It is evident that with increased energy levels, you can get more stuff done. Also, the quality of what you do greatly improves when you have a clear, focused mind and apply your energy toward a concrete problem or task. Even your mindfulness and meditation greatly benefits from high energy levels.
On the other hand, lack of energy leads to decision fatigue, procrastination, and eventually to mediocre results.
If you have a strong will driven by an underlying purpose aligned with your mission and inner values, you can still get some stuff done, but it is much more challenging. With a lack of energy, everything you do becomes a bigger effort and will let you exhaust quickly.
Stress is a huge energy drain, as it redirects your mental resources to the primitive part of your brain (the amygdala), leaving your prefrontal cortex (which is in charge of logical decision making) with limited ability to make quality decisions.
However, you also know that poor sleep, unhealthy nutrition, and lack of effective exercise in combination will further decrease your energy levels.
To maximize your contributions as a (tech) leader, you, therefore, need to pay close attention to your energy levels and develop a system and healthy habits that help you to keep your body and mind running at peak performance.
But how do you do that and where to get started?
It all boils down to the health of your mitochondria.
These small bacteria, which we have plenty of in most of our cells, are the “powerhouses” that generate the energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) we need to survive and thrive. They’re like tiny factories in each of our cells that turn the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe into energy – our body’s major energy source. Most of our cells have a few hundred of them. The cells in your brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and your eyes actually have thousands of them (as they have a high energy demand.)
There are about 10 million billion (100,000 trillion) mitochondria in an adult human, while about 2 billion mitochondria are made every second throughout a person’s life!
These are amazing facts, and I encourage you to learn more about these little organelles (specialized structures within a cell performing specific functions) as they are critical to your energy levels.
But why is this relevant?
Whatever you do in terms of optimizing your sleep, decreasing your stress levels, eating healthy, systematic detoxing, effective exercise, and applying mindfulness techniques are all affected by the quality of your mitochondria.
Therefore it is beneficial to create daily habits that impact the quality and quantity of your mitochondria.
The question therefore is when reflecting in the evening:
Did I help my mitochondria today to improve, or are they now worse off in comparison to yesterday?
The good news is that there is a plethora of research on mitochondria health out there. Recent attention to this topic through popular books like “Headstrong” from popular biohacker Dave Asprey share the knowledge you need to start optimizing your tiny power workers in your body.
It is a combination of (small) habits that, when applied, help your mitochondria to thrive.
As we’re all individuals, these habits share common similarities but are unique to you and your personal context.
For example, providing your body with optimal nutrition. There are numerous diets available (e.g., Bulletproof diet, ketogenic, Paleo, ...), but you need to find one that works well for your body and genetics.
The idea is to learn about transforming habits by absorbing (reliable) knowledge based on sound scientific principles, apply them in your own context, and measure the impact. This is what biohacking is actually all about.
I often emphasize the importance of being resilient as one of the most impactful qualities of a successful leader.
Resilience requires strong energy levels to bounce back when things get rough, being persistent, and having sufficient drive to get stuff done.
This is why I encourage you to make it a priority to research ways on how you can increase your energy levels.
But it would be best if you also establish a proper base-line on your mitochondria health. As a scientist, I like to obtain data. With recent technology advances in the medical field, there is actually an effective way to do that. You can do a lab test called the “Bioenergetischer Gesundheitsindex (BHI)” that I highly recommend getting done. It measures the overall amount of ATP that you are generating, therefore informing you about your mitochondria’s health and performance. You will need to work with a capable integrative (or functional) medicine doctor who is an expert on those topics. When I did it the first time, I was literally shocked about how low my ATP production was - no wonder I felt tired in the evenings. With proper biohacks over time, I doubled my energy levels within less than 6 months, and you can do the same!
Finally, there is powerful technology and methods out there that you can use as a therapy to upgrade your mitochondria. For example, IHHT (Intermittent Hypoxic Therapy & Training) is highly effective. In this therapy, a device will simulate an environment of high altitude, like climbing up on a mountain of 7000+ meters. During an IHHT session (of typically 40 minutes) there are alternating periods of low oxygen (hypoxi) and high oxygen levels (hyperoxi). Your “weak” mitochondria will not survive these extreme changes in oxygen flow and eventually die (making room for new mitochondria), but the strong mitochondria will thrive and grow stronger. If you do a few sessions, you will notice the impact on your energy levels quickly. It is amazing! I will write about IHHT in more detail in a separate article. For now, what you need to know is that there are many ways to leverage technology to improve your mitochondria and, therefore, your energy levels - take advantage of it!
If the topic of mitochondria is new to you, I strongly recommend reading the book “Headstrong” by Dave Asprey. While you’re reading it, there are several ideas to explore. Write them down and figure out how to implement them in your own context. Eventually, there is a 2-week program to become Headstrong that I highly recommend. It may not be easy to do, but it is worth it (trust me, it works!)
Find an integrative (or functional) medicine doctor near you, and have your mitochondria tested (BHI test). You may be surprised (or not) when you receive the results! Use this then as a baseline, learn about ways to improve your mitochondrial health, and retest in a few months.
Watch a short educational video that provides a nice overview of mitochondria.
If you are ready to upgrade your energy levels and need help, check out my training program “Double your Resilience.” Contact me for more information.