Virtually every client I see tells me they’d like to feel more energetic; many have already assumed that there’s something really sinister causing their afternoon yawning attacks and leaving them nodding-off on the sofa after dinner. But, so often there are some really simple fixes. My first priority is often to stabilise blood sugar levels but then I’ll look at other lifestyle issues that could be causing a drain on energy. Here are six of the most common energy drainers I see in clinic all the time.
Ohho! “Hilarious”, I hear you say, she, the doyenne of the black nectar, preaching to us about coffee! Well I too can recognise the hypocrisy but I can also claim to be an absolute expert on this subject! It is true, I am an addict of a heady caffeine surge however I am also a frequent victim of the almighty energy crash that follows. So this means, that just as doctors become very skilled at titrating drug doses, I too have developed nerdy precision around when and how best to “administer” this drug! Never on an empty stomach, never within 6 hours of bedtime and normally no more than two per day! You know as well as I do what the alternatives are! If you need an additional incentive, buy yourself a posh “tisane” pot and bring ceremony to your herbal infusions!
Forget any notion that this stuff will help you sleep – it doesn’t. In fact, along with caffeine, it is pretty much guaranteed to mess up your chances of a restful night as well as interfering with your blood sugar balance and mood. If you really can’t bear to give up drinking then seize control of how often and how much you drink so that you can remain the “life and soul” of everyday, not just the party!
Hanging out with Serial Complainers
People who habitually complain are energy vampires – we all know someone like this. They can’t find anything cheerful to say and, in fact, the more they find to moan about the more animated they will become. If you counter their complaints with something positive they will either move on to something “unquestionably” miserable or make non-verbal despondent noises, adopting a glum expression at the same time! Regularly hanging out with serial complainers is seriously bad for your health, so ditch ‘em!
Staying up Late
Nothing can really compensate for lack of sleep and so if you want to feel energetic you need to ring fence at least seven hours – come what may! The idea you can “catch up” at the weekend is a myth, especially as widely fluctuating sleep patterns can leave you feeling more tired than ever. Far better is to regularly get enough sleep and keep “hitting the sack” and rising times similar each day.
By the time you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated and even mild dehydration can make you feel lethargic. As the body becomes more dehydrated, blood circulation will be reduced and fatigue will set in. You’ll also become more at risk of developing constipation and urinary tract infections – both guaranteed to leave you feeling “rubbish” and zapped of energy. Aim to drink around eight glasses of water per day and regularly check the colour of your urine; it should be a pale straw colour and fairly odourless. If yours is darker yellow and strong smelling, pour yourself some more water!
Working Out Too Much or Not At All!
Frankly both extremes will sabotage your energy levels. I’ve always been at the “too much” end of the spectrum but in recent years I’ve learnt to work with my body rather than punish it. I totally believe everyone needs to find their own rhythm but it took me years to have guilt-free rest days. Check your training schedule and make sure you block out at least a couple of days a week for recovery time – remember, this is when your muscles repair and increase in strength! Our bodies are designed to move though, so try a gentle yoga practise or brisk stroll out in fresh air instead of doing nothing on your rest days. If you are more couch potato than exercise junkie then factoring in a bit more activity doesn’t need to mean hard-core gym sessions. Again, yoga and walking make good choices and you’ll be amazed at how energetic you feel when you get used to moving more.