Want to boost your energy and improve your mood in 2020?
Yeah, us too! So, we did some digging and decided to write an article telling you all about what we found. What follows is the second in McCoy Homes’ three part “New Year, New You – Time to RENEW” series. We hope you find it inspirational and helpful!
BUT FIRST! A disclaimer: we are a residential design build firm – we are not medical professionals! And we do not dispense medical advice. This article is meant to provide some non-medical but helpful tips for increasing energy and improving mood. If you have a legitimate medical concern, be it physical or mental, you should consult your doctor.
OOO! Momma! She said the “D” word!
Now, now! Don’t panic. We’re not advocating for any of the “weight-loss hacks” or “fad-diets” currently spamming your inbox. Promise! Our recommendation doesn’t actually have anything to do with “dieting” per-se. We really just want to talk about eating – but eating properly. And we want to make some suggestions for those of you interested in Eating for Energy. The following is a smart list of high value foods which we think will help you improve your energy and focus.
Caffeine + Sugar
Mkay. This is dumb. Right? Well.. actually no. We put caffein and sugar on the list because they’re both clinically proven to boost energy and focus. HOWEVER, we wanted to make sure to add this critical caveat: too much sugar or caffeine will have the opposite effect! We’re not suggesting that you head over to your local coffeeshop and order up a “big-gulp” of your favorite caffeinated syrup. No. We’re suggesting a cup of black (or low-fat and sugar free) coffee with an orange or a banana.
Avocado, Nuts + Dark Chocolate
As with protein, fat is an essential part of the diet! I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true: your brain needs good fat to function. In fact, my nerdy nutrition professor once giggled, “Fats put the ‘fun’ in function!” As corny as it sounds, she wasn’t wrong. According to Gary L. Wenk, Ph.D., “A diet high in monounsaturated fats [ehem, the Mediterranean diet] lead to an increase in the production and release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine – Acetylcholine is critical for learning and memory.”
Fresh, Cold Water Fish
Lean proteins, Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D – energy essentials – are abundant in most fresh fish. According to the Cleveland Clinic single 4-ounce serving of cooked salmon typically contains 40g of protein, nearly 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D and 2.4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids.
C’mon? Diet and Exercise? This is not new.
Of course it’s not new. But what might be new to you is this: exercise doesn’t have to mean woofing down a gross, cardboardy protein bar, rushing to the gym on your lunch break, slogging through a 45 minute uphill climb on a rickety treadmill, showering with strangers, then rushing back to your desk so you can starve till the 5:00 whistle blows! Exercise – real, meaningful, results-producing exercise – can be simple and stress free. Here’s a list of our tips:
COUNT YOUR STEPS
Park at the back of the lot and take the stairs. I think of this sort of like I think of accrued interest. Interest payments aren’t going to make you rich over night – just like a few extra steps are going to knock off a dress size in a week. But everybody knows that, over the years, interest really adds up. So, too, do these extra steps.
SWAP YOUR SEAT
Active sitting is a thing and – if your up for it – it could be a really great way to engage your core throughout the day. Engaging your core obviously strengthens it, but it also helps to naturally boost circulation which improves energy and focus. This article compares and contrasts a variety of products currently on the market.
TWITCH + WIGGLE
Find ways to incorporate extra movements into every-day activities. Sitting on hold? Elevate your feet under your desk and hold them in a pike position until the person comes back to the phone. Waiting in line at the water cooler? Perform inconspicuous 2” calf raises while you wait. Folding Laundry? Try adding a half squat between each item folded.
HAVE A SEAT AND SQUEEZE YOUR CHEEKS
Isometric glute exercises will tone your bum quicker than you realize. Also, try engaging your buttocks without engaging your abdominals. Can’t do it, can you? Sweet! Who doesn’t want an exercise two-fer?!
Ok! Finally. This one isn’t usually met with much resistance. Your body is made of roughly 85% water. Of course it needs water to function properly. But, did you know that several recent studies have linked hydration to improved focus and decreased reaction time? It’s true! Other studies have linked dehydration to moodiness and lethargy. So… next time you get a case of the “three-oclocks”, opt for a cold glass of water instead of that sugary soda!
Ten out of ten “Boost Your Energy” lists put “sleep” somewhere near the very top. It’s true. And everyone knows it. To have energy during the day, we must have good rest at night. But… how? Here are three of our favorite tips:
FIRST: Exercise. Huh? You thought we already covered that, right? Well, we did. But exercise is so important for getting good sleep that we decided to mention it here too. You’ll have to be careful though, a late evening exercise can boost energy and endorphins and keep you up late. So we recommend a morning or mid afternoon exercise to help you prepare your body for a proper bed time.
SECOND: Ditch the blue light! To oversimplify some pretty complex science, the light emitted from a screen (tv, iPad, phone, etc…) disrupts your circadian rythm. So, the best thing to do is to avoid screens for the last two hours of your day. If that’s not possible, try some blue-light-blocking specs.
THIRD: Create a calm down routine. It doesn’t have to be an inflexible, written-in-stone bed time routine. Perhaps you after dinner you take a walk, then you take a warm bath, then you read a book, then you do a few minutes of mind-clearing (also called meditation – but that word seems to scare all the non-yogis so: mind-clearing) and then – hopefully – you could begin to fall asleep? Just remember that your routine should be easy to follow – major changes will be hard to stick to, so try to make incremental changes.
Alright! That concludes our second “New Year, New You – Time to RENEW” article! I dare say you’re thinking, “Well, that was lovely, but I didn’t read anything ground breaking.” My friend, I have to tell you: that’s precisely the point. Renewing your body and your spirit – boosting your energy and your focus – doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to incorporate some new-fangled gadget or product.
You’ve already got the power to change the way you live your life. You just have to choose to do it!
Thanks so much for reading! We hope this article was inspirational and helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or comments. We welcome your feedback.