All Day Energy!
If only, I hear you mutter…. I’m always tired, I have soo much to fit into each and every day! I don’t have time for me anyway!, I hate exercise, I’d like to hibernate in the winter!
But running on empty is not normal for our body; running on empty is not how we are meant to live our lives; and running on empty is not the inevitable consequence of ageing either!
Running on Empty = lack of nourishment is every way = no energy.
So what is running on empty a consequence of I hear you ask?
Running on empty is a consequence of trying to be all things to all people, of putting others before ourselves, pain & illness (some of it chronic), being around negative people, lack of sleep, eating food which slows down our body, working in stressful environments, depression, lack of exercise, excessive exercise, hormones and poor gut health.
We don’t usually have all of these going on in our lives at the same time though.
So let’s get your mojo back!!
Easier said than done I hear you say…..
Actually, it is easy… with just a few tweaks to your everyday life, simple steps which are easy to incorporate into your life, you too can have your mojo back in time for the festive season!
These simple steps will add up so that by the end of this week, you should already be noticing a difference in your energy levels!!
How do I know this?
I know this because I have made all of these changes in my life, and not only do I wake up bouncing with energy every day, I’m still going strong in the evening too!
And if I’m not, then my body is out of balance again…. So my body is making me tired, giving me a headache, whatever the signal is, to show me that I’ve not been nurturing it…. And if I don’t make some changes, the pain will get worse…… and I will feel worse….
On top of that, making changes in my life, rather than going on yet another diet, means my body has released excess fat, a LOT of excess fat! Wow! So I’ve lost weight without dieting too! Now that is a massive bonus for me, a lifelong yoyo dieter.
My cravings have disappeared…..
My binge eating habit has disappeared….
My menopause belly has disappeared…..
Would you like some of those changes in your life??
OR maybe even all of those changes??
That is why I’ve decided to begin the process with this 5 day FREE Challenge!
So, what are we going to cover this week?
Day 1: The Importance of Breakfast
Day 2: The Importance of Lunch & Dinner & healthy
Day 3: It’s time to break up with Sugar!
Day 4: Sleep & Exercise
Day 5: Be the CEO of YOU!
Here are the main steps in a little more detail:
1. The Importance of breakfast
Do you have a sit down breakfast already or just a coffee to go? Or something in between?
We wake up dehydrated, with low blood sugar, which = low energy. So what does our body and our brain need? They need a breakfast primarily of protein and healthy fats, together with a small amount of slow release carbs eg. Multi grain bread, UNLESS you body says it doesn’t want the carbs/can’t tolerate bread.
It does not need cereal (processed carbohydrate + sugars) which just turns to sugar in your body, even if you do add milk….. And for some people, the body doesn’t want cows milk either…. Interestingly, the new High Protein Cereals have been shown to contain twice as much sugar as their conventional cousins, and the average amount of extra protein they contain is = to only 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk!
My body doesn’t want or need carbs for breakfast, and I have had to give up all dairy; carbs just slow down my body and make me sleepy by mid -morning, and often I’m hungry again too! And dairy, well I get sinusitis and migraine to begin with……
So I usually have 2 eggs and an avocado for breakfast, together with a cup of really nice filtered coffee. Plus a large glass of water.
Sometimes I will have toast made from spelt (which is an old type of wheat which my body tolerates) spread with some “no added sugar” peanut butter.
Or, a protein & veggie smoothie.
So where is the fruit I hear you ask? Surely a bowl of fruit and some yoghurt is a good breakfast?
I will talk more about sugar tomorrow, but suffice to say that even if the fruit you eat is a mixture of berries, just eating fruit and yoghurt for breakfast will raise your blood sugar too quickly, followed by a crash and mid morning energy slump with hunger & a craving for something sweet to quickly refuel your body….
Eating a little fresh fruit with yoghurt sprinkled with seeds as part of a high protein breakfast is ok.
If you don’t eat breakfast, why don’t you eat breakfast?
Many people tell me they don’t have time for breakfast before leaving the house.
They just can’t face eating breakfast first thing in the morning.
Are you one of these?
I work with clients individually on this issue, but here are some suggestions:
⦁ Have a large glass of water before you leave the house, and take something for breakfast with you, either to consume on the journey or when you reach work (provided the journey is not too long).
⦁ Keep some yummy bread at the office with a jar of nut butter
⦁ Make porridge in a microwave at the office, using a nut milk, and
⦁ eat it with some mixed seeds, a few nuts and maybe a dollop of yoghurt on the top. NB: No sugar or honey!
⦁ Make a smoothie before going to work and take it with you.
If you have nothing to eat for breakfast, you will feel tired mid-morning, your brain will feel foggy, your concentration will waiver and you will not be productive.
Your body is now starving AND dehydrated. It will react by giving you cravings for sweet, sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and chocolate in order to avoid your blood sugar dropping even further, which = low energy.
This is called The Famine Reaction which is our body’s inbuilt survival mechanism, controlled by our brain. This creates cravings for foods which are quickly absorbed into our blood stream – chocolate, biscuits, cake, high sugar foods, white bread etc – ie an inbuilt drive to eat!
The Famine Reaction slows our metabolic rate, making our body more fuel efficient and reduces how much we can eat without putting on weight.
The Famine Reaction also alters our hormones so we become more likely to hold on to fat around our middle and bellies, and more likely to lose lean tissue and bone density too!
So if we go on a diet which promises fast weight loss (usually using meal replacements), we go into ketosis and our appetite control goes into hiding, temporarily….. but as soon as we go back to ‘normal’ food, the Famine Reaction kicks back big time and we experience hunger and cravings, and we put on weight again….
Skipping Breakfast (or indeed any other meal) will cause the Famine Reaction to kick in…..
So, breakfast is ESSENTIAL for our health and our energy, but it must be high protein and healthy fat in order to balance our blood sugar and prevent mid morning cravings and energy slump.
It is also essential to keep ourselves hydrated – all our body’s chemical reactions take place in water, and if we don’t have enough to drink, our brain shrinks….
Dehydration also affects our energy levels, our mood and our concentration. So aim for a minimum of 4 large glasses of water every day.
Day 2: The Importance of a balanced Lunch, Dinner & healthy Snacks
Plan for 3 healthy meals every day, with healthy snacks if you need them. What you eat for one meal will affect what you eat for the next, and your energy levels in between….
If you start with junk, you are more likely to eat it for the rest of the day…
At lunchtime, again focus on high protein and healthy fats, low carbs to combat any post lunch energy dip.
Swap a pasta salad for a tuna salad, a large baked potato with cheese for a small one with baked beans, and a regular sandwich for an open one.
Chunky soups make an ideal lunch as they are filling but also hang around in the stomach for a lot longer than a salad, thus avoiding any hunger issues mid afternoon.
Swap pasta salad for a salad based on Quinoa which is a protein filled grain. I also suggest substituting white potatoes with quinoa, or sweet potatoes, both of which are absorbed much more slowly by the body, thereby avoiding energy slumps mid afternoon.
Vitamin D is an energy booster, but almost all of us have low levels now, both winter and summer… it may be worth asking your GP for a blood test. So it is important to up your consumption of oily fish & egg yolks and probably take a supplement too, particularly as you get older.
Low Iron levels are a problem for at least 10% of us, and can leave you fatigued and lethargic. Good sources of iron are red meat, liver and egg yolks, while kidney beans, nuts, dried fruits and tofu also contain iron. Again, if you are concerned, ask your GP for a blood test.
Vit B12 (found in meat and dairy products) & Folate (in leafy green veg, chickpeas and liver) are also vital as a deficiency can leave you with low energy, pins and needles, and muscle weakness..
Our appetite control gives priority to protein, then fats, then complex carbs (veggies) and finally simple carbs for keeping us energised. So every meal should be centred around the protein it provides, followed by a small % of healthy fats, lots of veggies (about half your plate) and a very small amount of carbohydrate eg rice, pasta, potato, flour.
Diluting proteins with fats and carbs which are flavoured to taste like protein plays havoc with our appetite control. But diluting protein saves food manufacturers money and increases profit margins…..
The savoury snack industry has made £millions as a result of this…. producing carbohydrate based snacks which taste like protein, and which deceives out body into wanting more and more of them…In fact, we are just loading up with unhealthy fats and simple carbs which turn to sugar in our body, leaving the body protein deficient, and low on energy.
Do you eat a lot of these savoury flavoured snacks?
Do you keep them in your cupboard for your children?
Are they considered a treat?
Now that you know what is happening in your body, and inside your children too, maybe it’s time to consider different snacks? Healthier snacks.
There are many recipes for making your own – something which can be done at the weekend for the coming week – and I will be sharing some of these during the week. Eg. You can make your own sugar free flavoured granola, nutty balls (just like you can buy in the shops but MUCH cheaper!!) and sugar free bars too.
However, there are a few you can buy which I would consider healthy – most of the snacks marketed as healthy are anything but healthy sadly…
I always keep Nakd Bars in my cupboard – wholefood bars with no nasties in them, just 100% natural ingredients. No, I don’t get paid to promote these!!
The key here is, when you are looking at buying any of the ‘healthy’ snacks in the supermarket, check out the list of ingredients – if there is anything other than a recognisable healthy whole food in there, then they are not healthy! Even Palm Oil is not considered healthy….. BE VERY CAREFUL!!
My preferred snack is a handful of mixed nuts – full of protein and healthy fats.
Yes, you can have fruit BUT…. not on its own! Fruit is sugar, your body will just absorb it straight away and your blood sugar will go rocketing up really quickly, and then drop like a stone back down into your boots. And you will be hungry again within 30 minutes.
So if you eat fruit, make sure you also eat some protein and fat with it eg. Nuts, full fat yoghurt, a piece of cheese (you get the picture).
Day 3: It’s time to break up with Sugar!
This is a HUGE subject in itself! And worthy of another challenge….. But breaking up with sugar is ESSENTIAL to balancing your body chemistry and with it your energy levels.
And it’s not just ditching the obvious sugary foods either, or the sugar in your drinks, or the fizzy drinks either….. It’s about looking at all the food which are converted to sugar in your bodies……
40 years ago, Professor John Yudkin wrote a book all about the evils of sugar…..based around good science. However, it was quashed by the large food manufacturers and he was ridiculed by his peers…. and so we carried on eating sugary baked goods, carried on putting sugar in our drinks, carried on eating all the foods which just turned to sugar in our bodies, AND carried on just getting fatter at the same time.
We are not born with a sweet tooth – we develop one over our infant years, and with it, an addiction to sugar. Yep, we all become addicted to some degree to sugar.
Yes, sugar will provide a very quick energy boost – it will absorbed quickly into the blood stream, your blood sugar will go rocketing up, together with the production of insulin which is needed to turn the sugar into energy.
However, once this has happened, and all the blood sugar has been used up, the blood sugar will plummet back down at an alarming rate and you will feel even worse than before!
And if we consume far too much sugar for our body’s needs, it will be stored as fat. Simple. And if we do it regularly, the effect on our insulin systems will mean we develop insulin resistance and diabetes.
There is not one biochemical system in the body which requires dietary sugar, not one! Dietary sugar is completely irrelevant to life!
In fact, a % of the protein & healthy fats we eat are converted into the small amount of glucose if needed for energy.
I could talk all day about ditching sugar, and how to create a new eating plan which is sugar free (and I will talk a little about this in my Live Video).
However, the basics are:
⦁ Cut out all sugary bakes goods – cakes, biscuits, pastries, desserts.
⦁ Cut out simple carbohydrates – white bread, white pasta, white rice
⦁ Cut out manufactured ‘foods’ – they all contain some added sugar
⦁ Read food labels – only choose foods with less than 5% added sugars
⦁ Honey is sugar – yes, it’s natural but your body just thinks it is sugar
⦁ Chocolate is a no no in the first 8 weeks of going sugar free
You can go ‘cold turkey’, which means even cutting out natural artificial sweeteners such as Rice Malt Syrup, Stevia and Xylotol, or you can start by cutting out all the obvious sources of sugar initially.
Is this easy?
Well like any other addiction, you take it one day at a time. But after 7 days, it begins to get easier, I promise!
Be aware of when you crave sugary foods – what is going on in your head and in your life?
Don’t berate yourself for any slip ups….. and just get back on to that sugar free wagon again.
Become aware of how differently you are beginning to feel… and how much more energy and vitality you have!
Exercise: After 2 months of being sugar free, try some milk chocolate…. You are certain to find that it no longer tastes as good as you remember!
I no longer eat milk chocolate as all, & only a very little dark chocolate, although even that is no longer the ‘treat’ it used to be……
And I no longer look to chocolate, biscuits etc for extra energy, because I have all the energy I need! And to be honest, if I eat some, it drains my energy now…….
Day 4: Sleep & Exercise
Sleep is our universal energiser & it is essential for our health and wellbeing; insufficient sleep will not just leave you tired but your body will not have had the rest in which to heal and detoxify, so it will not be working at 100% efficiency either!
Research shows that even partial sleep deprivation has a negative impact on the way our body regulates energy.
So how do we go about getting enough sleep?
⦁ Reverse the lunchtime ratios of protein and carbs, so supper needs to be high carb/low protein to create Melatonin, which is our sleep hormone.
⦁ Avoid caffeine – for some people this means no caffeine after lunch but for many it just means nothing after 6pm.
⦁ If you have an alcoholic drink, make sure you also drink plenty of water, and don’t drink alcohol too late in the evening. It is important to be hydrated at night in order to have good sleep and also so that your body’s cleansing and repairing processes, which happen while you are asleep, can be accomplished.
⦁ Wind down before bed – Avoid electronic equipment (phone, tablet, pc and TV) for up to an hour before you intend going to bed. The blue screens keep your brain active and increases the production of stress hormones. Blue light also hinders the production of melatonin, so leave your mobile phone and tablet in another room at night!
⦁ Write down everything – everything which is on your mind, and also your To Do list for the following day – it helps to clear your mind.
⦁ Have a bath
⦁ And yes, a glass of warmed milk helps your body to slow down ready for sleep!
⦁ At the weekend, try and wake up when you have finished sleeping – ie turn off the alarm. I usually do this on a Sunday if I can.
⦁ When you wake up, get up! No snoozing – this will drain your energy.
⦁ Go to bed early enough for you to have 7-9 hours of good sleep.
⦁ Turn off the heating in your bedroom – research has shown that a cold bedroom is more conducive to sleep. Of course, if you are a woman of a certain age, you will also have the windows open in the middle of winter AND a fan going!!
⦁ Ensure your bed is warm (in the winter) and comfortable. Personally, I have a very thick mattress topper on my bed which is super comfy and then an electric blanket! (There is nothing woosy about having an electric blanket.)
Exercise is essential for our health and wellbeing, whatever age we are; our bodies are meant to keep moving…..
However, many of us have physical limitations, or develop them as we age, which prevents us doing all types of exercise.
In addition, not all exercise is good, believe it or not!
Long workouts and lots of cardio actually puts your body under stress! (Well that’s good news for me then!). As a result, your body will produce the stress hormone Cortisol, which is the hormone which encourages our body to store fat!
So what sort of exercise should I be doing then, and how often, if I want to get my mojo back?
The answer to that is: something which gives you joy, is fun, is not high impact (because that is bad for the knees and the back according to an orthopaedic surgeon friend of mine), and preferably outside. I also attend a Fitsteps Fab dance class, which is great fun, sociable and works the parts of me which I’d forgotten I had!!
Just 20 minutes fast walking every day will be sufficient to rev up your body (and your fat burning). Yep, that’s all you need to keep your energy levels stable and your metabolism stoked up to burn fat. I don’t know about you, but being out in the open air, in the sunshine, in nature or by the sea, is very energising for me.
If you have a menopause belly, don’t do sit ups!! They won’t work, in fact they will make the situation worse, and they are likely to damage your back.
I am not an exercise expert, but I do know people who are, so if you have specific queries about exercise, I can refer you on to them.
Day 5: Be the CEO of YOU!
We women are generally not good at looking after ourselves are we? We put other peoples’ needs before our own. This is not the place to go into all of that (that’s a whole other challenge!) BUT we do need to take charge of the body in which we live, take charge of its care, and love it as we would love anyone else. Yes, that’s right, we need to love ourselves. Not easy I hear you cry! I never said it was; however it is essential if we are going to feel energised, healthy and have our mojo running at 100%
So here are a few things to consider, and an exercise for you to try every day….. And we will do this together on Friday afternoon during my Live video.
⦁ Self love/Self Approval – the Mirror Exercise
You will need a mirror, any mirror will do.
Look into the mirror, look at yourself, look yourself in the eye, and breath…. Keep looking at yourself in the mirror.
Say “I love you, I really love you, (name) I really love you!”
Repeat this several times
Notice what your are experiencing…..
Eg. Resistance to looking yourself in the eye, tension in your body, resistance to saying these words, any self talk.
Be gentle and honest with yourself.
If it is too much for you right now, say these words instead:
“I am willing to love myself”
“I am willing to love myself today”
“I am willing to treat myself with love and respect today”
Repeat this exercise 5 x daily for at least 1 week for 1 minute each time.
Note any changes in how you feel, in your self talk, in your body.
⦁ Low Mood – A low mood will leave you lacking in energy, which will drag you down even further and rapidly become a vicious circle. If your tiredness is due to a low mood, you will probably also feel sad, listless and maybe overwhelmed by life. Your depression may be caused by life events, stress or a chemical/hormone imbalance. But whatever it is, eating well, taking some daily exercise (see above) and maybe some talking therapy will help to support your body and your mood.
(I spent a lifetime a lifetime in the clutches of depression and anxiety, so I know that this area is complicated, and a whole other subject in itself. It affected my ability to get out there and to exercise. But I always had dogs which needed exercising…. and my children. Now I live alone, animals are not allowed in the development where I live, so I have had to find a new way of motivating myself to exercise. But all is possible….)
How did you feel before you came on this course?
What was your Tipping Point? Ie What one thing tipped you over the edge to encourage you to come on this Challenge?
What were you daily challenges? What was frustrating you, or depressing you, or annoying you? Or just felt too hard?
What did you look, feel like?
How do you feel now?
What has changed in you?
Are you feeling more energised?
What impact has this had on you, not just immediately but ongoing?
What in particular have you changed in your daily life?
What one tip gave you a light bulb moment?
This is the first challenge I have run, so I would love to know what worked for you, and why, and what didn’t work for you, and why?
I would love your feedback, either by sending me the answers to these questions or by posting something in the group!