Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Fatigue is one of the biggest problems of modern life, but we’re trying to fix that problem in all the wrong ways. Trying to “get” or “find” energy is like trying to grab a fistful of water. If you want water (energy) to sit in your hand, you have to first create the conditions under which it’s possible-in the case of water, keeping your fingers tightly together and your hand cupped while open will do the trick-but trying to grab the water will not. It’s the same thing with energy.
Energy isn’t something you get or grab, rather it’s the by-product of certain conditions that allow it to show up in your life. If your health, attitude, body, and mind are all aligned in the right way, there’s nothing else for you to do but feel energized. It’s the natural “side effect” of a healthful life-it just comes with the territory.
Let’s say you were a swimmer wearing a weight belt, and you wanted to increase your time in the 50-yard freestyle. You could spend a lot of effort researching the latest high-tech swim suit-which might add a second or two to your time-but wouldn’t it be a lot more effective to simply drop the weight belt? Most of us are carrying around weight belts and looking to increase our energy with coffee and stimulants, but if we just dropped the weight belt, we’d automatically go faster.
Some of the items that make up our weight belt are too little sleep, disorganization, toxic relationships, high-carb diets, undetected food sensitivities, and all sorts of other facts of modern life that I discuss in detail in my book The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy. The following are seven of the most important ways to help drop the weight belt from your energy tank. Do them and you may be surprised at what a boost in energy they give you.
1. Support Your Liver
You can help your liver do its job more effectively-and boost your energy in the bargain-by taking a daily dose of an herb called milk thistle. Also, eat liver-supporting vegetables, such as carrots, beets, beet greens, garlic, artichokes, and burdock and dandelion roots. I consider the liver the most misunderstood and underappreciated organ in the human body; when it’s not working right, your energy level is the first thing to suffer. Giving the liver all the nutrients it needs to perform its daily tasks is one of the most important things you can do to boost your energy.
2. Get 10 Minutes of Sun Every Day
“The sun gives you strength, lifts your spirits, and is a source of energy,” says my friend Al Sears, MD, author of Your Best Health Under the Sun. Like a growing body of health experts, Sears thinks we’ve become so sun phobic that we’re missing out on the myriad mood-boosting and energy-enhancing benefits that the sunshine vitamin has to offer.
3. Disconnect for a Day
One of the great energy drainers of the 21st century is information overload. We’re deluged with stuff coming at us from e-mail, RSS feeds, blogs, social networking sites, TV, magazines, radio, fax machines, Blackberries-you get the picture. Knowledge may be power, but information overload is just … well, noise. Try a media-free day and feel your own energy accumulate rather than letting it dissipate as you attend to millions of distractions, most of which-when you think about it-won’t make much difference in the long run anyway. (If you find the idea of disconnecting for a day is a frightening thought, you are exactly the person who needs to do it the most!)
4. Try the “No-Frills, No-Excuses, Anytime-Anywhere” Workout
We all know that exercise helps with energy-at least I hope we do-but when it comes to working out, time remains a big obstacle for many people. Here’s my own “no excuses” low-tech workout that you can do just about anywhere in as little as 15 or 20 minutes for an amazing boost in energy: 1) run a mile; 2) do some squats; 3) do some push-ups; 4) do some crunches; 5) stretch. After that, go about your business refreshed and energized. And if you can’t go out and run the mile, do some jumping jacks in your office or run the stairs.
5. Revive Your Chi
Acupuncture is based on the precepts of traditional Chinese medicine-that the body and mind are inextricably linked, that vital energy (chi or qi) regulates a person’s spiritual, mental, and physical health; and that each of us is a delicate balance of opposing and inseparable forces-yin and yang. When that balance is disrupted, vital energy becomes blocked or weakened. When our chi is at optimal levels and flowing smoothly, we’re ready to take on the world-spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically-we’re strong, healthy, and energized. One terrific way to balance that energy is through acupuncture.
6. Unclutter and Deep-Six the Energy Drain
Here’s a rule I’ve found to be a universal truth: your energy has a perfect inverse relationship to the accumulation of stuff you don’t need. The more stuff you have cluttering up your life, the less energy you have. Believe it or not, the condition of your desk, office. and living space actually reflect a lot of what’s going on in your head. If you take time to organize and unclutter, you’ll be freeing up a lot of psychic space, and that can really turbo-charge your energy.
7. Take the Right Supplements
While supplements don’t really “give” you energy, they can correct metabolic issues that are draining it. They can also speed along certain pathways that are nutrient- dependent and get sluggish when those nutrients are in short supply. One terrific energizing nutrient is CoQ10. Editor’s note: For more tips and discussions on energy, and well-being, please see Bowden’s book, The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy.
Product Examples (left to right)
Doctor’s Best High Absorption CoQ10 combines vegetarian CoQ10 with vitamin E and Bioperine (black pepper).
Source Naturals LIFe force MULTIPLE has an impressive array of energizing nutrients and herbs (including milk thistle).
Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality new liquid NUtrarev! features a super-antioxidant blend and wide array of nutrients to combat fatigue, including CoQ10, açai, carnitine, and ribose.