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42 hours, 2372 miles, 2 dogs, 2 cats and no coffee

I haven’t written the last two weeks because I was in the process of moving back to California from Michigan.  After spending five solid days packing, two straight days with the movers, and almost an entire day looking for our missing cat, Pikaboo, I took off on a pilgrimage across eight states. 

Funny Aside: I do believe that names can influence personality traits, particularly when it comes to pets. If there were a competition, our family cat, Pikaboo, would surely be crowned the world champion of Hide and Go Seek.  She found a way to hide from me for almost an entire day—in a small house with absolutely no furniture in it.  I literally searched every nook and cranny of the house (at least eight times) and just as I was about to lose hope, I decided to give it one more go.  On my ninth and last attempt, I found her in the back of a built-in bathroom cabinet.  She figured out how to open the cabinet door and wedge herself at the very back, which made it nearly impossible to see her. A slight flick of the tail is what finally gave her away.

Interesting Aside: Since I have moved back and forth between the two coasts several times at this point in my life, this was not my first cross-country drive. But I remember my first time very clearly. It was exactly 13 years, 7 months and 27 days ago on September 11, 2001.  As fate had it, I was at Logan Airport flying from Boston to the West Coast on the morning of the 911 bombings. To make a long story short, I literally obtained the last rental car at Logan and not knowing (no smart phones) what was going on, began driving west. Sixty six hours later, I found myself in Bellingham, Washington. Totally unprepared, a bit afraid, and wanting to get home to my wife and two young children, I survived the trip on adrenaline, subway chicken sandwiches, and truck stop coffee

Thirteen years, later my tactics for the drive have evolved significantly.

I cringe at the thought of eating Subway’s GMO, gluten, and antibiotic-laden, food-like substances and drinking truck stop coffee, loaded with poisonous mycotoxins. While they squelched my hunger and helped me stay awake, I know that my body—and mind—paid a price for the short-term fix.

For this trip, I was well prepared.  And while my plan was not perfect, the trip went so smoothly that I completed the journey—with no hotel stops—in record time.  After a good night’s sleep, I not only felt fine the next day but my nitric oxide level (a marker of physiological health and fitness) stayed well within optimal range.

Here is how I did it: 

1. I started out my journey well rested.  I made sure to have a good night sleep before heading out.

2. I made sure to stay very well hydrated.  I brought along three, large mason jars full of fluid. One with homemade Kombucha, another with lemon juice and whole-food vitamin C powder, and a third with Core 4 Nutrition FundAminos essential amino acids. In addition, I brought a large thermos of hot tulsi and yerba mate tea and two gallons of filtered water. Needless to say, this created a need for frequent bathroom breaks—which forced both a physical and a mental break from the drive. 

3.  I made sure to fuel with fat, protein, and some starch.  I am a fat burner and can easily go from 8:00 at night to 1:00 the next afternoon without eating. So while I rarely eat until late morning and was tempted for simplicity to do a longer fast, I knew that maintaining a consistent fuel source was critical to keeping my brain and adrenal function supported. Plus, eating gave me something to do along the way.

Here’s a list of exactly what I ate:

5 hard boiled eggs
3 chicken sausages with sautéed mushooms, leeks, and chard.
1 medium purple Asian sweet potato
2 salads with baby greens, carrots, and beets

Today, it’s possible to stop at either a Whole-Foods or a Chiptole along most major routes. Finding real food was not so easy in 2001!

4. I supported my Nitric Oxide with whole-food concentrates.   I wanted to make sure to keep nitric oxide levels high as optimal nitric oxide is critical to support healthy neurotransmitter and adrenal function. A long journey with little sleep will deplete NO stores quickly.  

I supported my NO level by taking three Charge! lozenges each day; and I ate a bar of 88% Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate over the course of two days.

5. I drank lots of Chocoberry Blast This great-tasting, nutrient-rich stuff really kept me going—both physically and mentally. Made from organic fruit and veggie concentrates, herbs, cocoa and minerals, it’s super food for your cells. I had two to three servings each day, with the addition of a little grass-fed collagen as an additional protein and energy source.  Mixing with hot water made for a tasty and comforting alternative along the way; it makes for a great coffee substitute!

6. I supported my adrenal glands.  Even though I find driving a bit “Zen” and a great time to be in the moment, 42 hours in the car with little sleep is a major adrenal stress and I knew my circadian rhythm would also be disrupted, so I wanted to make sure my adrenal function was supported. 

First, I maintained stable blood sugar by eating some protein, lots of fat, and some slower-burning carbohydrates.  Next, I made sure to avoid coffee and opt instead for Chocoberry Blast and a couple of small, daily doses of Restorative Formulas Adrenal PX Balance  syrup which contains Eleuthro root, Hawthorn Berry, Alfafa, and Sarsparilla. I not only like the flavor, but find that it gives a nice stable pick me up. In addition, the mate and tusli tea, vitamin C and FundAminos also supported my adrenal function.

7. I took short, but deep, pre-sleep sessions.  I learned during my medical residency that it was always best to sleep during down times before you get too tired. So as soon as I felt fatigue coming on, I pulled off the road, grabbed my pillow and took a couple of two-hour naps in the car. 

8. I took frequent stops to walk barefoot in the grass.  I made sure to stop every two to three hours to take short walks and, whenever possible, do it barefoot on the grass to connect with the earth (which creates an adrenal re-set response). In the past, I might have done a small work out session with pushups and squats, but I now know that it is better to keep it simple with some walking and easy stretches. Times of stress are not the time to push your body.

9. I got some late-morning sun.  The sun is very important to resetting circadian rhythms.  I got a bit tired around 11:00 in the morning on day two, so I stopped at a small, quiet rest stop and fell asleep in the warm sun for 30 minutes. I awoke and felt like I had slept for a number of hours!
10. I made a conscious effort to de-stress.  I hadn’t planned to do the trip across country all at once. Initially, I thought I was going to stay two nights in a hotel but once I was underway, I realized that as long as I was up to it, it would be more efficient to do the trip all at once—especially with two dogs and two cats in tow.  My favorite “chill” points along the way were 15-minute stops at a Glenwood Canyon rest stop on the banks of a sweet river in Colorado and in St. George Utah where I was surrounded by the beauty of brilliant, red rocks.

How can you benefit from my journey?  Hopefully, you won’t have to drive 2300 miles in 42 hours on 4 hours of sleep, but the recipe I followed is a template that you can use in your busy life to maintain and improve performance your physical and mental performance.

Here’s a list of what I used:

Core 4 FundAminos
Core 4 Charge!
Core 4 Chocoberry Blast
Innate Response C Complete Powder
Restorative Formulas Adrenal PX Balance
Bulletproof Executive  Upgraded Collagen

I might also have used Bulletproof Coffee which is super charged coffee drink that provides consistent physical and mental energy. It contains mycotoxin-free coffee beans, grass-fed butter, MCT oil and hydrolyzed collagen, but taking and mixing all of the ingredients on the road would have been cumbersome. For me, hot Chocoberry Blast worked just as well.