As an endurance athlete, coach, content creator and model, Tom Black understands the importance of taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. (Plus, he just ran the Boston Marathon faster than it takes some people to get to work.) Keep reading for his approach to mental health, community, media consumption, and more.
Keep showing up
Find an activity that you enjoy, whether it’s running, swimming, boxing, cross-fit etc. and keep working at it. Consistent and frequent movement is the golden ticket to becoming a better version of yourself. By constantly showing up for yourself, sending these positive signals to the rest of your body, you will build a foundation of healthy habits that will help you get closer to reaching your potential in all areas of your life.
Find a community, group of friends, gym, that has similar passions and goals as you. Together you’ll go further than your journey alone. When you need to be lifted up, you’ll have someone there to help you; when your workouts feel redundant, you’ll have someone to challenge you with something new. It could be the people you train with that help you find the joy in it, and that joy could last a lifetime.
Make mental health a priority
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Whether it’s stress, anxiety or tragic life events, everyone is dealing with something and the best thing we can do is to keep being there for ourselves and for our loved ones. Sometimes grabbing just one friend or someone to talk to can help you work through a lot - I think we assume people are too busy to talk about such personal topics, but that’s never the truth. At the end of the day, our inner circle, and their health and well-being, is the most important thing to us. Personally, writing things down that are bothering me and then breaking them down into what I can control and what I can't control is one of the most helpful things. I’ve also learned to use exercise and running specifically as my way of actively meditating or reflecting on my emotions - I'm usually feeling much clearer and hopeful after even a 30 minute jog. Sometimes life moves so fast that we forget to check in on our people, make sure you call and text your friends and loved ones.
Be a student when it comes to nutrition
A healthy diet is one of the most important things that we have the most control over. There’s so much research out now that gives us guidance on what is beneficial for our health, our athletic performance, our environment and so on, it’s in our best interest to use all of this information. Do your research, consult the experts and look at nutrition as the fuel for the machine you ask so much from. Home cooking, while hard to do with a busy schedule, is the sure way to make sure you’re consuming a healthy diet with whole foods that are organic or locally sourced. I focus on a balanced diet of lean protein, carbs and healthy fats, and I try to snack on fruits, vegetables and nuts. I also find it pretty therapeutic to cook dinner with a glass of wine and music playing.
Sleep cannot be overlooked
The most important, yet the first thing we are willing to give up. Without a quality and consistent sleep schedule it’s hard to perform at your peak at work, in the gym, in relationships, etc… I know a lot of people who try to get by on minimal sleep but it catches up to them in negative ways like poor energy levels, metabolism slows, recovery is prohibited, and that’s just in the short-term. It’s the recharge we all need and I'm thankful for gadgets like the Whoop that help hold me accountable to prioritize sleep. There are also so many non-addictive sleep supplements and technologies out there that can really be a game changer as well. CBD, infrared red light therapy and an ashwagandha herbal supplement have been my go to’s recently.
The people you spend time with rub off on you, the books you read and the TV you watch will affect how you think, what you see on social media can trigger unproductive negative thoughts. Most often we can make choices on where and how we spend our time and energy, focus on the people, activities and content that help you, motivate you and inspire you, not slow you down.