On strategies to help you stay on top of your game, life as school, and handstands

Happy Monday,

I get asked a lot about what strategies I use to help me recover well and perform my best.

Although I believe there’s no one approach that works for everyone, here are some of my go-to strategies that help me stay on top of my game:

Move I work out six days a week pretty much without fail. Even on my days off, I take long walks with my dog or leisurely bike rides.

Research consistently shows that regular exercise helps to put us in a better mood, lowers feelings of depression and anxiety, helps us think better and be more creative, increases our ability to focus and learn, and can even increase feelings of hope and optimism.

If you need workout ideas, there are thousands of free workouts here.

Treat food as fuel — Food is a powerful healing tool and fuel for workouts and life. I don’t follow any particular diet, but I do try and eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods and lots of fruits and veggies.

I really believe that food should be individualized.  What works for me might not work for you, so the best thing you can do is learn to listen to your body.

Sleep — There is so much research coming out about the importance of sleep; it helps with workout recovery, mental performance, immune health, longevity, the list goes on. If I get less than six hours, I basically feel like I’m hungover. I try my best to get seven to nine hours most days.

Learn — I’m always learning something new, including reading books, taking courses, and listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Learning is one of my favorite activities and the main way I keep trying to grow and evolve as an athlete and human being.

Get outside — Anyone who knows me knows I spend 99% of my day outside. Fresh air and sunshine really help keep my mood up. I prefer outdoor workouts over indoor ones as well because you get double the benefits.

Play — There’s a lot of emphasis on self-care these days, especially during COVID. But in my opinion, there’s not enough emphasis on simply having fun. Try and carve out a little time each day for fun, whether this means playing a board game with your family, playing tennis, or even just watching a funny movie.

What I’m reading —

How to Be An Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration by David Richo

A reader recommended this book to me on Instagram, and I really can’t say enough good things about it. The author, a psychotherapist who I’ve since learned teaches at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, provides a guide to growth through the metaphor of the heroic journey—departure, struggle, and return. It’s a fairly quick, but dense, read full of wisdom that I expect to consult for years to come.

“In the hero stories, the call to go on a journey takes the form of a loss, a depression, an error, a wound, an unexplainable longing, or a sense of a mission. When any of these happens to us, we are being summoned to make a transition.”

What I’m listening to —

Life is School. School is For Life on the Daily Stoic podcast

When I graduated from high school, and then college, I left feeling like I never wanted to read or learn anything new ever again. Unfortunately, formal education often does that to kids; all the forced learning makes them feel like they never want to do any of their own learning after graduating.

One of the greatest joys of life is lifelong learning. As Seneca said, “you should keep learning… to the end of your life.”

“School is never out for summer or spring or winter break. You can never be too old or too good at what you do. No, school is for life. And life is school. Learning is a daily thing, wisdom an endless pursuit. You never arrive, you never fill up, you never graduate. Because the world is always revealing new lessons.”

A quote that inspires me —

“How good we are when start something is not related at all to how good we can become at anything.” — Astronaut Scott Kelly on the Tim Ferris podcast

What I’m training this week —

One arm handstands… still.

I expect this is a skill I’ll be training for at least the next decade. You can see my progress here.

To get good at anything difficult takes time. You can try to rush, to find hacks that will get you where you want to go quicker, but in the end, most shortcuts will just make the process take longer. ⁣

Instead, try and settle in to the journey. Know that you’re in this for the long haul. Trust that all your hard work will come together when the time is right.⁣

(Written after seven+ years training handstands, and just beginning to make some solid progress on my one arms.)⁣

Three new workouts from last week —

Full Body Weighted Sandbag Workout (Time challenge, sandbag)

Legs + Core Plyo Box Workout (12 minute, plyo box)

250 Rep Bodyweight Challenge Workout (Time challenge, equipment-free)

And here’s a heavy bag workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to staying on top of your game,

– Krista Stryker

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