Episode 17: The Science of Peak Performance with Jessica Spendlove

Joining us on the podcast today is Jessica Spendlove, a renowned high-performance coach and sports dietitian who has worked with some of Australia’s top athletes and corporate leaders. Jess’s impressive client list reads like a who’s who of Australian sports, including the GWS Giants in the AFL, the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL, the Giants Netball team, and the Sydney Kings in the NBL, among other elite sports teams.

But Jess’s expertise doesn’t stop at the sports field. She’s now bringing her wealth of knowledge to the corporate world, helping executives and business leaders achieve sustainable high performance in their careers and personal lives.

Today, we’ll be discussing Jess’s unique approach to nutrition, movement, mindset, and recovery, and how these elements combine to create a foundation for lasting success and wellbeing.


01:56  – Jess’s background and her experience working with elite athletes

07:24  – The parallels with high performance athletes and office workers

09:20  – High Performance Profile: Overachiever, all or nothing or ticking time bomb. Which one one are you?

14:44  – Sustainable High Performance 

19:32  – Sustainable High Performance Formula – #1 Nutrition 

26:05  – Sustainable High Performance Formula – ##2 Movement

29:50  – Sustainable High Performance Formula – #3 Micro Recovery

33:12  – Sustainable High Performance Formula – #4 Sleep

38:07  – Sustainable High Performance Formula – #5 Mindset

42:44  – Energy and how to get yours back

42:49  – Jess’s final tip for high performance

Jessica Spendlove Podcast Peak Performance


Get in touch with Jess: www.jessicaspendlove.com

High Performance Profile Quiz: www.jessicaspendlove.com/quiz/

Stay at the Top Podcast: www.jessicaspendlove.com/podcast/


[00:00:06] Rob: This is the Balanced Leader Podcast. The podcast that helps leaders elevate their wellbeing and create healthier workplaces. My name is Rob Hills and I am your leadership and wellbeing coach.

Joining us on the podcast today is Jessica Spendlove, a renowned high-performance coach and sports dietitian who has worked with some of Australia’s top athletes and corporate leaders. Jess’s impressive client list reads like a who’s who of Australian sports, including the GWS Giants in the AFL, the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL, the Giants Netball team, and the Sydney Kings in the NBL, among other elite sports teams.

But Jess’s expertise doesn’t stop at the sports field. She’s now bringing her wealth of knowledge to the corporate world, helping executives and business leaders achieve sustainable high performance in their careers and personal lives.

Today, we’ll be discussing Jess’s unique approach to nutrition, movement, mindset, and recovery, and how these elements combine to create a foundation for lasting success and wellbeing.

So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s conversation with Jess Spendlove

[00:01:26] Rob: Welcome Jess to the Balance Leader Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:01:32] Jess: Thanks for having me, Rob. I’m excited to see where today’s conversation goes.

[00:01:36] Rob: Yeah, me too. Um, Jess, you have a pretty amazing list of clients from elite athletes to corporate high flyers. So to kick us off, and yeah, that was a bit of a pun. Um, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a high performance coach?

[00:01:55] Jess: So my background, honestly, the work I do today began 26 years ago, which I’m only 37 years of age. So it really started when I was like, before I was a teenager, basically I was a high level national level swimmer. It was very good, like winning national gold medals, um, naturally talented. I definitely didn’t choose swimming, but.

[00:02:19] The real penny dropped for me when I started to get sick, run down, had performance plateaus, and we had no idea what was happening. So, basically I was an under fueled athlete. before I learned the power of nutrition firsthand and I just fell in love with it. I was always a bit of a science maths brain, a bit of a sporty child.

[00:02:42] So I thought maybe I’ll be a physio, maybe I’ll be an exercise physiologist. And then after I worked with a sports dietitian, fell in love with how powerful nutrition is. I’m also a foodie at heart. That’s

[00:02:55] Rob: Me too.

[00:02:57] Jess: you’re in good company. That’s really where it all started. It all began. And for me, I was very laser focused from a pretty young age on what I wanted to do, which was, I wanted to be a sports dietitian and I wanted to work with the best athletes in the country.

[00:03:11] So that’s really where it all started. And that was the vision. And I was really lucky for that to happen only a few years out of university. So it was about two or three years out. I got my first contract with the Cronulla Sharks and then it all quickly snowballed that it was the Giants, AFL. Netball, Sydney Kings, Western Sydney Wanderers, um, New South Wales Waratahs, the Giants AFLW, basically everyone except for cricket.

[00:03:39] And I, I built a business. I built a team of dietitians under me and I loved it, but I probably loved it too much. And I absolutely. Ran myself into the ground more times than I can count. I totally burnt myself out. I was a complete workaholic and that experience of working with these amazing athletes, working with these incredible high performers, but also starting to see the commonalities between.

[00:04:10] What drives a high performer in general started to kind of crystallize, maybe the next direction I wanted to add and then throw into that my own experience, my own burnout and wanting a little bit more from my life than just work, which honestly, when you work in professional sport, that’s kind of what it is for 11 months of the year.

[00:04:31] And that’s now led me into the direction where I speak and I coach executives and I coach business owners and I still work with elite athletes, but it’s very much on my terms. It’s they come into coaching programs with me. I don’t go on contractor teams, which I loved, but that chapter for me is very much closed.

[00:04:50] Rob: Yeah. And it’s interesting. I imagine a lot of listeners to this podcast probably don’t know what it’s like to work with high performance athletes. So maybe you can lift the curtain for us a little bit and tell us what was it like working with, cause I mean, you’ve just given us the who’s who of professional sports team, particularly NRL and AFL. Sorry. So what’s it like to work with professional athletes?

[00:05:14] Jess: It’s a mixed bag. You definitely get a whole range, you know, at the, at the end of the day, they’re humans. So you have those that are really that top 1 percent that want to leave no stone unturned. And then you’ve got those that think Oh, well, I got here without your help, so I’m all good. Um, that’s the minority these days.

[00:05:34] I think everybody across the board, it’s, you know, um, the tide has been raised on the, the expectation and the levels of, um, what’s acceptable and also the, the ability to become your best, but there definitely was an element of that, more so with the NRL players and the AFL. I remember at the end of the first year with the Cronulla Sharks, I was a little bit disappointed.

[00:05:59] I thought, oh my goodness, 15 years, this is what I’ve wanted. I’ve achieved it. And I’m sitting here convincing players that they should be taking nutrition seriously and using it to their advantage.

[00:06:14] And then when I stepped into the AFL world, Total different ball game. Fair enough at the Giants at the time, they were a fair bit younger.

[00:06:22] So I didn’t start there when they started, it was their third year. So they were all like 21 year olds, but they were little sponges that just wanted to know everything and anything that they could to be the best. And then that was my same experience with the netballers and, um, most of the basketballers and most of the rugby union players, et cetera, but you’d be surprised, um, They’re not all totally elite with their nutrition.

[00:06:50] To be honest, they have a lot to learn.

[00:06:52] And I think that’s also why I went, okay, well, these are the needle movers with these athletes. What about these high performing cognitive corporate athletes? How can nutrition serve them? And while the physical output side of things might not be the same, although as you would know, there’s the CEOs doing the Ironman, so

[00:07:13] it very much is the same, exactly the same.

[00:07:16] But there’s a lot of transfer just in terms of day to day wellbeing, quality of life, optimal cognitive performance that really transfers across the board.

[00:07:26] Rob: So what do you see are the main parallels then for high performing athletes and then leaders in the workplace? Because you’re working more in that corporate space now, so was the transition difficult or is there enough that’s similar that makes it kind of easy?

[00:07:43] Jess: There’s enough that’s similar that makes it easy. So first of all, there are that segment of the population, like one of my clients, he’s like an eight figure business owner, and he’s a power lifter. And, you know, so he really gets the best of both worlds of me. And then I’ve got another. CEO client, and she’s doing Ironman events and ultra endurance events.

[00:08:04] So that’s a direct transfer. Whereas if you’ve got the CEOs or the business owners or the entrepreneurs that maybe want to be a little bit healthier, they might be more like what I call the all or nothing humans or the ticking time bombs, they’re still transferred because these people are in high pressure environments.

[00:08:24] And I think that’s really. That’s where I thrive. I thrive with busy people in high pressure environments that don’t have much time that need to be at their best. So how do we get them there? And nutrition is really one of the only controllable behaviors that we have to do every single day. It directly ripples into every area of our energy, our food.

[00:08:47] Focus our productivity, our immunity. So it’s incredibly powerful. Um, and hopefully coming on shows like this can help transfer that knowledge. And so people can see that. The corporate CEO or the corporate athlete can leverage and learn so much from what elite athletes do.

[00:09:06] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny. I just picked up on a couple of terms you mentioned there. And I think I remember seeing them on your website as well. Um, all or nothing human sounds like me, uh, to him. Well, I actually did time for maybe two. Um, can you explain what those couple of terms mean and you know, how people can find out which one of those they might be?

[00:09:27] Jess: Yeah. So it’s really from working in high performance in different arenas, including like defense and sport and corporate and business for the last 15 years, I’ve seen behaviors and traits, which I’ve classified into three categories, which is the overachiever. The all or nothing human or the ticking time bomb.

[00:09:48] Now, the overachiever is that person who somehow seems to have more hours in the day than the rest of us. They have every area of their life down pat. They’re really consistent. They’ve got a rhythm and a routine and a schedule and they stick to it. And they’re ticking most of the boxes. These are the people that are really about the marginal gains.

[00:10:08] Like what are the 1% s? What are the little areas that I can dial in? Then the majority of honestly high performing people sit in the all or nothing category. So These are the people when they’re on they’re on and when they’re not on they’re off the wagon and it’s really that It’s really that mindset, which Makes them high performing and successful in most areas of their life.

[00:10:33] So probably their job, you know, they give everything to it. That was me when I was in sport, I was an all or nothing human because I was just so focused on my career. Um, so this comes from a space of being like, I hear you. I see you. I was you, um, and these people ride the energy rollercoaster. You know, they’re really tired.

[00:10:53] Then when they’re on, they’re trying to change 10 things at one time. So the magic spot for these people is trying to find consistency in their life. Not being a robot, not just ticking boxes, but finding a rhythm that supports them. And that supports their goals. That’s their real needle mover. And then we’ve got the ticking time bomb, who’s basically the duck on the water, cruising along on the top.

[00:11:19] Everything looks cool, calm, and collected. But underneath the surface, one more thing, it’s burnout, it’s breakdown, it’s crisis. And so with these people, they’re generally trying to do too many things. They’re worrying about, oh, do I have a sauna? Do I have an ice bath? What sleep protocol do I need to do?

[00:11:36] And it’s like, No, you just actually need to have breakfast at the same time each day. Have a high protein snack and start there. So, those people, it’s really about what’s that one. Most important domino that they need to push. That’s going to alleviate pressure and give them momentum. So if you’re interested in what high performance profile you are, I do have a quiz.

[00:11:58] Um, I can give you the link Rob, or you can go to my website and you can find it pretty easily.

[00:12:04] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. We’ll pop that in the show notes so listeners can find it very easily. I’m interested to hear how you think people end up in one of those sort of three categories. Is it nature or nurture? Is it discipline or lack thereof? How do people find themselves here?

[00:12:22] Jess: All of the above,

[00:12:24] internal pressure, external pressure, you can have the best intentions in the world, but if the environment that you’re in demands outside of the ordinary from you. So perfect example, me in professional sport. Now I didn’t need to go and work with six teams, how high performing of me. Um, it’s pretty common to maybe work with one or two.

[00:12:45] So the fact that I was in these environments that demand so much that where you really need to be on. These athletes are on their training, they’re on a schedule. It really requires you to be high attention to detail, high communication. Um, you know, you absolutely need to be all on when we’re all in, when you’re there.

[00:13:06] So for me, it really was, I had the best intention and I had the knowledge, but I was in environment. It’s time six that required so much of me. So I think for a lot of people, they might have the intention to, well, I want to exercise each day or I want to eat well, but it’s potentially a little bit of that.

[00:13:26] It’s also health isn’t a skillset that you just have. And often a lot of what I talk about, which is high performance and sustainable high performance, their behaviors that you learn. And their behaviors that you train yourself to have. So people don’t just wake up and have them, you need to learn them and understand them and then also have them customized to your life.

[00:13:47] So one issue I see is people listening to all of the podcasts, which I think are amazing, you know, like the Hubermans and all of that, but they’re trying to apply a protocol, which is so far from what they currently do. It feels like mission impossible. And for me, my whole philosophy is. What is the path of least resistance?

[00:14:08] How can we manipulate what you’re currently doing using best practice, using principles and tailor them to your life so they fit like a glove.

[00:14:20] Rob: That’s, and I think that’s so important, and I also want to pick up on a word or a phrase you said there in that, um, that last answer, which was sustainable high performance. And I love that we’re putting sustainable and high performance together, because I think, uh, you know, maybe in the past, people have been so focused on high performance.

[00:14:41] They go out like a bull at a gate. They rush, rush, rush, and then, you know. They try and do all of these different things and either they don’t work or burn out in shoes. So what does a sustainable high performance mean to you? And why is it so important?

[00:14:57] Jess: Sustainable high performance to me is basically the intersection of peak performance, well being and longevity. And the thing with each of those is individually what you might do to maximize your health. May not maximize your peak performance or your longevity. And similarly, peak performance may not consider your health and your wellbeing.

[00:15:22] So sustainable high performance is the intersection of those three things for me. And it’s really about how do I live in alignment with my life, with my goals, without running myself into the ground. And for me, this really feels like a mission that I’m on because again, this was my own experience of.

[00:15:42] Being someone who was very motivated, being someone that was very driven who absolutely ran themselves into the ground and had quite a lot of health issues after COVID because of it. So sustainable high performance is how do you have it all? How do you have the job, have your health, have your family and find that rhythm that works for you that doesn’t feel like you’re All in or all out that it feels like it’s a sustainable pace for yourself.

[00:16:09] Rob: Yeah, I really love that. And I kind of feel like I’m on a little bit of a mission myself here around wellbeing to bring it into the awareness more for, for leaders and in the workplace. So I love that you say that. And, and I also love that you say it’s about Individual people, like it’s not a cookie cutter approach.

[00:16:28] We have to find the things that work for you. Just because someone gets up and does an ice bath every morning, doesn’t mean that has to be part of your routine. Find what works for you and then do more of that. Is that sort of how you approach your clients and when you’re working with these people? Is that how you approach it?

[00:16:45] Jess: Definitely. And look, I definitely have a methodology that I work through and these are really science backed principles into the main areas, which I see that go into helping someone have a sustainable, high performance life. There’s five of them. They’re nutrition. movement, mindset, micro recovery practices, and sleep.

[00:17:05] And it’s looking at those five areas. But when I start to work with someone, I undertake a process called the life audit template, which is basically where I get them to collect for a week. what their life looks like. Now, business owners or CEOs may have done like a time and energy audit or something like that previously.

[00:17:24] Um, it’s the same thing, but it’s for your life. When are you eating? When are you sleeping? When are you moving or when are you not? What does that all look like? So we get a complete snapshot. And then when I sit down, obviously when I work with someone one on one or in a group program, I can kind of guide them through that methodology.

[00:17:42] But it’s really looking at what is the biggest needle mover for that person. Where can we start? And as I said, that’s also about, well, what is the path of least resistance? What is going to get them a quick win, have them feeling better, get them gaining more energy, something that they can rinse and repeat, but something that’s also then going to knock the other dominoes or behaviors in that right direction.

[00:18:07] Um, to be honest, I guess, to give people a little bit of an insight, Okay. The trick or my tip, it’s about starting as early in the day as possible. So if your morning is chaotic, if we can start to streamline that, that will really help. So for example, what I see is some people dabbling in intermittent fasting.

[00:18:29] I also see them working at home and in the office. So it might look like on the day that they go to the office, they have breakfast in the office at 10 or 11 AM. Okay. But when they’re at home, they might have breakfast at 8 a. m. Or some days they might try an intermittent fast and they don’t eat till 11 or 12 a.

[00:18:47] m. Zero rhythm, zero consistency. So it’s kind of like if you don’t know what your best is and you’re not setting yourself up for that each day, how can you expect to have stable blood sugar levels? How can you expect to have good focus to manage your stress when the stressful situations arise? To have your best productivity to stabilize your energy across the day.

[00:19:11] So that’s kind of a little bit of an insight into that piece.

[00:19:15] Rob: Yeah, and I really love that. You’ve got a methodology that is broken down into categories and is simple for people to follow. I think sometimes we think simplicity means that it’s not going to work or, you know, I need this really complex program or whatever. So if it’s okay, I really want to dive into each of those different categories and just give us the the cliff notes for leaders listening who might want to make a change here.

[00:19:39] And. If they do it just a little bit in each of those five categories, then that’s really going to help them. So let’s start with nutrition. What are, what are some of the tactical things leaders can do to improve their nutrition?

[00:19:51] Jess: Yeah, probably my top three things here are one consistency. I call it consistency in the inconsistency. So it’s just, what is your framework? Now, again, it’s not the same meal, the same snack, the same time each day, but we need to have a little bit of a consistency. Having breakfast three hours apart is way too far.

[00:20:10] So can we start our day within about 30 to 60 minutes of each day? And can we also have the same gap across the day? So A really common situation is people might go breakfast to lunch three to four hours, but then if they go lunch to dinner with nothing in between, that could be six or seven hours. They then find they’re really hungry, they’re craving sweet foods, and that’s because they’ve gone way too long.

[00:20:34] Rob: Yeah, Jess, this is 100 percent me, and I get to about four o’clock in the afternoon, 4. 30, and I am fanging for food. Like I am just about tearing the cupboard apart, trying to find something. And because it’s so close to dinner, I’m like, Oh, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, but I’m really hungry. And how do you stop that from happening?

[00:20:54] Jess: you should, well I’m here to tell you that at four o’clock, or three to four o’clock in the afternoon, every single person should be having an afternoon snack. And it’s what, what I, I know, permission to eat, have some extra food. And I know in your mind you might be like, oh it’s extra calories, am I going to gain weight, it feels like extra food.

[00:21:12] And it’s like, it’s intentionally extra food, which is going to have you feel good, have more energy, and then consciously or subconsciously, you’ll actually probably eat less at dinner. So, it’s really about being intentional, and what you should have there is what I call an everyday snack. We want protein.

[00:21:30] Colors and a little bit of whole grain carbohydrates. So in food terms, that might be some Greek yogurt with some fruit and some nuts. It might be a snack plate with some veggie sticks and some cheese and some crackers. It might be some crackers with different toppings, maybe smoked salmon and cucumber.

[00:21:47] Um, it could be a protein shake and a piece of fruit if you’re just like, I need something quick and easy. So. That’s what we’re kind of talking about there for that afternoon snack. And that will make a huge difference to how you feel in the afternoon and also how you feel at the back end of the day.

[00:22:03] And it’s probably also going to help you sleep better. So that’s just like a win, win, win situation.

[00:22:09] Rob: absolutely. I do have a question on the, um, protein shake. Is it okay to have a protein shake every day or should we, I mean, obviously we’re trying to get it from our natural sources. We’re trying to get it from our food, but for the people who are busy on the run and want to just try and get that protein a little bit higher because maybe they are in the gym or it’s a, you know, like you said, it’s quite a good snack.

[00:22:31] Is it okay to have a protein supplement every day?

[00:22:35] Jess: Definitely, one shake a day is totally not a problem and you can either use it to kind of boost up a meal or have it in place of something. Of course, we always want to choose real food over supplements because there’s a whole range of diverse micronutrients and macronutrients in there, you know, a protein shake might just be protein, whereas, Um, you know, some smoked salmon, you’re also getting omega 3s and some zinc and some iron.

[00:22:58] So there’s that whole story. But the reality is, I believe most people should be using protein in some capacity because, I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned it, it’s actually probably my first point with protein. nutrition that people need to be pulsing their protein intake, which means breakfast and snacks, we need to be focusing on getting more protein.

[00:23:20] Now, the reason for that, western diets are pretty low in protein there. We don’t traditionally know how to do that. And also the foods in which that the foods that are rich in protein are less diverse than a lot of the other foods. So say carbohydrates really easy. They’re basically in everything.

[00:23:38] Whereas our protein rich foods, we’re really talking dairy. Dairy derivatives, we’re talking soy, lentils, legumes, and anything from an animal meat, chicken, fish, eggs. So we have to be very intentional there, but if we can get 20 to 40 grams of protein at each meal and around 15 to 20 grams at a snack, the beautiful thing about that, aside from probably having good body composition, lean muscle, recovering from the gym, way more importantly, it’s going to sustain your appetite across the day.

[00:24:11] And when your appetite’s sustained, you’re eating nice and consistently. When you’re eating nice and consistently, your blood sugar levels are controlled, and so is your appetite. So, that is honestly, for most people, my number one go to nutrition strategy. protein pulsing. It’s incredibly important for your quality of life and your performance now.

[00:24:31] And it’s so very important for your longevity as you age, because we naturally lose bone mass and muscle mass. So it really helps retain that as we age as well.

[00:24:42] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s really good. Um, it’s really important for leaders who are listening to this and like, well, I’m not a gym junkie. So why do I need protein? But they absolutely do like it helps in longevity. It helps in so many different facets of your life. Um, having protein as part of a balanced diet, of course, is really important.

[00:25:02] Is that a common misconception among those who say, you know, I’m not a gym junkie. So no protein for me.

[00:25:09] Jess: Very, very big misconception. And the other one is if I eat protein, will I bulk up? And it’s like, no, you need to be going to the gym and you need to be doing a really high hypertrophy style session. And you also need to be eating in a massive calorie surplus. So if you start to eat more protein consistently.

[00:25:26] Most people find they actually lose a little bit of weight because it is satiating. So we never want to just eat protein on its own. Um, gosh, we could do a whole episode on nutrition, but one of my other kind of things I talk about is called all the elements, which is really the formula for each meal. So it’s looking at getting protein in those amounts that I spoke about.

[00:25:48] It’s about getting colors. So fruits and vegetables, which 90 percent of us don’t get enough of. It’s about getting a little bit of healthy fats. And it’s also about getting some whole grain carbohydrates. So each meal we want to get all four of them. And at that everyday snack, we want to at least get the protein, the colors, and the high fiber carbohydrates and look for the high achievers out there that want to tickle floor.

[00:26:11] If you get the healthy fats, well, bonus point for you,

[00:26:14] Rob: Hmm. Well, that’s great. And I honestly feel like I’m a little bit more capable now when it comes to my nutrition. There’s some things there that I need to focus on. So that is awesome. The next one on the list is movement. Tell us a little bit about what’s the best things leaders can do for their well being around movement.

[00:26:35] Jess: they need to move and they need to move more.

[00:26:38] Rob: Yeah,

[00:26:39] Jess: Look, it’s really about finding what. Yeah. You can do because again, we’ve got such a mixed range of people. We’ve got the people doing the iron man’s listening, and we’ve got the people that are not even walking 2000 steps a day listening. So the first thing is to start to move more.

[00:26:57] We’re not designed to sit movement, unlike nutrition, which is like, we’re all doing that every single day. Like it’s a non negotiable.

[00:27:06] Movement is a negotiable behavior, but other than nutrition, there is nothing that is more indicative to your health now and your long term health than what exercise that you’re doing.

[00:27:18] If you’re kind of like what is absolute best practice, ideally we’ve got a mixture of resistance training because we want to be building that lean mass. We’re not going to becoming gym junkies, but we want to maximize our muscle mass in our, you know, thirties and forties. And we want to hang on to it in our fifties and sixties and seventies.

[00:27:37] Um, so at every single age stage, we want to be doing resistance training couple of times a week, at least about an hour of resistance training a week. And then similarly from a cardio perspective, we at least want to be doing an hour of cardio a week. So we want to be getting a sweat. We want to be getting our heart rate up.

[00:27:56] And this is all about having good stress on the body. Separate to that is our low intensity exercise, which we might do more for mindfulness or just additional movement. So whether it’s walking or Pilates or yoga or stuff like that. But movement really is a high performance behavior, and it’s really just about finding what you can put into your life, how you can put it in.

[00:28:22] If you need to go join a gym or get a personal trainer or whatever it is, do that. It’s an investment in yourself. It’s an investment in your health. And I really love the saying, A healthy man wants a thousand things. An unhealthy man wants one. We really need to find a way to move more, but hopefully that gives you a little bit of guidelines around what we should actually be doing.

[00:28:47] So it’s not weights or cardio, it’s weights and cardio.

[00:28:52] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, uh, oftentimes, and I see it perhaps in that all or nothing category you were talking about before, where people go, well, I can’t get to the gym because I’m too busy. Uh, I missed my steps today, so I might as well just sit on the couch for the rest of the night. But there is research out there to say You know, just moving at nighttime around the house, getting up off of the couch, sitting on the floor, doing a bit of stretching, that’s going to help as well.

[00:29:17] It’s not the end goal. Absolutely. We want to get the zone 2, the zone 5, we want to get the weights in, we want to do all of that. But if you can’t do that on any given day, make sure you’re moving a little bit or, you know, doing something at least.

[00:29:32] Jess: Exactly, like I am a big fan of the different trackers out there. I think they create awareness, um, and I think even just paying attention to your phone or your Apple Watch or your garment or whatever you’ve got. How many steps am I, how many steps a day am I moving? What opportunity is there for me to move more?

[00:29:50] You know, it’s the classic. Can you take the stairs over the lift or can you walk around the block? Like when we talk about micro recovery strategies, I’ll be talking about brain breaks and one of the best brain breaks can be that you just go for a walk around the block for five, 10, 15 minutes. All of these things really add up and it’s really about you comparing yourself to the current or past version of yourself, not the person in the office running Iron Man’s that might be so far from what you’re currently doing.

[00:30:17] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. All right. So we’ve got that movement piece. I think we’ve we’ve covered that and you mentioned then you were jumping into micro recovery. So let’s talk about that next.

[00:30:27] Jess: Yeah, micro recovery strategies about what are the little behaviors we can do each and every single day that are going to help top us up, whether that’s cognitively, physically, or a little bit of both. Now, there’s some really great research around burnout prevention and the benefits of working with what we call our ultradian rhythm.

[00:30:48] So, This is an internal rhythm similar to your circadian rhythm, which you might have heard of, which is like our internal sleep clock. Our ultradian rhythm is like these little micro cycles we have in our body and humans have what we call these 90 minute cycles where we can kind of Perform at our peak for 90 minutes.

[00:31:09] And then we have like a 20 minute trough where we need to rest. Now, again, we don’t have to be so exact, but if you can kind of work in these micro cycles across the day, where you’re working for 60, 90 minutes sprints, and then you’re taking a couple of minutes, you know, 5, 10, 15 minutes to Make a herbal tea or to walk around the block or to do some breath work or listen to a meditation track if you’re at home or just have a little bit of quiet time or make an everyday snack if it’s the afternoon.

[00:31:40] Have a nutritious everyday snack.

[00:31:44] Basically the rule is it should be some time that’s stimulant free. So no technology, no sugar, no caffeine. Now, I’m not anti coffee. If anything, I’m actually quite pro coffee, but just when we’re having those little breaks, which might be one in the morning, lunchtime, one in the afternoon, we want to have that time just to step away, be stimulant free, and cognitively allow ourselves to top ourselves up.

[00:32:13] And these little micro recovery habits I’ve really proven to be very supportive in preventing burnout. And also in terms of when we actually get to have the holiday, it doesn’t take us so long to wind down. Because we have these practices that help downregulate our nervous system across the day.

[00:32:32] Rob: Yeah. And that’s really interesting. ’cause I know myself, when I have a day where I’m running from start to finish, um, you know, I might be in front of a group talking and there may not be the opportunity to take those breaks. ’cause you know, you’re talking to people during the breaks and the lunch or, or whatever. Um, I am wiped out and if you contrast that with the days where I have a little bit more space and I can take. 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes around lunch, 10 minutes in the afternoon. I get to the end of the day and I’m not completely wiped out. I still feel like I’ve got energy and you know, I can perform to a certain level as opposed to I’m on the couch and I’m not moving to the rest of the night.

[00:33:09] So I really like that and I think it’s great that there’s science around that to prove that too.

[00:33:16] Jess: Yeah, I just like the term brain break. You know, it’s kind of catchy. It’s like I’m having a brain break. You know, I need to have a little brain break. And, You’re exactly right. This is about not giving your all to your job. So you want to have energy for your family or for your friends or for your social life or to have energy to exercise.

[00:33:33] So these little intentional breaks can really be very supportive of that.

[00:33:38] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. The next one on the list is sleep. So what can people be doing to enhance their sleep? Because it’s so important for our well being. So what, what should we be doing? What should we be doing on a daily basis to really make sure we’re setting ourselves up for success in this area?

[00:33:58] Jess: Yeah, this is, I love this topic. I feel like I’m a sleep enthusiast. So I, um, I really love talking about sleep, but also the relationship between nutrition and sleep is so inextricably linked. Both can support each other in a positive way, but unfortunately both can support each other in a downward spiral, which is what we most often see.

[00:34:19] So the two biggest things that you can do in terms of setting your sleep up for success. One, have a wind down routine in the evening. The number one thing that prevents us from getting to sleep or having good quality sleep is an inability to turn off our thoughts. So for a lot of us, it’s the overstimulation.

[00:34:37] It’s the technology, it’s the TV, it’s the phone, it’s the laptop. It’s all going at the same time and it’s just winding ourself up. And then on top of that, we’ve got the phone in the bedroom. We’re doing the scrolling on whatever our platform of choice is.

[00:34:51] And. We’re just winding our brain up. So it’s kind of like an aeroplane, you know, every single time you get on a flight, you get to that point 30 minutes out and they say, we’re starting our descent into wherever, and there’s a protocol.

[00:35:06] Rob: Yeah. Mm

[00:35:07] Jess: That’s what we want to do for our sleep each night. We want to have a boundary where whether it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes, like the longer, the better, but where you start to switch off from technology, where you start to switch off your thoughts and have some sort of. practice or sacred ritual where it’s very protective.

[00:35:26] So it doesn’t have to be anything fancy for me. It’s literally two things. It’s I have a hot shower or I dim my lights while I’m watching my TV. I have a hot shower, and then I’ll journal.

[00:35:40] That’s it. And what I journal is three wins for the day, three wins I want to have tomorrow. Nothing extreme.

[00:35:47] If there’s times where I’m not sleeping particularly well, maybe, you know, I’m a little bit stressed, work, there might be some deadlines or something happening, then I’ll pull out an extra few strategies, so I also might listen to a relaxation track.

[00:35:58] I might also read a book as well. Nothing stim, like too stimulating, if anything, very mind numbing. But, um, absolute number one is to have a wind down routine. And the second one would be in the morning, if you can, within the third, first 30 to 60 minutes, get some sunlight on your eyes. It helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which then helps you sleep better at night.

[00:36:23] So they would be the top two things that you can do to optimize your sleep. Um, if we just think about behaviors across the day.

[00:36:30] Rob: Cool. And what’s something that, um, people can do if they, if they struggle to wind down and maybe they’ve had a big day, a big week and they wake up in the middle of the night and the thoughts are racing. Um, this is something that I used to suffer with. I’ve, I’ve found some tricks over the years that work for me, but what are some of the strategies that people can use so that they can, Either, you know, turn the monkey mind off, as I like to call it, in the middle of the night and get back to sleep so they can, you know, get the required amount, if you like.

[00:37:03] Jess: What not to do is check your phone.

[00:37:05] Rob: Yeah.

[00:37:05] Jess: what we don’t want to do, which, when we’re sleeping with the phone next to the bed. Um, the best thing you can do is leave the lights on, but maybe if you’ve got a lamp next to you, if you’ve got a notepad and you can just scribble the things out. So, this is why I, the reason I’m such a sleep enthusiast is because I’m not, Traditionally a good sleeper

[00:37:24] when I was a swimmer growing up if I wasn’t in bed at a certain time I’d get like sleep anxiety about waking up

[00:37:30] and all through my teens and 20s like if I was stressed.

[00:37:34] It would be the number one thing which would go. So I’ve had to really train myself in this space. And that’s why I journal before bed, because when I do that, it tends to get the thoughts out, which I used to wake up with at 3 AM, but yeah, the best thing you can do lamp on no other lights, if anything, like in the dark and then just kind of journal and get your thoughts out and then try and get back into bed.

[00:37:56] And if you can sleep, great. If not, and you’re still awake, um, you could then read a book. That would be my, my top things that you could do. And then start journaling and put extra wind down practices in the next night so it’s not a repeat pattern.

[00:38:12] Rob: Yeah, of course. Um, and it’s interesting. I’ve suffered a little bit of sleep anxiety over the years myself. Um, you know, when you wake up and you look at the clock and you’re like, I’ve got four hours to go, I’ve got to get back to sleep. I’ve got four or three and a half hours to go. I’ve got to get back to sleep. And I’ve found for me, um, you know, just letting that go and not worrying about it and knowing that if I have a bad sleep tonight, it’ll be okay. And you know, I’ll get some more sleep tomorrow night. And I think Just that reframe has had such an impact because I don’t, I don’t struggle so much. I just let it go and go, well, if I get back to sleep, great.

[00:38:46] And if I don’t, you know, tomorrow, there’s another night, tomorrow night. And as you mentioned, work on that routine and make sure that it’s, um, set to go.

[00:38:55] Jess: You’re exactly right, that reframe, that mindset piece, which mindset and health is just like inextricably linked and, um, I guess I’m jumping to the next

[00:39:05] Rob: You are, that’s good though.

[00:39:06] Jess: saying, it’s, it’s really about looking at your edge and what are some of the limiting beliefs or what are some of the stories and the narratives that you’ve told yourself and some of it might be around the all or nothing mindset or, you know, I, um, I’ve had a bad day, so I’m just gonna throw the rest of the week out and I’ll start Monday.

[00:39:28] Like, what are those opportunities where you can get an edge on yourself and find something that’s just a little bit more supportive? And that reframe that you mentioned there around sleep, that kind of thing has also helped me. Just like, letting it go. Also for me not having my phone or like a clock in the room, I have an alarm.

[00:39:47] Which I can hear outside of my room if I need to, but most of the time I’m awake before, um, but just removing some of those things that I would check or see and that were, that were inhibiting me or that was stressing me out is exactly right.

[00:40:01] Rob: And it is incredible how powerful the mind is. And it’s such a fascination for me. Um, what we tell ourselves, uh, the stories we believe, um, the little voice in the back of our head telling us different things can have such an impact. So I imagine as a part of these five categories that it’s such a critical thing for people to try and, um, get a hold of a little bit and learn some strategies around.

[00:40:29] Jess: Definitely. And when it comes to things like nutrition and exercise, it’s like the person that’s not going to the gym that then wants to exercise seven days and then if they miss one, well, it’s all out the window. Or when someone’s like following a meal plan or they’re trying to change how they’re eating, or they might want to lose some weight and.

[00:40:45] It’s a hundred percent, you know, it’s all or nothing. And I’m like, 80 percent is going to get you great results, 90 percent even better. But even at that level, that still means like 80%, that’s four meals a week, you know, relax, do what you want to do. And at 90%, that’s two. So when we’ve got that a hundred percent all or nothing mindset, that’s often derailing our success when it comes to something like our health.

[00:41:07] Which is not 100 percent time, 100 percent commitment. It’s what are we doing most of the time that’s supportive of us, that’s setting us up, that’s making us feel good every single day. And it’s also banking some health credits for future us as well.

[00:41:23] Rob: Yeah, and you know, I think that point is so important. I used to be one of those people who had to get it to 100%. Like I really felt if I let, you know, one thing drop, um, I was, you know, letting myself down and hearing yourself say this, I’ve heard this now a couple of times on the podcast even, um, 80 percent is what we should be aiming for and 80 percent is good. Like aim for that, give yourself a little bit of grace, uh, and I think if you do that, not only are you going to enjoy life a little bit more, but you’re not going to have that stress around it, and so it’s going to be a little bit more fun and sustainable, which is so important, right?

[00:42:00] Jess: Exactly. Yeah, I think 80 percent is really good, if not great. Um, It’s what everyone should be aiming for. Anything more is a bonus, but also anything more is potentially coming at a sacrifice to other areas of your life, like enjoyment and socializing. So, um, easier said than done, and it takes a lot of work and often getting things wrong before we get them right.

[00:42:24] But that’s why there’s amazing podcasts out there like this. There’s opportunities to work with people in different ways. If. You know, you align with them and there’s that really is, I think the thing with health, don’t expect just because you’re a high performer in corporate or business or an athlete that you have it down pat.

[00:42:44] It’s a skill set. It’s behaviors. There’s so much nuance. It needs to be customized to you. And the more you can do that and have someone just kind of guide you. I like to talk about this kind of like going to Italy and you don’t know how to speak the language and you just try to see all of the sites on your own and it probably takes you three days or you get a tour guide, you pay them, you know, you pay them extra and you do it all in four hours and you get to the front of the line.

[00:43:12] Like it’s exactly the same thing.

[00:43:14] Rob: Yeah,

[00:43:15] and that’s a, yeah, it’s such a great metaphor for people who are, you know, trying to frame that in their mind. Um, Jess, I’ve also heard you talk, uh, a lot about energy and, um, I imagine there’s some people who are listening to this and they feel like maybe they don’t have the same energy that they did in their 20s or their 30s. Is this just old age, or is there something people can do in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond to reclaim some of that vitalness?

[00:43:44] Jess: I believe that’s a narrative that We’ve told ourselves the older we get, the more tired we get. And it’s like, the older we get, the more our behaviors, which we may have opportunity to improve compound. Um, so I’ve got clients in their forties and fifties saying I’ve got the best energy of my life. And it really is again, that formula that I spoke about, it’s not only the sustainable high performance formula, it’s like the energy matrix as well.

[00:44:12] It’s like, if we can get those five areas working for us. We can have elevated energy and we can have more stable energy, but I fundamentally believe nutrition is the biggest contributor to our energy levels. And as I said, it’s these little nuances or little differences each day, the time we eat, what we eat, what’s in each meal, no consistency that is going to absolutely unravel us and have us feeling exhausted.

[00:44:38] So even if we can start there and learn that, then on top of that, we can start to sleep a bit better just because we’re eating a bit better, we’re moving a bit more cause we’ve got more energy and it just, all of a sudden it’s snowballs into the direction that we want. So don’t accept the narrative that just because I’m in my forties, fifties, or sixties, I have to be tired.

[00:44:58] Um, I’m actually running like a beta program at the moment for a program called reclaim your energy, which. Is all about this. It’s kind of taking that methodology I’ve spoken about and teaching it in a small group setting. And you know, we’re only at, um, time of recording three weeks in and like the people in there are already getting such great results.

[00:45:18] So it’s really great to see it’s the first time I’ve like run that methodology in a small group as opposed to one on one. So it’s really great to see how much it’s just compounding even over this short period of time in, in a group setting. So yeah, I really believe if we can get those five things working more for us, Every single person can experience better energy levels.

[00:45:39] Rob: That sounds amazing. And I think people listening to this who’ve just heard your answer will be like, that gives me a little bit of hope. So that’s, that’s awesome. Um, Jess, you’ve talked about your health struggles before, um, particularly as they relate to pushing yourself and working really hard. What would you say to the leader who’s listening, who thinks that they can’t slow down, that they have too many balls in the air juggling and, and then too many people relying on them?

[00:46:05] What would you say to them?

[00:46:08] Jess: If you don’t slow down, you’ll be forced to slow down. So that was definitely my experience. And look, if work is high pressure, big hours, what in your personal life can you offset? What can you outsource? What extra support can you get in the house? Um, you know, if you’re at the top of the tree, well, you set the tone and if you’re at the top of the, or if you’re, you know, towards the top, but not at the top, you know, is there a conversation around psychological safety and workloads and what can happen with those at the very top?

[00:46:44] So, um, but ultimately, and I learned this in my mid thirties, which is a pretty, pretty You know, early time to kind of be faced with such a big health crisis. Um, fortunately I’m all good now, but it took 12 to 18 months to figure out and get answers, but at the core of it, it was totally from burnout and just thrashing myself and putting my job and everybody else before myself.

[00:47:08] So yeah, if you don’t slow down, you’ll be forced to, but think about where can I get support, ask for help. Just because people rely on you, well, who can help you? I think that’s why people like leaders like to work with me because it’s nearly outsourcing this area of their life. So, you know, do the thinking for me, get me feeling better.

[00:47:27] And then everything else starts to feel a little bit easier as well.

[00:47:32] Rob: I think that’s, um, that’s such an important message for people to, to really take on just, this has been an awesome conversation. What’s one question I didn’t ask you today that maybe you’d hope that I would have. And if I did ask it, what would you have a response been?

[00:47:48] Jess: Oh, I might need to think about this.

[00:47:50] Rob: Oh yeah, I know. It’s always a good question. This one.

[00:47:54] Jess: Um, Ooh, I don’t know. I feel like, so it was one of the, what did you ask me? What, sorry, what was the second

[00:48:04] Rob: So basically it’s, um, what didn’t I ask you today? So

[00:48:07] what’s an area of your interest that.

[00:48:09] You know, or something that would be really helpful for

[00:48:12] people. And then, so what would that question? yeah.

[00:48:14] cool. So what would that question have been? And

[00:48:16] what would your response be? Yeah. cool.

[00:48:20] Jess: Great question. I had to think about that for a little bit. So probably the one thing we haven’t touched on is hydration, which really needs to have its own special mention.

[00:48:29] And I guess the question would be, how important is hydration and how much do I need to drink? And the thing I’ll say about hydration is. 70 percent of our brain, actually 73 percent of our brain, is made up of water. The brain is the CEO of our body. It controls everything. It controls how we think, how we feel, how we operate.

[00:48:52] Everything. So, if your brain is dehydrated, there is no way you are performing at your absolute best. So, a nice kind of formula in terms of how much you should be drinking each day is for every 10 kilos, Um, that you weigh you want to look at about 250 to 300 mils and that’s specifically talking about water or electrolytes Um, and that’s probably the other little tip that i’ll give you I often recommend that The first drink of the morning, sorry, the first behavior of the morning is a glass of water with some electrolytes in it.

[00:49:28] So we’re starting the day hydrated. We’re starting with electrolytes, which are going to help us retain that water. And even if you do that, in addition to some of the other things, my goodness, you’ll feel so much different. So yeah, that’s probably the only thing we didn’t talk about.

[00:49:43] Rob: That’s great advice, Jess. And I’ve got a glass of water here and now I’m really thirsty. So I’m going to have a drink. Um, thank you, Jess. Uh, not only for keeping some of my favorite athletes performing at their best, but also for the impact you’re having on the world, helping to make people better versions of themselves. If people want to connect more with you and find out more about what you’re doing, how can they do that?

[00:50:03] Jess: Yeah, I’m very active on LinkedIn these days. So, um, Jessica Spenlove, you can find me there. Otherwise jessicaspenlove. com has all of the information and all of the places to find me. Um, and the other thing actually I’ll just mention is I actually have a podcast called stay at the top, which I talk about all of these on there each week.

[00:50:22] So that would be a good place to come and hang out with me a little bit more as well.

[00:50:27] Rob: Yeah, absolutely. And we’ll link that in the show notes and I’ve listened and it is amazing. So definitely highly recommended. That’s great. Thanks, Jess. Really appreciate it.

[00:50:36] Jess: Thanks for having me, Rob.