By Isabel De Los Rios
I often hear people say…
“I just wish there were more hours in the day so I could get more done.”
But I don’t think more time is what most people need.
I think what many people could really use to get more accomplished each and every day is… ENERGY
Often I talk to people who really do have more than enough hours in the day; they just don’t have enough energy to accomplish all of life’s constant To Do’s.
As a busy mom of 2 small children and owner of my own business, having enough energy to accomplish the many tasks required of me each day is “mission critical”. Without energy, there’s no way I’m going to be able to exercise, work all day, take care of my children and my home, and still find some time for activities like reading and outdoor play.
Here are the 5 things I do DAILY to ensure that I am always functioning at top speed. And no that does not mean I’m constantly running. But it does mean that I’m maximizing the time I have each and every day by keeping my energy levels high all day.
1. Include a healthy protein source into every one of your meals (this includes snacks as well).
Healthy sources of protein and good fat slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) in your blood stream, keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Many times the “crash” people feel after lunch or breakfast is their blood sugar spiking high and then “crashing” real low because they ate a meal that was carbohydrate dense and not balanced with enough protein.
Adding in a healthy protein source like organic eggs, natural meats or poultry, wild fish and raw nuts can ensure your blood sugar doesn’t go on a rollercoaster ride every time you eat. So instead of grabbing pretzels from the vending machine in the afternoon, go for some raw almonds and a fruit and that will keep your energy levels sustained for the rest of the afternoon.
2. Stay hydrated all day.
Most people know they should be drinking water, but what they don’t know is that it directly affects their energy levels throughout the day. Consider this: your brain is approximately 80% water. Staying hydrated helps you maintain mental energy while avoiding fatigue and headaches. Water also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to flush toxins. Organs have to work harder when you don’t have enough water, thus, causing fatigue.
3. Be cautious with caffeine intake.
I am not suggesting you completely eliminate your morning java or your breakfast tea. But many people take their “cup of joe” and turn it into “way too many cups of joe”. Yes, caffeine will give you a quick boost in energy, but will almost always send you crashing just a few hours later.
Caffeinated beverages will also dehydrate your body, and dehydration will cause you to feel fatigued (tip #2). Try to keep your caffeine beverages to a maximum of 1-2 per day. I would also suggest drinking those before 1pm as drinking caffeine any later than that can disrupt your ability to fall asleep that night.
4. Beware of “white” carbs.
“White Carbs”(breads, pastas, cereals, baked goods) break down quickly causing a fast spike in blood sugar. You’ll feel a quick rush of energy, but then a big drop…causing your energy (and your mood) to drop along with it. Also, when too much sugar floods the system all at once, your body can’t use it all for energy and converts it to stored fat.
While it is correct that carbs give you energy, too many carbs at once will actually lead to fatigue and lethargy. I would highly suggest keeping the “white carbs” to a minimum and eating healthier, fibrous carbs like oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. And always be sure to eat those carbs alongside a healthy protein (tip #1).
5. Do a quick 5-minute mini-exercise circuit at any point during the day.
Yes, even a quick 5-minute exercise routine is enough to get your blood circulating, sending more oxygen to your muscles and brain and giving you a boost in energy. Quick bursts of exercise will also increase your metabolism, not only helping you keep the excess pounds off, but giving you a burst of energy as well.
If I start to feel the “afternoon energy crash”, I will get up from my office chair and do 1 minute of body weight squats, 1 minute of pushups over my desk, 1 minute of jumping jacks, and 2 minutes of lower and upper body stretches. It may not sound like very much, but I assure you that in less than 5 minutes, I am “pumped” and ready to get back to work.
Give the above 5 suggestions a try and you will see firsthand that you do have more than enough hours in each day when you energy levels are at their maximum all day long.