The #1 High Performance Habit

August 3, 2021

Rumination tends to be very common among my high achieving female clients. It happens when they get caught up in self-blame and then steer themselves onto the rocks over mistakes or shortcomings. As a result, too many women lose a lot of emotional energy to feeling bad.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we have hundreds of emotional experiences over the course of a single day. Those emotional experiences are driving you up or driving you down, impacting your behaviour, your choices and therefore your results. That’s why it’s important as high performers to understand and be able to interpret the story that’s being told by our emotions.

Yet most of us struggle with emotional intelligence because we identify the ability to suppress and minimize our feelings with strength. We become experts in not feeling what we feel. We put our game face on, white knuckle it and get through but it’s surface acting. The more there is a contrast between what we express and what we actually feel, the more complicated and heavy our state of mind becomes.

In high performance coaching, I use a form of emotional intelligence that helps my clients identify the emotion, unpack the beliefs that have triggered those emotions and get beyond their autopilot responses so that they can respond in a way that is in alignment with their deeper values. It’s not “positive thinking,” which is often used to gloss over and avoid painful feelings. This is being aware and accepting of all our emotions and understanding that our greatest insight and learning comes from the difficult ones.

Emotional intelligence is a high performance habit that takes time to develop but the starting point is self-awareness. You can’t change what you don’t know is there. Awareness begins with creating the mental space to notice uncomfortable thoughts and feelings rather than getting hooked into them. This is the first step to developing the beginning skill of observer where we start to see the difference between us and our monkey mind thoughts. This awareness is gold because it’s what leads to emotional mastery and gets you in the driver’s seat of your life in every lane of performance.

 

 

 

Has Your Focus Gone to Sh**?

July 20, 2021

Our ability to focus is one our most important mental resources for sustaining high performance but it’s a finite resource that we can quickly deplete.

Here’s my top 5 mental strategies to proactively respond when I feel like my attention span has gone to sh**:

1. The first thing on the chopping block is dealing with information overload. When there is always new information, notifications from social media apps, WhatsApp messages, books to read or links to click–those things all demand attention and take mental energy to process. This is a particularly big one for most of us because we spend so much time consuming via our news and social media channels. I’ve learned to shut it all down, especially my phone and social media.

2. All decisions big and small with work and our personal/family lives add up. As a recovering perfectionist I default to micromanaging so this is a big area, especially on the home-front, that I think about when I start feeling fatigued and less effective in my day-to-day. I know it means I either have to delegate some responsibility or clear my plate of “to dos.”

3. Active recovery means doing something I enjoy. Dopamine is central to a high quality state. The brain is very happy when we are focused on what we love and the increased level of arousal helps with focus.

4. Pull back from comparison thinking. When our high achiever beliefs pop up we go with thinking that we need to be really hard on ourselves and critical of what we do. No matter how effective we’ve been we tend to focus on all the ways we believe we have fallen short or what we haven’t done (ticked off, accumulated or achieved). I get intentional about directing my awareness to appreciating what I have right now. The truth is most of us are much further ahead than what we give ourselves credit for.

5. When I feel myself defaulting into reactive habits of doing things that are urgent or demanded my attention in the moment (this felt like my entire January-June with the kids home during Covid lockdowns) I know that’s eating up my mental energy. I like to take an audit of my schedule and question the ROI of the bulk of those activities. Am I focusing on what’s important and meaningful that will make a difference in my life over the longterm? That question helps me return my focus to the things that really matter.

5 Under Rated Superfoods

August 3, 2016

Romaine Lettuce

Often overlooked in favour of more exotic greens, romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and potassium.

How to eat: with its durability and crunch, romaine is great in salads and as a green “wrap” to replace bread.

Leeks

Leeks are an outstanding source of prebiotic dietary fibers such as cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin and inulin. We hear a lot about the benefits of probiotics but prebiotics provide the basis for healthy gut bacteria. Leeks also have a high sulfur concentration. This rarely discussed mineral is powerfully connected to many metabolic processes including detoxification.

How to eat: roast leeks with other vegetables or add to a frittata.

Fresh Herbs

Herbs such as parsley, rosemary, cilantro, and basil have been linked to everything from boosting brainpower to preventing tumor formation. They also come packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

How to eat: freshly chopped herbs are great in salads, sprinkled over meats and fish for extra flavor and in smoothies.

Sweet Potatoes

Unsurpassed as a source of beta-carotene and rich in dietary fiber.

How to eat: enjoy baked sweet potatoes with butter or olive oil (the fat) will significantly increase your ability to absorb the vitamin A.

Grass-fed Butter

Contains high levels of vitamins such as E and K along with butyrate, a short chain fatty acids that promotes the integrity of our gut wall.

How to eat: melt over cooked vegetables.

My Top 3 Energy Hacks

October 15, 2015

While weight has been the barometer of health for the past two decades I would argue that energy has become the new currency of well being. We have ultra-charged, privileged lives yet it’s common to feel that we lack the energy to enjoy them. When we’re caught in this stress cycle it’s easy to make choices such as surviving on little sleep, eating convenience foods on the run and propping up with caffeine and sugar just to get through the day.

While working with diet can make a big difference in our energy there are also emotional and spiritual layers to consider. Sometimes fatigue is trying to teach us something and we need to be open to finding the gold.

When I went back to school to finish my final year of nutrition studies my son was still a baby. Add to that my seven year old daughter with her full roster of playmates and activities and it didn’t take long for me to reach epic overwhelm.

I was forced to figure out a way to manage my energy better. I’m still a work in progress but here are the top 3 ideas I’ve focused on along the way:

Manage energy not time.

The hours we have in a day are fixed but the quantity and quality of energy we have available is not. From an evolutionary standpoint our bodies were designed to move and hunt by day and sleep at night. Our technological innovations mean we can work and play at all hours. Instead of paying attention to our alertness and whether or not we are functioning at our best we override the natural rhythms that once defined our lives. The challenge is to make new boundaries to protect and manage our energy as an asset in the same way that we take care of our property or money. The shape and content of our lives depends on how we invest our energy.

What is the most important thing for you to accomplish today?

This question helps zero in one or two meaningful priorities right away.

Our energy capacity diminishes with overuse.

Constant demands on our energy will progressively deplete our reserves. We need to make a paradigm shift: downtime is not wasted time. Life is not a marathon but a series of sprints. Consciously and deliberately stepping off the track to recover is a must. Sleep, exercise, nourishing food, relaxation, mindfulness exercises, time with family and friends, music—these all bring relaxation and pleasure into our lives. Pleasure in particular is a powerfully healing but often overlooked “nutrient.”

 

 

The Best Exercise Secret

October 1, 2015

I’ll never forget limping into my obstetrician’s office when I was five months pregnant with my son. I had a constant, jabbing pain in my hip–which turned out to be sciatica–and I was grumpy because my running schedule had been sidelined. My doctor suggested I relax and put my feet up.

That was easier said than done. For years, my perfectionist tendencies around weight and body had been driving me towards intense, goal driven physical activity. This is the hidden side to exercise—when it’s mainly a practice in not gaining weight. I had been moving from a place of push and force for so long that letting go of how far, how long, how fast or how many calories burned was a challenge.

Yet being forced to slow down brought more intelligence to my workouts and in the process I discovered the best exercise secret: move in ways you love. It completely changed the way I experience exercise.

Once I shifted beyond seeing exercise as a way to burn off calories it liberated me from needing a high intensity workout each and every time. It meant I could go for a walk if I wasn’t up to running. I could do a yoga class. I could go for a bike ride with my daughter.

I began to feel like I was doing something for my body rather than doing something to my body.

Even if you aren’t an over exerciser like me the secret is still a game changer. Maybe you have bad memories of exercise from high school gym class. Maybe exercise feels like a form of punishment to you. Either way, finding a way to move that is enjoyable means you will be more likely to do it and stick with it.

If you’re moving from a place of stress, force or self-rejection—in other words pushing through militant exercise to get the body you want—then you aren’t enjoying being in your body now. This type of movement tends to have a short shelf life. Yes, you may lose weight but once you can no longer keep up with a heroic level of exercise you end up back where you started–struggling with extra pounds and dissatisfied.

We need a new consciousness around exercise that isn’t about perfectionism, self-judgment and obsession around body image.

It can be liberating to decouple weight loss goals from exercise and instead discover what kind of movement you truly enjoy. From that place it becomes easier to focus on bigger, more meaningful intentions such as taking care of yourself and what you can achieve in life with a strong body as your foundation.

I’m still a runner and I love challenging workouts but my mindset has changed. I exercise now to clear my head, feel inspired and pump up my energy. Movement of any kind fits with the larger vision I have for myself—which is to feel vital and maximize my experience of life.

 

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