The Everest Principle Reach Your Peak Performance in Life

Life Balance


By Stephen Brewer, M.D. & Peggy Holt Wagner, LPC, CTRS

“Peak Performance” -- a term used to denote maximizing your health or abilities to the highest level possible – often refers to elite athletes, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Everyone has the potential to incorporate the concept of peak performance into their life, whether it’s running your first ½ marathon, being a top executive, becoming the best mom you can be or dealing with an illness. The beauty of peak performance is that the approach will be similar in practice regardless of what your personal goal may be.

We like to call this journey towards peak performance “The Everest Principle.”  Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on the planet, is a metaphor for the highest goal a person can set for themselves.  The Everest Principle incorporates the four major pillars of healthy living to create a multidiscipline and integrative approach to reaching peak performance.

1. A medical assessment makes sure we are physically capable of accomplishing our goals and identifying physical or biochemical maladies that need to be corrected. 

2. Good nutrition
significantly helps in the prevention of future disease states. It also gives us the consistent energy that is needed on any ascent we wish to attain.

3. Proper exercise
decreases the risk for injury and future disease.  It gives us endurance and strength to accomplish our goals.

4. Finally, behavioral elements - how we mentally approach our goals, our motivation, and attitudes - give us the confidence and clarity to reach our summit.

Working on just one, two, or even three and leaving out the other one is like trying to drive a car with one or two flat tires.  So evaluate each of these four components in your own life and aim to improve on the areas that are lacking. To help you start, here is a list of steps you can incorporate into your wellness routine to help make you feel stronger, more energized and healthier than you imagined.

Medical Points:

  • Begin with an evaluation by a health care provider. This should be done to be cleared medically to exercise both aerobically and at a high intensity.
  • Have your blood work done. Make sure such things as your blood sugar, red blood cell count and thyroid levels are not just “good,” but inside the established laboratory reference range. For some, just having minor abnormalities can cause them to become fatigued easily, eventually preventing them to reach peak performance.
  • Know your physical limitations: Preexisting medical conditions should be taken into consideration when establishing your goals and exercise program

Nutritional points:

  • Eat multiple meals: Eating a healthy breakfast, midmorning and afternoon snacks in addition to lunch and dinner helps maintain energy throughout the day.
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet: Aim for 5 to 9 servings of colorful produce each day. They contain great antioxidants and vitamins necessary for disease prevention and health improvement.

Exercise Pointers:

  • Aerobic exercise is a must: Incorporate activities such as fast walking, biking, swimming, running or jogging, etc. into your life a minimum of 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes. This is great for cardiovascular fitness and prevention of diseases such as diabetes.
  • Weight train: This should be done 2 to 3 times a week to build and maintain lean muscle mass. It is also helpful for burning up more calories which is important if weight loss is your main goal.

Behavioral health:

  • Choose your goal carefully:  Make the goal based on what you want to achieve.  Think about something you’ve always wanted to do or be, but you have yet to take action towards.
  • Encourage yourself with positive motivation: Write down three benefits you will receive by reaching your personal best. 
  • Get support:  Find healthy “like-minded” people who will encourage you and not feel threatened by your goal.  Name those people in your life that you can count on.
  • Reward yourself:  Celebrate small incremental victories along the way.  Write down three healthy ways you can reward your self.

It’s a new year and the perfect time to get started.

Stephen Brewer, M.D., a Board Certified Family Physician, completed specialty training as an associate fellow in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona. Dr. Brewer was trained in acupuncture at UCLA and is certified in guided imagery. He heads up the Canyon Ranch Peak Performance team, which specializes in guiding individuals to a higher level of living and performance.

Peggy Holt Wagner, LPC, CTRS has a graduate degree from the University of Vermont. She currently works as a licensed professional counselor at Canyon Ranch Resort in Tucson, Arizona. She is trained and qualified in Hypnosis and EMDR and has spoken internationally on peak performance and other wellness-related topics.

Stephen Brewer and Peggy Holt Wanger are authors of The Everest Principle: How to Reach the Summit of Your Life (Feb. 2010; Hay House publishing). 

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  • We have a tendency to define ourselves by repeating an experiential learning cycle which justifies our past and present choices but also limits us. The Everest Principle reminds us that we can break free of our self imposed limitations by following a few simple and easily assimilated lifestyle changes. We can build on past success and use it to understand our needs, achieve "Peak-Performance, and attain our goals. A wealth of common sense advice which will surely enrich your life. You will find yourself referring back to it again and again.

    Posted by kecoRN, 25 February 2010.

  • Awesome Book. Really makes you want to get out and climb your Everest. Powerful information. Very positive. You won't want to put the book down. Thank you for changing my life and helping me to climb my Everest.

    Posted by Pris Hodges, 6 February 2010.