The Path to Holistic Health, with Flip Aguilera | EDB 185

Holistic wellness coach Flip Aguilera

(17 minutes) Flip is an NSCA, Precision Nutrition & University Of Miami certified Coach. He is the founder of Sweat Nation, whose mission is: “…to guide Busy Professionals who understand that maximizing return on investment through the effective & efficient use of Their Mind/Body, Finance/Career & relationships is the key to having a wealthy life.” Flip discusses how he came to be a wellness coach, his philosophy for treating the whole person – mentally, physically, and even financially, and why basic purposeful movement is essential to our health.

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Meeting Flip Aguilera

HACKIE REITMAN (HR): Hi, I am Dr. Hackie Reitman, and welcome to another episode of Exploring Different Brains. Today, we have–in our office here right in the little green screen studio–we have Flip Aguilera, who is the founder of Sweat Nation. And he’s into holistic health fitness–good for your mind, good for your body, good for everything. Flip, welcome!

FLIP AGUILERA (FA): Thank you Hackie, I’m honored to be here sharing some time and attention with you.

HR: How did you get into all of this?

FA: Well how did I get into fitness?

HR: Well, I think you’re doing more than just fitness, you know. First of all, introduce yourself properly because I didn’t do a very good job.

FA: Right, so I am Flip Aguilera. I am the founder of Sweat Nation. And I like to say that I’m the person you come to when you want to try to put the puzzle together, because it’s more than just exercise. Sleep is something that’s very important, nutrition is something that’s very important, how do you speak to yourself and your mind, something that’s very important, So, how all these things come together to create the puzzle of your life is what I try to focus on and helping people, again, optimize that and make it the best that I can.

Flip’s start into holistic health

HR: How did you evolve into this?

FA: So around 2008, when the financial markets are crashing and everything was crashing, my life was crashing too. I had just gone through a divorce, foreclosure, all that fun stuff. But, in my twenties, the lifestyle that I led was a very hard charging party lifestyle. I used to work for a liquor distributor during the day, I had a poker company at night where I was also around liquor some more. And then on the weekends, I was Deejaying in South Beach where there was more than liquor around. There was all types of things around. So for 10 years, that is how I lived. When I was going through my divorce, that’s when I decided that I wanted to live a different lifestyle. And maybe it’s serendipitous, or whatever, but a friend of mine named Jimmy and Mike, they invited me to go to Markham Park to go biking. Now, what I didn’t know is that it was going to be mountain biking, and I have never been mountain biking in my in my life. I thought we were going to go by Corona Park, drink some beer after, you know, just hang out. And when I get there, they have a bike for me, and they take me to this trail. And this is the warm-up trail, which probably lasted about no more than five minutes. And when we got out of the warm up trail, I’m like, “where did you guys bring me, why am I here, I’m going to break something here and are we done yet?” And they were like, “No, that was just a warm-up.” So of course, all these guys begin to laugh at me. And I made it through that day, and I was sore for a week after that. But on the way home, I was like, “I can’t let these guys get one up on me like that.”

And I started to go back every single day. So in three months, I went from about 185 lbs to 155 lbs, and I looked at myself in the mirror and said: “I’m really skinny with these legs because I’m biking so much and I need to do something about my upper body.” So then, at the age of twenty-something, you go to the gym and you start to work the the vanity muscles, you do a lot of the chests, biceps, triceps. And that’s all I would really do. I’m like, “I workout my legs when I’m biking, so I don’t need to do that there.” And what ended up happening is over a couple of months, I ended up getting a shoulder injury. And now I know why I got that shoulder injury, back then I didn’t. So I go to the doctor. The doctor gives a cortisone shot. I didn’t feel anything anymore, so what do I do? I go back to doing the exact same thing that got me the cortisone shot. So once that cortisone shot wears off, the other shoulder starts to mess up. And I started to feel the pain back in the other shoulder, I can barely lift either arm, and I go back to the doctor and he’s like, “I can give you another Cortisone shot but if you come back one more time we’re going in.” And I’m like, “Well there’s got to be a way for me to figure this out without going in because, not that there is not a time and place for going in and fixing something, but once you open the box, it never quite goes back in the same way.” So I took the doctor Google, and I started to read a lot about how athletes rehab and how they get through through what they get through. And no matter what, physical therapy, was part of the action.

So they let me do the physical therapy exercises first, and see what happens. It took me a year and a half, but after a year-and-a-half, my shoulders were fine, everything was good. And that’s when I had the light bulb, that I was like, “Oh, if I continue to learn about every single joint, then I can help people that are in pain, which is just about everybody.” So I started following this coach named Mike Boyle. And he actually had an article that was called “The Joint by Joint Approach to Training.” So I made that my fitness philosophy as I began to transition out of the party lifestyle, out of working for the liquor distributor, and decided “ If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it for myself.” And I jumped off the cliff, and I’m still falling off the cliff still today. So that’s how I got into fitness. That was a catalyst. And then once I started working with clients, one of the first questions everybody asks after the workout is “what is it that I should be eating?” So then I didn’t know really what to answer because back then I kind of had that bodybuilding mentality. Eat six times a day, eat lots of protein. And what I figured out by starting to dig into the nutrition, is that nutrition is very complex and we know very little about it still to this day. So now when I give nutrition advice, if there’s a lot of trying to explore, “okay, what’s going to work for you, because what might work for you might not work for everybody else, and what works for you now may not work for you forever because we are dynamic systems. We’re not static.” Then after that, I went to the University of Miami and got a Sports Coaching Certification that says that I can work with athletes. And then again, I went and got the financial certification which is just a left field because I figured that part of holistic health is knowing how to build your wealth as well. And then I went and got a Holistic Life Coaching Certification from the Chek Institute, which is run by Paul Chek. Which is this big holistic guy out in the West Coast. And that’s where I am today continuing to try to learn.

HR: So you touch them all, got it all going on.

FA: Well overtime you keep asking questions and you’re like: “Okay, how do I answer this question?”

Sweat Nation

HR: So, in reading about Sweat Nation, it’s kind of a unique approach. Tell us more about Sweat Nation.

FA: So, Sweat Nation is the company that I started. And, no matter what, whatever you want to accomplish in life, it’s going to take sweat. So learning to embrace that concept of “it’s going to take some work, it’s going to take some sweat,” and I guess carrying the load purposely is the, I guess the mantra the foundation of what Sweat Nation is trying to put out there.

Flip’s connection to neurodiversity

HR: What is your personal connection with neurodiversity?

FA: Well I want to say around 2013–I have a podcast addiction. I have a problem,. And I was listening to a podcast with Tim Ferris and he had talked to Dr. Rhonda Patrick on there. And she blew me away with just the amount of information that she can retain on her head and just spit it out. So then I went around looking for more information from her. And I saw that she was also on the Joe Rogan podcast. And at that time I had done my 23andMe genetic testing, but I only got the ancestry part of it. I didn’t get the full health spectrum. After listening to her, I went and got the health spectrum. Because now the 23andMe is a lot more–they have a lot more than they offer, but at that time they didn’t offer what she was offering, which was she would take your results and tell you which snips you had. And that’s when I found out that I had one gene of the APOE e4 gene that makes your Alzheimer’s probabilities about 30%. If you you know if you have that gene, you have a 30% probability of getting Alzheimer’s. If you have two of those jeans, you have to up to an 80% probability. So then much like her, because she also has that same gene, I was wondering “what can I do to make sure that this gene stays off?” And that led me down a whole bunch of experiments on myself, that I’m on right now talking to you. I’m on one of them right now.

Healthy exercises for those with different brains

HR: What overall approach to exercise would you have for those of us whose brains are a bit different or those of us who are concerned about developing Dementia or those of us with autism?

FA: The thing about Alzheimer’s is that we know so little about it, right? It’s it’s a fairly new player on the game that came in strong. It’s a strong heavyweight that came up for real quick. And we’re still learning so much about it. When it comes to how to keep your brain in an optimal form and how exercise, and what I like to call purposeful movement comes in, is that when you exercise and you push yourself, what you are effectively doing is learning something right. So say I go do a squat. If I do a 100 lb squat today, my body needs to learn how to do that from a neuromuscular, from a central nervous system, from so many different aspects. But tomorrow, if I come in and do 105, although it’s the same movement, 105 is still a new learned pressure that my body needs to learn. So exercise keeps your brain learning through movement, through again central nervous system, there are so many aspects of positive things that exercise does. And then also just learning in general, learning anything, Learning how to dance, learning how to play chess, learning in general keeps the connections in the brain stronger. So that if by any chance you do get something like Alzheimer’s, supposedly if the connections are stronger, it takes longer for them to wither away.

Flip’s approach to “holistic”

HR: As we were talking earlier before we went on camera, we now know so many things are good for our brains. But it’s not just the brains that they’re good for. They’re good to prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, all of the above. And it’s a whole package. As you talked about, it’s not just the exercise, and not just the sleep, and not just the overall holistic approach. Why don’t you expand more on what your approach is holistically? What does your version of the holistic approach include?

FA: Okay, so first and foremost, the thing that I protect with all my might is my sleep. Sleep is the lowest hanging fruit we can all pick to optimize our health. Second, after that is where I put my purposeful movement. And then third, I put nutrition. And something that we haven’t touched on yet, but it’s just as important of all of this, is the people you surround yourself with, the social network you have around you. Are they feeding you, or are they taking away from you? Do you have an uplifting feeling when you’re hanging out with the people you hang out with, or a sinking feeling when you’re hanging out with the people you’re hanging out with? Because I know you’ve probably heard of it like all these areas of the blue zones. And some of these blues zone areas, there is movement. There’s sleep, there’s nutrition. But in some of these places, people smoke left and right because they have strong social connections, it mitigates that negative aspect of whatever it is that they’re doing. So that’s how I try to plan. Hang out with cool people, move on purpose, sleep well, and eat well.

HR: Do you tailor your regiment, your exercise regimen, to the various neurodiverse types? Like if you trained, give us some examples of that.

FA: So, one of my favorite types of styles of working out is called periodized training. But I specifically like to fall back on what is called undulating periodization. Because your body needs to do something so that it can adapt to it. So to take our example, squat. If we do say squats for six weeks, your body is going to adapt to be able to do that movement better and better over the six-weeks. And then you kind of need to change it so that there is a different pressure. But within those six weeks we can just do, I guess a template. A bodybuilding template would be like three sets of ten. We could do that for six weeks, and your body would get stronger that way. But what I like to do with the undulating periodization is–let’s say one week at three sets of time, the next week it’s three sets of 15, the next week it’s four sets of eight, the next week it’s four sets of ten. So you’re going through all these different, sets and reps where one of them builds more muscle, the other one builds more muscular endurance, the other one builds more strength. And if you do that for six weeks, yes, you’re doing the same movements but it’s kind of layering in all these different types of central nervous system ways of learning. And then of course on top of that, throwing some sprints, throw in a good mountain biking ride, go dance all night. All of these things count.

HR: So in your exercise regimen, and I know you are very client to client, but you don’t need a whole lot of equipment?

FA: You don’t have to have it a lot of equipment, no. As long as you have an able body and a mind that’s willing to undertake the journey, you’re good to go.

Word of wisdom

HR: What’s one word of wisdom you’d like to leave our audience with today?

FA: Listen. Listen to your body, listen to your instincts, learn how to tap into that. Because we don’t listen enough. And as they say, we have two ears and one mouth, but we like to run our mouth about it, and I’m definitely guilty of that. So I have to be the first one to be mindful about listening more and talking less.

HR: How would our audience get in touch with you if they want to learn more?

FA: Well you can always go to I am Flip Aguilera on Facebook, I am FlipAwesomeAguilera on Instagram. I also have on Instagram. FlipAAA on Twitter. So, however you want to get in touch with me. As you can tell I like to talk.

HR: What do you feel is the role your work serves in terms of helping the brain?

FA: Well, it kind of starts with how you speak to yourself, right? The stories that you tell yourself and where did those stories even come from? And are they serving you? And having people open up to questioning “okay, where did those stories come from?” Did they come from my childhood or my parents put them there, did they come from my peers when I was growing up? And there’s so many examples of people that I’ve had things put into them before they even had a chance to know “this is a habit that I don’t want.” So just the story that you tell yourself about the life that you’re living and how that affects everything else because the story starts up here in the brain.

HR: Well, Flip it’s been great to have you here today, we hope you come back again soon. Keep up the good work you do with so many people.

FA: Thank you again, Hackie! I appreciate your time and attention, because it’s the greatest gift we can all give to each other.