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Energize Your Life

January is a great time to refresh your health strategy

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Energize Your Life

The New Year holds great promise that this will be the year that you make time every day to exercise, drink plenty of water, and eat well. These simple choices can not only improve health but also allow you to take control of three things: your energy, your weight, and your stress level.

The New Year holds great promise that this will be the year that you make time every day to exercise, drink plenty of water, and eat well. These simple choices can not only improve health but also allow you to take control of three things: your energy, your weight, and your stress level.

To get started, let’s look at where you are right now. What choices are you making that contribute to feeling stressed, fatigued, or overweight? How are these three factors affecting your overall health? Once you understand what is going on, you can figure out what to do: make choices that boost your health and your energy. It’s not as hard as you might think.

What’s the Source of Your Stress?

If you lose your temper easily or often feel overwhelmed or anxious, you need to find ways to reduce your stress level. Breathing techniques, visualization, movement, positive thinking, and yoga can help you relax. But first you’ll need to slow your pace of life to find time for daily practice of these relaxation techniques. When relaxing activities like massage, music, and reading become a daily habit you’ll see the rewards in your health, and the people around you will benefit from your increased calmness.

Also schedule massage, chiropractic, or physical therapy if your stress, in part, relates to nagging aches and pains. Chronic pain is both a response to and a symptom of imbalance in the mind-body connection. You can work through this imbalance by seeking medical advice to resolve the physiological source of your pain. At the same time, talking to a psychotherapist can help identify deep-seated issues or long-held trauma that may be causing tense muscles and accompanying chronic pain.

Once you figure out what’s wrong, sit down and write goals for your job, relationships, money, and future. These will help you remain realistic and meet your expectationsa great stress reducer.

Why Do You Feel Fatigued?

If you seem to lose energy in the middle of the day or consistently fall asleep after dinner each evening, you need to find new ways to increase vitality by boosting your energy level. Maybe you should start by giving yourself at least eight hours of restful sleep each night. Continue to make enough sleep a priority throughout the year.

If your tiredness does not go away, perhaps it is not tiredness at all but an allergic reaction. For many people, certain foods like wheat and dairy products can cause allergic symptoms like fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and frequent colds. The body’s energy is drained by constantly going through an allergic reaction. Get tested for allergies or avoid common allergy-causing foods (such as dairy) for a while to see if it changes your energy level.

Once you’re tested and well rested, you should feel strong enough to include at least 20 minutes of walking or more vigorous exercise each day. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain“feel-good chemicals” that give a natural sense of well-being and energy. Without them, you feel tired and depressed.

Why are You Overweight?

If you have been trying unsuccessfully to lose the same ten pounds for the past six months, you need to find ways to choose healthy, nutritious foods that energize you while helping you keep your weight in control.

Every meal is an opportunity to boost your health and energy. But what makes a healthy meal? It’s simple. All you have to do is shift your thinking from “eat to get full” to “eat to feel good.”

Choose between five and ten whole fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables contain soluble fibre and bioflavonoids, nutrients that help prevent and successfully treat disease. Low-fat fermented dairy products like yogourt and skim milk cheeses provide calcium, protein, and beneficial bacteria for digestion. Soy, rice, and almond milk are good substitutes for cow’s milk because they are easier to digest.

High-quality protein from lean animal sources provides minerals and protein to prevent fatigue. Meanwhile legumes contain antioxidants to boost immunity and fibre to balance blood sugar and prevent diabetes. Top these off with whole grains that provide plenty of carbohydrates and you will adequately fuel your body with energy.

Eating well and enjoying your food actually extends life and improves your health. You may feel more satisfied and have better mood control with a “Mediterranean-style diet” that is rich in plant foods and fish and low in meat and dairy products, with a high ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. It decreases body weight and blood pressure and regulates blood sugar and hormone levels.

Energy, weight loss, and a good attitude can be yours if you make an effort every day to get in the habit of relaxing and de-stressing, drinking eight glasses of water, eating only until you feel good, and exercising moderately for at least 20 minutes. If you practise this pattern every day, eventually force of habit will be on your side: you won’t feel right unless you relax, rehydrate, and rejuvenate with exercise.

The best part is that each key to health encourages the others: moving your body makes you want to eat right; energizing food makes you want to relax enough to enjoy it; stress reduction encourages restful sleep so you’re ready to exercise. All three keys work together to give you energy for life.

Two Ways to Energize

1. Visualization. You can use visualization to create positive change. This technique works well for visually oriented people.

  • Breathe slowly in and out three times with eyes closed. Relax deeper each time you exhale. Now visualize an image of yourself or an aspect of your life that you want to change (for example, being overweight, fighting with your spouse, poor job performance).
  • Breathe slowly in and out three times, with eyes closed. Relax deeper each time you exhale. Now repeat the image of what you want to change and alter the picture to match the way you would like things to be.
  • Breathe slowly in and out three times, with eyes closed. Relax deeper each time you exhale. Now visualize the new image with no trace of the old image remaining. Keep that image with you.

2. Affirmation. Those who respond better to auditory suggestion may find it more effective to frame their goal as a positive “I” statement.

  • Think about what you will do to reach your goal (for example, to achieve a flatter tummy say something like “I will stick to a healthy diet and eat five servings of fresh vegetables every day”).
  • Write this positive statement (also called an affirmation) on a piece of paper and put the paper in a prominent yet private place where you will see it every day (for example, stick the note on your bathroom mirror).
  • Read this affirmation aloud five times every day.

The effectiveness of mind-body techniques such as affirmations, creative visualization, relaxation, and conscious breathing have been shown to trigger the innate healing potential inside each individual. Perhaps the leader in the use of affirmations is Louise L. Hay, who has long promoted self-healing through books such as The Power Is Within You (Hay House, 1992). Clinical observation of the use of affirmations and visualizations in my patients has proved their effectiveness in achieving change.

Three Herbs to Boost Metabolism

In addition to a daily multivitamin that gives you the main vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B12–the "energy" vitamin, add these herbs for energy.

  1. Yerba mat?A tea made from the leaves of a South American tree, yerba mat?elps energize the body and increases mental alertness. It also contributes to weight loss by helping the body convert food into energy and by reducing appetite.
  2. Ginseng: Doctors recommend this Asian plant root as a heart tonic, a stimulant, and a restorative for an improved sex drive. Studies show it can also ease symptoms of diabetes and reduce cholesterol. Patients with heart disease, stress, diabetes, poor digestion, weakness after illness, and fatigue from aging report excellent results.
  3. Maca: Originating in the South American mountains, this root increases the body’s ability to handle physical and mental stress. Women have found it helps with PMS, menopause, low libido, and fatigue. Men find it increases testosterone, sexual function, energy, stamina, and the feeling of well-being.
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