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Stillpower, Competition, and Olympic Excellence

Stillpower, Competition, and Olympic Excellence


    (Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Garret Kramer, author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life. Garret is the founder and managing partner of Inner Sports, LLC. His revolutionary approach to performance has transformed the careers of professionals athletes and coaches, Olympians, and collegiate players across a multitude of sports. Kramer’s work has been featured on WFAN, ESPN, Fox, and CTV, as well as in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other national publications. For more information on the author visit http://www.garretkramer.com, and you can follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.)

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    I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of an American runner named Billy Mills. Mills was the surprise winner of the gold medal in the 10k at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. And guess what? When he speaks to groups about his victory and keys to success, Mills admits that (among his many thoughts during the gold-medal race) he actually thought about quitting every single lap. That’s twenty-five laps of negative thoughts during a race where he was at his best.

    Impossible, many motivational or positive-thinking experts might say. Well, not if, like Mills, you understand stillpower.

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    Now, Mills didn’t call it stillpower back then, but clearly he knew better than to attempt to will himself through his low thinking. To Mills, his negative thoughts didn’t present a problem. He realized, however, that if he tried to fix these thoughts, he would be doomed to defeat.

    So, how can you use stillpower as an asset in any competition?

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    First, understand that there is no connection between the quality of your thinking and the competition at hand. Sure, you will be prone to think about the event as it draws closer, yet whether your thoughts are negative or positive is 100 percent random. In fact, you will be prone to having both types of thinking about the very same competition.

    Second, never try to control the thoughts that pop into your head. As Mills experienced, the human mind is like a roller coaster. The quality of your thinking is always in flux. If you try to force “good” thoughts in and “bad” thoughts out, you are working against your own innate functioning (preventing the roller coaster from ascending on its own). Instead, the key is to understand that wayward thoughts are normal and temporary. If you try to manage these thoughts — applying willpower — you will fortify them. If you leave them alone — applying stillpower — your level of consciousness will climb by itself.

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    The bottom line is that many performance experts believe that you must be in “the zone” to prevail; that you must think positive thoughts to find your best effort. The experience of Billy Mills shows this is not so.

    All you really need is stillpower. Left alone, all thoughts prove to be powerless. You are free no matter when or where a negative, or even positive, thought invades your brain.

    (Photo credit: On Your Mark via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on August 12, 2019

      12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

      12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

      Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

      But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

      I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

      Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

      1. Nuts

      The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

      Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

      Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

      Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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      2. Blueberries

      Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

      When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

      3. Tomatoes

      Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

      4. Broccoli

      While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

      Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

      Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

      5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

      Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

      The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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      Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

      6. Soy

      Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

      Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

      Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

      7. Dark Chocolate

      When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

      Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

      8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

      Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

      B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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      Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

      Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

      To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

      9. Foods Rich in Zinc

      Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

      Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

      Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

      10. Gingko Biloba

      This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

      It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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      However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

      11. Green and Black Tea

      Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

      Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

      Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

      12. Sage and Rosemary

      Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

      Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

      When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

      More About Boosting Brain Power

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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