Success (whatever your definition of success is) - amongst a list of other success factors – requires persistence and brainpower, in short: A lot of energy! So maintaining a high level of energy throughout the day - to be able to move things forward or in the the right direction is critical.
Have you ever felt this energy hole which starts sucking you in in the middle of your day? Particularly if you are one of those people not eating anything for breakfast.
In the last 25 years of my career I had many days when I felt more and more tired the longer the day got. Quite normal? Yes, in a way. But in the evening I was so shattered and worn out that I had hardly any energy or basically none left, to do anything anymore. Which was a bit of a problem, as I was a single mom of 2…
Ask my kids and the rest of my family: I was quite well known for falling asleep in front of the TV in the evening! Even after I got rid of my TV and started reading books instead I fell asleep while reading with the book falling right onto my face. So it was not the boring TV program after all...
Some years ago one day I was talking to a choir colleague (I love singing) who had started a diet and had lost considerable weight and was full of energy. During the break of a rehearsal Sunday I saw her nibbling at veggies and I got curious about what she had changed in her nutrition. And how she could be so happy and energetic while probably only nibbling stuff like a rabbit.
What I learned was that she went for a no-carb diet - pretty much everyone has heard about this method by now, years ago it was not so well-known. She left out basically everything with carbs: Bread, in fact all wheat based products, pasta, carb rich veggies like potatoes and stuff like white beans, corn etc. and cut out sugar. Meaning that she did not even eat fruit!
With the result that her weight went down and her energy level up! Big time.
That made me think, so I tried it out. Not because I wanted to lose weight, but I wanted to get the energy! And voila – it worked.
I was not going nuts with it – so still had some fruit and eventually added some bread. Or a croissant on Sundays. Still, my energy level increased by a huge margin.
Since then I have refined my diet and installed a number of habits to make sure I support and maintain my energy throughout the day.
And while I admit that energy levels are driven by mind, body and breath and not only nutrition – the latter plays a major role to getting through the day energetic and joyful.
Energy start with what you put into your body….if you were to drive a Ferrari – well, maybe you do – you don’t put water into the tank, do you…but probably the best fuel you can find!
I probably annoy my man sometimes when he comes back from work with my still high level of energy – it works that good :-).
Those things below work for me. But they are only a part of managing my energy levels. In addition I have regular breaks, get up from my desk, move, breath deeply...and meditate.
Food, however is a great place to start and was definitely the first step for me.
1. Have some kind of breakfast. I know, I know, you might not be the breakfast type – particularly not during the week, where you got so little time in the morning or you just don’t feel hungry. The solution: either get up a bit earlier and if that is a no-no for you, try the smoothie breakfast.
My man does not have time (nor appetite) for a breakfast throughout the week, so we have started making smoothie breakfasts. And not the sugary, only fruit ones, but those with at least one veg, often some nuts or seeds.
And I can tell you…they are not only super tasty but also give you the energy to start the day and give your body a vitamin and nutrient rush.
And it takes 5 minutes to do them…max 10 if I can’t make up my mind what to mix up. If you struggle with having all the fresh stuff at home, use frozen veg and fruit and mix it with the fresh stuff. Spinach, broccoli and even sugar peas are great in smoothies.
2. I stay away from too many heavy carbs throughout the day, so the big pasta dish or the huge portion of fries at lunch time. They will tire you out and don’t provide the right stuff to keep your brain working, but only your digestion track. Needless to say that a lot of those dishes does not contain a single vitamin.
3. Drinking lots of water – our body does consist of water mainly and funnily enough a lack of it causes your brain to malfunction and might even be the reason for headaches. Just keep this bottle at your desk and try to empty it a number of times a day. Believe me, it is only a matter of habit (yes, this one again).
I don’t manage it every day, but even started taking water bottles with me when I am traveling to make sure I keep myself hydrated (and energized). Particularly after I collapsed after a conference years ago due to being totally de-hydrated.
4. Eat regularly: if your body is starving, your blood sugar drops which will make you feel rather tired with a serious lack of energy and concentration. Not even talking about the rumbling tummy which might distract youJ. Low blood sugar on the other side might create a craving for this sugary so-and-so bar. This will help your body short term, but this is a bit like a roller coaster – your blood sugar jumps up, then falls down again drastically…and so you’re in a bit of a viscous cycle which leaves you pretty exhausted at the end of the day.
5. Eating fat. WHAT? Yes, but the right ones. And stay away from sugar as much as you can. Cause this is the culprit for weight gain, not the fats. You don’t need to believe me – just google this topic and you will find tons of information about that.
Fast is important for a functioning brain…which by the way contains of 60% of fat and uses approximately 20% of our metabolic energy, so you better feed it – particularly if you plan to use it throughout the day.
I eat a lot of fat: I use coconut oil or olive oil for frying and cooking generally (even butter….but not in huge quantities) and I eat avocados almost every day. That’s the fattiest fruit you can imagine, more specifically it is in fact a berry. You can also get the healthy fats in nuts of all sorts – so even if you struggle to find an avocado in your company’s canteen (or you don’t like them – poor you, you’re really missing out) have some walnuts, almonds or whatever you like available for you to complement your meal or just to get energy in between.
6. Eat vegetables with every meal. Yes, with every. We all know that we need those nutrients (5 a day is the recommendation), but many of us struggle to get the stuff into the diet.
Not so tricky, when you come to think of it: Have scrambled eggs for breakfast, add some tomatoes or/and avocado, have a smoothie: throw in veg in all of them – if you are not into the greens try and get into them – they taste better than they look if you combine ingredients nicely. However, carrots, fennel and celery do the trick too and are less dominant in taste. Got a piece of meat and pasta – add salad or some other veggie as a start – for the advanced….loose the pasta or reduce it by quite a bit. Have a sandwich as you’re in a hurry? Have some tomatoes with it. Or cucumber. Again this is a matter of habit. And awareness.
If you think you don’t have time for all those things, think again: this is your body who’s basically the one executing all your great ideas and will function so much better if you treat it nicely.
And if that is too overwhelming, don't try and do everything at once: Start with one of the above, and see what the effects are. You will notice a difference rather quickly – in your energy levels and probably even results.
The biggest difference I felt in my energy levels was when I drastically reduced carbs and sugar. That does not mean that I never eat bread or cake or a sweet or pasta. But it’s rather the exception than the rule and I feel so much better and energetic.
Try it - you're worth it.