GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — There’s a scientific reason why your energy level seems to decline in the fall. Shorter days means less exposure to sunlight. This may cause your body to pump out more melatonin, the hormone that helps you doze off.
It is possible to wipe out seasonal fatigue. Here’s a quiz to help you uncover the practical energizing actions that actually work.
Dr. Shawn Talbott, author of the book The Secret of Vigor has some quick ways to get energized! You may be surprised by some of his tips.
1. True or false: Sugar can rob you of energy.
True! Sugar might give you an instant kick, but you’re going to eventually crash. High-fiber, low-glycemic foods such as quinoa, lentils and apples will help supply you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. You’ll be less likely to reach for that mid-afternoon double-fudge brownie.
2. True or false: Being regular in the bathroom can help you be more productive.
True! When you’re not regular, you feel uncomfortable and out of balance. Plus, feeling better on the inside will help you exude more confidence on the outside. Keep the poop moving by eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seeds.
3. True or false: Low-fat diets help you stay slimmer and feel more energetic.
False! Your non-fat lifestyle may be depriving your body of nutrients and may be making you fat! You need fats for better hair, skin and nails. In addition to being a great source of energy, substituting fats for carbs can also help your body burn fat for fuel. Olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocados are all examples of healthy fats. These oils also fit well with the popular keto diet.
4. True or false: If you’re feeling sluggish, you should drink a glass of water.
True. Dehydration robs you of energy. You’d think that because it’s not as hot outside, you don’t need as many fluids. But air heated by furnaces is drier. That’s why your lips feel chapped and skin feels tight. There’s no magic number for the amount of water you should drink. Listen to your body. Adequate water and fiber intake also help ensure excretion of toxins in your urine and stool.
5. True or false: Stress zaps your energy by burning up certain vitamins in your body.
True! Stress can burn up your energy-assisting B vitamins. It also lowers your serotonin, the feel-good hormone that your brain eventually converts to melatonin for good sleep. There are a lot of good stress-busting habits out there. Keep trying them until you find things that work for you.
6. True or false: multi-tasking is the best way to get things done.
False! Multi-tasking and over-scheduling are surefire ways to feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished. Prioritize your list and focus on what’s important. Do one thing at a time, do it well and then let it go. Always schedule time in your day to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.
7. True or false: Cardio class is always a good choice for an energy boost.
False! Some experts even say that aerobic exercise raises cortisol (your stress hormone), accelerates aging and lowers testosterone. Try burst training instead. Burst training is the efficient, effective antidote to an hours-long gym routine which you can do in just minutes. I love to combine it with weight resistance for the two best kinds of exercise on the planet!
8. True or false: To be the most productive, keep a steady pace from sunrise until your head hits the pillow.
False. You want to wind down just before bedtime. Set a kitchen curfew after dinner so that you stop eating three hours before bed. If you need help to relax, sip on some chamomile tea. And read a good (but not great) book. You don’t want to lose sleep because you’re engrossed in a fabulous novel, so keep some good books on your nightstand. Set an alarm clock to warn you when it’s an hour before bedtime. That will be your official warning to put away the laptop, flip off the TV and power down so you won’t be distracted by flashing cell phones or other electronic gizmos.
9. True or false: It’s more difficult to maintain a regular sleep routine as we age.
True. Melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm, but it declines with age. If you have jet lag, or just find yourself awake and staring at the ceiling for hours, see if three mg of melatonin does the trick. If you doze off easily, then you’ll know that your body isn’t making enough of this crucial hormone.
10. True or false: To avoid fatigue, you should also avoid your favorite Fall comfort foods.
False. Many fall favorites are made with fresh in-season vegetables. You don’t want to completely deny your body of these nutrient-rich meals. The key is moderation. Eating more fiber can help you feel full so you don’t risk overeating and becoming uncomfortable.