HORMONAL HACKING

by Vit Schlesinger

Today, I’d like to share with you my recent top performance and the concrete method how even you can try to enter the flow state. Even thought it was not a sport performace the principals are totally equal. It is a concrete, step-by-step method how to prepare your body and mind for the top performance. How you can hack the biochemical setup of your body together with ideal setup of your mind.

What to do a few minutes before your top performance and why is written below. 

I know from my professional experience that we – people in general – don´t think about our life and don´t plan it, we don´t think about the direction which we want to go, where we feel happy, how and why we can work with ourselves in the most effective way. We just leave it to chance and sometimes the result is good and sometimes it is not. But we can influence this.

That´s why I wrote down 9 steps of the “sporthacker“ which could lead you to the top performace and to the desired state of concentrated relaxation!

 Half a year ago I was contacted by the organisers of the world famous TEDx event. I have known this big events for several years thanks to great motivational speeches by English cook Jamie Olivier or Bill Clinton so I was pleased and happy to accept the invitation. The aim of this event is to open one´s mind and to  connect worlds. It is non-profit initiative which concentrated on  „ideas worth spreading“ – sharing of  inspiring ideas and stories. Thanks to several open-minded people this event was held three times in Zlín. TEDx in Zlín is a part of the worldwide TEDx movement. I was asked to present the complex Sporthacking preparation or pushing the limits of the human potential and mental preparation. 

So I didn´t leave it to chance and after I made decision about the main theme (which I reached in relaxed contemplation – this time in sauna and while jogging) I started with the preparations.

9 steps that will get you into the flow state

Let´s start with 9 steps that lead to the absolutely relaxed perfomance in a flow state and to your inner source, your second you. By the way, majority of the steps come from pragmatic physiology or biochemistry. Of course I recommend to find your own approach, your own strategy that would suit you. For example, you can try only a few steps separately and you´ll see.

Quite often I have to deal with the stressful situations, I work with people – athletes – so I need to apply this on me and live like that. Moreover, I need to know how and what the idividual steps are about because I recommend them to my clients. These are the steps I currently consider the best working ones. But with the constant advance, development and new findings I suppose it will be a bit different in a year.

What hormones are playing the crutial role here?

  • Testosterone – is essential for the development and mental state (especially of the man). It belongs among steroid hormones. Any outside application for better performance is forbidden and considered doping. But we can increase its level in the body – for example by the intense and interval training or by the cold thermogenesis  – see below. Right now I am working on other and many more hacks including the correct nutrition, food supplements and alternative herbs to increase the level of testosterone. Someting you can look forward to.
  • Endorphines – so called happiness hormones. Its secretion is controlled by pituitary gland. They are released during and after physical activity or after cold termogenesis. Its level in the body could be ten times higher even half an hour after the physical activity. Endorphines help us to keep healthy self-esteem, balance and eliminate states of anxiety, depression, sadness and moreover – they can put you in a good mood. They also suppress the appetite.
  • Andrenaline – the level of this hormone could be controlled, it drops after the physical activity or cold hardening. So I feel that even after my short, intensive push-up excercise in a vestibule of lecture theatre this hormone is balanced and I feel more calm.
  • Noradrenaline – the higher level of this hormone leads to faster heart beat, increaces the decomposition of glycogen, increases muscle oxygention, increases concentration, attention and a good mood.
  • Dopamine – is a hormone that drives us. It aroses fantasia, creativity in us, it keeps us motivated, goal-directed and persistent. It also supports sexual libido and the desire for knowledge. If we think or dream about something pleasant or if we desire something or someone, dopamine will literally pour into our blood. For example, do you know that feeling when you think about a cup of coffee – how good you feel only when thinking about this ritual.
  • Cortizol – it is also a stress hormone. Short, intensive exercise helps us to regulate its increased level which brings a significant relief to the body – either physical or psychical. On the other hand – hard trainings, demanding races or lack of regeneration increases the level of cortizol and quite often we feel more anxious, stressful, not excited about the race.  Moreover, the cortisol slows down the regeneration, worsens the quatlity of sleep and weakens the immunity system.
  • Serotonin – without serotonin the sporthacking would not bring us so much joy. Serotonin belongs to happiness hormones. It reduces tiredness, it brings feelings of happiness, gets rid of depression, anxiety and insomnia. The most significant function plays in central nervous system because the serotonin receptors could be found also in limbic system which is a part of central nervous system responsible for creation and controlling of our emotions and mood.

Step-by-step guide for getting to the flow state

1.  4 hours before the perfomance

Morning´s stretching and exercise

My performance took place around lunch time so I got up early and had a light exercise, some stretching and a breathing exercise. This way you will activate central nervous system, hormonal system and the blood circulation and you can relax at the same time. Also, the Sporthacking philosophy says  the everything is integrated, which means that when your body is relaxed then your mind is relaxed as well. We don´t even realise that the excercise has another great benefit. Your brain is busy and so you don´t have time to think, have doubts and make up unrealistic scenarios which – thanks to negative thoughts – could be more realistic then we think.

2.  3 hours before the perfomance

Nutrition and food supplements

The food will give you energy which should culminate at the time of your performance. Together with supplements it could improve your concentration and cognitive functions and so I planned to have a good and balanced food approximately 3 hours before the performance. It is especially the food with reduced amount of sacharides, light proteins and with the right ratio of quality fat and right minerals and also specific food for enhancing the quality of  gut microbiom. I felt slightly hungry at the time of my performance. You can guess why – hungry wolf is the best hunter. I also used performance enhancing supplements including Astaxanthin or L-theanin. This one could be found in the green tea. Tea is the only plant that produces this substance. This aminoacid induces the state of a deep relaxation in the brain without the sleepiness feelings. In addition it has a soothing effect by increasing the activity of alpha brain waves. L-theanin improves the ability of learning and induces the well-being thanks to its effect on brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Soon I will write a very nourising article only about this substance!

3.  2 hours before the performance

Cold thermogenesis

As you may know from my previous articles and experiments the cold can make wonders. Yes, even before the performance. I drove to the nearby pond to be alone for a while, to escape the hustle and bustle and the pressure and swam in the 8 degree Celsius water. This is good, besides other things, for the conscious and deepened breathing and also for the slight increase of testosterones and endorphines. You can really feel the difference! (see the picture). The cold water actives super important UCP-1 protein which triggers the cascade of reactions but also turns you off. Yes, it literally turns you off from all emotions and stress. At this moment your body has only one concern – to survive!!!

4.  30 minutes before the performance

Breathing excercise

I concentrate on myself and on my own breath, on my inner me. I breathe through the nose. Deeply, smoothly. I listen to the opening introduction speech, I talk to people around me. But still I am concentrated on me and my breath. You can see a part of this exercise in the video below – live :-).

5.  10 minutes before the performance

Excercise – push-ups

It´s good to be alone when doing this exercise. It is a bit too comical. How do you feel right after you did push-ups or squats? Blood circulation is promoted, you feel full of testosterone, dopamine, serotonine and adrenaline? Yes, so this is exaclty the reason why I do something that pumps blood and gets me where I need to be before the prerformance.

For this reason I like to do some push-ups when I am alone. I found outlying room for speakers where the very expensive pictures by Salvador Dalí hung and did some push-ups. I admit it was a strange feeling but on the other hand this is the point of it….

6.  5 minuts before the performance

Breath stimulation – breath holding

At this stage I withdraw into myself. The microphone is being attatched on me. I concentrate on the moment it will all start. I practise a holding breath excercise which leads to the activation of the central nervous system and adrenaline, it floods out the substances that activate me, make me physically warm and support the blood flow … into the brain. The point is to increase the level of CO2 in my body. Survival adaptation mechanisms start to work immediately – because of the excess of CO2 the body starts to prepare to carry oxygen – besides other things – faster and in a more effective way. It also means that the haematopoiesis is increased. Yes. The creation of the red blood cells is improved.

7.  3minutes before the performance

I am taking off my shoes

Why? If you take off your shoes you can better read the space. You are literally connected with the space and at the same time you are more relaxed. Not only down but also up – your head is subconsciously relaxed. How do you feel when you come home or to your hotel room and take off your shoes?

8.  1 minute before the performance

I make sure there is no hole in my socks

Fortunatelly not. Moreover, I chose the red socks – these support self-esteem. I am slightly nervous – I realise I am nervous but I don´t evaluate it – it exists but I don´t let it control me it´s me who has the control. I let everyhing flow and I accept it.

9.  5 seconds before the performance

I am turning off my head, racional thinking, smile and believe in myself, in my second me

There is no time now to make sure I know everything, to think whether I belong here, etc. Everything I did till this moment is history and now I go to sell what I have trained so far and I can´t influence it anymore. It´s not worth thinking about it now. It´s too late.

I feel relaxed, concentrated and in the flow state, I get to it and I believe in me. I did my best and even if it will not turn out well it will not influence my satisfaction because I did all I could. I don´t think about anything, I am, I just feel the energy between me and my audience, I try to connect with them and blend in.

I can´t make a speech about „why being myself“ if I am not myself. I feel that I exist here and now, for this moment and I am excited that I can give it to the audiance of 250 people. #hackyourlimits