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Friday, March 30, 2012

Are you tired all the time?

If there was a commonality of all the women I see in my clinic, it would be that they are all tired. Tired from not getting enough sleep, tired from the demands of the kids, tired from working too hard, tired of dealing with their weight and tired of not having enough energy to do all the things that they need and want to do with their day.

This is not surprising. So many of us live frantic lives with long working days and even longer commutes, ever increasing family and relationship commitments and bumper social lives that it is a constant juggle to get through the day, let alone with a reasonable amount of rest and time to get your thoughts together to power on all over again. While the demands of modern life are unlikely to change anytime soon, there are a few key lifestyle changes you can commit to that will at least help maintain your energy levels on a daily basis so you cruise to the end of your day, rather than collapse into it.

Iron Up
If you are a meat eater you need to eat red meat 3-4 times each week. Why? Simply because your body is programmed to absorb the iron it needs to transport oxygen around the body from animal sources of iron, namely red meat and if you do not give your body regular access to it, your stores will gradually be depleted and you will be tired. Vegetarians are different, as they are programmed to absorb their iron from non-meat sources but meat eaters; you need that steak, lamb or pork 3-4 times every single week.

Get into the sun
I know you are not keen to bring on any more wrinkles but the truth is that many Australian’s are simply not getting enough sunlight when we can to ensure we are making enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D has numerous functions in the body and is also known to help prevent a number of diseases including some types of cancer. When it comes to energy levels, low Vitamin D also tends to result in lower mood states and muscle fatigue so if you are not feeling 100% and cannot remember the last time you went into the sun, it may be time to have your Vitamin D checked by your GP.

Fresh is always best
For busy women on the run, grabbing a one off coffee, protein bar or pre made sandwich in place of a home prepared, nutritious snack is not an issue but if your diet is based solely around processed foods and supplements, you will not be doing your energy or immune system any favours. Fresh foods include fruits, grains, vegetables and seeds offer numerous nutritional benefits over any processed foods, which means you need these foods every single day to keep your training body at its best. As a general rule of thumb, the brighter the fresh food, the better it will be for you and we need at least 2-3 cups of brightly coloured vegetables and a couple of pieces of fruit every single day. Easy yet convenient ways to get your vitamin hit each day include grabbing a fresh juice rather than a coffee, keeping quick cook vegetable packs at work and for quick dinners and try snacking on fresh carrots and other cut up vegetables on a daily basis.

Watch the stimulation
The ironic thing about consuming caffeine and other “energy” type drinks to help increase energy is that they are just as likely to leave you feeling even worse than before you consumed them. The reason for this is that even though stimulants, whether they are in the form of caffeine or sugar will give you an initial “hit”, they will also see a subsequent “drop” once the stimulant has been metabolized. For this reason, using caffeine in small amounts regularly and avoiding all sugar based drinks is a much better option than relying on them for an energy hit in times of trouble. Ideally large volumes of water, some herbal tea and a couple of cups of tea or coffee each day are the best types of fluid for you to ingest to keep you optimally hydrated and your energy systems at their best.

Add in your energy superfoods
When energy demands are high, it makes sense to include as many nutrient and energy rich foods into your diet as you can. Often as women try and keep their weight down, they consciously drop carbohydrates from their diet but it should be remembered that wholegrain carbs are a rich source of both essential nutrients required for energy production, including the B group vitamins. If you have been feeling tired, make sure that you are including at least one serve of wholegrain carbs in each of your meals and snacks.

Just as important is to ensure that you are getting plenty of powerful antioxidants from brightly colours fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Add in a fresh vegetable juice and aim for serves of salad or vegetables at both lunch and dinner to give your body every chance of being at its best, day in, day out and fend off fatigue with as much good nutrition as you can.

Go to bed
Perhaps the most obvious and simplest way of improving your energy levels, preventing
fatigue and feeling better in general is to simply get more sleep. While the average adult averages just 5-6 hours of sleep a night, we need as much as 7-9 hours’ sleep a night to be at our best. So even if you can only get to need early a few nights each week, make this commitment. Remove all electronic equipment from the bedroom including mobile phones near the bed and practice getting into bed by 10 or 11pm and reading before you sleep – just the way nature intended it.