I wanted to talk about a number of things which together may be able to make a difference to your energy levels but beyond that your wider general health, which in my book is very important.
The stats on health spend by governments is increasing every year as we seem to be getting fatter, sicker unhealthier but at the same time the number of gyms, studios and health professionals out there, to help people is growing too.
What’s going wrong?
I believe we are not taking good enough care of ourselves. Yes I know, it’s easy for me to say because I live in the gym and that’s all I do every day is keep fit. Well if you read my last blog you may have read that actually I got pretty sick doing that on top of the training regime I had settled on for the year in question. It doesn’t matter what your job is, where you work, if you don’t look after yourself we are all susceptible to the unhealthy side of life, whatever that looks like.
So how do I look after myself better and build some resilience and energy back into my life?
1. Blood Sugars
If your blood sugars are like a roller coaster you will never experience true energy, which is sustained. You may get a spike and feel great but the insulin effect will soon take care of that as it kicks in to transport glucose into your muscles, liver and belly if full! When this effect rests you are usually left with lower than optimal blood sugar levels which can have the knock on effect of leaving you drowsy and lifeless.
THE FIX: Eat foods that are low in sugar or refined carbs which typically spike blood sugars. We all know the answer to this but a sweet tooth has to be satisfied right?! Mix your carbs with other foods to lower the impact. For example eat your protein with your carbs and even add your fat content to this as well. This mixing, which we typically do on our plates anyway will reduce the glycaemic effect on your blood sugar levels and help maintain a more stable blood sugar level – which will equal stable energy levels.
Keep your hydration levels up. Even mild dehydration will have an impact on your energy levels. It will also have a negative effect on your athletic performance. Your muscles effectively are levers and they need fluid to glide smoothly backwards and forwards. Imagine rubbing your hands together with sand stuck to them. Now do the same with soap on them….you get the idea!
THE FIX: Aim to drink the following amount of water. Your body weight x 0.03. For example 90kg x 0.03 = 2.7ltrs. You still get hydration from green teas and other drinks but anything sugary or coffee are diuretics and will not contribute to your hydration.
3. Phone Time
This as well as computer time is a big energy vampire. Psychology today says that, “Addiction aside, a much broader concern that begs awareness is the risk that screen time is creating subtle damage even in children with “regular” exposure, considering that the average child clocks in more than seven hours a day.”
They go on to say they “observe that many of the children that suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyper aroused nervous system, regardless of diagnosis—coined the term ‘electronic screen syndrome’. These children are impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention….”
If it’s affecting our kids you can bet it’s doing the same to us too.
There are many great apps which you can run on your phone to track your usage time. There is obviously a need to be using your phone during the day as it’s a business tool. But there needs to be a cut off time. I advise my clients to stop phone use at least 2 hours before bed. This way the brain gets some down time before sleeping and hopefully sets you up for a better more solid sleep.
4. Train the Brain
(as well as the body) Did you know that meditation, mindfulness call it what you like actually has a calming effect on the brain. Of course you did – but have you actually experienced it?
There are many great ways to experience the calm that our busy brains need on a daily basis.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that we need to move our bodies at least 150 minutes per week. That = 30mins x 5 days. As far as I am aware there aren’t any guidelines on brain training.
Yoga I Meditation I Tai Chi I Chi Kung; all these plus many more are ways in which we can give our brains what they need to find calm. At the end of the day all we are really doing is calming the nervous system. If we have an early start, poor sleep, poor nutrition, lots of sitting and screen time and expect to be able to sleep well again the following night we are kidding ourselves.
There are many great apps out there, I know it involves using your phone but not much screen time it’s just listening and being mindful. I love – 1Giant Mind, give it a whirl.
5. Balance – just say NO!
This time of year in particular we say yes to all the parties. We say yes to all the dinners. We say yes to all the socials, sports events, Christmas on the Green etc etc which make us run off our feet. When did you last say no to an invitation not because you had something else on but because you just wanted to get a little more balance in your life for a night?
Well balance means down time, it means family time. It means whatever you choose it to mean but above all it is ME TIME. Don’t be a party pooper and turn up when you didn’t want to go in the first place. Either say yes and enjoy it or say no and take the time for yourself – without the guilt.
6. What is healthy?
Healthy is subjective. However, there are certain criteria which I think are a non-negotiable too! Here goes:
- You sleep 6-8 hours a night uninterrupted – and the energy that comes with that
- You have a healthy bowel – see Bristol Stool Chart below. Also read here for more info on the gut to keep the everlasting flat tummy!
- You eat sufficient quality food that you are neither gaining of losing weight if you are at a healthy weight now.
- You consume under the recommended units per week of alcohol.
- Your energy levels are consistent and you wake up fresh each morning.
This list is not exhaustive but gives you an idea of where I am coming from. If you don’t tick many of these boxes take a look at the Fit 4 Life health diagnostic. When you click through you will see a spreadsheet which can be filled in and saved. It will give you a quick understanding of your health priorities. If you would like help with these send back your saved version of the spreadsheet. I’m happy to help.
Yours in health