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Ways I Increased My Energy



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There was a time when I could hardly make it through the day without almost involuntarily falling asleep. I’d wake up morning tired and by 3 PM I'd to pull my car over into a parking lot somewhere, put the sunshade in the windshield, recline the driver seat, and set my alarm to wake me up in thirty minutes.

Aside from the fact that I wasn’t and still don't always get the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night, a major player in my lack of energy was due to my weight. I still have some pounds to lose but shedding thirty made a difference. Work and motherhood are enough to tire anyone out, but I couldn’t keep functioning that way. I had to make some changes before I could even think about working on any goals. What good are goals if I can’t even stay awake to achieve them? So, here’s how it went down for me and it mostly has to do with nutrition.

*Disclaimer: The information in this post is based on my personal experience and research. It is for educational purposes only and should not take the place of a consultation with a medical professional.


More Exercise
plus size beginner yoga chair pose
Chair Pose

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I feel the most alive after a workout. My hearts get pumping, my blood is flowing as are those feel-good hormones, and I generally feel happy. When I jumped into an online boot camp group, those workouts kicked my butt the first couple of weeks. However, I did a couple of things to get the upper hand, I switched my workout times from whenever I could fit them in, to first thing in the morning. Getting my body moving first thing in the morning set the tone for the rest of the day. It was good for me mentally and physically. With exercising alone, I was able to at least make it to later in the afternoon before I felt tired. It was a step in the right direction, but I still needed help.

More Protein, Fewer Carbs

When I first joined the boot camp, my trainer would often mention eating protein after a workout. I decided to ask him for further explanation and he suggested that I aim for 100 grams of protein a day. Shortly afterward, I had a conversation with another fitness mentor of mine and she suggested something similar. That seemed like such a huge amount because I don’t eat a ton of meat. My diet at the time consisted of a lot of cereal, fast food, and cookies so I already knew I ate a lot of sugar.

I focused on increasing my protein intake. I began supplementing with meal replacement shakes (I still supplement since some days I still don’t always make the best nutrition choices) in order to increase my protein, control my sugar intake (Protein shakes and sugar is a topic worthy of a post of its own. Some of the best tasting protein shakes have upwards of 40g of sugar per bottle, which pretty much defeats the purpose of drinking them. Always read the nutrition facts!) and make getting through my mornings easier since breakfast and I don’t always get along. With the increase in protein, I noticed a few things. The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t hungry as often. Eventually, I also noticed that I could stay awake throughout the day without getting tired.

As the months passed, I learned more about what simple carbohydrates are (here’s a good article for reference) and the effect they can have on the body. In hindsight, I see that it was the poor eating habits that were taking away my energy. I still enjoy my fair share of junk food, however, I am now more conscious of how much of it I eat and when I eat it, so it doesn’t bother me as much as before. Combined with more protein and vegetables, I had more energy, lost weight and could power through my workouts with much more efficiency than before.


 Advocare Spark

While I was figuring out what to eat so I could stay awake long enough to live my life, I was introduced to AdvoCare Spark by my trainer and mentor. Spark is a vitamin and amino acid supplement drink mix that helps give you energy. Both my trainer and my mentor faithfully use AdvoCare products, so took the plunge and bought a pack of Spark for myself even though I normally don’t use energy drinks. 

Coffee or tea never worked to keep me awake either unless I drink an obscene amount of either. I started with the pink lemonade flavor and did not care for the taste at all, but I was pleasantly surprised when 3:00 pm came and went that day without me going to sleep. I still felt some sleepiness, but the drink gave me enough fight to hold on. 

Fortunately, I had received samples of some of the other flavors, like fruit punch, and those tasted much better. Now I always keep a few sticks on hand. I don’t drink it on a daily basis anymore since I have made changes to my eating habits which provide me much more energy, however, on days when I’m short on sleep and I know I won’t be able to make up for it with a nap, I’ll grab a packet, mix it in some water and I’m set for the day. Or, if I’m out of my pre-workout mix and I’m planning on an intense workout, then I’ll use Spark to help me power through.

Before I close this post, here are a few bullet points on how I changed what I ate:
  • ·         More lean meat – I didn’t eat a lot of meat before but made it my business to eat more chicken and turkey. I cut back on beef since it is usually a little too greasy for me and I learned that it takes a while for the average person to digest it (reference: https://www.livestrong.com/article/505936-how-hard-is-it-to-digest-beef/). I did not (still don’t) eat pork at all. So, if I eat at a fast food restaurant, I may order chicken only instead of getting a full meal with two sides or maybe just get a piece of chicken with a biscuit and 16oz of water. I was surprised that I was satisfied with that the first time I did it.
  • ·         Fewer French fries – It is difficult for me to avoid fast food because I spend so much time in my car every day for work. However, after a talk with my mentor where she calculated how many carbs I had consumed on just that day (and it was only around 2 PM!), I was a little embarrassed but very motivated to start paying closer attention. I don’t even remember the number, but I had gotten a chicken strip meal that included a hefty helping of French fries, a thick slice of Texas toast, and a 22oz Coca-Cola. Simple carb, simple carb, simple carb!
  • ·         More vegetables – I’m okay with most vegetables if they are cooked. It took a lot for me to talk myself into an uncooked salad. However, once I got into the swing of it, I began to really enjoy them and that became my primary way of consuming vegetables. Often, I include tomatoes and cucumbers (both fruits, I know). I also began including spinach and lettuce on my sandwiches, which I didn’t before, in order to increase my vegetable intake. I find that lettuce is a good filler that has few calories.
  • ·         Lower sodium – Too much sodium doesn’t necessarily make me tired, but it doesn’t help me have energy either. Occasionally I’ll buy food from the frozen section of the grocery store for convenience. It’s necessary to carefully read the ingredients when buying anything prepackaged.
  • ·         Sweet treats earlier in the day – I had a bad habit of eating ice cream at night. Not only did those calories and sugars stick with me, but they made me tired before I even woke up the next day. I promised myself that I would never make myself feel like I was being deprived of anything, so I still enjoy ice cream, frappes, and cheesecake, but I eat them in smaller quantities and try not to eat anything at all after about 8pm since I’m in the bed by midnight. Doing this gives my body a better chance to break down the sugar since I’m still up and moving around.
Hopefully, you found this post useful. Ultimately, healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and 6-9 hours of sleep every night will fix most common health issues. Supplements are just that, supplements. Use what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Listen to your body and take care of it!

Are you interested in starting your own fitness journey, but you need a little help? Workout with me!




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Comments

  1. Great advice, especially "eat sweet treats earlier in the day". Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I find that starting my day with a burst of fitness—a trot on the treadmill and some yoga stretching—helps me feel more energized and more in control of my mood and life. Similar to you, I am working on eating better, since I know that I often overeat stuff I like (especially since I know that I have exercised), even though I am fully aware that I don’t exercise enough to off set some of the eating that I do. Thanks for encouraging me to do better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a struggle, but we just have to take it one day, one meal at a time. We can do this!

      Delete
  3. Wow! Great post! Thank you for being so authentic in your journey to have more energy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only be me and I am happy with that! I'm glad you stopped by!

      Delete
  4. Hello! Thank you for the reminder that we need to take a good look at what we put into our bodies. I know all this, but life has other ideas and I've found myself eating badly, and being extremely tired every afternoon. Thank you for the shake up, I'm going to try and change my eating habits now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even some of the most dedicated people need reminders sometimes. I certainly need them. Thanks for the kind words!

      Delete
  5. So inspiring and motivating! I'm plus size and your tips and exercise routine are brilliant!

    ReplyDelete

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