The 8 systems of high performance

This post was created by Satu Ahlman from Saga Performance, check them out here.
What is a systems approach to human optimization?
Imagine a huge puzzle where all pieces are in the right place. That beautiful puzzle is complete. Not a single piece is lost or in the wrong place. Fully functioning, fully synchronized. This is how we humans are meant to be too, in sync. The entire system from your nutrition to sleep, your mindset and capacity to handle stress… All these areas are interconnected and impact each other. Unfortunately, often times they are not 100% in sync. This is why companies like Saga Performance exist. It’s getting more common to work with “The Data of You,” using cutting-edge technology and data sources such as DNA testing, fitness assessments, measuring your heart rate variability, tracking sleep with a smart ring, testing vitamin and hormone levels enabling you to kick off a transformational journey leading to a better, healthier you. Basically, the one you were meant to be in the first place.
Humans are meant to be improving and challenging themselves through this journey of life. We are able to exceed expectations, create better results, learn more, be smarter, be faster, jump higher, lift heavier… you name it. Still, most of the times we are just scratching the surface of what is capable. We train or optimize one part of the puzzle and get to new stages, elevated performance. Great! But in today’s world, we know there’s so much more to it. More science and research available telling us how we can utilize data of ourselves, dig deeper into the human system and truly exceed what we thought was possible. Quite exciting really! Maybe a bit scary too.
The 8 systems for high performance
These are the foundations of high performance you can work on each and every day, to change your life for the better.
Copyright of Saga Performance


You have the right to choose, each day. You have the keys in your hand. Your mindset matters. Observe, what it is that you focus on most? Problems or opportunities to learn from?


Without sleep, we're nothing. Focus on maximizing quality (and quantity). Only 3% can cope with less than 6 hours of sleep. Wind down 2 hours before. Block blue light to secure melatonin production!


Know how your mind and body react to stress. Understand we need stress. Just not too much of it. Balance your daytime stress with conscious breaks. Breath work will calm your mind down. Through your nose: 4sec in, 4sec hold, 4sec out, 4sec hold. Do it 4-5 times. 


The saying “you are what you eat” might not be far from the truth. Nutrition has a big impact on your system: your hormones, your physical and mental condition. Ditch processed foods, eat clean, variety matters. Don't get fooled by trendy diets. Learn what works for you. The science is out there.


Over 7000 genes are positively expressing when you exercise. Your body and brain are connected. Energize your mind by taking breaks during the day and moving. Strength training and high intensity intervals - both come with huge benefits: cognitive, heart, mind and more.


Our systems like routines. Routines create space for creativity! Find what works for you. Start creating healthy morning and evening routines. 

Morning: Meditate? Journaling? Fresh air? Get some sun!

Evening: Stretch? Read? Breathe? Block that blue light! 


Reveal your genetic blueprint and start an epigenetic optimization process on all areas of your system. Your genes are not your destiny! Your choices have an impact on your gene expression (turning them “on / off”). 


Start from your own home. Think - Plastics vs glass, indoor air quality, cleaning products you use. Is pollution an issue in your hometown? Could supplementation such as glutathione help your system fight environmental toxins?

What we at Saga Performance typically look into when working with clients are: genetics (from an epigenetic standpoint), environment (external polluters and toxins, internal detox pathways etc.), stress (autonomous nervous system, heart rate variability), sleep, nutrition, movement/physical activity, attitude (self-leadership) and behavior (interpersonal communication and daily actions).

What impacts your individual system? First and foremost, it has to do with your everyday choices, including your environment, and basically everything happening around you – and how you choose to respond.

Similarly, when we look into your genetics, we look at the epigenetic impacts. How does your lifestyle, the choices you make, the air you breathe, how you experience stress and recover… and more. Your system, including genetics are the most fascinating thing you have! Keys to success can be found there. Dig deep into your human system and start (re-)designing your journey.

Are you worried about stress levels, mental or physical capacity or perhaps fear of “burning out”? “How will I cope when times get tough or a crisis strikes?”

Build that resilient baseline, today. “Lead stress = lead your life.”


If you consider yourself being a high performer, you are used to performing at the top. You naturally always aim to get the best out of yourself. You may ask yourself:

“How do I level up my game? How will I make sure I’m in the right zone for the long run? How can I be more efficient, productive and resilient at the same time? How will i keep on delivering, leading and performing - AND having a healthy fulfilling life?”

Times are changing. The question is, how are you adapting? Or better, how are you making sure your system is ready for the next change and challenge?

Looking into workplaces and businesses, in any organization, the investments that go into people since day one, are significant. The cost of people leaving for health reasons, or being on sick leave, is a heavy burden in todays’ society.

Re-designing the idea of what true sustainable high performance is, means we want to (obviously) maximize capacity, efficiency, performance without sacrificing resilience and health. Focusing on sustainability instead of quick wins whether from an individuals’ or organizations’ perspective.

Athlete or corporate, that competition is fierce. Being on top of the game day after day is a goal for many. Though, going after max speed, giving 150% each day is not sustainable. We need strategies for success.

Risk of doing nothing: Someone else will. In years to come, we compete more and more on resilience and health, as we now know these will be the key indicators and enablers for top-level performance, whether cognitive or physical.

Ok, you’re thinking. So, if I really wish to become “bulletproof”? Not just that Dave Asprey coffee thing.”

Start by getting rid of things that are making your system work on a sub optimal level! Couple of big questions here:

How should you resonate around the topic of health in the first place?

Where are common healthcare and wellness trends going?

Media seems to think, as a result of the horrific pandemic we’re faced with, there are some positive changes about to happen in how people review their health or better said, the importance of their individual health. This is great. Although it remains to be seen, i.e. it may take years and years for real change to take place or results of the change to be seen among the wider population, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Talking and writing, spreading the word, educating people is a fantastic start. 

Longevity? Anti-fragility? Resiliency? Yes, all great objectives for a high-caliber, high-performing individual. We exist to live to the fullest and utilize our systems to the fullest. But first, we need to learn how. Educate and observe. Test and analyze. Plan and take action. Measure and follow up.

When it comes to health and wellness there are few issues linked to the above fancy words or topics, as we quite often see and read in everyday (social) media.

Issue 1: Everyone talks about boosting the immune system. Boosting testosterone levels? Boosting collagen? Sounds familiar, perhaps from social media and advertisements? Boosting, in general, seems to be “the word”. Eat tablet x to get more x to your system. Well, shouldn’t we first need to know if our systems are able to produce, store or even use them in the first place?

Issue 2: Enhancing and boosting something that is broken (like an immune system) is quite risky! We may be doing ourselves more harm than good with “boosting” (or supplementing). We are putting more of what we “think" is good on something that may not be working in the first place?

Issue 3: The problem with hopping on trends but also the problem and risk with not knowing and understanding your system, your health, and the system in depth. 


If one’s goal is resiliency, even anti-fragility… And what we really want is to have our system in sync, our immune system to rejuvenate itself. Eliminating things that are not beneficial and only then once we know, start boosting if boosting is needed. We want to build a system (a body and mind), that has the capacity to react, handle, and fight trouble, infections for instance (popular topic in times of a pandemic). Proactively take care of possible issues before they become problems. A systems approach deals with the cause instead of the symptoms. If we are able to have the system (including the immune system, microbiome, and nervous system, all in sync!) working at the optimal level we can trust we are resilient. Only then can we start moving towards being anti-fragile. The society will move more towards this mindset, healthcare will (slowly) gain more on being proactive than focus on disease. This is what we want to trust. We will need both. A reactive approach will too stay as we cannot trust that every single human being would reach optimal (system) levels at all times. What we can do, is to educate ourselves and learn more about how we function. That is also OUR responsibility. On an everyday basis. 

I urge you to do some reflection on your own, evaluate your own approach to life, and see what you may need to adjust or start doing more of.

The content in this article is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice and should only be used for informational purposes. If you are struggling with the topic discussed in this article, we advise that you seek the help from a professional.
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