Faith, Family, and Science for Peak Performance with Nick Foles

Today we welcome Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles as guest author. Find out how he brings science and spirituality to his training regimen for peak performance.

As a professional athlete, I’m always looking for ways to push out an extra rep, to shave off a second, to add an extra plate to the bar. Biohacking has become an integral part of my daily life — I’m constantly reading, learning, and experimenting to see what works for my biology and gives me an edge.

Diet and training are only part of the formula for peak performance. A large part, sure, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s what I have found helps me to stay on top of my game.

Morning routine

I’ve recently become more routine-based, and the first hour after I wake up sets the tone for the day. I wake up, make my Bulletproof Coffee, and I’ll spend some time with my Bible and journal. It’s a great way to center myself and bring the right perspective to whatever it is that I’m doing that day. With my morning habits, I can be sure that I bring the best version of myself to everything I do.

Whole-body vibration training

I have a Bulletproof Vibe, which is a whole-body vibration training plate. I use it every morning to start my day. Just a few minutes of simple stretching or a few yoga poses gets my blood and energy flowing. It’s a short practice that makes me feel more clear and ready for the day ahead.

My wife, Tori, has a condition called POTS that affects her circulation, and she benefits tremendously from a vibration session as well.

NanoVi Technology — recovery at the cellular level

The first time I visited Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica, I learned about the NanoVi, a device that boosts your cells’ own repair signals.

You generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are unbound oxygen molecules that can cause cell damage in lots of ways. A main source of ROS is just expending energy at normal everyday levels — to keep warm, to digest your food, to take a walk. Athletes burn through a ton of energy, which can leave you with more ROS than your body is equipped to handle.

I use the NanoVi to kickstart cellular repair. It changes the ROS molecules so that they use their active energy to signal repair, instead of for damage. I notice faster recovery when I use the NanoVi consistently.

Cryotherapy for recovery and to prevent inflammation

Cryotherapy after games and tough training sessions is a non-negotiable for me. The difference it makes in my recovery is incredibly noticeable, especially when I overdo it. If I can get to a cryochamber where I am I’ll use that, because it’s the most efficient way to drop my core temperature. When I can’t get to a cryochamber, an ice bath is the next best thing.

Even when I’m not recovering from high exertion like games and hard workouts, I’ll switch my shower water over to cold for the last few minutes because it makes me feel more alert and clear.

Blocking blue light

When I don’t sleep well, I notice it in my training. So, I’m going to do everything in my power to maximize my sleep. Learning about blue light and its effects on sleep-wake cycles has been a game changer for me.

I wear glasses when I’m not on the field, which have a blue light filter in the lenses. When I need a little extra blue blocking action, like on red-eye flights or if I have to be under fluorescent lights later in the day, I’ll switch to my True Dark glasses. Taking steps to limit my blue light exposure has done wonders for my sleep.

Space boots for circulation

I have a set of NormaTec boots that I wear while I’m just watching a TV show or reading at the end of the day. They cover your whole leg, and you choose different programs that pulse in different patterns. The goal is to increase blood flow and lymph flow to speed up recovery. I notice a big difference when I use them.

Epsom salt bath

Before bed, I like to take an Epsom salt bath. The magnesium I get through my skin helps me relax and signals to my body that it’s time to sleep, and it also helps reduce lactic acid buildup in my muscles, which helps with soreness. It’s such an easy hack that everyone can do.

Air travel hacks

Professional athletes travel a lot, and it can weaken our game if we’re not careful. Air travel creates perfect conditions for reduced circulation and lymph flow, which makes me feel puffy and slow after a flight. Dry air, low pressure, and sitting for long periods in a small seat all affect how I feel when I get off the plane. Here’s how I counter the effects:

  • Compression tights. I wear compression tights on airplanes — every time I fly. I used to use compression sleeves for my arms, but I don’t use those as much anymore. This keeps blood from pooling in my legs, and I find that I don’t have swelling after flights.
  • Hydrate, then hydrate some more. Athletes need extra hydration as it is. Couple that with the dry air in airplanes, and you’ll find that you can get dehydrated quickly on a flight. Even on short flights, I make sure I drink enough water.

As an athlete, I have to be mindful of recovery from games and from everyday training. I want to get the full benefit from every training session — every sprint, every rep. If I can keep my blood flow and hydration in good shape while I’m in the air, flying doesn’t have to slow me down.

Finding my why

Clearly defining my reason for doing what I do has made me stronger in my career and life than any gadget or supplement ever would. I’ve found that if I’m training for myself and my own glory, it’s not as motivating for me as it is when I have my priorities straight. Everything I do to better myself is first and foremost for my faith, and for my wife and daughter. When I understand and internalize why I do what I do, I am able to push that much harder.

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