Alethia Austin gave a great webinar on managing energy levels in skydiving. If you missed it, you can check it out on our YouTube channel. We’ve taken the main points and put them into a blog article. We think it’s great and we’ve already started putting her tips into practice! Here are Alethia’s 5 key ways to managing energy levels.
There’s quite a lot that goes into skydiving. So many things we need to think about, train, learn, and be in order to be a skydiver. Safety, gear, elements, decision making processes & not to mention the physical act of flying.
Before I get started, will you guys stand up and breathe with me? Let’s have a little stretch, shall we? We’re going to take three really deep inhalations and three really long exhalations.
Now let’s get stuck into it. This is an approach to skydiving I’m really passionate about. An area that thrills me and that I practice in my skydiving career as a coach and a flyer, but also in my life outside of skydiving. An area that I believe wholeheartedly is one of the main factors of a life well-lived. It is energy management.
I’ve broken this down into a five key areas: Food, Sleep, Attitude, Exercise, and Self Talk.
1. Managing energy levels in skydiving: Food
I am so passionate about food. I’m excited to eat and when I’m doing it I’m already thinking about the next time I’m doing it. Food is a big factor in the way we function mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s no surprise to me that some of the top flyers are acutely aware of nutrition and food intake.
It is also no surprise to me that people are crashing after a few jumps during an event or coaching day because they’ve underestimated the power of good food while training. How to set yourself up for a successful day of flying with food?
Eat and eat well.
I am 24 years plant based, so my passion lies in plant based foods. If you’re curious about this, you can reach out to me anytime.
Here are some tips on nutrition and food intake
Eat your breakfast
Seriously. Get in a solid breakfast before you take on the task of anything ahead of you. My favourites are smoothies with a mix of maca, flax, spirulina & chlorella, protein, fruit and greens. Other breakfast staples are oatmeal, plant yogurt and supplements with chopped fruit.
Start your day by chugging water in the morning. That should be the first thing you wake your body up with. Start ahead of the hydration game by getting in a huge jar of water into your system.
Snack your heart out
I don’t know a time or a place where I don’t have a bag full of food on me. In order to coach 12 hour days and be a good job at managing energy levels and staying alert, I’ve got to keep fuelling my body. Having snacks on hand is a must for anyone who is putting in maximum effort for long hours.
What to bring? Easy bite-sized food with high energy content is the best. Fruit, nuts, and protein snack-like bars are great to grab on the go. Bring a jar of peanut butter with apples and bananas or a tub of hummus and pita. Prep some heavy salads the night before and fill them with beans or quinoa. Keep more on hand than you think you’ll need. Your future self will thank you for it.
I was coaching at an event in Texas last month when one of my students had to pull out halfway through our day. His body was cramping under canopy, he could barely bend his legs. This kid had done all the hard work of qualifying for the camp and flying from thousands of miles away only to burn out after just a few hours. Turns out his breakfast of one energy drink and a few sips of water wasn’t enough to sustain him in 100 degree humidity wearing face masks for hours. All that money spent on the jumping day went to waste.
Even if you’re not feeling thirsty, force down some water. Our bodies operate so much better when hydrated. And your organs and digestive system will thank you for it.
What kind of foods are you eating? I’ll leave the plant based discussion out of this one. But really, what are you eating? How much of your diet is whole foods? Do you have greens and grains and beans and fruits in your diet? Are you getting enough vegetables and whole foods to really stay healthy? Or, are you finding yourself with bags of chips, candy bars, high sugar fruit juices and sodas? Is your diet full of bread, fast food and processed food?
Take a look at what kind of food you’re putting into your body and ask yourself if it’s going to set you up for high level performance and stamina.
How does your food make you feel? After a meal or a snack, you should feel like a god damn unicorn/savage! Your food should give you a heavy dose of energy. Your body should be buzzing and humming. You’re ready to go be a beast in the sky!
However, if you are left feeling sluggish, tired, crashing, barely digesting… Maybe you can make a few changes to what you’re feeding your body. If you want to chat about this, give me a shout. I’ll geek out with you big time on this.
Easy does it on the fun
A skydiving event or coaching day wouldn’t be the same if there weren’t drinks happening in the DZ bar or landing area. I get it. Drinks are fun. The celebratory drink at the end of a beautiful day of flying is definitely a thing. But is your celebration drink turning into so many that your jumps are paying the price?
Learn how to walk that balance between taking an athletic approach to your skydiving and also having an outrageously awesome time. From my experience, you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to partying and flying with the best of them. Find that balance.
My tip for this? Save your mojo for those big banger final parties. Keep the rest of the days tame. Limit yourself on your alcohol (or whatever else) intake.
2. Managing energy levels in skydiving: Sleep
You guys still with me? Hopefully you haven’t fallen asleep just yet because sleep is my next topic and it’s another I’m a fan of. Sleep has a massive impact on the way we perform and the way we retain what we’ve learned. So, without good sleep, our energy levels will be low. We aren’t able to perform to our best ability and we barely retain what we’ve learned.
I’m on the road constantly. I live out of my suitcase and my bedroom changes weekly, from Airbnbs to DZ rooms to dorm rooms with other coaches. Every event I show up to is a holiday for the participants. Everyone’s ready to fly hard and socialise harder. It’s not easy bowing out of late nights to tuck myself into bed in time to catch 8 hours of sleep. Nonetheless, years ago I decided it had to be a priority and I started making decisions to support that. My mornings have been improved and my energy levels way more sustainable because of it.
Make sleep a priority in your life
What is your sleep routine right now?
How much sleep are you getting? How much do you know about what sleep does for you and what lack of sleep impacts in your day to day and in your flying?
Set an amount of sleep that you want to achieve per night. 8 hours is the minimum to really receive the full benefits. Aim for 8.
Work backwards from the time you need to wake up to the time you need to go to bed. Say no to anything that is going to cut into that time you set as your bed time. Be super present with people in your waking hours. That way saying yes to sleep won’t mean missing out on making great connections.
Create a sleep process
Processes are LIFE. When people tell me they struggle to sleep the first thing I ask is ‘What is your sleep process?”. Processes can really create the space for success in whatever it is you’re doing. To optimise the time you do have for sleep, set yourself up for a great night of rest.
For me, that’s dimming the lights and using only low, warm lighting when possible. If I’m listening to music, it’s super downtempo, mantras or even better, just silence. I have a few things that immediately get me in the mood for sleep. These include essential oils (yep, I’m on that wagon) and a sleep sound machine which travels everywhere with me. And then I finish off with the nectar of the universe, chamomile tea with almond milk and cinnamon. A hot shower and shutting down all of the intrusive devices also helps me calm down.
Create your sleep process. Turn things off, turn things down, quiet your space and let the day go. Really set yourself up by calming yourself down and preparing to hit the pillow. I swear, this works.
Check out these resources on sleep and it’s importance in managing energy levels
Matthew Walker has an incredible book called ‘Why We Sleep’ which has more than enough reasons to make sleep a priority. It’s based on years and years of research, so he knows a thing or two. I highly recommend grabbing this book and giving it a read. Domi Kiger gave a presentation on sleep at last year’s Paradise Portugal. I recommend her talk as well (skip to 23:23 for the part about sleep). Be like Matthew and Domi.
3. Managing energy levels in skydiving: Attitude
If you’ve ever flown with me you’ll know I show up throughout the day with a decisively positive attitude. This is already a big part of my DNA, but it’s become a big part of how I show up as a coach as well.
I have witnessed too many times people deconstructing themselves and blowing up their chances of a successful moment by having a challenging attitude. I am so passionate about the power we have to decide how bad ass our day is going to be. When we wake up ready to fly, we can literally decide the entire day’s tone. We can set our intentions for the day and call on ourselves throughout the day to continue to keep that as our truth. Seriously, that’s all it takes. A decision. An intention. And the focus to hold yourself accountable to it.
That’s it. Isn’t that incredible?
What does negative energy look like?
I’ve watched people almost fight for the opposite. Fighting for validation that things are bad or the right to be in a negative mood. So much energy is wasted perpetuating a negative moment. And then letting that negative moment continue for hours, days, maybe even years.
It takes way less energy and fight to decide to approach the day with positivity, humour, and humbleness. Stop trying to hold onto the negativity or anger or disappointment of the day. Fighting to swim upstream with those heavy burdens on your shoulders would be exhausting. So let them roll away.
A negative attitude can truly block you in the air. Who are you showing up as on the days you are flying? What kind of things are you bringing to the table that day? What kind of day do you want to have?
Once you learn how to apply this to your training days you can apply this to your life. And seriously, the entire game of life changes for you. Things open up and your life becomes that much more enjoyable.
Here are a few tips to stop those negative thoughts
It works. Meditation helps you find your calm and reminds you to return to it throughout the day when things get moving. Even 10 minutes in the morning can make a huge difference. Check out the Sam Harris Waking Up app for daily guided meditations.
Take the time to figure out who you want to be when things get a little intense. Life is full of trying and challenging moments. How do you want to roll through them? You can decide that already. Choose to not get aggravated or frustrated or hurt or angry or annoyed. Any of the myriad negative emotions we can experience from life’s challenge. You can choose to let it all roll away. Choose positivity.
If you haven’t already tapped into this amazing tool for setting your day up right, I highly recommend it. In the morning, take 5 minutes to sit with yourself. Maybe grab a coffee or tea or juice. Set an intention for the day. Here are two examples:
“Today I’m going to meet my difficulties in training with the understanding that I need the challenges in order to learn how to fly better.”
“Today I’m going to add humour to any hard situations.”
Did something happen and the meditation didn’t help? Or your intentions you set disappeared and you’re choosing to have a good attitude but you’re still frustrated? Breathe. Take a few deep breaths. Walk outside or somewhere where you can take a moment to just breathe and exhale. Let it go.
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4. Managing energy levels in skydiving: Exercise
Exercise! It’s a thing! It really is. On a typical jump day, let’s say we make 8 jumps across about 10 hours. In those ten hours we have 8 minutes to actually perform. Managing energy levels during the entire day is key to making every one of those skydives successful.
8 minutes out of a 10 hour day. What the actual F$ck?! That is an insanely small window of time we have in the sky. And we’re hoping that miraculously we are physically ready to be ON it for those precious 60 second shots at flying? That’s a lot of pressure to perform.
We might not have thousands of spectators cheering for us on every skydive. And we might not be airing on television screens in sports bars. At the end of the day though, skydiving is still a sport and we are the athletes of this sport.
Almost every other sport has training schedules. Athletes are exercising their bodies, trying to keep themselves in shape. They work to increase their strength, stamina and physical abilities so that they can perform better.
So is skydiving any different?
Exercise keeps you young. It keeps you healthy and protects you against injuries. Your body will run like a machine and your mind will be healthy. It even helps to keep your emotions healthy. There are so many reasons to exercise regularly, you don’t need me to tell you!
How can you expect body awareness in the sky if you aren’t truly living in your body? What about quick recoveries after long days of skydiving or staying healthy during crazy travel schedules? You may have less than optimal sleeping arrangements and have to cope with weather changes. How can you expect peak performance from your body if you’re not training it? There really is no excuse for not exercising.
Here’s what you can do to add exercise to your life
Set Aside Time
There is always time. As someone who is as transient as I am without anything resembling a routine schedule, I can tell you, there’s always time. Look ahead to the days coming and schedule 20-40 minutes at least 3 times a week. Don’t cancel. Seriously, don’t.
You don’t need a gym to get in a solid workout. You don’t even need to leave your house. Get a kettlebell and some weights and resistance bands. Find a youtube yoga teacher you like. Lace up your running shoes. Get on it. Set a schedule and stick with it. Make yourself accountable.
“Take care of your body. It’s the most valuable instrument you have for flying.”
5. Managing energy levels in skydiving: Self-talk
Ok, I hate to preface this by saying ladies this is for you. But ladies…this is for you. And men, you too. I see way too often women and men stopping themselves from progressing through really debilitating self talk. I can literally feel the weight of someone going through a patch of negative self-talk in my group and watch the way it changes their flying.
We have got to become supportive of ourselves. We have got to become our own cheerleaders.
Maybe we burbled someone in the group and created an ejection. Perhaps we stopped flying and ejected ourselves. Or we might have had a dangerous break-off. Whatever it is, when we experience it, we’ve got to learn that quick lesson from it. Take that lesson and keep it. And then discard it. We absolutely cannot hold onto it otherwise there is a danger we’ll take it with us on the next load. How can we fly when we’re so consumed by the baggage of a previous jump’s f$ck up?
When is it ok for negative self-talk?
Simple answer, it’s not. We wouldn’t disrespect and chastise others in our group over their mistakes. And there certainly isn’t room for being a jerk to those in a group. So why on earth would it be ok to do that to ourselves? We have got to check ourselves on our self-talk. That means clearing the head of any negative narratives that are happening about our flying.
Start by not verbally attacking yourself in the group setting or debriefs. It’s not necessary to call out “I’m such an idiot, sorry guys. I cant believe I did that. So stupid.” We get it, you flew a little less than you can, and we all got it on video. Honestly, we’ve all been there and we’ll be there again. It doesn’t mean you need you to put yourself on the proverbial chopping block in front of us. Negative self-talk is just unwelcome at the end of the day. Add that to your daily intentions list.
Be supportive, be constructive with yourself and leave that sh%t behind.
We all make mistakes, so how should we handle them?
How do I own a mistake?
Acknowledge what happened in the skydive. Learn what it was that lead to that mistake. Talk to your coach and see how it could have been avoided. Process it as a learning point. And then leave it be.
What if that mistake involved someone else?
Apologise to them. Learn what happened. Talk about how it could have been avoided. Process this as a learning point. Leave it be.
It’s really that simple folks.
How to keep negative self talk at bay
When you’re dying to bash yourself for messing up, take a breath. Ask yourself if you’d say the same to a friend. And if you can’t resist the urge to berate yourself, throw some of your stoke music on. Distract that awful beast in your head with music that moves you.
How do you want to show up as a skydiver?
Managing energy levels is such a big part of life in general. It’s how we maintain our busy lives, how we keep our light shining even in the darker times. Our mental state and attitude, the food we’re eating and the sleep we’re getting. The way we process our experiences and the narrative in our minds. It’s how we take care of our body with exercise. These are such massive, massive factors in how we live our lives, and thus, how we show up as skydivers.
Brene Brown says “Who we are is how we lead”. Translate that into skydiving and it’s who we are is how we skydive. Are you really accessing all the areas of yourself and your energy available? Do you dive into skydiving using all of the tools you have? Is there room for improvement in sleep, food, exercise, mental state, attitude, or self-talk?
Are you ready to be a f$cking savage? Let’s do it.
Missed the webinar? Check it out below.