I'm a huge fan of instant gratification. As an acupuncturist, I both promote and believe in the power of small and gradual changes, yet I still yearn for great change in minimal time. It's our nature to want a quick-fix..that's why we buy so many weight-loss aids and lotto tickets. We want a lot of whatever it is we want, and we want it NOW.During the course of my practice, I have noticed that this particularly applies to energy levels. No one seems to have enough energy. Everyone wants a boost, they want a HUGE boost, and they want it yesterday. When I first started graduate school, I was exhausted all the time. I was used to waitressing hours (staying up all night, sleeping late into the day.) My body just couldn't seem to get used to my new schedule, and I was dragging through my classes. One day I went to GNC and requested the strongest energy drink I could find. I drank it the next day before class.
I don't know what was in that drink, but within an hour of drinking it I started sweating profusely, my heart actually hurt from pounding so hard, and I became intensely nauseous. I also started salivating profusely. I felt like I could have easily run the 30 miles to the emergency room, though. Soon after that experience I joined a gym, and after about two weeks of working out, I was sleepy no more.
Point being, I knew that exercise would increase my energy levels. And I knew it wouldn't even take very long. But it would still take longer than swallowing that horribly dangerous drink, so I based my decision on that.
The path to long-term changes takes time, but that is not to say that there aren't some quick-fixes available to start us off. So, today, I'm going to discuss a few ways to make an immediate difference in your energy levels.
1. I know it's been said time and time again, but eat breakfast! And eat something with lots of protein and some fat-it will keep you going MUCH longer than carbs. My energy always seems to stay high when I eat peanut butter for breakfast, but eat whatever works for you. I created one breakfast item years ago that, I swear, seems to have almost magical powers. When I first started drinking it, my energy levels soared, I stayed full for hours, and I lost weight within the week. It was the simplest thing: Designer Whey protein powder, water, and an apple. The only reason I don't drink it daily is that it requires a blender, and I am lazy. Dissolving food in a blender just seems like too much work in the morning, when I'm always rushing around. But try it for yourselves, and let me know what you think!
2. Even if you're not thirsty, have a big glass of water when you wake up. If you have time to brew green tea, even better. Most of us are dehydrated, even though we don't realize it. The symptoms of dehydration begin with fatigue.
3. You might eat the most healthy diet in the world. Even so, take a multivitamin. It only takes a second, and it will make a huge difference in how you feel. If you have the money, try Nutrimetrix vitamins. They are, by far, the best vitamins I have ever taken. I had tons of energy when I was taking them. Unfortunately, they are pretty expensive...I think it was $60 for a three month supply. Worth every penny, though. But if you can't swing that, just take the drugstore brand. Make sure to eat with them, so that your body can properly process them.
4. Get your heart racing. You don't have to go to the gym for an hour to do this. In fact, if you're slowly paddling away on the elliptical machine for an hour, you may not be doing much. If you aren't planning on a gym visit, run up the stairs quickly, or do a few minutes of jumping jacks. If you ARE at the gym, make sure you're actually showing signs of exertion. You should be at least slightly short of breath, sweating, feeling your heart beat faster. It should be a little hard to carry on a conversation. If you aren't breaking a sweat, you're probably not working hard enough to build your energy levels.
5. In my medicine, fatigue stems from one of two causes: deficiency or stagnation. If you are stagnant, your energy is blocked and not flowing smoothly. It's just sitting there...and so are you. If deficiency is the problem, you simply don't have enough energy there to access. Acupuncture is a great way to both build and move the energy. If you don't have time for a session today, there are a few points that will stimulate your energy and get you going.
One point is at the very top of the head. If you create a line from the top of the ears to the top of the head, there is a point called GV20. Stimulating this point causes energy to rise to the head, bringing a sense of clearheadedness. Acupuncture students used to leave needles in this point during exams, to facilitate memory, until this little trick was discovered and banned. When you look for the point, you may have to feel around a bit-you should feel a little sensation when you hit the right spot. Sometimes the spot feels a little squishy to the touch, and it will feel more sensitive than the surrounding area. When you hit the point, press and massage it for a few minutes.
Another point to use is on the legs. Rest your hand slightly below your knee, with your index finger resting at the bottom of your kneecap. In this position, your pinky should be positioned about three inches down from the knee. At the level of the pinky, there will be a spot about 1/2 inch lateral to the bone. Palpate around until you feel it-it will be sensitive. This is Stomach 36, one of the most powerful acupuncture points of the body. Massage this point for a few minutes to get that energy flowing.
I think my own advice must be working-so far I've only had breakfast, water, and a vitamin, and I managed to write this lengthy post. After a trip to the gym I should be ready to build an acupuncture empire!