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Energy Renewal


We’ve become stimulus addicts. This is often to our own detriment.

Everything can feel rushed and sped up–even rushing to take a break, or rushing through your break.

People “workout” during their lunch breaks, never really slowing down from the time they wake up because they don’t have the time. But that is just one example of a tip of an iceberg where something has to give.

Folks from my generation remember a slower-pace life. Some of us actually still embrace it, as out of place as it seems to be.

What are the consequences of the go-go-go lifestyle, especially when it comes to your overall vitality, and your improvement at things that are important to you? Most people don't consider the cost of living daily life at warp speed.

What does any of this have to do with your diet and training goals? Plenty actually.

First you need to see just how overwhelmed you get with being engrossed with fast reactions; while surrendering considered reflections and “slow-time.” The term “laid-back” is a term seldom used today, because to be that way has fallen out of step with modern life. You have your to-do lists, and you become slave to your smart phones, of course putting your to-do list on your smart-phone. You are constantly sending and receiving emails and texts. Things that were meant to simplify your life only increased its speed instead. Put them in perspective.

Are you getting more done?

Are you feeling more accomplished?

Are you less stressed, and more invigorated?

If you answered no to at least two of those questions, then how do you think your commitment to your physique goals is going to turn out?

Starved for time, you take pride in multi-tasking, and how busy you are becomes a strange kind of bragging right. Work never ends, and stress levels are maxed out like credit cards. Like credit cards, you think you can create “a line of credit” for your stress levels. But you can’t. That's not how stress levels work. You end up lacking in focus and purpose, and lacking in focused-purpose, and purposeful-focus. Your energies are scattered. You may not even realize it, but you find yourself in a constant tug of war between energy expenditure and energy renewal. Which one is always winning the war? Without renewing your energy and vitality, there are consequences, both measureable and immeasurable. Your overall performance can suffer, at work or at other vocations you used to love. You can lose your passion for just about everything, including your own life. You increase the likelihood for injury, illness, apathy, burnout, and for a complete breakdown.

You need to start being more responsible for your energy systems and more realistic about them as well. When your car is empty on fuel, you fill up the gas tank. But when it comes to your own energy systems of vitality and verve, you continue to think you can run on empty. Then you wonder why you have no resolve, or why you can't stick to your diet or accomplish your training goals. The answer is lack of energy renewal. 

The more responsibility you take for the energy you bring to engage with your day, the more engaging your days become. Productivity and progress, day in and day out, are accomplished only with regularly renewed energy sources.

Productivity and progress are never accomplished with exhausted energy sources, whether they be mental, emotional, physical, vital or spiritual. Anders Ericsson’s study of high-performers (violinists) showed that the crucial difference between the very, very best and all the others was that the very best performers slept more, whether that mean longer hours at night, or daily naps. It boiled down to not how long they could practice per day; but how long they could practice with full concentration and energy. In other words, putting in hours with less than optimal vital energy is a waste of time. This is something I argued regarding my own experiences in my book The Psychology of Achievement. To spend yourself and exhaust yourself in a worthy task, also necessitates regularly spending a lot of time revitalizing your key INNER energy systems. Just like a bank account the more you spend, the more you need to renew, replenish, and revitalize.

Motivation to accomplish something is not just about working harder and harder and thinking you can keep upping that level of “hard.” Motivation also requires realistic “balance” between energy spent and energy fully and properly renewed. You can’t just “train like a champ” if you don’t recover like one too. Multiple Mr. Olympia Champ Lee Haney was always talking about the value of his afternoon naps. This usually fell on deaf ears, as people were more interested in hearing about his training and dieting. Yet he seldom got hurt or got sick. He made is “recovery and revitalization” a part of his overall performance program. You need to do so too. Quality recovery is a component part of investing in the process of accomplishing any long-term goal.

Furthermore, if you keep your brain constantly stimulated and reacting while your body is supposedly “resting” then you are kidding yourself regarding your restoration and renewal of energy. You are still spending vital energy, not renewing it. It’s all about the reality math of energy balance.

If you increase your intensity and the demands you make on yourself to perform better and better, then you also need to increase your attention to recovery and renewal in all three realms of the triangle of awareness: mental, physical, and emotional.

If you keep increasing your demands to work harder, but you fail to compensate with equal demands to recover harder, then your performance and commitment levels will suffer. It's that simple.

Stop buying into the nonsense that recovery is for wimps. Stop the nonsense of “I’ll sleep enough when I’m dead.”

Recovery is essential for sustainable high-level performance, or even improved performance.

You can’t reach any physical goals without improved performance over time. You need to understand that getting better is not just about doing more and pushing harder–all this “go hard or go home” nonsense. Recovery enhances motivation. Optimum recovery begets optimum motivation!

Establishing regular routines for energy renewal and replenishment can take you a long way toward accomplishing your goal. Without it, you are likely to be one fish in a sea of “flat-liners” who never reached their potential, or even got close to knowing what that potential was. Why? Because they burned out early.

I’ve witnessed it my whole career. You can’t just make your goals all about the “what” of what you are doing, and not consider the all the “incidentals.” Recovery and revitalization will take you further than “go go go” ever will. Stop, rest, recover and unplug.

Ironically enough, I suspect this way of the past will become the way of the future as well. If you aren’t achieving your physique goals or you can’t stick to your diet-strategy, start addressing in honest terms your level of regular “systemic” recovery and renewal. These are things that revitalize you and reignite your motivation and passion for the tasks of hand. Focus on them. Make them a priority.

“Go hard or go home”? Nah, “Go hard, then go home and take a nap.”