Here are the best dos and don’ts to help you ban that sluggish feeling once and for all
As the days get cooler and shorter, our energy levels also seem to decline. The end of summer doesn’t have to leave you feeling drained. Dietitian nutritionist and exercise physiologist Dr. Felicia Stoler has some quick ways to get energized! You may be surprised by some of her tips.
- Slack off on sugar. “Sugar might give you an instant kick, but you’re going to crash in the long run. High-fiber, low-glycemic foods such as quinoa, lentils and apples will help supply you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. You’ll be less likely to reach for that mid-afternoon double-fudge brownie.”
- Make sure you “go”. “When you’re not regular, you feel uncomfortable and out of balance. Plus, feeling better on the inside will help you exude more confidence on the outside. Keep the poop moving by eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and complex carbs. And be smart about your fiber intake. The right fiber supplement, such as the combination of prebiotics and probiotics in gluten-free Regular Girl, can move things along without causing additional gas or bloating. Plus it mixes easily into your morning smoothie without affecting the flavor, appearance or consistency.”
- Embrace better-for-you fats . “Your non-fat lifestyle may be depriving your body of nutrients, and may actually be making you fat! You need fats to lower inflammation, and for healthier bones as well as better hair, skin and nails. In addition to being a great source of energy, fats can also help your body burn fat for fuel. Olive oil, palm fruit oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocados are all examples of healthy fats.
- Stay hydrated. “Dehydration robs you of energy. You’d think that because it’s not as hot outside, you don’t need as many fluids. But air heated by furnaces is drier. That’s why your lips feel chapped and skin feels tight. There’s no magic number for the amount of water you should drink. Listen to your body.”
- Chill out. “Stress can burn up your energy-assisting B vitamins. It also lowers your serotonin, the feel-good hormone that your brain eventually converts to melatonin for good sleep. There are a lot of really good stress-busting habits out there. Keep trying them until you find things that work for you.”
- Plan your down time. “Multi-tasking and over-scheduling are surefire ways to feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished. Prioritize your list and focus on what’ really important. Do one thing at a time, do it well and then let it go. Always schedule time in your day to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.”
- Forget about going to the gym so often. “Scheduling an hour for aerobics class in your already loaded schedule only creates more stress for both your mind and body. Some experts even say that aerobic exercise raises cortisol (your stress hormone), accelerates aging and lowers testosterone. Try burst training instead. Burst training is the efficient, effective antidote to an hours-long gym routine which you can do in just minutes. I love to combine it with weight resistance for the two best kinds of exercise on the planet!
- Keep some not-so-great books on the nightstand. “You want to wind down just before bedtime. Set a kitchen curfew after dinner so that you stop eating three hours before bed. If you need help to relax, sip on some chamomile tea. And read a good (but not great) book. You don’t want to lose sleep because you’re engrossed in a fabulous novel.
- Maintain your circadian rhythm. “Melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm but it declines with age. If you have jet lag, or just find yourself awake and staring at the ceiling for hours, see if three mg of melatonin does the trick. If you doze off easily, then you’ll know that your body isn’t making enough of this crucial hormone.”
- Shut it off. “If I had to pick just one thing for great energy, fast fat loss and overall health, it would be to consistently get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. My new favorite trick is to set an alarm clock to warn me that it’s an hour before bedtime. That’s my official warning to put away the laptop, flip off the TV and power down so that there’s no flashing cell phone or other electronic gizmos.
As Stoler points out, maintaining a higher energy level this fall is all about treating yourself right, so that your body can work as it’s designed.
Dr. Felicia D. Stoler, America’s Health & Wellness Expert™, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in nutrition and healthful living. She was the host for TLC’s reality show, Honey We’re Killing the Kids. She is the author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes™: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great (Pegasus 2011). She specializes in integrating behavior modification to influence positive health outcomes.