by ALEX STENING
First-year MM French Horn
Spring is approaching, and on March 8th we had to spring ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time. That means one fewer of hour practice, studying, or sleep, and that doesn’t bode well for musicians who have recitals, auditions, and final projects coming up.
With tons of work to do, we all wish for more time in a day. Our professors give us strategies to maximize our productivity in a practice session or to help us be more mindful while studying, but at times we still feel tired and behind. So what’s going on?
Pondering this for some time, I started focusing on my daily energy levels, looking closely at which points of the day I feel my energy high or low. Our energy fluctuates throughout the day . Imagine your energy being like three waves moving to shore. Doing more work in the times where our energy peaks helps us to stay focused longer leading to more productivity. However, shortly after we may feel a nap coming on in history class and no one wants to disrespect the professor. So what if we could extend our high energy to be like the size of waves off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal? (YouTube Nazaré Portugal coast to see incredible waves). Yes it is possible!
My big discovery last semester brought me many specific benefits, including more intense and prolonged focus while I practiced or studied. It also gave me an overall feeling of high energy that made me feel good throughout the whole day. This discovery is something we have all heard of. It is no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Reflect on how much you each during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which meal is the biggest? The majority of people would say that dinner is their biggest meal, then lunch, and then breakfast. With this, your calorie intake throughout the day looks like an upside down pyramid. Unless your are going to do some nighttime rowing races in the Charles River why do you need 700+ calories at 8pm at night? To obtain high energy throughout the day and sustain it right as you get out of bed, that pyramid needs to be flipped. The majority of your daily calories should be eaten in the morning to give your brain and body the fuel it needs after 8+ hours of slumber.
“Okay then, so if I eat 1000 calories of Boston Cream Donuts in the morning then I’m good right?” I SO wish that was the truth but unfortunately, no. You must intake lots of calories from substantial food sources. Sugar is only going to give you energy for short amount of time. What you need is a nutritious breakfast that includes eating lots of protein, fiber, and whole grains. Foods such as eggs, milk, plain Greek-yogurt and peanut butter have a lot of protein while foods like oatmeal, toast, fruits and vegetables provide grains, fiber and other vitamins. There are a lot of great breakfast ideas found online for all different types of diets but I personally eat 2 fried eggs, oatmeal with mixed in banana, Greek-yogurt and almond butter and drink several glasses of water. After that, I feel a high amount of energy that last for about 9 or 10 hours.
Even if you have to get up earlier to cook or grab some food from a breakfast place, another benefit of eating breakfast is that you are creating time for yourself to get in the right state of mind. There will be no rushing out the door to get a practice room or frantically trying to find your keys before you leave. The sheer act of taking time to eat breakfast is a routine that will get you in the right mindset to start the day on the right foot.
Not feeling hungry in the morning? Maybe you are eating too much before you go to bed, leaving you with a full stomach when you wake up. Since digestion slows down when you sleep you are not going to be hungry in the morning. Start slowly by eating less every night before you go to sleep. This will eventually leave you with a big appetite when you wake up.
Follow these guidelines, and breakfast will become your springboard into having a spectacular day!