You know the expression ‘you don’t have to reinvent the wheel?’ In other words, there might be a really good way of doing things. And you don’t have to invent a new way.
You can benefit from those that came before you. Success leaves clues and if we just open our eyes and pay attention we can realize success more easily.
For example, in aviation I believe it was West Jet that first started using winglets, or the curved pieces of wings. These apparently reduce emissions and improve the efficiency of the plane. As this helps the plane cut through the wind it stands that this would also make the flight safer as well.
Now you see this feature on all planes but West Jet was among the first to make this change to its planes. And the rest of the industry took notice, realized the benefits and followed suit.
Other times you can see a change from the norm that isn’t ideal yet the masses follow suit. They assume that success must have been attributed solely to what is different.
Consider for example when Usain Bolt burst onto the track and field scene. He was late to the track and field party yet started having success almost immediately. He was winning races and gold medals were being draped around his neck. Coaches from around the world started dissecting video of this races and they noticed he was doing something differently.
Bolt was using a toe drag at the start of his races. As he was coming out of the blocks he was driving his lead leg forward and the toes on this front side leg were almost dragging the ground in front of him. And a number of coaches noticed this difference, assumed it was the reason for success, and started having their young sprinters adopt this technique.
The thing is though is that Bolt wasn’t dragging this toe as a strategy to be faster. It had more to do with the fact of his projection angle and the fact he was 6’5″. He was coming out of the blocks with much forward angle and a toe drag was all he could do to not end up face down on the track. Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse stands 5’9″ and could come out of the blocks without feeling like he was falling on his face.
So sometimes there can success that we can model. And other times we should ask ourselves if the success was an anomaly? Was this a new winglet for the aviation industry or a toe drag for tack and field?
Well I wanted to share with you the things I do that help with my health, fitness and performance. Most of these habits doesn’t cost anything extra and don’t require extra time.
- Green tea – Most days I’ll start with a green tea while I get some reading, writing or other work done. The caffeine gives me a boost for an AM workout and the polyphenols and anti-oxidants lend numerous health benefits.
- Fasting – I tried fasting a few years ago. And I’m getting back to doing this again. Caloric restriction can be beneficial and helps with the recycling of cells (autophagy). Plus when you’re not preparing or eating meals this frees up time.
- Brown bag it – Most days I pack a lunch. Part of this is due to the time savings but also for health. It’s harder to control the quality of your nutrition when someone else is preparing it for you.
- Carry a water bottle – Are you dehydrated? Would you know if you were? If you rely on thirst as your indicator to drink than you’re already dehydrated. As an athlete your performance is suffering. Make sure to always have a bottle near at hand so you’re optimally hydrated.
- More olive oil – We’re all aware of the health benefits of olive oil. But how often do we eat it? I’m trying to make a better effort to have a teaspoon or two of olive oil daily.
- Tracking – ‘What matters gets measured’ – Peter Drucker. Want to get stronger, faster or more powerful? Than make sure to write down what you’re doing and when you did it. Guessing is a lot less efficient and potentially dangerous if heavy loads are involved.
- Just get one – Have you ever loaded a bar for a max set where you’ll try to get maybe 3-5 reps? And sometimes we can shorten our range of motion in order to get full reps. Imagine for example a heavy back squat. It’s not uncommon to see someone perform partial reps in order to complete the set. If they went for full depth on each rep the set would be much harder and they may potentially fail. During times like this I tell myself ‘just get one’. I set the goal to get just the first rep at full range. When this completed I’ll find a confidence to continue. It’s a case of ‘I’ve been there before and can do it.’ This seems to help.
- Mobility is key – I’ve found my health status and performance is directly tied to my mobility. When I’m moving well and frequently I perform better and my joints have fewer issues. As a former swimmer my shoulders aren’t the best. And this starts to impact surrounding joints like my traps and elbows. Recently I’ve started incorporating a shoulder mobility circuit that takes 3.5 minutes to complete and made a huge difference in my shoulder health (message me if you’d like to know more about this).
- Always 8 hours – I always get 8 hours per night. Usually this means getting to bed by 9 pm for a 5 am wake up. And on nights when I can’t be in bed on time I will still get up early to keep the routine on track. Even in Hawaii I would get up at this time, have some Kona coffee and then head out for a bike ride. Optimal sleep helps with recovery, with energy for intense training and the will power to say no to cravings and treats.
- Phone off – During lent I set a rule to put the phone on the charger at 7 pm. Recently I have relaxed this rule but I need to bring it back. Because to be honest I’m not reading research articles but most likely surfing or on social media. And if I were to be reading for enjoyment or work this could very well be done with a physical book rather than on a device.
- No alarm – Most nights I don’t set an alarm. If I have an early morning flight I will set one just to make sure I don’t sleep past 4 am for a 6 am flight. But otherwise I give my body what it needs. When my sleep is dialed in I can wake up around 5-6 am totally refreshed and ready to take on the day.
- Bed at first notice – Have you ever noticed the first signs of fatigue somewhere between 830-930 pm? And instead of brushing your teeth and jumping into bed with a book you: A) got on the computer B) had something to eat C) started watching a show. And soon this feeling of fatigue leaves and you get a second wind. Before you know it the time is 1030 or 11 pm and you’re really tired and ready for bed. Does this sound like you? If so, make a rule for yourself to go to bed at the first sign of fatigue. Have a book you’re looking forward to read and get under the covers.
- Sunday for the win – Most people start their week on Monday. Students return to school. Employees start the week. And what better way than to win the week by starting it with a great night’s sleep? You’ll have time for breakfast and maybe even a workout. You’ll be able to pack some leftovers for lunch. When you’re not rushed you’ll be in a better mood arriving at school and work. And since you started Monday with a great night’s sleep you’ll wake up earlier and be tired earlier at the end of the day. This sets you up well for a positive domino effect to stay on track for Tuesday and the rest of the week.
Success with your health, fitness and performance isn’t about discovering a new super-food we didn’t know existed yesterday. And it’s not about inventing a new exercise no one has ever done before to stimulate new muscular strength.
Success comes from doing the little things to the best our ability day in and day out. It’s not sexy but the results are sure worth it. Give these tips a try and look forward to better health, fitness and performance.