Do you often feel like you are running on empty? Too many late nights, family and relationship issues, neverending days at the office, travel-fried brain or simply overwhelmed? Many stressors like this are wearing us down and causing fatigue. Let’s face it…it’s no fun waking up tired and groggy. When you’re tired and feeling fatigued, shopping, cooking and planning feel like an uphill battle. You’re going to have a hard time living at your full potential if you have a hard time getting out of bed. Long-term studies support the idea that almost all of the energy that you need comes from what you eat. So, let’s take a look at the topic of energy, where you get it, and how to optimize it!What you need to understand is that stress drains our energy fuel. It can be broken down into a few major categories–picture a pie chart being made up of 70% nutrition (digestion, food stress, etc.), 20% mental/physical, and 10% sleep and recovery. By taking care of these big three items, you have the power to manage your energy tank.
It’s clear that nutrition is very much connected with your body’s ability to combat stress and your brain’s ability to produce critical chemistry that controls mood and mental clarity. Not eating enough natural, unprocessed foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals,
enzymes, high-quality protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and good bacteria (probiotics) is a major source of stress on our bodies. Without these nutritional building blocks, the body lacks the components it needs to regenerate completely and effectively. The result is a weaker, less resilient body, and, of course, more stress and less energy. So what SHOULD you eat? More
“high net gain foods” (i.e. easy in, easy out). This approach preserves energy for your mental and physical needs. It’s a term I use to describe the energy and usable sustenance that our body is left with once the food has been digested and assimilated. Bad nutrition stresses your body, burns energy and drains you! Improved diet is the number one way to reduce overall stress.
Next is exercise. Regular exercise is your second key point for empowered mental health and energy. It helps reestablish your
mind-body connection, freeing blocks in creativity and reducing stress. Activity has an alkalizing effect on your body—another
component of stress reduction. We are finding that regular physical training has a huge effect on everything from your health to your productivity. Recent Stanford studies find that regular physical activity will simply make you happier! Training stimulates endorphins and growth factors that your brain thrives on, making you feel good during, and immediately following, training. This keeps your system active while improving blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Sign me up for that! For me, this is probably the number one reason I train. I know that if I’m going to bring my best to the world, I must optimize my
body. That’s a given. How about you?
You must recharge your batteries. Stealing from the sleep bank on a regular basis leads to a debt that is almost impossible to repay—continuously “burning the candle at both ends” during the week can’t be compensated for by oversleeping on a weekend. Instead, this attempt to compensate further messes with your body’s rhythm, leading to difficulties in getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up. Fortunately, filling your life with regular activity fueled with mindful, whole food nutrition makes restful sleep far easier to achieve. When you’re eating the right foods and getting regular exercise, your body will be able to rest more efficiently—you’ll find a sound, restful six hours to be a far more effective recharge than eight restless hours a night–though you should still aim for eight! The bottom line? If you’re feeling tired, listless and groggy, start focusing on eating more “real foods” and give yourself an hour on certain days to do an activity that you truly enjoy. Work on a hobby, exercise, or go for a walk. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you enjoy it. These breaks will help you renew your energy and concentration. And get some rest…a 20 minute catnap midday can go a long way! Overall, the more energy that you have, the happier and more productive you will be.
Article featured in March issue of Scottsdale Health Magazine…