How Professional Athlete Loren Howard Optimizes His Mind & Body for Peak Performance

One of my great passions is coaching, as I find it so rewarding to pay it forward and teach others how to change their lives for the better. I work with a lot of different charities and want and build a legacy of giving back and paying it forward.

As a part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body for Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Loren Howard.

Loren Howard is the founder and President of Prime Plus Mortgages, Hard Money Lenders. Loren is a serial entrepreneur, who not only has successfully launched companies in several verticals, but also boasts a decorated football career and is the coveted world record holder for indoor rowing in the 500M, 100M and max distance in 1:00. Aside from his many personal and professional accomplishments, Loren currently serves as the President of the Valley Guardians, a 501c-3 charity that offers mentorship, leadership and educational opportunities to underprivileged children in Phoenix, Arizona.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I am the middle child of two brothers, and I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. My parents got divorced when I was younger and we moved all around the country trying to find our footing. For a while, I lived in Iowa while my mother studied transcendental meditation.

Things weren’t always easy, but I really found my first love of sports in Iowa. I always had trouble keeping my mind from wandering but when I started playing sports I tapped into this killer focus and drive unlike any other area of my life. We never had a lot of money growing up but for me, it was like I was hardwired with this focus and tenacity to perform. Sports really became my way of life, and I would spend any free time I had playing, or skateboarding.

We ultimately moved to Arizona for my mom to get a job. Here I found my second love of sports, basketball. I would be out there for hours running drills and playing with the older kids, who beat me constantly, but helped me get better. In High school, the football coach came to me, and told me that my future was out on the grass. I played one game, and I was hooked and focused all my time and energy into it. I was driven to become the biggest, fastest, and strongest player I could be. With my drive and focus, I was given lots of opportunities to play in college, and I chose Northwestern University since for me it offered the best opportunity to play Big 10 Football, and get a college education.

Playing in college was an amazing experience! I was a Freshman All American Defensive End, and Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the year. Sophomore year, I was All Conference Defensive End, and Junior year Preseason Mel Kiper ranked me the second defensive end to go in the draft. The third pick went first in the draft, first pick was 10th that year in the draft. Unfortunately, I got injured, and never really recovered properly, and never could really complete at the same level. I transferred to ASU in hopes I could recover and start playing again later, but I could never get back to that level. After college, I went into business for myself and kick-started my professional journey.

My first business, I jokingly call my MBA, taught me so much about owning a business. While not a success, it was a great learning moment on how to succeed in business, and my biggest takeaways were all of the relationships and skills I learned. I took that laser-focus for sports and set it on business, and learned everything I could. I take the learning approach to each new venture I start, which has made me successful. I take great pride in my ability to lead and grow a team, and having the right people with all my current businesses and projects.

My primary business is Prime Plus Mortgages: Hard Money Loans. I own my own rentals in Arizona, and saw there was an opening for fast hard money loans for real estate investors. Now we have our eyes set to becoming one of the top lenders in the state of Arizona.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high-level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

My family has been a huge inspiration for me. I looked up to my older brother and my grandfather, who I was named after. My Grandfather was an NFL player for the Eagles. For me, my determination, and drive is what made me a great player. I was highly motivated and didn’t need a lot of push to do what needed to be done. Even after football ended, I had this intense focus that made me go out and master new skills in a consuming and high-performance way.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve been extremely lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who really guided me through some of the hardest parts of my life. The first that comes to mind is my Uncle Larry. He stopped up, helped raise me, and was a great father figure for me. He taught me everything there’s to know about being a man.

I would also say one of my closest friends really helped me in my athletic career. He built me into a top performing athlete way back in high school, and spent endless hours training with me. He took me under his wing, and I even have a tattoo on my back for him!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

My mistake is that I wouldn’t let myself recover, and it was the demise of my career. I was so focused on being the strongest and pushing the limits, I didn’t understand how it was detrimental to my career. I never truly let myself recover or heal like I should have, and I couldn’t wait to make sure I was ready. When I was injured, I was still training hard, and would force myself to push through the pain so to speak. I had a superman mentality that blew up in my face. Now I know how important it is to recover and have made it one of the most solid foundations of my routine.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

Everything I have done has required two things: Laser-focus and Hard Work. Those two things will carry you farther than talent every day! I was obsessed with being the best and highest performing athlete that I could be. I take that focus, and work as hard as I can every day to improve. You have to drive yourself to constantly improve and push the limits of what you think you can accomplish. I like to say that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard! I was talented and worked hard, so the sky was the limit.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Professionally, we are preparing for intense growth for our hard money lending company Prime Plus Mortgages. We are fine-tuning all of our processes, and have an awesome team in place that can make my vision a reality. We are ready to move the company to the next level and hit the ground running.

I am also a president of The Valley Guardians, which is a 501c-3 organization that benefits underprivileged youth in Phoenix, Arizona. We just wrapped up our fundraiser event and raised over $500,000! We work with organizations to help children get access to educational, mentoring, and leadership opportunities to help them grow. We also offer financial support to families of sick children, and just partnered with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital to better serve families in need.

Personally, I recently got obsessed with golf. I was a power athlete, so it is a totally different game for me to learn. It requires a different mindset that I find really challenging and rewarding. Golf is more of a mental game, and right now my focus is to get my handicap down.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

I have a pretty strict daily routine. Every day I spend time meditating, working out, and recovering. I grind it out in my at-home gym, and throughout the day focus on different recovery exercises. I spend a lot of time on my nutrition, and physical wellness, such as getting hydration IVS and just living a healthy lifestyle. I combine my recovery efforts with my meditation, such as using my hyperbaric chamber before I train.

My daily meditation helps me to get my mind focused, and really helps me drive my own thoughts. I use a daily creed to focus and set the tone for the day. I find that if my body and mind are in peak condition when I train this way and I am more present at the moment.

Loren Howard

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques to help optimize yourself?

I use the Wim Hof breathing method. What I try to do is breathe in for 15 seconds in and then breathe out and hold my breath as long as I can. I do that for 7–8 minutes to help me to relax, calm down, and to flood my system with oxygen. I also use a hyperbaric chamber before I work out. I find that by using these techniques I have increased energy, reduced stress levels, and heightened focus.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

While being hyper-focused isn’t as hard for me as others, I credit a lot of my success to having the right routine. I have my daily routine which I follow religiously, and make sure I do one thing daily for my recovery, such as yoga, or using heat and cold treatments. I also make a point to read one book a week, and meditate daily. I find my focus in my routine, as it removes any limiting factors.

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?

For my workouts, I try my hardest and push my limits. I strive for continuous improvement and don’t want to stagnate, so I try new things and keep it interesting. I spend a lot of time on body work, and know that to keep it in top performance I need to spend equal or more time in recovery! That’s why I spend so much of my time to find and test the best recovery options. I have used heat and light therapies, and even get nutrient and ozone IVs. I also have daily supplements I take to ensure my nutrition is top level. I also do intermittent fasting every day, and once a week I fast for a full 24 hours. Those are just some of the ways that I am continuously optimizing my body for peak performance.

These ideas are excellent, but for most of us in order for them to become integrated into our lives and really put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?

For me, I spent a lot of time learning what my triggers are, and learning how to replace triggers for bad habits with a better reward system. Repetition and rewards will play huge roles in any habit cycle, and I think that spending the time to set daily routines have made me extremely successful in hitting my goals.

Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

I find habits to be extremely interesting, especially habit loops. I’ve spent some time researching them, and I found that it isn’t about breaking old habits, but finding new ones to replace them. It’s about building a trigger and reward system that is just as satisfying to your brain. Habits are stored in different places of our brain than your memory, and even patients with amnesia will continue to do the same daily habits since it is hardwired in their brain. There is a great book called ‘The Power of Habits’ from Charles Dohigg that is must-read for anyone really looking into why and how to rewire their habits. Understanding your triggers and having the right reward system in place will help you replace bad habits.

As a high-performance athlete, you likely experience times when things are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a mind state of Flow more often in our lives?

I was a power athlete first, so I have not really experienced the state of flow when I was playing football. The closest I have gotten is through my own meditation. Focusing on breathing, and to let your mind be still would be my advice to achieve the state of Flow.

Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

My parents both practiced and studied transcendental meditation, so I have been practicing as long as I can remember. I have a daily mantra that I have written and recited daily, which makes me feel more focused, and better understand how my daily actions impact everything around me. I use this to keep myself grounded and connected to the things that matter the most. I focus on being calmer, and removing all distractions as a practice of my willpower. Being present is the most important. I have spent time learning more about brain mapping, and learning how to combine the spiritual with the scientific to better optimize my own mental performance!

Many of us are limited by our self-talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?

It’s not easy, but it can be done. It comes down to recognizing where your thoughts are going and redirecting. When your thoughts turn negative, you need to ask yourself why, and not block them but rewire it. If you are more proactive and logical about your self-talk, you can direct them. We often project things outward that are not true, so it’s all about having the right outlook. Learning why we project negatively and rewriting it to be positive can change your life and help you better manifest positive things.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am the president of The Valley Guardians. We are a unique 501-c3 with our zero-operating budget, which means 100% of all donations are used to help children of all backgrounds reach their full potential. We work closely with other charity groups to help support underprivileged children get the mentorship, education, and life experiences to help them succeed. We are paired with many local charities to help give all children a fighting chance to reach their full potential. I am a mentor for the Challenge Foundation, meaning I personally mentor some students and provide on-going support, encouragement and experiences for the children I work with. I am currently an accelerator coach for the EO, and meet with entrepreneurs once a month and guide them to hit the million-dollar mark in one year.

One of my great passions is coaching, as I find it so rewarding to pay it forward and teach others how to change their lives for the better. I work with a lot of different charities and want and build a legacy of giving back and paying it forward.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” -William Butler Yeats

Obviously, I am no stranger to working hard and manifesting my own reality. I feel like this quote really sums up my own life experience by using that learning attitude, and determination to make my own success. I put the work and time in to achieve anything I set my sights on. Anything can happen if you put in the grind and the time.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I have two people that I would love to meet. Peter Diamandis or Elon Musk. I think all of them are so far ahead of the times with their thought process. I would just find it fascinating to pick their brains and learn more about them.

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