Producing Peak Performance

Joe Dillon




Your brain, the thing you use to think with, is an organ of your body and is supported by your health habits. The cleaner your lifestyle, the better everything works—heart, kidneys, lungs, brain, etc. The blood that passes through every organ in your body also passes through your brain. The quality of your thought depends totally on the quality of the blood that passes through your brain.


Peak performance is not just about being able to compete at the Olympic level. It’s also about thinking more clearly, and being more effective from a physiological perspective. Your body is the platform on which you build everything else in life. The more solid that platform is, the better everything else works.


Peak performance is about being leaner, more efficient and more effective. If you are 25 lbs. overweight, it’s like wearing a backpack all day long. It takes more energy and you get tired. It’s wasted energy. It makes your life more difficult for no reason.


Lean isn’t the same as thin. You don’t want to lose weight indiscriminately. The functional weight of the body, composed of the muscles, bones, organs and fluids, is called “lean body mass,” or fat-free weight. The idea is to retain lean mass and get rid of excess body fat. When you do, your energy goes up, you sleep better at night and you become more effective because you aren’t as tired from carrying around excess weight all day long.


The national bodyfat average for women is 36%. For men, it is 26%. For optimal health, women should be 22% or less and men should be 15% or less. For people who want to be in excellent condition, women should be 12-18% and men should be 6-12%, regardless of age. As we get older, we ought to get leaner. We need to take any excess loads off our bodies because we aren’t as strong and resilient.


There are three basic body types:


  1. Ectomorph. The ectomorph is very linear, like a marathon runner or fashion model. These people tend to be lighter and smaller. –
  2. Mesomorph. The mesomorph is thicker, stockier, more heavily-muscled and have bigger bone structure.
  3. Endomorph. The endomorph has a smooth, pear-shaped body. They have broader hips and tend to carry more fat. No matter how they try, they can’t attain the lean, cut look.


Few people are purely one type or another. Most are a blend of all three. The amount of muscle mass you need depends on what you do for a living.

The more fit you are, the more stress you can handle without it becoming dis-tress. The ultimate goal is optimal health, so that you thrive rather than just survive. Optimal health is more than just not being sick or symptom-free. It’s having vigorous health— energy, vitality, enthusiasm and focus, so that you wake up in the morning eager to jump into the day.


Optimal health also means avoiding degenerative diseases, which are diseases of lifestyle. Most of the diseases people suffer from in the U.S., heart attacks, stroke, etc., are self-inflicted. Genetics does play a small part, and many people inherit tendencies toward certain diseases. But lifestyle has a far greater impact.


The good news is that many lifestyle diseases are reversible, including heart disease. But you don’t reverse them by taking drugs. Drugs are merely bandaids; they only treat the symptoms. To reverse the disease, you have to remove the cause of the problem, which is the unhealthy lifestyle. The idea is to permanently solve the problem rather than making the symptoms go away again and again.


All drugs are toxic. The more powerful the drug, the more toxic they are. Drugs that manage symptoms for one disease often cause another or cause massive side effects.


The most powerful thing we can do is to put the right foods into our mouths. Look at food from a financial point of view. Whenever you eat, ask, “Is this substance I’m about to put into my body a net gain or a net loss? Is this going to build me up or pull me down? Is this going to nourish me or make me sick?”


As we get older, our immune systems grow weaker. They aren’t as resilient. Eating cleaner and using supplements can boost the immune system so we stay as healthy as when we were young. But the older we get, the harder we have to work to stay healthy.


Six KEYS To OPTIMAL HEALTH                                                                      –


  1. Oxygen

Oxygen is such an integral part of being human that we tend to take it for granted. Yet, we can’t go for more than a few minutes without it. To achieve optimal health, do everything you can to enhance your body’s ability to transport oxygen and avoid those things that interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. Smoking cigarettes is deadly. Nothing interferes with the body’s ability to get oxygen to the cells like smoking. When your cells are constantly starved for oxygen, it promotes cancer. Anything that deprives the cells of oxygen puts the body in a toxic state.

Oxygen is energy, life and vitality. The more oxygen you get into the blood, the more alert and effective you are. Eating clean and being physically active are the two most important factors in getting oxygen throughout the body.


  1. Water

Being well-hydrated is essential to well-being. At minimum, drink eight to ten glasses of water a day. When you drink enough water, the body can self-regulate. Not drinking enough water creates a toxic condition. Being only 2% dehydrated will reduce energy levels twenty to forty percent. If you’re feeling low or lethargic, drink water because you may be dehydrated. The number one cause of senility is chronic dehydration.


Coffee, soft drinks and alcohol actually dehydrate you. Fruit juices are better, but the sugar content is very high. The only way to be well-hydrated is to drink plenty of water. Bottled or filtered water is better than tap water.


  1. Clean Fuel

We put the correct fuel into our cars every time we fill up. Yet, when it comes to our bodies, we generally eat what looks and tastes good rather than what our bodies really need. Good health requires that we eat the right fuel and that it is cleanly prepared. Prepared incorrectly, the right food changes from fuel to garbage. For example, a broiled chicken breast is fuel; deep fried chicken is not. The ideal diet is high-carbohydrate, low-fat and balanced.


There are two main categories of “not clean” fuel:


Bad fats.


There are three main sources of bad fats: fats from animals (red meats, lard, butter, regular cheeses), processed fats (i.e., hydrogenated vegetable oils), and any fat that has been exposed to very high temperatures (deep frying fats).


Fats are bad for two reasons. They make us fat and they interfefe with the body’s ability to carry oxygen. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Yet, they are almost twice as large as many of the capillaries they have to pass through. Normally, they fold over and slide through the capillary one at a time.


When we put bad fats into our bodies, it causes the outside membranes of the red blood cells to get sticky, like scotch tape. When they bump into each other, they stick together and form clumps. These clumps of red blood cells can’t get through the capillaries. This happens in millions of locations around the body, causing us to feel sleepy, lethargic, tired, sluggish, etc. The blood becomes low in oxygen and the brain becomes oxygen-deprived.

The body requires two things in order to burn fat: some carbohydrates and a lot of oxygen. Anything that interferes with the ability to carry oxygen blocks or interferes with the ability to burn fat, which creates a negative compounding effect. The whole system begins to shut down and we begin to put on weight. Saturated fat also raises LDL cholesterol, which is the bad kind of cholesterol.


  • High-glycemjc carbohydrates.


Carbohydrates cause the blood sugar to rise. The more processed (glycemic) the carbohydrate, the faster the blood sugar will rise. The brain can only burn glucose (blood sugar), it can’t store

  1. So the brain, which controls everything in the body, is totally dependent upon the level of sugar in our blood at any given instant. Blood sugar is the third most critical element in optimal health.


1-iligh-glycemic carbohydrates severely disrupt blood sugar. Because the brain can’t tolerate very high blood sugar levels, the pancreas monitors the level 24 hours a day. When the blood sugar passes a certain threshold, the pancreas begins to release a very powerful fat-storing hormone called insulin. Insulin converts excess blood sugar to triglycerides, or blood fats, and stores it in the fat cells. After fats themselves, sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates are the most fattening things we can put in our bodies.

High-glycemic carbohydrates include:

  • Alcohol of any kind
  • Sugars of any kind
  • Artificial sweeteners of any kind
  • White flour products of any kind
  • Dried breakfast cereals
  • Fruit juices (even the kind with no sugar added)
  • Jams or jellies (even the kind with no sugar added)
  • White flour pasta
  • Popcorn
  • White potatoes
  • White rice and rice cakes



When blood sugar suddenly increases, you get a massive release of insulin. This stores fat, blood sugar plummets, and you end up in a hypo-glycemic (low blood sugar) state. Low blood sugar causes hunger, cravings and compulsive overeating. When you have low blood sugar, by definition it means your brain is starving. Low blood sugar causes low performance.


Clean fuel includes:


Lean, complete protein.


When you put food of any kind into your body, it automatically triggers one of two hormonal pathways. One is insulin, which is triggered by carbohydrates. The other is glucagon, which is equally powerful as insulin but does the opposite. Insulin is a storage hormone; glucagon is a mobilization hormone. It pulls fat out of fat cells and makes it available for burning.


When you get glucagon release, you burn fat 24 hours a day. The only thing that triggers a release of glucagon is lean, complete protein. Lean, complete protein contains the eight “essential’ amino acids. Essential means that we have to have them to survive and our body can’t manufacture them. Thus, we have to ingest the eight essential amino acids every day.


Ideally, less than 20% of the calories of a protein food should be fat. Always be careful to measure fat content by calories, not by weight. To calculate the fat percentage of any food, multiply the grams of fat per serving by nine, then divide that number by the total calories per serving.


Lean, complete proteins include:

  • White meat chicken with skin off
  • White meat turkey with skin off
  • Egg whites or egg beaters –
  • Nonfat or lowfat cottage cheese
  • Lean white fish
  • Nonfat cheese
  • Water-packed tuna
  • Protein powders and designer protein
  • Lean red meat (flank and round steak are the leanest)
  • Nonfat plain yogurt (mix with fruit or cinnamon to improve taste)


The foundation of every meal and every snack should be some form of lean, complete protein. The goal is to keep blood sugar balanced every time we eat. So even though fruit is healthy, eating an apple by itself is not enough because it throws off the blood sugar.


For a meal, start off with a cup of lean, complete protein (about 20 to 30 grams). Then add good carbohydrates, those that break down slowly. Low glycemic complex carbohydrates are food that is grown. They include apples, pears, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, cauliflower, squash; basically any plain steamed or raw vegetable, any whole fresh fruit, cucumbers, oatmeal, lentils, split peas, yams or sweet potatoes, true whole-grain or flowerless bread, brown rice, cabbage, leafy greens, and unleavened bread.


Look at these and find out what you already like to eat. Chicken and yams, cottage cheese and an apple, turkey on whole wheat bread—it’s not that hard to eat right.


  • Good fats.


After a fist of protein and a fist of good carbohydrates, we also need a thumb of good fat. We need two essential fatty acids every day. The richest source of these two fats is flax seed oil. Get two tablespoons of flaxseed oil into your body every day for the rest of your life. Get some form of good fat with every meal and every snack you eat.


A good fat must be raw and must come from plants. Sources of good fat include:

  • Flax seed oil or flax seeds
  • Raw nuts (raw almonds make a great snack)
  • Raw seeds                                                                                              –
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocado


Nobody cats a perfect diet 365 days out of the year. It’s important to “feast” periodically, once a week or two to three times a month, where you eat anything you want. The problem with most people is they feast two to three times a day, seven days a week.


The key to eating properly is to make it enjoyable. If eating correctly isn’t an enjoyable process, you won’t be able to sustain it. At home, you can eat perfectly clean. When you go out into the world, you have to compromise. The key is to be aware of the choices available and do the best you can.


To start out, get the bad food out of your house. Then go to the market and stock up on clean fuel foods so that you have them when you want them. Build an inventory of good fuel so that you always have it available. Then do the same thing at the office, so you aren’t forced to make bad choices.


  1. Exercise

The equation for optimal lifestyle is 75% nutrition plus 20% exercise plus 5% supplementation. Exercise is critical to health. The opposite of depression is activity. Being sedentary is depressing to the body. A sedentary lifestyle does as much damage to the body as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Any exercise helps. You don’t have to train to run marathons to benefit from exercise. Just taking two 20-minute walks a week will make a dramatic improvement in health. Walking at lunch time is a great benefit.


Because oxygen is the most important ingredient for optimal health, the most important form of exercise is aerobic. Aerobic fitness can be measured on a treadmill that measures oxygen uptake—how much oxygen you can use in a minute per kilogram of body weight.


To get the maximum benefit, make your exercise a full-body aerobic exercise. Not everyone can cross-country ski (the best form of aerobic exercise), but the next best thing is to walk with weights in the hands and pump the weights. This aerobically stimulates the entire body, which doubles the aerobic benefit of the exercise.


Women should start out with one pound in each hand, men should start out with two. Walking and pumping involves walking at a comfortable pace, no more than three to four miles and hour, while bringing the hands almost up to the shoulders. After walking a short while, begin a series of variations.



The first variation is ‘chest flies.” Walk with your hands at chest level, elbows at right angles, and bring the elbows behind the back, as if trying to touch them. Do 25 of these, then go back to pumping and walking.


The second variation is “lateral raises.” Start with the hands at waist height and bring the elbows up like flapping wings. Do 25 of these, then go back to pumping and walking. For the third variation, start with your hands at shoulder height and raise them straight overhead. Do 25 of these, then go back to pumping and walking. During a 30-minute walk, do four complete cycles of these variations.

An easy acronym to remember this variation is:


  • F-Flies


  • L – Lateral raises


  • 0 – Overheads


Do 25 repetitions of each during the first week. During week two, do 30 repetitions; 35 during week three; 40 during week four; 45 during week five, and 50 during week six. Once you do a full week of 50 repetitions, add a pound to your hand weights and start over with 25 repetitions. This exercise burns fat, provides tremendous aerobic benefit, and gives excellent tone and muscle definition without bulking up.


  1. Sleep


Sleep is essential to optimal health. As a benefit of eating cleaner and more balanced and exercising regularly, you will sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more refreshed. You will need less quantity of sleep but the quality will go up.


  1. Accountability System


The key to peak performance is to pay attention and set up some kind of accountability system. Keep track of your eating and exercise habits on a daily basis. Weigh yourself and measure your waist every day and write down the results. To go one step further, write down what you eat every day. You will be amazed at how much more aware you are.




Don’t try to adopt this entire process all at once. Don’t hold yourself up to a standard of perfection. Instead, start out by making a few changes in one area and becoming a little more aware of your diet, your body, and your energy level. Once you begin to experience some success, make changes in other areas and continue your upward progress. This is a lifestyle change, not an overnight fix.


A workout is 25 % perspiration and 75% determination. It is one part exertion and three parts self-discipline. “Doing” is easy once you get started. A workout makes you better today than you were yesterday. It strengthens the body, relaxes the mind and toughens the spirit.


TEC – Producing Peak Performance – Joe Dillon