Energy Slump Advice

   

      This week I have seen several separate comments in our Slimdown With Sandee Facebook Group asking for advice about how to have more energy. I’m sure many of us in the weight loss community can see clear links between our weight gain (or loss) and our energy levels. With a lack of energy we move less and gain more weight. With more weight we feel less energy and are less motivated to move. In addition there are a number of health conditions and medications (as well as lifestyle choices) that lower our metabolism, thus causing low energy and weight gain. Also, some of the weight loss methods people use can lead to energy deficits. Extremely restrictive diets can leave us not getting enough of the calories or carbs our bodies need to produce the energy we crave. The reasons for lack of energy are many and the right solutions can be highly individual.

     If I was offered wealth, fame, or endless energy, I would choose energy with no hesitation. If you’ve ever had a true energy deficit, struggled for the power to just take a shower or comb your hair, you have come to realize the value of it. With energy nothing is impossible. Without it the simplest tasks become insurmountable. I am a thyroid cancer survivor who has lived for a brief period with no thyroid hormone – the energy bottoms out completely. You just sleep. Even after I was given synthetic hormone, my body struggled to use it properly and it took years to get the dosage consistently right. I also developed a severe Vitamin D deficiency, Insulin Resistance, Acid Reflux, and PCOS which all contribuited to even greater fatigue. A clinical depression followed, and I was unable to even get out of bed. The weight and the energy levels are very much connected, each making the other worse for me. When the hormone or vitamin levels are off, the metabolism lowers and the weight gain results.  As the weight goes up, if the levels aren’t increased I become deficient. Energy slumps and more weight is gained. It was a horrible trap I had fallen in. It seemed as I would never be ok.  Then I found a very knowledgable and determined endocrinologist who worked diligently with me, thinking outside the box, playing with different dosaging approaches, and changing my life.

     Because of my personal experience, one full of struggle for proper diagnosis and care, I always suggest to anyone who suffers from low energy visiting your doctor to find out if there are medical reasons for your low energy. Quick fix temporary pick-me-ups might get you through the day, but they won’t solve an underlying, more serious problem. A blood test could point out something as easy to diagnose as a vitamin deficiency or hormonal imbalance.  Conditions such as anemia, mononucleosis, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromialgia could be to blame. Maybe the fatigue is your body’s response to stress, anxiety, or depression – very real problems that deserve attention and treatment. In my case there were multiple medical causes. If treating one problem doesn’t fix the energy crisis, keep searching until you find all of you answers. If your doctor can’t find an answer or won’t take your problem seriously, look for a new doctor. Chronic fatigue should not be ignored and is likely a symptom of a bigger problem.

     That said, and hopefully noted, I will move on to some tips and tricks that help me through low energy moments or periods.

Supplements

     Adding certain supplements have been very helpful for me. Vitamins D and B are big for energy. I take D regularly and until recently was drinking energy drinks with B vitamins. With the reduction in carbonated drinks I haven’t been getting the B’s so I have added a multivitamin which has high levels of the Bs. I also take Raspberry Ketone which helps provide a non-jittery energy boost and helps the body use insulin in a positive way, helping to avoid blood sugar spikes and lows. At times, for additional energy, I will enjoy ginseng tea, one of several herbals with a nice kick.

Aromatherapy

     I use aromatherapy grade essential oils for energy as well. I sometimes apply to pulse points and often inhale directly from the bottle or use a diffuser to add the fragrance to the air. My favorite scents for energy are citrus such as grapefruit and mints such as peppermint. These are surprisingly invigorating and have a pretty instant effect.

Water

     Hydration is key. You would be amazed how much more energy you have when you get enough water. How  much water do you need? It varries depending on your weight and activity level, but the old rule of 8 glasses a day is a good goal. If you are working out, make sure and take a water break at least every 30 minutes. Dehydration is a big cause of fatigue.

     Are you getting enough restful sleep? People frequently fail to realize that they aren’t sleeping the recommended amount. It’s easy to stay up later than we mean to. In addition, those of us who struggle with weight issues often have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea that cause us to get less restful sleep. Become aware of your sleeping patterns. If you’ve been told you snore or expect sleep problems discuss this with your doctor too. Acid reflux is another common problem for those with extra pounds and can reduce sleep quality if untreated. Over the counter antacids may not be enough. Talk to your healthcare provider about options. 

     Consider power naps. One hour of additional sleep can go a long way, but be careful not to slip the nap in too close to bedtime or nap for too long. You might end up unable to sleep at night and actually worsen your daytime  fatigue. 

   Power Snack 

     When you fuel your body make energy concious choices. Be careful of the energy/drop roller coaster items like caffeine and sugar. Both caffeine and sugar can give you temporary energy to get you through a few hours but the crash afterward is often painfully low energy and even cravings that the dieter will wish to avoid.  Avoid the empty carbs. The blood sugar low after high sugar snacks or meals made up of white carbs like pasta can be brutal from an energy perspective. Even if you aren’t a low carb dieter, take note. Empty carbs will wreak havoc on your metabolism and thus your energy level. Snack frequently and make sure to include protein, a little fat, and complex carbs for a “power snack”. The carbs offer a quick pick-me-up, the protein keeps your energy up, and the fat makes the energy last. Try nuts and dried fruit with oatmeal, peanut butter and an apple, whole wheat crackers with cheese, low carb or greek yogurt with granola,  or tuna on whole wheat – these kinds of snacks will give you energy for hours and won’t leave you with the energy slump after. If you must do caffeine, Web-Md reccomends making it a latte “Pair a quick caffeine hit with the sustaining power of protein by having a low-fat latte instead of just a cup of coffee. All that milk turns your java into a protein drink, which provides not only extra energy, but extra calcium, which is good for your bones. Combine it with an ounce of almonds and the healthy fat will really tide you over — while making you feel you’re spoiling yourself silly!”

Exercise

     Move! I know I sound like a gym teacher and it seems counter-intuitive, but if you are feeling low on energy exercise can invigorate you. Start the morning with as little as 15 minutes of cardio. Jump rope, do jumping jacks, run, speed walk, or even dance! You will be more full of energy throughout your day if you start off strong!

     I’m sure there are lots of other great tips for better energy and I’d love to hear anything you are willing to share. These little nuggets have gotten me through some hard times. Hope they will help you as well.

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