‘I have no energy’, is something I hear with many of my patients. When I review their day to day routines (as I do with all of my clients) these three things are consistent – not enough food, not enough quality sleep and way too much ‘doing’.
Here are three ways to boost your energy level starting today:
If you’ve been on a diet, many diets, or live in a culture that’s normalized dieting behaviours there is a high probability you are not eating enough. This might not be enough food calorically, and it might mean not enough of the foods that support your specific goals. If you’re not eating enough, then you might also not be getting enough macro or micronutrients. Of course, one size never fits all, so ‘enough’ for you is specific to your lifestyle and how you balance your meals will matter also. Be honest with yourself and increase the whole food eats at each meal (i.e. add some fruit or your favourite starch or some extra fat to your meal, or even all three) Notice what changes. Reach out and seek support if you need help with finding the right balance for you.
2. Sleep MORE than you’re sleeping.
“But I’ve always felt great on 5 hours of sleep.” (Possibly but unlikely) “But I can’t go to bed earlier, I won’t fall asleep.” (Have you really truly tried?) “But I’m a night owl.” (If you want more energy might you reconsider this role?) I can guarantee for the vast majority of people with no underlying medical issues or medication side effects, getting to bed earlier and sleeping at least 7-9 hours will improve their energy level. And metabolism, and focus, and mood, and motivation, and immune system function, and digestion, and performance, and patience level, and, and, and. You get my point, I hope. If you’re a self proclaimed night owl or convinced you cannot get to sleep earlier, just like you can train your body to stay up late, you can train your body to go to bed earlier little by little. (fun tips: use dimmer switches or limit use of bright light in the evening, use blue blocking aids if you absolutely must use a screen, stop eating and use of screens at least an hour before your goal bedtime)
3. DO LESS than you’re doing.
Stop trying to do it all. All of us have different life circumstances and, we definitely all have different levels of support. That said, if all of your energy is dedicated to output with no input in the form of rest (not sleep, rest), social connection, time outside, fun activity, or soul food, then your daily life is depleting your energy stores. Of course some of our outputs feed us in the joy and satisfaction we may experience in parenting or working or creating, but let’s be honest, adulting can be exhausting! Do what is in your power to shift the balance in your life of inputs and outputs. This may mean handing off some of the mental load or household load to a partner (and letting go of control, gulp. I get it and I see you.) It may mean saving for a babysitter once in a while. It may mean saying no when you always say yes. It may mean letting go of some volunteer work. Practice simplifying your daily life to make space for you to do less. Practice asking for and receiving help like it’s your job as awkward as it may feel.
So, repeat after me: I will eat more, sleep more, and do less for the energy boost I deserve!
Jennifer Bolus, Registered Dietitian