Hey friends! In the next 5 minutes, I want to talk to you about the best strategies for promoting recovery and generation.
I’ll attribute a number of specific quotes to my mentor Brandon Marcello, who I’ve been learning from for the better part of a decade. The first time I saw him speak, he opened his lecture with the words, “I have a Ph.D in overtraining, and I don’t believe in it.”
Brandon prefers to call it mal-adaptation syndrome, which basically means your body can’t appropriately recover from a given stimulus. This isn’t semantics, either:
If we call it overtraining, that implies that there’s an upper limit of what is possible. But, researchers haven’t actually been able to find that limit. If you want to take a deep dive into the curiously elastic limits of human performance, read Alex Hutchinson’s book, “Endure.” For now, let’s stick with Cady Heron’s wisdom:
What we do know is this: If you’re under-recovered, performance suffers.
At the Perform Better Summit this year, Brandon made a case for the significance of quality sleep and nutrition by labeling them activities that are PREcovery, rather than REcovery. Here’s your takeaway from this post:
If adequate sleep and nutrition are not in place, then every other methodology possible is going to fail and improving your performance. At MFF we often say “You can’t out-train your diet” to honor Alwyn Cosgrove’s Hierarchy of Fat Loss, and thanks to Brandon I’ve started to say, “You can’t out recover poor sleep and nutrition.”
I’m recording this in New York City, which has a reputation for being the city that never sleeps, and I’ve struggled with getting consistent sleep myself. I’ve been wearing this Whoop strap since the beginning of August to track my sleep, and can definitely see changes in my readiness scores if I dip below 7 hours of sleep more than two nights in a row.
Most of us feel pretty poor when we’re sleep-deprived, but we’re so consistently sleep deprived that it just feels like our new normal. Consistently sleeping for less than 7 hours per night can have a drastic impact on your wellbeing and overall life span, to the point that I’d rather you skip an early morning or late night workout than skimping on sleep.
Yes, it matters that much, and if you want to learn more, check out the book “Why We Sleep” from Matthew Walker, PhD.
Okay, now let’s move on to talk about nutrition, and my personal favorite thing to talk about: Eating more vegetables.
True story: When I was a kid, I remember refusing to eat a soft taco at Taco Bell because there was a single piece of iceberg lettuce on it. I hated vegetables, and iceberg lettuce was a gross vegetable!
I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m doing my best to make sure that I eat as many vegetables as possible. That’s eating at least one salad every day, often two, and as many other vegetables as possible. Basically, my goal is to eat the food that helps me get as many vitamins and minerals into my body as possible.
And, while eating more vegetables is an admirable goal, and the entire point of the #SaladChallenge that I’ve been running with for the last year, sometimes it’s also important to focus on eating less junk food, too.
Let’s take a big-picture view and say that junk food is anything that makes you feel like junk – you know it when you feel it, right? Some of us probably have more nutritional leeway when it comes to how you feel, so think about this quote from Brandon:
For me personally, this is yet another case for focusing on nutrition for both mental health and mood regulation as a major factor in enhancing our performance, not only in the gym, but also at our jobs, in our relationships, and with our hobbies.
There are literally thousands of recovery methods that can help improve performance, but they’ll only work if you’ve already addressed the quality of sleep and nutrition. I know it often seems easier to go get a massage or take an easy yoga class for recovery, but our time may be better spent eating a big salad, taking a nap, or getting a few more hours of sleep each night.
Now that my mountain biking season is over, I’m doubling down on sleeping and eating as consistently as possible, because those are indisputably the two most important factors for recovery. I’m interested in knowing what you’re going to work on – do you struggle more with sleep or with nutrition? Do you have a plan to address that? What are you doing to improve your own sleeping and eating habits in the next few weeks? Please leave a comment and let me know so we can continue this conversation!
Thanks for joining me for this article, friend. As always, you can watch the corresponding video on IGTV.