If you have been waking up tired, moving sluggishly throughout the day and constantly feel like you are running on reserve energy, then you are not alone.
Your fitness goals and day-to-day motivation may have taken a hit because of how you feel, but the good news is there are ways that you can instantly improve your energy levels and restore your motivation.
Here are 5 natural methods that you can use:
1. Sleep More
Sleep isn’t a luxury. It is a NECESSITY!
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to your health and has a direct impact on your hormones, weight and motivation. A 2017 study on sleep and obesity found that over the past five decades, our sleep duration has been declining while at the same time the rates of overweight and obesity have been increasing (1). And, while it is difficult to analyze the immediate link between sleep duration and weight gain, there have been several markers that suggest poor sleep creates metabolic irregularities. These irregularities affect our dietary choices, lower our energy levels and create a vicious cycle of poor sleep quality.
According to the national CDC of the United States (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), we should be aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
How to get more sleep?
– Treat your sleep as a priority!
It is easy to stay up late and watch your favorite program or go for that night out, but if repeated too often the lack of sleep compounds and very quickly leads to a cycle of sleep deprivation. By prioritizing your sleep, you can improve your time management, increase your self-awareness and promote greater balance and well-being.
– Wake up at the same time
Waking up at the same time every day (even on days off) has been found to improve our sleep quality and increase our mental and physical well-being. A regular sleeping and waking time helps reinforce our circadian rhythm which is responsible for the release and inhibition of hormones like melatonin and cortisol. These help our bodily functions and cycle operate efficiently, keeping us strong, alert and energized.
– Switch off your screens
Switch off your screens (phone, laptop/tablet, television) at least 1-2 hours before bed. The blue light that is emitted from our devices, mimics daylight, delays/decreases melatonin production and keeps our brains active.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water makes up over 70% of our body and has a strong influence on our brain’s regulation and activity. When we are low on fluids, our body fatigues easier and feels weaker than usual. This is because our cells need adequate hydration to metabolize our food and produce the daily energy that we need. Studies have also shown that mild dehydration/fluid loss of 1-3% not only impairs our energy levels but can significantly affect our active memory, promote anxiety and increase feelings of fatigue (2).
It is recommended that we drink at least 2.5-3.5 liters of water daily to maintain adequate levels of hydration.
3. Move More
As contradictory as it sounds, moving more and exercising regularly is a great way to boost your energy levels. This is because exercise increases blood flow, boosts our oxygen uptake and pushes our bodies to produce more mitochondria inside our muscle cells. Mitochondria are small organelles that create energy from the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe. The more mitochondria we have, the more energy supply we have.
In addition, regular exercise boosts hormones like endorphins which increases our pleasure, relieves pain, reduces stress and promotes a sense of well-being.
Easy ways to move more:
– Take the stairs
– Walk to work
– Do household chores
– Dance to your favorite songs
– Set a target and track your daily steps
– Stretch when you wake up
– Attend a fitness class
– Follow a workout plan or program
4. Eat nutrient-dense meals
All foods contain calories but these calories are not created equal. What we eat has a direct impact on the physiological processes in our body and in turn, affects our energy levels and how we feel.
The body gets its energy from two main sources: sugars and fats.
When our diet is predominantly reliant on sugars (especially simple sugars) we experience quick spikes in energy followed by quick drops in energy. However, when we balance our diet and include more healthy fats our body experiences a more steady flow of energy throughout the day without the quick energy drops.
How to balance your meals?
– Switch out simple and processed carbs for complex carbs like beans, whole grains, sweet potatoes and oats.
– Increase your daily fiber intake with foods like berries, dried fruits, green veg, chickpeas and pulses (i.e. beans, lentils, peas).
– Increase your protein intake with foods like eggs, chicken, red meat, fish, tofu, beans and protein shakes.
5. Reduce Stress
Prolonged stress takes a heavy toll on our physical and mental health, and has been linked to tiredness, fatigue, low energy and demotivation.
While it is easier said than done, if you have been feeling prolonged stress it is important to figure out what is causing it and how to reduce/remove it. De-stressing can give you an instant boost to your energy levels.
Common causes of prolonged stress include:
– Pressure from home and outside of the home responsibilities
– Shock from trauma/traumatic events
– Sudden life changes in work, relationships, family, etc.
Stress management tips:
– Take time out for yourself to just be and feel
– Work out regularly. It relaxes your body and mind and increases your endorphins
– Spend 5-10 minutes consciously breathing
You can do this by sitting in a comfortable position, grounding your feet and relaxing your arms. Close your eyes and visualize a relaxing space. Take a long slow inhale followed by a long slow exhale.
– Talk to someone
Sometimes we just need to get things off our chest, express and feel heard. If you can’t speak to family or friends consider speaking with a licensed therapist.
– Make time for hobbies
Setting aside time for the things you enjoy makes you feel good and helps to set boundaries around the things that may stress you. If you don’t have a hobby, consider playing a sport, reading a book, knitting, doing a puzzle or watching a movie.
A few words…
Low energy, fatigue and demotivation aren’t usually things that happen instantly. There are signs and triggers that compound over time, so always pay attention to how you feel, the changes you notice and do not ignore anything that initially sparks some concern.
Speak to your local health professional to rule out anything more serious if your low energy turns into constant fatigue. In the meantime, remain positive, use some of the suggestions mentioned above and keep on showing up for you!
Until the next post!
Mike and Viv aka MrandMrsMuscle
1. Ogilvie, R. P., & Patel, S. R. (2017). The epidemiology of sleep and obesity. Sleep health, 3(5), 383–388. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2017.07.013
2. Pross N, Demazières A, Girard N, Barnouin R, Santoro F, Chevillotte E, Klein A, Le Bellego L. Influence of progressive fluid restriction on mood and physiological markers of dehydration in women. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jan 28;109(2):313-21. doi: 10.1017/ S0007114512001080. Epub 2012 Apr 13. PMID: 22716932; PMCID: PMC3553795.