Getting Energized

Do you spend your afternoons trying to not do a face-plant into your computer screen?
Take heart, sleepyhead—you can find the energy you need to get through your day.
Let the following tips show you how.

By Lisa James

June 2007

1.  Improve Your Posture

Standing and sitting correctly not only helps prevent repetitive strain injuries but also helps keep up your energy stores by increasing your oxygen supply (slouching can cut oxygen intake by more than 30%). What’s more, it appears that poor posture “also influences the way you feel, think and act,” says energy coach Jon Gordon in Energy Addict (Perigee). “Posture can affect your attitude, just as attitude affects your posture.” So try to keep your spine as straight as possible, especially when you’re feeling frazzled.

2.  Get Your Bs and Magnesium

Finding extra energy without getting the proper nutrients is like trying to run a car without gas—you aren’t going to get very far. The B vitamins—particularly vitamin B1 (thiamin)—are at the top of the list. But magnesium isn’t all that far behind; this crucial mineral aids in the production of adenosine triphosphate, the body’s main energy molecule.

3.  Adapt to Stress

Stress can trash your energy stores by smacking around your hormones, especially the adrenal homone cortisol. That’s where adaptogens—herbal therapies that help your body deal with stress—come in. Natural health guru Andrew Weil, MD, has several favorites, including Korean (red) and American ginsengs, both prized for centuries, along with rhodiola and eleuthero.

4.  Power Up with CoQ10 and Carnitine

Erika Schwartz, MD, author of Natural Energy (Putnam), uses coenzyme Q10 and the amino acid carnitine together in what she calls an “Energy Pack”—she says that when they are combined “the effect is pure magic.” Schwartz recommends taking 500 mg of carnitine and 30 mg of CoQ10 with a glass of water at both breakfast and lunch.

5.  Walk with Purpose

A daily stroll is good, but you can make it even better by practicing what meditation teacher Lee Holden calls tai chi walking: Set an invigorating pace, pumping your arms and breathing through your nose. Focus on your surroundings, first using your eyes, then your ears and finally by sensing movement, such as the wind on your face. Finally, experience all your senses at once.

6.  Shake It Up

Shakes are great for getting a distilled dosage of all the energizing nutrients you need. They let you reduce some of your daily produce ration into an easy-to-take form—and lend themselves to supplementation with liquid multivitamins, whole-food concentrates and protein-powder mixes. Shakes also make it easier to eat breakfast, a high-energy necessity, on the go.

7.  Make Cooking Easier

The best way to avoid energy-zapping fast food is by cooking at home. To speed things along try these suggestions from dietician Pamela Smith: Plan your meals, choosing recipes with limited ingredient lists; use such time-savers as precut veggies; keep a well-stocked pantry; cook extra food and freeze the remainder; and use quick-cook methods such as broiling and steaming.

8.  Connect Spiritually

Ask any computer expert—cutting-edge, well-maintained hardware is useless without the proper software. Same thing with you: A well-fed, toned body without a spiritual connection just isn’t going to be very energetic. Prayer, worship and meditation can all help put you in touch with the divine, which in turn can provide your life with direction and purpose. And don’t forget gratitude; learning to be grateful in good times and bad allows you to leave a lot of energy-draining baggage behind.

9.  Let There Be Light

Here comes the sun: Sunlight entering your eyes triggers production of natural feel-good chemicals. So try to walk out of doors during the day by making seasonal adjustments: In hot weather go in the morning or the evening, carrying a water bottle for hydration; when it’s cold, bundle up and walk at midday. Is it cloudy outside? No matter—you’re still getting that good natural light. If going out isn’t an option, try to maximize light levels by employing full-spectrum lighting to mimic the sun’s rays.

10. Eat and Exercise Earlier

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and for a reason you probably hadn’t thought of: “One of the simple keys to increased energy is to eat a majority of your calories earlier in the day,” says Jon Gordon. He cites a study in which all the participants ate an equal 2,000 calories a day; those who ate earlier had more energy and lost a little over two pounds a week. In addition, Gordon suggests that you exercise in the morning if possible to give your metabolism a boost.

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