Ditch the Coffee - Simple Lifestyle Changes for More Energy

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Raise your hand if you occasionally day dream about napping at work. I assume I’m not the only one raising both hands in the air? For the last several months, I’ve felt sluggish and my usual 3pm crash started happening earlier in my day. One day a few weeks ago, I remember wishing I could call a timeout, ala Zach Morris in Saved By the Bell, to grab a quick snooze. That’s why I couldn’t have been more excited to attend YNPN Denver’s professional event hosted by Dr. Marco Vespa from Shift by Powered By Chiropractic. His main point was, why should we look outward for more energy (in the form of caffeinated beverages)? All the energy we need is within us; we simply need to alter our lifestyles to access it.

Here’s what he suggested (please excuse the hasty cell phone photos of Dr. Vespa’s slides)

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After listening to Dr. Vespa, I decided I had nothing to lose. However, instead of trying one or two of his suggestions, I figured why not try all of them for a week to see if I noticed a significant increase in my energy level.

I noticed that many of the rules were things that are already a part of my lifestyle. I tend to eat several small meals a day that is heavy in vegetables and shakes. I also rock climb, run or snowboard workout almost every day of the week. For the next week I was going to focus on the following items:

Lowering my intake of gluten (I know, I know it says ELIMINATE gluten. I don’t have an allergy so I figured lowering my gluten intake is the baby step I need to commit to this week long experiment):
–Eliminating dairy, sweets, and sugary drinks
–Proper posture at work
–Deep breathing
–Frequent breaks (1-2 an hour)
–Get 8-9 hours of sleep/night
–Drink 5-7 liters of water a day

I figured the hardest thing to accomplish would be getting 8-9 hours of sleep per night. I usually average about 7, which is pretty good for an active, busy professional. I knew finding that extra hour would be difficult.

Day 1–Wednesday
Do you know how hard it is to drink 5 liters of water in a day? When Dr. Vespa recommended 5-7 liters of water per day, I thought he must be mistaken. Prior to this week, I averaged about 2 liters of water a day and I figured I was doing pretty good for myself!

Bad news: I spent most of day one running to the bathroom. Good news: thanks to the 3 liter I drank at work, the frequent bathroom breaks meant I could very easily get up once or twice every hour. I may have been in fear of being too far away from a bathroom, however for the first time in months, I realized I didn’t want to fall asleep at my desk that afternoon. Could this water + frequent breaks thing be working?

Day 2 –Thursday
Despite only getting 7.5 hours of sleep the night before, I was feeling pretty energized. Until there was Olive Garden. My coworkers and I went to a local Olive Garden for lunch and shared salad, breadsticks, and soup. I indulged a bit in the breadsticks, but avoided cheese (no dairy) on my salad. I called it good and patted myself on my back when I left the restaurant for a job well done.

At 1:30pm, the end of the day might as well have been light years away–I was so incredibly exhausted. Instead of grabbing some coffee, I focused what Dr. Vespa recommended–I tried to sit up straight, I concentrated on deep breathing, and I drank water like it was my job. At 3pm, my coworker was running to Starbucks for an afternoon pick-me-up and I realized I was pretty alert. Success!

Day 3–Friday
My attempts to get 8 hours of sleep the previous two nights failed miserably. In fact, Thursday night I only got 6.5 hours of sleep. FINALLY, on a Friday night, I went to bed early and got a solid 8.5 hours of sleep for 1st time since I started this experiment!

Day 4–Saturday
Maintaining my water intake was significantly harder without my giant water bottle and work clock staring me in the face all day. I definitely didn’t drink enough water, but thanks to a good night’s sleep, that wasn’t an issue. I stayed active by snowboarding all day, but definitely had a lot of sugar and beer. LOTS of beer. Whoops?

Day 5–Sunday
A quick summary: my energy levels were at an all time low for the week thanks to those few beers I had at the ski resort the day before.

Day 6–Monday
One of the hardest things to change this week was my sitting posture. I never knew it was such a problem until I started to pay attention to sitting up striaght. Fun fact: I spend most of the day schlumped over my keyboard, which means my poor lungs aren’t able to fully expand to take in oxygen they need to keep my energy up. This habit is going to take a lot more than a few days to correct. If you’re in the same situation, here are three resources to help you improve your posture. Tips: read on here and here.

Day 7–Tuesday
The last day! I have to admit that some of the lifestyle changes I tried seemed to make a difference in my energy levels. Although I’m unwilling to forgo gluten, ice cream, and cheese for the rest of my life, going to bed early, drinking a lot of water and taking frequent breaks helped combat my “need” for coffee. In the beginning, I was skeptical that simple changes like deep breathing and more water could make much of a difference, but I can’t believe how productive I was during this experiment. I was more alert and able to focus and I didn’t need Zack Morris or his timeout powers to get me there!

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