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Wake-up Calls: 7 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Caffeine
By Lisa Palac
For most, it happens in the late afternoon, usually between lunch and 6ish: that feeling of sluggish, low-energy brain-deadness that makes you want to call it quits for the day. Since that’s generally not an option, you reach for the next solution: the caffeine pick-me-up. Whether it’s coffee or tea or a yerba mate, many of us are in the habit of using caffeine to prop ourselves up during the draggiest part of the day. Of course, some of us—and you know who you are—go one step further and combine refined sugar and caffeine. Nothing like a Frappucino® and double fudge mini-donut to shake things up. It’s a slippery slope.
But what if you don’t want to be a Coffee Achiever? Maybe it’s getting in the way of sleep later that night. Maybe you’re doing the Beachbody Ultimate Reset™ or a general cleanse. Or maybe you’ve done some research, weighed the pros and cons (as laid out in the Beachbody Newsletter a few weeks ago), and decided caffeine just isn’t your thing. How to break the cycle? Here are 7 healthy ways to pull yourself through an afternoon.
- Get 15 minutes of exercise. Researchers at the University of Georgia found overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue. “A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” said professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA exercise psychology laboratory. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.” Take a power walk, take a quick run, do 15 sun salutes. Walk up and down the office stairs for 15 minutes. Jump rope for 3 minutes, then walk. The more active you can be in these 15 minutes, the better. Activity increases circulation, and circulation transports oxygen throughout the body, which in turn boosts our energy level.
- Start breathing deeply. Conscious breathing is, perhaps, the easiest way to energize your body and improve mental clarity, among many other benefits. Breathing deeply provides your body with the oxygen it needs to increase energy and alertness. Dr. Andrew Weil, who has written extensively on the restorative power of the breath, suggests “The Stimulating Breath” as an energy booster. (It’s basically a mini-version of Kundalini yoga’s “Breath of Fire.”) Close your mouth, and breathe forcefully and rapidly in and out of your nose for 15 seconds, then breathe naturally. Alternately, you can sit up straight, on a ball if possible, roll your shoulders back and breathe deeply for 10 minutes, pausing on the inhale and then again on the exhale, as a way to simply become aware of your breath.
- Eat some almonds. Here’s the amazing thing about almonds: they’re rich in proteinand they contain magnesium, a mineral that helps convert sugar into energy. Magnesium also helps with immune support, restful sleep, stress relief and heightens mood. The almond is often considered a superfood because it’s high in calcium and vitamin E with zero cholesterol. If you can’t/won’t eat almonds, try cashews, walnuts, or pecans. Nut butters are also a good way to mix up the textures, preferably unsalted. If almonds are too hard on your teeth, try soaking them in water overnight before you eat them. It softens them just enough.
- Crank up the music. Listening to your favorite fast song gets you pumped up and gives you a quick burst of energy, right? The music works on several physiological levels. One, music can raise your endorphin level. Endorphins are the biochemicals produced by our brains that both relieve pain and increase our sense of happiness. They’re the same chemicals responsible for “the runner’s high,” the euphoric feeling you get after a great workout. Two, music boosts your energy level by increasing blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore concluded that listening to your favorite music has a measurably positive effect on your cardiovascular system by expanding the inner lining of your blood vessels, which increases circulation.
- Soak up the sun. Take a break and get out in the sunshine, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. The sun is a great source of vitamin D, a nutrient that’s essential for healthy bones and teeth, but research now suggests that vitamin D may help in preventing cancer, as well as regulating our moods, cognitive abilities, and energy levels. The sun also plays a huge role in our daily circadian rhythm, our body’s natural 24-hour sleep/awake cycle. When this cycle is thrown out of balance, it often leads to sleep loss and stress, which in turn leads to increased caffeine use.
- Take a power nap. Cornell psychology professor James Maas coined the term “power nap” in his 1997 book, Power Sleep. In it, he recommends the daytime nap as a healthy, even necessary activity—but only if you don’t have trouble falling asleep at night. He also believes they are most effective when you take them at the same time every day, which is usually about 8 hours after you wake. Maas says 15 to 30 minutes is the optimal amount of time for a nap; any longer and you’ll enter a deep sleep which can leave you feeling groggy. He also provides these nap tips:
- Turn off the lights, close the door, and get rid of other distractions.
- Lying down on a couch, or chair with your feet up, is ideal, but any position including head down on your desk will do.
- Set an alarm, so you can nap worry-free.
- Take a Scottish shower. It’s what James Bond does, and look at the energy that guy has. In the Ian Fleming novels, Bond’s showers start out hot but finish with icy cold invigorating water. Commonly known as the Scottish shower, the idea is that alternating between hot and cold water improves cardiovascular circulation, which leads to feeling energized. Beyond youthful vigor, practitioners of the Scottish shower claim it keeps them younger-looking, too. In addition, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine found that short cold showers might even help relieve depression. If you want to give it a try, it’s simple: Spend four minutes in a hot shower, then slowly decrease the amount of hot water, until it’s pure cold. Enjoy the chill for at least two minutes.
If caffeine is your habit, it will require a bit of effort to replace it with other ways to lively up yourself. But the first step is simply becoming aware of all the other effective options available to you. And now you know. Welcome to your new, jitter-free, energized, oxygen-rich world.
Happy Earth Day!
Here are some simple ways we can celebrate Earth Day. Every day we should take care of the beautiful earth God gave us. Today is a good day to start if you haven’t already gone green.
- Plant your own fruit and vegetable garden
- Make an energy-saving plan for your household
- Set up a recycling station in your home
- Go on a walk through the park, nature hike, or visit your city garden
- Volunteer to pick up trash at a park
- Plant a tree
- Put a birdbath or bird feeder in your yard
- Or make your own old fashion bird feeder (pine cone, peanut butter, bird seed, string)
Make today a new beginning.
You know what really grinds my gears…?
When some people see that I’m making really healthy food choices or hear me say that I’m trying really hard to work out every single day, they look at me up and down and ask, FOR WHAT?
Really? I have to be 300 pounds to choose to start living a healthy lifestyle? Some people really get under my skin doing that.
First of all, they have no idea what I look like naked; maybe I want to change that. And secondly (and most importantly), being physically fit and eating healthy clean foods is not always about “trying to be skinny.” And even if I was currently a size 3, it’s MY business if I want to be healthier.
I think many people are starting to associate the word “DIET” with women wanting to be thin. There are so many ads about weight loss that target women and even more ads targeted at us that feature long and lean models and celebrities. And I’m not going to lie. OF COURSE I’d love to be thinner. But I am not borderline anorexic nor do I have low self-esteem about my current weight.
These ignorant folks really have to start thinking about what BEING HEALTHY really means. As I get closer to age 30, my metabolism is going to start slowing down rapidly. And then, once I start getting closer to age 40 and 50, health problems may start to arise (such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, bone and muscle strength, etc.) That doesn’t mean I need to wait until it’s too late to do something about it!
No matter how much we weigh, we need to start taking care of our bodies NOW! If we want to live long and healthy lives, we need to start making healthy choices today. Not tomorrow.
My new coworkers are the main ones who jump on me when they see me pull out an organic salad or drink acai juice or snack on carrot sticks. “Girl, you need to eat some real food!” “You’re so young, you have plenty of time to try to be healthy!” “Wait till you start having kids; it’s just gonna mess your body up anyway!!”
Especially the coworker who actually is like 300 pounds: “I wish I was your size, what are you dieting for!? You’re crazy.”
Sometimes when people look down on me in this way for being healthy, I just get more motivated. Just wait til I pull out my guns (arms) and lift up my shirt to show off a sharp little six pack. YOU JUST WAIT! lol
My point is: dieting is not just for “fat” people. And if I think I’m fat, well that’s up to me!!!!
THANKS FOR LETTING ME VENT! 🙂
P.S. For those who know me or are my Twitter/Facebook friends, you know I struggle with sticking to hardcore fitness plans, lol. My weight fluctuates month to month…hell, week to week! But these new coworkers of mine pick on me daily about this and it irks me to my core. So I really have to show them what being healthy is all about! Give me two months from today – June 16 – to post a picture of myself here in a BIKINI! Yep, hold me accountable! Earlier, I recorded a before video of my body in a bikini (which I refuse to post any time before June 16th due to embarrassment lol)………………………….
Haters are the best motivation!
Even more motivation: (1) I now live in Florida and bikini season is nearly here already and (2) my sister and I are going to Hawaii/Palau this summer!
If you’re like me and you work full time in addition to being actively involved in other organizations and hobbies, you might find it especially hard to find the time to dedicate to your community. Now that I just recently moved to Jacksonville for my promotion, I have been searching for places in the area that are looking for volunteers. A lot of the organizations I’m finding require a background check, interview, drug test, training sessions, etc. And I want badly to give back to the community, but…I just don’t have time during the day to get that stuff done! And on my days off, I just need to relax because of how hectic work here gets. So what can I do at MY CONVENIENCE, to give back to the community? Here are some ideas I found that I liked a lot. The best part about it is that they don’t require me to have to go to several different locations at specific times on specific days to get my hours in. I am in control of when, where, and how. And I can still feel just as good about myself afterward because I know I dedicated time, money, and effort into it. I love volunteering because of how rewarded I feel afterward. Just to know that you possibly made someone else’s day who is less fortunate…feels awesome.
- Set up an informational display for a local library or rec center (drug-free, smoke-free, girl power, why college, family time, voting, etc.)
- Write letters of inspiration/get-well cards to sick children, elderly, etc.
- Set up a Sunday car wash during “after-church” hours to donate the money to a local charity
- Clean up trash during/after community events, at parks, etc.
- Set up an art exhibit at a local business, school, hospital, nursing home, etc.
- Pick up change in parking lots and donate the money to a local charity
- Make Easter baskets/get-well-soon packages for nursing homes, children’s hospitals, etc.
- Create a flyer about going green and send to local businesses
- Create a recycling contest at church and give the winner a prize or at a school and give the winning class a pizza party
- Tutor children or adults in your free time – in writing, English, math, etc.
There are hundreds of more ideas here! —> http://lancaster.unl.edu/4h/serviceideas.shtml
They have categories you might find more interesting depending on your personal experiences, such as crime and safety, animal protection, improving the neighborhood, and government policy.
Each one, reach one.
A Prayer for Trayvon Martin (Rev. Naomi King, FL)
Most Merciful and Most Compassionate we are called to live boldly in compassion, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to not fear but to welcome the stranger. Yet we have failed and are struggling again, losing another child to violence and fear, losing ground living with love. For love flourishes in the safety of accountability, in the safety of each of us bearing responsibility, in the safety of mercy and restraint.
Out of grief we raise our hearts and our voices, out of grief for our children, our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors. Out of grief for Trayvon Martin we raise our hearts and our voices.
Out of fear we raise our hearts and our voices, out of fear for our children, our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors. Out of fear we raise our hearts and our voices, that hate and fear continue to roam our hearts and the land, spurring more violence.
Out of love we turn again with you and with each other seeking to not let fear and violence have the last word, seeking to remember the ones we have lost, seeking a restoration of accountability and responsibility for loving more boldly than we fear, more living more mercifully than we hate.
Comfort those of us who mourn and are afraid and especially bring us to comfort the grieving family and friends of Trayvon Martin. Strengthen us in bearing witness to the power of love to triumph over the power of fear, to lay down unjust laws. Guide our hearts, our words, and our deeds in creating true safe communities, where all our cherished, where strangers are made kin, where violence is put to rest by our becoming people of peace, people of the way of love.
You have given us the power to be the ones who end this violence, who answer our sorrow and our fear, who respond to the loss of another child by creating another way where love rules, where all of us are responsible to and for one another, where we are bold in turning away the demons of fear and welcoming the holy presence of mercy, peace, and steadfast love.
DATING is ALWAYS the number one topic between my girl friends and I.
Read an article during my lunch break and I thought I’d share. The author has 19 rules but I only listed my top choices:
“There is no question the dating rulebook has changed. Just in the last 50 years, societal events such as the feminist movement, birth control, increased lifespan, and the Internet have created new rules of engagement. But just as some things change, some things stay the same.
Dating is thought (rightfully so) to be a confusing process but the more we go back to the basics, the more successful we’ll be. Here are 19 good ol’ fashioned rules that still apply today.
1. Always Look Your Best: Attraction is very primal. We’re attracted to “good looks.” That said, You never know when you may meet that special someone at the supermarket, or gas station, or on the street. If you always look your best, you’ll always stand the best chance to secure a date.
2. Confidence is Sexy: Men love a woman with confidence. Be sure to smile, keep your back straight, listen attentively, walk with your shoulders back and speak slowly. This will make you seem confident, even if you are quivering with nervousness inside.
4. We Show Our Respect With Our Time: If he’s 5-10 minutes late, he may be pulling a Diddy and he’s trying to make an entrance. However, 10 minutes plus, with no phone call, is simply rude. Multiple incidents like this show you exactly what how much respect he has for your time.
5. Gentlemen Offer To Pay: This rule will be debated for the next 1000 years and for the next 1000 years, the answer will be the same. If he’s a gentleman, he’ll offer to pay on the first date (regardless of who asks). If he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy but it does mean his chivalry skills are lacking.
6. Good Manners Are Telling: We should all know that the good manners of saying “please” and “thank you” never ever goes out of style, especially on a date.
7. Why Buy The Cow When You Can Get The Milk for Free?: Don’t rush sexual intimacy. Early sex is one sure-fire way to ruin a relationship. Make him prove his love for you before you get intimate. This rule is gospel!
9. Ain’t Nothin’ Open After Midnight ‘Cept Legs: Don’t accept requests for late meetings with your new guy. If he has respect for you and your time, he will make plans for a more decent dating hour. Otherwise, beware that he’s only looking for a booty call.
12. Don’t Offer Too Much Too Early: People like people they can’t figure out in one evening. Don’t divulge too much and keep your dates short. Short dates will keep him longing for more.
14. A Man With No Plan Isn’t Ready For You: If you find yourself having the “what do you want to do tonight” conversation on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd dates, chances are he’s just not that into you.
16. You’ll Kiss A Few Frogs Before You Find Your Prince: Do not be discouraged when it seems that that your dates never lead to anything meaningful. That’s what dating is about — going out with new people to get to know more about your likes, deal breakers and to get better at your own social skills. Your prince is out there!
17. Phone Calls Win: Modern technology has provided a million and one ways to contact potential dates – email, text, Facebook message, and tweet to name a few. No matter how far technology advances, the phone call will always best way to connect (aside from in-person). All methods other than phone are simply not as brave, direct, or clear.
18. It’s What He Says, Not What He Does: Actions speak louder than words… PERIOD!”
By Paul Carrick Brunson, via Essence.com
Be a best friend, tell the truth
And overuse “I love you”
Go to work, do your best
Don’t outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy
And love like crazy
I’ve got GREAT news!
I got promoted to assistant manager and I’m moving to Jacksonville to one of the offices we have there! I am so excited! This is THE MOMENT I’ve been waiting for. I’m actually in disbelief. It still has not hit me quite yet. Anywho…
I just wanted to break the news though! I’ll talk details LATER!