Tuesday, April 8, 2014

10 Ways to Supercharge Your Energy Levels (No Caffeine Required)

Do you struggle to get through the day without sneaking away for a little "nanna nap"? Do you hit the snooze button twelve times before finally dragging yourself out of bed in the morning?

Don't despair. It doesn't have to be this way! I've been there, and I'm here to tell you that changing your diet and lifestyle CAN turn your flagging energy into vibrant zest for life.

1. Quit Sugar (and DON’T replace with artificial sweeteners): I’ve listed this first because, while many people find it the most difficult to think about, it's also the one change that can transform your health and energy levels like no other.

Many people are addicted to sugar and don’t realize it (I certainly was). 

They also don’t realize that they’re eating it at virtually every meal. Start reading ingredient labels, and you may be surprised to discover that sugar is everywhere! Besides the usual sweet offenders, it may be found in salad dressings and mayonnaise, sauces and ketchup, processed meats, medicines, crackers and dips…the list goes on and on. 

In my own experience, quitting sugar was pretty rough. I had some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms from Day 3 to Day 6 (thumping headaches, hot/cold sweats, aching back) but once I persisted through that, my energy levels soared and so many niggling little health issues (like PMS and aching legs) simply went away, never to return again.

The good news is that quitting sugar and artificial sweeteners automatically rules out great swathes of processed foods. This is a good thing, indeed. Don’t mourn the loss of your favorite “convenient” foods, there’s nothing even slightly convenient about being tired and run-down and sick all the time.

Read this woman's story: Our Year of No Sugar

How long before you notice more energy: 5 – 7 days

2. A Green Smoothie Per Day (or at Least One Salad Per Day): Every action in your body, including production of energy and digestion of food, requires enzymes. These enzymes are only found in raw foods. Once food is cooked, they are destroyed, so if you’re only eating cooked foods, your body is forced to withdraw from it’s own supplies of enzymes, and it can only keep that up for so long, before things start going awry. 

Nourish your body with real, living food. Leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-rich foods known to man. If you’re not a salad fan, you’ll be relieved to know that green smoothies are absolutely delicious.

You will need a blender to make smoothies. A beginner’s green smoothie might look like this – Two bananas, one apple (peeled and cored), a handful of frozen berries, plus a handful of leafy greens (start with mild-tasting ones, such as baby spinach, bok choy, romaine lettuce). Add enough water to almost cover the fruit, then whizz all together. Drink! Add a teaspoon of spirulina or wheatgrass powder for another hit of nutrients and goodness.

As your tastes change, you can begin to increase the amount of leafy greens.

How long before you notice more energy: 1-2 days
Recommended Reading: Green for Life-The Updated Classic on Green Smoothie Nutrition

3. Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV has been a revered health tonic for thousands of years, and if you have a look on EarthClinic, you’ll see what a popular remedy it is, for everything from fatigue to kidney stones, obesity, arthritis, gout, acne, and the list goes on.

In the beginning, take one tablespoon in a cup of water, 3x per day. After a few weeks, you may wish to cut back to 1-2x per day. I don’t drink cups of tea, but I drink my ACV like tea. I have a little break from what I’m doing, sit down and sip my drink. It takes some people a while to get used to the taste. In the beginning I used a little drop of stevia to sweeten it a little, but I’ve long stopped doing that. 

Be sure to buy raw, unfiltered vinegar with the “mother” in it. I highly recommend Bragg’s brand.

How long before you notice more energy: 3 -4 days

4. Think Energizing Thoughts: Reminding yourself how tired you feel is not going to make you feel refreshed and alive. Our thoughts can drain and deplete our energy just as surely as dead, processed foods will slowly drain the life out of us. Therefore, choose both your thoughts and your food wisely!

Examples of thoughts that drain:
- Dwelling on past hurts/setbacks/ “failures”
- Worrying about the telephone bill for the 58th time in the past hour
- Criticism of oneself and other
- Keeping count of all the things that go “wrong” during the day
           - A “Why Me?” victim attitude

Examples of thoughts that uplift:
     - Seeking out the lesson from past hurts/setbacks/”failures” – how we can use the experience to improve 
          - Encouraging oneself and others
     - Reminding oneself of their goals and aspirations, their "why".

How long before you notice more energy: A few moments

5. Drink Enough Water: Every process in your body relies on well-hydrated cells to perform properly. Even a mild case of dehydration is enough to prompt the body into “drought” mode, where it begins prioritizing which processes are more important, and which can be neglected until later. In his fascinating book “The Body’s Many Cries for Water”, Dr Batmanghelidj explains how lack of water affects the brain's energy output.

Drink 8 glasses of pure water every day - more during hot weather or intense exercise. Tea, coffee, soda, cordial, juice don't count!
How long before you notice more energy: 1-2 days

6. Breathe Deeply: A lack of oxygen circulating in the body will make anyone feel sluggish and lethargic. Most of us adults don’t even know how to breathe correctly! We know it instinctively as babies, but somehow we lose it over time. 

Try this little experiment: Place your hand over your stomach, and take a deep breath. Did your stomach swell outwards, or your chest? If your stomach didn’t move, or (worse) sucked inwards, you’re not allowing your lungs to properly fill with air. When you breathe in, your stomach should expand, which allows your lungs to fill right down into the chest cavity. Your stomach should contract when you breath OUT, which helps to expel the air from deep in the lungs. 

See, what I mean? Most adults do the exact opposite – I did too, until I began making a conscious effort to change my breathing. Perhaps it’s the result of one too many adolescent photos where we are reminded to “suck our tummies in”…

 Deep breathing works well in conjunction with #4 “Think energizing thoughts”. I often find an uplifting, inspiring mantra and repeat it while doing a few minutes of slow, deep breathing

How long before you notice more energy: Within a minute

7. Detoxify: When toxins build up in your body, it slows, tires and ages you. I’m not talking about some fad detox diet or shake program or something else to waste your dollars on. I’m simply talking about limiting the amount of toxins entering your body, and making some effort to remove the ones that are already there.

I constantly "detox", and I do this in several ways: 
 - Fasting for 12 – 16 hours each day (overnight), which gives my body time for rest, rejuvenation, healing and cleansing. Sometimes I do a 24 – 36 hour fast, if I feel my body needs it.
Not eating processed foods 
 -  Not using chemicals on my skin. 
 - Oil-pulling every morning

Every 6 months or so, I do an extra detox with activated charcoal, which binds up heavy metals and toxins and removes them from the body.

How long before you notice more energy: It will probably be a gradual change over several months, depending on how you choose to detox.
Recommended Reading: The Beauty Detox Solution-Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You've Always Wanted (I love this book! One of my all-time faves...)

8. Get proper rest. Let me say it straight. If you don’t wake up feeling refreshed (without an alarm clock) after 8 hours sleep, you’re probably over-burdening your body with wrong food/lifestyle choices, too much stress…or you’re simply not getting restful sleep. (Or all three.) Mothers of babies or sick children are exempt from the above!

Our bodies are physiologically designed to sleep in darkness. If you sleep in front of any kind of lit screen, whether it’s a TV or an alarm clock or computer, you’re body’s natural rhythms are being disturbed. Same goes for street-lights, lamps or any other lighting while you sleep. 

Leave your mobile phone and all electronic equipment as far away as possible from where you sleep. Mobile phones and other devices are sending and receiving electromagnetic waves constantly, which can affect your own electromagnetic frequencies.

An ancient Ayarvedic practice which is said to aid in restful sleep, is to massage the soles of your feet with coconut oil before you lay down to sleep. Afterwards, you will feel the most delicious tingling creeping up your legs.

Live your life according to the principles you most strongly believe in. Treat others as you would like to be treated. There’s nothing like shame or guilt to keep you tossing and turning at night…

How long before you notice more energy: 1 - 2 weeks. 

9. Get fit: It sounds counter-intuitive, I know. Many people associate exercise with tiredness, but after the initial adjustment period, the exact opposite is true. Regular exercise will give you more energy, because the fitter you are, the more efficient your body becomes, which frees up energy for other things.

How long before you notice more energy: One week
Recommended Reading: Fast Exercise - Get Fitter, Stronger and Better Toned in Just a Few Minutes a Day.

10. Live With Purpose: There is nothing in the world that will energize you, and make you absolutely vibrate with zest, as finding purpose in your life and surrendering yourself wholly to it. 

I had a brilliant reminder of this one day, when I was pregnant with my third child, working full-time, under a lot of stress, and struggling to keep it all together. A year earlier, I had realized my life calling was to inspire people to be well and live to their potential. 

It was a cold, wintry day, and I had finished work, came home and cooked dinner, and finally got the kids to bed. I was exhausted, but I logged into facebook anyway (tsk, tsk! I’ve developed more self-control since then), and something prompted me to write a status, sharing hints on how to never “catch a cold” again. 

Within minutes, my timeline had come alight with comments from people who were sick and tired of being sick and tired. My exhaustion melted away within an instant, and I came alive. I swear I started glowing! I thought “Yes! This is why I’m alive. This is my reason for being here on this earth!” Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep for hours because I was buzzing with energy (Lesson learned, I do my facebook sharing in the morning now!)

How long before you’ll notice more energy: As soon as you discover what lights you up...and then start doing it.

You Might Also Like:  
There is No Magic Pill...and That's a Good Thing
10 Ways to Achieve Vibrant Health on a Shoestring Budget
Do You Realize How Magnificent You Are?

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