By Anastasiya Goers
After lunch: It’s time for another cup of coffee… Mmmm… How about a little bit of chocolate? Yes, it should give me more energy right now. This day is so long! Why don’t we stop working at lunch?
Evening: I finally made it home. Here is my couch; here is the remote – time for a little rest. Dinner? I really don’t feel like cooking tonight, I just need some rest. How about some frozen pizza or takeout? Yeah, I know it’s not very healthy but tomorrow I will have more energy for a healthy lifestyle.
Morning: Is it time to wake up already? Just a few more minutes in bed, please… … What time is it? I am late, laTE, LATE! No time for breakfast. I’ll grab some coffee later; I am not that hungry in the morning anyway. Go, go, go!!! Why is everyone so slow today? Arrrrr!
Do these situations sound familiar? Isn’t it a dream of yours to have lots of energy every day?
It is really easy to increase your energy levels during the day and even improve your health that way. A day full of energy is a balanced day and a life full of balanced days is a balanced life.
Last week I needed extra help keeping my energy levels up. I have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) which makes me fatigue easily if I am not taking my medication. Well, last week I ran out of my medication (silly me) and I couldn’t get it for about 10 days.
While usually I am pretty good at keeping my energy levels stable during the day, last week was a real test for me. My first (absolutely natural) reaction was drinking lost of coffee to keep me going. Of course, that worked for a little bit but the more coffee I was drinking the less energy I had (did you notice the same thing happening to you?)
I managed to get though these 10 days with plenty of energy (in spite of my body’s hormonal imbalance) and lots of accomplishments. You can boost your energy levels too; just follow these easy practical steps.
1. Have a good breakfast
If you love to drink coffee for breakfast – by all means do that. There is nothing wrong with it. Enjoy your daily mug of Joe but don’t forget about a healthy breakfast. Even if you are not hungry you need to give your body some fuel after 8 hours of starvation. During the night your body was working full time trying to heal and rejuvenate itself. Don’t you think that it deserves some fuel to give it enough energy for your busy day?
Start your day with a wholesome breakfast mainly consisting of whole grains (and lots of fiber), lean protein and a little fat. Sugary cereals or a bagel with cream cheese are not your best choices. Rather opt for whole-grain cereal (with 5g of fiber or more and less than 10g of sugar), whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter (the one without added sugar or hydrogenated oils), scrambled eggs with spinach, yogurt parfait (choose unsweetened varieties and preferably Greek yogurt which is higher in protein) or a big yummy smoothie. What you put in your body early in the morning will determine how you will feel during the entire day. Start your day in a balanced way!
2. Be “bio-effectively” productive
Did you notice that you work better at particular times? Usually our energy levels are high around mid morning (a few hours after you woke up.) Right before lunch you start feeling tired and (naturally) hungry. After lunch the energy tends to disappear completely sending you into the slumber zone. The next peak of energy usually happens around 4-5 p.m. or 6-7 p.m. It is easy to “miss” those energy peaks if your day wasn’t very balanced. “Night owls” experience the strongest peak of energy late in the evening or at night which can be a big problem for them.
In order to stay full of energy all day long learn to work with your body, not against it. Plan the most difficult or most strenuous (physically or mentally) tasks during your peak energy levels. It is okay to feel sluggish in the afternoon but you can still stay productive at that time. Plan to call your clients, set up appointments, or do some mindless work around the house at that time. It’s a perfect time for power naps (which are not an option for everyone of course.)
Track your daily activities for a few days and create a chart of your energy levels. Then put the two together to create a “bio-effective” daily schedule.
When you are tired the last thing that you want to do is to exercise. I felt the same way last week. What made things worse at first was that my husband and I were still on our Insanity workout schedule. When I felt out of energy the idea of exercising and pushing myself to the limit didn’t sound appealing at all and I almost gave up my workouts last week… I am glad I didn’t because after a 40-minute Insanity butt kicking I felt like a new person. Tired? – Who? Low on energy? – Huh! I had plenty of mental and physical energy after working out.
Your lowest energy levels are likely to be right around lunch and that’s when you need to squeeze in a little exercise. It doesn’t have to be Insanity, just a brisk walk around the block, a few stretches or a 30-minute Yoga or Pilates class at a nearby studio. You can find time for your mini workout if you bring your lunch from home and if you plan it in advance. No time for exercise? Just jump in place for a few minutes. You will feel instantly revived and happy as a kid.
You will be even better off if you add 5-10 minute bursts of exercise every couple of hours. It won’t only increase your energy levels but also will reduce your chances of dying prematurely from any cause by 50%. How about getting out of your chair right now?
4. Frequent balanced meals
Another player in your energy levels is your blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops you start feeling fatigued and hungry. You reach for a fast (and mostly unhealthy) snack that is full of sugar and fat. The snack gets you going for 30-60 minutes and then you feel even more tired and hungry.
To keep your blood sugar stable you need to eat meals consisting of lean protein and complex carbohydrates every couple of hours. If you can’t get a balanced protein/carbohydrate meal then go for vegetables and complex carbs.
Don’t wait until you are famished and ready to polish off an entire chocolate cake and two hamburgers all at one time. Beans, edamame, whole-grain tortilla chips with hummus, boiled eggs (preferably egg whites if you are concerned about your cholesterol,) Greek yogurt and a handful of nuts are all excellent snack options.
5.Drink or smell citrus
Vitamin C is the ultimate energy booster whether you drink it, eat it or smell it. Instead of your regular tall Starbucks coffee for lunch have a glass of water with half a lemon. Try an orange or grapefruit for an energizing snack in the afternoon (instead of a chocolate bar.) Simply smell essential oils of oranges, lemons, grapefruit or lime to stimulate your alertness. You will feel refreshed in just a few seconds.
6. Choose tea instead of coffee
I personally love the taste of coffee but green tea is another favorite of mine. It tastes so fresh and light, it doesn’t dehydrate as much as coffee does, it has a ton of antioxidants (which are proven to fight even cancer) and much less caffeine.
Tea also comes in different flavors: refreshing mint for hot summer days, berry combinations for a delicious fruit punch substitute, jasmine green tea for sophisticated connoisseurs, lemon flavored varieties for double energy and many others. Even people who do not like the taste of tea on its own can find a variety that will bring their taste buds into ecstasy (my husband is definitely one of those people.) Try to skip sugar (or any other sweeteners) to keep this drink healthy and diet-friendly.
7. Take a mini spiritual break
You might be feeling overwhelmed with all your tasks in the middle of the day and have no energy to go on. Give yourself a 5-10 minute break to think of all the things that you are grateful for; of the people you love; of the amazing things that have already happened this day. Pray about having more strength and energy during this day and be thankful for what you have. It’s a tiny action that will set your mind in a more positive state, and positive attitude is always the best source of perpetual energy.
8. Change your socks or a piece of clothing
You will be amazed how refreshed you will feel after it! Just bring a fresh pair of socks, a tank, cami or T-shirt with you and get changed during your lunch hour. You will feel like it’s the start of a new day.
9. Cleanse your body
You can take a proactive approach to increasing your energy by trying a special cleanse. When you cleanse the body with herbal fiber you help boost your body’s natural detoxification processes. A healthy body is an energized body, and many people who take on a cleanse report increased energy levels and even reduced irritability.
10. Check your thyroid
You might be suffering from hypothyroidism (the same condition I’ve been diagnosed with about 10 years ago) if you constantly feel fatigued and tired. With hypothyroidism your thyroid does not produce enough hormones to maintain a healthy hormonal balance in your body. Ask your doctor to check for this condition if you have any concerns.
It’s amazing how little things can help you with your energy levels. Of course keeping our energy levels up is much easier when we maintain a balanced lifestyle: get enough sleep, stay physically active, work on our emotional and mental balance, stay clear of bad habits and maintain our work/life balance.
How do you keep your energy levels up? When is the most and least energetic time of your day? Share your experience in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it.
Keep it balanced!
Photo credit: Only Sequel
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