I have a love-hate relationship with coffee and caffeine. In fact, in 2010, I went off of caffeine completely. It lasted for only one year, but it changed my relationship with coffee and even what I put into it.
You have no doubt read many blog posts this week talking about your New Year Resolutions, most of them talking about losing weight and getting in shape. While I think all of that is important, I want you to focus on your self-care first. Because once you address these needs, then losing weight and getting in shape just come naturally!
Increasing self-care is also one of the best ways to improve your energy level. When you do things that you are passionate about, it fuels your soul. When you allow yourself to take a break and relax, you feel refreshed and have all the energy to take on the world.
Here are some ideas to nourish your soul:
- Clean, fresh air – According to the EPA, Americans spend only 10% of our time outdoors. That’s only 2.4 hours. How much time do you spend in fresh air? (Sorry, your car doesn’t count!)
- Exercise/movement – Personally, I long for those days when I was moving and exercising. Usually without thinking of it as work. Wouldn’t you love to be back there?
- Meaningful relationship – If our relationships aren’t nourishing, then they can become toxic and be a drain on your energy.
- Fulfilling career – You spend a minimum of 40 hours per week at your job. If it isn’t fulfilling, look for ways to change it.
- Rest and relaxation – Time with friends, just enjoying life, relaxation – it’s so very important in nourishing your soul!
- Spiritual practice – Whatever your beliefs, take time to to honor them.
Create a “nourishment menu” for yourself. When you feel like you need a boost, take the list out and do one of the things that fuels your soul. Some ideas: take a walk in a park, call your loved ones, do yoga or stretching exercises, take your dog for a walk, take a walk with a friend to catch up, or work on a hobby.
Photo Courtesy KhE via Flickr
Last week, we talked about foods that drain your energy. This week, we have a list of the top foods that will give you energy:
- Vegetables – Especially dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards and chards. Also sprouts, broccoli, asparagus and spinach.
- Cold-water fatty fish – These include wild salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. They’re an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, energy-boosting B vitamins, complete protein, and more.
- Beans & Lentils – Beans and lentils provide carbohydrates and protein making them a good source of energy.
- Tree nuts & Seeds – Tree nuts and seeds are a great source for quick energy. They provide protein and ‘healthy’ fats.
- Raw Foods – You don’t have to become a Raw Foodist for this. Raw vegetables will provide extra energy through enzymes. Consider salads, carrots, radishes, etc. If you’re having a salad, don’t go for the low-fat dressing. Pick a dressing with ‘good’ fats in it. The fat helps your body assimilate the enzymes, vitamins and minerals in the vegetables.
- Healthy, Whole grains – When eating grains – especially breads – then choose only whole grains. They provide fiber, minerals and vitamins that are removed from processed foods.
- Water – OK, it’s not really a food, but it’s very important to your health. It helps eliminate dehydration,regulate body temperature, and reduce stress. Do all liquids count as water? Not really. Consider that whatever else is in that liquid has to be processed first, then and only then do you get water for hydration. Depending on the liquid, you could be getting little to no hydration.
What’s that you ask? Where’s the caffeine and the sugar? In reality, neither of these will give you lasting energy and in the long run they are energy draining foods.
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As an entrepreneur, you need energy throughout your day in order to stay at the top of your game. There are a number of foods that can actually drain your energy. Here are the top 8 energy draining foods:
- Caffeine – You may not have expected this to be on the list, but in reality it is. Caffeine, over time, will lead to adrenal exhaustion and fatigue. Also, caffeine causes spikes in blood sugar similar to sugar. You may get a burst of energy, but you’ll crash later and need another jolt of caffeine.
- Foods with Sugar – You may get a burst of energy from eating sugar, but later you’ll crash and your blood sugar will be lower than before you ate the sugar. It’s a vicious cycle that ultimately drains your energy.
- Fatty & Fried foods – Foods that are high in fat will take a while to digest. Eating them caused much of your blood supply to be diverted to digestion, leaving you with little energy.
- Processed Foods – White bread, white pasta, etc; really any flour product that is not 100% whole grain, will drain your energy levels. They consist mostly of starch as the fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals have been removed. Hence, they cause blood sugar spikes followed by crashes; similar to eating foods with sugar in them.
- Alcohol – Alcohol is a sedative that slows down your nervous system. Red wine is especially bad since it also contains melatonin.
- Low Iron Foods – Anemia (iron deficiency) is a frequent cause of fatigue. Foods low in iron include chicken, broccoli, pork & peanut butter. If you eat these at lunch time, combine with vegetables high in iron such as spinach, greens,green peas, green beans; or nuts, seeds or legumes.
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) – One effect that MSG has on the body is to cause an energy drain. MSG is in more than just Chinese food. In fact, it’s found in many processed foods, where it’s used as a flavor enhancer and to make you feel like you’ve eaten more than you actually have.
- Skipping meals – Well, not exactly a food. But if you skip meals, you’ll likely find you lack energy. Not eating can cause low blood sugar and fatigue. You’re metabolism slows down causing you to have less energy.
If you want to know what to eat that will combat fatigue, see this post on high energy foods.
Feel free to contact us if you’re looking to make some changes to improve your energy!
Photo courtesy abardwell via Flickr.