Self-improvement is the gospel of the wellness set, and we can learn a lot about personal growth when we’re able to get a glimpse into the ways in which elite fitness and yoga trainers master their mind-body connections. Yogi Tara Stiles, CrossFit star Kenny Santucci, celebrity personal trainer Todd McCullough, and trainer and Ph.D. Shauna Harrison have refined their own custom movement methods over time and have found the routines that help them reach peak performance. The best part? They’re all different, which illustrates that there’s no one way to unlock your potential.
In case you missed it, here’s a summary of what we learned from the INFINITI Performance Project:
1. Tricking your mind is the best way to make better diet choices.
We learned how to optimize our diets based on diet psychology and brain hacks. For example, did you know that ordering your dinner a little before you’re hungry will result in a meal that’s better aligned with your fitness goals? Another thing that works: gamification. Downloading apps that give you instant gratification like SuperBetter can help you stick to a challenging detox or new way of eating.
2. Visualizing a physical triumph before your next workout will increase your likelihood of crushing it.
Cultivating mental toughness is a key technique all athletes work hard to do. The truth is that most competitive athletes have comparable skill levels, so the thoughts and the mind can make or break a performance. One scientifically proven way to do this is to envision a successful workout before it happens.
3. Pushing past physical plateaus has emotional and mental benefits.
"Do things physically and they will strengthen you emotionally and mentally," said CrossFit star and athlete Kenny Santucci. Santucci, who has competed in several Ironmans and triathlon races, speaks about the cleansing nature of movement and asks that we call on our emotional and mental faculties to push past plateaus.
4. With the right boundaries, technology can actually support your mindfulness journey.
There are so many tech innovations to support your body and mind—and not all of them involve engaging with your phone. In fact, one app called Moment can help you set boundaries with phone usage, bringing you back into the present. Choosing the right tech tools based on your needs, whether they are diet-, fitness-, or mentally focused, can reveal the kind nuance that completely up-levels your game.
5. There's no time like the present.
It’s hard to commit to a change, especially when it significantly alters your lifestyle. There’s no good time, and something will always be in the way. Start now! Getting used to a new wake-up time, a new level of soreness in your muscles, or—on the flip side—a new way of slowing down, will feel like a big adjustment at first. Todd McCullough, inspirational figure and celebrity trainer, finds motivation in helping others. "You owe it to yourself. You owe it to others. You are loved, and people want to see you succeed," he said.
6. Having blue walls can help you sleep better.
Getting enough sleep is underrated and overlooked. In our "doing" culture, we don’t realize how much we need "undoing" and miss out on its long list of benefits, including faster recovery time, improved performance, and alertness. One British study showed that people who had blue walls slept on average two hours more than others and that purple walls were the worst color for sleep. Noted.
7. Sometimes to achieve more, we need to make less effort.
It sounds counterintuitive, but yogi Tara Stiles is on to something. "There’s so much strength and power in softness," she said, referencing the sharp minds and hard bodies we all seek (or sought) at one point or another. But to fall into a joyful flow state, we need to soften and welcome ease into our lives.
8. There's always something you can refine.
The beauty of any wellness journey is that there’s always refinement, and that’s where the practice starts to get really, really good. To quote Shauna Harrison, "Refinement is like the juice of the process. There’s always a little bit more that you can change or try. It’s never-ending, and I think that that’s amazing," she said.
The only way it "works" is if you start where you are.
These athletes have devoted their lives to self-improvement to become their best selves for the sake of others. That’s what it’s all about. Self-care isn’t selfish, and through trial and error, you’ll find out what works for you, too. Enjoy the journey!