energy

Free Energy: Part 3 of 3 - Hydration and nutrition

Hi there, friend.  Are you ready for part three of how to infuse some free energy into your day?  I saved the best for last: hydration and nutrition. Most of us start our day with some combination of getting woken up by kids, feeding the kids, feeding the dog, feeding yourself, getting everyone brushed, changed, and out the door for whatever activity is planned for the day.  So I totally get that mornings are busy. But let me ask you this. Do you have an extra two minutes? And extra two minutes to chug, yes chug, some lovely room temperature water upon waking up. Maybe you have a cute water bottle on your night stand or maybe you have a cup waiting for you in the bathroom.  Or maybe you just fill up your water bottle right away in the morning while the kids are eating breakfast. I don’t care how you get it, but just make sure you’re drinking up first thing in the morning.  

Photography Credit: Leslie Plesser of  https://www.shuttersmack.com/

Photography Credit: Leslie Plesser of https://www.shuttersmack.com/

Why is this so important?  Because our cell tissues and organs are all operating in a water medium.  And our energy is made in our cells. So if we don’t have enough water circulating throughout our bodies, the more that we start feeling symptoms of fatigue.  So I want you to try something tomorrow morning.  Go about your normal morning routine, but instead of making your first beverage a coffee, juice, or milk, try to get down 16 ounces of water right from the get go.  And try to get a total of 16 ounces in before you’re out the door. Sip, chug, guzzle, slurp, whatever. Just get it in.  

Within mere minutes that water becomes your blood, which is 90% water BTW, and your extra cellular fluid, and it pushes out the used fluid that was littered with metabolic waste.  And if you don't drink enough water, that stuff stays gummed up in your system, and results in making you feel sluggish. Water is also what is used to transfer oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, which in turn, gives you energy.  So you aren’t even reaping the benefits of that beautiful salad that you ate for dinner last night if you aren’t drinking enough water to spread it throughout your system. 

But Liz, I’ve tried 100 times to drink more water and it never works!  Yeah, I know. I was there once too. My best advice is to focus on one thing at a time when it comes to your health.  If you try to do all the things at once, none of them will get done. So check your ical and find a week or two where you can commit to implementing one or all of these hydration strategies.

  1. Pair drinking water with one of your other non-negotiable morning tasks.  So for instance, drink your water after you brush your teeth, get dressed for the day, or once you sit down in  your car.  

  2. Buy a fancy water bottle.  I’m not kidding. This actually helps.  If you invest in something that looks pretty and makes you feel even the tiniest bit special, you’re more likely to use it.

  3. Log your water.  Write it down, put it in your phone, email it to yourself, whatever.  But just hold yourself accountable to that 16 ounces of water in the morning.  And once that becomes routine, add another eight ounces at some point in the day until you’re at about half of your ounces 


Now that we’ve covered water, I’m quickly going to run through some foods that can aid in our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep in order to be our best selves in the morning.


Omega3

Not only are Omega-3’s great for brain development function, inflammation reduction, they can help you to get a deeper, more restful sleep. So sources of omega-3 include chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, halibut, salmon, flax seeds.  


Vitamin C

September is right around the corner, which means the back to school cold is also right around the corner.  So I’m sure that you’ll be popping those little vitamin C tablets for candy in the coming weeks. Not only is vitamin C good for our immune system, but it also helps you stay asleep at night.  Some foods high in vitamin C are bell peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, strawberry, citrus fruits, and papaya. 


Magnesium 

This is one micronutrient that we don’t hear much about.  But interestingly enough, for most, this is the mineral that we’re the most deficient in.  And it impacts so many important functions in our body, which in turn impact our sleep; regulating blood pressure, maintains normal cortisol levels, boosts and supports the production of serotonin, and last but not least, it helps to convert food into energy.  Any food with a green hue to it is probably going to have a nice source of magnesium: spinach, chard, also there's pumpkin seeds, almonds, superfoods like spirulina is a great source as well. And since you’re supposed to get 4-5 servings in order to get the recommended amount of magnesium, a supplement might be a more attainable way to go.   


Now obviously what I’ve covered here is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what impacts our energy levels. And I know how overwhelming it can be to read countless ways to better yourself. So do yourself a favor and just focus on one of the energy infusing actions that I laid out in this series, build it into your routine, and see what feels good.  Once you’ve mastered your first goal, move on to the next challenge. And if you need help building a roadmap for yourself, I’m happy to help.  



Free Energy: Part two of three - Sleep Cycles

Ahh… sleep.  What we resisted as children, savored as teenagers, took for granted as young adults, and yearn more of as parents.  Sleep was and always will be a huge factor in our lives and our energy levels. And for being so important, it is pretty misunderstood. How often have you been so proud of yourself for getting eight or more hours of sleep only to feel groggy and exhausted at the end of the day.  That is the WORST, isn’t it? Hopefully I can share some insights on how to get your sleep cycles back on track so that you can wake up with more energy, patience and enthusiasm.

Photo Credit: Leslie Plesser of  Shuttersmack Photography

Photo Credit: Leslie Plesser of Shuttersmack Photography

For as much as we do while we’re awake, our bodies are doing the same if not more while we’re asleep; different neurotransmitters are firing, reparative enzymes are healing the body, and hormone levels are rising and falling.  Sleep is responsible for your memory, your ability to learn, and executive functions like problem solving, organizational skills, and prioritization. So anytime that our sleep cycles are disrupted, a lot is compromised. Which in turn, makes it harder to be patient, creative, and kind with our kiddos.  As cute as those little letter boards are, nobody wants to be the mom whose goal it is to just keep the tiny humans alive, right? We want to be the mom who has fun and easy crafts prepped, healthy meals ready, and play dates organized. Sleep can help!

A special note to all the mom’s with the itty bitty babies:  

Please don’t read this and think that you’re doomed.  I mean yeah, your sleep cycles are way out of whack, but you and your baby WILL eventually sleep again.  If you find yourself with enough time to read this, stop. Go take a nap and get at me when the fog has lifted. 

So let’s talk about how to make our sleep work harder for us.  Sleep is made up of a series of stages, creating the sleep cycle.  And everyone’s length and amount of sleep cycles are different. So while eight hours of sleep might work for your neighbor, it could leave you feeling exhausted.  Here’s why. The average person goes through 4-5 sleep cycles each night, each sleep cycle taking anywhere from 75 to 120 minutes each, which if you do the math, shows that all some people need are five hours of sleep while others need a whopping 10 hours!  That’s quite the range, which proves how individualized sleep really is.  

For our purposes, let’s average it out and say that a standard sleep cycle is around 90 minutes long.  No matter how many hours of sleep that you need each night, if you’re waking up in the middle of one of your cycles, you’re going to feel tired.  To make your mornings better and more energetic, start setting your alarm so that it goes off in accordance with your sleep cycles. For example, if you go to sleep at 10:00 p.m., set your alarm for 5:30 a.m. (for a total of 7 ½ hours of sleep) and you’ll likely find that you more refreshed when you wake up than if you set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. and interrupted another sleep cycle.  Or you can go for an additional sleep cycle if that’s what makes you feel best.

And, here’s another great tip if you’re ever in a pinch and need to sleep less than normal.  Shoot for getting that minimum of four sleep cycles in for a total of 6 hours. If you have to stay up until 1:00 a.m., set your alarm for 7 a.m. not 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. and you’ll likely find that you feel better when you wake up to start  your day. And if feeling better during the day isn’t enough motivation, during the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 p.m. is when we secrete the most human growth hormone, AKA human youth hormone.  Yes, there is a hormone responsible for making us look and feel younger!  But the catch is, you need to be asleep in order for your body to produce the most quantities of it.  

Another way to reset your sleep cycles is to let nature be your guide.  Aim for getting to bed within a few hours of it getting dark outside. I know, I know… that technically means that during the winter months, we Minnesotans should be turning in for the night around 6:30, which obviously isn’t going to happen.  But for the most part, just know that during the winter we should be getting more sleep while in the summer we can afford a few more awake hours.    

On the flip side, to help reset your sleep cycle so that you’re actually tired when the optimal bedtime rolls around, make a habit of  getting some sunlight as soon as possible when you wake up. This is going to help boost your natural cortisol levels and fully wake your system up.

For some, this information might be brand new.  For others, it might be old news. Regardless, I hope it served as a reminder as to why sleep is so individualized and important.  If you’re curious about how to make your sleep work harder for you, let’s talk

And for all you nerds out there, if you’re geeking out on this sleep stuff, check out the graphic below to get an idea of all the different things that are happening to your body during the general human circadian rhythm.

Midnight.jpg

Free Energy: Part one of three - Movement

Photo Credit: Leslie Plesser of  Shuttersmack Photography

Photo Credit: Leslie Plesser of Shuttersmack Photography

Energy is what every parent wants more of.  More energy to host the play dates, run all the errands, go down the slide 100x on repeat, and most importantly, to be patient. Because we all know how hard that can be, especially when you feel like you’re running on fumes.  


Before you continue, know that there is no mention of shots, pods, or capsules in this post.  We’re going to cover the basics; movement, nutrition, and water. And while they might not have fancy marketing campaigns, they are tried and true ways to get you to feel better.  And better yet, they’re free. There is way too much information between these three power-house topics to cover in one blog post, so I’m going to break this into a three part series, focusing on one of my favorite topics first.  Movement.  


Isn’t it amazing how much energy our kids have?  The running, jumping, skipping, flipping, rolling, hopping, building, and whatever other adjective is non stop!  Do you want to know their secret? Movement creates energy. Yes! I know! So simple, right? By simply moving, our tissue generates a form of energy called piezoelectricity.  The way it works is that our bones are made up of piezoelectric material, which, when engaged in movement, creates energy.  This energy is the equivalent to an AC current charging up your cells.  

And not to get too scientific, but does anyone remember the term mitochondria from their seventh grade biology class?  Imagine tiny factories in each of our cells that turn the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe into energy. That’s mitochondria.  And it just so happens that our muscles are where a lot of these little energy factories are located. So when we move our muscles we’re actually helping to create more energy for ourselves. 

So many of you probably already knew that movement helps to increase energy.  And the part that you’re struggling with is building movement into your routine.  I know how busy you are so make it a point schedule attainable movement into your day.  The key word being attainable.  Start with small numbers and slowly work your way up.  Not sure how? Let’s talk. 

Okay, so you’ve read this whole post and you’re thinking, I’m good. I totally get the one hour of recommended exercise each day.  But even if you’re going to the gym on the regular and then sitting on your bum for the majority of the day, you’re only 4% more active than the entire sedentary population.  Yikes, right? So make this a priority folks! Your body and your kids will thank you for it.  

Want more tips on how to naturally infuse energy into your day?  Come back next week for a review on sleep cycles and how yours may be affecting your energy levels.  In the meantime, start small and make movement a priority.