A simple equation to improve performance at anything

lucas-favre-335248.jpgWe all want to perform our best, but we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed and burnt out after having taken on too many tasks. Instead, it’s best to focus on what most important and alternate between steady habits of stress and rest to maximize improvements. Planning focused sessions that alternate between both these simple concepts are the key components to progress, helping those disciplined to follow reach their full potential in physical, mental, and emotional fitness.

Two Steps to Success

The concept of stress and rest can be applied to many different parts of your life, whether pertaining physical, mental, or emotional aspects. The basic concept takes a skill and focuses on training that skill through alternating between sessions of stress and rest.

For example, a person building muscle first isolates a muscle group and undergoes workouts until that group of muscles is fatigued. Once accomplished, the bodybuilder now alternates to resting the same muscles until they are no longer fatigued, continuing this pattern to progress that muscle group. As a person gets stronger, those set of muscles no longer become fatigued by the same weight or repetition cycle and thus require an increased level of stress to match its new threshold.

An elite athlete’s workout schedule could include engaging in mental pre-workouts before getting into a workout and performing intense workouts four to five days a week, then alternating between days of rest. With 10 to 12 hours of sleep, regular massages, and consistent stretching, her muscles can recover from the stress quickly and expand its threshold of capabilities.

Disciplined Rest and Stress for Growth

This concept translates to many, if not all, aspects of an individual’s life. He or she could apply this to building resilience against negativity or perpetuating a positive attitude. The basic principle is to alternate between major stress and focused rest. Apply this to building muscle, improving mental fortitude, or enhancing emotional endurance. To gather the complete benefit of one’s workout, study, or exercise, he or she must alternate between very hard days and very easy days.

Working just outside your comfort zone is where progress begins. A person maximizes their efforts by exploring just beyond where he or she is most familiar with. Following the body building example, lift too little weight and fail to see progress, but lift weights that are too heavy and injury becomes inevitable.

I learned these principles after reading the first few chapters of the audiobook Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid, Burnout, and Thrive with New Science of Succes by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. They highlight the basic “growth equation,” which is stress plus rest equals growth.

If a person were to only focus on one portion of the equation, he or she would experience failure by either extreme of burnout or stagnancy. Muscles that have been exercised too much enter a catabolic state where it begins to eat by itself and degrade. Too much working out and experience withdrawal; however, not enough working out and never.

Practical Information: How to Use This Information in Your Life

Now that you know the basic principle of growth, you can use this to learn to play the piano or improve your basketball skills.

First, isolate the skill you want to improve. Determine if you want to build muscle, learn to play a new instrument, or develop a new skill. Next, schedule a time where you can focus on engaging with that skills.

For example, if you want to be a better reader, you could set time every day where you feel most comfortable setting for prolong periods of time without burning yourself out and feeling like you’ve just sat through a four-hour lecture.

To improve my reading, I set a timer for 15 minutes and alternated between 15 minutes focused reading and five-minute distracted stretching. This gave me the strength the resist temptations like responding to text messages or falling victim to other distractions. This also gave me enough breaks to feel like I was never forcing myself to get through pages. Additionally, I would only read for a maximum of two hours a day at first, until I can improve my reading endurance while maintaining comprehension. I made sure to also schedule days where I did no reading at all to rest my brain from all the imagination and focus on doing something else, like writing or working out.

If you want to learn more about this concept, listen to Peak Performance on however you listen to audiobooks. He goes into greater detail of this basic concept of stress and rest, as well as further details of engaging with system one and system two thinking, a concept developed in Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

I’ll share more key information as I finish the book, so stay tuned for more post coming soon!


What are some ways you like to rest and recover from your grind? Share in the comments!

Photography by Lucas Favre on Unsplash

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The real reason I went vegan: dealing with parents and getting healthy

brenda-godinez-228181.jpg

A few years ago, I was very sick. I didn’t receive a diagnosis from a doctor, but I felt horrible everyday. I smoked half a pack of cigarettes and carried a fat gut—I was skinny fat and disproportionately larger in the tummy area. I was losing hair, out of energy and I hated it. I hated myself. I was depressed. Then something in me told me to take responsibility and make a change. Continue reading “The real reason I went vegan: dealing with parents and getting healthy”

A quick and easy guide to understanding dietary fiber

jennifer-pallian-146555With all the focus on calorie intake in fitness, it can be easy to forget about making sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. Good fiber intake can cause weight loss and improve overall health.

Fibers are the edible part of a plant cell wall and a form of carbohydrate essential in digestion. A gram of fiber contains four calories, but isn’t broken down by the body and used for energy, so it can’t contribute to storing fat. Rather, both insoluble and soluble fiber aid digestion by moving product through the body and slowing down the digestive process. We’ll get to more of why slowing digestion is important a little later.

Continue reading “A quick and easy guide to understanding dietary fiber”

Chia seeds give a handful of benefits, and that’s the skinny!

brenda-godinez-228182As a person that considers himself an athlete, well-balanced superfoods easily find their way into my grocery list. Chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods to add to anyone’s daily diet because of its macronutrient profile. It’s one of the most nutrient-packed plant-based food that can improve a person’s diet with only just a few teaspoons. Here’s how chia seeds have gotten its name as a “superfood” and how you can add this food to your diet. Continue reading “Chia seeds give a handful of benefits, and that’s the skinny!”

Easy-to-pack vegan snacks for school and work

cristina-gottardi-105347.jpgA challenge many people face when taking the dive into veganism is keeping their hunger satiated throughout the day. Snacks can be essential in helping individuals keep their appetite tamed while sticking to their plan for eating healthier and promoting a better life for the planet.

Packing Healthy on the Go

Snacks are small portions of food eaten in between meals to keep your blood sugar regulated and your body continuing to maintain a steady stream of energy. Some don’t need snacks, but for those like me, I CRAVE them. I eat snacks before working out, before setting off on a run and when getting ready to write. Continue reading “Easy-to-pack vegan snacks for school and work”

My morning routine for a positive outlook

david-mao-7091Every morning I roll out of bed and onto the floor before the sun gets up. I wake up in time to prevent my alarm from sounding off at 5:30AM and waking up my roommates. “Bixby,” I tell my phone, “set a timer for 10 minutes.”

I set my palms onto the floor and assume a table position with my knees below my hips. I grind my toes into the the carpet and carry my knees off the ground and lift my butt into the air—downward dog. I stretch as far as I can and listen for my ankles to pop. I progress through my morning routine by limbering up and getting my mind ready to tackle the day that lies ahead.

Starting with Positivity

Morning routines are important for setting the tone for the rest of the day. I use yoga and meditation to get my body and mind into the right vibration to accept all challenges with open arms. There are countless productive activities to add to your morning routines and improve mood in the morning. A good morning routine can create an outlook of overcoming the day with positivity. Some activities that I regularly do everyday include: Continue reading “My morning routine for a positive outlook”

Get set for a rebound in November

aaron-burden-43446Recap and Prospects

It’s been a crazy couple of months. Blogging has taken a backseat to more immediate priorities, like moving in with a couple coworkers, visiting my brother in Kansas and taking care of my knee after an injury from tug-of-war. I was able to write a couple blogs, take a few photos and share my experience. Here’s a look back at the past month—reevaluating October gives me an opportunity to review what I’ve accomplished and where I can improve.

The Good, The Bad, The Unfortunate

A good thing from this month happened when my little brother and I visited my older brother in Kansas. We have gotten so good at traveling, we had absolutely no stress throughout the entire weekend. We bravely explored the streets of Kansas City, visited the World War I museum and experienced what Manhattan, Kansas had to offer without breaking a sweat. And we were able to save money by visiting family and sleeping at his house.

I was able to finish reading I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown. It’s a wonderful book that explored the phenomena of shame experience and how people react to shame. She studied mostly women, but a lot of what she talked about applied to me. I related to feeling inadequate or feeling like I am flawed. Realizing that many feel similar to me, and realizing that I experience these feelings, gives me the self-awareness I need to combat negative feelings with positive thoughts.

My knee injury was incredibly unfortunate—I shouldn’t have played tug-of-war on that weakened knee. I was able to see a doctor afterwards, which reassured me that I could come back from the injury. I was also encouraged to go to Walmart and buy myself a cane, which I enjoyed using for about a week. I am now using a brace, but I still can’t run or play basketball.

Since reinjuring my leg, my fitness goals have taken a hit. I’m no where near my goal to dunk a basketball or run half a marathon; I’m barely getting back into the rhythm of working out again. My first priority is to heal and strengthen my knee—I’m nursing my knee until I’m able to run and play basketball like normal. I plan to sign up with a local gym and start waking up at 5:00 to get a workout in.

Planning for Progress in November

Looking forward, I have to stay positive. You attract what you think, and if I continue thinking positive, I’ll improve. Armed with the mentality to work with what I’ve got, I can start doing bodyweight exercises and continue practicing yoga everyday. I can also practice handstands, getting better with my balance.

My goals for November include:

Health

  1. Heal knee
  2. Build a workout regimen five days a week
  3. Continue practicing Yoga every day

Writing

  1. Blog eight times in November, that’s twice a week
  2. Continue journaling everyday

Reading

  1. Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnigie
  2. Finish listening to the audiobook of “Big Data Baseball.”
  3. Read “From Swords to Canes” (a silly book a buddy let me barrow)

Finance

  1. Create a budget for the month
  2. Pay off my deposit ($250 on top of rent and paying down student debt)
  3. Invest $200 into my Robinhood account
  4. Save $200

Practice and Virtue

One goal I really want to stick with this month is staying consistent with my blog. I needed to take a step back from researching vegan foods and writing my blog to move out of my parent’s house and into my own space. Now that I’ve settled in, I can get back to focusing on researching, reading, working out, and sticking to my daily habits.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Developing daily and weekly habits to ensure I’m spending adequate time to each of these four areas of my life will greatly improve my chances of achieving the goals I’ve set fourth. I have to stay positive and stick to the plan, and in no time my leg will be healed and I’ll be well on my way towards running a marathon.

My weekend trip to Kansas City and Manhattan

bubblegum-153651A Short, Minimalist-Inspired Visit to Silicon Prairie

My younger brother and I took a trip to Kansas City and Manhattan in Kansas State to visit my older brother for the weekend. We packed three days and two nights’ worth of clothes into a couple backpacks and flew economy, having boarded a connecting flight from LAX to IAH to MCI. It was an awesome trip—and I only had to miss one day of work.

We bought basic economy tickets to Kansas City a month ago for $100 each from United Airlines—I found this deal after signing up with updates from Skyscanner for the best-priced flight from LAX to MCI.

Continue reading “My weekend trip to Kansas City and Manhattan”

Organic and Proud

Clean Eats

Howdy! Today I am reviewing my loves that enjoy clean eating and an organic lifestyle as much as I do. GREYRESTY’S blog is perfect for tips on food selections and reasons to go organic and/or vegan-friendly. Oh, and did I mention he talks about saving money? Yes! I knew y’all would like that one.

What’s unique about this blog is his abundant knowledge about the dynamics of food. There are facts about produce (such as potatoes and strawberries) that retain more pesticides than others. It’s crucial to look for, and extremely helpful for your grocery list!

In addition, there are several benefits to going organic listed throughout his blog: Fresher breath, healthier skin and a faster recovery from injuries. A vegan-friendly diet is about more than just looking good. It’s about feeling better and living longer. Come on, we all could see the doctor a little less, right?

For my…

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Popped my knee and waiting for my diagnosis

success-dhamala-407968Throughout life, we meet with adversity. Obstacles try to prevent us from achieving our goals, but those most persistent reach their goals in spite of the difficulties that come along with overcoming mental illnesses like depression or learning a new skill and mastering it. Champions look at adversity as a challenge to rise to the occasion. You are entirely capable of achieving the goals most important to you. Yes you can.

I am devastated by my most recent leg injury I sustained while playing tug-of-war at a company-sponsored event, but I continue to look up. There’s not much I can do to change the reality of my situation, but I’m in complete in control of how I react to these present challenges. Optimism is my defense against losing inspiration. That said, I want to tell the story of what happened. Continue reading “Popped my knee and waiting for my diagnosis”