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Health & Wellness

Podcast No. 27: Dr. Bob Arnot, Author, TV Journalist and Champion Paddleboarder

June 12, 2019

My guest today is Dr. Bob Arnot: Author, TV Journalist and Champion Paddleboarder

By Will Ahmed

Listen, review, subscribe.

My guest today is Dr. Bob Arnot. It’s hard to know where to begin when describing Bob. He’s a medical doctor who’s traveled on missions to third-world countries across the globe. He’s also the author of 15 books, an award-winning television journalist on CBS, NBC, MSNBC and more, and at 71 years old is a world-champion stand-up paddleboarder.

Bob and I discuss why he got on WHOOP, how it’s helped him get the HRV of a 25-year-old, and all the things he does to be able to compete with athletes one-third his age.

We also take a deep dive into his love for coffee, including a significant health benefit that most people don’t know about.

I think this an incredible conversation and I can’t wait to share it with all our WHOOP Podcast listeners.

Show Notes:

3:43 – How Does Bob Describe Himself? “I am a data fanatic.”

4:48 – What Got Him Fascinated by Health? He watched a 75-year-old man in Africa dig a well each morning to provide clean water for his people. “Prevention is the key.”

9:01 – Discovering WHOOP. After competing in the nordic ski world championships last winter, Bob said to himself “My biggest problem is overtraining, I am always wrecked. I’m going to do one thing this year–figure out how not to overtrain and how to properly recover.” A coach, John Spinney, told him to buy WHOOP. With it, Bob has seen his HRV rise from 32 to 115.

13:49 – Improving Recovery. “A principle I call ‘eating around your workout.’” Only eat the stuff you really enjoy close to when you workout, just before or shortly after. “For every hour you train, you have an hour in that window [before and after].”

19:24 – Our Love of Data. “It’s extremely hard to build an addictive experience,” Bob says in praise of WHOOP.

20:46 – Bedroom Environment. “I always put it at like 65 degrees,” when he’s in a hotel. At home in Vermont he opens the window in the winter, and also has an air conditioner he uses all year long for white noise.

21:50 – Type T Personality. “A thrillseeker.” Bob tells a story of listening to incoming missiles during the second gulf war.

26:15 – 3 Things to Help Sleep Anywhere. An eye mask, Bose noise-cancelling earbuds, and a Tempur-Pedic pillow. “With those three devices I’ll go all over the world.”

27:37 – Pre-Race Tapering. “My first race with WHOOP was probably the best race I ever had.”

31:11 – Red Eye Flights. “You lose 2-3 days.” Will shares his tips for avoiding red recoveries after them.

33:23 – Feed-Forward Loop. “I’m a big believer in working in a feed-forward, rather than a feedback loop. … ‘I’m going to do this because of how good I’m going to feel,’ I know if I wake up tomorrow in the green I’ll have such a good day, I can be more productive in those first 3 hours that morning than I can be in a whole week in the red.”

36:52 – More Recovery Tactics. “I have deep learning courses that I watch every night. I do my own hot yoga.” In addition to yoga every night, Bob also uses a roller.

38:47 – Aging Muscles. “You lose 12 pounds of muscle a decade starting at age 40 as a male.” But, you can prevent this with weight training. He discusses the “twin engines of aging,” aerobic exercise and weight training. “I advise sports that put elasticity back in.”

42:13 – Proper Running Frame & Reducing Impact. “Two pounds for every inch of height,” so you have to be really light in order for running to have the greatest positive impact. “A lot of people who run aren’t really built for it. … Put a machine between you and the pavement.”

43:15 – Which Athletes Live Longest? Cross-country skiers, then cyclists. “Because they can go high training load with low impact on the body.”

44:21 – Taking Up Paddleboarding. “In my book Turning Back the Clock, my whole philosophy with sports is get in early, win, and get out before the good guys get in.” As a child he wasn’t good at traditional team sports. “I love learning all the intricacies of sport. … Paddleboarding for me is the zenith, it takes everything I ever did in my whole career and pulls it in.”

47:02 – Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships. “The Wall Street Journal says after you’ve done the Ironman and all the marathons, step up to the hardest sport in the world.” Will recommends watching a video. “Big ocean surfing is truly what the sport is,” Bob says. The race is 32 miles long, takes about 7 hours, and he hits speeds of 32 mph.

50:56 – Coffee & Polyphenols. “45% of the American public has a genetic aberration that means they are slow caffeine processors … You have to realize the importance of polyphenols, the best anti-inflammatory substance that there is anywhere.” Bob mentions a study showing people with a greater intake of polyphenols have a 30% decrease in all-cause death. Coffee has them, but you don’t need the caffeine. He recommends high-quality beans from Ethiopia or anywhere with highlands, where beans are stressed and have to protect themselves with more polyphenols.

58:14 – Caffeine Before Bed. “For most people, I wouldn’t have caffeine after 10 or 11 in the morning.”

1:00:32 – Cardiodiabesity. “America has an epidemic of what I call ‘cardiodiabesity.’ It is spawned by fast foods and no exercise. This is where HRV and WHOOP can play a big role … have them watch what it’s like on bad food, then have them start to eat better and watch their WHOOP scores come back.”

1:03:20 – The Aztec Diet. “The Aztecs 500 years ago had the best nutrition on Earth. … At the heart of it was chia.”

1:08:15 – What’s Next for Bob? “I’m writing my first symphony. … I tell my kids you want to have a menu of learning. I decided 4 months ago that I was going to learn deep learning/machine learning, the basis of artificial intelligence.”

1:11:32 – The Gig Environment common with employment today. “In the gig environment you’re only as good as your next gig, and you’re out there competing with the world.”

1:11:56 – Online Learning vs Traditional Education. “I’m already seeing that the routine education is going away.” Bob takes courses online through a site called Udemy. “That’s the miracle of learning now … you can take a month-long course in an afternoon.” Will says “I love this concept that the internet levels the playing field.”

1:19:07 – No Equipment Needed. Steven Soderbergh shot an entire film on iPhones. “Everybody that owns an iPhone ought to take a 1-hour course on how to shoot better video.” You can do just about anything now with minimal equipment. “Leave the anxiety behind and let the adventure begin.”

1:22:58 – Breathing. Yoga is his meditation, he’ll do the breathing portion of it while in line at the airport. “I will take the most stressful experiences during the day and use them as an opportunity to drop my stress into the sewer. … I think that exercise, good diet and sleep are the best drugs that there are.”

1:26:05 Final Thoughts. “Look at the problem you have and see how you can solve it, use WHOOP as your compass to direct you to better health. … Here is your ultimate day-by-day health barometer that will allow you to be more unimaginably great than you ever thought you could be.”

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. Ahmed has recruited an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, marketers, and designers. Ahmed was recently named to the 2021 Sports Business Journal 40 under 40 list as well as 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 Healthcare list and previously named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Ahmed founded WHOOP as a student at Harvard, where he captained the Men’s Varsity Squash Team and graduated with an A.B. in government.