Updated: Jul 8, 2021
What are you training for and why are you eating the foods you are eating? They are two simple but powerful questions that you should ask yourself. Being in the health industry I trained people to compete in the first triathlon, lose tens of kilos and completely transform their body but it struck me one day that too many people are unaware of the value that eating and training has on your mental health, your energy and your career. We are so busy as a society searching for a way to look better that we fail to recognize the amazing benefits that eating and training can have on our energy levels, our clarity, our confidence levels, our vision and our efficiency. I believe that the fitness industry as a whole has missed the point; they are so wrapped up in selling weight loss and muscles that they have forgotten to focus on self improvement as a whole. What I am going to show you in this article is how you can utilize training and nutrition to progress your career, gain mental clarity, confidence and build an extraordinary level of never ending energy,
Firstly you need to understand that food is not the only energy source you have. Infact, you can gain energy from not eating. You see, your body has its own personal energy source; an energy source that has been built up and stored to use when we do not have any external energy source. This energy source, of course, is actually your own fat. You see when we don’t eat for an extended period of time our body utilizes our fat stores for energy, that is why we dont die when we sleep. Infact, when we don’t eat we actually might find that our mental clarity, focus and energy is higher than usual. There are a few reasons for this. One, our body is not using energy digesting food helping us focus on productivity, the second is that when fasted our body produces a protein called BDNF which has huge effects on brain activity and thirdly our body is utilizing fats for energy which is a more long term sustained fuel. On a physical performance side our Human growth hormone; responsible for muscle build and repair is much higher while fasted.The point I am trying to make is not that you should never eat again but that you should not rely on food for energy. It’s simply not necessary. For me personally I eat mostly at 12 or 1pm and I find that I am far more productive, clear and mentally focused. Don’t take my word though. Try it for a week and tell me how you feel.
Now when you are talking about actually eating for energy and mental health there are so many things that I could mention but what I really want to achieve from writing this piece is that you open your mind to the way you approach your nutrition. I could just give you a list of foods to eat that will make you feel great but that would miss the point. The first thing I want you to know is that the gut is often referred to as the second brain. The reason for this is that it has such an effect on the brain’s functions. Did you know that 80% of our hormone serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin being our happiness hormone. How we treat our gut has a direct influence on how we feel on a day to day basis both mentally and physically. Have you ever had that Monday morning sluggish and rumbling feeling in your stomach? Or that feeling of being wiped out after a weekend of eating junk or drinking alcohol? The reason for this feeling is that we are putting sugar, alcohol and refined food into our body which gives us a kick of energy right away but also gives us that lull of energy along with the lovely feeling of our stomach being in a knot. The advice I am going to give here in relation to what to eat is going to sound so simple that you won’t believe it and this is half of the problem for us. For some reason people want complicated advice. We have this belief that the more complicated it is, the better it is. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So here it goes. Eat clean food,high quality protein, lots of veggies, something that has a mother or grows from the ground, a food with a name you can pronounce, that doesn’t sit for days on a shelf. No, really, that’s it.
Now when it comes to training. I want you to go to the gym 6 days a week for 2 hours a day and deadlift as much as you can. Ok, I’m joking. The reality is that this is not necessary for any type of result you want or need. Firstly, for many of us, we have a time budget to train. So lets maximize our time efficiently and get the best result possible. To understand training; we need to first split it up into two sections; general movement and training. If you want to build energy and clarity you need to be performing well in both of these areas and no more is not always better. You need to be on a minimal effective dose style training schedule to maximize productivity, performance, clarity, confidence and energy.
So in relation to movement first. Despite what people say; movement does not take away energy, it provides energy. The more you move, the more energised you will be. Is there a law of diminishing returns, of course? If your body is not used to sitting down all day long, hunched over a laptop with minimal movement then how do you expect it to be equipped to move when you need it to move? For this I advise; find a hobby that is movement based; golfing, tennis, football, hiking, jogging or whatever it is that gets your body moving. Netflix does not count. Along with that, get moving during the day; morning sunlight, morning stroll and implementing movement into what would otherwise be a sedentary day. This will drive your energy levels, productivity and efficiency. You may think, “Oh, I don’t have the time to do that. I’m too busy” but if that is you then I can almost guarantee you that you are nowhere near working at your most efficient. You are probably working at 50% of your potential.
Now on to training. If you want to be feeling confident, energetic and focused you do not judge your workouts based on the amount of sweat you exude during a session. You base it on its efficiency; what is being worked, how do you feel after the session and have you got that metabolic response that is going to make changes to your physique. I am not going to dive into training methodologies but what I will say is this. Do a session 3 times a week. This session may be in a gym or at home, this session may involve weights or body weight and this session may last an hour or just 20 minutes. It’s not just about what you do it’s about how you do it. Focus on activation, response and purpose of the session. I regularly train so that I can take a break, get clear headed and be productive.
You are probably wondering how any of this article is related to career progression. Well, if you want to progress in your career you need to be working smarter than everyone else. If you think about working smarter; you must be thinking about critical thinking, focus, efficiency and energy levels. The simple fact is that how you move, train and eat will have a huge influence on your career choices. How you react in stressful situations is often determined by your energy levels and how confident you are, right? The whole system is a domino effect style method. One area compliments another. If you are the type of person who is stuck in the mode of weight loss and weight gain; you are draining your energy. Focus on building your career, your energy and your mental health. The weight loss and body transformation will happen as a byproduct.