Features

RUNGA Spotlight: Morning Routine, Movement & More with Joe DiStefano

J O E , F O U N D E R

 
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Y O U R M O R N I N G R O U T I N E

6 am

I wake up naturally, never later than 6 am. Then I hydrate with 16oz of fresh purified water with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and a Quicksilver Scientific hydrogen tab.

6.15 am

I sit on my mat in the living room for 10 minutes of silent meditation, focusing on the flow of my breath and keeping my gaze at my third eye point. Then, I engage in 20 minutes of movement—always a variation of my Breathe Better, Move Better flow using the RUNGA balls.

7.15 am

After a little movement, I do a 25-minute infrared sauna session. We live in 800 square feet, so I keep our Sunlighten solo unit in the closet. Since my head sticks out, I usually double down with brain.fm.

8 am

I take a refreshing cold shower, usually for about 5 minutes, and then I stand in front of the Joovv for 10-15 minutes. This feels amazing to end my morning routine, as it fully wakes me up and gets me ready for the day.

8.30 am

I have my first shot of espresso!

9 am

I do between 10-30 minutes of physical longevity training, followed by Kion Aminos and a second shot of espresso.

9.30 am

Begin workday!


F A V O R I T E W A Y T O G E T M O V E M E N T I N

  1. Always keep a yoga mat in sight. We have one in the bedroom, living room, and two outside.

  2. Keep 1-2 kettlebells at home and install a doorway pull-up bar! A light bell (ladies 8kg-12kg, men 12-16kg) and a heavy bell (ladies 16-20kg, men 20-32kg).

  3. Get in one minute of movement every time you get water, coffee, or use the bathroom.

  4. Invite friends to work out with you after work. Accountability is vital, and healthy socialization extends life expectancy.


G O T O S N A C K

Emilia’s paleo granola bars or GT’s coconut yogurt.


F A V O R I T E M E M O R Y F R O M A R U N G A E V E N T

That’s a tough one! I can tell you something magical from every event dating back to 2015 that’ll stay with me forever. But more and more, it’s less about specific experiences and more about witnessing transformation taking place. A good example is our welcome circle in Napa. It set the tone for a magical weekend by fostering a contagious sense of safety and openness that’s simply essential to set the fertile soil for true insight and transformation.


C U R R E N T L Y R E A D I N G

DreamBirth by Catherine Shainberg and Jaws by Sandra Kahn.


N E W P R O D U C T S C U R R E N T L Y U S I N G A N D L O V I N G

I’ve been loving Quinton and LipoCalm from Quicksilver Scientific before bed.


S H O P J O E ‘ S F A V O R I T E S

On the Joy of Helping People Heal — Q&A with Scott Dolly & Julie Brautigam

Scott Dolly and Julie Brautigam make an incredible team—at the RUNGA Immersion, Scott employs various manual therapy techniques to initiate a profound change in guests’ bodies, and Julie helps guests integrate exercises in order to further promote correct posture and movement. Scott is the founder of Evolution Human Performance and Rehabilitation, specializing in movement analysis and biomechanics, as well as myofascial release and I.A.S.T.M (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). As a registered nurse and lifelong athlete, Julie has an extensive background in the medical field and health and wellness industry.

 
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Q

How did you become interested in working with the human body? Was there a moment that planted the seed?

A

Scott: My fascination and interest in the human body started when I was a little kid playing sports and practicing martial arts. I have always been captivated by meditation and human potential, including our ability to heal. After suffering many sports-related injuries and having to climb back up the mountain of optimal health time and time again, I can’t help but want to assist others experiencing the same thing. I am an absolute geek about the human condition in all of its glory. I love helping people get the most out of this journey—and keeping their bodies and minds up to the task is a big part of that.

Julie: My interest and appreciation for the human body was instilled very early on. My mom was a physical therapist and I grew up hearing stories about her house visits to her patients in rural Virginia and her work at Georgetown Hospital. I still have her beautiful set of anatomy flashcards. My dad was physically handicapped since he was 14-years old when he was diagnosed with the poliovirus and was in an “iron lung” for 6 months. He learned how to walk again, but always required canes. Witnessing my dad’s struggle with the aftermath of polio and seeing how my mother cared for him, as well as her patients, influenced me greatly as a little girl.

My work in oncology and hematology as a registered nurse really showed me how terrible cancer can be. My work in allergy and immunology showed me how prevalent auto-immune disease is in our society. All of these experiences have provided a deep understanding of the importance of movement and healthy eating and how vital these simple concepts are for total health.

Q

We understand how powerful these therapies can be, especially for individuals who are rehabilitating injuries or are otherwise in physical pain. What has been the most rewarding aspect of working hands-on with people?

A

Scott: I know what it’s like to experience injury or dysfunction and how much it can interfere with being able to live your best life. Pain is such a heavy burden to carry around, and I can’t think of many gifts greater than to be able to give someone a pain-free existence while empowering them to care for themselves. Through healing and empowering individuals, I understand the positive ripple effect it will have into all other areas and relationships in their lives. And in that, I know that I am helping improve the quality of our world.

Julie: I love being able to share my passion for health and performance and empower others by sharing my knowledge and experience. I love seeing the “ah-ha!” moments when clients get the connection or feel the movement for the first time. I also value being in the struggle with them, helping facilitate the “getting it” and expediting that process.

One of the most rewarding aspects is when the client returns to us and says that they caught themselves “doing it wrong.” Helping others become more self-aware of how they are moving or even how they are positioning themselves at rest is vital in their total mind-body optimization. When you can increase someone’s own personal awareness, you are affecting permanent change in their lives.

Q

You use a number of different modalities in your practice. When you started, did you expect that the therapy would include some energetic healing?

A

Scott: I started out as an energy healer 18 years ago and never stopped. My journey through reiki and qi gong training is what led me to the study of western medicine and the physical laws and properties of the human body. It was just the natural progression of study and investigation of the human condition.  I found that the effects of energetic issues could affect the physical systems and vice versa. The entire energy of a limb is affected when it has suffered a physical injury, and the chi that flows through that limb and through the individual must be restored for total healing to happen. But, physical training and movement integration must be included and restored as well.

On Growing Your Own Food & Cooking For Family — Q&A with Jessa Greenfield

Jessa Greenfield is an expert on bringing wellness into the household. Influenced in part by her childhood on her family’s farm, Jessa’s teachings focus on how to live a healthy, natural life in our modern era. As the wife of Ben Greenfield and mother of their two twin boys, Jessa spends much of her time creating the perfect environment for her family to thrive, and is an invaluable resource when it comes to food preparation, body detoxification, and designing a healthy home.

 
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Q

How did your passion for healthy living begin?

A

I grew up in a home that was largely “healthy” and I have also been a runner for much of my life, so a healthy diet always seemed to go hand-in-hand. What escalated my passion for mindful and healthy living was really my twin boys. When they were born, I wanted the absolute best for them—as most parents do—so I began reading and researching. One of the first things that I did was rip out my backyard and put in a veritable garden and ever since then, fresh, healthy food has been a major priority in our house.

Q

When it comes to wellness, what is the most important element to you?

A

I truly believe that the most important thing is keeping stress down. I think many folks want to implement everything all at once and that has the potential to cause major stress, burn-out and ultimately, a sense of failure.

Q

What advice can you give people who want to start experimenting with growing their own foods?

A

When it comes to growing your own food, I always suggest starting by learning one new major skill and mastering one plant. For example—take a composting class and implement your learnings. Then, learn how to grow blue-ribbon worthy tomatoes!

Q

We love hearing about the ways you nurture your twin sons' creativity and individual personalities. If you could give one piece of advice to other parents, what would it be?

A

The one thing that I think goes the longest way with kids is making sure that they feel needed and know they are part of the tribe. It is such a great way to boost their confidence and give them a desire to contribute.

Q

What is your favorite meal to cook with or for your family?

A

Homemade sourdough pizza is a family favorite! We have come up with so many creative variations. Also, sourdough waffles are a Saturday morning tradition that my son Terran is particularly passionate about.

On Food Philosophy and Creativity in the Kitchen — Q&A with Seamus Mullen

Seamus Mullen is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and co-host of the goopfellas podcast, known for his inventive yet approachable Spanish cuisine and passionate focus on health and wellness. After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2007, Seamus was forced to rethink his relationship with food and has since written two cookbooks, ‘Hero Food’ and ‘Real Food Heals.’

 
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Q

What are a few of your most loved kitchen essentials?

A

I can’t cook without olive oil, good quality sea salt (I’m a huge fan of Jacobsen’s Salt Co) and some good vinegar. A little splash of delicious vinegar goes a long way to make a dish sing.

Q

Was there a particular moment when you knew that you wanted to be a chef or a moment that planted the seed?

A

I fell in love with cooking at a young age, but never really considered pursuing it as a career until after I graduated from college. I studied Spanish language and literature and spent most of my college in Spain where I worked in a small tapas bar. When I finished school, I was a little aimless and not sure what to do with myself and the only real career skill I had was cooking. My grandmother took me aside and said, “you love cooking, you’re happiest when you cook, that’s what you should do!” And the rest is history!

Q

What helps you get in touch with your creative energy in the kitchen?

A

Ingredients. I’m a stickler for using the best ingredients possible and trying not to screw them up. Nothing is more inspirational to me than walking through the farmer’s market in peak season. I never go with too much of a plan, but rather I just go and let the produce speak to me. I always find new things (Spigorello, anyone?) and come up with new ideas for dishes.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

Moving to Los Angeles! It’s taken me nearly 19 years to leave New York and as much as I’ve wanted to, I have resisted it, but moving here has been so good for my head, my heart, my body and my soul.

Q

We know that your health journey has hugely influenced you, both personally and as a chef. How would you sum up your food philosophy?

A

Probably best summed up in the title of my second book Real Food Heals. I truly believe that there is not a single health issue that won’t benefit from a healthy relationship with food.

Follow Seamus on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for recipes, articles and more.

On Mitochondrial Health, Entrepreneurship, and Personal Development — Q&A with Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield is an Ironman triathlete, human performance consultant, speaker and author of 13 books, including the New York Times Bestseller “Beyond Training.” Ben is also the host of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast and CEO of a leading supplement company, Kion. Ben works with individuals from all over the globe for both body and brain performance, and specializes in anti-aging, biohacking, and achieving an ideal combination of performance, health and longevity.

 
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Q

As one of the world's leading authorities on health and wellness, what are some of the most consistent things you find yourself recommending?

A

Most commonly, it’s things that enhance the health of the mitochondria. When it comes to mitochondrial health, we’re speaking specifically about elements that affect light and biophotonic signaling within the human body. I tend to recommend anything in the realm of infrared and red-light signaling, such as photobiomodulation panels or headsets. In addition, I recommend anything related to taking advantage of pulse electromagnetic fields (PEMF), such earthing, grounding, and certain footwear, mats and devices that allow one to enhance the mitochondria in this way. I also recommend anything that includes elements of cold and heat, such as devices that one can wear for cold thermogenesis, cold tubs, cold baths, cold showers, along with saunas, infrared saunas and heat exposure. Finally, good clean water! I find myself recommending water filtration systems, structured water, hydrogen-rich water, and even deuterium-depleted water along with high intake of minerals.

In summary, the big ones are light, grounding, earthing, heat, cold, good water and minerals, because they have such a profound influence on the mitochondria, which is so important for the human body.

Q

You wear so many hats in your daily life. Can you offer any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs?

A

Pay attention to the work of folks like Cal Newport, such as his book Deep Work. Not only should you find your passion and your purpose, and be able to define that in one succinct clear statement, but once you find it, you need to cut yourself off from distractions such as social media. Instead, every single day, find at least 4 hours—and a maximum of 6—to engage yourself in that extremely deep and meaningful work, with no distractions. So you are spending time creating rather than consuming. Viewing yourself as a creator rather than a consumer, and as someone who has a distinct purpose in life and is able to create deep work, is going to take you really far in life from an entrepreneurial standpoint.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

That’s a tough one, but I would say that one risk that I took recently was to branch out from being a “solo-preneur,” an author and speaker, and to start a nutritional supplements company, Kion. This was 2 years ago, and—despite being a path raw with unexpected twists and turns—it’s wound up being a complete joy to build a company, a culture, and a team of amazing people around me who can help me to deliver incredible formulations and wonderful scientifically proven compounds to people that I know are going to change a lot of lives. It’s risky to start a business like that, but I’m very glad that I did.

Q

Is there a particular person that influenced you in your career or personal development? What qualities did you admire in them?

A

Frankly, I’ve never had a mentor or one single person that I look up to. However, I do read a book a day. I am a voracious reader, and as a result, my mentor is my own personal library—chock full of books by great thinkers like Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Munger, Jesus Christ and a whole host of folks who I consider to be wonderful philosophers, educators, thinkers, doers, and achievers. My library truly has influenced me the most in terms of my career and my personal development.

Follow Ben Greenfield on Instagram, Facebook and visit his Website for podcasts, articles and more.

On Showing Up, Digital Detox, and Being Well — Q&A with Joe DiStefano

Joe is the Founder of RUNGA, and has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. Influenced by his own experience of healing after a traumatic brain injury, Joe’s teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life. As Head of Sport at Spartan Race for 8 years, Joe trained professional endurance athletes and taught trainers all over the world how to best support their athletes year-round.

 
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Q

As a coach, what are the things you most consistently prescribe?

A

Although today I work almost exclusively with executives and “weekend warriors,” the core of my approach hasn’t changed much from my days of working with college athletes and professional runners. Essentially, no matter what you use your body for, us humans have the same operating systems, compensating in many of the same ways, with similar underlying patterns.

For this reason, the most consistent things I prescribe are breathwork, lower-extremity mobility work, and walking. Breathwork begins with proper diaphragmatic activation and spills over into breath-holding drills, patterned breathing, and torso-expansion exercises, such as belly-breathing. This helps the body improve from the inside-out, calms the nervous system, and ensures that the foundation is set for greater work to be done. As for the lower-extremity mobility work, years of walking on a concrete jungle—and often in tight, narrow shoes or high-heels—leave us with feet that hardly function. This creates a ripple effect of dysfunction, starting at the feet and ankles, and moving up to the knees, the hips and so on. Many are surprised to learn that pain anywhere in the body can be rooted in the feet.

As for walking, it simply ties both of these together. After mobilizing the feet and activating the breath, going on a walk can help “upload” a lot of the new software. Sitting is the new smoking—our bodies desperately need movement to be optimally vital and healthy.

Q

We know that your own health journey has hugely influenced you, both personally and in your career. How would you sum up your wellness philosophy?

A

I truly believe that our emotional states, belief systems, self-care tendencies, our day-to-day joy and the quality of the relationships in our lives make up the majority of our wellness. I think of wellness as being the zest an individual has for life, perhaps best represented by the energetic impact they have on the people around them. Interestingly, in contrast to health and fitness, wellness can’t really be measured.

On my own journey, I learned that it isn’t possible to maximize all three—health, wellness and fitness—at once. At my fittest, I could pick up nearly 400 pounds from the floor, but I was far from well mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When I finally began to work “in” and tap into my higher self, I didn’t have as much space for working “out” anymore.

Today, I’m finally catching my stride with all three. Wellness takes the most effort and patience, but once you do the work, you can play with health and fitness with great passion and excitement. In a sense, wellness sets the base level of consciousness that fuels the other two as hobbies or mindful pursuits—as opposed to punishments for that cheeseburger you ate last night or something.

Q

Digital detox used to play a dominant role in your messaging. Where does that element fit in now?

A

Our reliance on our electronic devices is even more of a problem today than it was a few years ago when I promoted it as part of my, and RUNGA’s, core program. Ironically, the reason that the problem has grown in gravity is the same reason that I don’t pay lip service to it as heavily anymore. The people that need it the most aren’t aware they’re afflicted! The digital addiction is so subcortical that the messaging often falls on deaf ears, or simply doesn't appeal to people. It’s far easier to get their attention with pictures of wine bottles and sandy beaches, and then give them what they really need when they show up!

So although I may not lead with it, I still believe in it whole-heartedly. In fact, the ambiance and culture of a RUNGA event is not very conducive to people being on their phones. Hence, we sort of show people the light and the value of “digital detox” without smacking them over the head with it.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

Ha, all of them! My favorite one was probably the time I took a week’s vacation to the Virgin Islands and then decided to stay another six months. At the time, I had a very successful personal training business in the height of its growth stage. With many other things going on in my life at the time, including rehabilitation from a traumatic brain injury, I knew in my heart that I was beat and truly had no idea how long I could sustain the business.

When I came home, the business was—for the most part—waiting for me. And on top of that, I had restored my energy and my vision for the future was so refined that I ended up building a far more successful business, which I sold two years later.

Q

Is there a particular person that influenced you in your career or personal development? What qualities did you admire in them?

A

The first person to come to mind is Dr. Pete Percouco, a Chiropractic Neurologist in the Boston area and one of the doctors I would frequent during the rehabilitation of my traumatic head injury. Prior to meeting Dr. Pete, I was delivered the crushing blow that “[I’d] be Michael J. Fox by 30.” Needless to say, I was feeling depressed and helpless.

Living within the paradigm of “90% of success is showing up,” I made sure to walk in every day and go through treatment. One day, Dr. Pete—who, by the way, is a larger than life kind of guy—woke me up. Truly the Tony Robbins of my life, he ingrained in me that success is not just about showing up—rather it’s having the belief, the faith, and the intent in, not just the process, but also your unique journey.

From then on, our sessions started lasting an hour or more at times. Dr. Pete taught me about the brain, the areas of my brain that were injured and what those areas controlled. He even taught me about the neurotransmitters that I needed to feel well and believe in myself, and what we were doing to build them up. I learned that you are a walking placebo effect—whatever you think and believe is what you get. Dr. Pete put me on the path that led to where I am today.

Follow Joe DiStefano on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for support on your own wellness journey.

Real Food Heals: An Afternoon with Seamus Mullen

Last week, we had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Seamus Mullen, a world-renowned chef with a focus on real, whole-foods, and our chef at this year’s RUNGA Immersion. Seamus is the author of Real Food Heals and Hero Foods, as well as the host of the GoopFellas Podcast.

 
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We started at the famed Santa Monica Farmer’s Market—known for being the largest in LA, and where a lot of the city’s chefs procure ingredients.

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The market truly features some of the best organic produce that California has to offer.

Seamus chose a variety of vegetables that stood out to him—not limited to exotic herbs, whole sorrel, summer squash and colorful radishes.

 

Seamus showed us a handful of his tricks in the kitchen—including his signature technique for rustic summer squash.

The little gem salad featured a beautiful Green Goddess dressing made with avocado and champagne vinegar.

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The meal was not complete without 100% grass-fed flank steak from US Wellness Meats.

Served with a vibrant, flavorful chimichurri to complement the entire spread. We enjoyed these nourishing foods with a light red wine from Dry Farm Wines.

 
 
A variety of plant-rich, fully paleo dishes crafted on the spot by Chef Seamus Mullen. Our favorites included a chilled sorrel soup and sautéed amaranth greens with lion’s mane mushroom.

A variety of plant-rich, fully paleo dishes crafted on the spot by Chef Seamus Mullen. Our favorites included a chilled sorrel soup and sautéed amaranth greens with lion’s mane mushroom.

 
 

Of course, no day with the RUNGA team is complete without cold immersion and movement.

The workout consisted of a combination of kettlebell swings, heavy carries and fanbike sprints. We ended with ice baths to stabilize blood sugar, reduce inflammation and fully bring us into the present moment.

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Follow Seamus on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for recipes, articles and more.

Photography by Tammy Horton.