Probably one of the most important goals for anyone pursuing a new lifestyle of health and wellness is the desire for the feeling of more energy day-to-day. Most people remember those days, long ago, when the feeling of energy was far more abundant in their lives, whether it was springing out of bed, going for frequent walks, running and playing sports, cooking meals with joy, or just generally being more productive overall, anyone struggling with health is almost always struggling with a lack of energy and vitality as compared to a previous time in their life.
Most people think this lack of energy is due to a lack of willpower, that they just need more mental forcefulness to get things done in their life. It has been my experience that willpower has almost nothing to do with it. The problem is actually biological: the body doesn’t produce enough energy from the nutrition provided. Why that is is actually quite a complex problem, but in most people, it’s easily reversed with some diet and lifestyle changes.
In each of the cells in our body (let’s just use muscle cells in this example) there is a tiny power plant that takes in the nutrition we digest and turns it into a final end-product called ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate). When speaking of energy, and the feeling of energy, ATP is the actual thing we’re talking about.
If your cells are efficient and produce a lot of ATP, you will feel energetic and lively. I call this “the feeling of doing.” You can see it very clearly in little children, as they race around endlessly, being compelled by a much healthier metabolism than adults. Children don’t race around because they necessarily choose to, they race around because their body compels them to.
If your cells underproduce ATP, you will feel sluggish and lethargic. Willpower won’t help you through this — it’s biology. The key is to get the cells producing efficiently again. This involves two ingredients: 1. the fuel entering the cells, and 2. what your hormones are telling the cells to do.
Here are some actions you can take right now to get your energy and vitality back:
- Reduce sugar intake and increase healthy fat intake (1g of fat produces 256 units of ATP, 1g of sugar only produces 32 units — a huge difference!)
- Reduce blue light exposure at night to get natural melatonin release (blue light mimics daylight and tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime, when it’s actually night-time.)
- Signal that it’s daytime to your body by opening all windows or going outside upon waking (getting your eyes to see blue-light right away will jumpstart the wake-up cycle)
- Learn how to use an organized to-do list to keep track of all worries and deadlines (simply having it all written down allows your mind to stop ruminating on the future, which leads to stress and adrenal exhaustion)
- Start a weight-lifting program (weight-lifting will directly improve cellular ATP production, especially if you create denser muscles. It will also dramatically reduce stress hormones)
In order to implement all these items, it does take some lifestyle designing, but it’s easier than you think. It’s what we specialize in at SmartFit. We learned long ago that weight-gain and deteriorating health is a multi-causal problem.
For instance, our SmartFit diet will get your body switched over from using sugar as your primary fuel to instead using healthy fats. This usually has an immediate impact on ATP production and the “feeling of doing.” The next step is to get some blue-blocking glasses that eliminate the blue-light spectrum and use them 1.5 – 2 hours before bed. This will allow you to look at your smartphone, computer, or TV without it ruining your sleep cycle. Blue light interference is a full-blown epidemic that is ruining sleeping patterns the world over — and you can’t be hormonally in balance if your sleep is out of whack. Combine this with a concerted effort to get outside right upon waking and see the bright blue sky when the timing is right for your body, and your day/night cycle will be restored in no time.
To-do lists, used properly, will remove a lot of the stress of worrying about the future, which leads to excessive cortisol release (which forces you body to use sugar as a fuel). (Try www.todoist.com).
When you’ve got a bit of that energy coming back, you can get started with a weight-lifting program which will take your energy to the next level! If you don’t know how to get started, you can come by for a free consultation to learn about our one on one and group programs. Once you get the basics of lifting technique, you’ll be surging with ATP in no time flat.
It’ll take a bit of designing to get back to high energy, but I promise: once you’ve implemented it, no willpower is necessary. Energy will flow through you like a wellspring and you’ll be looking for all sorts of new places to put it.