The shorter days, less daylight and colder weather are definitely not motivating environmental elements. It can be much more appealing to spend more hours on the couch under a blanket reading or watching movies. As cozy as this might be, it starts to feel really lethargic sooner than later. Our energy might be a more subtle part of our health, but it can be an effective indicator of our self-care, and whether we are at a good physical and emotional place. Since everything is inter-related, making moves to improve our energy means we will feel more motivated to exercise, eat, and sleep well, too.
For some, there are valid physical conditions that affect our energy, and perhaps your doctor will recommend Vitamin D pills or iron supplements for you. Even so, it is always important that we are actively covering the basics of what we can do to maintain high energy. Here are some tips on how to stay energetic through the winter months.
Eat Breakfast, But Eat the Right Kind of Breakfast.
Most of us have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, without knowing exactly why or how it affects our body. Besides kick-starting our immune system and feeding our body’s depleted energy stores from the night, it sets our metabolism and physical, mental and emotional energy for the day. However, you may find that having a bagel and coffee, however satisfying in the moment, isn’t accomplishing the point of starting your day with breakfast. Yes it is better to eat something rather than nothing, but what you eat is where you can make the best difference in health and energy. Eating a bagel or a carb-based pastry will give you a short kick followed by a blood sugar crash. Instead, include elements of good fat and protein, which keep you feeling full longer, and digest slower. Examples include eggs, Greek yogurt, fruit, tofu scramble, or whole wheat pancake.
Don’t let your mood dictate your choices.
We definitely understand how influential that zone of “I don’t feel like it” is. Discouraging factors can be as powerful, if not more, than motivating factors. You might have your exercise clothes in hand, but just feel tempted to not work out because your energy is simply too low. However, this is one of those areas that operate on the principle of “You have to spend money to make money.” In other words, not exercising because you don’t have energy will only keep your energy low. You need to start moving and choosing to exercise (even just for 20 minutes) in order to boost your energy. Exercise will rejuvenate you by improving the circulation of oxygen throughout your body, and also elevating your mood.
Avoid or at least limit junk food.
Junk food is the perfect companion for a night on the couch. It seems satisfying, and when you’re tired from a marathon session of that addictive TV show, you may want to reach for junk food to snack on to satisfy your sweet or savory cravings. The junk food your taste buds crave are typically composed of simple carbohydrates like sugar and starch, as opposed to the complex carbohydrates that hold nutritional value. The effect of simple carbs on your system is that they produce a spike in your blood sugar, which will cause you to feel more lethargic when it drops again. Stock your kitchen with healthy alternatives to snack on (kale chips, home-made guacamole and salsa, fruit, sweet potato fries). Don’t forget to keep hydrated and drink a lot of water so that you aren’t mistaking thirst for hunger.
In the summer, it’s easy for us to get our Vitamin D because we are naturally outside more. Even though Vitamin D is present in certain foods, it is much faster to get our full daily intake from sunlight. Vitamin D helps our energy levels because it enables our body to best regulate our insulin levels and our metabolism. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on our faces or bare arms can give us up to 90% of the Vitamin D levels our body needs. Maybe we’ll need to bundle up in a warm coat, but get some fresh air and sunlight on your face for both a mood and energy boost.
Try making these adjustments to your daily routine, and see how much more energy you’ll have this winter!