Advance Leadership

by Rich Bishop – Stop accepting mediocre!

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How to Begin Biohacking for Improved Performance

How to Begin Biohacking for Improved Performance | Advance LeadershipWho doesn’t want more from life? We could all use a little more energy, a little more excitement, and the list goes on. Last week, I introduced you to the concept of biohacking – understanding what works for your body and then doing more of it. We asked ourselves these questions:

  • Am I happy with my energy level throughout the day?
  • How many days a week do I grab a little extra coffee to get me through a lull?
  • Do I often wake up to the alarm, or am I up before the alarm goes off?
  • Do I find it hard to concentrate during the day?
  • Do I feel like I could be getting more from my mind or my body?

There are many different aspects that affect the way your energy and spirit. We’re going to tackle a couple of the first few that you have TOTAL control over and can give you an introduction to biohacking. First, let’s start with exercise:

Exercise

In January, I decided to make exercise my first biohacking priority. It was the thing that I was most familiar with, and I set out to find how much I needed in order to get a bump in my energy levels. I have never been a run-in-the-morning kind of person, but work demands have squeezed my lunchtime workouts while the Florida heat has made it impossible to run at lunch without sweating bullets at my desk afterward. I knew that I probably had to exercise 4-5 days a week in order to have the energy benefits all week, so I had to force myself to become a morning workout guy. I set out 2016 with a goal of running 5 days a week and have succeeded almost every week so far. That way, I had a little buffer to allow for a late night or two. I use the Endomondo app to track my exercise, and it syncs well with my Fitbit app.

It took me a little bit to get used to it, but it has done wonders for me with the other changes that I’ve made. My energy levels are way up from where they had been. My first experiment in biohacking worked exactly as I had hoped – I figured out how much exercise I need on a weekly basis in order to keep my energy levels high all week.

If you have a Fitbit or similar device, you’ve already started biohacking. But are you just using it to look at how many steps you’re taking, or are you using it to change your behavior? The primary key to biohacking is gathering information so you can change your behaviors in order to get what you want. The Fitbit app is great for tracking activity and exercise, but that’s not all it does! Its sleep tracking feature is becoming more and more sophisticated.

Sleep

Your sleep is just as important to your daily performance as your exercise is. I started getting into managing my sleep by using the Fitbit app. It does a great job of tracking movement at night to see how long you actually slept, as well as how often you were restless or awake. I used this for a few weeks and experimented with how much sleep I needed. Was it 6 hours? Was it 8? Every day, I asked evaluated my energy and how I felt. My number was obvious within a couple of weeks – I need about 7 hours of sleep a night. There were times (like when I was writing Child-Like Leadership) that I was consistently getting as little as 5 hours of sleep. I knew that 5 wasn’t enough. With 7 hours, I feel awake and energized when the alarm went off, and I even started waking up just before the alarm.

A few months ago, I wanted to take my sleep-hacking to another level. I downloaded the app Sleep Cycle and have been very pleased with the results.

The app uses the microphone on your phone to monitor the quality of your sleep and allows you to use variables to create reports on what impacts your sleep quality. For example, I’ve learned that eating late decreases my sleep quality by 7% and being on the road for work decreases it by 9%! Armed with that kind of data, I can then make changes so I can feel better in the morning. If I have a presentation to give early the next day, I will make sure I eat early to improve the chances of getting a good night’s rest. You can track any variable that you would like to (I track about 10).

One thing that has always been an energy suck is the alarm going off while I’m in a deep sleep. It’s hard to wake and get moving when you were in the deepest parts of your sleep cycle. The other cool thing about the Sleep Cycle app is that it will wake you up to a half hour early when it senses that you’re at the lightest sleep stage. That way, you’re not going to dive back into deep sleep right before the alarm. You’re up at your body’s optimal time to wake. This can create a BIG boost to start the day (that is, if you’re getting enough sleep to begin with!).

So Much More

There is so much more to biohacking, but these two are part of what I consider the Big 3 of biohacking – exercise, sleep, and eating. We’ll cover the diet aspect next week.

I’m only at the beginning of my biohacking journey, and I have a long way to go before I can be an expert. If you’re interested in learning more from the biohacking gurus, I would suggest that you look to Dave Asprey and Tim Ferriss. They can be pretty advanced at times, but there’s a ton of good stuff in their blogs and podcasts.

Until next week, happy biohacking!

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Why I Started Biohacking and What I’ve Learned (So Far)

Why I Started Biohacking and What I Learned (So Far) | Advance LeadershipHow is your energy level during the day? Do you notice when it’s high versus when you need a bit of a boost? Energy is vital to your ability to be effective at home and at work. A low energy day can make it tough to get anything done, while having high energy can make it seem like the entire day was at your mercy. Most people fail to manage their energy because they simply don’t understand or pay attention to it. Is your energy a random act, or can you do certain things to impact it? The term “Energy management” is often seen as how often you reach for a cup of coffee.

This definitely used to be the case for me. I would sometimes notice when my energy level was high or low, but I felt like a passenger on the energy train. I felt as though I had no control over it. Over the years, I would go through periods of stress at work that kept me away from the gym. Work was taking so much of my energy that I wasn’t up for a 5k run (my preferred exercise routine), even when I did find the time to go. My coffee consumption went up. My diet turned toward fast food. My energy went down. I reached for another cup of coffee to manage it. It wasn’t a good cycle to be in. I have to be on my game every day because I’m in a position where there are lots of other people relying on my decision making – both at home and at work.

When I caught myself in those cycles, I started going out of my way to go for a run. If I was able to string together two or three days of exercise in a row, I noticed that my energy level shot way up and my eating would be better. I got to a point at the end of last year that I sat down and really put a lot of thought into the question – How do I become more intentional about how I manage my energy?

Hacking the Body

In January, I had set out to start eating healthier and working out more. That led me to start diving into research on personal energy management. What I stumbled into has completely changed my life (and energy levels!). What I found was that biohacking was the key to making the right changes.

Just as hackers figure out how computers work in order to get them to do something that the hacker wants, “biohacking” is doing that same thing but with your body. It’s about understanding what works for you and then doing more of it, while taking out the things that don’t work. This crosses the spectrum from exercise to eating, sleeping, learning, and more.

The main premise behind biohacking is that you can control how your mind, body, and spirit feel & act if you know what the various triggers are. Everyone has their own triggers like how much sleep is needed and what food allergies they have (and probably aren’t aware of).

If you feel like you could be doing more, learning more, and just plain ol’ kicking life’s butt… then this is for you. These next two weeks, I’m going to show let you in on what I’ve learned so that you can adapt it for yourself.  My exact formula isn’t yours, but you can certainly use it as a starting point if you’d like and tweak from there.

I’ll cover my recent experience with: Exercise, Eating, Sleep, Travel, Standing at Work, and Mindfulness. In the meantime, here are some things to think ask yourself:

  • Am I happy with my energy level throughout the day?
  • How many days a week do I grab a little extra coffee to get me through a lull?
  • Do I often wake up to the alarm, or am I up before the alarm goes off?
  • Do I find it hard to concentrate during the day?
  • Do I feel like I could be getting more from my mind or my body?

These are some of the things that biohacking seeks to enhance. I’ll start to dive into my formula next week so you can see what it’s like from a beginner’s perspective 3 months into the journey. If you think you can handle a couple of tweaks to your routine, then you could just see the massive benefits that I have already. Are you ready to get more from life?

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Why You Need to Summon Your Inner Athlete for Business

Why You Need to Summon Your Inner Athlete for BusinessLife can be draining. You’ve got so many things to keep up with that you might feel like you’ll never get ahead. And just when you get close to being on top of things, you get hit with something else that sets you back. Yes, life can feel like a climb up a mountain while you can’t see the top.

When did “busy” become the most popular response when we ask, “How are you?”. I hear it all the time. We have made “busy” is a badge of honor!

Because of all this craziness, we’re run down and tired. Because we’re tired, we aren’t as effective as we should be at what we do. We feel behind, which only adds to the frustration and the feeling of being behind. It’s a vicious cycle. Is it possible to get ahead?

Is More Coffee the Answer?

One answer to getting ahead is that you could have another cup of coffee. More coffee is actually good for you, right?  While studies do show that coffee has some very strong benefits to mental and cardiovascular health, caffeine is an energy “borrower”. You may feel more energy now, but too much will make you feel even slower later. Is this truly the way to go?

There’s An Athlete In You…

We need to have more energy in order to be able to start getting ahead. Once we can master our own energy, then we can make a major dent in that sluggish feeling we have. Professional athletes spend a lot of time working on their bodies. They train hard and push their bodies to the max. Can those of us who work in an office environment learn something from them? Absolutely!

Athletes don’t just train hard… they maximize their energy to do so. And that is exactly the piece that many of us are missing from our crazy schedules.  What are some of the things that we can learn to help us get ahead? None of this is going to be a shock. You’ve heard it before when talking about your health. But these have a major impact on your performance at work, too. It’s not just about your health… it’s about your energy.

Nutrition

“You are what you eat.” When we’re running at such a fast pace, it’s fast food and vending machines that we hit first. That’s the last thing that we should be eating! That sugar and grease slow us down. I’m not saying that you need to go munch on kale and drink veggie smoothies all day long, but even small changes can make a BIG difference to your energy level.

A few tips – Keep healthier snacks on hand – chocolate protein bars in your desk drawer for those mid-afternoon chocolate cravings and almonds for those mid-morning or late afternoon munchies. At lunch, stay away from greasy fried foods! You don’t have to make big changes, just start with these small ones.

Exercise

We all know that we should be exercising more. When people ask me, “What does your FitBit actually do for you?”, I tell them that it reminds me of how lazy I am during work. Looking down and seeing only two lights on my wrist tell me that I need to get moving. We don’t realize how lazy we really are when we work behind a desk all day. That drains us of energy. Exercise and movement, while it may sound counter-intuitive, actually creates new energy for us. Get up from your desk and walk around the block a few times a day when you have those cravings for another cup of coffee. Your body would prefer the fresh air and extra blood flow. Are you doing enough to move during the day?

Sleep

I admit that this is the area that I have to focus more attention on. I’ve been doing ok on 5-6 hours of sleep a night. The less I sleep, the more that I can get done! But I have found that I would have a “crash” night every two weeks or so, where I fall asleep on the couch at 8pm. I’m not giving my body enough rest, which means I don’t have the energy during the day to be at the top of my game. Medical studies show that 7-9 hours is optimal for performance. So while I’m not going all the way to 9 hours, I am making a better effort to hit 7 hours and it’s making a big difference.

 

It’s obvious for athletes to care for their bodies and their energy to enhance their performance. It may be a little less obvious for people in business, but it’s just as important. If you feel like your energy levels aren’t where they should be, start making a few tweaks to your eating, exercising, and sleep. Small changes there could make a big difference to your productivity.

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