Saturday, January 16, 2016


By Katie G.

Recently, I had the good fortune of being invited to an IVY Connect panel discussion with Dr. Holly Phillips, a contributor to CBS News and author of the new book The Exhaustion Breakthrough. I have  always been intrigued by the idea of energy in the body: where it comes from and how it affects our everyday lives. During this event, I had an a-ha moment. I realized that many of the behaviors viewed as "normal" are actually telltale signs that we need to take a step back and be honest with ourselves. For example, do you find yourself yawning uncontrollably at 3:00 pm when you're in the umpteenth meeting of the day? Do you make excuses not to exercise or socialize because you're just not feeling up to it? Are you nodding out every night on the couch at 9:00 pm? Do you just wish you had a little extra oomph? Do you feel like you're in a fog when you wake up in the morning? Are you drinking more than one cup of coffee and/or eating sugary foods to keep your energy "up?"

If the answer is yes to any one of these questions, then you, my friend, need to read on.  The secret to energy isn't found solely in sleep (although don't get me wrong, it's important), but in various lifestyle choices and patterns that you can control.

Real talk: I admit that I used to be able answer yes to all of those questions (and lately, I'm still answering yes to some of them). Although, I don't suffer from chronic fatigue, my energy patterns are often erratic. I can either wake up feeling like running a marathon or like I can't get out of bed. But, after starting a practice of mindfulness and healthy living, my stress levels, happiness, and sleeping patterns have all improved. And, after the discussion with Dr. Phillips, I took away four very simple habits that we can all adopt to boost energy, combat fatigue, and live your fullest life ever...starting today!

Remember: Blue Light = Up All Night

1. Set a Digital Curfew
Let's face it. We live in a technology-driven world. While this enhances our lives in many ways, it also drains us. We're always connected. We're always "on." Whether it's our iPhone, iPad, Laptop, or Television, the sights, sounds, and constant stimulation keep our minds "up." In fact, on average, 20-somethings look at their phones once every 6 seconds during peak evening hours. What? That's 10 times a minute and 600 times every hour. I'm tired just thinking about that.

Another interesting commonality among these devices? They emit blue light.  Blue light has been proven to slow the release of melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone. Bottom line, digital devices keep you awake, both mentally and physically.

In the project: CLEAN FOOD household, we have a rule: No devices after 10:00 pm. We instituted this after realizing how absurd it was that we were sitting on the couch next to each other, not talking, on our phones looking at Instagram. By setting this rule, it's given us time to unwind, connect, prepare for the day, and expand our minds in different ways, like reading. I challenge you to try this, not only to deepen your relationship with your partner, but to connect with yourself.

Remember: 2 Liters of Water a Day
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Did you know that the #1 symptom of dehydration is not actually thirst, but fatigue? (I guessed hunger, but clearly I was wrong) Yes, most of us walk around in a state of semi-dehydration. We don't drink enough water –  we actually need to be drinking at least 2 liters a day. Instead we supplement it with an array of other options like soda, vitaminwater, tea, coffee, etc, which often dehydrate us more. 

I fall short in this area. WAY short. I get so wrapped up in my tasks at hand that I literally forget to drink. Sound like you? I now carry around a 1-liter water bottle and refill it as often as I can. By drinking at least two liters of water every day, you'll begin to see a variety of health benefits, including brighter skin, along with a huge increase in energy. Woo hoo!

Remember: Go for Quality Sleep
3. Be an Example of Good Sleep Hygiene
It's important to have good hygiene right? At least, that's we've always been taught. But what about good sleep hygiene? Simply put, sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep And, this can be done in several ways:
  • Setting regular sleeping patterns. For example, if during the week, you sleep from 12:00 am - 7:00 am, you'd better darn well be sleeping at least 7 hours on the weekend too. Also, try to avoid "making up" sleep hours by staying in bed until 1 pm.
  • Curbing the late night alcohol and snacks
  • Making sure your room is conducive to sleep: your shades block out natural light, your bed is comfortable, you're warm enough, etc.
  • Avoiding sleep disruption: a snoring partner, your phone's alerts, etc.
Remember: Foods that are alive
boost LIFE
4. Make Better Food Choices
Ah, you knew this was coming, didn't you? Well, it turns out that your diet is one of the most  important factors in your energy levels (arguably as important as sleep). There are foods out there that just bring you DOWN and they're so prevalent in our diets that we don't even realize they're affecting us. So, listen up. Here's what we're going to do:
  • Eliminate highly-processed foods. You know, processed meat, food with more than 4 major ingredients, things on the label that you can't pronounce? These foods require a lot of energy to digest, energy that we don't even realize that our body is expending. 
  • O-S-E = N-O. If your food has ingredients that end in "OSE" (think high-fructOSE corn syrup), just avoid it. It's another energy sapper.
  • Eat as much food as you can with these energy-boosting ingredients: Magnesium (think green veggies, fish, nuts); Iron (green leafy veggies - NOT steak); and Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Limit your caffeine intake to max 2 cups a day. Caffeine is OK, but only in small doses.

And there you have it. A 4-step plan for abundant energy in our lives. Are you ready to take on the world right now?

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