“Habits are the answer to anything we want to change in life. They control what we do, and eventually, they make what we do easy and automatic.”
– Steve Chandler
Energy: I want more of it. Don’t you? So why is it such a battle to stay energized? Why, when we ask each other, “How are you?” the answer is more-often-than-not:
“I’m SOOO tired.”
What’s behind all this exhaustion? What’s sapping us of our energy? Is it lack of sleep? Eating the wrong foods? Stress? All of the above?
On the flipside, what about those times where we’re really having fun or discovering a new passion and all of a sudden, we feel like we could conquer the world? We find ourselves humming all day with an abundance of energy… where did that come from?
Every day, I hear these stories from my clients about the struggles of setting big goals while combatting low energy. Here are the 6 areas we look at improving:
1. MORNING RITUAL
Why is it so important to have a morning ritual? For one, how you get started sets the tone. That first hour of your day can literally make or break your day. But every person is different in what kind of “start” works best for them. Maybe a Gratitude Walk works best for your pace and schedule – taking 20 minutes to walk, breathe deeply, and reflect on feeling grateful for all the wonderful things in your life. Or maybe it works better for you to write in a journal, so you can get your thoughts down on paper. Then you can decide which ideas or feelings add value to your day and which ones are bringing you down (those internal gremlins you can kick to the curb…”See ya!”). Maybe your morning ritual starts out with meditation. Prepping your food. Singing to Rick Springfield or Def Leppard in the car. The most important thing is that your ritual needs to work for you. The goal is simple: create a routine that gets you in the right MINDSET (a positive one) and gets your body PRIMED (stretched, open and energized) and feeling ready to take on the day.
2. EXERCISE: MOVEMENT IS LIFE
For most of us, exercise falls under the category of something we have to do vs. something we want to do. This story we tell ourselves has a lot to do with a key question I want you to ask yourself every day: “Why am I working out?” The answers I hear most are, “I want to lose weight,” or, “I want some muscle definition,” or, “I want to tone up!”
These are perfectly valid reasons to move your body – but did you know that exercise improves circulation especially to the brain? Moving vigorously 3-4 times a week has been shown to increase energy and improve mental focus. But how often do you say, “OK, honey, I’m going to gym to work my brain out!” In fact, improved mental focus and emotional resilience are excellent reasons to hit the gym. So, the next time you feel yourself sinking down into self-doubt or low energy, get up and move! Go for a walk, do 25 jumping jacks, do some stairs, but do ANYTHING which gets your heart rate up. There are so many other benefits to exercise – like stress reduction, improved flexibility, an increase in healthy hormones and a decrease in not-so-healthy ones. But the most important thing to remember is that no matter how tired or low you may feel, working out will give you energy – not take it away!
As we all know, there are many foods that will bring your energy down. This roller coaster ride mostly involves blood sugar. After that piece of chocolate cake, you might feel REALLY good – hyper, even – for about 20 minutes. And then? CRASH! You’re falling asleep at your desk and it’s only 1:30 in the afternoon. Ideally, you should stick to minimally processed, low-carb/low sugar foods, which will provide you with a steady amount of energy. I recommend avoiding any sugar or carbohydrates until AFTER you exercise if possible. If that doesn’t work for you, try something that takes longer to break down. Studies show that protein paired with a healthy fat is a much better way to start your day from an energy point of view. An omelet cooked in olive oil with a little spinach and cheese is a great example.
Don’t forget to be mindful about how the food you eat affects your daily performance. Take the time to pay attention to your energy levels after you eat a meal or a snack. What gives you energy and what sends you on the roller coaster? I find it much easier to turn down that tempting donut knowing I’ll see my energy drop in 20-30 minutes (and then be hungry again) and instead go for something that energizes me for hours.
But let’s not overdo things here… get to work on these 3 habits and I’ll follow up with 3 more that will improve your energy and focus even more.
Until Next Time,
Phil Dozois, Owner + Life Coach, Breakthru Fitness, Pasadena, CA
Questions? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org