Optimal Performance

OPP 023: Ex-NFL Player Eddie Williams on Connection, Awareness & Purpose

The Latin phrase Ex Nihilo, meaning “from nothing”, summarizes ex-NFL football player Eddie Williams’s rise to success as well as his approach to optimal health and wellness. Eddie joins us on Episode #23 of the Optimal Performance Podcast to share his message about connection, awareness and finding your transcendent purpose.

After his NFL career, Eddie Williams has become a pastor, motivational speaker, and is now the founder of Ex Nihilo Health where he focuses on getting back to basics – the way we were born to be! A passionate speaker, Eddie has a knack for helping others find their purpose and believe in themselves, so get ready to learn and be fired up.




What You’ll Hear From Eddie Williams in this episode:

  • CILTEP for Public Speaking – no stuttering or dropping words for this motivational speaker!
  • The Ex Nihilo movement – “from nothing” and getting back to the way things were created
  • Glyphosate and other chemicals on our food
  • How to recover like an elite-level athlete
  • Acupuncture for long-term injury recovery, balance, and sleep
  • How to train around injuries
  • TRAVEL TIPS: How to perform at your best when traveling more than you’re home
  • Carbohydrate nightmare stories from NFL Training Camp & how to adjust your carb intake for your own demands
  • Why Eddie says Gatorade is the biggest scam in sports
  • Optimal fueling for 5K’s, “Goos”, shoes and marathons
  • Connecting your mind, body, and spirit for optimal performance
  • Eddie’s story of overcoming anxiety, weight gain, and adrenal fatigue
  • What LEADERS need to know to get 20, 30 or 40% MORE out of themselves
  • Finding your TRANSCENDENT PURPOSE (Hint: Go outside of yourself for the answers)
  • Where to get more from Eddie
  • Eddie Williams’s Top 3 tips to Live Optimal

Links & Resources

Ex Nihilo Website

Eddie on Twitter & Instagram

BVO & Gatorade

Natural Stacks Performance Optimizers

Natural Protein



Vitamin C + Zinc


Eddie Williams on Connection, Awareness and Purpose

Ryan: You are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! For more on building optimal performance check out optimalperformance.com

Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers! I’m your host Ryan Munsey, welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast. Today we have a really special guest for you, Mr. Eddie Williams. Eddie, thanks for hanging out with us!

Eddie: Hey man, thanks for having me on! Appreciate it.

Ryan: Absolutely. So for you guys listening, Eddie is a former NFL player, he runs Ex Nihilo. I have to think about that ’cause it looks like Andy Hnilo. So, Ex Nihilo is his website, which is Latin and it means ‘from nothing’. So this is gonna be a really cool episode. Eddie’s a motivational speaker, he’s got some great talents and skills, very inspirational and his message and mission are really cool. We’re happy to be able to share it with you guys here on the show. So, Eddie, thanks a lot for hanging out with us. Before we dive in, gotta do a couple of housekeeping things. So, as always for our listeners, go to optimalperformance.com so you can see the video version of this as well as get the show notes, any links and resources that Eddie and I talk about. I’m pretty sure we’ll have a lot of those from today’s episode, Eddie’s loaded with great information. And head on over to iTunes and leave us a 5* review, let us know you like the show and we will read them on the air, like this one from healthyheart: ‘Extremely useful information. Can’t wait to learn more.’ So, Eddie, I see you drinking some coffee over there, is that, you got some butter and some MCT oil in there?

Eddie: Man, you guessed it right. Every morning, man, Bulletproof coffee. I’ve gotta do that. So, a little bit of CILTEP sometimes, so, gotta do it.

Ryan: We love hearing that you like the CILTEP and that you’re using that. So, tell us a little bit about how you got started on CILTEP, that’s actually a pretty cool story.

Eddie: Yeah, definitely. So I do acupuncture a few times a week and on a pretty good plan there at my acupuncturist and, you know they do a lot of the Chinese herbs and lots of different naturopathic supplements and stuff like that and I was mentioning to him, you know, some – some brain issues, wanting to make sure I’m focused, you know, playing in the NFL, who knows if it’s concussions or what the heck it is but – [laughs] you know, he said: ‘Have you tried CILTEP and dopamine?’ And I’m like, you know, said: ‘No, never tried either one of ’em.’ So he said: ‘Give ’em a shot a couple days.’ So I pop – I tried ’em and I did a little research and looks like drinking them with coffee or taking them with coffee works pretty well so I did that for a few days, man, and, you know, we’re talking not dropping words and just optimal performance and, you know, before speaking, stuff like that. Man, it’s awesome. So that’s kinda how I got on.

Ryan: Yeah. How does it help you speaking? I’m sure that that’s – that’s not a testimonial that we’ve hear from folks yet.

Eddie: Yeah, so I do a lot of speaking, so you know, public speaker obviously but I also do some sermons for my church. I do lots of different stuff, you know, in the public speaking realm. But it’s actually my wife that noticed. So, you know one of my messages – I had the tendency to kind of, you know, uh-duh-duh-duh-duh, you know, hear and there. Kind of like any speaker. My wife noticed that I didn’t drop any words, that I didn’t stutter and she’s like: ‘Well why didn’t you stutter?’ You know, honestly, I don’t know. And I thought back to it I’m like I think it might have something to do with the CILTEP because I’m not thinking hard on what words to use and all that stuff so I really think it’s that. And so the clarity of mind, I’m not reaching for words, things aren’t sitting on the tip of my tongue so I really think that’s what it was, man, honestly every now – every time I speak now I’m on CILTEP for sure. I think there’s a huge performance angle for it.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s beautiful. And you mentioned acupuncture. We’re gonna shelf that and come back to it when we start talking about recovery in a few minutes. But before we really dive in on that stuff, let’s talk a little bit about Ex Nihilo and your mission.

Eddie: Yeah, sure. So Ex Nihilo Health is a website I created, you know, it’s really something that’s passionate to me. There’s all sorts of health websites out there, you know, you can go to a million of them. Really what I feel like sets mine apart is Ex Nihilo means ‘from nothing’ and really I believe that, you know, we’re really trying to get back to the way things were when thing were created, right. And so, you know, with everything with GMO’s and glyphosate and process foods and all these – well all these sort of man-made creations I’m thinking: what about how things were originally created? And getting back to eating food the way we were meant to eat it. And so I believe, the premise Ex Nihilo is: if you could actually eat the way we were originally created to eat, if you were actually to move the way you were originally created to move and think the way you were originally created to think, that’s optimal for human performance. And so I believe living off the Earth, eating things off the Earth, doing those things is actually the most profitable way for you as a person to live and so that’s the premise of the site.

Ryan: We love that, that’s very much in line with what we’re doing here. So, you mentioned glyphosate. Some of our listeners may not be familiar with that, explain that one for us.

Eddie: Sure! Yeah, so, you know, I don’t know if you guys have heard of Roundup Ready crops, some of the things that are happening. Glyphosate essentially is that active ingredient in Roundup. That’s what we’re spraying on the majority of our crops these days. I’m not an expert in this so I can’t claim to know too much but what I do know is that it’s definitely trickling into water supplies, it’s very dangerous for the gut biome, it’s affecting our guts, it’s affecting our health and so it’s a very dangerous thing. And so, you know, when we’re eating we have to be careful where we’re getting our produce, where we’re getting our food because a lot of that stuff’s contaminated with something that could really be affecting your health. And that’s actually is presumed to be healthy for us by the government and through a lot of the organizations that are – are governing those things, actually turns out to be healthy.

Ryan: Yeah. I’m chuckling as you say that because I have images in my mind of the folks who spray it, you know, as the government says, ‘Yeah this is fine, you can eat that,’ the folks who are applying it to their crops are wearing hazmat suits that look like they’re in some, you know, outbreak movie.

Eddie: [laughs] Exactly.

Ryan: They don’t want to breathe that stuff in or be touched by it but it’s okay for us to eat it. You know, something’s not connecting there. So, you know, Eddie, the average person never lived the life that you got to live as a college athlete or as an NFL athlete.

Eddie: Sure.

Ryan: I’ve been lucky enough to experience it, you know, my roommate was a Division 1 athlete at Clemson so I’m aware of the lifestyle that you get to live there in terms of the supplements, the training regimen, the recovery. I think that’s one of the biggest things is having access to the recovery tools, whether it’s ice baths or heat pools, saunas. Talk about some of the things that you picked up through your career as an athlete that maybe the average person doesn’t implement or doesn’t think to implement in order to be able to perform at their best.

Eddie: Absolutely. You know, there’s all sorts of techniques, everyone’s got something different. I mean, first and foremost, ice baths, contrasts and so a lot of the NFL facilities will have, you know, ice freezing cold tubs right next to pretty, pretty hot, hot tubs and so a lot of those – a lot of that is contrast and so we’ll do 3 minutes on, 3 minutes on, 3 minutes on, 3 minutes on and that has a lot to do with getting ready to go play ’cause if you are then you wanna obviously start and finish warm. And if you’re cooling down then you wanna start and finish cold. And so that’s a huge thing. Another really underrated thing is just a random pool float. So a lot of facilities will have pools. Laying, just floating in the water for about 20 minutes post – post-contrast, it’s incredible health benefits. You know, I really don’t know the science behind that but just from tried-and-true testing I know that it absolutely works, you feel amazing off stuff like that. Another thing is massage for sure. I think we were getting massages 2 or 3 times a week, getting some of those adhesions out, the shoulders and the neck, being able to – it improves flexibility for sure, improves pain. That’s a huge one. And then obviously the acupuncture thing is what I touched on. Acupuncture. I had no idea acupuncture would work, it just seemed kind of, kind of you know, hocus pocus to me I’m like: ‘what is that?’ But giving it a try, I mean I’m able to relax on the table, fall asleep, improve blood flow, all sorts of things like that.

Ryan: So is that something that you picked up during your playing days or afterwards? The acupuncture.

Eddie: It was actually something that I picked up – I did it 1 or 2 times at the tail end of my playing days and then after, I would say, I don’t know a few months when I was starting to kind of feel the residual effects of playing with, you know, back pain, neck pain and not doing all the workouts that come along with it. There was something I needed to pick up and so I jumped into an acupuncture clinic and it was something that just helped me recover way faster, helped me sleep better which is really underrated, I wasn’t expecting that. And so yeah, it was awesome.

Ryan: Alright so, Eddie, you’re talking about acupuncture 3 times a week, I mean is that pretty standard or is that just something that – that, you know, like the average person. 3 times a week, once a week?

Eddie: You know, I think it’s different for everyone from what I understand. For me I think it’s hugely valuable to do it 3 times a week, I think I can tailor that down to 2 times a week, or you know, if you get in once that’s fine. Um, but honestly I think 2 times a week for me is minimum. That helps me. You know, I tried, I’ve experimented, I’ve jumped off of it for a couple months to see what would happen and wasn’t sleeping as good, you know, wasn’t getting some of the – the neck issues worked on. I had – for me I think it’s extremely helpful. So, I don’t know if the reg- I think the regular person could experiment, I think it’s n=1 if it’s 1 time for you, if it’s 2 times for you, great. But for me, it’s 2 or 3 times.

Ryan: Okay, cool.

Eddie: Yeah, and you know, playing in the NFL, I’ve got lots of residual injuries so I don’t – most folks aren’t gonna have some of the issues that I’ve had. I’ve had 4 surgeries, back surgeries one of them. No one – lot of folks aren’t gonna have that issue.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s – that was gonna be my question. I mean, what kind of injuries are you dealing with post-career?

Eddie: Yeah, so, you know, I started out with an ACL which is pretty standard I guess for a lot of NFL players these days, which is kind of frightening. But, an ACL, two meniscus in that same knee, one repaired, one scoped. I had an MCL and a PCL in the other knee, which MCL needed surgery, PCL didn’t. Then I had a fractured fibula, spiral fracture of my fibula. Yeah, against Dallas back in ’09, so that wasn’t fun. And then just to finish the career off, aside from all the smaller injuries I had back surgery. So I had a herniated disc, L4-L5 and L5-S1 and then I had some nerve impingement so I had some numbness, tingling down the leg. And so that’s been an absolute journey coming back from something like that, for sure.

Ryan: Wow. So, let’s talk about how that affects you in the weight room. You know, how have you had to tailor or manipulate your training around that?

Eddie: Yeah, sure. So I used to be, you know, I still feel like I am kind of that weight room warrior type. I mean that was back squats 600 plus lbs., benching 400 plus lbs., I loved the gym and so the back injury definitely hurt that, you know. With the rehab I got, you know I really did feel pretty good, obviously there’s still some residuals there. I try and make a rule and don’t go heavier. I don’t load my spine with any more than 300 lbs. I don’t like to load my spine anymore. And so, you know, honestly the biggest thing is loading my spine. I can still do power cleans pretty – pretty good. I still do all of the things that most folks do, I can do – jump in a CrossFit workout and be fine, I just don’t wanna load the spine anymore. ‘Cause I think I had kind of a trainer that was doing some pretty experimental stuff with me towards the end of the career there playing and I think a lot of that kinda caused some of the – some of the injuries that I had. Maybe not caused but, you know, helped facilitate some of them.

Ryan: Right.

Eddie: And so, definitely try not to load the spine. That’s probably the only thing.

Ryan: Okay. Alright.

Eddie: Yeah.

Ryan: Now, being in the NFL, I mean that’s – the travel has gotta be something that takes a huge toll on you. And I was just checking out your Ex Nihilo website, you have a really cool post on some hacks to help with travel and I think business people are travelling a lot, a lot of our listeners travel. That may be one of the areas that we can relate to you the most, I mean not all of us are squatting 600 lbs. So, so give us –

Eddie: Well, I’m not either.

Ryan: [laughs] True, true. So give us – give us some of your tips on, you know, improving travel health, not getting jet-lagged or picking up a cold in an airplane, things like that.

Eddie: Yeah so I – when I used to travel even outside of work. So, quick story. My wife was having my kid, my first daughter, well my only daughter, my first kid back in 2012 and that was during football season. I was injured but I still had to travel for the team. And I also was going back and forth for doctors’ appointments and you know, we – at the time we lived in Seattle and I was playing for Cleveland. So, I was going back and forth and if you’ve ever lived in Cleveland you know you can’t get a direct flight anywhere. So I’m literally going to Baltimore or Philadelphia and then to Seattle, and then you know, maybe a day later going back to Baltimore or Philadelphia then to Cleveland. And so my travel schedule was brutal. And every – I mean literally every time I got on a plane I got sick. And I’m wondering, man, and not only do I feel sick, I’ve got headaches, jet-lag and all – and all sorts of things and I’m taking red eyes and this and that. So, you know, definitely have a lot of experience with that. The first thing I would say is wash your hands. I mean, it’s a silly thing but, you know, I bring my own soap with me, I’ve got a natural soap that I use in the airport. I don’t like to use that dry like, whatever that chemical is that you rub all over your hands. Definitely avoid that! If you can. But wash your hands first and foremost, I mean everyone’s mostly got that because sometimes there’s someone with stomach flu that’s sitting in the seat that you were just in – that you’re in and now you – you’ve got it, right?

Ryan: Right.

Eddie: Next thing is really coconut charcoal is huge. So if you can get some activated charcoal, I don’t know why I wasn’t on this stuff, I don’t know, 5 or 6, 7 years ago. This is a – I mean, coconut charcoal is an absolute miracle. In fact, my wife’s got a stomach bug, I think she has food poisoning this morning and she’s on apple cider vinegar and coconut charcoal and it’s like, actually working.

Ryan: Awesome.

Eddie: So why doctors put you on these, you know, crazy chemicals when something like this can help, it’s a miracle. So what I do for that usually is I pop a couple before I’m on the – before I get on the plane, I pop 1 or 2 on the plane, I pop 1 when I land and then I do the same thing the next day if I’m travelling. So I’m constantly, ’cause that stuff helps binding the toxins and pull them directly out of you so those are extremely helpful. Another thing, vitamin C. If you can take vitamin C, I mean it’s like grandma used to say, take your, you know, eat oranges, don’t drink orange juice for your vitamin C. But definitely vitamin C, it’s a miracle, if you can be taking that. Your body’s tolerance for it seems to go up when you travel, so that should tell us something. Definitely vitamin C. And then one of the other, the other weird things is actually putting your feet on grass after travel. This is huge, so, for instance a couple weeks ago, back and forth to New York on a trip and kept feeling little bit of extra jet-lag, couple connections, 2 straight days. I think I was on the ground in New York for 8 hours then I was back on a plane. I – discharging that static electricity for sure, getting your feet on the ground, something that – with that connecting with nature for 20 or 30 minutes, my headache was gone, I felt amazing. That’s another hack. And then certainly the last one, getting your minerals. Magnesium’s huge. You guys have an awesome magnesium product, Natural Stacks MagTech is fantastic. I think it’s the – I honestly think it might be the next one if you’re looking for magnesium I really do it. You know, I’m on your show, we’re completely unaffiliated, I’m just, yeah.

Ryan: Yeah, I was gonna say we, you know, we appreciate the plug. No, but I agree, I think it’s a great product. Roy is one of our co-founders, he’s more in the product development side and he’s just, he’s an amazing guy. He really cares about what goes into the products and he puts a lot of thought into it. So it is – it’s a great product. But I want to go back to you were talking about ‘Earthing’ is, you know, taking your feet or actually making sure that you taking your shoes and then you get that straight connection from your skin from a bare foot to grass or to the Earth. And I think that’s – that’s something that a lot of people would be, you know, leery about trying that. If they haven’t and they’re like oh wait, I’ve gotta take my shoes off and be barefoot in public or wherever you’ve gotta be. But, that is a very powerful thing.

Eddie: Absolutely! Well I have – I have a very similar experience, you know, I grew up in a backyard and feet on the ground all the time and all of the sudden you’re in a middle tube with recycled air all the time and you’re wondering why you feel sick. I mean, that kinda goes back to, you know, the point of Ex Nihilo is the way we were created to move and act. And so um, we weren’t created to wear – I mean it’s amazing that we have shoes now and they, you know, they’re certainly helpful in certain situations but just because they’re normal doesn’t mean that’s the way we should be using them all the time, right? And so, we were created to be connected with the Earth and our feet on the ground and moving and jumping over trees and logs and in the dirt. And so, man there’s extremely – there’s extreme value there for that, right?

Ryan: Yeah! So, let’s go – talk more about the diet side of this, too. Because I know, you know, you’re drinking Bulletproof coffee, you use some of their supplements. Not to necessarily talk about that diet in particular but the whole the way we were designed to eat is typically a lower-carb approach. For the average person that’s a great – I’m sure that when you are an active athlete you had to eat a little bit more carbs than, you know, maybe that approach. So talk a little bit about what that natural approach is and then how you tailor it to meet the demands of a, you know, an elite level athlete or somebody who’s very active.

Eddie: Yeah, yeah. I agree with you on that. I think the way we were created to eat was definitely a lot more higher fats, more animal meats, grass-fed animal meats, definitely more saturated fat in that way, a lot more plants then, you know, kind of the processed food, Diet Coke, whatever the heck people are – Red Bull type diet where you have bread in the morning and then bread for lunch and pasta for dinner and it’s: ‘oh, 350 carbs is my recommended daily deal,’ and, right? So it’s brutal but, yeah for the athlete’s it’s a lot different because you actually do need those carbohydrates, you do need those glycogen stores for performance. And so if you’re performing it’s a lot different. If you’re a normal athlete and slipping a ketosis all day and that’s [unclear 00:19:45]. I mean if you’re just kind of working out once a day for an hour, there’s ways to get around that but we’re on the field for 3 hours and we’ve also got a lifting session for 2 hours and that’s 5-6 days a week you’re doing that, plus a game and travel. So things are a lot different, right? And so you do need more carbohydrates and you are expending that all – pretty – a lot more than the normal person is sitting at their desk for a few hours and you know, going on a walk with their kids, it’s a lot different. And so, for instance yeah most guys, and I’ve gotta tell this story ’cause this is brutal. We had this coach, and I won’t say what team he’s from just to protect names, they’re changed to protect the innocent. So I’m not gonna tell this guy, you know, out him. But we used to eat, he was huge on sugar, huge. ‘Oh you need your sugar, you need your sugar! You need your carbs!’ And so what we would do is he would – he’d have out little sheets, our workout sheets and he would have on them Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms and the sugary the better, the more sugar the better, the more carbs the better. Go get you some blueberry pancakes with syrup so, literally, and he did this to us in our training table area where we eat we had, you know, labels for everything and green would mean ‘eat’ and I mean we would see – and most teams have that – but on green we would see Captain Crunch, syrup, pancakes, Pop-Tarts, like Snackwell’s cookies. Why Snackwell’s you ask? Because Snackwell’s had low fat.

Ryan: Yeah.

Eddie: Right.

Ryan: So more sugar.

Eddie: So more sugar! So no – so no fat. I mean he was like anti-fat, this guy was. So if you’d see steak, red dot on the steak, okay? Because it’s rib-eye and there’s fat on that and we don’t want that ’cause that’s bad for performance. And so around training camp we would have carts spread out and the carts would have Snackwell’s, Sun Chips, like Blueberry Pop-Tarts tons of ’em and he’d be like: ‘Take all of it! Take as much as you can!’ As much – we’d have Pedialyte, stacks and stacks of Pedialyte, Gatorades, everything. So it was just a total sugar buzz and that training camp, I mean those two training camps I was there, I mean I must have gained. I came in, you know, 10% body fat, 243 lbs., 245 lbs., I’d leave like 14.5% body fat and I’m just – I mean I’m getting fat but I’m exercising.

Ryan: More.

Eddie: Man, I’m in the heat, right? It’s 100 degrees and humid and I’m fatter than I was when I left – when I left. So, that goes to show you how much that works. So, conversely, your question. You need carbs but you don’t need junk processed sugar carbs, okay? What you need is some, you know, some of the good stuff that was created like we’re talking sweet potatoes, tons and tons of sweet potatoes, tons of rice, lots of foods like that. And you know what, honestly if you’re eating a diet high in saturated fat and high in good protein, your body helps self-regulate itself. And so some days you’ll be really hungry and so I’m like man, I need 2 sweet potatoes after a 3.5-hour practice in the heat. I need 2 or 3 sweet potatoes, I need some coconut water, lots of coconut water, I need some rice. But what we don’t do is lots of gluten. No breads, I avoid the breads. Lots of guys love their pastas and that’s old-school thinking, you know, to say let’s pack on the pasta like Rocky or some crazy thing. Like it’s not 1981, we don’t pack on alfredo you know, it’s just – it’s brutal. But guys are doing that.

Ryan: And I think it’s interesting, you know, like when you say 2 or 3 sweet potatoes. I mean, I’ve had countless conversations in the gym or counseling people with nutrition and I’m like: ‘Yeah, go ahead, eat a couple of sweet potatoes, eat 2 or 3,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ You know, cause with the low-carb craze like, potatoes in general have taken a beating. And one, even if it’s a white potato it’s natural.

Eddie: Right.

Ryan: And it’s way, way better than any of those things you mentioned on the training table from your football story. But, and the typical sweet potato is 20 or 30 grams of carbohydrates, you know, for a medium one. So, you’re talking 3 sweet potatoes, at most 100 grams of carbs, I mean that’s what’s – like, that’s so far below the normal carb intake, you know, so, it’s just – it just goes to show you how much of the bad stuff goes in the average, you know, standard American diet.

Eddie: Well, the biggest culprit in the NFL is Gatorade.

Ryan: Yeah!

Eddie: So Gatorade is -they’ve got a – they’ve got a racket. I mean that’s the biggest fraud in, it might be in sports history. I mean this stuff, I mean if you look on the back of a label.

Ryan: Or fitness history!

Eddie: Oh, fitness history! Yeah, ‘is it in you’, right? Yeah, is high fructose corn syrup in you? Yeah it is! Thanks!

Ryan: Right. Along with, what was the dye that that little girl got banned? Oh, we’ve gotta look into that. I’ll do the research and put that in the show notes. It was – I think it was BVO, brominated vegetable oil was in, that was in certain flavors and she got it – she protested, got enough signatures and they took it out of Gatorade.

Eddie: Well I’m – thankfully you got something out of Gatorade. Now you, obviously people are catching on to high fructose corn syrup and all, you know, so they get clever and they name it something else. And, you know, there’s sucralose and artificial flavors and that stuff. But you know, honestly man, I don’t – that stuff’s just so sugar-rich, too. And the way they make it in the NFL is they use the powder so they make it more sugary because they think okay, you need more sugar. And what that stuff does man, is dries your mouth out when you’re playing and you just get sluggish and tired and you get stomach aches and guys just think oh, it’s horrible. But, I mean, if you ever – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Tom Brady in the sidelines. He very rarely have I ever seen him with a Gatorade cup, more recently he has his own bottles of like coconut water. Either he’s drinking coconut water or he’s drinking water because that stuff is horrible for performance. It spikes your insulin, it gets you all crazy and drops [unclear 00:25:34] table after practice.

Ryan: It’s fascinating to hear – or maybe even exciting for me – to hear somebody who performed at the highest level say that because, you know, a lot of times when you have, when I have these conversations with, you know, the average American in the gym or you know, wherever it might be, you know we’re saying look if you are at training camp and you’re exercising 6 or 8 hours a day, then maybe we could make the argument that you need that many carbohydrates, but you know clearly we both disagree with that. But just for the sake of that argument. So then you’ve got the average person watching these commercials and they’re like: ‘Oh, I wanna be like Dwayne Wade or Michael Jordan and I want Gatorade in me,’ as you said. You know, you look at the average person who runs a 5K or a half-marathon and they’re fueling themselves with all these goo’s. There is a shoe store where I live, I won’t say the name of it, but it drives me crazy for two reasons. One, all they do is they push these terrible shoes, like we talked about being barefoot and, you know, you’re designed. They push these shoes that are casts and they’re ruining people’s strides and their feet because you become com – you’re reliant on this crutch of a shoe.

Eddie: Yeah.

Ryan: Right? And your gape is off because you’ve gotta have this cushioned shoe and you’re jacking up your knees and your hips. You know, meanwhile this person can’t do 30 single leg calf raises. So, what business do they have running, you know? If you can’t control your body standing still in a static environment what do you – dynamics – running is a dynamic single leg, you know, lunge repeated over and over. So, so that’s one and then the only other thing they sell are like this assortment of goo’s and gel’s and you’ve got this – the average person who runs a 5K or a half-marathon is, they’re pounding goo’s to go run, you know, 30 minutes! [laughs]

Eddie: They’ve got 2 goo’s and then they finish off with a little, you know, a 32-ounce PowerAde and, you know: ‘Oh it was in me today, you know, I killed it’. And, gosh, you’re hurting yourself.

Ryan: Yeah. So I would love to see that culture change and I’m glad that you’re helping us do that.

Eddie: Honestly, I hope it can change. I think it’s really detrimental to athletes and their performance. I mean it’s killing, I mean, like I wrote a blog, you know, a few months back about how Gatorade might be killing you. I mean, high fructose corn syrup is already terrible for you, let alone consuming in that quantity, right? As an athlete.

Ryan: Right. So, we’ll shift gears a little bit. Let’s talk about what you do, what your mission is. When you speak, how closely is your message related to the Ex Nihilo, you know, let’s get back to the way we were designed and built. ‘Cause I mean, I think one of your – one of your strongest talents is helping people find their inner strength and overcoming, you know, obstacles.

Eddie: Right. I think – I think it’s all related. So, you know, first you’ve gotta be passionate about something, if you’re gonna go start a site you’ve gotta understand that’s it’s gotta be something you’re passionate about, you can’t start something up willy-nilly and hope that, you know, this is gonna work because just because you have a site up and you blog. And so for me, like I’m super passionate about it, right. I believe that, you know I’m a Christian, I believe that all that God created the Earth and those things and people will disagree on that but I think at the end of the day we all agree that if you understand the lifestyle and the way we eat and the way we want to go back to the Earth and the Paleolithic diet and all those things, I think a lot of that’s aligned. And so when we talk about purpose, to me it’s all about going, you know – you know I believe that the mind, the body and the spirit is all connected and there’s a synchrony, when there’s a synchrony with those 3 things that we can really, really be successful. And I think in America in particular Western, in the Western world we have a tendency to dualize, right dualism where we’ve essentially bifurcated the mind or the spirit or the mind and the body and we’ve fed the body separate from the mind or the mind is separate from the spirit or whatever. And so that – I think that costs us and because we look at the mind as separate. So we have people converse, we have people that I go speak to who are incredibly smart, whether they’re leading a business, or whether they’re leading a school or they’re, you know, or they’re a student themselves at a college or what have you that are incredibly smart, incredibly gifted, yet they see all these things in their performance where they just can’t seem to get ahead and they can’t learn enough to fix them. They think if they just know enough knowledge that they’ll be able to fix those things.

Ryan: Right.

Eddie: And so I have to bring in the idea of: ‘What are you doing to your body that may be actually causing some of your mental breakdowns?’ And so there’s things that, you know, maybe you’re not exercising. That’s obviously the number one thing. But what about your diet? I mean, that’s the biggest thing that people overlook and they go: ‘Well, I’m not eating that many calories.’ Well, yeah if you drink 2 Diet Cokes and, you know, a couple Snickers bars you have 1200 calories and there’s your allotment, you know, for the day and it’s ridiculous. And so like, what are the types of foods you could put in your body to help you perform, right? And so, and then conversely on the other side, mentally, are you actually putting in the effort knowledge-wise to understand what you’re doing physically? And so, we’ve got people in the gym doing ridiculous workouts or they’re, you know, they believe oh well, you know, the food pyramid’s accurate and this is what my mom taught me to eat so I’ll eat corn and bread and do all these things that, you know, GMO’s are safe because science has told us they are. And they blindly believe things and they don’t do their research and so now they’re physicality is harmed because their mental side is not up to par. Does that make sense?

Ryan: Yeah!

Eddie: So I’m – when I go to these things I’m essentially preaching that. I’m preaching is your mind, your body and your spirit on the same page? Because if they’re not you’re never gonna achieve optimal performance. We can’t just go body’s here but my mind is here and those things are separate and therefore I can improve each of them separately. It doesn’t work like that! The most effective we can be, the best people that are the most – that perform the best in a sport, in a business are always the people that have everything on the same page.

Ryan: I think that’s a really, really interesting observation. If you look at the business world and, you know, I know you’re now getting into business and I’ve seen some of your Instagram pictures where you’re reading and following a lot of the same people that I do and – and in the business world the people at the top always talk about how important it is to work in the physical activity. No matter how smart they are or how dedicated they get to their business, even if it’s just 20 or 30 minutes a day, you know, that’s important to them and it shows in their performance. And then you look on the other side of the spectrum and you look at who is having the most success in sports or in fitness-related pursuits, physical pursuits, and you see guys who are pretty cerebral. You know, there’s no accident that you’ve gotta have both working in harmony to have success in whatever endeavor.

Eddie: Yeah.

Ryan: So, let’s talk about you personally. I mean, what life experiences or obstacles helped you or shaped you into who you are today and wanted you – make you want to help people, you know, go through this or make that growth?

Eddie: Yeah, I definitely think that sometimes it takes somebody, you know, whatever your passion is it takes someone that’s been through something that’s given a story that’s able to go out and, you know, help folks. And for me, you know, coming out of the NFL I had, you know, all sorts of issues. I had anxiety issues, I had panic attacks, I had um, you know, adrenal fatigue for sure, you know, along with the injuries and so I had all these things, gaining weight and I’m trying to figure okay, what is the problem with all of this? And so, right? And so my spiritually side of me goes okay, what I need to do is I need to be more spiritual, I need to read my bible, I need to pray more and that will help. But it didn’t fully fix the issue. But my, you know, I love books and so my thing is okay, how can I learn enough to fix these issues, right? So what are the mental things I need to do to essentially fix my situation? And on its own it doesn’t work and then my physicality is okay I need to lift more. So I’m in the gym lifting, I’m conditioning and my body’s still breaking down and so, I’m literally at the point where I’ve got high blood pressure, I’m 26 years old at that time -ish, 25 years old, I’m pretty young. High blood pressure, heart rate is – so I’m, you know, I’ve got 88 beats per minute and I’m like okay, so I run, I lift, I’m in shape, why would my blood pressure be so high? Why do I have anxiety attacks? I have all these issues and so I realized that man I’m going about this all wrong. I’m trying to attack these three different spheres one at a time. And then so I was like, you know what? I’m gonna give myself 90 days and I’m gonna try to do all three and connect the three. And so it wasn’t until I made that connection between that that I started to see change.

And so what I started introducing was something like the Bulletproof diet, where now all of the sudden my mind where things I’m learning are coming into my diet, I’m starting to study food, I’m starting to study that, I’m starting to study the spirituality aspects of it, I’m starting to change my physical diet, doing things like acupuncture to kind of bring that full circle. 90 days later, my beats per minute’s back to 60, back down to 60, 58-ish I’m down, my blood pressure’s dropped down from like literally, 139, 145 back down to 160-ish. I mean I’m losing; these things are actually happening. And I’m not working out as much, I’m not stressing out as much, I’ve got no anxiety attacks. And so it wasn’t until I decided this is – people need to know this, and then as a Christian, you know, my history as a pastor and as a leader in churches, businesses, whatever it is I’m going man, businesses could benefit hugely from this! Because leaders are always burning themselves out, they’ve always got adrenal fatigue, they’re always over-extending themselves. So I started introducing things like Chinese herbs and helping with the adrenal fatigue and things like, you know, a Bulletproof coffee, CILTEP, dopamine, some of these mental performance things. I mean leaders absolutely have to know about this and if they can, if they can figure out these three things, man, can you imagine a guy like, I don’t know, Tom Brady or a guy at the top maybe like a CEO-level type person, someone that’s CEO of Oracle or Mike Benioff at Salesforce or somebody big going: ‘I’m gonna live like this!’ Can you imagine the more they could get out of themselves? 40, 50, 60, 70 percent more out of themselves. That’s – I mean that’s my passion!

Ryan: Yeah. That’s mine, too, so I’m just sitting here and I’m like wow, this is awesome. I just shut my brain off and stopped thinking about questions and the podcast and I’m listening and I’m like, I’m being entertained. So, so I mean I had a couple of follow-ups in there that you actually answered I mean, when you said, you know, you’ve got these three spheres and you wanna connect ’em so, you know, for our listeners, you know, if somebody’s making that realization as you say that and they say: ‘Oh okay, I know I’m disconnected.’ How do I bring them together? What would be an action step to start getting that connection back and getting things in alignment?

Eddie: Practically – practically you’ve gotta be self-aware. So the majority of people are in pilot mode. They’re in their brains, so like, you’ve seen the movie Click with Adam Sandler where he’s like rewinding his – I mean most people are fast-forwarding through their life, they’re just – they don’t have that secondary conscious, and so I would say be self-aware and become aware that you’re aware of yourself. Understand that. And so that way you’re gonna go okay, well I’ve been living my life like this and I didn’t even realize the things I’m doing. It’s like people have been using like 15% of their brain and I’m just like crack that shell and use the rest of it because you’re actually – like step out of yourself and see what you’re doing, right? And so the first and foremost, can you be self-aware of what you’re doing in life?

The next is if you’re lacking one of these areas, you need to pursue it. So for instance, I’ll tell you just a couple of case studies. I’ve got people that are – that are spiritual leaders, they’re leaders of churches and what have you. They really believe, a lot of them believe that they can literally just read their Bible and think and read books and their lives will be better. But, and they go: ‘Well, why am I depressed? Why am I anxious?’ And I go, literally neglected 33% of your body. Your life – so you need to work on your physical body whether that’s working out and diet, so these things are huge. And so, literally you’ve got – so if you’re listening to this and you’ve got okay, man, listen I love my – I’m a CrossFitter or and I love working out or I love marathon or I love running but I feel like, man I just feel like in a funk lately and you’re not doing any studying about maybe your craft and if you’re doing it correctly or you’re not spiritually pursuing your soul, whatever that may be for you, if you’re not pursuing that, I would give that a shot. Because ultimately these three things don’t just connect for no reason, they connect because ultimately you’re connecting some sort of transcendent purpose. And we know that people with transcendent purpose, regardless of what it is, statistically perform better at a higher level. You must have a transcendent purpose. And so if you’re lacking in an area, pursue that area, and be self-aware.

Ryan: I want to see you speak, man, I want to see you on a stage delivering that. It’s [laughs]. No, it – it reminds me of a great quote: ‘Reasons before results.’ Or if you’ve read the book Start With Why, you know, the more connected you are to your purpose, the more able you are to overcome any obstacle and to persevere. And I love working with parents whose motivation is their children because it’s very easy to get your hooks into ’em and you can motivate ’em, you can get them to have the desire to overcome whatever it is I mean, you just say: ‘Look, pretend your kid’s life is in danger’, and you know, they’re gonna do whatever it takes. So I think that’s – it’s a very tangible example of that transcendent purpose.

Eddie: Yeah and I mean – there’s a – I mean there’s a few others. So if you’re doing CrossFit or you’re doing work, you’re doing weightlifting or whatever you’re doing and you’re a runner and you’re exercising, or maybe you’re someone who studies. That can’t be a means to an end. It’s not enough. And so here’s an example. You could for instance be a CrossFitter and CrossFit for 5 years and maybe you perform poorly a couple days or maybe your body breaks down and you get injured. Well, now the thing that you’ve put all your weight on is failing you. So now what? What happens? What’s the natural – what’s the natural thing? Depression, get down on myself, pessimism. Now what, right?  So you’ve gotta have something, whatever it is, that’s greater than you. It can’t be just I want to look good in the gym. It’s not – that’s just not enough!

Ryan: Yeah!

Eddie: I mean eventually you’ll be 75 and you don’t look good anymore, now what?

Ryan: Yeah, what are – who are you, what do you have? I think it might have been Start With Why, or maybe it was Compound Effect – I read both of those at the same time maybe back in 2012 – but one of them talked about, you know, an exercise: write your own eulogy. And, you know, how do you want to be remembered? Start thinking today about your legacy because that’s, you truly are going to write your own eulogy, you’re just not going to deliver it, you know. How you live is, you know, how people will remember you. And that hit me like a ton of bricks, like you said, I mean I kinda came from – I got into bodybuilding and was into, you know, I did some fitness modelling and then, you know, started powerlifting and it’s always been fitness for me, that was kind of, it was the thing that helped me kind of deal with stuff and figure stuff out and get there and, you know, like most people grasp on to that and, you know, that kind of becomes how you identify yourself. And it’s like, it was like you said.

Eddie: Totally.

Ryan: That can’t be the only thing you have, the only thing you are. It just has to become something you do.

Eddie: Honestly, I’m with you on that. I didn’t mean to cut you off there, but, you know, if you’ve got – if you got your – if your purpose is wrapped up in yourself then eventually you let yourself down, right?

Ryan: Right.

Eddie: And so what you said, that lady with her kids, that’s huge. You know, I had a book of proverbs even says: ‘A wise man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.’ You wanna talk about legacy? Living a leg – living a life that will leave a legacy that people can be proud of, that your grandkids are going: ‘Man, my granddad was amazing’ or ‘My grandmother was amazing.’ That’s the type of life you want to live yourself, you want to live for something outside of yourself, right?

Ryan: Right.

Eddie: You want to – you want other people to be impacted by who you are. ‘Cause otherwise, if you’re just living your life to look awesome in the gym, let’s be honest, you’re not – first of all you’re not that cool!

Ryan: Right.

Eddie: You’re not that cool. You want people to be impacted by you and you need that transcendent purpose and that’s ultimately what can help guide your decision-making because the – at the end of the day, the small things that you do throughout the day can eventually, you’ll have such a more greater purpose to achieving those, to eating correctly, to reading and studying correctly, to doing your job or loving your family more if you’ve got something tied to it.

Ryan: How can people find their transcendent purpose? I know that’s – that’s a, you know if you can answer that, you’ll be a billionaire! But, what would your tips be for our listeners.

Eddie: Yeah. Well so my tip is, without getting too hyper-spiritual on you because I am a pastor I’ll throw that out there.

Ryan: You’ve got the mic, man!

Eddie: I would say you need to start looking outside of yourself. So the first – the first thing that every book in Barnes and Noble will tell you, will tell you: ‘Okay you’ve just gotta go deeper inside of you. You’ve gotta go figure out what it is that you wanna do.’ I will tell you you need to go outside of yourself. I will tell you that you don’t have the answers that you need and that you need to seek outside. So that – even just that will save you 80% of time. You know, listen I might not have – I might not have the answer and so, for some people that’s a spiritual dream where they’re out seeking. For other people that’s – they’re spending more time with their family to really get purposeful. For me it’s diving into something greater than me which is like the Bible. You’ve gotta find something like that that’s gonna be impactful for you because if you’re looking inside of yourself you’re gonna be the person that only ever uses the resources they have within them and that’s never a good thing. Because if you’re not growing as a human being constantly, you’re not gonna have the resources necessary to find your purpose, right? And so if you’re this person who’s like, okay, well, what I just need to do is go back to the drawing board and really think, you know. It’s like well, you might not have the answer. In fact, I know you don’t have it. So you’ve gotta search outside yourself first and foremost, that’s the first practical step.

Ryan: Eddie this has been awesome, you are killing it. Where can our listeners get more of you?

Eddie: Yeah, sure. Well obviously the place is exnihilohealth.com, that’s the site, that’s the blog, it’s kind of the hub. It’s got everything we do, our blog, videos and our podcast. That’s another one, we’ve got the Ex Nihilo Health Podcast we just started up 3 weeks ago, so we’ll have some awesome guests on there. And then social media, man, I mean I’m buzzin’ on Twitter, I’m buzzin’ on Instagram and Facebook, so you can find me there @realewilliams. Come hit me up, man, I’ll chat with you right back, I’m not afraid of that.

Ryan: Okay, okay. So we’ll put all those links in the show notes at optimalperformance.com, that way our listeners can go over there, watch the video version, click on any of those links and find you right away and get connected with you.

Eddie: Sweet.

Ryan: Before we let you go we want to hear your top 3 tips to live optimal. And, I mean, I think you’ve given us way more than 3 already but if you could only tell somebody 3 things, what would be the 3 things you tell them to get them on the path to optimal life?

Eddie: Yeah, um, I would, you know first and – the one we just talked about is huge and that’s probably the biggest one, so finding your transcendent purpose. And please understand this, I think this is probably worth the price of admission, since it’s zero dollars: that you can be successful in your life and still not miss – and still miss your purpose. So you could be successful and not fulfill your purpose. So understand that. You could be rich, you could be ripped, you could be healthy and miss your purpose. And so success is not synonym for purpose, you have to understand that. Find your purpose. That’s huge. Second, I think, I mean there’s a lot I could say on this but certainly gratitude. The people that are successful, man, they’ve gotta be grateful. You’ve gotta be grateful for – do you know how astronomically ridiculous it is that you’re alive? That you – that, you know, you made it into the egg or whatever? That’s crazy! And so for me, you know, growing up poor, growing up without, dad leaving early age, my mother passed away of cancer, to be where I’m at, to have 2 beautiful children and a beautiful wife and to have a home and those sort of things and live the life I live, I’m just extremely grateful. You cannot think – people that do things that change the world, if you wanna change the world, you’ve gotta be grateful. People with chips on their shoulder, like, yeah they can be – can they be impactful? Sure. Could they be successful? Yeah. Could they change the world? I don’t know, man. I really don’t know. I think you have to be grateful. And then lastly, I think you’ve gotta measure your expectations. And these are all I know, kind of abstract and I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for.

Ryan: This is great, nobody’s said any of these before, so maybe gratitude. But yeah, like, we want something – we want something different. Like, we don’t want the same stuff, so yeah.

Eddie: I – I could say sleep or something like that.

Ryan: No! Don’t, don’t, don’t!

Eddie: Those are all huge? But for me I think frustration sets in when expectations don’t match your experience. And so if your expectations on other people are so through the roof that, you know, and you think so much of yourself that people need to kind of bend over backwards for you as you walk in a room or if you’re in a gym, even the smallest things, if you’re in the squat rack, you think people need to get out of there, right? As small as that. So if you measure your expectations, if you’re humble, if you understand who you really are and that really this transcendent purpose is bigger than you, then you’re gonna live accordingly and you won’t find yourself frustrated or pessimistic. You won’t feel obligated to serve because you’re serving out of gratitude, you’re serving out of joy because you’re a humble person. And so, can you find – can you measure your expectations? Can you be humble? Do you have a purpose in your life? Those are the things that can actually really begin to change your life for the whole.

Ryan: This was awesome. Eddie, thank you so much for hanging out with us. This has been a great podcast. Listeners, head on over to optimalperformance.com so you can get the video version and all the links and show notes. Make sure you head on over to iTunes as well, give us a 5* review. I always say 5* review because, you know, if you’re gonna go 2* why bother, right? Don’t go over there and leave us a bad one! This has been awesome! Eddie thank you so much. And we will catch you guys next Thursday.

Ben Hebert

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