I am extremely grateful that we were able to secure Cliff Harvey to come down to Hamilton and present in the Taylored studio last week.
Cliff is someone I have followed and highly respected throughout my academic career. As a lot of his work is in academia not too many had much knowledge of him, even though no doubt you have come across some of his work or products at some point or another. From Cliffs books to his the products he has helped create like Nuzest, Cliff is a wealth of knowledge and was great to bring him in and provide a stage for him to share his knowledge.
With so many nuggets of information from Cliff’s talk, I thought I would collate his thoughts for those who attended and those who missed out. Especially as he did so well to keep it simple and actionable and at Taylored Health & Performance that is what we are all about.
Cliff, like us at Taylored, is all about performance. Performance to us does not necessarily mean athletic performance, it is all about getting individuals performing at their best whatever that is. It could be as simple as more energy to be able to spend more quality time with your kids, through to athletic endeavors. Regardless, these foundational strategies listed below should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.
In this post I will be discussing Cliff’s strategies for success, I will highlight how I personally implement them to give you an idea of methods for applying these essential strategies.
Dehydration has a profound effect on performance and is one of the quickest and easiest to fix, yet it is so commonly neglected. It can be easy to think our bodies shut down at night although this is not the case. sleep is the time where our bodies are working hard to recover from the day before as we store memories and doing vital tasks such as detoxifying your liver etc.
With as little as 2% water loss of body weight, this causes noticeable decreases in physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more during physical activity may decrease the capacity of roughly 30%. Additionally, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal problems have also been associated with losses greater than 2%. You would be doing well to achieve this kind of dehydration through sleep but it is still important to understand the gravity or importance of dehydration.
Application: This one is as simple as starting your day with water. Ideally don’t skull it, gradually sip on the glass and for added absorption and retention you can add a pinch of mineral-rich salt (Colima or Pink Himalayan).
Personally: I place a glass of water with a pinch mineral-rich salt to drink as I wake up, I will also often have a freshly squeezed lemon and apple cider vinegar with mineral-rich salt as a lukewarm tea, to prime the gut and promote digestion. Don’t boil the water as it has the potential to denature the apple cider vinegar
Kickstart your day being present.
What is mindfulness? The act of detaching yourself from the past and the future and being truly present at the moment, the truth is you can not change the past nor can you impact the future without being present. Being mindful and present you will begin to enjoy the small things and not stress the big stuff, all of which will increase levels of gratitude and a better way of life.
Not only will you see a direct impact in your life overall, but also, those who practice mindfulness increased levels of diet compliance, with reductions in binge eating, emotional eating, and weight and fat-loss, most likely due to the impact on the ability to be present and make better decisions.
Application: Everyone has a couple of spare minutes per day, we are habitual creatures by nature so start small to build the habit, even if it is 1-2 min per day that is great! As you find more time you can gradually increase this and take it as far as you wish.
Personally: I do a minimum of 10 min per day, 5 min of which is first thing lying along my roller doing postural rest (in the sun if possible) listening to Headspaces guided practices (Normally: Early Mornings, or Waking Up session). The other 5 min I will fit into the day somewhere when I need, and on top this I often throw another 10 min in to help unwind and put myself to sleep (Headspace: Sleeping, knocks me out every time!)
Find what works for you
Important to note you don’t have to have a dedicated guided mindfulness practice like me it could be as simple as sitting and counting your breaths or going for a short mindful focused walk.
Breathing: Place your hands on the stomach to feel rising and falling with breath then count 1 for lift 2 for fall 3 lift 4 fall for 5 cycles to 10 and then begin the cycle again. Aim to complete at least 5 cycles of this with the intention of detaching yourself from your surroundings and focusing in on just the rising and falling of your breath
Mindful Walking: An old Buddhist practice, it is a way to practice mindfulness while moving without a goal or intention. Mindful walking simply means walking while being aware of each step and of our breath. Keep your steps slow, relaxed, and calm. There is no rush, no place to be and most importantly no need to hurry.
This is not necessarily a time for high-intensity training, instead, it is a time to get the body moving. Simple movements that can be replicated each and every morning. From mobility, yoga, walking or a light jog. This is a great chance to either continue your mindfulness practice or if pushed for time combine the two together.
I completely agree with Cliff that this is a time for gentle movement, especially if you are about to head to a desk and sit down all day. First of all, it will put yourself in a stressed state (fight or flight), plus you are quite possibly fatiguing key postural muscles leading to poor posture throughout the day while you are at your desk, this eventually resulting in imbalances and injury, if not addressed.
Obviously, movement is something at Taylored Health we are especially passionate about and the sad truth is our twenty-first century lifestyles are having a significant impact on our bodies and the way we now move. As we spend too much time sitting and spending all our lives using our anterior chain (front of our body) and not our posterior chain (back of our body). We are seeing more and more anterior dominance such as anterior pelvic tilts (pelvis tilting forwards) and kyphotic postures (rounding of the shoulders). If you are not completing imbalance correction work for undoing this, you are setting yourself up for future injuries.
At Taylored we take a hierarchy approach to programming, we don’t believe in extensive 1-1.5hr long session every day. We understand the biggest commodity is time so we are all about efficiency, providing our clients with a 3 or 4 short but key exercises that will promote the greatest response for them, these will normally be completed within 5-10 mins a day. Following the key priority exercises, we provide secondary and additional focuses beyond these that can be done when your schedule allows.
Application: Similar to mindfulness, work with the time you have then gradually increase where possible but I would suggest aiming for 5-10 mins each morning of gentle movement.
Personally: I aim to get outside (Sun Vit D= Resetting circadian rhythm) for a light walk and mobility. However, not always possible especially in winter so stick to mobility inside but I always do my best to get outside because the sun is even more important in winter.
4. Don’t Snack
Contrary to the beliefs of most nutritionist advice, out with the intensive 6 meals per day plan of forcing food down when you are not hungry “to maintain a fast metabolism”. Instead, come to in tune with your bodies needs and eat when hungry not because it is a habit or you think or have been told that you should eat frequently. You need to become mindful of your body and what it is telling you.
Humans have functioned and evolved within feast and famine environment for the majority of our existence. It is how our bodies are used to functioning. Just because technology now allows us to regularly graze, binge and overeat at the click of a button doesn’t mean we should! Frequent eating just places greater demand on our digestive system to consistently digest food instead of completing a restorative process that aid in overall health and longevity.
Application: Simple! Ditch the snacks and instead focus on quality nutritional dense meals that will nourish your body with the nutrients and fuel they require.
1-3 Meals should be plenty for the majority of the population
Personally: I apply time restricting eating most days, something before ditching carbohydrate that would have never been possible for me as I was always hungry!
I normally fast from 7pm-11am ish. However, this window varies greatly as I listen to my body and just eat when hungry. Too many people get fixated on hitting the magical 16hr mark but we need to keep in mind everyone is different and our bodies don’t function as a switch. My fasted windows are sometimes shorter and longer, they personally range between 14-18 hrs per day for me.
My breakfast is normally around the time most are having lunch (11am), and for most people, they would get away with just one other meal at dinner around 6pm, I sometimes eat like this when not training. However, I personally still have 3 meals roughly around 11am, 3pm and 6pm. Why? As an Ironman athlete, I burn through a lot more energy than the general population. Just another example that there is no one size fits all approach, it will depend on your needs
6. Protein First
Protein is structure – it is the building blocks of the human body, plus it is the most satiating nutrient, keeping you full and satisfied for longer.
The great thing about the majority of quality protein sources, you will often find good fats, and plenty of micronutrients, making it a great base to build meals off.
2x Palms sized servings of protein every meal
Ensure the protein source is unprocessed and is as close to nature as possible to ensure it has not had all the nutrients stripped out from being processed and refined.
Protein is especially important for me as an athlete to aid my recovery from my training and for building muscle so I ensure I include a wide variety of good quality protein sources.
6. Vegetable’s second
Many people think leading high-fat lifestyle means vegetables are not important because there are carbohydrate based. However, due to the fiber associated they do not possess the same as most carbohydrates and the fact that they are action packed with micronutrients outweighs the minimal carbohydrate they possess any way.
3x fist size of vegetables
Strive for organic, home grown vegetables
Aim for a diverse vibrant range of vegetables on your plate. Produce rich in Antioxidant content have been associated with with the more vibrant coloured produce (blues, purples, reds) along with being proven to taste better. This is why your vegetable garden tastes 100x better than supermarket produce, they are not mass produced in nutrient deficient soils, plus they have no added substances to preserve the fruit.
Every meal I have you will just about always see it combined with a large amount of dark leafy greens (spinach, kale etc) whether on a plate or in a smoothie. Packed full of nutrients and more recently have been identified to promote with gut health. Especially important for me as I have dealt with a Candida in the past. On top of this, as mentioned above, I try to vary the colours up and eat from my parents vegetable garden the majority of the time. I have tried making my own vegetable garden but that didn’t go to well so I outsourced to my dad who loves it.
7. Carbohydrate: Appropriate to your needs
Eat carbohydrate appropriate to your individuals needs.
Carbohydrate intake needs will be greatly varied from person to person. Some will possess the ability to breakdown and utilise carbohydrate better than others and also activity levels along with exercise intensity can impact the amount of carbohydrate one can consume. On top of these factors your goals can also determine the amount of carbohydrate you should consume.
Cliff is currently working on a study getting released in the next few months which has come up with an interesting discovering that your triglycerides may play a vital role in how much carbohydrate you tolerate and require to function optimally. By lowering your Triglycerides (fatty acids) you are more likely to be able to handle a higher amount of carbohydrate.
As mentioned above this will be extremely individual but something I would suggest limiting where possible or at least aim to remove the processed and refined carbohydrates (biscuits, pasta, bread, cereals etc).
I limit my carbohydrates as much as possible.
Do I have any carbohydrates? Yes, I do but mostly in the evening.
I am all about performance, both mentally and physically, I want to stay sharp with mental clarity with focus and a steady flow of energy and I personally find the spikes and crashes associated with carbohydrate do not promote this state. This is why I stay clear of carbohydrate until the evening where I can refuel and replenish carbohydrate stores if I feel I need it. The amount of carbohydrate, if any, is dependant on how I feel and the needs from the day and of the coming day(have I had a big training day or do I have a big one coming up). I still stay clear of processed and refined carbohydrates and normally select something like kumara.
On top of this, I take it a step further as an athlete, as I have trained my body to be fat adapted (Metabolically flexible). This involves a fair bit of fasted training sessions, to further deplete carbohydrates stored and to teach my body to utilise fat as the primary fuel source, offering me the ability to train longer compared to most without the need for regular refueling and the gastrointestinal stress that is often associated with this.
Jeukendrup, Asker, and Michael Gleeson. “Dehydration and Its Effects on Performance.” Humankinetics. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2015.
Katterman SN, Kleinman BM, Hood MM, Nackers LM, Corsica JA. Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: A systematic review. Eating behaviors. 2014 Apr 1;15(2):197-204.
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Shirreffs, S. M., & Sawka, M. N. (2011). Fluid and electrolyte needs for training, competition, and recovery. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29 Suppl 1, S39-46. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2011.614269