What you need to know about energy
Dr Libby Weaver, nutritional specialist, has just finished her New Zealand tour. I was one of thousands around the country who attended her talk, ‘Why am I So Tired?’, which outlined some of the key information from her latest book ‘Exhausted to Energised’. It was a presentation full of great information about energy and here are some of the key learnings I took away from her seminar.
Dr Libby suggests energy is like a bank account. You can’t just keep making withdrawals or you’ll end up living in overdraft. She reminds us that we only have one ‘Earthsuit’, and that if we want it to perform well, we need to look after it. Moreover, she points out that nothing – no amount of supplements, no amount of medication and no amount of exercise – can make up for a poor diet.
What we eat is crucial. Our bodies need a variety of nutrients to create energy, and if we are deficient in any of those nutrients, our bodies are therefore unable to create energy in the way we could if we had a great diet with all the necessary nutrients. What’s more, when we’re stressed, Vitamin B, one of the key players in energy production, gets used to produce adrenaline instead, effectively taking away from our body’s ability to produce energy. When this adrenaline is constant, which is so often the case in our modern society and particularly in post earthquake Christchurch, our sleep is also negatively affected, and our energy levels become more and more depleted, compromising our body’s ability to look after itself.
Living with long term stress, whether physical or emotional, changes the way our bodies burn fuel too. Our body interprets this stress as danger, and consequently burns glucose for a quick rush of energy, rather than burning body fat which is necessary for sustained energy, as well as for weight loss. It also starts storing belly fat to protect and nourish our vital organs. Consequently, chronic stress not only depletes energy, it also stops us losing weight and causes us to put it on.
Changing this cycle takes time. Calming your nervous system is key. Meditation, qi gong and tai chi are all great examples of how this can happen. Rethinking our perceptions of urgency and pressure is also important as a lot of the stress we are under comes from us. Added to that, it’s all about changing habits. Choose one thing to change and be consistent (not perfect), and from there add in another change, creating an upward spiral towards energy.
And a final thought from Dr Libby: stay away from the scales. Some people weigh themselves daily, and often first thing in the morning. If we’re not careful, the number on the scales ceases to become just a number showing us our weight, it becomes a reflection of who we are, announcing to us every morning that we are a failure and causing us to start the day with a wave of disappointment. This depletes energy, making it hard to take the actions we need to take.
So all in all, Dr Libby is encouraging us to look after our ‘Earthsuits’. Eat well, move frequently and sleep well. Remove or reframe pressures and increase calm. Choose behaviours that create energy.