Over the last 6 months I have made a deliberate attempt at improving my health and raising my energy levels to exceed, or at least match, those of my toddler. I was getting progressively weaker and weaker and so decided to manage myself more thoughtfully and replenish resources. Every step I made equalled a step up on the energy ladder and I only wish now I had done it sooner. Here’s a short description of the journey to vitality that I have taken so far.
1. I started small in January. No great ambitions. All that I really wanted was to get more sleep and so I did. Often at the expense of dirty floors, windows and dishes but in all honesty I was so exhausted there was no other choice. I gave myself 5 weeks. These were 5 weeks when I was committed to live with all the undone chores just to have the time for my recuperative bliss. Sleep is one of the most powerful medicines available. Do not feel guilty that you need it. You are not lacking discipline. You are lacking sleep.
2. I experienced an immediate improvement in my energy levels after those sleepy weeks but it was winter and I was lacking motivation to leave the house for longer walks and I knew I needed them to get fitter so I invested in pedometer – a little clever tool that counts your steps. To me, a blessing. You probably can use a smartphone for that and download the right apps but I do not have one so I bought this one. The pedometer worked for me, it worked for my husband, it worked for my mum and dad. Try, I think it might work for you too.
3. I read a lot about nutrition, gut flora, adrenal fatigue and supplementation. I was ignorant when it came to those subjects and I would not describe myself as a great supporter of supplements before. However I realised that after pregnancy I was just too depleted and would not be able to replenish my resources with diet only – I would probably have to double my food intake and I am not slim. In my case, post-pregnancy supplementation (2.5 years later!) was essential. On the subject of gut flora, I learnt that many autoimmune diseases are linked to our gut. If you, like me, were given antibiotics in the last few years, you may benefit from taking extra care for your gut. Fermented food could be really beneficial. Sauerkraut is regularly served on my table.
4. Are you a grazer? Yes I am. A bad one – one that used to graze on biscuits and chocolate. A good one – one that now grazes on nuts (Brazil nuts and walnuts), dried fruit (mainly prunes) and superfoods (e.g. avocado, blueberries). It’s a very simple but a very beneficial change to make as you simply graze on nutrients: vitamins and protein. Of course if you’re not a grazer then do not even try to be one – just add some nuts to your breakfast.
5. Water. I used to be a heavy coffee drinker. A couple of weeks ago I decided to break this habit too. I knew that my energy levels were improving as I was leaving half-full cups of coffee all over the house. Not drinking it – not needing it. I replaced the coffee with cold water. Now water is all that I need to feel refreshed in the middle of the afternoon when my energy drops slightly.
6. It’s only now, almost three years from my pregnancy, 6 months after I started looking after myself that I feel I can take on heavier workout and seriously look after my body. Is there anyone who you like exercising with? My sister has recently recommended Focus T25, which is a cardio 25 minutes workout per day for 5 days, I have tried it and loved it.
Just recently, during our first meeting, my nutritionist gave me a piece of advice. She suggested that I should create a positive mantra that would describe myself in good health with great energy. The mantra could be as simple as I am health. The psychological effect behind repeating it is similar to that of a placebo effect. If we think that we are healthy or that we are heading the right direction in our recovery our brain starts producing the necessary chemicals which support the process. I am healthy and vigorous – that’s my mantra. What would yours be? Where do you get your energy from?
Have patience to walk in small steps until you have the wings to fly.
Francis de Sales