To mock us so expertly, pop weirdo and Elon Musk enthusiast Grimes needs to stay in shape. On Monday, just months after she announced her inscrutable new album, Miss_Anthropocene, the ex-“anti-imperalist” posted an elaborate description of her “training regimen” to her Instagram, together with a photo from her new ad campaign for Adidas by Stella McCartney and the hashtag #gentrifymordor.
It’s hard to tell whether Grimes is being genuine or if this is SpaceX-age trolling at its finest (or both). But maybe a look at the steps in her workout scheme, some of which are more rooted in science than others, will help make sense of this post-sensical dystopian puzzle.
“Maximizing the Function of My Mitochondria”
First up on Grimes’ “360 approach” is a dose of supplements meant to “maximize the function of [her] mitochondria,” which, if you remember high school biology, are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cell. In the post, she singles out three supplements:
NAD+: Short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, this buzzy “coenzyme” is a controversial one in the anti-aging world that companies like Elysium Health and ChromaDex have capitalized on. Studies on old mice have shown that increasing NAD+ levels can rejuvenate mitochondria, but many researchers have expressed concern about its potential effects on tumor growth.
Acetyl L-Carnitine: A common dietary supplement said to support energy metabolism, its central component, carnitine, is involved in the burning of fat for energy and ferrying fatty acids across the walls of the mitochondria, according to the 2008 textbook Metabolic Syndrome and Psychiatric Illness. More recently, low levels of acetyl L-carnitine have been implicated in one type of depression, though scientists cautioned that supplements may not have an effect.
Magnesium: Another common dietary supplement, magnesium is also involved in energy production (via the mitochondria), as well as a host of other important processes. It’s found naturally in foods like nuts, spinach, and soy milk.
“This helps promote ATP and it’s incredibly visceral,” says Grimes. ATP is the key molecule involved in energy transfer in the cell, and it’s created inside the mitochondria. What she means by “incredibly visceral” is anyone’s guess.
“Astro-Gliding” in a Sensory Deprivation Tank
Next up in Grimes’ schedule is a very long dip in her sensory deprivation tank and some time travel. “From that point I spend 2-4 hours in my deprivation tank, this allows me to ‘astro-glide’ to other dimensions - past, present, and future,” she writes.
These tanks, growing in popularity as a method for deep relaxation, were used as early as the ‘30s to study how some senses could be heightened while others were dulled. (They were featured heavily in Stranger Things Season 2.) In a sensory deprivation tank, a person floats in body-temperature salt water in full darkness and complete silence, usually for an hour.
“Sensory deprivation has been used primarily to study plasticity in the brain,” behavioral neuroscientist Ladan Shams, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, previously told Inverse. Neuroplasticity generally refers to the ability of the brain to be reshaped and rewired to form new pathways over time.
“It has to do with learning — how malleable the brain is,” said Shams.
But there isn’t much science to explain Grimes’ ability to traverse spacetime. David Leventhal of Lift/Next Level Floats, a popular New York-based float facility, tells Inverse:
Research and extensive anecdotal evidence show that floatation therapy is beneficial for helping conditions including PTSD, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and fibromyalgia. Studies show athletes can improve their performance by practicing visualization techniques in the tank, and Navy Seals are speeding up the time to learn foreign languages by listening to vocabulary lessons while floating. In addition to a wide range of specific applications, most people find floating to be super relaxing and enjoyable.
It sounds like Grimes is loosely referring to the practice of astral projection to describe out-of-body-like experiences she has in the tank. People in the tank often experience extended periods of theta brain wave activity. That is the creative and dreamy semi-conscious state we are in all too briefly as we drift off to sleep. Grimes is likely experiencing extended periods of theta consciousness during her journeys in the tank.
Sword Fighting With James Lew
After flexing her metaphysical muscles, Grimes opts to flex the regular kind. “In the afternoons I do a 1-2 hour sword fighting session with my trainer, James Lew, we go over the fundamentals that work the obliques, core stabilizes, and triceps as well as a few tricks.”
AphCs and Blood Type
After her regular human workouts, Grimes goes into the studio, “where my mind and body are functioning at peak level, with a neuroplastic goal between 57.5 and 71.5 AphC’s (which is my preferred range for my blood type),” she says.
Once again, Grimes’ routine focuses on neuroplasticity, but it’s not clear how AphCs figure in — not to mention what they are or what they have to do with blood type.
Caps sensitivity notwithstanding, APHC can stand for many things: Appaloosa Horse Club, American Public Health Nurse, Army Public Health Command, among many. Spelled aPHC, it could stand for the anterior parahippocampal region, a part of the brain implicated in a few psychedelics studies. Under the influence of psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms), the aPHC has been shown to have decreased functional connectivity, suggesting increased neuroplasticity.
But a PubMed and Google Scholar search for “AphC”+”blood type” turns up nothing. Thus far, this is the clearest indication that we are getting trolled, but honestly, who can say?
Note to readers: if you have any clue what Grimes is talking about, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Infrared saunas are becoming increasingly popular for their supposed ability to promote weight loss, get glowy skin, and detox. Grimes, too, wants in.
“I’ve outfitted my studio with the highest grade of red light. It is pretty much 1000 sqf IR Sauna,” she writes.
Infrared (IR) saunas differ from regular saunas because they heat the body directly rather than heating the air in the sauna. But in the end the point is the same: to get the body hot.
“As infrared heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air, users develop a more vigorous sweat at a lower temperature than they would in traditional saunas,” Richard Beever, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of British Columbia, told Time in 2017.
There isn’t much research on infrared saunas, but Beever’s review of the scant literature, published in 2009, showed some evidence of modest health benefits:
There is limited moderate evidence supporting FIRS [far-infrared sauna] efficacy in normalizing blood pressure and treating congestive heart failure; fair evidence, from a single study, supporting FIRS therapy in chronic pain; weak evidence, from a single study, supporting FIRS therapy in chronic fatigue syndrome; weak evidence, from a single study, supporting FIRS therapy for obesity; and consistent fair evidence to refute claims regarding the role of FIRSs in cholesterol reduction.
Red light is just electromagnetic radiation with a long wavelength, so what makes it “high grade” is also anyone’s guess.
Screaming Sessions and Honey Tea
Even Grimes needs to let loose. She does so with a fellow singer-songwriter who has toured with her previously.
“Hana then comes over and we do a screaming session for 20-25 minutes while I slow boil the honey tea that maximizes vocal proficiency,” Grimes writes.
Screaming, intuitively, seems like a good way to release pent-up emotions. The science is inconclusive, though. It was a key part of “primal therapy,” a controversial psychotherapy method devised by the California psychotherapist Arthur Janov, who wrote the iconic book The Primal Scream in 1970. Screaming, it posited, was a good way to relieve infant and early childhood trauma known as “primal pain,” which manifested itself in adults as mood disorders and physical illness. As Inverse reported previously, many experts now consider it mostly unhelpful.
Honey tea, meanwhile, is a traditional remedy for sore throats, but experts remain divided on whether it actually is a natural anti-coughing agent. Dr. Jennifer Long, assistant professor of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told NPR in 2018 that “it’s really very speculative.” Tastes great, though.
Blue Light and Seasonal Depression
Like any millennial with a laptop and a smartphone, Grimes is worried about her exposure to blue light, which research increasingly shows is linked to sleep disturbances, eye problems, and other health issues. Unlike most millennials, who opt for “night mode” or blue light-blocking glasses, Grimes says she went for a more permanent solution.
“I have also eliminated all blue light from my vision through an experimental surgery that removes the top film of my eyeball and replaces it with an orange ultra-flex polymer that my friend and I made in the lab this past winter as a means to cure seasonal depression,” she says.
Crazy as this sounds, blue-blocker lens implants are a real thing. A Utah facility called the Zion Eye Institute offers the service, citing evidence that “high-energy blue light causes oxidative damage to the retina and may be a risk factor for developing macular degeneration.”
As for curing seasonal depression, also known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), Grimes seems to be a little bit confused about the role of blue light.
A common treatment for SAD is light therapy, which involves the exposure to bright, sun-like light at the same time every day to give the internal clock an anchor. Another theory is that exposure to sunlight or a light box in the winter can help bring serotonin levels back up to spring-summer levels, improving mood.
Sunlight contains the full spectrum of light colors, including blue, so it’s not clear why blocking blue light would help with SAD. Interestingly, one Harvard Health report on light box treatments noted that lower-intensity blue light has an even greater impact on the retina than white light, suggesting it makes for an even better treatment.
In a mic-droppingly normal statement, Grimes ends her workout plan with, “I go to bed with a humidifier on.”
Fellow weird chanteuse Mariah Carey famously told V Magazine she sleeps with 20 humidifiers around her bed, so you know Grimes isn’t messing around.