Nasal Breathing

  • Increased nasal only breathing
  • RR = 15-20 (3-4 sec second breath cycles)
  • 10% of training time, up to HRZ-4

Gear-3: Nasal Inhale / Mouth Exhale

  • Nasal in / Mouth out (or vise versa)
  • RR = 15-20 (3-4 sec breath cycles)
  • This gear is a transitional gear to up or down shift.

Gear-4: Easy Mouth Only Breathing

  • Easy mouth only breathing 
  • RR = 20-30 (2-3 sec breath cycles)
  • 10% of training time, up to HRZ’s 4 & 5

Gear-5: Power Mouth Breathing

  • Power mouth breathing
  • RR = 30-45+ (<2 sec breath cycles)
  • 5% of training time, explosive work in HRZ-5

Training with The Breathing Gear System™

The Breathing Gear System (BGS) is the result of years and years of research and testing. The BGS is embedded into the identity of SH//FT as a perfect compliment to performance management, recovery, and stress resilience. 

If you are interested in learning more about training your respiratory system and using it to your advantage, it’s best to start with SH//FT’s Breath Basics. You’ll get a deeper understanding of the downstream effects of poor breathing. You’ll also learn how to quickly implement breathing techniques to boost physical and mental performance.

Current members of SH//FT All-Access have access Breath Basics as part of their membership.

A Breath Practice to Access Your Full Performance Potential

A Breath Practice to Access Your Full Performance Potential

In order to access 100% of your performance potential, you need to have a good breathing practice. We typically only become conscious of our breathing when we are breathing hard or can’t breathe at all. But adding in a breath practice before, during and after competition and training can help performance and recovery. It can also make you a healthier, more conscious athlete, which can help expose your true potential.

Below are some of the breathing protocols SH//FT members use to prepare, pace, and recover after their most difficult time trials, races and training sessions. Test them out in training before your important race. Keep in mind that we are all different — what works for one athlete may not work for you. Experiment on yourself and keep track of what works; discard anything that doesn’t. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our article on athletic breathing patterns for different situations.

Before the Workout or Performance Event

The Goal: Inflate Oxygen Levels

To access your full performance potential in any high-profile, competition-level workout, your goal is to inflate your oxygen levels. The key is that you also need to release that oxygen. We want to stimulate our pulmonary system so that it works in tandem with our muscular and cardiovascular systems. You know that point in your workout where you’re finally breathing in rhythm after 20 minutes of riding the struggle bus? That’s the point at which your breath and muscles finally are in sync. Breathing practice before a workout will get you there sooner.

We’ve experimented with super ventilation (hyperventilation) sequences, which are all highly effective breathing methods. The issue we’ve seen in using some of the sequences before competition is that the corresponding effect of holding our breaths for maximal time increases carbon dioxide levels and then lowers O2 levels, which inevitably lowers pH or creates a more acidic environment. This process releases stored O2 once CO2 begins to rise dramatically. If you do perform breath holds before a workout, try not to exceed one minute at a time. Anything longer than that can potentially cannibalize the oxygen you’re releasing and will leave you where you may have started, or even less O2 efficient. 

Try This:

After a warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic work, find a breathing sequence with a long enough inhale and exhale that just starts to stress your system. Or use a resistance breathing device. Your inhale should be slow and controlled, with a pause at the top. Then slowly release your breath. Find a rhythm that starts to challenge you. Accessing your performance potential may be a little uncomfortable.

Another option: perform your entire warm up with nasal breathing only.

You can also try the following breathing cadence sequence prior to training or competing: 3-second inhale/3-second breath hold/6-second exhale/3-second pause at the end. Repeat for 5-10 rounds. Do not exceed a 6-second exhalation.

If your competition involves heavy lifts, perform a bracing sequence before you begin.

An example would be a 5-second inhale, a 20-second breath hold, and a 10-second exhalation, or adjust to a 1, x4, x2 sequence that best suits you. During the breath hold, focus on proper bracing with full air and the position of your braced core to transfer that to your heavy lifts.

During the Workout or Performance Event

The Goal: Consume air / Avoid hyperventilation

During your competition or race, your task is to consume as much air as you can and to avoid hyperventilation and its short, choppy breaths.

Try This:

As soon as the clock starts, draw your air in quickly, and make sure it’s a full breath. Exhale that air promptly, leaving a small pause at the end. Breathing through your mouth is fine. For the more conditioned athlete, this can be done via nasal breathing only. Focus on a full breath of air to fill your lungs to the end range, which will allow the alveoli at full range of the lungs to get more O2/CO2 to exchange. If you’re not getting full breaths of air, you’re missing out on a lot of oxygen utilization.

After the Workout

Try This:

After your workout, the goal is to down-regulate as quickly as possible. Cool down by taking a walk and taking in deep, controlled breaths. Once your breathing is under control, lie down and focus on nasal in full breaths of air with nasal exhales of 7 seconds minimum. This will allow your body to recover effectively and hastily. Follow that with a super ventilation sequence of 3 minutes of nasal inhales and exhales, and then a 30-second breath hold at the end. This will return your body to a parasympathetic state and speed your recovery.

Expand your performance potential with SH//FT

Breath work is the core of SH//FT. Take the CO2 Tolerance Exhale Test and receive a customized breathing plan to start your own at-home breathing practice. Although it’s a simple test (only about 5 minutes to complete), this CO2 Tolerance assessment will provide valuable insight to your nervous system and how reactive you are to stress.

Athletic Breathing Patterns for Different Situations

Athletic breathing patters for difference situations

Athletically speaking, in almost all sports, the pulmonary muscles will be prioritized over all other muscles. This phenomenon is known as the respiratory metaboreflex. The weaker the primary breathing muscles are, the sooner blood is diverted from the loco motor muscles to these muscles. These concepts are important for understanding and adopting athletic breathing patterns.

When I discussed the difference in nose breathing and mouth breathing in a separate article, I explained the importance of understanding that for most exercise or training below moderate efforts, nasal breathing is far more effective at developing these muscles, and in turn, allows us to continue to program (motor control & endurance) to use them when we switch to mouth breathing. 

Many Athletes Suffer from Respiratory-Related Issues

Whether it be breathlessness, exercise-induced asthma, or anything related to breathing at the top levels, many athletes suffer from respiratory-related issues. My work alone brought me to this understanding of myself and many of the athletes I’ve worked with. Since the advent of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRs) technology and research, many in the endurance world are waking up to this cold, hard fact, as it can show pulmonary-related issues at the tissue level. So, how do we change this?

Breathing is Fundamental

First, understanding breathing is fundamental; nobody is doing anything wrong or incorrectly. I know this may read incorrectly, but the paradox is that breathing is telling a story, and unless you’re in an iron lung, you will be ok. 

That said, optimizing our breathing develops stronger tissue, helps you last longer (endurance), aids your body’s biochemistry (pH), and calms & focuses the psyche (mental). 

Your Respiratory Rate (RR), or your breathing rate, is the number of breaths you take per minute. The ability to maintain a RR under 16 (approximately a 4-sec breath cycle) with only the nose at or below Heart Rate Zone 2 (HRZ 2) manages pH buffering (CO2/O2) to optimize delivery and utilization of oxygen through what is known as the Bohr Effect

Integrating the Breathing Gear System™

Breathing Gear 1 of the Breathing Gear System can be as low as a RR of under 8 (~ 8-second breath cycle). This includes things like walking. 

Beyond this point, we move into a shortened period of faster nasal breathing. This takes us up to an RR of about a 20 (3 sec per breath cycle). This is Gear 2 and can last for some up to about HRZ 4. 

However, it is essential to understand that mouth breathing (Gear 4) can usually be more effective at this point. This is because the dissociation effect of CO2/O2 is impacted differently. It’s also because we are now using more anaerobic processes. Anaerobic processes require O2 to buffer much of the acidity in the body that is accumulating. 

The nose simply can not deliver enough oxygen at this stage to aid in this process. 

You May Have Noticed I Skipped Gear 3. 

This is because Gear 3 is primarily a transitional and training gear to help buffer changes. Whether things are getting more intense or we are recovering, this Gear is used by inhaling through the nose or mouth and exhaling through the opposite. This is difficult to stay with, as much of the humidity is lost by not breathing in/out via the nose, which can irritate. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a place to use it more than I have. 

Breathing Gears 4 and 5

In HRZ 4 or the early stages of HRZ 5, we will want to start moving air faster (RR of 30+). This is Gear 5, and in very well-developed athletes, we will see RR’s above 50, sometimes even 60.. 

Only breathing through the mouth can achieve speeds like this, although they are for short periods that correspond well with what we see with most athletes’ training programs and intensities (<5%). 


The ability to move air well from top to bottom starts in Gear 1 with the nose. Spend time here; most of your time. Progress as things get more manageable, and you can maintain Gear 1 into HRZ 2 or moderate intensity. 

Try not to live in G2. We tend to habituate with things and feel like the calming effect of excess CO2 is more important than the fact that we are not spending money (ATP/Energy) wisely. Play with G2 and G4 routinely to understand more about efficiency here. 

Lastly, DO NOT shy away from moving a lot of air fast and reaching maximal intensities. But, be aware that these come with severe tradeoffs for resources. 

If you’re interested in training with the Breathing Gear System, looking into SH//FT All-Access. There is a multitude of resources and plans to help you achieve your goals. If you’re new to breath training, I suggest you start with the SH//FT CO2 Tolerance Exhale Test. It takes about 3 minutes and gives you great insight.

Tips to Manage your Breath While Running

Tips to manage breathing while running.

Running presents one of the most significant obstacles in addressing breathing pattern disorders. While my work over the last 25 years has been around running and running-related mechanical issues, it is not a shock that almost 50% of those who are active, and even in the endurance category, have some breathing pattern issues. Running makes this more of a challenge, as gravity and its effects on us can increase up to 12X body weight. Here are some tips to help you manage your breath while running.

Warm up and Mobilize your Breathing System

The simplest way to make significant changes is to warm up well and mobilize around the rib cage and gut/abdominal area. 

Warm-up example 1: 

Start with any rotational movement and rotate into your end range of motion and hold. Draw air in as you rotate and find this end range. Holding in place, fill your lungs with as much air as possible and hold for a few seconds. Release the air while working to gain a little more range and hold. Repeat bringing in air in and holding for a few seconds and releasing for 3–5 repetitions. 

Warm-up example 2:

Placing your fingers on the edge of the front of your rib cage and abdominal muscles, work to get your fingers under your rib cage bones slowly as you draw deep slow breaths in and out through the nose. Work the front of the rib cage around to the sides for several breaths over a 5-10 minute period to free up the diaphragm a bit.  

Build your Breathing Tolerance 

Interval Work

Move at a pace that allows you to breathe through your nose. Slowly increase the intensity until you can longer breathe through only your nose. Once that happens, slow down and/or walk until you’re able to breathe through only your nose again. Repeat this buildup and drawdown as an interval routinely to speed up the benefits of this process.

Slow and Steady Approach

Another option is to simply run slow enough to allow your primary breathing muscles to do more of the work for longer. Nasal breathing engages the primary breathing muscles to work MORE because of the resistance it creates. Biochemically–and below moderate levels of effort–this only helps us use oxygen by improving our oxygen/carbon dioxide dissociation curve. If you want to learn more about this resistance, check out this article, where I discuss the differences between nasal and mouth breathing

Controlled Breathing = Efficiency

This may take some time, but there is no reason why you can not look at this as routine interval work. Even the fastest sprinters in the world in the 100m and sometimes the 200m do not open their mouths. It is only necessary after the effort. Although sprinting is not the goal here, you can understand that significant work is still being done for us. 

In any case, when moving, we are all staving off the inevitable process of blood stealing. This phenomenon starts diverting blood from the loco-motor muscles to our diaphragm and intercostals when they fatigue. The weaker or more dysfunctional our breathing, the faster we use up limited energy sources and start to break down. 

If you’re interested in improving your breathing to better train endurance, check out our endurance program called SH//FT Sustain that’s included in All-Access. It’s a 24-week progression based on my New York Times bestselling book, The Unbreakable Runner.

The Difference Between Mouth and Nose Breathing

Difference between nose and mouth breathing blog article cover photo

The respiratory system was designed with the nose in mind and the mouth as a secondary option. The mouth was designed with the digestive system and our communication (vocal cords) in mind. While we could get incredibly granular on the efficacy of these statements and the crossover of many of these statements. Let’s look at lifestyle and stress, since they affect us all. 

Our air is filled with molecules, particulates, bacteria, and viruses. Let’s look at how that air is filtered and changed for each of these. 

Your Nose as a Filter

The nose has as many hairs (and cilia) follicles in it as there is hair on your head. Each of those hairs represents an obstacle. Every single hair/cilia is coated with mucus. Mucus is like chewing gum on a hot sidewalk. It is antiviral and antimicrobial; it is the first line of defense for the air we breathe and our immune system. I talk about our nose as a filter more in an article about why nose breathing is important.

Air passes by hair all the way through our turbinates, which represents one of the most intricate systems for filtering air (we can’t seem to replicate it) by spinning air in circles before it can pass up to the next turbinate and go through the same process. Air then enters the sinuses, where it is humidified and brought to a temperature safe for our defenseless lungs. The air then passes down the glottis and throat past the tonsils, the final phase of our air’s immune system defense. 

Overcoming the Increased Resistance

All of this resistance slows down how much air we can bring in because that is what it is. That signals our more significant, more powerful primary breathing muscles to do the bulk, if not all, work when at rest. The process of inhaling brings in as much oxygen as does with the mouth, except at a slower rate. We exhale almost 80% of the oxygen we take in on an inhale via the nose or mouth. When exhaling through the nose, the air also comes out slower, but it also helps humidify the sinuses with the same air that went in so that when another breath is drawn in, it gets to repeat this process more effectively. 

The caveat is when we exhale through the nose, we limit how carbon dioxide comes out, as it can’t escape as fast as it does via the mouth. This has biochemical tradeoffs, restricting oxygen use when excess carbon dioxide is exhaled consistently. The nose helps regulate pH better when below moderate levels of intensity and at rest. 

We Have Options

The mouth acts as a means for moving more air faster, although its only defense is the tonsils, which are the final process for the air moving through the nose. This becomes important when we speak, as it changes biochemistry a bit to bring us into a more focused state. We rely more on faster energy sources and our sympathetic nervous system here. The other end is when we work harder, and biochemically, changes happen at the cellular level first. The end product increases not only carbon dioxide, but our pH gets more acidic. Making more air faster, almost a necessity. This comes in the right at about the moderate intensity level of exercise. 

If you’re interested in learning some tips to breathe more efficiently during endurance activities, check out this article about managing your breath while running.


Both the nose and the mouth have their place, or they wouldn’t be there. Right? It can be a challenge at first to make some of the changes you may be thinking of. But you’ll probably appreciate these tradeoffs. If you’re interested in learning more about building your own breathing practice, look into our Breath Essentials plan included in All-Access. It covers 10 days of guided breath principles and practices to that support all skill levels.

Attachment Awareness: Living the Life you Wish | Brian Mackenzie

Notes from the Field Article feature image of article titled Attachment Awareness: The Life you Wish

Issue #40

The most potent tool we have is awareness. Awareness is where our minds thrive most. The ability to be aware of when something works for me and when it does not is a tough road at first, and its crucial emotion is frustration, followed by anger. I have been stuck many times in frustration, unwilling to see how whatever I have been doing is not working out for me. When I started understanding some of the basics of stress physiology and its relationship with exercise physiology, I began to see more clearly what my body was saying and how my mind was in a different world, convinced I needed to do things a particular way. 

I will give a broad example, but I encourage you to understand how minute this gets to the most minor things.

The Sacrifices We Make

Often, what we believe we value is trumped by our behavior. For example, I’ll convince myself that I love to go out with my friends on weekends and that this lifestyle isn’t as important as my health. In reality, every weekend and time I go out with my friends, I am making sacrifices that require my body and me to work harder to get back to what is homeostasis. The short basic version of the physiology is increased cortisol and lactate (inverse relationship to fat burning & dependence on sugar + glucose), decreased (long term) HRV, and nervous system efficiency. While a healthy, fit individual can get away with these things from time to time, no healthy and fit individuals are doing this routinely because they feel the changes and the increase in rest that is now required to get back to doing what it is that makes them feel like they operate at 100%. 

Balancing Performance with Entertainment

You might be asking. So am I not supposed to see my friends? I don’t know! I know that when I set rigid boundaries on my health with things that make me function well, like moving, mobility, exercise, playing (surfing, hiking, etc.), the food I eat, and the time at which I get tired, the more I want to spend time with the people I care about, and who value the same things. 

Another way to look at this is through the lens of HRV, which has so much data and research on it. HRV is a way of understanding the health of your cardiac and nervous systems. Another avenue could be constant glucose monitors or glucose monitoring. 

Imagine an HRV score improving slowly over a year because you decided to care for yourself more. Then, after a few months, you go out and have a good time. Your scores drop the next few days, and your body plays catch up. All is good as you return to baseline. Then another night pops up, and another late dinner you decide is important (maybe it is). The next thing you know, your new HRV scores are much lower than before, and it is a real chore to get back into a routine of taking care of yourself as we slowly but surely start giving up on what worked best for you. While this example may seem extreme, it is not. I’ve lived this, and I see this in almost everyone I work with.  

Ignoring Information and Long-Term Awareness

There is a world we become attached to (not good) that is showing us what does not work for us, and most of us ignore that information, whether it be intrinsic or data-driven, because we are unwilling to give up these attachments. We feel a death sentence comes on, and in many cases, it can be. Much of our lives focus on chasing short-term feelings versus understanding what we want. Being aware enough to understand much of our lifestyle choices and how they make us feel long-term is often the difference between living the life you truly wish to and one of frustration. 

It’s All in the Data

The simplicity of this exercise comes down to taking the time to understand the data. While getting low HRV scores or high glucose readings are manageable, see if this makes sense. Readiness scores are calculated on many HRV algorithms to give us a little nudge on which direction to go. Let’s use 1-10 and say your HRV is a 50 avg. Each day you’re consistent, you see this score between 7-10, and you slowly creep up above a 50 HRV. Then you do X (whatever it is), and your readiness score drops to 1-6, and HRV drops to 40. You follow this pattern and continue to do X while getting routine low scores. 

Stop doing X because it’s not working out. Say’s the truth!

Physiological trends chart showing how the readiness score is affected by Heart Rate Variables

This isn’t Black and White

This does not always imply a black-or-white meaning, either; it may require creativity to appease these ‘attachments.’

What’s In Your Bank Account? | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #38


Let us pretend for this exercise that we only get two accounts, and metaphorically, we are using money and a bank, but this is about the currency inside you and me, and there is real currency in us. It is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). 

You’ve got a checking account and a savings account. For each account, we can deposit money into and spend money from each. Our savings account comes at a higher cost or interest the lower the money gets. Where the checking account can get pretty low but fills up rather quickly when we earn money; it fills first. With a little finesse, we can move money around from each account.

There are infinite ways to earn or, shall I say, transfer money to our accounts because, after all, money is simply a tradeoff of one thing for something else. You can creatively work to build a robust savings account and an EFFICIENT checking account that pays all bills on time in any way you deem worthy. However, let it be known how you spend your time earning this money can cost as much or more if it does not provide you and your family something of internal value. This means regret, anger, rage, frustration, cutting corners, lying, cheating, stealing, manipulation, etc., all come at a cost that eats away at these accounts, but because we are still earning money, we are blind to the metastatic growth. How you decide to earn and transfer money builds the foundation for how well you can use money and move and spend money efficiently.

How we use our money is entirely up to us, but there are daily costs to everything. Living without the daily costs of spending money and being alive is impossible because life requires constantly moving this money inside and between us. There are mental money costs, and there are physical money costs. Spending mental and physical money is connected and can get very disconnected when we ignore how we manage these two. When we spend more physical money than mental money, we generate high returns on both mental and physical money. On the flip side, if we do not spend physical money enough, our ability to spend mental money begins to deteriorate, and so it becomes incredibly difficult to spend money at all on anything, rendering our accounts useless over time. 

Another caveat with spending physical money is if we only spend it one way, making huge purchases all the time or spending more physical money than we could earn, we can also render our accounts useless. Not to mention, if we did not spend the time building our accounts in the first place, we could fall into this trap very easily. It’s like not building a way to earn before you buy all the toys. 

The last thing to consider about earning and spending money is this: you can not hoard your money. If you become too cheap, you begin to devalue yourself because you don’t think you are worth spending money on. All of this is tricky because we are such complex little soldiers playing games with our money and how we earn and spend it, or as I’ve last pointed out, devalue it entirely. Imagine earning money yet never feeling worthy of spending it on anything you wanted, restricting it daily to purchase large items that require you to return to this cycle. You even avoid taking care of your health to the point that only when it’s an emergency will you spend money on yourself and complain about spending that money. 

Consider that you love to workout and take care of yourself physically. You’ve got 1.5 kids, a spouse, a mortgage/rent, and a job that requires you to travel to and from and for. You love information and listen to 2-3 different podcasts per week, watch TV, and read a book a month. This is where and how our attention works, albeit it’s more granular than this! You take your kids to games, school, and friends; you go to work, have meetings, deal with employees or coworkers, close deals, workout, take care of a dog/cat/animal, try and spend time with the spouse and your friends, and love to absorb infinite amounts of knowledge about things that have nothing to do with anything other than knowing what the hottest scientist is sharing. 

Your two bank accounts represent how you spend energy currency, ATP. Mental energy comes at huge costs from your savings account if you do not build a strong physical practice that is consistent and moving money in and out of your checking account. 

How you earn money is how you eat. You will develop poor mental and physical energy if you do not eat enough to fuel a strong, consistent physical spending habit. You will develop poor mental and physical energy if you eat more than you require to sustain your energy requirements. You will gain excess weight and begin to store energy as fat if you eat more than you require. Eating more than you can use and eating low-quality food is the equivalent of a job you hate, and it is fundamentally not addressing the root problem of why you would want to do this to yourself; self-esteem. You and only you are responsible for your body. 

How you use your money is called stress. Stress is a must to live, and when you demonize it (stress), you have decided not to understand the most valuable thing you have— your time. You have chosen to spend your time fast and carelessly, and while this may sound exhilarating or even demoralizing, it is anything but that. This is your opportunity to see where you can plug holes or put some barriers up to protect your time because it is all you have. 

ATP comes at high costs when we overthink all day, every day, and do not check it. Creating the time to spend your money (ATP) physically helps create huge efficiencies in using energy by learning to spend in creative, fulfilling ways. However, if you want to go on repeat and remain despondent about it all, I have two questions. 

What is the point? And do you understand? 

Tradeoffs | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #35


In the last 15 years podcasting has gained serious momentum. This is roughly the time frame I’ve been associated with the medium. In the last 15 years I have probably done close to 200 podcast interviews. I even started one called the Inception Lab (you’ll find a couple popular folks early on in their careers there). This choice to be interviewed this much comes with circumstances that many don’t see, namely being interviewed by people who think they care about something, but ultimately are just trying to push content to provide others with information. All of this in a world where the vast majority of us fail to absorb and understand the information being communicated; we do however feel empowered with knowledge by listening to this new or novel information. It is quite literally an impossibility to listen to something new that most of the time requires some sort of behavior change each week. And here is why…


Think about learning to walk. This is our bodies making a behavioral change. We go from crawling and dependency on many things to working our tail off to become bipedal and more independent. It requires the one thing many of us are giving up everytime we chase something new and novel or we pick up our phones; attention. When a child is working to stand and walk for the first time it is all or nothing. It is determination, creativity and art all sewn together. It requires all of their attention, and every bit of their nervous system and physiology to lay the tracks for our ability to rarely ever have to think about walking again. 


Imagine for a moment each week being given the task of learning to walk. This is the current paradigm in which we live and we got here because we demanded it. We are obsessed with knowledge and information. Open Netflix, and compare that to going to Blockbuster 20 years ago, and compare that to going to the movies. Wrap your head around the fact that if you own a smartphone and engage in the internet you are in front of close to 32 movies of information per day if statistics have held since 2012!!! This means in 2012 the average American consumed 12 hours of information per day. 


This inability to absorb information comes with an interesting tradeoff. This tradeoff looks like this: our nervous system takes in the information in front of us quickly, once we get a feeling of we’ve learned something (there are neurotransmitters and hormones that play roles here that I’m going to leave out) or that it feels like enough, we then jump to something new and repeat this process a few times or many more times until we feel exhausted. This process repeats itself many times throughout the day. 


The tradeoff here is we can jump from one thing to the next very quickly, and we feel rewarded or gratified for this. Our nervous systems can function at high rates and we essentially feel like we have accomplished many things in a day. On the other side of the tradeoff is this, we now have a nervous system that struggles to slow down or calm down. We have not fully accomplished or finished any one thing or we’ve done it in a manner that has us struggling to respond to the stress we’ve been in front of. After some time our sleep beings to deteriorate, our ability to absorb and understand information diminishes to the point that our memory starts to falter because essentially we have hit our storage limit a long time ago. It’s the equivalent of bambi walking on ice our entire lives while trying to keep up with every new thing because we don’t have the time to learn how to walk. 


It all comes with tradeoffs, and when I decided to say yes to all those podcasts I decided to play a part in this game for the sake of getting the information I cared about into the world. I started paying attention to my attention and if I was getting bored or not. Turns out I was getting really bored because it was the same questions from essentially the same person each week. Here’s the interesting thing about people putting out new information every week. This too comes with a tradeoff. That tradeoff is keeping up with the Joneses’ type of behavior. It has the person putting out the information working to have the knowledge of an expert in everything but essentially lacks the wisdom or understanding of how impossible it is to keep up with this cycle. 


I listen to podcasts every once in a while now. One particular podcastor I’m fascinated with is Dan Carlin who is the man behind Hardcore History. Hardcore history puts out some of the most detailed historical information you could want. Guess how many episodes per year Dan publishes? I let you look into that and absorb what I have shared so far. 


Dan reminds me of S.C. Gwynne, arguably the greatest writer of our time, and ironically a history buff. Gwynne has written a number of books, two of which I highly recommend; Empire of the Summer Moon and Hymns of the Republic. Gwynne writes non-fiction history like it is fiction, he is an artist and shows a history nobody I’ve witnessed has ever taught. If you’ve not read him and think you understand the civil war, Lincoln or American History and Indigenous cultures in the 1700’s and 1800’s your mind will blow. Hell, I was able to piece together a historian Gynne uses in Empire as the man who wrote Shut your Mouth and Save Your Life of which at the same time Gwynne sites this man he was seeing and writing about how the natives of North and South America primarily were breathing through their noses. A phenomenon civilized culture was not doing. 


Take the time to absorb what it is you care about! There is no way I could have done the research I have on the topics I care about – like my example above – if I was functioning in the state I had been when trying to do it all. 


While I have been a participant in the information crisis, I have learned a few lessons along the way. Hence why I write here, and why I’ve yet to come back to podcasting. Not only have I turned down offers to do my own podcast, I turn down just about every offer I get to interview me. I have shared plenty, and honestly since slowing down like this EVERYTHING has become clearer. I care more about what I do, I care more about how I am sharing, I care more about people close to me, and I am acutely aware of when someone is in the information trap and how to politely keep them at a distance. 


Just to tie this one up with what we do at SH//FT, it has become more and more apparent how many of the people I come in contact with lack the ability to have a real practice in place. We provide daily programming, and many people I’ve spoken to simply follow that programming verbatim without taking the time to understand they may not be ready to follow it verbatim that day and how many fail to add the suggestive walking, breathe and move, or the cooling down elements. It’s wild to me, but apparently we’ve not communicated this stuff enough, and so that will be our goal in the coming months is to start to tie this stuff together in a way that helps people take the time to want to understand while we can jump into an intense training session quickly without cooling down, not prepping the body or taking the time to bring it back to a homeostatic level does come with the same type of tradeoff I explained above. It gets harder and harder to walk with grace and not having to think about it all the time.

Limited Performance or Performance Unlimited | Brian MacKenzie

Issue # 34


Working for performance and working on our limitations are different, and unfortunately, we all fall into the trap of performance first. This took me a long time to understand, and I still work at it each day on not allowing my mind to play games with the reality of working on my limitations. The hardest part about this is when we are performing and chasing performance, we can be exposing and working on some of our limitations. However, the paradox is not only does that not work out long term, it ends up creating more significant gaps in some of these limits.  


While I am very capable of going faster or harder in many of the activities I do if I’ve exposed myself to understanding I haven’t developed the skill level, or the physiological capabilities of maintaining work beyond those limits or resting from those activities I am now chasing a ghost. That ghost, while it may validate something in my mind, ends up producing ghosts in many other areas of my life and I end up in competition not with the world, but my inner unsatisfied child. 


Using running as an example as it is a pretty easy way to get this across. Suppose I wanted to start running. I decide to go for a run one day and wind up pretty sore. Sore enough to not run for another 2 or 3 days. In that I learned I went and did too much to start. Or did I? I head back out again and do the exact same run as before. I’m sore the next day, but not as much. So I keep this process up until this run is no longer hard nor does it create anymore soreness. So I ramp it up again. I get sore again for 2 or 3 days and don’t run, and again repeat this process, again, and again. Until I’m running enough to fullfill my desires for what are my perceived limits. 


Most of us go about things in very similar ways to this runner. What do you think this runner could have done differently? There are so many different ways to go about it everyone has two-cents to add. Walk some, run some. Do some skill work. Go slower. Go shorter but faster. And nobody would be incorrect, but what any and all of us are giving advice on are hypothetical limiters and how to work in order get an adaptation to that limiter. So what happens once we’ve made serious progress with that limitation? Most of us test it against performance, right? Lets see how fast or strong we are and then lets chip away again. The problem is exposing another limitation once we’ve seemed to make some progress, because now we like what we feel in the performance. We are ritualistic head hunters who simply do not like to be confronted with change, and yet (another paradox here) change is the one constant in our lives. 


The elite athlete has it very differently, and in my opinion a much more difficult road here since everything about what they do in sport is based on results, not limitations. Imagine being the best in the world at something and winning being at the front of everything you do. What sort of life do you think you’d want in order to maintain this? It would look like groundhog day, and everyone important in your life would be out of your life for a season or camp so you could focus. You’d be surrounded by staff and people who were constantly giving you input and updates on your schedule, nutrition possibly, hydration possibly, supplements, training, practice, and you’d most likely be traveling more than anyone wants to travel. And when your career is over you’d get to unpack the winning thing, and how the real world doesn’t actually work that way. 


I find it incredibly interesting how we as fans seem to really only care about the same things in the sports we love, or the player we love. Yet, at the same time each of us understands this really isn’t a way to live and if you’ve seen any of the recent sports documentaries, you’d see a lot of the psychological outcomes from all of this.  Please see: Bigger Faster Stronger, Trophy Kids, The Weight of Gold


While you may not believe performance or winning doesn’t have space in your mind you’d not own a smart phone and live on an island. Everything in our culture is about getting ahead and performing which requires some real deep work to unpack. Maybe not, maybe you can give or take and have a healthy relationship with it. You, afterall are the only one who really knows that truth. For me, and working with professional athletes I know I always want to see them do well, and if winning is a part of that great. If it is not my hope is the work I’ve been able to show them far transcends winning, and sport. Yet the paradox of this is that winning or simply getting faster or stronger can always be a part of that as well. The practice is in how it’s training our minds!