28 Tips to Boost Your Energy and Performance
Learn the 28 ways to boost your energy and performance, as studied and outlined by the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. Your personal energy can be cultivated on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level, and each needs the other to be maximally effective. Read on…
DO YOU believe in the transformational power of human energy?
If you do, Johnson & Johnson has some “Tips” for you that come from its Human Performance Institute. I think you’ll find that these tips are not only useful, but also necessary for everyone to know about and practice -– and that’s the focus of this article.
Last week, the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference was held in San Francisco. It seemed like just about everywhere someone is handing out something. As I past by, someone deftly placed in my hands a single page, two-sided missive that focuses on energy called, J&J’s Perform at Your Best When it Matters Most.
As the missive says, “Energy Is Your Ultimate Competitive Advantage”.
Think you don’t compete at anything?
Well, actually, yes you do. Whether or not you’re aware of it, your body is constantly competing against an assortment of nefarious exogenous and endogenous opponents that threaten health and longevity.
It’s a battle that you need to become aware of, be prepared to engage and win!
Energy and Aging
We experience exogenous (outside) factors constantly, such as viruses, bacteria, chemicals, pesticides and pollution that weasel their way inside us. Endogenous (within our body) factors that threaten health and longevity include genetic dispositions for chronic disease, and good ole decay.
Decay is what happens as we age.
Year by year the hormones that regulate sexual function (testosterone/estrogen), blood sugar (insulin), metabolism (thyroid), and others, decay in terms of their output. For instance, the Human Growth Hormone of a forty-year old is about half that of a twenty-year old.
There are at least 20 theories about why we age. One that gets a lot of attention is “Mitochondrial Damage”. The mitochondria are organelles found in large numbers in most cells, in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur. (1)
Over the last decade, accumulating evidence has suggested a causative link between mitochondrial dysfunction and major phenotypes (observable characteristics or traits) associated with aging. (2)
This is one reason that Elysium Health and its Nobel Laureate advisors have developed a supplement called Basis aimed at promoting energy production in cells.
The focus on energy makes sense. Because it’s utilized in all metabolic processes, energy is critical to overall health. This energy originates in the mitochondria of our cells, but unfortunately our body’s ability to produce it declines over time.
The Johnson & Johnson handout did not get into the cellular requirements or capacity to make energy. Rather, it examined the things we experience and can do at the macro level in our everyday lives.
If you have many demands on your time and energy, you’re going to want to absorb this material, and incorporate at least some of it into your lifestyle. Certainly, there’s no downside in trying to boost your energy and performance.
The Human Energy Pyramid
As you’ll see in a moment, the J&J Human Performance Institute identifies four dimensions within which your personal energy is harnessed. They visualize it in a pyramid.
The Human Energy Pyramid was developed under the scientific premise that achieving a level of sustained high performance requires an increase of energy capacity in the following four key areas:
- Mental, and
Let’s explore each of them, but first know these, two things:
- These tips come from Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Athlete training program that examined the sciences of performance psychology, exercise physiology and nutrition to help people create lifelong behavioral changes.
- I’m going to liberally put my “two cents” worth of commentary in along with these tips; some will challenge the assertions, others will underscore them.
Tips on Physical Energy
Physical energy is the foundation of energy management, without which no other aspect of energy development can occur. Taking care of the body is taking care of business.
Dr. Jim Loehr, the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, Co-Founder puts it this way:
“The most basic language of science is energy. It’s all about mobilizing, focusing, recruiting energy in some form. What we did is build a system that optimizes energy production in the human system.” (3)
(1) Eat breakfast every day.
Generally, this is a good idea, as long as your breakfast isn’t Captain Crunch cereal and a bagel.
Like with all meals, include the three macronutrients in your breakfast: protein, carbs and fat. How much of these depend on your lifestyle.
If you do physical exercise that requires muscular exertion, make sure you get enough protein. If you’re trying to lose body fat, ensure that the overall calorie counts of your meals are below your caloric expenditure (the deficient ensures weight loss).
It’s best if the carbs are slow absorbing (oatmeal instead of bagels), and the fats are healthy, omega-3 fatty acids (flax seeds instead of cream cheese).
That said, all is not lost if you’re not a “breakfast person”.
I only eat breakfast in the morning if the evening before I’ve exercised hard. If that’s the case, I want some nutrition and protein in the morning. If that’s not the case, I’m typically in Intermittent Fasting mode.
Intermittent Fasting refers to fasting over a period of hours in the day or days of the week. In my case, I stop eating at 8:00 PM and do not eat again till 1:00 PM the next day. To fuel myself in the morning, I’ve adopted a modified Dave Asprey’s “Bulletproof Coffee” habit.
He blends organic butter and MCT oil (derived from coconut butter) with high-grade coffee. I skip the butter and use coconut oil, although I see the merits of using MCT. Coconut oil (and MCT) consists of medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is readily useable for energy by the body. Two cups of it keeps me energetic and hunger-free till 1:00 PM.
Intermittent fasting may have some longevity benefits, reduces your daily calories, and gets you out the door quickly.
(2) Never go more than 4 hours without food; eat light and often.
Like a lot of assertions in the health world, this one is debatable. I’ve seen knowledgeable nutrition experts forcefully take both sides on this one, such as those advocates of Intermittent Fasting who would say that giving your body a break from digestion is one of the healthiest things you can do.
My advice is to go with your gut. 😉 If you feel fine and energetic eating less often than every four hours, then continue doing so, but make sure that you’re eating high quality, well-balanced meals.
(3) Eat no more than 5 handfuls of food per meal.
This depends on what’s in those handfuls. If it’s five handfuls of pasta or pizza, forget about it. If one is protein, one is healthy fat, two are veggies and one is brown rice – fine.
(4) Ideal meals contain both carbs and protein.
Yeah, true, but what happened to the fat?
It’s a misnomer that dietary fat causes body fat. It could, but it depends on how much is consumed from a calorie perspective. It could be that carbs are worse.
When the low/no-fat craze began in the 70s, do you know what happened? Simple carbs like high fructose corn syrup replaced the fat in manufactured food and people got fatter. For a deep dive into this, read What’s Making Us Fat and Sick.
Do yourself a favor and eat some avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds and/or a small handful of walnuts along with your protein and carbs.
(5) Snacks should be low glycemic.
Yes, they should. Full stop. Check out the Glycemic Index.
(6) To help maximize energy, stop eating when you feel satisfied, not full.
The Okinawans call it “Hara hachi bun me”: eat until you’re 80% full. By the way, they’re among the longest-lived people on the planet. Here are some more long-lived people.
(7) Drink water throughout the day.
Great idea, and something I don’t do enough. Often thirst masquerades as hunger, so before you rush for a snack, drink a big glass of purified water.
But don’t drink your water from a plastic water bottle, unless you want to ingest hormone-disrupting, cancer-exciting BPAs and pollute the earth. More on that here.
(8) Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
The idea here is to ensure you get the needed sleep to repair and reset.
(9) Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
(10) Do some form of physical activity daily.
It’s pretty simple — use it or lose it.
(11) Do at least 2 strength training workouts per week.
You might not want to hoist your bodyweight over your head, but resistance-type exercise (think weightlifting or calisthenics) is absolutely necessary to keep your muscles from wasting away. If you agree, check out these exercises. If you have a well-honed excuse not to, let these four people inspire you.
(12) Do at least 2 cardiovascular interval workouts per week.
“Interval workouts” refer to burst training, and burst training means doing intense exercises over a short period of time multiples times.
Interval workouts improve cardiovascular conditioning, build muscle and dramatically spike Human Growth Hormone. Read Boost Your Human Growth Hormone In 20 Minutes.
(13) Think quality, not quantity, to help maximize workouts.
If you’ve ever been to a gym that has those cardio step machines, you’ve seen this: Someone bent forward, leaning their weight on their arms, taking tiny steps as they read.
It’s better than nothing, but that’s not quality.
Quality is breathing hard, working hard, getting tired. Fast. Then do it again. (See #12.)
(14) Some exercise is better than none at all.
Got seven minutes?
Check out the 7-Minute Workout app.
Tips On Emotional Energy
Emotional energy is the energy associated with opportunistic emotions and resilience.
CAPT (ret) George Dom says,
As a former Blue Angel Flight Leader, I understand the importance of positive emotional energy that inspires confidence and resilience. In order to perform at our absolute best we must train to expand and manage emotional energy. Because leaders on can’t-fail missions must be at their absolute best every day. (3)
(15) Greet the morning with positive emotion and an embracing spirit.
It’s a new day and it’s important that you begin it with a high note. Find the thing to do as soon as you arise that lifts you up.
(16) Turn away from your computer and give 100% focus when speaking with someone (no multi-tasking).
(17) Spend time with someone you love, or do something you love on specific days.
Both number 16 and 17 speak to the same thing – being emotionally present. To do this, you must not be distracted and you must have the right intention.
(18) Turn your cell phone off and give 100% of your best energy for the first 30 minutes upon arriving home.
Frankly, I’m unsure of where J&J is going with this one. The idea could be to not bring your work home with you right away, but to create a 30 minute buffer before email or anything else work related (or other demands on you) intrude.
(19) If you have young children, read to them every night.
Nothing amps up emotional energy like bonding with your kids.
(20) Call loved ones once a week at a specific time.
Here again, note that the advice is to do such and such at a specific time. Intention and consistency cultivate the required energy.
Tips On Mental Energy
Mental energy is associated with cognitive processes such as thinking, analyzing, and decision-making.
RADM (ret) Ray Smith sees it like this:
Just like with the Navy Seals, the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute’s focus on the importance of building positive habits and rituals is the key to energy management and is the single most critical factor for all of us on our journey from ordinary to extraordinary. (3)
(21) Prepare 10 affirmations and read them daily as part of your mental preparation routine.
When I was “doing” the Course of Miracles (two years, back to back), each day I would carry around one of 365 cards supplied by the course. This was before smart phones, so I used my watch’s hourly alarm to remind me to take the card from my pocket and spend just two minutes reading and reflecting on it.
Touching base with something important and uplifting to you many times a day can totally change who you are and how you interface with the world.
(22) Journal for 5 minutes each evening before bed.
First thing in the morning, I write down three things I’m grateful for and three things I want to accomplish that day. Before bed, I re-read them and see if these six things stayed present in my mind, and if I accomplished them.
No one wants to go to bed every night thinking that he or she is not doing what was intended, so this practice tends to provide some motivation.
(23) Strategically disengage every 90 – 120 minutes to help you preform at your best.
There might not be any time during a hectic day to do this, but sometime during the day, try.
Tips on Spiritual Energy
Spiritual energy is associated with purpose, values, and beliefs.
Olympic Gold Medalist Speed Skater, Dan Jansen says:
When you understand that, with the proper training, you can actually increase your energy efficiency, for an athlete that is a monumental thing. The Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute helped me silence the doubt and replace it with positive thinking and opportunistic emotions. It means never thinking ‘I can’t.’ That’s an amazing thing. (3)
(24) Invest your full and best energy in the moments that matter most.
Common sense here – cultivate what’s most important to you.
(25) At the end of each day, reflect on whether you followed your rules of engagement. Ask yourself, “Did my behavior today reflect my core values?”
This is an offshoot of number 22.
(26) Place a new picture of something you love on your screensaver every month.
If you never change the picture, at some point you no longer really “see” it, and its impact diminishes.
(27) Prioritize who and what will get your best energy today within 30 minutes of waking.
Light only cuts when its focused, and we call it a laser. Cut to whatever is your priority.
(28) Focus your energy on what you want, not on what you don’t want.
You might have heard of that study that asked people to remember how many positive things they were told each day, as opposed to negative things. Most people only remembered the negative.
What you focus on consistently has a better chance of happening than what you don’t focus on, so make sure it’s what you want, not what you don’t want.
Notice how children have more energy than you do?
Remember the energy you had as a young adult?
How vital you are, and how well you age is dependent on your energy. As you’ve just read, it’s important to cultivate your energy on all four parts of the Energy Pyramid: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
So, do this:
- Each month, choose one thing that you’re not doing now from each of the four domains, and practice doing them.
- Recruit a friend or two who wants to do the same things, and work together on it (compliance).
- To help further ensure compliance, tell your Facebook friends what you’re going to do (accountability).
- Write in the Comments section below what you intend to do.
I hope this has been useful to you, and that you’re going to take measured steps to boost your energy and vitality. If you found the material worthwhile, please share it with your friends and family.