A friend of mine is transforming himself from a life of inactivity and getting less healthy with age to being physically fit and strong. He asked me how I keep my energy levels high so I share my theory on keeping high energy.
DIET – My diet is absolutely critical. Food is fuel and bad food choices means my motor doesn’t run properly if at all. I eat no less than 6 small meals a day, each with a mix of slow carbs (low on the GI/Glycemic Index), whole foods (preferably organic and much of it raw to make digestion easier), fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and sufficient protein (about .5 gms per day per pound of bodyweight, which is plenty unless you are an olympic athlete and need slightly more). I drink lots of water and I avoid refined sugar, white flours, and salt. I also avoid gluten (though I haven’t noticed a huge difference vs. eating gluten). …and of course my diet is 100% vegan.
CONDITIONING – The more I am active, the more my body is used to physical exertion. I do a mix of regular activities including cardio, isometrics, plyometrics, anaerobic, and stretching/yoga. I do light cardio or stretching on rest days, to circulate blood and assist in recovery. I like adrenaline sports like hockey and mountain biking, but I also do zen activities like road cycling or running that are rhythmic and allow me to rest my mind while I am taxing my body.
MINDSET – When many of us think we are tired (particularly desk job types like me), we are actually only mind tired, and not body tired since we haven’t done anything physical to merit physical fatigue. When I feel tired and I haven’t done anything physical, I find that engaging my body will actually wake me up. This is easier to do if you keep moving. If I let my ass hit the couch and start to relax, I know it will be twice as tough to get up and go, so I avoid it as much possible. I rest when I am truly spent and need to recover, otherwise I keep moving.
BODY REST – Rest is critical although this is where I have probably hurt myself over the years by not getting enough. Overtraining is a real danger and can lead to injuries and inferior performance. Furthermore, the micro tears and ligament strains that result from exercise, repair themselves during deep sleep. So sufficient rest and sleep are critical and now more than ever, I make sure to get enough of each.
MIND REST – In younger years I would have argued that there is no way mind and body are connected, but I have come to accept that clearing my mind helps me tap into my inner energy centers and since starting my daily meditation practice several years ago, I have experienced the great physical benefits. Meditating is definitely sacred in my life and a key part of my overall health and energy philosophy.