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Sharpened concentration, enduring memory, high productivity, overcoming stress. This is the edge we need for living effective, fulfilled lives. Yet energy is a premium commodity in these super-stressful times: and it is becoming ever more elusive as our frantic schedules overwhelm our daily lives. Many get by on fumes and just getting through becomes their battle cry. Now The Energy Edge provides education and motivation for making simple lifestyle changes that provide for an unstoppable energy flow.
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Pamela Smith, R.D., is the host of High on Health on the Health Network and of the nationally syndicated radio show, Living Well. A well-known sports nutritionist, she has been featured on the Today Show,CNN, and Lifetime Television. She serves as a wellness coach to professional athletes and corporate executives, including Shaquille O'Neal and Walt Disney World Resort personnel. Smith lives in Orlando, Florida.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
CHAPTER ONESo tired of being tired
Her day starts early--very early--and she wakes up tired. The alarm goes off at 4:45 AM, and the morning routine gets started: kids out of bed and out the door, lunches packed, and the schedule packed fuller still. "By 8 in the morning, I'm already exhausted and feeling like I've already put in a full day; then I realize I have a full day ahead of me!" forty-two-year-old Sara laments. "By 5 PM, the time I want to be at my best for the people I love, I'm exhausted, cranky, and craving sweets. By 8:30 in the evening, I'm on the couch in a coma. I do sleep at night, but wake up in the morning just as tired. I don't just want energy, I need energy. I just don't think I can go on this way!"
Sara, a working mother of two teenagers, is not alone. Her plea for energy may sound like your own.
Or maybe this sounds like you: You're waiting for an elevator to get to that meeting that began ten minutes ago. You wait, and wait--the car seems to be forever stopped on the seventh floor. You glance at your watch and make a sudden decision to go for the stairs. After all, you're only going to climb five flights--no big deal. And it is no big deal--till you find yourself out of breath by the third landing. By the time you get to the meeting room, you have to stand outside for several more minutes just to get back to normal breathing and the ability for conversation. Yet, you're dripping with perspiration and aware that your face is quite red. Whatever happened to that robust health and boundless energy you took for granted not so long ago? Never mind where it went--how can you get it back?
Is Fatigue In Control?
You may be like millions of Americans who unknowingly allow fatigue to control their lives. Sure, you know you're tired and could use more energy, but you don't realize how much the power drain is negatively affecting the quality of your life. Consider the warning signs by asking yourself these questions:
sleep?Do I have difficulty staying consistent with an exercise routine?Do I crave sweets much of the time? Do I struggle with depression?
Although we may associate the desire to be a couch potato with a lack of energy, we aren't so used to linking mental confusion, short-term memory loss, irritability, lowered immunity, insomnia, mood swings, sweets cravings, even a difficulty with los-ing weight and staying with an exercise plan, with a lack of energy. Yet this void affects every part of our life--physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual. We have just become accustomed to feeling bad.
In my work as a nutritionist and wellness coach, I see clients from all walks of life--top executives, professional athletes, homemakers, ministers, college students, teachers, retirees--and they all have a similar heartfelt cry: "I am out of energy and out of control of this thing called life!" Living life today is tough, and living an energy-filled life is tougher still. We have innumerable demands, stresses, and obligations placed upon us, yet little supply to meet those demands. Most of us have families, friends, careers, community and church commitments, pets, houses, yards, and hobbies--all demanding time and attention. But that's time--and energy--we just don't have. Polls show again and again that most Americans feel as though they don't have time to do everything that needs to be done, much less fun time to recharge their batteries. Little wonder that the desperate message I hear every day sounds like a tape recording: "I'm just so tired."
How about you? Do you feel as if you rarely have enough time or energy to take a bike ride in the country, read a novel, practice that golf swing, try out some new recipes, or cultivate a new relationship? Do you feel as though you barely have the energy to rise up to the demands and needs of life--let alone your wants? The needs most easy to ignore are your own.
The Right Stuff
We all need energy that lasts as long as our days last. And most of us desire the side benefits of vibrant living as well: sharpened concentration, enduring memory, high productivity, a bright attitude, a hopeful perspective, stress resiliency. This is the "right stuff" we need for effective, fulfilled lives. Yet I'd have to say most of us just don't have it.
Statistics show it as well. Studies have shown that one out of five people suffers from extreme fatigue. Many more feel like falling asleep on their feet. More still (six out of ten) are chronically tired--forlorn, grouchy, and unable to think creatively. And nine out of ten say they feel very stressed most days and extremely stressed one or two times a week. It is estimated that Americans make 500 million office visits to doctors each year to complain about generalized fatigue.
What is the cause? Sometimes, fatigue stems from elusive factors such as sleep problems, any number of medical conditions, the side effects of medication, or something as simple (yet little known) as not drinking enough water. But more often the likely cause is something predictable: simply a chronic lack of self-care. We are underfed and underfueled and unable to step up to all the tasks and opportunities at hand.
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