As I was beginning to write this issue, I couldn’t help thinking about how good it feels to accomplish the things we set out to do. I just finished writing a book (it’s now off to the editor), that I have spent the last several months researching and putting together. Sometimes, with an approaching deadline we need a fire lit under us and the energy to get it done. I ended up following the advice I give my clients. As busy as I was, I made sure to practice yoga, eat really healthy and get enough quality sleep. I also reminded myself to focus on the feeling of gratitude that I was experiencing, knowing that the tasks we are given are part of a learning curve that enriches our lives on many levels. My father always said, “to be grateful for having the ability to work, because not everyone does.”
We need energy to get things done, go about our daily activities, and to accomplish our goals. As we get older, energy becomes even more of a commodity. Energy begets energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, eat too much sodium, drink alcohol or just simply overindulge, you wake up feeling and looking bagged. Remember when you were young and you had an abundance of energy? That doesn’t have to be a memory from the past. There are ways that you can improve your energy, get things done and still be able to enjoy your personal life and hobbies.
So how can you improve your energy?
Cut down on fat – When you consume a high fat meal, it lingers in your blood stream for several hours. When your pancreas becomes fatigued and overused from the onslaught of fat, your adrenal glands kick in to help by producing epinephrine to stimulate your pancreas to increase insulin production. Our adrenal glands are also called upon every time we experience stress, and over time will become exhausted. This affects our overall hormonal balance and leads to chronic fatigue, among other things.
Stretch – Do you find that you are dragging yourself to work? According to Aranka Shkolnikova, owner and instructor at Yoga Heritage Healing Arts, “yoga postures harness the abilities of the body, control the busy mind and leave you refreshed and strong.” Practice Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to invigorate yourself. Start by standing tall, evenly distributing the weight on the bottom of your feet. Pay attention to all the little muscles of the feet, then the legs, hips, torso, neck and head. Lift your arms above your head, straight from the shoulders, palms facing one another. Hold it with ease, poise and with smooth, even breathing. Start with one minute, and then slowly build up to a full 10 minutes. This stretch stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
Exercise – People who exercise regularly maintain a more consistent weight, are less prone to overeating and cravings and are more confident. Exercise gets your blood flowing, and the energy you derive from it is your return on your investment. It is the healthiest way to get an endorphin rush to reduce stress.
Fruit – Fruit is a high energy food and if you eat it on its own, on an empty stomach, it gets metabolized quickly. In fact, some of the sugars are absorbed into your bloodstream as soon as you start to eat, from under your tongue. It goes to your cells where the nutrients are needed, within minutes of consuming it. Fruit does not require insulin to be metabolized; it takes a small amount of energy to digest, giving you energy!
Stress – Do not consume foods that stress the body. Processed sugar, excessive amounts of chocolate and caffeine, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, soft drinks, junk food, white flour products and fried foods are all to be avoided. Most of these will cause a spike and then a drop in blood sugar, affecting your overall health and mood.
Healthy fat – Omega-3 fatty acids improve mood and brain function, and are essential for avoiding a midday slump. Add 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds or raw walnuts to smoothies or gluten free grains. Dark leafy green vegetables are also an excellent source of Omega-3’s, so choose dark leafy greens for your salads.
Hydration – Make sure you are drinking enough pure water. Coffee, tea and alcohol are dehydrating. If you start to choose water over tea and coffee, you will notice a difference in your energy level. First thing in the morning, drink 2 large glasses of water before consuming anything else. It will give you lasting energy and as an added bonus, will help with bowel movements.
Go for quality – Start to consume nutrient dense foods. Eat lots of vegetables, fruits and sprouts. You will find that your energy level will go up!
Control quantity – Eat until your 80% full. Allow your digestive system some time off and your body will have a chance to do some internal housecleaning.
Take a break – Take 20 minute breaks in the morning and in the afternoon, especially between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm when cortisol levels are lower. Try to take a break, stretch and get some fresh air and sunshine. You will feel energized and ready to go back to work.
Deep breathing – Make sure to practice at least 20 minutes of mindful breathing every day. Close your eyes, relax your body, just let go and breathe deeply through your nose into your belly, with your mouth closed. Imagine that when you inhale your breath is pushing out the sides of your ribs, then exhale slowly and allow your shoulders and body to relax. Deep breathing relaxes your mind and energizes your body, increasing circulation and lymph flow, settling your emotions and allowing you to feel more at peace.
For more energy and to sleep better, take a B complex during the day. It helps fight stress, improves mood and helps metabolize carbohydrates.
Don’t forget to spend part of your day doing something you enjoy!
©2018 Ara Wiseman Nutrition & Healing. All Rights Reserved.