What do you picture, when you think of performance?
A sculpted athlete, who’s spent countless hours working on their body, ready to bolt out of the blocks? Perhaps.
This is not what I see.
I picture an emotionally balanced mind.
Calm, quiet and focused. I see a beaming, smiling face, ready to enjoy their craft, even – no, especially– when the pressure is on. Mind and body working together in unison: I see completeness.
In the words of Gennadi Touretski, one of the most successful swimming coaches ever:
“an athlete who smiles behind the starting blocks, is an athlete ready to win”.
Because with a healthy mind and a strong body, you win every day.
This is no hyperbole. If your mind is not in the right place, you may be perfectly prepared physically; your performance will be disappointing.
But here’s where it gets really interesting. As a former professional athlete who’s transitioned into launching and running Motion Nutrition, I can tell you with absolute certainty: this applies beyond the sports arena.
Every day performance
In every walk of life, with a strong mental and emotional foundation, you are primed to win. At work, you may have perfectly prepared your pitch or presentation, but if you are not prepared for the stressful environment of the boardroom, you will stagger and underperform.
I no longer train 25 hours per week, I no longer compete at the weekend. Today, my priority is on every day performance: waking up feeling great, having healthy relationships, performing well at work, and sleeping tight though the night. What does this mean in practice? It means I have a set of simple rules I follow, which I will share with you next.
1. Know what works, and make it easy.
This sounds simple, but time and time again, and in January of all times, you’ll hear crazy New Year’s resolutions which deep down you just know will fail. This is not helpful and risks solidifying the habits you are trying to escape in the first place. Instead, make it easy for yourself. Here’s what I mean:
Eat what’s easy.
I don’t mean eat fast food. I mean eat what’s good for you and what you know you can handle within the reality of your life. Unless you enjoy spending your entire Sundays meal prepping, don’t jump on a decision that you’ll always have a Tupperware lunch at work. Unless you enjoying scrubbing dirt off vegetables (which I do, and recommend it as therapy), perhaps don’t commit to farm-dropped vegetables. You know yourself better than anyone else. So note down what works for you, and you’ll enjoy sticking to it. Convenience is a key word in 21st century lifestyles so we’ve been working hard at providing more convenient products: stay tuned for our new releases later this month.
Move how you want to.
Sure, the Instagram ads for that new Shoreditch gym look great. But if you live in Croydon and work in Fulham, this is not going to work out for you. Take a moment to remember what you actually love doing. Is it dancing salsa? Join a dance class. Is it swimming on your own and humming tunes under water that no one else can hear (wait, am I projecting?)? Find your best local pool. Sure, by all means try something new. But only commit to something you’ll actually enjoy pushing yourself towards. Do what you love, and do it for fun. This is the secret to every day performance.
2. Know what doesn’t work, and make it a rule to avoid it when it matters.
A single pint of beer gives me a hangover. So guess what? I never drink during the week anymore. Problem solved! It sounds simple, but until I actually made this a rule, I found myself in 6pm “meetings” one pint down and owing my acquaintance the next round. Eventually I discovered that the world wouldn’t stop spinning if I ordered soda and fresh lime. The point is, once you establish what you want to avoid and make it a personal rule to do so, your life will be both easier and more enjoyable. Rules allow you to swerve peer-pressure, and feel great about it.
3. Feed your brain.
Here is something I wish I realised as an athlete: your brain burns 20% of the food you eat. And it’s a hungry, picky beast. At the same time, the quality of an average western diet in terms of micronutrient density has gone down over the past 50 years. Simultaneously our work lives are so, so much more taxing on our brain: just compare today’s desk-bound work to traditional physical labour. So it’s now more important than ever to feed your brain properly. That’s why we’ve placed renewed focus on Power Up, our daytime nootropic, to feed your brain with everything it needs for a successful day.
4. Take time off.
As an athlete, I knew that while an evening of partying on a Saturday was acceptable, it would affect my weekend recovery and hinder my performance on a Monday morning. This is less relevant today: I am not up at 5am to swim 6km every Monday. But a similar framework applies. I know that to be able to attack the week with envy and anticipation, I must allow myself to do something completely different at the weekend. Truly unplug, spend time with your loved ones, take a hike in the country. Do it with the only purpose of truly immersing yourself in the microcosm around you – forgetting the larger connected world. And don’t wait for the weekend to do it, Unplug every single night to get some real quality rest and recovery.
Your health, your performance
With this simple set of rules in mind, we’ve made it our mission at Motion Nutrition to put your health at the centre of our game. To make it easier for you to focus on what works for you, while avoiding what doesn’t. To allow you to feed your brain properly with an effortless addition to your morning routine. To help you truly switch off in the evenings, to help you recover from stressful days and reach deep restful sleep. With the ultimate goal of helping you perform to your best and achieve your goals.