Yesterday in particular I was having an extremely low energy day, feeling sick with a sore throat and puny in spirit. I totally acknowledge that the amount of time I spend sitting in front of my computer is relative to the amount of depression I feel, and being completely overwhelmed once the kids get home. I let things pile up around me, and hadn't spent any time preparing for them to come home, so then I have to deal with the mess from the day, the emotional drain of the kids needs, their fighting, their hunger and being exhausted from their long day at school.
So coming across the article was timely and such a great reminder to spend more time in the column where doing things provides energy, and not to indulge for too long in the drain column (where my natural inclination tends to want to linger.)
I was going to make my own two lists, but after reading his I really can't think of anything that I could add or subtract (well, except a few things I added in red) to make it any more meaningful to me...so here it is!
Excerpt from: Six Ways I Changed My Life and How You Can Change Yours
How to Get More EnergyI think we live in a culture where being healthy is so difficult because our current generation is a instant gratification culture where anything we want is right.there.at.our.fingertips. Ever seen Wall-E? WE ARE ON THE SHIP, PEOPLE! We are sitting in those fat suits, slurping on our fat shakes, completely plugged into the system that wants to keep us blind and happy in our own gluttony. Getting healthy and STAYING healthy takes the discipline to unplug from the Matrix and working our asses off to accomplish our goals. There is huge power in using the system to accomplish goals in new ways...to share and support each other to be healthy and happy outside of the system. To live off the grid, to protest consumerism, to support small local businesses, to be more independent and healthy on our own, not because it's a fad. Being and staying healthy now means retraining what we think about food, lifestyle and exercise and working hard for that discipline to retrain ourselves, our families, communities and culture.
Simply make a list with two columns. In one column list all the things that give you energy. In the second column list all the things that drain your energy. Each day try to let go of one thing that drains your energy and add one thing that gives you energy.
Here’s my list. Take a piece of paper and make your own now.
My Energy Drains
• Not getting enough sleep (fewer than eight hours)
• Eating too much sugar
• Drinking too much coffee (more than one cup)
• Skipping meals
• Eating anything made in factory (junk and processed food)
• Eating bread
• Eating dairy
• Drinking more than three glasses of wine or alcohol a week
• Working too much
• Not exercising at least four times a week
• Not doing yoga
• Spending too much time on the computer
• Watching TV
• Not being outside in nature
• Not spending time with friends
• Getting dehydrated
• Letting myself get wrapped up in self-pity, worry, anxiety and jealousy• Spending too much time sedentary (on the computer, on the couch, in the van, etc.)
• Making excuses for not getting stuff done and not claiming responsibility for actions, behavior or attitude
My Energy Gains
• Eating a high-protein breakfast (shake or eggs)
• Eating fresh, whole real food
• Having a protein snack in the mid morning and afternoon
• Eating 10 servings of vegetables a day
• Not eating three hours before I go to sleep
• Doing yoga
• Playing tennis
• Running in the woods
• Swimming in lakes or rivers
• Hugging my kids and wife
• Talking to friends
• Dinner parties with friends
• Helping others and volunteering
• Taking my vitamins (multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and a few others)
• Drinking six to eight cups of filtered water a day
• Being creative in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends
• Thinking of my day as a sacred thing — a canvass for living an artful life — and shaping it to have good memories, good blessings and good feelings
• Learning new things about our extraordinary world and the people in it
• Waking up early and going to bootcamp and working out
• Preparing for the kids to get home, mentally preparing for helping them with conflict resolution, healthy communication
• Sharing my creativity and successes online with friends, getting good feedback (brings feelings of accomplishment and success)
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” We all get kicked off our plan from time to time. Something intrudes, somebody gets sick in your life, you may lose your job, your kids may do something stupid, your spouse may cheat on you, the stock market might crash, it might even rain! These are the inevitable struggles that are part of being human.
Let me share with you how I manage these struggles (yes, they happen in mine too), and how I stay motivated.
Overcoming Obstacles on Your Path to Health
Dealing with challenges in life is like surfing. You get on the wave, and all is great … and then the wave drops out from under you, or it grows into a huge wave and pummels you into the ground. When that happens, you paddle back out, get back up on the board, and keep surfing.
Here are some ideas on how to do that:
Some of these habits might not be second nature. But our lives are about the thousand little choices we make every day. When I am really off track, I do a reboot—a week-long detox that resets my body, brain and rhythms. I use my UltraSimple Diet. It is a simple whole foods, sugar-, drug-, and allergy-free nourishing way of eating and living for one week that can create dramatic and rapid changes in your biology. Try it. Then you may remember what it feels like to be well, some of you for the first time.
- Plan, plan, plan: You wouldn’t take a trip to climb a mountain or take a vacation to France without planning first. It is THE most essential activity you can do to create health. Plan your day, your week, your month and schedule in time for the things in your life that support health—food, fun, sleep, exercise, friends or whatever else puts deposits in your health bank account.
- Think of food first: Most of us are opportunistic eaters—when the opportunity comes, or when we get hungry we eat whatever’s in our path. In our culture that means junk food, fast food and vending machine “food like substances.” We live in a vast nutritional wasteland, a food desert. Every week plan where you are going to get all your meals. Think ahead; don’t end up in a food emergency where the only thing open is a fast food restaurant or convenience store. Think breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It will become a habit. Plan, shop, prepare, eat. Create an emergency food pack and buy quick-to-cook meals or make whole foods at home.
- Design fun and play into life: MacDonald’s was good for something—it gave us the ditty—“you deserve a break today.” Think of your day as a canvas and think of how you can paint yourself some fun. Learn new things—try yoga, dance, or learn a new sport. I like to get my exercise by having fun and playing not by going to the gym.
- Prioritize sleep: We have a second national debt crisis—sleep debt. And there is no way to trick biology and raise the debt ceiling. Get at least 7-9 hours sleep a night. Everything in you life will look and feel better and you will make better choices when you do this.
- Avoid drugs: Almost all of us use drugs every day to manage our energy. These include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and more. Think about taking a “drug holiday” for six weeks and see how much better you feel.
- Remember feeling well: When I get off track, I simply remember what it is like to feel great and what I have do to get there—eat better, sleep more, exercise more, or do nothing more!
Now I’d like to hear from you …
What steps have you taken to change your health? What obstacles do you face and how do you overcome them?
Have you tried taking a drug holiday like the one in The UltraSimple Diet? What were results?
Why do you think we live in a culture where the simple act of being healthy is so difficult? How can we change this unhealthy culture to one that supports optimum energy and vital well being?
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD
I'm going to start by printing out this article and hanging it somewhere where I can see it everyday and getting off my lazy ass.