Hi everyone! I’ll be posting weekly at the moment my tips, advice and having open Q&As on my Twitter on all things health, fitness and lifestyle. I believe this part of your life can have a huge impact on poker, as well as performance in general outside of poker and it’s something I’m quite passionate about. I’ll especially try to cover things you can do easily from home at the moment. So, look out for my Twitter every Saturday – @krissyb24poker – and if there’s anything you’d specifically like me to talk about, let me know and I’ll try my best to cover it!

3 TIPS FOR STAYING ALERT DURING LONG SESSIONS

Over the past years of playing long intense days, I’ve tried many things to maximize my performance. While I am often playing for over 12 hours in a day, I think lifestyle choices have a huge impact on staying at peak performance. Here are 3 of my favorite strategies for feeling focused and alert throughout my long sessions:

1. INTERMITTENT FASTING

For the past year or so, I’ve been experimenting with fasting with great results. This is a huge topic that isn’t exactly simple, but I highly recommend delving into it. One of my favorite resources is a book “Beyond Fasting” by Dr. Daniel Pompa:

There is a ton of scientific data supporting the idea that fasting increases cognitive function.

If you are new to this concept, you might want to start slowly, but you can do so quite easily by starting out with a shorter eating window. On most days, I try to have a 6 hour eating window and 18hr fasting window, and find this not only beneficial for poker but it also works for me because I have less room to make bad food choices. Some days, I even limit myself to having one meal and day, and once every so often I like to fast 48 hours or more.

Without a doubt, if I’m playing an important poker event, I implement long fasting periods and if I feel like I do need to eat, I usually tend to eat healthy fats and proteins and definitely stay away from carbohydrates.

2. EXERCISE

If you aren’t doing some form of activity, do it! I believe so strongly that having some sort of exercise routine will improve every aspect of your life. Whether it be yoga, weight lifting, a sport, or even just a walk outside, it is so important to move your body. If you work up a good sweat, even better.

Sometimes I don’t always have the time before a session to get a full workout in. On those days, I’ll at least try to go for a short walk outside or jump in a sauna. Getting my heart rate up and blood flowing before a session definitely helps me to feel more awake right away and energized throughout the day. I even find it helpful and refreshing to try and move as much as I can during any breaks that I can get.

There is a plethora of scientific research to back this up. One of the more interesting studies I recently read showed a correlation between leg strength and cognitive function.

My personal ideal pre tournament routine would be a good weightlifting session, a 10 min high intensity interval training session, and a sauna session followed by either a cold shower or a cold plunge. I don’t usually have the time for all this but if I can make it work, I do, and I always feel like a new, (happier and stronger) person afterwards.

3. SLEEP

This is obvious, I know. However I feel like so many people, including myself, need a reminder not to underestimate a good night’s sleep. Times when I haven’t slept well, I always feel particularly off towards the ends of sessions and usually this is the most important time of the day to feel alert and focused.

I have been using an OURA ring, which is a device that tracks my sleep for a couple years now. Here is a link to that product. It gives a detailed record of your sleep, along with tracking heart rate variability and activity. When it comes to sleep, it’s useful to see where I’m at physically, and know how I’ve slept so that I know if I can push myself, or if I need to try and make an effort to get better rest.

An oura ring

Two things that I need to ensure a good sleep are both a very dark and cold room.

Again, there is so much research clearly linking good sleep with decision making, emotional regulation, and concentration ability, to name a few. All key aspects of playing good poker. So, if you’re looking for all the edges in poker, don’t leave out a good night’s sleep.

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