Master these 4 keys for better health and performance

Is your approach to health and performance actually holistic? Learn where you might be able to improve.

It’s common to latch onto one facet of health and performance, practicing what comes easy and ignoring what’s tough — like, say, living in the gym but eating pastries for breakfast, or meditating daily but sleeping only a few hours a night and surviving on caffeine. After all, going outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable.

Over the past 20 years, EXOS has found that the most important contributor to feeling and performing great day after day is having well-rounded mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery habits. In other words, how you view life and accomplish goals, nourish the brain and body, move your body, and return to a balanced state are all keys to health and performance that apply to everyone.

It’s not about seeking perfection in any one area. Instead, be aware of all areas of well-being, and how they influence each other, and shore up what needs work. Here’s a primer to help you do just that.

Mindset

Learning new skills requires effort before it starts to feel like second nature. That’s why developing grit — persevering toward long-term goals without immediate reward — is an important ability so you can exceed the limits of your self-image and build self-confidence along the path to lasting change.

The following is how mindset is affected by nutrition, movement, and recovery.

Nutrition: What you eat affects brain structure and function, hormones, and mental performance. Hydration, probiotics, and diet can alter cognition and mood.

Movement: Regularly moving well positively affects many areas of the brain, including the cerebellum, motor cortex, and hippocampus. By contrast, painful movement can result in anger, frustration, and depression.

Recovery: Activities like breathing, massage, sleep, and yoga help improve mood, while a lack of recovery can depress mood over time.

Nutrition

Fueling the body and mind to perform at a high level requires planning, quality foods, and proper hydration. And beyond performance, nutrition becomes more meaningful when you savor the memories and human connections you make around the table.

This approach isn’t about following a strict set of rules; it’s about supporting your body, goals, and preferences. Here’s how the other three pillars affect nutrition.

Mindset: Self-image, self-regulation, and self-efficacy determine your ability to control food cravings, responsible food intake, and nutrition as a whole.

Movement: Moving burns energy, which you get from food and drink. So your activity level directly affects your metabolic processes and nutritional needs.

Recovery: People who sleep less tend to eat more fast food and fewer vegetables and fruit. Decreased sleep correlates with weight gain and changes in body composition and performance.

Learn about EXOS’ nutrition principles.

Movement

Movement is labor, movement is fun, and it’s just about every action in between, from high-fives to packing boxes. And how well and often you move have a big impact on your overall health and wellness. In addition to regular exercise, novel movement — or moving in uncommon ways — can actually reduce pain and change the way your brain works.

So the benefits of movement are many, and the list of downsides of inactivity is just as long. Here are a few ways that mindset, nutrition, and recovery can influence movement.

Mindset: Your outlook on physical activity, your fitness goals, and athletic ambitions are all ways that your movement is influenced by mindset.

Nutrition: How much and what you eat and drink are what give you the energy to move well, from rolling out of bed, to your posture on the commute to work, to running around a park with your dog.

Recovery: When you massage the tension out of muscles, they’re easier to move during exercise and recover better afterward. And your muscles rebuild and grow during sleep.

 

Recovery

Simply put, recovery is balance. Since stress is a daily drag on your body and mind, recovery should be a regular part of your life, too. A consistent recovery routine helps build resilience to stress so you can bounce back quickly when it hits.

Here’s how your mindset, nutrition, and movement can affect recovery.

Mindset: Recovery strategies are most effective when they become highly ritualized and habitual, so how you view recovery is central to success.

Nutrition: Diet can support recovery, especially when you’re getting active. Nutrition also plays a significant role in sleep quality, a key part of recovery for the mind and body.

Movement: Studies have shown that aerobic exercise increases circulation, tai chi benefits bone health, yoga improves mental health, and movement provides psychological stress relief.

Begin integrating these four pillars in your life today. Starting with movement but unsure what to do? Learn how EXOS structures training programs.

About the Author

Mark Verstegen

MARK VERSTEGEN IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF EXOS.

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