Olympian Bree Schaaf: Staying Bulletproof at Sochi
By: Dave Asprey
April 8, 2014
Olympian turned NBC analyst, Bree Schaaf talks staying Bulletproof while at the Sochi Olympics last month. Bree has been competing in sliding sports for the past 12 years. Just now back from Russia, Bree’s on Bulletproof Radio to discuss skeleton bobsled racing, her kickass routine for high performance, how she recovered from hip surgery, selenium toxicity, and more. Hear about how she didn’t let even the TSA keep her from eating a Bulletproof Diet during the games.
The former Portland State University Volleyball player spent her first five years on ice as a skeleton athlete before becoming a bobsled pilot. Schaaf has earned 13 top-10 finishes on the World Cup circuit and finished fifth with brakeman Emily Azevedo at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Schaaf is the first American female to compete in both a Skeleton World Championships as well as Bobsled World Championships. Coming up just short at Olympic Trials this year, Schaaf not only attended the Sochi 2014 Olympics as alternate, but made her NBC Olympics broadcast debut as a skeleton analyst and sliding sports correspondent.
What You’ll Hear
- 0:10 – Cool Fact of the Day!
- 0:30 – Welcome Bree Schaff
- 1:01 – What is skeleton?
- 3:57 – Traveling to Russia with butter and MCT
- 8:25 – Bree’s routine for high performance
- 10:50 – Hip surgery recovery and Bulletproof
- 14:05 – Finding glutes under the “lady fat”
- 14:35 – Bio-hacking menstrual cycle
- 18:00 – Testosterone envy
- 19:10 – Competitive drive
- 23:30 – Karaoke flow state
- 26:30 – Cholesterol
- 27:00 – Selenium toxicity
- 29:40 – Mental training and meditation
- 39:05 – Top three recommendations for kicking more ass and being Bulletproof!
Dave: Everyone welcome to Bulletproof Executive Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that Russia is the world’s largest country. Its spans 6.6 million square miles and nine time zones. Canada where I live is the second runner up.
The reason I’m talking about Russia today is that our guest is Bree Schaaf who is on the show to talk about how she was able to save Bulletproof at the 2014 Winter Sochi Olympics. She was the 2010 bobsled Olympian who is transitioning from athlete to commentator and was the NBC skeleton analyst for the 2014 Olympics. I have to say Bree, I have no idea what skeleton is. At least I didn’t until you called up and like, my god, I like Bulletproof Coffee. Let’s talk. What is skeleton first of all?
Bree: Skeleton it’s one of those sports … the Winter Olympics are just filled with all crazy different brands, everyone accusing each other of being more crazy than the other. Skeleton is face first on your belly on a sled on the bobsled track. All the sliding sports they’re on that same track. Depending on what vessel per say that’s going to determine how you steer and the speed that you go. Skeleton you’re face first and you’re essentially just steering with your body. Your body is your sled and it’s all about being one with that sled and manipulating the G-force down the track to accelerate.
Dave: If I think back to Calvin and Hobbes, the little tiger guy, the cartoon, this is way worse than when he’s riding on his little sled like, kind of the most terrifying of all the sports.
Bree: Think of how … you’re hitting five to six G’s in each of these turns because a turn has a wall on a bobsled track. Now imagine taking that with your face. The first thing … like you hit G-force and you feel it in your body but for me I’ve got a massive head. That was part of the reason I transitioned over to bobsled is because my face would get planted in those turns and I couldn’t see anything. Not that you really want to see necessarily because you’re trying to feel for the pressures to steer but the times that you can see is not worth it.
Dave: That sounds terrifying and I want to try it.
Bree: You can. Park City and Lake Placid both do schools. We can talk about that later and get you out there this March. They’re still doing skele schools and it’s so much fun. You only go from halfway down. They try and prevent people from damaging themselves. You sign a waiver so whatever.
Dave: I am going to try this Bree.
Bree: Yes you are.
Dave: That sounds even more fun than the high speed downhill mountain biking stuff I used to go into before I got so old.
Bree: We’ll get you in the back of a bobsled and you’ll really feel old because that is punishing. It’s hard. People always ask what’s bobsled like. You really can’t describe it. If you go watch and you stand next to the track you feel a bobsled is like a train going by. When you ride on the back the brakeman essentially their hands and their feet are in the same position so they’re bent over, head is between their legs and they’re taking the G-force that way. It’s like climbing into a washing machine, setting it on spin, kicking it off a cliff and hitting boulders the whole way down.
Dave: Maybe I don’t want to try that.
Bree: No. It’s quite violent. I’ve heard people say that it’s taken them sometimes a week to recover just from passenger ride off the top of Lake Placid.
Dave: I’m still doing it. One of the reasons that I wanted to have you on the show is that you’re a Bulletproof Ambassador and you actually carried butter and Brain Octane Oil to Russia with you. What happened at TSA because it’s funny?
Bree: Among other things but TSA specifically I brought so much crazy stuff. Honest goodness a check bag of 50 pounds plus of food that I had made in preparation for the Olympics and not knowing what food was going to be over there. Making sure that everything I could at least have a solid stash of Bulletproof food. The thing that TSA seemed to take issue with was the brick of butter that I had brought in my bag.
All these things that I had … I was ready with all the food I made thinking okay I love it enough, I can let it go if TSA takes it but the butter was the one thing that had this huge inspection sticker on it which I don’t know if it’s because chances are it might have been because the grassfed cream that I tried to bring over exploded all over everything. I had even more butter all over my bag from that cream. I call it a success still regardless. The butter made 1,000 it, and the MCT Oil if that had broken I might have cried.
Dave: MCT Oil is strong stuff and because it’s such a short chain it can penetrate plastics. Putting it in a plastic bottle I had to be careful on the science because I found that it sticks to the plastic and just stays there like a protective layer but most plastics any fat will eventually break them down but just the shorter chain fats do it faster.
Bree: On my way back my MCT Oil actually broke. All the labels on my stuff … it broke the glue bonds. Of any of the labels.
Dave: It will do that. If you ever want to get comb out of your hair you can use MCT Oil same thing.
Bree: Gum out of your intestines. Just drink a bunch of MCT Oil.
Dave: Disaster pants. You made it with your butter intact to Russia. Now how many athletes actually bring their own food to the Olympics?
Bree: It depends on who you talk to. You have of course those athletes that are … I have a few of those teammates that are fueled on McDonald’s. The ones that seem so evolved that they can turn garbage into gold. You have those other athletes that know what a huge part nutrition is in their performance. Most people at that level know their bodies in and out to a T and recognize how important it is for nutrition. You get to the athlete village in Vancouver you don’t know what’s going to be there.
There’s quite a few people. The problem is that you’re coming off of a full tour especially in bobsled and skeleton. You’ve been in Europe for a couple of months. A lot of times people are having their families ship stuff to them overseas. There were quite a few athletes there that were making sure that they stayed Bulletproof from bad stuff with them. One of my … Loren Williams who ended up winning silver with Alana Myers, she was my brakeman at our Olympic trials this year. She travels with a Vitamix. In her carry-on.
Dave: Vitamixes are important. I can see why you take that in your carry on.
Bree: That’s the thing I miss most when I leave home.
Dave; Did you bring a blender like a little stick blender because you’re eating so much food?
Bree: I had two things … I had a little frother like a latte frother but that didn’t work as well as this mug … the Bulletproof Contigo mug was unbelievable. I put in a protein shaker ball. I would just shake weight it every morning and it was perfect. This thing doesn’t spill at all. It’s like those old dairy queen lizard commercials.
Dave: I’ve never used a shaker ball in mine but I often times on the road I carry the frother and I carry the Bulletproof mug. Then I’ll shake it in the mug in a hotel room or I’ll go a Starbucks, “Can I have some hot water to brew my own coffee?” Then I’ll add my butter and I’ll froth it in the little cup. The shaker ball, does it get better foam that way? Like it’s all foam.
Bree: It does. It foams up. Then you get to enjoy that little bit of foam and then I’ll put the lid on and take it for the day. I actually had one of the Russian security agents at the track because you had to go through security everywhere you went. For some reason he didn’t like my Bulletproof mug. Tried to tell me that was illegal but then gave me a business card and said if you send me your thoughts on Sochi we’ll let you go through.
Dave: How creepy. It is gunmetal gray the color.
Bree: It is.
Dave: Maybe he recognized it as obviously something that could be ballistic.
Bree: I don’t know. It was empty but I was not about to let that sucker go. I was ready to bargain anything at that point.
Dave: You had a unique challenge at this Olympics. You didn’t just have to be ready for a competition but you also had to have your brain on because you’re a commentator. For 12 hours a day you had to be able to pay attention and talk. What were the challenges of balancing like I’m ready to go kick ass in a minute’s notice and I have to just be conscious all the time, look good and feel good and also speak coherent. How did you do all that? That’s for me challenging.
Bree: The beauty is I had everything so well-honed from athletics. As an athlete you stick to your routine religiously. I know that I have to work hard to sleep. I know how important … I’m trying to get nine hours a night because that’s going to make recovery better. That’s such a huge part of it. For me making sure that that same routine of all technology is off two hours before bed, I don’t have food in my stomach. I got to try the Bulletproof acupressure Sleep Mat. That thing is awesome.
Dave: Did you take it with you?
Bree: No I didn’t because I sacrificed food for it.
Dave: I would take butter before the mat but I often travel with both. I got it.
Bree: It came down to the tough choices at the end and I brought food. It was weird because my whole career has been about … when my mental energy as an athlete goes into physical output and paying attention to my body and being so physically aware that … at training and a practice its all about connecting my mind and my body. Here I was in a situation where it was all mind. It was all mind and motor mouth. It was the same high performance zone that I had to find.
You use a lot of sports side techniques. For me like I know it’s managing energy and making sure that you’re not too amped up but you’re not too low. I know that if I can take a 10 second slow, deep breath before a run or before announcing, I know I’m in the right spot. If I can’t then my lungs are clinching up a little bit then I know I need to stop and gather myself so that I’m not expending too much energy in weird directions.
Dave: You follow a low carb like a ketosis based diet. You’re essentially Bulletproof. No one I know is only green all the time because it’s like you’re a psycho but you’re greenish on the Bulletproof diet. Is that accurate? I’m guessing here.
Bree: Greenish being …
Dave: Being like on the Bulletproof Diet, the higher fat, lower toxin foods.
Bree: It started out … and this is actually part of the cool story of going Bulletproof. I had had a hip surgery and really struggled to come back from it. Like labral tear, went in, pulled the hip out, that labrum down, shaved the bone and just had a horrible recovery. Sport got worse, everything felt like it had bottomed out. Then I had to make a decision to dive back in to find myself as an athlete and as a person. One of the first things my trainer did was prescribe a Bulletproof Diet which was huge.
I was all sad and chubby and soft after surgery. After five weeks I had lost about 13 pounds just on fatty coffee and the regular run on the mill Bulletproof Diet. It wasn’t until later that we started experimenting with ketosis and that’s when things started to blow my mind because admittedly sliding sports are … I get semi-concussion every run. You’re beating your head down the hill. I’ve been sliding for 12 years. For me there’s a fogginess that I was fearing was never going to go away. After just a month on the Bulletproof Diet I felt sharper than I had since I started sliding in the keto diet especially is when I finally felt like my old mind coming back.
I wasn’t taking naps anymore. I used to take two to three hour naps during the day. I found myself just with energy that I almost couldn’t contain which was great for training.
Dave: Did your trainer say eat a Bulletproof Diet or just eat a paleo diet? It’s okay either answer.
Bree: No. It was Bulletproof.
Dave: It was Bulletproof.
Bree: We were looking at your diagrams here in our handbook. Everything pulled off of your website. It was the perfect guideline. I’ve always been obsessed in nutrition especially for performance for me I came from volleyball. I wasn’t made to push bobsled. I can’t squat 400 pounds like some of my teammates can … females by the way. It was all about maximizing. I got very good at feeling pressures and driving a sled and then on the other side physically I could just maximize my talent. The diet was huge part of that.
What was interesting was then the keto experiment. A solid three weeks of no more than 30gm of carbs a day. I stuck to it religiously. It was a fascinating transition because I’m sprinting everyday, I’m lifting every day for roughly five hours total. It was the strength actually started to fall off a little bit during the strict keto adaptation. Then after the three weeks we started adding in some starchy carbs post lift that’s when things took off. It was incredible to see … What was funny is as my hormone profile changed and I started losing all the lady fat it turned out that I had never actually activated my gluts in my life because my ass just disappeared.
Then it became this massive butt cheek operation. I was yelling at my trainer every day about building butt cheeks back. One of my teammates said, “Keep it up Bree. You’re working your ass on.”
Dave: That’s funny. You actually discovered the shape of your body underlying the layer of fat that so commonly there.
Bree: I’ve been so quad dominant as a volleyball player that really wasn’t activating my glutes which are a huge tool to pushing a bobsled sled that’s over 400 pounds and you’re accelerating it from a stand still. Not only that, you have to keep accelerating downhill. Top end speed is critical too. The big thing is I think my trainer looked at my lady fat deposits, the typical triceps, hips and said let’s try keto to see if we can adapt those hormones. Then I won the big prize of … I ended up post-menopausal and my estrogen levels out the entire … actually training season and bobsled season.
Dave: You did that on purpose though for performance.
Bree: Yes. As a female the whole goal was actually to get rid of our cycles because it’s proven as a female when you’re on your cycle you’re not quite as strong or as explosive. If you can keep that consistent as well as get the right … if you can increase testosterone, great but it was more about decreasing estrogen. It’s not like my testosterone jumped up a whole lot but estrogen plummeted which was awesome because then I could consistently train and keep track of my body and how the food was affecting it.
Dave: That’s some serious bio hacking. You actively took control of what in most people they assume just something that happens to their body that they have no control over. You used nutrition but not drugs to change your hormones.
Bree: Yeah. It’s crazy what carbs and … It goes to show what a drug almost that carbs and sugar can be because after … I always call it the post apoca-Olympics, like after our Olympic trials of course there was. I had to build up so much adrenalin and then this huge let down. As I say I had a very merry Christmas and that’s when my cycle came back. Now I’ve found that if say I eat a higher carbohydrate diet for more than a week that’s when my cycle will come back.
I know then if I go back into ketosis that I can keep things pretty regulated. It’s a fascinating thing to find yourself in control of.
Dave: It’s got to be fascinating. My first book was about fertility and what do you do for men and women? I’ve looked a lot at these things. My wife does coaching for people internationally around fertility and how to have healthier kids during pregnancy and before pregnancy and all that. Our dinner table conversations are often times around hormones fluctuating and things like that, trying to figure out some strange corner case. A lot of the Bulletproof women in the Bulletproof Forums are maybe recovering from a time when they did something like what you did or they went to become fitness competitors and lost normal regulation of their hormones.
Then they end up going on the Bulletproof Diet in order to just have enough raw fat in order to build the hormone levels back up and to deal with adrenal fatigue and all. Were you concerned about those things when you did this pretty aggressive like taking over your hormones?
Bree: Yeah. It’s all in the name of performance and for me I knew that I had nothing to lose because of hip surgery, because of where I’d end up ranking on the team, it was all in. The beauty of our training group was that when you find that mentor, that person in your life, our coach Stu McMillan that you trust with everything. At that point it’s a working back and forth relationship. Let’s try this. Are you down? Yeah. Let’s try it.
You know when your vibing with the universe and everything else has just been working out so well that any experiment or idea that came up I knew if I was excited about it that it was definitely something to try. I’ve always been jealous of other female athletes testosterone levels because it’s hard not to … when you’re training with people that can squat twice as much as you and I still got up to almost 300 pounds squat it’s tough when you’re surrounded by the strongest and the fastest in the world.
At that point it’s all about your buying in and you’re living it. Every day is an experiment and a test to see how much you can get out of your body and how much you can trust your body.
Dave: You had testosterone envy. I’m sure Freud would love something, some comment around that.
Bree: That’s my bag, is dishing out accidental innuendos.
Dave: It’s funny but you’re looking at it if they can squat more than me I want to change my hormones. It’s enlightening. You said it’s all about performance. You weren’t too concerned and I’ve chatted with other Olympic athletes and when you interview Olympic athletes, in fact this wasn’t me. I’m trying to remember the researcher. Someone asked the question of if you could do what it took to be the very best in the world but you would die in five years, would you do it? Most Olympians were like, yeah. Would you? If you knew that you could dominate your sport for five years but after that you’re going to go downhill very fast and die, would you do it?
Bree: You know what’s crazy is coming from a surgery and having felt like I lost everything and really learning so much about myself in the process of coming back. I realized it was all about balance. It’s hard because it might not cater to winning but at the same time I learnt so much about the world, my spirituality and myself and recognizing that there are bigger things out there, knowing that that’s what I want. Even if the Olympics I’m there announcing for NBC but admittedly would have traded it all to get in that damn sled and race in that race.
You can’t help it. It’s so deep, that drive to compete but also I think the key as a human is recognizing the balance factor and thinking I’m here for a purpose and I want to learn as much as I can for as long as I can. And a medal around my neck isn’t going to necessarily set me up for the rest of my life. I know a lot of very depressed gold medalists. It’s just a matter of your lesson in that phase, in that moment.
Dave: That wasn’t a clear yes or no but it sounds like formerly you would have but now you probably …
Bree: I would. Ask me two years ago, absolutely. Now, no. It’s all about perspective.
Dave: The injury taught you something about your values.
Bree: Yeah and about my body. I had to get so in-tune with my body that now coming back from that our second race in the Olympic trials I lost by 100. A number like that can torture an athlete their whole life. Everything you think like if I had gotten a haircut that might have been faster or if I added a little weight in the sled … It’s wild how that can torture you but I recognized that at the same time that showed me that I was there but it might be time to move on and stop bashing my head around and find a healthier avenue for competitive spirit.
It turns out that broadcasting, live TV … I had no idea anything could touch competition but live TV is damn close. The adrenaline and the rush and staying in-tune with who you are.
Dave: Now we’re getting to a really cool conversation because I just recorded a podcast about the Flow Genome Project with Steven Kotler talking about the flow state. He just …
Bree: This isn’t menstruation.
Dave: This isn’t what?
Bree: Done with cycle talk, sorry.
Dave: No. We’re going to go back to menstruation. Don’t even worry about that. Not that flow state.
Dave: That’s awesome. You totally got me. I was like, wait. Steven Kotler, the Rise of Superman is really cool. It pretty looks at basically extreme sports, what it does to the brain and what combinations of neurochemicals are there. One of the things that can also produce a flow state is public speaking. I’m like that. When I get up on stage and I know that I’m helping the audience or even when I’m doing podcasts I recognize that almost five million downloads have happened. That’s seven entire lifetimes of content people have downloaded, like what I do matters.
I want every word to count. I find myself getting in a flow state just chatting with you because people are learning and like we’re sharing knowledge. Did you feel jazzed that way when you were doing the commentating.
Bree: The second best thing I found to standing on the line at the Olympics with the USA on your back and having this crowd deafening noise around you was my first live throw at the games on the last race and I got to do the whole, “Send it up to Bree at the start.” And I got to say my bit, “Back to you Lee.” After that, that was the closest I had felt to competing in the Olympics. You’re right, now that I think about it the better I got at competing I found this weird obsession with karaoke and I cannot sing.
I am a terrible singer but give me that microphone and get me on a stage and I will just develop a song out with no matter how many blank stares I’ve got in the audience. I just laugh it. You’re right. It’s that same chemical.
Dave: That is hilarious. I’ve never before connected karaoke with flow state but I love it.
Bree: It makes perfect sense.
Dave: Let’s go back to that other flow state. Just in abrupt transition there. I was just thinking about this. The other thing that women are capable of is having kids. Is that something that you’re … maybe you’re thinking about some day and did you consider that as part of the training regimen, turning off your cycle and all the other aggressive things that you’ve done with your body or is it like it will happen or it won’t happen?
Bree: I’ve always just … whenever I have a project I’m just to hell bent on it that I’ll have those passing thoughts of wonder if this could affect things later. When I want something there’s nothing that’s going to get in the way. I feel like if at some point something in my body turns on that says make a baby now, at that point then I’ll do my best to turn my body into a safe haven which I’m sure it’s obviously not right now when you lose your cycle. But for my purposes right now it’s perfect. I’ve never … I love kids but it just never occurred to me to keep one. That sounded weird.
Dave: To keep one. Just buy it on eBay, no problem. It’s funny …
Bree: Maybe that says I shouldn’t be a parent.
Dave: Not at all. That attitude though that I’ll take care of it when it happens is … or if it happens or when I want it to happen, it’s so common. My wife and I were the same way. When she was in her early 30s she was diagnosed with being infertile and we were like, no, we’ll reverse that. That was why the Better Baby Book came about. It was what we did to turn off our PCOS and then have kids at 39 and 42 despite some significant problems. It’s totally hackable for the vast majority of people.
I don’t object to your position there. I’m sure some people are probably horrified because it’s some natural thing that’s supposed to happen but it is natural and it can happen but you sure have a lot more control than people think. Kudos to you for just being like I’m going to do what I’m doing now and I’m hopefully not burning bridges but things will be as healthy.
Bree: I’ve always been, I’m Bree Schaaf I do what I want.
Dave: I saw that on South Park somewhere.
Bree: Something I really want to tell you about with those blood tests and with my estrogen levels being post-menopausal and also my cholesterol. A lot of people talk about this. The thing you hear a lot with a Bulletproof Diet is concern over cholesterol. My first blood test I think right when I started keto, my cholesterol was 354 which the training center … I got my blood work done at the Olympic Training Center and they were freaking out. Everyone is like shaking me saying, “You’re killing yourself.”
I discovered later that … and this happened to a few of my other teammates. We had been re-termed at going hard. Going hard on the diet that if you eat all the world’s healthiest foods, what’s one mineral that’s common of them all is selenium. Selenium, I’m not sure how you pronounce it. I, it took me about four months and about half of the hair on my head gone before I realized that I was full selenium toxic because I had been eating grass-fed liver every day, Brazil nuts every day, cacao nibs is when it really … because I would come back when we started sliding.
I’d come back from the track and I would just stuff my face in cacao nibs. That’s when hair loss started tracking. As a female you always think I’m stressed. Not really so. I haven’t been doing a damn thing different. How could this be bad and then finally had that tested. Levels were off the charts. Even a month after I stopped eating selenium rich foods it took a long time.
Dave: Selenium, even Brazil nuts I don’t put them in the green zone on the Bulletproof diet. Not because of excess selenium, it’s because they’re almost always moldy too. They even smell like it.
Bree: You felt that in your taste. My gut instincts on Brazil nuts is I’ve never liked them because they’ve always got something that’s a little bit off.
Dave: Yes. I wouldn’t listen to that part of you. I’m a fan of supplementing selenium when you need it but taking that food, no. I would rather do the chocolate. I’ve never measured the levels on that chocolate. How much selenium is in it versus other chocolate because it was hard to measure the world’s chocolate supply? I don’t know the selenium average for chocolate but there’s some in there for most chocolates depending on the soil.
The weird thing about Brazil nuts like the trees have very deep roots. They go way into the earth’s crust and bring up other weird minerals. I think I read something about cadmium or some other isotopes. I’m a little skeptical on Brazil nuts as being as cool as hazelnuts or something.
Bree: It was only supposed to be four a night but then you’re a little bit hungry after your x-ray, you do that for three or four months and pretty soon your hair is gone. Let’s say I had a lot to begin with. What’s funny is when you’re focused on something for four months I just kept telling to myself, we’ll deal with it after Olympic trials. We’ll figure it out later.
Dave: I’m sure there were some quarters all involved but that’s scary especially for a woman. I’m 42, all the guys and my family are bald; my dad, all my grandfathers. I’m like, I still have … there’s no gap up here and I’m pretty soaked on that. I’m like managing my nutrition as best I can and taking my supplements and all but I think ketosis is just probably helping keeping hormones where they should be.
Let’s chat a little bit more about this mental thing. I’m soaked on … in fact we can just go there. We’ve talked about what you ate and about some hormone levels and all that stuff but what about what’s going on up here in your head? Do you have a mantra or do you have some mental training regimen that goes with the physical trainings?
Bree: Yeah. This was really cool actually because my whole rebuilding of self, a lot of that is training that recording in your mind. Trying to get all of those stops that over years you start to deeply believe in the deep recesses the lizard part of your brain but they can be trained just like anything else. For a lot of me it was training the recording of my head. It lived so much in brain like the wheels and the squirrels are constantly running in there. For me it was just changing thought patterns. Techniques that I used for that was wherever I was staying at the time or training I’d have little cards with some keyword that I wanted to remember and focus on as far as my thought patterns go.
It was crazy to figure out that I’m in control of my thoughts. Everyone thinks that they’re victims to their emotions like I feel this way and now I’m so depressed. Give me some chocolate. Recognizing you can make a choice about how that emotion dictates your thoughts and your behavior. Meditation for me unlocked so much not just with my mental state but performance. Everything just started falling in my lap when I would make sure that I’d meditate ever day in the morning when my head was clear and I’d set an intention and try and go at least just 20 minutes.
It was wild how the growth that came out of that and finding that zone … being in the zone. They always talk about it with athletes. It’s the same with mental performance. I had to be in the zone at the Olympics. You put a microphone on me and I can’t just be tired and it’s all the same thing.
Dave: What kind of meditation? What flavor do you do?
Bree: When I really found myself broken in bobsled I made a last minute decision and followed a shaman.
Dave: You did a shaman thing … listen to you.
Bree: I did a shaman thing.
Dave: Did you do and all that? Although they don’t have that in ballet. Do they have it there?
Bree: I was just following. I met other shamans and I went to all these Balines ceremonies and I really got to get in the thick of it and watch amazing things happen. My technique is just sitting cross legged, tucking my chin a bit and looking towards the center, looking towards that third eye and then watching colors. Like I said I learned on my own just had an intention beforehand and then let it all go and just try and sit and focus on love. You know how you can feel when you really vibe and you can feel like a glow in your heart and I would just focus on that glow.
It’s amazing what that does for your day and how it sets you up and athletically too. My last two races on Olympic trials actually that was. Anyway, I felt the best I’ve ever felt. I was so excited the race and I pushed the best ever. I pushed, I drove the best I’d ever driven and then came up short. At first I thought this is unfair. How can everything land in my lap and this one thing not work? I finally figured out … maybe this is going somewhere. Then I got a call from NBC and I realized we’re going somewhere.
Dave: I think the life of a commentator is probably less harsh on your body than the life of five G’s to your score all the time.
Bree: It’s not something you should make a career out of. I’ve learnt so much for 12 years. Thank goodness for the Bulletproof Diet. I was scared that I would be … normally if we had done this podcast a few weeks after the Olympics I might not even remember what had happened. Yeah for Bulletproof.
Dave: I’m grateful that it worked for you and that you just you told me about that because it did the same things for me. I wasn’t sure when I started sharing this stuff that it would work the way it works for everyone who tries it. I guess there’s more for everyone but it works for an awful lot of people. Thank you. What do you do differently before you get in the bobsled versus before you go on camera? What is your game day path look like? What’s the difference for those two?
Bree: I’m still honing it because for being just … I’m 33 years old and all I’ve known is being an athlete. I’ve got that performance so honed it that for a while it was the same thing. I was sitting in the announcing booth with my Bulletproof Coffee and that actually almost made bobsled … it was weird being Bulletproof bobsledding, it was almost I was too sharp for it. You’ve got to go by feeling; you’ve got to go by gut instinct. When you had too much time to think as I suddenly found myself having, I had to work backwards from all that awareness and just do it down.
Now announcing I’m still going with the thing. It’s all high performance. I’ve got the Bulletproof Coffee, I’ve got my protein shake and go from there. For me I think I’m finding that everyone’s got there like. If you got a speared animal, you got your speared food. It seems to be street potatoes like buy some sweet potatoes before that seems to give me a lot of edge but it’s got to be in the right balance of ketosis. Other than that being making sure that I’m in ketosis then I feel really sharp.
Dave: You’re balance making just enough carbs where you’re still … most in ketosis or at least you’ve got the ketones left and you’re burning glucose and ketones at the same time.
Dave: I’ve been experimenting with going out of ketosis. I have this blood glucose meter somewhere here in my desk that also measures ketones in blood. I find that as long as I have the Brain Octane Oil which goes straight to ketones the way it breaks down in your metabolism, I can eat like 150gm of carbs and I don’t hyperglycemia. I’m not in ketosis. As long as I’m putting Brain Octane on them or I’m doing Bulletproof Coffee in the morning that I still maintain the mental focus as much as I want. My amount of acceptable carbs goes up and of course you get water weight when you eat carbs.
You get a little bit of happiness. It’s interesting because It’s inconvenient to be in ketosis all the time especially if you’re in China. Probably eat white rice and I’m going to carry my own butter and just the food quality that I found in China like grassed beef. I’m just not going to eat industrial meat because I always don’t feel good when I eat that. I want to feel good usually when I’m on the road. Have you experimented with having more carbs but making sure that you just have enough ketones to focus?
Bree: Something that I’ve been toying with as of late … something I ran across online was playing with cinnamon to try and control the blood sugar a little bit. After the last couple of weeks I make myself a little hot cinnamon beverage. I’ll dump a ton of cinnamon in a glass, pour some hot water over it, add some maybe heavy whipping cream or omen milk and a little Stevia and have that before a meal and see there how it affects … like if I want to have extra veggies but it’s hard because I’m super thrifty.
I use minimal amounts of MCT Oil just because to me that stuff is gold. I’ve also learned the value in nutrition and investing in yourself. I will say right now that I will try using more MCT Oil.
Dave: Why don’t I do this … I’ll send you some Brain Octane because it’s about three times stronger than normal MCT Oil. It’s a big difference because when you get just the one fatty acid that we use in that versus MCT which can have up to four different links it goes to ketones faster and better. It’s basically 18 times stronger than coconut oil versus MCT oil which is about six times stronger. I’ll just send you some. I’ll get your address. I just want to know if you can keep your mental edge if you eat more sweet potatoes.
Dave: You just promised to email me. That’s all I want.
Bree: That’s a great … What I’ll do is I’ll kick it off another … like a week of super ketosis, no more than 30gm of carbs a day and so that I’ll know … Then you can feel when you have a carb after that. You feel the rush in your bloodstream. That will be really fun to toy with and especially because I’ve got many … I got really good at post workout meals between … developing recipes for planting pancakes and sweet potato puddings and stuff. To me everything could be dessert.
Dave: When you do it right. When you have enough fat everything tastes good.
Bree: Yeah. That will be really fun experiment.
Dave: I’m soaked on that. Please make sure I have your shipping address when we’re done to me and will give you the experimental stuff. We’re coming up on the end of the show but there’s a question and you’re probably expecting it. Top three recommendations for people who want to kick more ass. Not just as an Olympian but just from your whole life, all the lessons you’ve learned, if you could share three of them with the world for people who want to perform better, what are they?
Bree: Get in-tune with your body. Feel good. First thing is do what it takes to feel good and in the right way. Just tapping and experimenting and finding your ways that you feel good; mind, body, spirit. Second thing, just try Bulletproof Coffee. Everyone listening of course this is done it because I came back to our trials and I look, the transformation was drastic that all of our coaches went to our trainer and said, “What are you doing?” They all got on Bulletproof Coffee.
First things first, just play with some intermittent fasting and then that … the broader sense there is play. Be willing to experiment with your body and see what feels you. The third thing is compression socks.
Dave: What is up with that? That’s after more than 100. Tell me more about compression socks and why I should care.
Bree: I’m absolutely obsessed with compression socks and it happens since the last Olympics. When you travel a ton you know as an athlete you have to do that agonizing first work out after a 10 hour flight. It’s called the shake out. The difference when I wear compression socks is unbelievable. You have to get good ones. You can’t go on Amazon and buy the cheapest ones. They should be around $50 because they have to be graduated compression because if it’s the same compression throughout the sock it actually does the reverse and it pulls the blood around your ankle.
Really good compression socks and especially for people that sit at the desk all day. I have my dad get some good ones or if you’re on your feet … like you come home and you’re so much more refreshed. I come back from my workouts … Sometimes I train in them because they have different ones for training as well but immediately post workout compression socks are on. For me it makes a huge difference. I even have ones without toes and you can wear sandals with them. It looks weird but …
Dave: Do they have compression socks like with skim off the back and things like that?
Bree: No. Maybe that will be next … I’ll make sexy compression socks.
Dave: After that comment there’s probably demand for them. That is intriguing because I’ve experimented with compression socks. I’ve got these size 16 feet. My mother was invited to be an Olympic swimmer because she has flippers too. The problem is that the compression socks squeeze my feet until they fold sideways. I’m so intrigued that they make $50 high end ones. I didn’t know that because I just bought mine at Walgreens.
Bree: What you need is … I have I think EC3D is a Canadian company that gave me some that I’ve been wearing. They make a toeless one.
Dave: I totally.
Bree: That would be perfect for you. It would be awkward like if I fumbled around to show you my feet right now.
Dave: Feel free.
Bree: I’ll find them and send you the link because especially for your foot size that makes that a non-issue. Those things will be uncomfortable but high end. You have to go classy when it comes to compression socks.
Dave: We’ll put the link that you send me into the show notes as well so people can check it out on.That is the most unexpected top three I’ve ever heard and it’s super cool. Never would I ever have predicted that toe socks would make this list. Where can people find out more about you? Do you want them to go anywhere, to like follow you on Twitter or anything like that?
Bree: Yeah. Twitter @BreeSchaaf B R E E S C H A A F. I try and keep things like my social media rules already there needs to be for a good cause or it needs to be funny otherwise it’s not going on there. Don’t bother the airwaves with it. For a long time I blogged for teamusa.org. Those are still on there. I did one quick one for Entertainment Weekly. I think it’s time to grow up, move on from athletics and set up my own blog because I’m doing many kitchen experiments and I document them for myself, it will be fun to document them for everyone else too.
There won’t be tons of photos of food down there. It’ll go straight to the recipe.
Dave: Keeping social media words constructive is an ongoing challenge.
Bree: It’s not a diary.
Dave: It’s work but it’s fun as long as you know is helping people in recipes, the good ones that make you feel good, those work. Bree, thanks again for being on the show. I totally appreciate it. It was a lot of fun and I’m actually touched to see here that Bulletproof Coffee feel that good … like that because that’s why I lead with it. I just want people to feel really good ones for the work towards it. Like you said play with it. You totally emulate this stuff and you get it and I appreciate that.
Bree: Sustained energy.
Dave: Thanks again.
Bree: Thank you so much.
Dave: Everyone listening if you’ve enjoyed the show please do me the favor of going under iTunes and telling other people that you like it by leaving us a good rating. If you haven’t checked out the Bulletproof Forums yet now might be a good time. Check out forum.bulletproof.com to get in on the discussion about the things we just talked about. It’s a good place to just take the things you heard here a little bit further and learn from some people who are super Bulletproof. Have an awesome day.