4 Lifestyle Principles for Health and Performance 

 May 6, 2021

Have you ever spent time reading about a professional athlete’s offseason program? Typically, after the season ends, an athlete may choose to take anywhere from one week to a full month off of training. This is in order to allow their body and mind to relax, recover, and prepare for the upcoming offseason. 

An athlete is consistently focused on making daily deposits in the small areas that ultimately result in what us as fans get to enjoy from them on the field, court, or diamond. 

Athletes, especially professional ones, have mastered the art of doing the basics extremely well. 

However, we scratch and claw every day, fighting off the signs and symptoms of burnout, stress, fatigue, and sleeplessness, in order to just get one or two more tasks done, make one more sale, or check one more item off our goals list. 

We often can forget the example of the athlete in the offseason. During the offseason, the athlete develops their recipe for resilience, their strong foundation to build a home, that leads to successful performance and optimal health when it matters.

Too often, we forget to do the little things that build the foundation for health and performance, leaving us grasping for them when it’s too late. 

Here are 4 Routine-Based Daily Deposits you can begin employing today: 

  • Sleep

Arguably the most important routine to master, sleep, or lack thereof, determines your level of “readiness” to start the day. The amount of quality sleep you get each night affects both your psychological and physiological states. 

It is recommended that everyone get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. The reason for getting this amount of sleep has to do with how sleep stages play out during the night. 

The first four hours of sleep are designated toward physical restoration through deep sleep. Often, people will say, “Well I really do just fine with only about 3-4 hours of sleep each night.” The reason they feel this way is because their body has been restored, so they may feel physically refreshed. 

However, the second four hours of sleep are critical for mental restoration through REM sleep. Skipping out on the second half of sleep is detrimental to your long-term brain health. 

So, start developing a routine around your sleep by doing the following: 

  • Go to bed at the same time each night
  • Wake up at the same time each morning
  • Begin using a wearable device to measure your sleep data
  • Go take the “Chronotype Quiz” to discover your optimal sleep/wake times

By doing these things, you will be making the small, daily deposits to benefit your long-term physical and mental health.

  • Nutrition

Equally important to sleep is the daily decisions on what you are putting into your body. 

Dr. Mark Hyman, a well-known Physician and New York Times Best-Selling Author, often talks about the idea of “food as medicine”. Essentially, what he means is, seeing food as something that is going to help you feel and perform your best physically and mentally, rather than eating simply for pleasure. 

Going back to the idea of planning rather than reacting in the crisis moment, by scheduling and preparing your meals ahead of time, you’re giving yourself a great chance at excellent nutrition habits. 

What can often happen is, during the course of a busy day, we recognize we have a few minutes to grab a bite to eat. However, if this isn’t a meal we’ve planned or prepared for, we will lean towards quick and simple. Fast food, donuts, pre-packaged foods, saturated fats, etc. 

When we take time to prepare meals ahead of time, instead of reacting to the amount of time we have to eat, or whatever shines the brightest in the refrigerator, we can simply grab the meal we’ve prepared. 

Meal prepping is an important daily deposit you can be making today to significantly improve your long-term health.

  • Movement

With movement, it’s important to recognize that the little things build up. Movement has many beneficial outcomes including brain health and development and feelings of confidence and wellness.

The beauty of this habit is, movement doesn’t fit into one small “go to the gym and lift heavy weights” box! Movement can be anything!

A few examples of movement are:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Weightlifting
  • Playing sport (Tennis, Basketball, Ping Pong, etc)

The basic idea is to spend 30 minutes each day doing something active. I’d also throw in there that it’s important to get up every hour and do something small like push-ups, sit-ups, walking around the house or office, or doing some squats. 

Having a regular movement routine significantly boosts your brain health and can really help in developing long-term health.

  • Stress Management

This routine can often be the most difficult to develop because, as Type-A’s, it can be tough to take a “time-out”.

Going back to our athlete example… all week prior to a game, an athlete will spend time in a cycle of stress and recovery, in order to be primed and ready to perform. 

This oscillation of their efforts allows them to feel and perform their best during gametime. 

When you apply this to the professional world, outside of sports, it means daily time spent on recovery so that you can perform when it matters. 

Here are a few examples of what recovery could look like in your daily routine:

  • Walking in nature
  • Reading a book
  • Talking with a loved one
  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Visualization
  • Light exercise

However you choose to recover, it’s crucial to your health and performance to make time for it. 

The mindset shift toward daily deposits will dramatically influence how you feel and how you perform each and every day. We certainly hope that crisis does not come. But if it does, we will indeed have a strong foundation.