Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category
Last year I wrote The Unconventional Gym Bag: 5 Cool Things You Don’t Use and a few months prior, I wrote about Building the Perfect Home Gym. As expected, my training has evolved over the past year – and will continue to evolve – and the contents of my actual gym bag (and home gym) have also been upgraded. I take my training seriously – more seriously every year – and making sure I’m up-to-date on the latest and greatest is part of the fun.
While I’m a strong believer in self-experimentation, I also “keep it real” with basics in every training session. Loads of bodyweight workouts for general physical preparedness, and of course moving big iron for strength skill work. My strength & conditioning sessions (the primary choice for my entire adult life) consist primarily of the basics: kettlebells, deadlift, squat, bench press, and military press variations. Depending on my goals at the time, I vary the sets, reps, tempo, rest periods, and “supplementary” work. Sometimes the goal is to get stronger or bigger, sometimes it’s to get faster, and sometimes it’s to get leaner. I enlist the help of an awesome, experienced strength coach every few weeks or months to make sure my form is spot-on, and that I’m constantly improving (something I shouldn’t have waited so long to do).
I’ve also evolved my programming and have found a pretty good rhythm. After tearing my right medial meniscus after a July 4th Crossfit workout last year, I realized the hard way that there is a big difference between exercising and training. As much as I loved Crossfit workouts, anyone will sweat and feel spent if pushed to the breaking point. Training is different. Training is personal. Training is about goals. Now, every time I enter the gym, I have a goal to hit. That’s what training is all about. No more random daily workouts with no structure or sound programming behind them.
So what’s new in my gym bag? Let’s get to it.
Some days you feel like absolutely nothing can go wrong. You’re on fire, unstoppable. Ideas are flowing, confidence is high, and you’re walking around with your chin up and your back straight. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re at the top of your game. The world is your oyster. Everything you touch seems to turn to gold and you wonder how you were ever stagnant before.
Until the past few years, I had really only been able to identify these times when looking back. Now I’m acutely aware of them when I’m in them and I grab onto them and try not to let go when that train is rolling.
But these feelings never last long. Maybe a day or two, maybe a little more. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a full week of this superhuman ability to create things out of nothing without obstruction. Sooner or later things will return to normal and there’s no explanation why this happens. You just can’t self-motivate like you were able to the day before. Ideas are at a distance, just out of reach. You aren’t feeling flow and a day’s worth of work is taking two full days instead of just three hours.
It’s crazy frustrating when this happens. You try and recreate the environment, the feeling you had, and you just can’t. Your mind has moved on, your thoughts are elsewhere, and your current experience has been altered in some inexplicable way. And you don’t like it at all.
What happened? Well, nothing at all. It’s perfectly normal for creativity to ebb and flow like this. It happens to every single creative person dozens – even hundreds – of times throughout a year. It’s just not possible to keep anything running at its highest capacity all the time.
But are there ways to keep it running for as long as you can? Maybe. There are things you can do that will help but only in the sense that they may be able to prolong that window. There’s no guarantee that these things will work every time, but if they buy you an extra few days or a shorter period in the downswing, it could be worth it.
Keeping yourself satiated throughout the day is one surefire key to focusing. You can’t really focus if you can’t think, and you can’t think unless you’re constantly replenishing your brain fuel. Snacking in-between regular meals is one of the best ways to do this.
With snacks you’re able to maintain “normal” eating times for social purposes (although it’s recommended you eat smaller meals rather than “typical” portions). But by supplementing with simple snacks, you keep yourself from getting hungry between meals which has a number of benefits: 1) you’re less inclined to eat a stack of donuts out of desperation, 2) you keep your blood sugar level steady which leads to an enhanced mood and stronger focus, and 3) your metabolism will have a higher steady state which can lead to accelerated fat loss. What’s not to love about this?
In other words: eating just 2-3x daily is for losers. You need to eat more often. And the easiest way to do this is to snack, snack, snack. Keeping your snacks small and simple to prep is also key, which is why Greek yogurt, almonds, and green tea is so great – and string cheese and an apple are as well.
The clock just hit 4pm and you’re sitting at your desk staring at your computer monitor with your eyelids heavier than boulders. Your last meal was 4 hours ago so your stomach is growling loud enough for the guy in the next office to hear, and your energy level couldn’t be lower if you were actually sleeping. You can’t concentrate, you can’t get your eyes to focus, and you feel like just curling up into a fetal position and giving up on the day.
But you can’t of course; you have work to do. So what do you do? There are a number of things you can do in times like this to increase your focus: one of the best things you could do is go for a brisk 10 minute walk to get your blood flowing. But another great option is to eat. In fact, you should have eaten something before you got to this stage, making it a point to eat something every few hours to keep yourself energized throughout the day.
Here’s a great, simple snack to pick you up – remember, it’s best consumed before you hit rock-bottom. I keep a small refrigerator in my office to make sure I’m never without these three essentials.