Move from eating for cost, convenience, or habit to eating for fuel and performance.
Fueling yourself can come in many forms, and while many may default to food and sleep, choosing your drinks, meditation, affection, hobbies, and others of their ilk can also both fuel – and refuel – you. Just as important is ensuring you get enough, and the highest possible quality, of all these various kinds of fuel. I used to think more was more, which meant more training, more carbs, more everything – which only led to less of everything, including less energy, and less reserves.
One of the ways I began to turn this around was having a coach introduce me to the concept of separating a ‘rest’ day, with no training, from a ‘sleep’ day, where you caught up on sleep. To explain; if you plan on sleeping 8hrs a night, which is a total of 56hrs a week, then it doesn’t matter when you get those hours – as long as you get them.
The genius of this idea is the freedom it gives you. It allows you to live your life, go out and have fun, get up early when you have to – whatever you need to do – as long as you’re not behind on sleep at the end of the week.
For some, tracking your hours worked, slept, trained, etc may seem like a headache but, for others, crunching the numbers is a delight. Regardless of which side of that you fall on, all things being equal, more information does give you more to work with. As, not only are you able to track trends, but you can see if things are trending up or down – i.e. ‘are you moving towards – or away – from your goals’?
Regardless of how much sleep you need, simply ensuring you’re not behind at the end of the week can be one small metric that reaps big rewards. Think of your body as a car, it doesn’t matter how much you drive per day, whenever the tank hits empty -it’s time for a refill. Your fuel is the same. Empty? Fuel thyself!
As mentioned above, separately from your sleep cycle, ensure you take a couple rest days a week to recover from work, kids, sport(s), or training. These may be the same days or different, but both are important.
Another key facet of fuel, or refueling, is relaxation. Like food and drink choices, these are endless, as what stresses me out may be the very thing that relaxes you, and vice-versa. The point is, find that thing – whether it’s yoga or meditation, or playing metal in your garage band – that puts you in the zone. Anything that, when you do it, causes time to pass without you realizing it. Put another way, turn your brain off and simply immerse yourself in something you love to do.
My Lesson Learned
We all have so many directions we’re pulled in that it’s sometimes hard to find time for yourself but, as the saying goes, “be selfish to be selfless.” Be a great parent, partner, employee, team member, etc – but also ensure you are eating, drinking, sleeping, and relaxing so you are truly fueled – with both energy, and psyche!
Here’s a sleep graph, with some examples, to help cement the concept:
- Ideal – The standard 8hrs of sleep daily (you may need more or less)
- Short – Too few hours.
- Option 1 – Have a couple long nights? Catch up when you can.
- Option 2 – Erratic sleep schedule? It can work if you plan ahead
I encourage you to play with your fuel and experiment with different ways to get it. Quality output, regardless of whether it is sports, training, work, or creating, requires you to be at your best – that means focused, fueled, rested, recovered, and ready!
Go get it.
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