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The Ins and Outs of Recovery

The Ins and Outs of Recovery

Protekt co-founder Nick Norris recently chatted with Josh Bridges about the importance of meditation, hydration and other critical ways in which we can practice self care.

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JB: Episode Six. Got my man, Nick Norris back for another episode; just couldn't find anybody else to be on the podcast so this happened. 

NN: I was like, “Well, alright, I feel kind of bad for him. So I'll drive over to his house.”

JB: I said, “Hey, Nick, I'll buy you a burger. Come over and talk to me for now.”

NN: I was kind of hungry. I've been intermittent fasting lately.

JB: Intermittent fasting, right into a topic of the day recovery. Intermittent fasting. We didn't talk about this at all. I don't think we did. Now we talked about a lot of other stuff. But yeah, intermittent fasting. So while we were just chatting about how we're both highly, I would say active, what we are is, we're getting old. And I actually have to think about what I do on a consistent basis every day. And on top of that, I am really dialed into recovery and recovery hacks because my old body doesn't perform the way that it used to. That's father time catching up to everyone. As always, recovery’s actually been something that I've always had a huge interest in when dealing with elite athletes. I'm not saying I'm elite at all, besides CrossFit, where I had an elite status.

When you're dealing with that type of athlete, you're only looking for 1 and 2%. How can I be 1 or 2% better than everyone else? I’ve always taken recovery very seriously. And so I did my research, tried and tested everything that I could. And I've definitely done stuff that I have no idea if it did anything for me any good at all. But I also have things I know that help. Then I have things that are still up in the air, that I’m not sure of. But, again, I'm still testing and trying new stuff. 

So, recovery is a topic of the day. I get asked that question all the time: What are your methods of recovery? What do you do? I think that the biggest thing that most people neglect, whether it's circumstantial, or if it's due to not understanding how bad or how good it is for you, is sleep. Sleep is I think we talked I think we might we

NN: Yeah, it's definitely high on my list of priorities. You're totally on point. Sleep is the best thing you can do for yourself and probably the most powerful performance enhancing drug I can find in the market. And it's legal. It increases your production of natural growth hormone, along with other hormones in your body. Testosterone count, it also aids recovery brain function. 

JB: It's your mood, your attitude, everything. Looking at it from the opposite side is like this: How does the military induce stress in a training scenario? Oh, that's right. They remove sleep. We're gonna not let you sleep. We get induced stress to see how you handle it. That's what the military does. It's what probably a lot of training scenarios do. It's an easy way to induce stress in the body. So, how do you remove stress? Sleep. I know that there's some people out there - not naming names - (cough, cough) Jocko… But that's him. That's how that's how he's always rolled. He gets up at 4:30 and does his thing, but he probably goes to bed pretty early. 

NN: I'm sure he’s still regimented and he has a routine that works for him and can get the adequate amount that he needs for himself. Every single person is different. I had a couple guys that I from remote coaching from England, and they would always say that the number one thing that boosted performance in their athletes (regarding the thousands of climbers that they worked with) was adding sleep to the person's schedule. It immediately would accelerate performance on the training regimens they were prescribing.

JB: No doubt about it. There's a doctor out there named Dr. Matthew Walker, and he's been on Joe Rogan's podcast. He's been on Peter T. 's podcast, he's been on Dr. Rhonda Patrick's podcast - three podcasts I really enjoy listening to. Obviously, Joe Rogan, everyone knows he is, Peter T. is a longevity doctor, and Dr. Rhonda Patrick is the same. The latter two are both doctors who study how we can keep our bodies healthier longer. So, Dr. Matthew Walker's been a guest on there, and he also has a really good book.

Since my first deployment, I’ve been a terrible sleeper - and this has nothing to do with seeing combat or action. But that's when I remember my sleep issues starting. But that is also when I had my first child. So there could be a correlation there as well. So, my sleep is one thing that I've really, really, really tried to enhance and study and figure out why I wasn't a good sleeper and how to make it better.

NN: [Problems arise when] You pile more stress onto your plate. We've spoken at length about that. Stress plays a large role in sleep dysfunction. But a lot of people just blow it off, as they get busier, they want to hang out at night and watch TV or watch movies, or get on the phone and get distracted for hours. And that's a whole other topic,  in the fact that you're looking at a bright screen, at a time when a body naturally does not want to see bright light, and then go right into a situation where it's ready to go to sleep.

So, there's all kinds of things that change as we become busy and more successful. And sleep is typically the first thing that starts to atrophy and go away. To your point, it is at the top of my list as well. [Improving my sleep] definitely one of the best things that I've done for myself. I was trying to figure out ways to improve my sleep and make sure that the sleep I was getting was actually productive and restful. Because you can lay in bed for 12 hours, and be getting up every couple hours and not really get restful sleep or rely on your different sleep aids, whether they be prescription or non prescription, that might not necessarily get you the type of restful sleep that you need for recovery. 

JB: Everything that I've read is about the rim - the deep sleep. Alcohol is a huge issue - yes, you will fall asleep. But how Dr. Matthew Walker equates it is like getting hit with a baseball bat - I'm gonna knock you out, but you're not sleeping, right? So you're unconscious, but you're not actually sleeping. Alcohol is a huge problem. It's something that I've removed from my diet for the most part. I'll have a beer or two once every 1-2 weeks, but never more than two. And even when I do have those one or two beers, I feel it in my sleep. It's not worth it.

NN: I feel the same way. I always rationalized it as “I don't drink that much, it doesn't really impact my sleep.” It's not like I was drinking like a six pack every night or a 12 pack or two bottles of wine. I’d maybe open a bottle of wine at dinner, have a beer or something like that, and get a couple drinks in me. I never was not having a drink before I went to bed. But in the last six months, I can probably count the number of drinks I've had on one hand. And typically, it's just a toast for a special occasion. 

In excess or consistent consumption of alcohol has a profound negative impact on sleep. And I like getting restful sleep. I actually like dreaming now; I didn't dream for such a long time. I remember having lucid dreams when I was like a kid, and even in high school, and then, probably because I got stressed out and busy and put sleep on the backburner, I stopped dreaming. And it's cool now to be able to dream - it’s a good indication that you're like actually getting some deep sleep.

JB: You're that you're hitting the nail on the head. I stopped dreaming as well. For years. I I never had dreams. It wasn't getting the right kind of sleep. It wasn't getting into that deep sleep and then hitting REM sleep. It all improved once I started pulling blackout shades and wearing earplugs at night. I have a chilly pad in my bed, which is literally a small thin layer of a machine. Your body exudes your body heat, so it heats up your mattress. So, the chilly pad keeps you cool. It runs water through a thin pad that goes underneath your sheets, and you put it at a certain temperature. I keep it like 65 degrees. And I've noticed that's another thing that's kept me sleeping a little bit deeper, a little bit longer. And so I start having dreams again and I love it. I wake up and I can actually remember my dreams which tells me I got a good night asleep. 

NN: Yes. So nice. I ask my kids - I'm like, “Whoo, what did you dream about last night?” And they'll actually tell me about the stuff they dream about. And I'm like, “Yeah, I had dreams too. I can talk to you about my dreams.”

JB: My older son is a terrible sleeper. With how young he is, I know how it's affecting him. And I want him to get better sleep. I'm trying to work with him in the same way and trying to figure it out. I’ve been giving him a little bit more magnesium in his diet to help with that - he doesn't have the best diet; he's a 10-year-old kid. He doesn't want to eat healthy. And I know I'm trying to be Mr. Dad. But it's so hard. We end up getting pizza or burgers. But he's always been a rough sleeper, ever since he was born. But I'm trying to help him as well, because he's growing. And his body is getting all these hormones. And I don't want to miss out because he's not getting into that deep sleep. 

NN: Well, good for you, man. I think sleep is so important to both of us. You said body temperature plays an important role, like reducing alcohol consumption. And I agree with the chilly pad. I've heard Peter T. talking about it extensively. He brought it up so many times. And I think I probably heard it a dozen other times from random sources. And I still don't have one, and I need to get one because I sleep so warm. My wife doesn't even let me sleep in the same bed as her, because I sweat through the sheets. So I am definitely a candidate for that. So beyond those two, what else has been impactful for improving your sleep?

JB: Good question. I've done so many different things. We talked about no phone. The blue light. The blue light on your phone and your screens is actually telling your body, “Hey, it's time to wake up,” and changing your circadian rhythm. 

NN: I put the dimmer on, so at a certain time my phone screen goes darker, which is such an easy thing to do, but has a massive impact. Because when I see my screen go dark, it's a great tool. It's lower, making the screen less bright. So, in the event that I am looking at my screen, and it's late, and I shouldn't be looking at it, at least it's not going to have as big of an impact on me. But the bigger impact is that it actually serves as a reminder, like I see my screen go from bright to dark and I'm like, “Oh, it's time to start settling down.” It gives me that mental cue that I need to start thinking about chilling out. Not letting my mind race about all the things that I've been up to that day. Thinking about taking a shower, getting ready to go to bed, settling down.

JB: I've tried the meditation we talked about. I was gonna check in.

NN: I knew you were gonna bring it up.

JB: I’ve done an okay job. If I was grading myself, I’d give myself a C minus - obviously not an A or B because I'm not worthy of that. I am definitely holding myself accountable. I got three or four days in a row. I had a good little run, then I got a little lazy. And I let my busy day take over and stopped setting that time apart for myself. But I have gotten a couple times here and there. It’s getting easier to do it. Right. I don't have that anxiety where I'm like, “Oh, man, I do not want to go not think for 20 minutes. 

NN: When are you meditating? And what app are you using?

JB: Insight timer. It's a good one. I'm doing the guided meditations. And I think it's good that I just pick one. The longest I've done is 20, which is a lot for me. I'm really trying to not struggle when I start to think. I’m trying not to talk negatively to myself and be like, “Listen, it's okay. You're going to think.” When the person starts talking about something and something reminds me of something. I'm just like, “Hey, it's okay. You're gonna have thoughts.”

NN: Well, that's part of it. If you start to gain the perspective that you're recognizing those thoughts, the patterns that are coming up, then letting them go. That’s actually the practice. You're not eliminating all thought. We're human beings, and especially having just started meditating. My mind's racing all the time, and my meditations actually have been pretty terrible recently.  

That allows us to segue into another kind of recovery/performance enhancing practice. I've started intermittent fasting again. I started running, got a bout of tendinitis in my left knee, and then had to slow down and stop running. And it also impacted my climbing. So I basically couldn't do two major activities that I wanted to do. So I thought, “I'm gonna start gaining weight.” And I don't want to get heavy right now. So, I started intermittent fasting. But what I noticed was, it certainly impacted my sleep. So I cut off my food consumption between 4-8pm, depending on how long I wanted to go the next day without food. So I would try to do stuff for 16 hours before I eat my food. And you're doing 8-16 8-16 intermittent fast And I was hungry at night. And I noticed that my sleep was super disrupted. Last week, after starting that intermittent fast, and then it threw my meditation off. So, I think I should probably just go back to eating whatever I need to eat, then sleeping better and performing better.

JB: So, we can talk about intermittent fasting. I did intermittent fasting for about a year. And I saw some great results in certain ways. And then I saw some things that really challenged me mentally, because it would stress me out because all I would think about in those eight hours was, “How am I going to get all the food that I eat? In these eight hours? Yeah, I'm not even hungry. But I need to eat now.” I was doing 8-16 as well.

If you don't know what intermittent fasting is, it's basically where you're only allowing yourself to eat during a certain time of the day and 8-16 is a typical intermittent fasting timeframe. I would do the 8-16; I would eat from 1pm-9pm, then not eat the rest of the day. And the same thing - my sleep got really bad if I didn't get the calories that I needed to get in. I was still training CrossFit at a higher volume, so I was taking a lot of calories in, man. I was stressing out about it. Then my kid’s sports were in that timeframe as well. I got my kid’s baseball from four to seven o'clock. That's three hours where I'm like, “How am I gonna eat during that time?” I don't like bringing little snacks to the field. That was tough. So you definitely get neurotic.

NN: I'm noticing it this week. I broke my fast. I ate right away. But then I was immediately thinking, “I need to keep eating, eat, I'm going to eat more, because I don't want to get hungry again.” And I want to get good sleep. So, it's tough. 

You know what I noticed? So, I did a long stint of intermittent fasting and I stopped for one reason or another; I just got off the intermittent intermittent fasting schedule. But when I was doing it for climbing specifically, I liked being fasted before I train. I just felt like I performed better and lighter, whether that's mental or an actual physical result of the fast, I definitely felt like I was performing better, I felt lighter. felt more clear minded. I also think, for anybody that has dealt with concussive injury in their life - I'm always trying to figure out ways to kind of mitigate inflammation in my brain, improve cognitive function - intermittent fasting helps in that regard. So, I'll do it for a period of time,hopefully to get me through this period where I'm trying to get my knee recovered and get back into a normal routine. But I think, like anything else, it's probably good to cycle on and off it.

JB: Yeah, I agree with that completely. I also think it depends on who you are as a person. If you're a super competitive athlete in their 20s, I don't think you need to intermittently fast. I really don't. I don't think I would do it if I was going to go back into my 20s in my athletic career, I don't think I would start intermittent fasting to get the benefits that you get out of it. I'm not sure it would do anything other than cause me stress,

Maybe, I don't know. It's tough to say because you don't have as many stressors. You didn't have kids, I didn't have kids. And so maybe I would - maybe it would be easier. 

NN: Yeah, but I don't know. Maybe some of the benefits that you're trying to get from that intermittent fast, you already are accruing those benefits naturally. You have more testosterone. You have more growth hormone, you have all these things. Your recovery is just so much better when you're younger, that you don't necessarily need it. 

JB: One thing I did see was my testosterone levels went up. I don’t test my testosterone levels very often, but I was getting some blood work done just because I was having some issues with recovery. And it was due to the fact that I was training and not eating enough and drinking a little more caffeine than I probably should have. I wasn't sleeping well. And I was eating a lot of dairy and gluten. And so when that time when I was getting my blood tested, they tested my testosterone and before this, it was always like in the 400 range, which is low.

NN: Yeah, actually, yellow. You're like mid to late 30s.  

JB: I'm 37 years old. This was when I was in my early 30s.

NN: Yeah, it's super low. 

JB: I actually I think I had it done in 2012 also. And it was the same way - it was in the four hundreds. That was when I was in the military and I injured my knee. I had a blood test. And I don't know if some of that equated to the knee surgery early on. But the crazy thing was, when I do the intermittent fasting, I think it was last year and I had knee surgery and elbow surgery and I think I got the bloodwork done about seven months post knee surgery, but I'd been doing intermittent fasting at that point for about 10 or 11 months. I did it all through my surgery or recovery from the surgery. And my testosterone levels came back at like 770. So it was huge, and the only thing that I changed was intermittent fasting. 

NN: So, you didn't cut out gluten or dairy?

JB: I did, but that was two years prior. That was not the same year. But I did cut out gluten, I cut out dairy. I still eat some gluten - I'm not a lunatic when it comes to eating. I’m very much a person that thinks that everything in moderation is fine. I don't really do dairy anymore. I'll have a milkshake here and there. I'm not a big ice cream guy anyways. 

NN: I'm the same way. My wife claims she's lactose intolerant. She's probably yelling right now. She doesn't drink a lot of dairy, therefore my kids don't drink a lot of dairy, and I don't have access to it. So, I pretty much cut it out. I'm used to flax milk, almond milk, coconut milk. I got my fill of milk between 15 and 16, I was putting down a gallon of milk every two to three days, we were going through a lot of milk in the house.

JB: I thought you were gonna say in one sitting.  

NN: No!

JB: So, stuff that was all cut out of my diet, that’s been cut off for a couple years. So, I really attribute my testosterone levels going up because of the intermittent fasting. When I did my first workout while fasting, I didn't feel sluggish or tired, never felt like I ran out of energy because I hadn't had anything to eat.

NN: Even when I'm not fasting, I will typically do a little micro fast before I go and train, and I definitely feel better than times where I come home after working and I’m starving, so I just eat something. Then I go to workout and I definitely feel sluggish. Performance suffers. There's a fine balance where you want to make sure you have enough calories in your body to perform.

JB: I mean, I think the best thing for everyone to do too, is to try these things on yourself. It takes about two weeks to get past that hump where it’s a struggle. I felt the first two weeks were a little tough. To get to 1pm without eating. Between 10-11, I was like, “I want to eat some food.”

NN: You should be asleep by then, Josh.

JB: AM, I’m sorry. After 9, I was okay. Once 9pm hit. I was good for the night. But the morning time hit - when about 10:30 would come around 11 o'clock… you have to drink a lot of water. But I was really hungry. 

NN: I'm with you, man. I think as you're on that protocol for a while, your sleep will normalize. It's like anything else - a shock to the system. But there are benefits if you stick with it. Use it for a performance phase. Then ease up on yourself. Don't torture yourself forever and get so neurotic about it that it consumes all of your thoughts. You can cycle off of it. But it is effective. I got to a point where sometimes I'd be like, “I'm not gonna need more calories now. Just eat whatever.”

JB: So I started a little crappier. So again, then I'm starting to stress out about it, like I’ll be eating crappy, not getting my calories, and I'm not getting my sleep. So that was one of the reasons why I was like, “Okay, I'm only gonna do it three or four days a week.” And then slowly phased completely out.

NN: Yeah, you haven't done it again.

JB: I'm sure at some point, I'll try to do it again, but as of right now, I'm just enjoying myself. 

NN: Yeah, you were doing a lot of that. 

JB: I'm living a retired life.

NN: Well, if you did some other things, man - I heard you mention darkening the room and shades. I mentioned this last time we spoke, but I wear eye shades when I sleep. Oh, yeah. I would have laughed at people. Like, you wear an eye mask when you sleep?! Come on. Come on, dude. How old are you? 65? But I catch myself on Amazon looking up different eye masks to find the high performance ones that are gonna block out all the light. And I found one, just something simple. And I consistently use that and now it's my go-to - it goes in my backpack whether I'm going away for a day or two weeks. That thing comes with me. I think it's important to have if you can't darken your room, especially when you're traveling a bunch for work. Like it's sometimes tough to find a room where you can make it totally dark. So those eye shades are definitely incredible. They help cut out that ambient light and give you more restful sleep. It's when you’re used to sleeping in a really, really dark room and then you have to sleep in a room where it's not really dark. You notice it and it stresses you out immediately. It's crazy. You go to a hotel and they don't have blackout shades. You're like, this isn't okay.

JB: Yeah. I need my blackout. Yes. And I need my chilly pad. 

NN: Especially when there are lights outside and stuff like that, it throws you off, man. So, I definitely become more sensitive to light and sound. Not just the light, but sound. Noise cancelling headphones [help]. Not that I wear them when I'm sleeping. But those things are awesome. I never bought a pair until this year. And it's life changing. I use those things a lot. I use them for meditation a lot. Even just comfortable EarPros will do it.

JB: I wear little foamie ear nuts. I wear them every night. Josh Bridges

NN: Yeah, it's cheap.

JB: I still wake up. Like, if my dog barks I wake up. But you don't get woken up by little noises. So, that's what I've noticed. And I started doing that on deployments and stuff like that. Anytime you're in an open bay sleeping, like in the military, you're gonna sleep terrible. So if you didn't have foamies in, you weren't sleeping because you had at least three guys snoring. [Those guys] always fell asleep first, you know? There's always people getting up going to the bathroom, or people's alarms going off in the middle the night, and you're like, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why is your alarm going off at 5am when we have to get up at 6?”  

NN: They got something important going on. But yeah, that's really important. Let me think of some of the other stuff that I found that have been critical in improving my sleep. Well, one thing that we're going to do after we finish this is jumping in the old oven. In your backyard, the sauna. We're gonna take a sauna bath. Dude, I will say I do not have one. I've definitely been working my wife over to convince her to allow me to install one. You notice I said allow me to install one in my backyard. Because I've been coming over a year and doing saunas with you and the nights that I do come over and sit in that sauna, I do sleep better. I feel better and it makes me tired. 

JB: Yeah, I don't know the effects, but it obviously is gonna relax you. But I agree. I think that there's some huge benefits of recovery with the sauna. Yeah.

NN: And neither of us are medical doctors, so we don't we don't have a medical perspective, but I can tell you how it makes me feel. It feels good. It's very subjective.

JB: I started reading up on saunas as well. Dr. Rhonda Patrick is big on saunas. She was talking about how it can raise your growth hormone levels. And so, I was like, hey, this sounds like a good idea.  

NN: And more is better, right? So 20 minutes produces X amount of gain and growth hormone, so double it and it must be better. Exactly. Because two is one on one is everywhere and 80 minutes, but even better than that.  

JB: I remember the first time I got out of that thing. I was like, I cook meat at 15 degrees higher…

NN: I think I smoked a tri-tip at 220  for 90 minutes and then seared it on both sides, so yeah, you can’t cook yourself.

JB: I'm like this is insane. Yeah, be careful with saunas. You definitely have to know your limits and know what kind of person you are and bring water in there. The first time I invited Nick over, Nick didn't even have a sip of water.

NN: Water makes you weak - I'm totally kidding. That actually jogged my memory. Water, man. Hydration is one of the best things you can do to improve your sleep and your overall performance, physically and mentally. Hydration is something that I'm absolutely committed to in a daily routine. I never used to hydrate because I always thought, hey, if I drink more water I'm gonna weigh more and as a climber, I'm gonna have a lower strength to weight body strength to weight ratio, and none of that was true. So I started drinking water because I finally learned from a knowledgeable source that if you drink adequate amounts of water, your body actually sheds the excess water better rather than retaining it so you weigh less.

JB: We're so dumb. 

NN: Yep. Before, I was trying to fit into my spring collection Josh, I just wanted to look good. I want to look good at the beach.

JB: I was the same way, man. I neglected drinking water. And now, I notice immediately the moment I'm dehydrated. I don't know how many times a day I get up and I’m dizzy from not drinking water. Like how old am I? Yeah, it's happening right now.

NN: Yeah, I force it man, that's part of my morning routine. It's a pint, supplements I'm taking, meditate, come back and drink another pint or two. And then something that's important is to make sure you're putting adequate amounts of electrolytes in your system whether they be through the food - calories that you're taking in - or supplementing by putting that in your water. I make sure to get about 96 ounces of water a day or more, depending on physical exertion. If you're putting out in the heat and you're just dumping water or you're taking 80 minutes saunas to 20 you might need to drink a little bit more.

JB: After that 200 degree sauna for 20 minutes, I sweat. Like, it's pretty gnarly. Yeah, I go through at least 36 to 42 ounces in there, and right when I get out, I drink. Immediately. If I don't, wake up and I’m peeing brown.

NN: Well, it's good man. It flushes your body and has detoxifying effects. If you don't have a sauna, use Epsom salt baths. Rhonda Patrick talked about that, as well. And I was stoked, because for some reason, man, I don't enjoy being hot. But I like being in a sauna. And I like being in an Epsom salt bath, and dumping 15 pounds of Epsom salt - max saturation. And as hot as I can get the water. It has a detoxifying effect, relaxing, and it’s a good way to practice breath work. Typically that's what I'll do, instead of just sitting there twiddling my thumbs, I actually will focus on breath work when I'm doing a sauna or Epsom salt bath. Because it gives me a way to get my mind focused on something that's not totally uncomfortable when you’re in that hot environment. 

JB: I agree. Helping the breathing technique, which is a form of meditation.

NN: Yeah. Right.

JB: I do a lot of Epsom salt baths as well. I enjoy good hot baths with Epsom salt in there. I definitely think that my muscles recover a little bit faster after I do an Epsom salt bath. And I remember hearing one time that if you do an Epsom salt bath, to get the benefits from the magnesium of these salts, you need to be submerged for at least 20 minutes.

NN: Yes. That's exactly the number that I heard. So yes, good.

JB: Whenever I do a bath, I'm doing 20 minute baths. And that leads into float tank. So I have one coming. I'm so excited. Very, very excited for this. I got one of the In Home float tanks coming in. I've only done it a couple times. The first time I went in to do a float tank, I had zero expectations. I thought it was complete bullshit. I was like, “This is gonna be some Cuckoo Cuckoo, like hippie or whatever nonsense that I'm not gonna get anything out of and I'm gonna lay in this water that's 98.6 degrees. And you are completely sensory deprived and I'm going to be bored out of my mind and the mind’s gonna race the whole time.” But It blew me away. Yeah, I got out of that float tank and I did it. I did a little too long. I did one for an hour and a half, 90 minutes off the bat. And it was super aggressive. At about an hour, I was done. I was like, I should get out. So the last 30 minutes really weren't that great. But when I got out, I have never felt that calm and relaxed. And I couldn't even remember. It was insane. Mind blowing. 

NN: Well, dude, I had a similar experience. I think I was introduced to the concept of float tanks maybe three years ago. And it was actually in a time in my life where I was dealing with a lot of stress; I was dealing with some of my own personal struggles, trying to figure that stuff out. And somebody recommended a float tank. So I'm like, What the hell, I'll go down and lay in this dark pod and we'll see what happens. And I had a very similar experience. I think I went in for an hour and a half or two hours. I think I fell asleep at one point.

You actually are meditating at that point. You're trying to get rid of the sensation of pain, you're just like, the salt is burning my eyes [when water gets in the eyes] but I'm not gonna let the sensation of pain get to me, and you just lay there. Because you don't want to get out. You don't want to be feeling hurt. You don't want to be the guy that is knocking on the door, opening up and coming out early. So you just suck it up.  

But yeah, dude, it is a great tool. Especially for people that are getting into meditation or wanting to try meditation, it forces you into that state of mind. It's a little bit easier. There's no distraction. Because that's one of the biggest problems is that beyond your own thoughts, and patterns of thought in your head, you have all these physical distractions around you in your day to day. A lot of people complain, saying, “I have kids in the house or I'm in an area that's noisy, or I have a roommate. And it's just tough for me.” I go lock myself in the bathroom and sit cross legged on the toilet and lock the door. So nobody bothers. But the exact opposite happens. Like one of my kids busts into the room, I'm meditating. And I turned the lights on and yelled at me. I've learned my lesson, I get up really early, and I sit and I knock out my meditation when everybody else is asleep. I'm awake before the enemy.  

JB: But if you go to the flight flow tank, it's great. Because that's your own space. It literally feels like you're floating in space. You don't have any [space] because you're completely floating. You don't feel the water against your skin. Because it’s the same as your body temperature, and it's dark. It was so incredible. And I was so blown away at how good it made me feel. And I was like, “Wow, this is amazing.” Getting it at my house is going to be really nice because one thing that I struggle with is going like, “Oh, I gotta take 30 minutes to make an appointment.” And all that kind of stuff. So getting this home one - I'm pretty fired up. I'm not gonna lie, pretty fired up.

NN: I mean, for me, it's awesome because Josh's house has turned into a wellness spa for me. So start charging a membership. A sauna, soon to have a float tank. He has a band. He has an ice bath, aka deep freezer filled with water. May or may not be an electrical hazard.

JB: We unplug it. We unplug it before we get in.

NN: Josh also dry needles. Not certified. Not certified.

JB: Acupuncture. Hey, that's a great topic. Acupuncture is huge. That's something that has been big for me in my career. I don't know what you've done with it.

NN: Maybe once or twice, actually with the latest tendinitis I had. Our buddy Kelly Flogger told me to go get acupuncture because it's a tendon issue. Yeah, that guy. We could talk about this. He's one of those things - he would be a recovery hack. He'd be good. But go on. Tell us about acupuncture. 

JB: Acupuncture has been big. I've been doing it since 2011. I've had the same acupuncturist working on me for nine years now. And to be honest, before I would go to doctors, I would go to her and see if she could fix it. [I would see if it] was more muscular than it was anything actually a lot wrong with ligaments or tendons or joints or anything like that. And nine times out of 10 it was something muscular. It tended to be just some sort of muscle strain that acupuncture really helped with. So, the theory behind acupuncture is that you're creating micro puncture trauma to the area, which is generating blood into the area. But there's a lot more. That whole Eastern medicine I believe in it because it's been around for so long. More of a preventative style madness in which Western medicine is very much… 

NN: Reactive.

JB: Yeah, exactly. It’s reactive. And it's more of a quick fix, like here's a pill. Here's something that makes you feel better. It really is just more of a band aid than some sort of cure.

NN: Yeah.

JB: So yeah, the acupuncture has been huge. And I feel like it has definitely helped reduce stress, made me relax. It was just another thing out there. [My acupuncturist] would hit these muscle groups when I would hurt my back - if my glutes weren't firing, or if my hamstrings weren't working, or if my hip flexors were too tight. And she'd hit him with these needles. And man, the next day, I was feeling great. It was crazy. I wholeheartedly believe in it. I think that if you find the right acupuncturist, it can help aid in recovery and help you not get injured as often for sure. 

NN: That's the ticket just like anything else, like finding the right professional, somebody that's at the top of their game. Makes all the difference in the world because you can go get acupuncture done or any other type of service. If you go to somebody that’s not at the top of their game, you may have a poor experience. And you're not going to get the benefit. So you shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

JB: Not all doctors, not all PTs not all. Yeah, chiropractors are created equal No.

NN: I'll tell you, going back to Kelly Schloger who's a good friend of ours. I met Kelly Schloger at a dinner because of David. And he offered to give me a consult. And, from a tissue therapist standpoint. I think he's at the top of his game. It was really good. And it’s a myofascial release. It's pretty aggressive therapy, super aggressive. You can go in there looking to get relaxed. It's a good way to practice your meditation, detaching pain from sensation, and really trying to find your center. Because that guy - you gave him the nickname banana man.

JB: He shook my hand the first time. And I was like, look at these paws he’s got on him.

NN: But such a nice guy and so intelligent. I tell people that I have more confidence in what he's telling me than physicians that I see. As far as anatomy. His command of all the musculature and soft tissue and all the connection points and knowing how things interact. He does a phenomenal job. Every time I've been injured, I've gone to him and he can immediately figure out what's wrong, and he doesn't go to the problem. Because he looks at the point that you're having pain is a symptom of something else. Lately, this whole issue with my knee recently wasn't because my knee’s jacked up. My knee was a consequence I have from my hips being way out of whack. And he was able to see that through some of the tools he has. And most of the work in the first session he did with me was on my hips, and my quads, and even on like the opposite leg where my knee was totally fine. Just trying to work through that stuff. And now I don't think he even got to the actual tendon that was experiencing the tendinitis until the second or third session. So I personally have relied on Kelly and  myofascial release as something that has been massively impactful for recovery.

JB: Like what you're saying is typically when you find something that's good, they don't go to the source, right? They're not they're not go are not going to the source. But they don't go to the problem. They go to the source of what's causing the problem. Because us as humans, we're all the best athletes or the best compensators, because we all have these nagging little things that-

NN: We’re expert compensators.

JB: Right, great way to put it. So, when you have a knee injury, it's probably coming from somewhere else. Your actual knee that's hurting, that’s compensating from somewhere. And now your knee’s taking the brunt of it, so you gotta fix that. That's why a lot of people hurt their low backs, like “Aw, my little back’s hurt, my little back’s hurt.” Yeah, it's probably because your glutes aren't working or your hamstrings are too tight. Or your hip flexors are too tight. So now your low back is taking all the load. You hit overload on it; it's gonna happen. When you talk to those types of people, they realize that shit rolls downhill in some way. So if your elbow’s hurting, it's probably starting at your shoulder. It's not the actual elbow.

NN: It's always good to have one of those people. I never wanted to get massages, because I always like “Oh, well, I don't need it. I don't need to relax or whatever.” What Kelly Schloger does is so nonstop is that it's basically torture. He's not relaxing. 'm pretty sure he's a sadist, because he likes to really make me feel a lot of pain.

JB: I went into him once with my elbow. And he started working on my forearm and bicep and tricep tendon and I just turned my head and looked away. And I was like, I'm not gonna let him I'm not gonna let him show me...

NN: He told me that there was a tear. There was a steady stream of tears just flowing down your cheek. 

JB: That's because I was so happy - tears of joy. I've never had somebody work my elbow like that. This is amazing. The amount of pressure on my nose, so amazing. I'm gonna cry.

NN: I do appreciate you. And when he's gonna do something that's really painful. He'll go, “This is gonna get a little dirty.” And he's like, “Okay, we're not gonna try to be tough here. You let me know if it's too much.” And he's like, “Oh, yeah, it's dirty in there. There that? Yeah, that's really dirty.” “Kelly, I'm starting to feel uncomfortable.” Heavy breathing. I hope Kelly I hope if you're out there, I hope you appreciate this. This little conversation about your expert myofascial release services. Because he is the man, he is good. He just opened a new shop. He's in Sorrento Valley now. 

JB: So I criticized him for that because he's further from my house, way too far. Not driving up there. I tell him he needs to start coming over to my house. We can convince him to come over here. Right. Yeah, we'll do a little work on Nick for 30 minutes. We're gonna be 30 minutes for sure. Easy day. I got all the other wellness stuff here.

NN: Yeah, might as well. You're actually adding your wellness spa will be better than Kelly's very soon. You need a hyperbaric chamber now.

JB: I've done hyperbaric chamber as well.

NN: What is your opinion of hyperbaric?

JB: So, when I did the hyperbaric chamber, I was getting confused, hyperbaric and hypobaric. Hyperbaric chamber is when we go to altitude, correct? Yes, hyperbaric chamber. 

NN: I bet neither of us are physicians or scientists. 

JB: Somebody out there is like, these guys should not be talking about hyperbaric chambers, but I did that in 2014. The theory behind it is that you want to train it out at low altitude and then recover at high altitude. Then your body thinks that it needs more red blood cells, so it starts to produce more red blood cells while you sleep. And then when you come out, now you have all these excess red blood cells to carry more oxygen to you. So you can have better endurance when you're training.

So I did it in 2014. I had a tent that I slept in at 10,000 feet. You'd have to get 8-10 hours in it straight for it to have the effect that you want it to have. And I did it before my regional that year and I remember feeling really, really good and  I think then you have you want to wait a certain amount of time. You don't want to do it all the way up until your competition. You want to do it up until I think like a week or week and a half out prior to that when you actually see maximum gains from it. So, it was awful sleep. You literally feel like you're hungover. That's a sacrifice. 

NN: The sleep - that’s probably why you want to cut it out like a week prior to your athletic event. If your sleep is really bad. It used to be in an altitude it was just like hot and stuffy in it. Like everything that we just said. You want, like regular temperature. You want to get good sleep. But really hydrated?

JB: I did feel really good. I don't know if it really did anything or not. And maybe it could have been a placebo effect. Because obviously the placebo effect is real. Yep. But I've definitely done the opposite, too. I've done hyperbaric chambers, where you're going down in altitude or down to depth, and you’re forcing 100% oxygen into your body. And so now you're saturating your body with oxygen. I've done that as well. Both have different effects. When you're doing hypobaric, you're gonna sleep better, you're going to recover more, because you have more oxygen in your body. 

You’ll get two different benefits to each again. I remember the first time I did a hyperbaric chamber. You see bigger, NFL people doing it, or Michael Phelps was doing it and I was  like, “Well, why not? I'll give it a shot.” A lot of times with injuries, people try to do it. So I tried a couple times, and I definitely slept the first night. I would do it once or twice a week. And I would basically lie in this hyperbaric chamber for an hour. And I would sleep really, really good the first night. Almost amazing. 

NN: That was my experience. I did it a handful of times and my sleep definitely improved. And they're using it for treating mild traumatic brain injury. A lot of veterans, they're taken advantage of that. Debbie Lee, from America's mighty warriors. Mark Lee's mom. Mark was the first CO killed in Iraq. He was killed on the sixth deployment in Ramadi. His mom is an awesome woman. Her charity or nonprofit supports that type of therapy for TBI. So I've heard about a handful of guys that I've run into have received funding to go to some of those programs. 

JB: They're trying a lot. They're using it for a lot of stuff, too. They're using it for autism. There's no science backing it as of right now, but they're trying to see if it has effects. And then, like you were saying TBI, things like that. So it's really interesting. 

And, for me when I tried it, I didn’t see any like downsides to it. Why not give it a shot? If I was like doing it every day, it probably wouldn't have been good. Saturating your body every day with too much oxygen probably would have been. It could have had the opposite effects for athletic ability. I don't know. But anyways, yeah, I've tried it. And the main thing for me is that someone can tell me they don't like something, or it didn't work for them. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't go give it a shot. There's so many tools out there for recovery, so many different things that are out there. And there's so much science now behind these things, and people testing them, and there's always new data. So, I get asked the question like what's the best method of recovery? But I don't know what's the best for you. 

NN: Yeah, no. Go give all these a shot. You can find time and you want to experiment with it, go do it. You know what the best one for you is? Pick one that actually has some basis. Yeah, give it a go. If you do see an effect from it, if you can actually stick to it in the form of a discipline routine and put that into your daily routine. That's the one that's going to be the most impactful. If you can only go and do oxygen therapy in a chamber like that once every six months or once every couple months or something, maybe it's not going to be as impactful for you. But if you can start meditating or you can improve your sleep by doing some of these simple things like being hydrated or darkening your room by wearing some eye shades, or cutting out phone use before you go to bed. Some of that stuff is definitely within your control. You don't need a crazy facility or some expensive apparatus to make that part of your daily routine. So, whatever you can implement on a consistent basis is probably going to yield the highest benefit for you.

JB: I think that's the best advice. Whatever you can put into your daily routine as often as possible. That's going to be your biggest and best recovery tool.

NN: Yeah.

JB: You’re right. Not everyone can afford to get a float tank and not everyone can afford to get a sauna. But everyone can afford to go to bed. Not everyone, but most people can afford to get blackout shades for your windows. Pretty easy for you to spend $10 on Amazon and get a little silk eyemask. 

NN: Exactly. You look cute. Really cool. And most humans are cheap. You can always go and fill up a glass of water. You can go to the park. So there's some simple stuff out there, that produces pretty prolific results. If you do it daily, in a disciplined routine...

JB: Discipline equals freedom, I've heard somebody say.

NN: I've heard a good friend of ours. Respect. Well, dude, speaking of routines, I think it's a good way to close this thing out. What are you doing right now? Like, what is your daily routine?

JB: So my daily routine right now I wake up, I go out and I get into my ice tub. I do about 20 deep breaths in it. Probably about two and a half minutes. And my word, it is cold. It's a form of meditation. For me, even if it isn't doing anything, it makes me think that I am. If it's strengthening my immune system, great. If it's not, I think it's strengthening my immune system. So that's huge for me, and I do that most days, I would say six out of seven days a week, I'm doing it. I come in, I have my cup of coffee, my supplements, have my breakfast. And then I'm typically out in the garage working out, and I have that routine. That's my day. I have to get a little bit of work done with the coffee. So, I'll hit up some phone calls, some emails, things like that, try to knock that out. Maybe right before the workout, but then I go and get my workout in. I try to stay away from my phone as much as possible. Come out, and have lunch. If I have more work to do, I have more work to do. If not, right now I'm not getting a second workout because that's just where I’m at, and going golfing.

NN: It’s effective cross training right now.

JB: It is. How I'm looking at it is I've spent a good portion of my life where going into the gym was what I wanted to do, and I got away from some of the stuff that I really enjoyed outside of the gym. So right now I'm really focusing on having that attitude where “Hey, I don't have to be in the gym literally all day to feel good.” Like, I enjoy playing sports. I enjoy being competitive in golf. I love going out mountain biking. Any way that I can be physically active, but not inside the gym. I'm really trying to get some of that done every single day as well. Once I'm done with that, then it's dinner time, and I start to relax and wine down. Typically at around 8:30-9 o'clock I hit the sauna - my 20 minutes of sauna. Some nights I'll hop straight into the cold tub after it. Not every night. That's a really awesome experience. If you've never done it, super awesome. If you've never done that, don't do it alone. Get a little dizzy. But it's very euphoric.

NN: I think the last time I was over here we got out and I jumped into the ice bath. Yeah, and you're like you are a superhuman after coming out of a 220 degree sauna and then going into 35 degrees. So I was good. I was in there. I could have stayed in there forever. Until I started noticing that the entire world was moving back and forth. AndI was like, “Alright, I probably should get out.” I got out and I was gripping the side of the freezer. Yeah, I was like, “Oh, Nick, you might go down. You're spinning right now.”

JB: I could tell you're trying to play it off like, Yeah, he doesn't notice. He doesn't notice that I'm about to fall over. But I did.

NN: Two person integrity, right? You don't want to do that by yourself. Buddy. Don't go into a sauna and then immediately submerge yourself in icy water. Because you may pass out.

JB: Exactly, have a swim buddy with you at all times on this. But yeah, so that's typically my day and then I'm watching a little bit of sports in the evening. And then shower and off to bed. I'm in bed by nine 9:30, cute eye-shades on, cue blackout shades sliding over. Turning that chilly pad on has a nice hum to it. 

NN: So you’ve got some white noise, too.

NN: I’m totally gonna get one. 

JB: You will, and it's worth it. And again, no affiliation with chilly pad So that's right now - that's my typical daily routine. What about you, buddy?

NN: So I've said that I'm way into meditation. So I get up before the enemy. When the enemy are my children? They never sleep. Early for me is maybe 5:30 or 6. 6 usually will give me meditation for an hour. By then, my kids are just starting to stir or they started to stir around 6:45. And they'll go into my wife's room and attack her. First night, I've started locking my door now, but they'd shake it violently to try to get in. But I'm smarter than them right there. But they are very smart. They adapt. They learn, adapt, and overcome. 

So I get up at that time, I immediately get out of bed. And I'll drink my first pint of water. I've learned  on that Zac Efron show - he has a reality show about wellness and health that's on Netflix. So he travels the world and does all this stuff to look for optimal ways to make life healthier. There was an episode talking about total dissolved solids in your water. So there's a difference between purified water, which is not good for you because you don't get any of the minerals that you get from actual water with a TDS. We get water delivery from a service that delivers them in glass jugs. So, there's actually minerals dissolved in that water. We made an investment in that good water. So you actually are starting to get some natural minerals from that. So I'll do my first point. I take my supplements. I take the stuff that I'm then committed to, so I take my Lion's Mane - my gram, gram and a half of Lion’s Mane. I take my vitamin D, my B12. My K2 tincture, then I take a ton of niacin because you can't get enough of the niacin flush. It gives you a nice warm hug about 20 or 30 minutes later. So 

Then I go and meditate for an hour and I'll usually get that niacin hug about 20-30 minutes in, and it helps to recalibrate my rate, my internal timer. I know I'm about halfway through, and then I get up and I knock out another pint of water or two. I typically will start heart hammering out work; I focus on climbing. That's that's what I'm all about right now. So a lot of my training is focused at becoming more proficient at the sport and the activity that I prefer to do.

So to your point, Josh, I think finding something that you're stoked on as an activity and focusing your training at getting better at that activity has really worked well for me. So, I used to do all kinds of other training and used to do conventional lifting and all of that. And I finally realized that there's a lot of stuff I was doing that isn't necessarily benefiting me as a climber. So I really started to tailor my non-climbing training to things that were going to be directly applicable to the sport. So in the warmer months, and even in the winter, I typically wait until later in the day to knock out all my training, because we live in San Diego, there's no winter. That's why I have to wait until it's  dark out. 

I actually enjoy cold weather. I would love it to be 50 degrees like year round.  But I'll do that morning routine, I'll really knock out a bunch of work during the day. And then try to hammer out another couple pints of water during the day, with the goal being 96 total ounces or more. And then, because the weather's a little warmer, I wait until about 5:30 or 6pm to brew up some of that good dudes coffee. I've been drinking the Roosevelt lately. Roosevelt's Ethiopian yirgacheffe it's just delicious. So I got my fancy bean grinder and I make my pourover around 5:30-6 o'clock. 

JB: That's a late call. 

NN: It is. So typically people harp on sleep. If I drink coffee later than that, 6:30 or 7, I will notice a negative impact on my sleep. 5:30-6 o'clock is the cutoff. I'm good, but every person is different. If somebody is sensitive to caffeine, I do not endorse drinking coffee that late in the day. But, for me, caffeine is an awesome performance enhancer. 

JB: Oh for sure. 

NN: It helps with focus, especially for sports like bouldering. I'm really focused on muscle coordination and movement. And for me, it's not a lot of coffee. I have a small little Raggedy Andy cup that’s like eight ounces - it's a little mini cup. So, I typically do that with heavy cream and go out and knock out my training. And my training right now is a lot of double two-handed weighted fingerboard work - no big deal. Changing the edge size up a little bit. I've been doing some minimal edge stuff and it's been so hot and I blistered all my fingertips on the six middle edges beast maker. It makes these little mini micros to hold onto and it's good to kind of get you used to really small edges going into climbing season. But it definitely ruined my skin. I'm not 125 pounds like some of these like high level climbers. So 

JB: I watch climbers and I've done my little bit of climbing that I've done with you, man, like the amount of what you guys can do with just holding on with one hand and what you hang onto and stuff. It's just so impressive. It's crazy. You're like, you're looking at that you're like, that's not anything that's just a wall.

NN: Well, you get obsessive about body weight strength body weight ratio. 

JB: Dude, remember when we were at Island? So we're out in Island; Island is one of our places we do some of our training in the SEAL teams. And Nick is such a freak rock climber. We started rock climbing the building - it's brick. 

NN: It was like rough stone on the outside, so like it was like all chipped up and stuff. Yeah, it was actually pretty good, man. 

JB: Nick over here finding routes in the wall and I'm over here just like following Nick's lead just like yeah, this is awesome. 

NN: When you're stuck out at Island for like three or four weeks. Really any choice right?

JB: There’s probably still white marks on that wall there. I think you're the only person ever to do it. 

NN: So, I can knock out all my climbing. I have a home wall -I have a 15 degree wall that I boulder on. So I knock that out and then as soon as I'm done climbing - if I wasn't intermittent fasting - this has been throwing me off, too. If I'm climbing late and get past that 8 o'clock mark. I'm like “I really want it. If I eat now, I'm not gonna be able to eat until like 1 o'clock tomorrow.”

JB: That was the thing. Yes, exactly. If you push that time late at night, all this does is push the day.

NN: Dude, the new BCAAs that we're launching next week are plant based. So, I'll be able to put some BCAAs in my system and I'm good to go. My body’s gonna be primed for recovery. I don't need all that extra protein and all those calories afterwards, and guess what? I get to eat earlier. 

JB: I get to start eating at 1 instead of 3, I’m good.

NN: But I finish all that stuff up and then, because I'm poor and I don't have a sauna, Josh, I'm not an elite CrossFit athlete. I don't have a sauna. So, I opt for Epsom salt baths typically at night. I typically will try to jump in there before my kids steal all the hot water. So I take all the hot water and then my kids have to take a cold bath. It's actually the opposite, they typically take all the hot water and then I have to wait for the water to heat up again. But I do Epsom salt baths at night and I'll do some breath work and I don't look at my phone. I actually have it dim at around 7 or 8 o'clock and I'm trying to be better at keeping the phone out of the room. I'll plug it into the wall on the other side of the room and then turn the screen over, then I sleep with the silk eye shades on because my room does not totally darken. I also just got a new mattress. I bought it - I don't even know what kind it is - but it's a lot nicer than the shitty mattress I was sleeping on that was like 20 years old.

JB: It had bricks with broken glass on top. Rusty nails.

NN: I invested in a new mattress, so that's good. I also invested in some new pillows and I have a memory foam pillow. I know those things look so uncomfortable, like the ones that are like blocks and they have the curve on them. That looks terrible. I don't know who wants to sleep on that. But now I’m addicted to it. I put that thing on top of my down pillows that I just spent like 100 bucks. So I do that in my darkened ship in my own bed because I got kicked out of my room. My daughter's sleeping in the same room as my wife. They won't they won't let me sleep in there because I sleep too hot and I sweat through the sheets

JB: I've heard of other couples who do that, where they don't sleep in their own beds. Yeah you get better sleep for it. 

NN: I still love my wife, she just doesn't like the way I sweat through the sheets. 

JB: I can see it. 

NN: I take up way too much.  

JB: You ruin her sleep. You jerk. Well, that's awesome man. I think that's a good place. Was that everything? Sorry, did I cut you off?

NN: Come on, you always do that. No, no, I have nothing else. No, the sauna is calling, then I'm gonna put myself unconscious jumping in the ice bath for 10 minutes afterwards.

JB: I just changed the water, so I don't know if I'm gonna let you in all sweaty. You’re gonna murk up my clean water. 

NN: Josh is gonna spray me down with the hose afterwards.

JB: Awesome, well I hope you guys got something out of this recovery. It's been a huge part of my life, and has been a huge part of Nick's life, and we just want to put out some information to help. Because it’s a big question that I get hit up a lot with. So yeah, I hope you guys got something out of it. Thank you, Nick for coming back. 

NN: As always, a pleasure.

JB: Talking to the man, the legend, Nick Norris. 

NN: There's a good chance I'll be back here.

JB: You'll be back on many times.

NN: I mean, I'm just gonna keep coming back because the wellness membership here is just too good. 

JB: Exactly. Your fees are gonna be a guest on the podcast. Well, I hope you guys enjoyed that. Let us know. Leave us a comment, let us know what you think - if you enjoyed it, if not. And, as always, don't forget to pay the man.



*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Protekt products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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