Bar Bulletin: Maximize foundation of energy and performance

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  • | 12:00 p.m. October 5, 2015
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Giselle Carson crossing the finish line at the Ironman Muskoka in Ontario, Canada.
Giselle Carson crossing the finish line at the Ironman Muskoka in Ontario, Canada.
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Are you performing at your full potential?

The current and future challenges to the legal profession require that successful lawyers invest time in maximizing their energy to achieve and sustain high performance, and deal with increasing demands.

I am learning every day how high achieving athletes and executives perform at their best. Here, I am sharing some of those secrets from triathlon training that I hope can help you find your success and high performance.

I didn’t grow up a swimmer, cyclist or runner.  I began exercising regularly in my late 30s (I wish I would have done it before). I grew up in Cuba where I primarily studied and worked. Later, I had to work to rebuild my life as an immigrant in two countries.

But, when I went back to school to obtain my law degree while continuing to work and commuting long distances, I knew I needed to do something to maintain good health, manage stress and maximize my energy.

As a result, my husband, Jeff, and I started cycling and completed several MS150 rides. Later, I trained and completed the Gate River Run 15K.

Crossing the finish lines at these events were magical feelings and I wanted more of it. I added swimming to my training and completed several triathlons.

Fast forward and I have completed many epic full-day hikes, runs and triathlons, including 11 amazing marathons in various continents and three full Ironmans.

The long and grueling schedule to complete an Ironman while also working full time and maintaining other commitments teaches you to redefine obstacles, develop habits to maximize your time and energy, focus on what is most important and cultivate positive relationships.

No matter where you are in your life, I hope that the tips below that I have learned from triathlon training help you maximize your energy to achieve your goals.

Plan your meals and stick to the plan

Have the discipline to plan healthy meals and snacks, eat them mindfully and minimize sugar in your diet.

Just these small changes will lead to significant improvement in your energy and health. About 80 percent of the health benefits we gain from a healthy lifestyle come from what we eat and 20 percent from the exercise we do. However, the 20 percent is powerful as discussed below.

Think about your typical day. Our lowest energy time is around 3 p.m. and many reach for coffee, sugary and/or processed foods for a temporary boost.

Instead, plan to have an afternoon snack containing protein and fat. This combination will promote satiety and help offset slow metabolism.

For example have a hand full of raw nuts, a slice of cheese or plain fat-free Greek yogurt with berries, and do some simple stretching or walking. You will be on your way to optimal energy.

Nurture this ‘keystone habit’

Some habits can unlock a cascade of changes from which other good habits grow with significantly less effort.

Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter for The New York Times, in his bestselling book “The Power of Habit,” calls these habits “keystone habits” and exercise is one of them.

According to Duhigg, developing a keystone habit such as exercise influences how we work, eat, play, live, spend and communicate. This habit can change our sense of self and our sense of what is possible.

For example, commit to doing some simple exercises for just 10 minutes every day. Soon, you will begin to crave doing more than 10 minutes.

As your endurance and fitness improve, you will start to need less sugar, alcohol, coffee or other stimulants, because the exercise is giving you a healthy psychological boost.

This will also lead to you eating better, sleeping better and becoming more fit, strong and productive, all without much effort.

Wondering what are other keystone habits? I will cover more of those in Part II in November.

Develop a powerful support community  

Personal relationships add more meaning, value and energy to our lives. Build a powerful network of friendships that is also passionate about healthy habits and transformative positive goals, and you will be on your way to achieving your dreams.

I am very grateful to those who have trained with me for many miles and shared tips, including attorneys Alan Pickert, Holt Harrell, Susan Haag, Tara Vanderperren, John McDonald and Steven Boyne.

I am also very thankful for the outstanding support of my assistants, Thyra and Ka’Leigh, my law firm, Marks Gray, P.A., and the laughs, love and remarkable support of my husband, Jeff.

Ken Chlouber, 72, miner-turned ultrarunner, co-founder of the Leadville Trail 100 (“the Race Across the Sky”) to bring more visitors to Leadville and Colorado state senator, says regularly, “We’re tougher than we think we are and we can do more than we think we can!”

Take the challenge to optimize your health and performance to a level higher than you think you can.

I look forward to continue to work with you to make The Jacksonville Bar Association the best it can be.



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