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Mon, April 1, 2013
Feeling Lethargic? Top 5 Ways to Increase Energy and Vitality
No energy. Tired. Weak. Moody. Fat. Ugh.
 
Feeling chronically lethargic is no way to live one’s life. The dreaded tasks of everyday life can cause wear and tear on your body if you are too fatigued and exhausted to take part in them fully. Having more energy throughout the day can increase our work production, give us a better attitude, and make us a happier person.
 
There are many ways in which you can increase your energy and vitality. My favorite five are listed below and I hope they inspire you to incorporate them into your lifestyle to ensure you are giving yourself, your family, and your friends the best possible you there is.
 
1. Strength Train
 
Moving can be one thing but actually lifting heavy weights can have amazing benefits. It can be scary to start out on a strength training program, especially when you’ve never lifted in your life, even enough to deter you from beginning! Finding a gym and trainer that work with you can be one of the best decisions in keeping you healthy and happy.
 
Exercise and strength are known to improve your happiness. It’s plain and simple. You are happier than you were before, when you exercise. WHO DOESN’T WANT MORE HAPPINESS?
 
You feel great right away after exercise. Right then. Right there. Right Away. Study after study has shown the positive correlation between feel-good hormones and exercise, including one that suggests high intensity exercise can alter the brain in a similar way to cocaine use (in a feel good way). [1] Many other studies show the increases in serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine with exercise. Many of those hormones are decreased in people suffering from depression. Getting moving can help decrease depression and anxiety. [2]
 
Getting stronger doesn’t just help your mood. It helps your life! You want to be at your most capable, to be able to take on anything. When you have to call someone to come lift a box, move furniture, or something else because you’re not strong enough, it really puts a damper on your life. Hit those stairs with ease, don’t worry that you won’t be able to keep up while walking downtown, be able to move quickly and catch yourself before you fall or stumble. You are much more capable when you train and lift things.
 
Being successful does not just pertain to your job. It pertains to your life. Realizing success through dedication and hard work has been proven to me through a multitude of sports and athletic events in my life. And most young people feel the same.
 
But the beauty of it is that you don’t have to be a young’un to enjoy the success of training. Training makes you better at life, better at withstanding downfalls, better at learning how to succeed. Most people see a big number or event and think they’ll either never be able to do it or that they can do it without training. Examples:
  • You think you can just go run a marathon? Good luck with that one.
  • You believe you can deadlift 225 pounds after you haven’t touched weights in years? I’d have the chiropractor’s number on speed dial.
  • Think you can Turkish Get-Up a 28 kilogram kettlebell? I doubt it.  
But, on the other hand, if you TRAIN for something you start out slow and work your way up. You can accomplish those goals. Training makes you successful. You set goals, you work hard for them, and then you succeed at them. Being proud of yourself in the weight room transfers to your life, filling it with more energy and happiness.
 
2. Eat Quality Food
 
Whether we perform hard training sessions or not, our body needs fuel. And what we fuel ourselves with has an incredible impact on our energy levels.
 
Back in the day of the cavemen era they had to work for their food. It mattered what they ate. As the world they knew changed, so did the food. We, as humans, wanted an easier way, a shortcut. We started making our own food that turned into ‘fillers’; it wasn’t necessarily great for the body but it tasted good and made us feel full. Seems good enough, right? Wrong.
 
Most of the food found in the human diet today was not meant to be in the human diet. Our tasty, cheap, and even seemingly healthy food, plays a large role in how we feel. Our bodies have also gotten used to what sort of foods we put in our body.
 
If you eat a lot of grains on a daily basis (breads, pastas, wraps, etc.) you probably are just fine. Now take out all grains for 30 days. Then eat some grains. Your body will react in a very different way then it would when you were feeding it every day with grains. Prepare to have stomach issues, feel yucky, have a headache, be bloated, etc.
 
As we have adapted to these yummy foods, we really no longer want to eat healthy food. In order to perform our best, look our best, and feel our best, you need to eat well. When you start eating what our bodies were intended to eat in the first place, you will have more energy.
 
So in order to increase your energy you need to:
  • Take out grains, processed, refined, and sugary foods.
Avoid fast food, processed oils, sugar, trans fat, most grains, and junk foods.
  • Eat animals, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Our body was made to digest and thrive from foods found in our natural environment.
  • Eat whole foods most of the time.
We all like the occasional treat and that’s fine. Just make sure you get the good stuff! Avoid sweets and treats that are made with a bunch of ingredients you don’t know. Keep it to the basics: milk, sugar, eggs, cream, etc.
  • Eat healthy fats!
Cod liver oil, nut butters, avocadoes are great foods that are rich in calories but also rich in providing fuel for our brain, keeping our blood sugar stable, providing lubrication for our joints and much more.
  • Enjoy quality foods and focus on the frequency of your meals rather than the calorie count.
3. Sleep
 
As a trainer I can attest that proper amounts of sleep are extremely hard to get. I’m up by 4 am most days of the week and some days I don’t get home until 8:30 at night. So I completely understand when people say that sometimes 8 hours of sleep is simply not feasible.
 
But one of the best ways to increase our energy and vitality is to get enough sleep! Without any science or evidence to back it up, you already know how good you feel when you sleep well. Whether it is a full solid night of sleep, or even an afternoon doze, sleep helps your body to rest and repair and keeps you refreshed. Case in point: sleep helps raise our energy levels.
 
It’s been studied over and over but sleep does give us a restorative boost; our muscles are able to rebuild, our memories are stored, and hormones are released.
 
4. Drink Water
 
Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for increasing your energy. It is also probably one of the hardest to adhere to. No one likes water.
 
“It’s plain, it’s boring, and it doesn’t taste like anything.”  I hear these comments on an almost daily basis. But then I ask what they would rather be drinking. Most people want sodas, juices, or something else sweet. So then if we delved into how bad those drinks were for your body, and for your metabolism, maybe (I hope) you wouldn’t want to drink them anymore.
 
Good old H20 on the other hand, can increase metabolism, give you energy, improve weight loss, decrease fatigue, and the list goes on.
 
Your body is composed of at least 60% water. Water helps almost every system in the body and to keep it all running smoothly we must maintain an adequate hydration level.

If you just cannot drink plain water or crave carbonation, try diluting 100% juices, mixing sparkling water with a little juice, and drinking a flavored sparkling water. These can be used as once in a while drinks. Do not drink your calories away. You will feel better when you are adequately hydrated.
 
5. Move
 
Plain and simple, Americans sit a lot. Too much, to be exact. We have such limited time to be moving throughout the day due to work, driving, eating, and relaxing. The ‘active’ has been lost in the word ‘activities’. Our activities consist of things that exert very little energy.
 
As much as we all need strength training and heavy lifting we also need play and random movement in our life.
 
Taking leisurely walks, enjoying the positive benefits from yoga, playing tag with your kids; these things are to be enjoyed each day. How alive do you feel after racing around with your kids? If you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack then you are missing out. Feeling energized and invigorated from daily movement can give you the energy you need to get through your day.
 
Focusing on these five tips can greatly improve your energy. It is not easy to get all of these components in but they do make up a healthy lifestyle. Including them in your daily life will ultimately benefit you in many, many ways.

References

1] Behav Brain Res. 2013 Feb 15;239:8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.10.035. Epub 2012 Oct 26. Daily treadmill exercise attenuates cocaine cue-induced reinstatement and cocaine induced locomotor response but increases cocaine-primed reinstatement. Thanos PK, Stamos J, Robison LS, Heyman G, Tucci A, Wang GJ, Robinson JK, Anderson BJ, Volkow ND. Source: Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA; Behavioral Neuropharmacology and Neuroimaging Lab, Medical Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA; Dept. of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.

[2] Int J Sports Med. 2012 Jul;33(7):525-30. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1306325. Epub 2012 Apr 13. Exercise intervention may prevent depression. He SB, Tang WG, Tang WJ, Kao XL, Zhang CG, Wong XT. Source: Department of Neurology, Zhoushan Hospital, Zhoushan, China.

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