I received an email in my inbox this morning that piqued my interest. The subject line read something to the effect of, How would you like to wake each day feeling alert and full of energy? My inner voice shouted, “You bet!” And, it’s not a surprise that most of us who deal with fibromyalgia feel the same way.
Want more energy?
You’re probably already wondering what this practitioner had to offer. Her email and webpage went into great depth to show how her specific program provides all you’ll ever need to fix your energy issues. It features videos, audios, DVDs, PDFs, live calls, community support, personalized evaluations, and more. It focuses on fixing nutritional deficiencies, dealing with stress, and implementing practices that help the body to heal.
Not coincidentally, it also features a price tag of many thousands of dollars. In fact, this program costs more than what my teenagers spent on their first used cars.
But, would that investment be worth it to me if I were in need? Absolutely. I trust the sender of the email, and have no doubt that her program is worth every shiny penny – and then some.
It’s important to understand the price we pay for having little to no energy. Among other things, a constant, nagging, draining state of fatigue can rob us of our ability to: a) participate in social and family activities, b) be a productive worker (either paid or unpaid), c) foster a sense of purpose and drive for life.
Understanding the impact that fatigue has on our lives helps us to view our investments into healing in a different way. It helps us to prioritize. We’re more likely to invest time, money, and effort when we can define WHY it’s important to us.
So, if money weren’t a hindrance, would the program mentioned above be worth it to you?
There’s no right or wrong answer to that question. We all approach our health concerns in different ways. Some want a whole, comprehensive program to deal with everything at once. Others want to tackle things one step at a time – and on their own.
Either way, here’s what I hope you get as today’s biggest takeaway.
“Fixing” your body’s energy issue
is neither simple, nor quick.
Did you notice the complexity of what that energy building program had to offer? It tackled the energy problem from every angle to create a comprehensive attack on the problem at its root.
Sure, you can chug down a power drink or grab a high-sugar snack that’ll send your energy levels soaring … temporarily. But, beware of the crash that inevitably follows. There’s always a drawback for taking an energy shortcut. For every quick fix, there’s a draining consequence.
Short-term energy solutions zap you of energy in the long run.
Instead, look for solutions that help to restore your body’s own natural resources. Once your body is given what it needs to restore balance, energy returns.
In fact, I often refer to energy as a “results symptom.” What I mean by that reference is that energy (among other symptoms) isn’t something that you can obtain with one simple fix. Rather, increased energy comes as a result of many healing factors. You can check out this post entitled, “Why Pain, Fatigue, Fibrofog and Sleep are Results Symptoms” for a quick review.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you can help your body to build energy on its own. You don’t simply “have” energy. It’s a fuel that is generated by your body when it’s able to do so. There are lots of things you can do to boost your energy, but until you address the issues that make you run out of fuel, you’ll continue in a downward spiral.
Don’t make your body
work harder than it has to.
Below you’ll find two powerful lists. First, we’ll take a look at what drains your energy – the Energy Bombs. Next, we’ll look at what can help you to build your energy levels – Energy Boosts.
You’ll notice that many items on each list fall into similar categories. This simply represents evidence that we can make subtle shifts in some very generalized areas (such as nutrition) and begin to see positive results.
These items are not listed in any particular order of importance.
- Poor digestive health (leaky gut, IBS, SIBO, food sensitivities, colitis, etc.)
- Unaddressed stress (yes, stress happens to us all, but it takes an intentional awareness to address the impact of stress)
- Quick-fix stimulants such as sugar, empty-nutrient snacks, caffeine, nicotine, and/or alcohol
- An imbalance of macronutrients (healthy veggies, healthy proteins, healthy fats)
- An imbalance of micronutrients (vitamin and mineral deficiencies)
- Skipping meals or irregular eating patterns
- Junk food (empty-calorie non-foods)
- Low calorie or restriction diets
- Limited or inadequate social support systems
- Unaddressed / uncorrected sleep issues
- Chronic pain
- Short shallow breathing or frequent holding your breath
- Draining relationships (those who could be referred to as “energy vampires”)
- Feeling an overall sense of hopelessness or helplessness
- Consistent worries, fears, anxiety, etc.
- Over-commitments of your time (difficulty in saying no to others)
- Comparing yourself to others and holding yourself up to unrealistic standards
- Trying to please others and live up to their expectations
- Consistent feelings of deprivation, envy, grief, anger, or unfinished business
- A stagnant body (lack of movement / a sedentary lifestyle)
- Short-term or long-term (chronic) physical injuries
- Clutter / disorganization
- Balanced macronutrients (healthy veggies, healthy proteins, healthy fats)
- Balanced micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
- Increase whole, healthy, natural, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods into your daily meal plans
- Eating regularly – don’t skip meals
- Reduce or eliminate overeating and emotional eating (eating when you’re not hungry can lead to lethargy and feeling fatigued besides other unwanted results such as weight gain)
- Drinking adequate amounts of water (click HERE for a downloadable Hydration Tip Sheet)
- Exercise/Fitness (stretching, walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, etc.)
- Stress management (practicing relaxation techniques)
- Walking in nature (get outside and catch a few rays – make your own vitamin D!)
- Connect with a friend and loved one for support and encouragement
- Create healthy sleep patterns (challenges happen once in a while, but plan for regular, consistent, and restorative sleep)
- Address chronic health issues and hazards such as thyroid dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, adrenal dysfunction, anemia, food sensitivities, etc.
- Regular prayer and/or meditation
- Address draining emotional concerns such as fear, anxiety, worry, frustration, anger, hopelessness, etc.
- Seek out fulfilling activities such as laughing, singing, and dancing – whatever makes you feel joyful and happy
- Stretch and strengthen the body – stretching and toning activates the body’s relaxation response
- Seek out positive mental stimulus by learning something new
- Volunteer your time or make items to donate (compassion for others is a great energy boost!)
- Sipping green tea
- Focus on maintaining a healthy posture
- Enjoy a craft activity such as knitting, crocheting, or needlework – anything repetitive can be soothing and invigorating
- Practice deep breathing techniques
- Step into the light – are your curtains open? Do you need to add extra lighting to your home?
- Enjoy invigorating and rejuvenating scents such as citrus (juicy lemons!), peppermint, ginger, etc.
- Tickle your funny bone – watch funny pet videos on YouTube, enjoy a stand-up comedian, or watch a funny sitcom or movie
- Watch inspirational or motivational videos on YouTube, and/or movies, documentaries, etc.
- Enjoy supportive groups that encourage and educate (avoid those that focusmainly on negative aspects of chronic health challenges)
- Surround yourself with your favorite colors – in what you wear, in a floral arrangement, in home furnishings, etc.
- Add superfoods such as herbs and dark leafy greens to your regular meal plans
Whew! These lists give a lot of food for thought.
After looking at the Energy Bombs list, it’s no wonder that these are some of the most common statements I hear from the fibromyalgia community:
I don’t have the energy to shop for fresh food.
I don’t have the energy to cook or spend time in the kitchen.
I don’t have the energy to go to the gym.
I don’t have the energy to even care for myself, much less anyone else.
I get it. I was once there, too. I felt so drained that just putting one foot in front of the other was a chore. But, I recognized that something had to change. What I was doing wasn’t working, so I had to be open to trying something new.
No one has the energy to do what feels pointless. But if there’s a sense of value to the activity, we’re more likely to try it anyway.
And, oddly enough, the energy will start to build.
I didn’t understand, for example, how relaxation techniques could actually boost my energy levels, but I gave it a try.
I found that relaxation techniques work in two ways. First, they reduce the stress that zaps energy. Second, they enlist the body’s own parasympathetic nervous system response which restores a sense of calm and well-being.
Feeling centered and calm creates
a fertile place for energy to bloom.
I also didn’t understand how draining food sensitivities are to the body. When the digestive system isn’t working well, the body has to struggle to process the foods we eat. That’s exhausting!
These examples also reveal a great way to approach the above lists. At first glance, it would seem logical to jump right into applying what we can from the Energy Boost list, but there’s a better way.
Instead, first take a look at the Energy Bombs list. Focus on the ones you can deal with right away. You’ll notice that many of them are about awareness. You can begin by becoming aware of how you hold your breath, slump in your chair, or how often your thoughts drift toward worry and anxiety. Whenever change is desired, awareness is the first step.
Next, review the Energy Boosts list. What items can you apply and practice?
Tackling your energy crisis problems from both sides brings fast and long-lasting results. This balanced approach allows you to eliminate what’s draining your energy and apply ways to build it up.
It’s give and take.
Years ago, I didn’t have energy to get out of bed to get my kids to school. But, they couldn’t get there on their own and there was no one else to do it. So, I dragged myself through the day. My only focus was on the energy I DIDN’T have. I had no understanding of why it was so.
Only hindsight can provide that type of clarity. I didn’t understand how out of balance my life was. I didn’t feed my body the nutrition it craved. I didn’t move my body in healthy ways. And, I was completely unaware of the impact of my overwhelming stress.
The energy-building information I’ve included in this article is the result of over 15 years of personal experience. I’ve lived it, learned it, and shared it with others. But, I don’t always have the patience of Job. I often look for a shortcut, too.
And, I’m all about efficiency. That’s why I’ve narrowed down the body’s healing principles into three main areas. I call them, The Restoration Trio.
- Nutrition (food, digestive health, etc.)
- Fitness (body movement)
- Emotional Wellness (stress management, sleep, etc.)
When each of these three areas are addressed — in tandem — the body can begin to restore balance. Even simple changes such as incorporating healthier foods into your diet, drinking water, and taking simple walks can go a long way toward healing the body – and gaining more energy.
Are you up for the restoration challenge? How do you plan to tackle your own energy crisis?