Health Podcast Post

Human Optimization with Dr. Erik Korem

George Grombacher March 9, 2023

share close

Human Optimization with Dr. Erik Korem

LifeBlood: We talked about human optimization, how to turn data into useful interventions, what ordinary people can learn from the research done on professional athletes, how to nurture your mind, body and improve recovery, and how to get started, with Dr. Erik Korem, sports scientist and Founder of Aim7, an organization unleashing the power of wearables.   

Listen to learn how to anchor your circadian clock!

You can learn more about Dr. Erik at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review here:


You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live. 

Stay up to date by getting our monthly updates.

Want to say “Thanks!” You can buy us a cup of coffee.

Invest in yourself. Bring it All Together.

Work with a coach to unlock personal and professional potential.

Our Guests

George Grombacher

Dr. Erik Korem

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Hello, this is George Gee, that time is right welcome. Today’s guest struggle powerful Dr. Eric Coram. Dr. Eric, are you ready to do this?

Dr. Erik Korem 0:09
Yes, sir. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

george grombacher 0:12
Let’s go. Dr. Eric is a sports scientist. He’s the founder and CEO of AIM seven. He is the host of the blueprint podcast. He’s working to unleash the power of wearables to improve health and lives. Dr. Ark tell us a little about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do?

Dr. Erik Korem 0:31
Yeah, thank you so much. I’m living in Houston, Texas. Now. After spending about 16 years and pro in college football lived all over the United States. So I’m a husband to my wife, Haley, are 14 years we have three boys. But prior to starting aim seven and alcohol late 2020. I spent, like I said, almost two decades working with elite athletes. And my job ended up becoming turning wearable data into actionable recommendations to improve performance and reduce injury. So about, it’s over a decade now I pioneered the use of athlete wearables in the US. So if you’ve ever seen an NFL game, the Super Bowls coming up, they’ll show a player running like 20 miles an hour down the field. That’s the technology I brought to the United States. And the problem we had we first started using is we had tons of data, no actionable way to use it. And use you know, data without insight is useless. And so I ended up hiring a former NASA propulsion engineer. And once we were able to kind of organize the data, we were able to reverse engineer the game of football, I was at Florida State at the time. And in one season, we had an 88% reduction in injury, our team went on to win a championship. And then this kind of blew up out of that. So in late 2020, I pivoted to this idea of working on AIM seven, because I realized that over 100 million Americans own wearables now, Apple Watches Fitbit. But wearables you know, they just show you data. They don’t tell you how to use it. And you know, people want these devices to change their behavior to sleep better to exercise more to be more resilient. And like I said, it’s just descriptive data. So what I slept six hours or walk 5000 steps, like what does it mean? So I started aim seven, we turn your data into personalized recommendations for your mind, body and recovery, to help you look, feel and perform better. So it’s been a big change. I enjoy now in in sport terms being the head coach, now. It’s been a lot of fun, and are actually rolling the product out into private beta this month.

george grombacher 2:47
Well, congratulations. Thank you. It’s got to be mildly stressful,

Dr. Erik Korem 2:52
a little bit. But it’s a good stress. It’s like an exciting, you know, stress. Stress is one input. And the same, you can either perceive it is debilitating or facilitating. And right now it’s really facilitating action. How did you?

george grombacher 3:14
What, what, from sports science to then recognizing the importance of data? Was that obvious to you to get into that, or you’re just constantly trying to figure out how do I get people to perform just a little bit better? Because at the level you’re talking about, it makes such a huge difference?

Dr. Erik Korem 3:34
Yeah, so I started as a traditional strength and conditioning coach. And unfortunately, the way that your you know, your performance is measured as by do athletes, you know, run faster, lift more, jump higher. So it’s really all about data. And so the field of human performance, there’s a lot of statistics that are done. And we’re always looking for that smallest worthwhile change to say like, did this intervention yield this result? And then you start baking in, in a high performance model, there’s a physical, psychological, technical, tactical and intellectual component. And so I was tracking and trying to figure out like, which components lead to which results. And in 2011, I went to Australia to learn about the emerging field of sports science and athlete wearables. In Australian rules football. I brought that technology back Sports Science didn’t exist in the United States. So this was literally there was no playbook. I was duct taping these devices to the pads of players. It was connected to GPS satellites, it was telemetry data, but I knew that if, if we didn’t understand what the game was, nobody would ever measure the game. Like the players in game so for instance, we found out that a receiver may run seven to 8000 yards in a game of which is several 1000 yards of high speed distance verse a lineman may only Sprint 50 yards In an entire game, so then you number now you understand like what the requirements are. And that’s just, I mean, we could figure out how many times they turn left and right and all this stuff. Now we got to train them for that. And then we got to understand if the engine starting to redline, just like you would on your vehicle. But just like in business, or anything else, if you don’t know what excellence is, or if you don’t know the parameters of the game you’re playing, it’s just a shot in the dark. But once we quantified it, then we can go, Oh, now we can develop plans to improve it.

george grombacher 5:33
That makes perfect sense, right? So I appreciate you sort of walking me through the the progression. And it’s amazing when he looked back, and just a very, very short amount of time, you know, 1020 30 years, athletes are completely different the way we look. And even regular people like me, now I’m 44 years old, and I hope to, I hope to remain super active and be in shape and all these things as long as I possibly can be. And I don’t need to be, you know, an NCAA elite athlete to take advantage of this stuff.

Dr. Erik Korem 6:07
No, we’ve got the same from from a data perspective, you can track and measure at almost the same fidelity that elite athletes can now almost even more you have more accessible to many different options. But once again, it’s just data without an actionable plan, and you are very fit. So you are doing things to improve your health. Most people you know, the majority of people need to be doing you know, basic things to improve their fitness to improve stress, resilience, and longevity. And then, once you kind of hit the basics, then you can start kind of layer on these one percents. But a lot of time people are too focused on the one percents and they’re missing the basic stuff.

george grombacher 6:55
So the basic stuff we’re worried about, I’m stressed out, I’m not sleeping well. I’m not motivated. I don’t feel good.

Dr. Erik Korem 7:05
Yeah. So are the people listening to this show want to improve in business want to improve their finances want to improve physically? And I’ll just start with this, like we’re in a stressed out society. I think the numbers are pretty staggering right now, I recently saw the American Psychological Association said that burnout is at an all time high, it’s like 50% of all workers report being burnout. And ultimately, our ability to thrive comes down to our ability to adapt to stress. The human body is an adaptation machine. It’s an amazing machine, it’s amazingly designed system to adapt to whatever comes at it. The problem is, is it stress is not the problem. Stress is actually the gateway to growth. If you want to improve physically, what do you have to do, you have to train and exercise, right? If you want to prove your cardiovascular system, you have to engage in aerobic exercise, you want to improve strength, you have to lift weights. If you want to learn a new skill, you have to gate deliberately engaged in the task of learning which improves something called neuroplasticity so that your brain can change and modify itself and learn new skills. The problem is is when the the amount of stress exceeds your capacity to adapt to it, or as I see this low grade fever of stress. And so we need to do is flip the paradigm on its head. And we need to stop talking about managing stress. And we need to start talking about how we can build the capacity to adapt to more stress with less cost. So if you think about it, like a gas tank, if you have a small gas tank, and you’re not gonna be able to go very far without having to stop refill, and it can be really easy to run in a gas in the middle of nowhere, we can build a bigger tank for stress. And so the way that you can do that there are just really five simple things. And that is sleep, exercise, nutrition, mental fitness, and living in community are fostering healthy relationships. Now there’s some nuance to all of this. But the scientific literature is very clear that those things not only improve longevity and the quality of your life, but they prevent the comp most preventable lifestyle diseases in America, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. It’s like a $4.1 trillion spend on our society right now. And so if you can engage in the behaviors associated with these things consistently over time, you can build the capacity to pursue difficult goals, to take on very difficult obstacles to stretch and push your body without burning out because burnout is I can’t adapt any More of my body gets sick, breaks down. And ultimately he get really nasty.

george grombacher 10:07
That makes a ton of sense. Instead of trying to get rid of stress. And as you said that it sounds so obvious, like, oh, you know, how in the world would we ever get rid of stress? That’s the kind of a silly thing, because I have no control over what’s going to happen to me. What makes more sense is for me to increase my ability to handle the stress. So to increase the size of that stress gas tank through better sleep, better exercise, better nutrition, better mental fitness and making sure I have a healthy community around me.

Dr. Erik Korem 10:42
You nailed it. Yeah, it sounds so simple. There’s a lot of science behind this. Our not our view of stress really kind of started changing about 20 years ago, there’s a guy named Bruce McEwen. He’s a giant in the field of neuro endocrinology. And he talked about this thing, this state called Alice stasis. Alice stasis is the ability to achieve stability through change your body internally, it’s fluctuating all the time. But what it wants is this homeostasis, right? This, this level playing field, all is good. The problem is, is there’s a cost to adaptation, when you take on physical stress, when you take on a difficult work project, or something really difficult happens in your family life. There’s a cost, it’s called allostatic load. And so what you have to do is you have to understand the cost of adaptation. And then you have to build the capacity for more. And there’s several things that you can do to set up these systems for optimal adaptation. And if you engage in those behaviors consistently, you can the game, the game will change for you.

george grombacher 11:56
So just like when you discover that a wide receiver in football runs, five miles a game or whatever that was, okay, so we need to make sure that that this person is able to certainly run that. But not only that in the fourth quarter, to be able to run his fastest when the game is on the line. So how do we use the information that we have to make sure that we’ve done all the prep work and all the training and find that Alice stasis for wide receiver to be able to run? And then for me, I’ve got two boys, one kid on the way, I’m 44. I need to be able to sleep for this much time. And so how do I position myself for success in the endeavors that I want to pursue?

Dr. Erik Korem 12:40
That’s exactly right. That is what you nailed it. I mean, that’s this is it. So we can talk about a few things that I think are high yield, return? Would you like to do that? Yeah. Great. So the first one, have you heard of the circadian system? Yes, it’s about circadian literally means about 24 hours. So we have circadian rhythms. We have alternating rhythms. So my doctoral work was in sleep, and how it impacts our brain’s ability to adapt to stress. So this, this whole idea has been like eight years in the making, I just didn’t know it. And so one of the first things that we learned is that if you want to unhinge somebody, you disrupt their circadian system. I mean, you can really pull somebody apart mentally and physically. And so there’s, there’s this thing called the Super charismatic nucleus or the circadian pacemaker. It sits above the top of the roof of your mouth, and it sets the their circadian clock everyday. Now every cell in your body has these clock genes. It’s pretty wild. And I’ve been going down the rabbit hole on this for years, and it’s just we’re uncovering so much, but one of the first things Bruce McEwen talked about in his research was if you want to set your body up for a dat adaptation to stress, you have to anchor your circadian clock. Well, how do you do that? A couple of the primary anchors number one is light. When we view light, there’s a quality of light specifically early in the day that will interact with the Super charismatic nucleus and it sends a signal to all the cells in your body that it’s time to be alert and awake. It does that by increasing body temperature, increasing cortisol, cortisol, the stress hormone makes you feel alert and energetic. You want to view sunlight multiple times during the day. In the morning. You want to go out in the afternoon. We were not designed to live indoors all the time. Like this is just we are finding I actually had Dr. Michelle gums on my podcast the blueprint recently she’s a circadian biologist at the University of Florida that studies the clock genes and the kidneys. This is wild. They are finding that when your circadian clock is not anchored consistently, consistently and you don’t have good sleep patterns, calm They’re finding that impacts cardiovascular function, kidney health, all of this stuff. So you need to see light early in the morning. And then you need to go out several times during the day if you like if you can have a window near where you’re sitting where you’re getting some light through that, but you need to go outside. Okay? The other thing is when the sun goes down, guess what, you need to start Dimming the lights in your house, because it dramatically impacts things. One hormone particular called melatonin, which not only helps you sleep, but also has massive antioxidant properties, we’re actually starting to find that it’s like the number one antioxidant for the body. It’s secreted by the pineal gland. And it’s also made of the mitochondria of your different cells. So one of the ways you can make your o’clock is sunlight. Number two is food. And so eating early in the day, there may need to be a buffer about an hour to an hour and a half after waking for blood glucose regulation, that is a strong circadian anchor. It helps you it alerts the body that hey, it’s time to go home. But at the same time, eating too late can really jack up your search your circadian system. So it’s kind of like Sachin PanDa has done some amazing research on this. And they’re finding you know, about an hour and a half, two hours after waking, it’s a good time to eat. And then you want to give yourself about five hours before bed. Another thing is exercise, exercising, like when you wake up in the morning, if you can go out for a walk, start moving, start moving the body. So if you just did light food and exercise, and you got plenty of those things consistently, your circadian clock is going to be anchored. Well, I’ll just tell you something really quick. We used to go to the NFL Combine, that’s I think it’s gonna start here in the next six weeks. And it was in Indianapolis, it’s in the winter. And it was in you know, Lucas Oil Stadium, you stay in a hotel. But there’s these tunnels, right that you get you to Lucas Oil, I would go like several days without going outside. And I would just start getting depressed, feeling weird. Like what is wrong with me. And then I’m like, You dummy, like you, you haven’t, you haven’t put into practice what you’ve been told. That is one of the if, right now, if you’re struggling with energy, you’re struggling with your sleep, get outside early in the morning, at least five to at least 10 minutes. I know right now we’re in the winter, it’s hazy, it’s cloudy, you’re gonna have to do it a little bit more every so 90 minutes or so, if you’re at your house or you’ll off just go outside for a few minutes, get next tool window, you will start noticing a significant change in your energy and your sleep and your body is now going to be set up to adapt to stress. So that’s like a high. That’s a high yield return behavior that everybody can engage in.

george grombacher 17:48
I love it. All right. So everything you said makes a lot of sense. So I walked me through the process of engaging with him seven how I do it. What what, what the experience is?

Dr. Erik Korem 18:02
Yeah. So what aim seven does is we do acutely everyday weeks and you recommendations for us a mind body in recovery. One of the things that we do better than anybody in the world is we can prescribe you the exact type, intensity and duration of exercise that your body is ready to adapt to today. Just because it’s written down that I’m supposed to go to the gym or do that doesn’t mean your body’s ready for that. Dr. Chris Morris on our team actually coined this this phrase, fluid periodization, we make it super simple. So one of the things we can do is based off of all the stuff that you track on your Apple Watch, or whatever it will be like Oh, today’s the day for you to go maybe get on the elliptical because we see like to do that go this heart rate and this duration, or today’s the day to go to the gym and do this, this and this. From a mental perspective. We can assess your acute mental state, and then we give you in real time recommendations to change things. So let’s say we noticed that your stress, we will send you a breathwork tool in the moment to regulate your autonomic nervous system. Or let’s say that we see your mood is down, we would send you a quick gratitude intervention. And then from a sleep perspective, we send you individualized sleep and napping recommendations. And our algorithms kind of move you toward these ideal states. But here’s where it gets really cool. After seven days, we analyze all your data, just like we would do with an elite athlete. We set this up with how we how can we deliver this type of service to anybody in the world with a wearable. When you bring in an elite athlete, you don’t just go oh, here’s the program, you have to gather some data. So we’ve gathered this data, we analyze and we’re like, ah, George, here’s the number one area you need to focus on. Let’s say it is sleep. I’m just gonna throw something out there. Then we’re going to create you a weekly goal. And we’re going to help walk you in that direction then we’re going to unlock a content library from the best in the world. It’s like masterclass for health and wellness the very short videos 60 to 90 second increments, and we’re going to teach you the behaviors that will create the conditions for rest, fulfilling sleep, we do the same thing for body. For the mental state, we have like the senior sports psychologist with US Olympics teaching stuff. And now when we went out and got some amazing folks. So we close the loop on this, we give you the daily recommendations, we help set the targets for what you need to improve. And then we give you the educational resources to do it. And we built this whole thing for busy people, busy professionals, busy moms and dads, they’re like, look, I care about my health. But I don’t have two hours to go to the box, you know, and eat clean wall with my bros or download my aura data and try to we do it all for you. And you literally just click a button, it tells you what to do.

george grombacher 20:46
Love it super powerful. Thank you, I’m gonna get to Oh, man, I have a dad joke to make. I’m just gonna keep getting nap suggestions all day long. Lay down for me. I love it. That’s super powerful. I think that that’s a mean, from a human flourishing standpoint, which is what we’re trying to accomplish what what I’m trying to accomplish help people get better. I think that this is really exciting. So grateful for your work and excited that that you’re putting it out into the world. So thank you for coming on. Where can people learn more? How can they get involved?

Dr. Erik Korem 21:23
Yeah, aim Aim We’re about to release this into private beta, which means you can’t get this on the App Store. We’re releasing it to small cohorts. In the first month, you get four zoom calls with the MIT team. It’s 15 bucks a month. I mean, this isn’t very expensive. You can also follow me on Instagram or Twitter at Eric Coram. And then like you mentioned before the blueprint podcast, we just like you. We take. we distill cutting edge science, leadership and life skills and the simple tactics and we try to break these episodes in like 15 minute chunks for busy folks. So it’d be a good adjunct to what you’re doing.

george grombacher 22:00
Love it. If you enjoyed as much as I did. So Dr. Eric, your appreciation and share today share with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to aim, the number check out everything we’ve been talking about today. Find Eric on Instagram and Twitter, like those in the notes of the show and check out the blueprint podcast as well. And if you’re like me and trying to perform at the highest level as I can, this could be a good fit and a good program for you to get involved with. Thanks again, Dr. Eric.

Dr. Erik Korem 22:32
Thank you. I appreciate it.

george grombacher 22:34
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and we’d be grateful if you’d subscribe as well.

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook.

Our Manifesto

We’re here to help others get better so they can live freely without regret
Believing we’ve each got one life, it’s better to live it well and the time to start is now If you’re someone who believes change begins with you, you’re one of us We’re working to inspire action, enable completion, knowing that, as Thoreau so perfectly put it “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Let us help you invest in yourself and bring it all together.

Feed your life-long learner by enrolling in one of our courses.

Invest in yourself and bring it all together by working with one of our coaches.

If you’d like to be a guest on the show, or you’d like to become a Certified LifeBlood Coach or Course provider, contact us at Contact@LifeBlood.Live.

Please note- The Money Savage podcast is now the LifeBlood Podcast. Curious why? Check out this episode and read this blog post!

We have numerous formats to welcome a diverse range of potential guests!

  • Be Well- for guests focused on overall wellness
  • Book Club-for authors
  • Brand-for guests focused on marketing
  • Complete-for guests focused on spirituality
  • Compete-for competitors, sports, gaming, betting, fantasy football
  • Create-for entrepreneurs
  • DeFi-for guests focused on crypto, blockchain and other emerging technologies
  • Engage-for guests focused on personal development/success and leadership
  • Express-for journalists/writers/bloggers
  • General-for guests focused on finance/money topics
  • Lifestyle-for guests focused on improving lifestyle
  • Maximize-for guests focused on the workplace
  • Numbers-for accounting and tax professionals
  • Nurture-for guests focused on parenting
  • REI-for guests focused on real estate

Feed your Life-Long Learner

Get what you need to get where you want to go

Rate it
Previous post