Real Talk: Midlife By Design

Ep. 26 | Biohack Your Health, Improve Your Midlife with Michael Blublaugh

February 01, 2022 Ericka, Curator of Zest Season 2 Episode 26
Real Talk: Midlife By Design
Ep. 26 | Biohack Your Health, Improve Your Midlife with Michael Blublaugh
Show Notes Transcript

personal working with Michael due to a nagging neck pain that was continuing to have a real impact on how I was showing up in my own life. What he introduced to me, genuinely rocked my world both figuratively and literally.  

He made a real clear impression on me of why you need to be willing to experience different modalities and become an advocate for your own well-being. 

Learning how your nervous systems can impact your pain response when dealing and learning to minimize, or resolve your chronic pain.

Michael Blubaugh is an educator, physical and massage therapist, a life coach, and personal and performance-based trainer.

The author of two books, From Broken to Bringing It, Evidence-based Biohacking: Expert Secrets To Help You Heal Faster, Perform Better And Cultivate A Champion's Mindset.

He is a nationally-known seminar present, and he's currently developing online courses and coaching programs.

Michael believes that it's important to help people to improve their mindset and skill sets so they can improve their biology, heal faster, perform better, and elevate their mindset.

We're inspired to become the #1 Resource for Midlife Women. Go get access to articles, expert insights and more at  The Zestful Movement

Ericka (00:07):

Midlife. What does it mean to you? I believe that midlife is a place to recognize, reprioritize, and redefine your purpose. It's a place of new beginnings, new personal growth, and new adventures. Midlife is a chance to release your outdated labels and begin designing your second life journey. How? With heart centered experts, tangible tools, and a supportive community. Why? Because if not now, then when. Now that's real talk. I'm Ericka, your host and curator of Zest. Let's begin building your Midlife by Design together. If you're enjoying this content, leave a review on Apple Podcast and share this podcast with someone you care about, too, as it truly helps to keep the zesty energy flowing. Visit, where you'll find more resources cultivated for your midlife journey.

Ericka (01:09):

Michael Blubaugh is an educator, physical and massage therapist, a life coach, and personal and performance-based trainer. The author of two books, From Broken to Bringing It, Evidence-based Biohacking: Expert Secrets To Help You Heal Faster, Perform Better And Cultivate A Champion's Mindset. He is a nationally-known seminar present, and he's currently developing online courses and coaching programs. Michael believes that it's important to help people to improve their mindset and skill sets so they can improve their biology, heal faster, perform better, and elevate their mindset.

Ericka (01:49):

I am so excited to have today's guest, Michael, because he came into my life when I was dealing with some chronic pain, specifically neck pain. And it's something that I had dealt with for a while. And finally, I was able to connect with him. And honestly, I was in the impression that I was going to get a lovely massage and enjoy the rest of my day. And what he introduced to me, genuinely rocked my world and made a real ... like, literally, it also rocked my world, which we'll get into a little deeper. But it made a real clear impression on me of why we need to do our research and find better ways to deal with our chronic pain. So, Michael, I am so grateful to have you here today. Welcome to Midlife by Design.

Michael (02:34):

Well, thank you, Ericka. Thanks for having me today. It's a pleasure to be here.

Ericka (02:39):

Yes. And so I'm excited to let the listeners know about this new thing that I personally discovered that you are clearly an expert in, and it's called biohacking. Just simply tell us what is biohacking.

Michael (02:51):

Well, biohacking. Well, that's a great question. And it is an emerging term, but my definition of it is, using techniques, and apparatuses, and just mindset to change your biology and physiology, to create a more positive or better outcome.

Ericka (03:17):

So could you delve in a little bit deeper on mindset? Because, typically, when we're dealing with chronic pain, we try to look for external things that will help alleviate the pain. So mindset, I find that curious. How does that play into it?

Michael (03:29):

Right. Well, let me just back up for just a second here and say, all pain is created by the brain. So mindset is a tool, or changing your mindset, is a way to change your brain. And we know from research and other things that all pain has three components.

Ericka (03:55):


Michael (03:56):

It has a physical component. It has a mental component. And it has a social component.

Ericka (04:03):

Ah, okay.

Michael (04:06):

So if a mindset falls within that subset ... now mindset can be changed by, for example, if you have good friends or if you were sick or you were in pain, if your mother came, you might feel better, right?

Ericka (04:26):

Oh yes. Very true.

Michael (04:28):

Right? So that's a social component. That's going to affect your mental component and that's all going to change your physical component, because at least what I've learned over the years is that we have to attack mind, body, soul.

Ericka (04:47):

Exactly, exactly. And so when someone comes to you specifically for biohacking, how do you kind of brush in on all of those topics? Like what could they expect? Are we going to really jump into mind, body, soul, or is there an initial thing that they have happen that, maybe in that first session, begins to shift their mindset?

Michael (05:06):

Right. Well, first of all, like I said before, all pain is created the mind. So anything that changes your mind, not in the way that you change your mind, by the way. But that's what I like to call a neuro-centric approach. Like your nervous system is the thing that's going to change your pain.

Ericka (05:37):


Michael (05:38):

So mindset is certainly one of those things that can change how you feel about pain, how your brain, and therefore your body, your biochemistry, begins to change pain or disease processes.

Ericka (05:59):


Michael (06:03):

So to answer the question, biohacking, there are many tools. That's a very global term that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But the key thing is to identify the problem and then match up the right biohack.

Ericka (06:21):

Exactly. So then to really benefit from biohacking, someone really has to have that personal hands-on experience, because you may find that maybe it's a little more mindset work. Maybe it's more social work, maybe it's more brain chemistry work. And then you can create something that's more specific to their needs in that moment. Is that correct?

Michael (06:40):

That is absolutely correct.

Ericka (06:42):


Michael (06:42):

So, just to simplify, you could think of it this way. If you have a mental block, you will probably need a mental solution. If you have the physical block, you will probably need more of a physical solution. But if you have a physical block, that's going to affect your mental mindset. If you have a mindset block, that can affect your physical world, your physical body.

Ericka (07:12):

And that's why I find this so fascinating. Because I think typically when we think of pain, we think of like, we feel the pain. Sometimes we feel like we know where the pain is coming from. And we try to address that, specifically, just to eliminate the pain. But with biohacking, we realize that there's literally three tiers to it. And so as we work through those three levels, what do you find that your clients find most surprising with biohacking, versus just trying to attack the physical pain? So like where are they pleasantly surprised in those biohacking experiences?

Michael (07:44):

Sure. Well, let me just preface this by saying, in my world, pain is a liar. You know, where the pain is often not where the problem is. For example, in the physical world, if you have back pain, maybe from a compressed nerve, that pain could end up in your foot.

Ericka (08:09):


Michael (08:11):

But the problem's higher up in your back. For other examples, if you have a block in mindset or you have some emotional challenges, that pain could manifest or surface as maybe a pain in your gut. So the surprising thing is where you think the problem is, isn't always where you think it is.

Ericka (08:43):

It's typically not there. So sometimes if we're just dealing with like, "Oh, I got chronic back pain [inaudible 00:08:48]," it could actually be other things going on. But that's what I like about biohacking, because it opens us up to different perspectives about what's really going on in our bodies and how all of those things are connected. And if we can heal one process, we may find solution and ease in what we're actually experiencing. So with your clients, are they pleasantly surprised when they make those connections? Or is it sometimes challenging for them to embrace this whole triad approach of pain and healing?

Michael (09:22):

Let me back up here. What my clients are looking for are results.

Ericka (09:29):


Michael (09:30):

Right? Immediate results.

Ericka (09:32):

One hundred percent, yes.

Michael (09:34):

So most of the people that come to me, they've been to different people or tried different things and haven't got the results that they're looking for.

Ericka (09:44):


Michael (09:45):

So when I can create immediate results, in a way that no one else has, and begin to solve problems for them.

Ericka (09:53):


Michael (09:54):

They are pleasantly surprised.

Ericka (09:57):

Well, as one of your clients, I feel like I can actually answer that question myself. I was pleasantly surprised, because, honestly, I was hoping ... So of course, I went through the gamut. I did a little physical therapy. I did some heat. I did some ice. I tried different pillows. And I just realized that that pain was continuous and it was disrupting my sleep. So finally, when I was able to connect with you, I honestly thought, "Well, more physical manipulation and maybe can ease the pain for today." But after the work that we did that first day, I noticed a greater range of motion. I've noticed less pain in my neck. And I was, eventually, able to sleep better. So I did not expect those results so quickly. And it was a very pleasant surprise. So kudos to you for your knowledge and bringing it forward to people.

Michael (10:42):

Well, thank you. Thank you. And if you remember, Ericka, we worked on your neck, but that's not all we worked on.

Ericka (10:51):

Exactly. Exactly.

Michael (10:53):

So back to that point, because the pain was in your neck, that's not necessarily where the problem was completely.

Ericka (11:02):

Exactly a hundred percent accurate. And to follow up with that. So I'm going to ask you, because you have more experience with clients. I only have my personal experience. So once you do the work, and people are pleasantly surprised with how quickly they can see the benefit, making those connections, once again, on the triad approach to pain, what do you find in your clients? Is that healing, is that mobility, is that lack of pain sustainable? I'm sure it depends on what you're dealing with, but is it sustainable? Or are people having to come back on a regular basis to see you?

Michael (11:38):

Well, that's a good question. And not to skirt the question, but it depends. So we think about in terms of how long that problem's been going on. And one of the ways that I like to describe it is, old weeds have deep roots.

Ericka (12:00):

Absolutely true. As a gardener, I get what you're saying there.

Michael (12:04):

Yeah. So how long's it been going on? And it's a matter of reprogramming your brain, your nervous system, so that it's using the correct patterns, instead of compensating with the wrong patterns. And that's where, at least from a musculoskeletal standpoint, that's where a lot of chronic pain comes from. Of course not trauma induced. Trauma is a different animal. But just pain that kind of comes out of the blue and that becomes chronic, that's usually due to some sort of pattern of your nervous system. And that's usually predicated on your brain perceiving a threat or a lack of strength. Or mobility in one area, which is creating a lack of stability in that area, and then your brain's going to create more stability somewhere else.

Ericka (13:13):

And then [inaudible 00:13:15]. And I love that you use the term "out of the blue", because I do feel like pain sometimes does feel like, "Oh my gosh, how did that happen?" And we don't necessarily realize that it's been a buildup of many things, over time. So "out of the blue" feels relevant, but what's really cool is that once you can work with the person and kind of help them see where those deficiencies are from stability and mobility, and rewire that nervous system, it's really amazing how the lack of pain can also feel very much out of the blue, too. So I think that was one of the things I found fascinating, that it was immediate, in this sense. Like not all the pain was gone, but it definitely gave me a sense of hope that, "Hey, maybe I had truly found a solution for this neck issue." So I think they work together really well. So thank you for using that term.

Michael (14:03):

Oh, sure. Oh, sure. And sort of to that point, you were asking about what's the benefit of biohacking. First thing you have to do is identify the problem, but let's say that we identified the problem correctly. Then when you match the right biohacking tool with the problem, the progress and the immediate results can be astonishing, how fast it goes.

Ericka (14:35):

And depending on the person, also sustainable. Right?

Michael (14:39):

Definitely sustainable, but-

Ericka (14:40):

I like that.

Michael (14:43):

... just truth be told, there is no garden without a gardener.

Ericka (14:48):

Absolutely. Absolutely. But I appreciate the term of sustainable, because sometimes I think when people are dealing with chronic pain, they lose hope. Right? You try all of these things and none of these things seem to work and you lose hope. So the fact that we can find some areas where we, literally, can wake up in the morning and feel pain free, I think gives people optimism. But yes, because it's like a triad approach, I totally understand why we have to be vigilant about all of those things and maybe retweak care in there, to make sure we stay in that pain-free existence.

Michael (15:20):

That's right.

Ericka (15:20):

So I absolutely love that. So out of curiosity, Michael, you keep saying tools, right?

Michael (15:27):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ericka (15:27):

These different tools. Could you explain briefly about what are some of those tools that a person might experience when they're working with you?

Michael (15:34):

Sure. Well, there are tools and there are techniques. So tools and techniques. But a tool could be, let's say that you're trying to change your mindset and work on breathing techniques, which is going to create a more calm mindset and disposition for you. You could use essential oils or certain oils that help your limbic system tap into that and make it go better and faster.

Ericka (16:14):

Okay. And is your limbic system kind of geared towards your immunity and overall sense of wellness?

Michael (16:21):

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Ericka (16:24):


Michael (16:25):

So your limbic system is your emotional system.

Ericka (16:25):

Okay. Okay.

Michael (16:26):

And your emotional system helps dictate what your thoughts are.

Ericka (16:31):


Michael (16:32):

And then your thoughts either create action or not so much. So that would be a mindset example. Now in the physical world, here's an example. We might use a massage ball, such as a rock ball, made by rock tape. Or we might use kinesiology tape, a movement tape, that helps your brain use the right pattern better or faster.

Ericka (17:08):


Michael (17:09):

Back to mindset. We may use some visualization techniques or meditation techniques to help reprogram your higher centers of your brain, so that you can program your brain to be more motivated, to take action ,that's sort of thing. If your brain has already experienced it, when you get there, if you've practiced enough, there is a sense of just having it occur automatically, because you've already been there.

Ericka (17:51):

I understand that. So as people are having experiences with, sounds like techniques specifically, with mindset breathing and having awareness of your thoughts, these are things that they can apply in their day-to-day life, too, that will, in essence, support that reduction of pain in their bodies, as well. Is that what I'm hearing?

Michael (18:11):

Well, absolutely. Now, mindset's a pretty big category, so it goes back to pinpointing the problem. if you're having problems with motivation, that can be kind of painful, because you've got some emotional pain or a challenge that you're dealing with. That might not make you as motivated to do things. So then you could use visualization and meditation to tackle that problem.

Ericka (18:48):

I like that. I like a lot. And it's one of those things that are lacking, because I feel like visualization meditation allows us to be more in tune with self, come back to self, and it helps empower us in our situation. And so to have a person guide you through that and reinforce that, I think, is an extremely powerful tool. Because that's one you can use in a multitude of ways, depending on what's impacting you throughout your day. So that's very, very powerful,

Michael (19:13):

Another example, but on a slightly different vein, would be, you could use visualization and meditation to help you heal your physical self faster. So let's say that you sustained some type of physical injury, maybe stepped in a hole, sprained your ankle. You were out lifting in the yard, or whatever it might be. You could use these visualization and meditation ideas to target certain areas that have been physically injured, so that they heal faster.

Ericka (19:57):

That makes sense.

Michael (19:59):

There's pretty good research on that. There are visualization and meditation programs and music and things that are in that genre.

Ericka (20:17):

Well, to me, it's kind of like if you can see it, you can make it happen. So if you're tuned in and focused in with your healing, then that healing becomes more plausible for you. And if you're believing in it and you're actively seeking it, then that certainly is going to come back to you a lot sooner, than just feeling, once again, kind of hopeless and depleted and being in the pain. You're giving people tools that they can work with that gives them hope for possibility. So it supports the whole process. So that's so different, right? That is so different that what we experience when we're dealing with a traditional massage therapist, a physical therapist, or even just going to our wellness practitioner to help with the pain. I mean, you're giving them so many things that can apply to many levels of their pain, which obviously is powerful for people. So I appreciate that.

Michael (21:04):

Thank you. And just the kind of last word on that. Now, if you've been injured in the physical world.

Ericka (21:11):


Michael (21:12):

The physical therapy, or if you will, the manual therapy, is probably going to be a better tool, a more potent tool. But if you use the mindset, as well, it could make it go faster.

Ericka (21:32):

Okay. [crosstalk 00:21:35].

Michael (21:34):

On the other hand, let's say you've had some emotional challenges. You're depressed or whatever it might be, if you use the mindset things and different talk therapy, self-talk, those types of things, that's probably going to be a more potent tool. But if you used massage in combining those two, those would work well together.

Ericka (22:04):

I like that. So I mean, what I'm hearing, as you continue to share the different facets of biohacking, what it also sounds like is that we are whole bodies with whole experiences. And the more we're able to integrate, like you say, physically, mentally, socially, the better we can support and protect our health goals. And in doing so, possibly reduce or eliminate pain that's in our body.

Michael (22:30):

A hundred percent. Well said.

Ericka (22:33):

And I think when we hear it that way, for me personally, it gives me hope, right? We don't have to be stuck. There are things we can actually do to help move that pain through our body. But more importantly, by working with you, we can also have tools that we can call upon, so that we can keep at bay, as well, and minimize the discomfort we have in our bodies. So, I mean, I feel like it's a brilliant thing. And personally, I'm grateful that you brought it into my life, because I know my perspective on pain's a lot different now. It's something that I can manage and have some control over, versus it's just stifling my being and impacting how I show up in the day. So that's brilliant. That's just really brilliant.

Michael (23:14):

Oh, thank you very much.

Ericka (23:16):

So are there any parting words that you want to share that we didn't touch base on biohacking, Michael? Because it seems like there's so many components. But I mean, is there any other thing that people can experience, specifically through like you talked about oils and you talked about rock tape balls. Is there anything else they may experience that they wouldn't see at a traditional pain clinic, we'll say? Pain approach?

Michael (23:43):

I would say the other apparatus or tool that I often use is a device called a blood flow restriction device. And it doesn't cut off the blood flow. It just impedes the blood flow.

Ericka (23:59):

Yeah. It sounds like, "Well, what is that, Michael? It sounds daunting."

Michael (24:01):

Right. So it's not a tourniquet or anything. It's just going to create a slight disruption in your homeostasis. That's just scientific for how your body works, normally.

Ericka (24:17):

So one of the ways I kind of think of it is like, when you're out watering your garden and you get a kink in the hose and then that water flow isn't nearly as vigorous. It sort of slows down a little bit. Is that kind of what the bands do for the blood flow in the body?

Michael (24:36):

That's right. But more importantly and a little bit deeper than that ... and that's a good analogy, that little kink in the garden hose, but it's just not flowing quite as well.

Ericka (24:41):


Michael (24:42):

The importance of that is that it signals your brain to secrete certain beneficial hormones. For example, growth hormone. So as we age, we all lose growth hormone. And some of the side effects of that not-so-great process is that we begin to develop, let's say lack of a better term, sort of a muffin top, you know?

Ericka (25:21):

Oh, muffin top. Okay. I know what you're talking about.

Michael (25:26):

Yeah? So as we age, we all kind of get more muffin top like, because we lose growth hormone. And so we may not be able to stay at our ideal weight as well as we'd like. And our body starts to change over time. We also begin to lose muscle cells, as we age, because we don't have as much growth hormone, and bone density, and various things. Our blood chemistry begins to change. And we're more susceptible to things like diabetes and that sort of thing. So the big advantage of these blood flow restriction devices is that it secretes growth hormone. And therefore we lose the muffin top. Or our muffin tops begins to shrink. Our bone density gets greater. We have different hormones that help us reduce our blood sugars and those types of things.

Ericka (26:31):

Right. Which translates, to me, sounding like a more vital second phase of life, too. So if we can help to minimize our pain and then do all those wonderful things you just mentioned, blood chemistry, muffin top reduction, bone density, those are all going to give us a lot more vitality, as we move through the second phase of our life, as well.

Michael (26:52):

Absolutely. And these bands also actually reduce pain, because it stimulates nitrous oxide.

Ericka (27:02):

Oh, okay. Very interesting. Okay.

Michael (27:04):

Yeah. So you get a big bang for your buck.

Ericka (27:09):

Absolutely. I would say so. And, yes, it's full body. It's completely full body, mind, and soul. And I think as we get older in life, we really have to take on different approaches. Because what may have worked in the 20s isn't necessarily going to work in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. But that doesn't mean that we can't keep pursuing, so that we can have a fulfilling life. And I definitely think that biohacking falls in that category to support longevity, as well as like, I'm going to just say it, zest in your life. So you can really do the things you want to do. So Michael, how can the listeners connect with you to learn more about biohacking? But more importantly, how can they experience a session with you?

Michael (27:51):

Well, thanks for asking. The best way is just to text me at this number 913-526-7220. I'll say that again, 913-526-7220. So just text me at that number. Then I'll text you a Calendly link. And then we can set up a time to have a breakthrough discovery call. And I can share more about biohacking and we can create a customized program for you, so that you can reach your goals.

Ericka (28:32):

Absolutely. And live without pain.

Michael (28:35):

Well, that's usually a goal, right?

Ericka (28:36):


Michael (28:36):

People don't like pain. Yeah.

Ericka (28:38):

That was my top goal. And I have to say, you were able to do that for me. And I'm grateful. I'm always testing, looking over my right should left shoulder. I'm like, "Yep. I still got it. So that's pretty awesome."

Michael (28:47):

Yeah? Still got it. Okay, awesome. Yeah, I remember that. And correct me if I'm wrong, but you had gone to some physical therapy-

Ericka (28:56):

I did.

Michael (28:56):

... and you had done things and it just was not really the solution that you were looking for.

Ericka (28:59):

Absolutely. And honestly, with one session with you, I found hope instantly. I mean, I was sold. I was sold. And that's why it's exciting for me to have you on today, because I think other people should know about that. Because I have lived with chronic pain and I know how it can impact us emotionally, socially, and just really take the wind out of ourselves. So I feel like this is something people should know about, because it can give them hope and awareness. And like I say, I love how it's not just a one approach. It's a multitude of approaches that really gives people some sense of empowerment with their pain. And if we can transition to that, well, the whole world opens up completely differently. So it's really an amazing product you have, Michael. And I'm grateful for it. So in our last question, you know I have to ask you, so Michael, how do you define zest in your life?

Michael (29:58):

That's a good question. I kind of liken it to like, what's my favorite song.

Ericka (30:09):

Oh, okay.

Michael (30:09):

That's a hard choice.

Ericka (30:09):

It's a big one, right?

Michael (30:09):

That's a big one. Like, oh my gosh.

Ericka (30:10):

So I'll narrow it down. So it's summer 2021. What's the one thing you're going to do today to make sure you have zest in your life. Just one thing.

Michael (30:22):

Well, I think that my big thing is you really want to just kind of get at the root of the problem or the root of the solution. And I would say my zest in life is loving myself and loving others.

Ericka (30:46):

Yay. I love that. Yes. I love it. Do you want to elaborate? I'm kind of getting excited with you.

Michael (30:54):

Oh, sure. Sure. and there's different songs and things that explain that, but the greatest love that you can have is for yourself. And if you don't have that for yourself, then you can't give it where it's hard for you to give it to other people.

Ericka (31:08):


Michael (31:09):

So you have to be focused on self-love for yourself, and then you can give that away to other people. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of other people.

Ericka (31:21):

Absolutely. I think that's a beautiful way to define zest for you and me and anyone that's listening today. Just start with that self-love. Well, thank you Michael, for being here again. I love the information that you shared and I really do hope it inspires people to reach out to you and start managing and taking control of their own pain today.

Michael (31:41):

Well, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.

Ericka (31:51):

I appreciate you holding space for these conversations to help you rediscover the essence of who you're capable of becoming, so you can choose to live your life authentically, without apology. Want transcripts for this podcast? Visit, where you'll also find more resources cultivated to guide you in reprioritizing and redefining yourself for your design second life journey on the Zestful Movement blog. You can also become part of community, by joining our weekly Essence of Zest newsletter, during your visit to this site. Until next time, please do keep it zesty.