What my degree in IPE didn't teach me about baking, DIY, fitness, and life…
This morning I read a Runner’s World article with 30 energy boosting tips. Hubby and I have been trying to get our sleep cycles back on track, but on top of that, who doesn’t need more energy. Voilà my top ten from their list:
1 Give yourself a daily high. Try to run or do another form of exercise every day. Exercise promotes better sleep, makes you pay more attention to eating properly, and releases mood-enhancing endorphins that can lead to a “runner’s high.” Exercise physiologist Ken Sparks, Ph.D., of Cleveland, a leading U.S. masters runner, says, “Endorphins elevate your immune system and give you a big boost of energy.”
The first one is one that you’d expect from a publication like Runner’s World, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. One of my June goals has been to “lace up my sneakers” everyday. That doesn’t necessarily mean a 5mile run or even a run at all. But everyday, in order to get my gold star (I love my gold stars), I have to get some kind of exercise. It could be a run, or a go on the elliptical, or a dance DVD or pilates on youtube. There are only two rules: It has to be some kind of exercise and it has to be at least 10 minutes. I haven’t quite managed to get every day, but I’ve definitely exercised more than last month. And it’s also helped improve my diet and reduce my sugar cravings.
6 Dare to be different. Vary your running so you’ll feel excited about each workout. Change your regular route, try a park in another town, go to a track, explore a new trail, run that hill you’ve always wanted to tackle, or try running faster once a week as a challenge. “Doing the same run every day is like always eating the same thing for lunch,” says New York City sports psychologist Maryellen Duane, Ph.D.
Mixing it up is fun. Why not try something you haven’t tried before. In this last year, I started running and tried both Zumba and Nordic Walking (speed walking in the woods with poles). I’ve loved all three, and it’s definitely made my workouts more interesting. There are loads of things I’d like to try this year…
10 Follow a regular schedule. When you establish a routine and stick with it, you develop good health habits. Weekends are a tough time for many runners, who fall out of their Monday-through-Friday routine. Painter has noticed that adults she coaches appear listless on Mondays or any day after a holiday. Her advice: Make a weekend schedule, and stick with it. For help, line up a training partner.
Being a housewife (even a doctorate housewife) means a constantly irregular schedule. This can make habit formation a real struggle. Running with Bakemasters and having regular dates where people are expecting to me has helped.
12 Aim for eight. If you’re tired, it’s possible you’re dehydrated. Runners especially need to drink several (yes, maybe eight) glasses of water a day. One strategy for drinking water, writes dietitian Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D., in Outsmarting Female Fatigue, is to drink a glass of water for every 250 calories of food you eat. An easy way to achieve this is to drink two glasses of water with every meal.
13 Stand tall and proud. Poor posture-hunched shoulders and a shuffling gait-is a sign of energy depletion, says Robert K. Cooper, author of High Energy Living. You can boost energy levels with Cooper’s head-position exercise: First, while standing or sitting, bring your chin in toward your chest. “Your head should feel as if it’s gently extending upward,” says Cooper. “Next, with your neck in this slightly elevated position, nod your head slightly (as if agreeing with someone), but don’t bend it forward.”
Twelve or thirteen years of dance has certainly helped this one. I didn’t realise that sitting up straight would energise me, but thinking that it might will certainly motivate to practice good posture.
15 Follow the sun. Soak in some sunlight (after applying sunscreen, of course) to elevate serotonin levels in your brain, which will boost your mood and energy. A University of Massachusetts study found that hostility and anger were highest in winter and lowest in summer.
Brussels isn’t exactly known for it’s sun. But the moment that big yellow ball does appear in the sky, everybody is outside, the parks are full, and the ice-cream flies off the shelves. Need another reason to get outside – vitamin D. You need it, the sun has it, and it doesn’t take long to get it. So go ahead, go for a little walk and see how you feel =)
23 Take some time for meditation. Andrew Weil, M.D., the integrative medicine pioneer, advises us to be more aware of our breathing and to do specific, meditative breathing exercises “to wake yourself up…if you feel mentally sluggish.” Here’s a simple meditation exercise: Sit comfortably with your back straight and eyes closed. Breathe in and out rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth lightly closed. “The action of the chest should be rapid and mechanical, like a bellows pumping air,” Dr. Weil says.
Again and again studies show that meditation and prayer are hugely beneficial. That’s no great surprise, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make the habit consistent. Bring on the gold star charts =p
24 Eat a snack soon after running. To restore energy following a workout, eat carbohydrate-rich foods such as fruit, veggies, energy bars, or pasta within an hour after you’re done, advises Sparks. If you wait a few hours or attempt to “diet” by delaying eating, you’ll feel your energy sag after the workout or even the next day.
Here’s something I can easily forget. If I exercise mid-afternoon and dinner isn’t for a few hours, sometimes I forget the snack and I definitely feel it. I had no idea it could follow me through to the next day. I’m going to try to be sure and get my recovery meal now.
28 Take the occasional catnap. If you feel droopy in late afternoon, treat yourself to a short, restorative break. Just sit and relax, as Painter does. Or take a nap-20 minutes is enough. “A 20-minute nap is ideal; it’ll refresh you as much as an hour,” says Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., director of the New York University Sleep Disorders Center. “In fact, an hour’s nap is too long, because it will put you into a deep sleep in the afternoon and disrupt your sleep at night.”
30 Follow a consistent sleep schedule. Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep at night for sufficient rest and recovery, and runners may need more, says Walsleben. She advises maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding “sleeping in” on weekends, as this can disrupt your sleep pattern. Try not to depart from your regular amount of sleep by more than an hour.
Sleep is important and nobody does it better than a cat. I’ve been trying to get my sleep habits in order, but sometimes it’s hard. I stay up too late and get up too early. Naps often elude me, but maybe that’s just a matter of habit too. I’m thinking of making that my July goal…
27 Eat two lunches. Clark adds that eating two lunches may be the “secret weapon” for high-energy living. People feel hungry every 4 hours, she points out, but too many of us don’t eat that way. Instead, we skimp on breakfast and lunch, and eat too much from 6 p.m. to midnight. Clark advises eating lunch at noon and again at 4 p.m. “A runner who needs 2,400 calories a day should have two 600-calorie lunches,” she says. “This will boost your energy when you need it, and also ‘ruin’ your appetite so you won’t eat too much at night.”
9 Double your effort, double your reward. Breaking up your exercise into two workouts-one in the morning, one in the evening-is a great way to stay energized throughout the day. Try 3 miles in the morning and 3 in the evening instead of one 6-miler. Running in the morning prepares you for every challenge you’ll face during the day. Running in the evening (at least 3 hours before bedtime) helps promote good sleep.
I love a good snack, so the idea of having two lunches sounds brilliant! Splitting my exercise into two sounds intriguing, especially in light of the recent research about the importance moving all day long.
What’s your favourite energy boosting tip? Leave a comment and let me know =)