Notes On Self 001 | Joe Holder

Joe Holder
7 min readMay 20, 2022


photo by Christian Hafer (@hafe_life)

Starting to try and condense my thoughts and actions a bit more, presenting an easy recap called “Notes on Self”. A round-up of the main components that have been part of my current wellness regimen + other musings. Quick, actionable, and simple with a few links to help continue on the conversation for further exploration if you deem it worthy.

Reporting live from Mexico, here are a few things on the mind.

Hope you enjoy and always, if you have any questions shoot me a note on Instagram or Twitter. But not email. I probably won’t respond :).

P.S. Every week I release a simple workout on YouTube and Instagram. Please don’t just learn, do. Exercise is an easy way to improve your health. Just start.

Blood Testing

Photo Jessica Foley (@fauxly)

Why Am I Doing It?

I’m more of the vision, especially when you are young, to do blood testing as a practice to understand what is going on with oneself and be able to decode it. I should just know. I don’t test because I think something is “wrong” or I need to be “optimized”. It is a component of the data set about our personal health. We know so much random shit of non-importance because it is fed to us via an algorithm, why not understand what your liver enzymes are telling you?

I select my birthday as the anchor point to schedule this as it is a consistent marker and reminder as it comes every year (hopefully). Openly, my father is a doctor so I am a bit more used to doing this. I am no longer a child though so I have been scheduling them on my own. I am currently trialing out the difference between at home tests, having a doctor schedule order them, and the different tests you can get. I will report back soon with findings.

Why Might You Consider It?

You get used to navigating the healthcare system, understand what these biomarkers mean, and get more comfortable having agency within the medical establishment so you can advocate for yourself. When we get older, and our chances of health ills increase, we have a longitudinal history that helps us become aware of any anomalies.

Price is always a consideration but between insurance, the amount of times you need to do it to find value (1x a year), and the expansion of direct at home testing I only see this becoming more accessible.

This also isn’t a fad. Blood practices have been around for centuries and the information we can get from blood for practical purposes only continues to expand. I know this might sound complicated but it isn’t up to you to decode, just to show up. People literally go to school for years to tell you what to do with this info. With all the services available now, doctor or otherwise, the ability to simplify the actionable steps you can take from blood will only become clearer.

How Has it Helped Me?

Blood testing has helped me understand small abnormalities or signs that have had me tweak my health/diet for improvement. Clean example of this is noticing my Vitamin B12 levels (common in plant based eaters) aren’t where they should be. This made me sure to include a high quality supplement in my wellness regimen. How is my blood sugar doing? Are there basic signs of inflammation in the body that I should take into consideration? What about my hormone levels?

Some believe that “healthy” individuals do not need to test or even go for physicals. Personally I think that’s idiotic, especially when much of the general population isn’t even healthy so the point is a bit moot. Key is just to use these to make sure you continue or start proper wellness lifestyle habits. Don’t use a “clean bill of health” at a basic physical as an excuse to not be diligent with your well-being.

High(er) Fat Shakes

Dropped this video on smoothies/shakes. Expanding a bit further. If you want to listen or watch to that episode of the podcast with Max, it can be found in the previous hyperlinks.

Why Am I Doing It?

A few pieces of research have intrigued me– that men on lower fat diets tend to have lower testosterone levels, the impact that fat, specifically omega 3s polyunsaturated fat, can have on mitochondrial function, and lastly how consuming high fat and high carb meals at same time might throw us off.

But what the hell does that even mean practically?

To keep it succinct I try to get the benefits of fat in shakes in a way based off conjecture, intuition (how I feel), and empiricism (the research). I personally need more calories so utilizing fat in shakes because it has 9 calories per gram has proven helpful. Carbohydrates and protein have 4. However, if you are watching your calories on a weight maintenance journey, be aware of this as it can be a double edged sword.

Why Might You Consider It?

If you are worried about blood stabilization (one of the things ketosis is actually solid in research for), increasing satiation, or just want to find ways to get healthier fats in the diet this is an easy little insertion. Pay attention to how you’re feeling of course but find a recipe below that is one of my favorites.

1/4 banana

1 handful arugula

1/4 cup raspberries

1–2 T Cacao Nibs

2 T Coconut Yogurt

2 T Hemp Seeds

2 T Milled Chia Seeds

20 grams protein

1/2–1 cup liquid base of your choice

Stopping Wearables

Besides an Apple Watch, I am not really into the wearable market currently (Whoop, Oura, etc).

Why Am I Doing It?

Much like the current market crash, I think tech is a little bit overrated and I am just going back to the staples. I find the reliance a bit distracting and not helpful past a certain point. Once I get the basic practices that help me, why do I want to continue just giving my data for the sake of? So they can get paid?

Not to say I’m a Luddite or will do forever, and I understand if you need a wearable that keeps you honest, but for me personally that isn’t necessary. I just think you use it for stretches (1–3 months) then take a break after you have paid attention to the feedback.

Why Might You Consider It?

To take a little break and just get back to fully feeling human and away from quantified self for a moment.

How Has It Helped Me?

Increased individual awareness of self and interoception, a sense IMO that isn’t discussed enough. Basically, can I intuitively interpret the signals my body is giving me? Reduction in wearable usage has assisted in me being more mindful and not reaching for technology first thing in the morning to let me know if I actually slept well.


photo by Carl Nard (@carlnard)

My boy Steve Finley signed me up for the midnight half marathon — a crazy unsanctioned race in NYC where you run a half marathon at midnight in NYC that does not have a predetermined route. Ended up running 2 extra miles the last time it was put on cause we got lost ha.

So I’m spending more time on the track and running to get ready for this. Will report back with a full training log in a week or two.


As a way to improve my focus, oddly enough, I’ve been watching more TV/video. It makes me sit down, pay attention to one thing, and assimilate information to long term knowledge.

Below you’ll find a few watches I’ve enjoyed.

“High Score”

I find inspiration in industries I have no working knowledge about, in this case video games. Riveting (skip episode 3) short series about innovation of video games worldwide. A lot of random moments that truly show you success is not linear and often random.

Usain Bolt: The Fastest Man Alive

Some consider this documentary bland at moments but I enjoyed it. A doc from 2012 that follows the heralded Jamaican sprinter on his journey.

Joel Jamison on Conditioning

Quick watch on 3 aspects necessary for improving conditioning training. Jamison is one of the first coaches that I took teachings seriously from when I first started in the game. He has a knack from simplifying complex topics so if you’re a coach or just interested in the science of sport this is a good quick watch.

Young Brain Trust™

I read multiple books at once but just focus on reading a chapter in a day in at least one of them. Below you’ll find what I currently am immersed in.

“Winning Running” by Peter Coe

“Finance For The People” by Paco De Leon

“The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh

This post is getting a little long and I want to save your time so next recap I’ll go into more depth regarding my learnings from these books but I recommend them for now.

Misc Thoughts

On Conversations

I’ve noticed that in “real” conversations, the tendency for validation instead of discussion is arising. I find this connected to sharing online where instead of feedback many individuals just want validation of what they share with a “double tap” or a like. Don’t let this turn you off to the patience and critical thinking skills needed during in person conversations, especially when the topic may be complex. You aren’t right just because you think you are. Stay open.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Stay active but be sure to rest too and stay well.



Joe Holder

Founder of The Ocho System™, Plant Based Gang, and Exercise Snacks. Writer for @GQ. Consultant for various, primarily @nike @hyperice @dyson. Views my own