Success is a mindset; it’s a way of thinking and living. It’s no coincidence that studies have shown that physical, academic, and financial health are highly correlated. Research suggests that there are several factors in this mindset, such as the conscientiousness personality trait, but for the most part it is developed through your daily behaviors. Success begins with how you choose to fuel your mind and body.
Just in case you’ve been living on the moon and haven’t heard about the research of Tim Ferriss, there’s a reason why some of the world’s most successful businesspersons are known for wearing the same clothing over and over again and why some of the greatest athletes always eat the same food before a game, and it has nothing to do with luck. Highly successful people automate as many daily decisions as they can so that they can focus their brain’s processing power on the judgments that are more important. Each decision we make has a cumulative draining effect on our executive functioning ability, so aim for decision efficiency. What you’re eating is vitally important to every component of health, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complex. If you find that a warm bowl of oatmeal and a handful of fresh blueberries give you the lasting energy you need to get through the morning, no need to change it up. Keep it simple and the same to leave more brainpower in the tank for those decisions that really matter.
Get a midday dose of iron
Due to our endogenous circadian rhythms, from a performance standpoint, the best time to exercise is actually in the early afternoon. Coordination, reaction time, physical endurance, and strength abilities are at their apex between 1 and 5 pm because of gene expression timing and the delicate balance of hormone secretion. Similarly, other studies have shown that scheduling a specific time to exercise every day—and sticking to it—may improve overall performance. Blocking off an hour a day in the middle of the day to push yourself physically also may be one of the best things you can do to build those mental muscles. High-intensity exercise has actually been shown to induce glycogen supercompensation, basically forcing more energy into the brain than it is normally able to handle. What are the results of this brain “overclocking”? Regular exercise can result in positive adaptations to the structure and function of the hippocampus, the part of the limbic system that regulates memory and spatial navigation. A single intense workout can instantly improve performance in memory and decision-making tasks. Breaking up the day’s meetings with an afternoon in the gym not only expedites body composition progression, but also it can help you make better decisions throughout the rest of the day.
Make it easy and consistent, but don’t forget to fuel your day’s success with nutrient-dense foods. First, you want to avoid the food coma induced by drastic swings in blood sugar and provide for your brain’s energy demands by consuming primarily low-glycemic foods, which provide slow and sustained energy and satiation throughout the day. For example, whole fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Getting more in-depth, specific foods promote proper inflammatory response and provide vitamins and minerals that can promote neural functioning throughout the day. Foods high in vitamin K, such as avocados and broccoli, may improve episodic memory. Blueberries and pecans are loaded with antioxidants, which promote proper inflammatory response and may help slow down cognitive decline. The high levels of polyphenols and monounsaturated fat contained in olive oil may directly influence learning and memory abilities. Not surprisingly, the whole, unprocessed foods that promote physical health also support proper brain function, allowing you to perform your best regardless of the task at hand.
Career success doesn’t always begin and end with long hours at the office. You can help develop the physiological and neurological resilience necessary to perform your best by establishing daily routines. Cultivate business success by minimizing decision fatigue, integrating exercise into your work day, and filling your tank with foods that support brain function.
Dr. Damian Rodriguez is the health and exercise scientist for doTERRA International, LLC. He holds a doctorate in health science, a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and countless professional certifications. He has spent most of his life researching nutrition, exercise, and the lifestyle behaviors associated with optimal health. Along with his passion for health, as someone who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is also involved in bringing awareness to autism spectrum disorders. There are varying opinions about many health and fitness topics. His opinions are his own and not necessarily that of doTERRA International, LLC. Consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to diet and exercise.