Managing your energy levels to perform closer to your best, more of the time
And why are sugar cravings always so much worse in the afternoon and evening than then were in the morning (when you were feeling motivated and focused on your goals!)?
Nutrition is a minefield of controversy, contradiction and cult-like followers of the latest diet.
But one thing that most sane people agree on is that eating too much sugar is bad for us.
I’m assuming here I’m not telling you something you didn’t already know, so let’s cut to the chase.
– How we become addicted to sugar
– When insulin drives down our blood sugar levels… where does all that sugar go?!
– Why all that ‘energy’ can actually make us feel sluggish and lethargic
– How sleep, ‘decision fatigue’ and stress all make us more susceptible to caving in to the cravings
Do you ever wake up in the morning full of resolve to ‘be good’ only to give in to something mid-afternoon and then write off the rest of the day?
If you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health this can be a bit of a problem and we often put it down to a lack of willpower.
But willpower is like a battery, and it depletes through the course of the day.
The more decisions you have to make and the more stress you are under, the quicker the battery drains until you dip below your ‘people tolerance’ threshold and drive your wagon off the edge of a cliff.
One of the best ways to make sure your resolve lasts right the way through the day is to start paying attention to the quality of your sleep.
After a busy day – especially one that has been fuelled by copious amounts of caffeine – we usually want a bit of time in the evening to unwind and relax.
The TV goes on, smart phones come out and we double screen our way through another Netflix binge-watch.
A lot has been written about how a ‘morning routine’ can set you up for a productive day.
But a more structured evening routine that promotes higher quality sleep can be just as effective.
Here are a few ideas for how you can start to improve your evening routine and sleep quality:
– Switch off screens earlier (especially social media!)
– Do all your ‘chores’ before you sit down to relax
– Bring your lights out time a little earlier
– Take a magnesium supplement an hour before bed
– Write down 3-5 things you have been grateful for during the day just before you switch out the lights
– Take a warm bath or shower in the evening
– Read a (fiction) book for a few minutes in bed
– Reduce the amount of caffeine you drink earlier on in the day
There are loads of other things you could do and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
But a nudge in the right direction here will have a knock on effect on your willpower battery and the decisions you make the next day.
I got back home this morning after a weekend up in the Lake District.
Yesterday was the day of the ‘Frog Graham Round’ – an epic 40+ mile swim and fell running challenge I’ve had my eye on since January.
An event that I had estimated would take me and my running buddy Guy around 16 hours to complete, but in the end we had to call it a day after only 8.
We were disappointing not to have finished, and although it was a tough decision to make it was absolutely the right one from a safety point of view.
Horrendous weather and very poor visibility made navigation and staying upright a nightmare.
One small mistake of missing a turning left us on the wrong side of an enormous valley, and by the time we had clambered our way back on track again all hope of finishing in daylight had vanished.
On the day that Mo Farah made it 5 straight years of winning the Great North Run, I failed to make it 5 years of successfully completing my own annual ‘big challenge’ series.
4 years ago I ran 10 marathons in 10 days.
3 years ago I ran 100 miles in 24 hours at Endure24.
2 years ago I completed an ironman triathlon.
1 year ago I ran another 100 miles in 24 hours at Endure24.
Yet this year’s ‘failure’ has probably taught me more about myself than any of them.
The 37km of running, 2700m of ascent and 1km of swimming across Bassenthwaite Lake has all given me valuable experience.
More wisdom was gained from our crew team, Nigel & Roger, who both shared their knowledge of the area.
The weather was the deciding factor but the recce also exposed a number of weak points in my preparation… some more painful to deal with than others.
Over the next few days I’ll be mining some of the important biggest lessons from this weekend’s non-completion, and I’m certain that I’ll be back to take on The Frog next year.
When you think back over the course of your life, where you are today is probably the result of a handful of key decisions.
With your career, relationships, health and wellbeing, or any other area of your life.
You can trace your progress back to these big decisions, where you adjusted your sails and started to move in a new direction.
But simply adjusting your sails isn’t enough – to create movement and change you need WIND.
And this ‘wind’ comes from the dozens of small decisions you make every day, in the direction of your new goal.
Let’s face it, we can all sit here and decide that we’re going to lose weight or get fit.
But without corresponding action nothing changes.
Deciding to have a healthy breakfast.
Deciding to drink a glass of water with your meals.
Deciding to go for a walk at lunchtime.
Deciding to switch off Netflix and go to bed half an hour earlier.
Deciding to spend 5 minutes a day meditating.
None of these decisions by themselves will have a significant long term impact.
But make enough of them, consistently and for long enough, they will carry you to where you want to go.
It’s the big courageous decisions that we tend to remember, but it’s the small day to day actions that result in progress.
We’ll be working out together, cooking and eating healthy food together, coaching, setting up new morning and evening routines, creating systems for planning meals, working on goals, nutrition, training programs…
When I posted this hypothetical* situation in my OTW group yesterday responses ranged from ‘what would I hide first’ to ‘you wouldn’t survive in our madhouse for that long!’
But if it did happen, what would you learn?
Which of the habits or behaviours that are you thinking about right now… do you know are slowing down your progress?
Things that you’re aware that you’re doing (or not doing), but as there’s nobody checking up on you or holding you accountable you let it slide.
When I was running a boot camp a few years ago I had a coach who used to get me to imagine I was being filmed for a TV show before every session.
I’d think about that every time I drove to the session, and it made a real difference to the energy I brought to those 0630 workouts!
If I was to move in with you for a couple of days, what would I notice?
What suggestions would I likely make to help you move towards your goals more easily?
What changes would I make to your environment, your daily habits, the way you manage your energy levels?
If the thought of me sleeping at the foot of your bed fills you with horror, perhaps once you’ve called yourself out on some of these things, you can start to make a few changes all by yourself.
Something to think about as you go through the day today.
*Hypothetical… or is it!
This is a real scenario I’m contemplating putting into action.
Can you imagine it to the point of it becoming a reality?
If so, drop me a line.