Are you dragging your heels under the mammoth weight of your winter coat? Beat the cold-weather blahs with these easy energy boosters.
You probably don’t give it much thought, but you automatically take 20,000 breaths a day. And, if you’re not doing it properly – because, like right now, you’re slouched in front of the computer – you’re depriving your body of essential oxygen. Oxygen equals energy, so sit up straight and try this: draw the outside of your shoulders away from one another and deeply inhale and exhale through your nose. “Good posture allows you to take a bigger, fuller breath and breathing through your nose is a cleaner way to breathe,” explains Cynthia Funk, co-director of Toronto’s The Yoga Sanctuary. To see if you’re doing it right, place your thumbs facing forward on your waist at the lower ribs and wrap the rest of your fingers around your back. Breathe deeply trying to push your ribs into your hands. You should feel your lungs expanding.
Rising before the sun can get you down. Many Canadians suffer from “winter doldrums,” explains Dr. Michael Terman, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and coauthor of a recent study that reports that simulating the dawn using different technologies can help curb the winter blues. As a first step, Terman recommends 30 minutes of bright light therapy when you wake up. While reading your morning paper, turn on the Day-Light (a light box that costs US$199.95 at the Centre for Environmental Therapeutics). Mimicking sunlight when it’s still dark outside fools your internal clock into thinking its time to go, go, go!
“The most energizing essential oils are grapefruit, peppermint and rosemary,” says Mindy Green, Clinical Aromatherapist for Aveda. For an aromatic lift, add about five drops of oil to your bath water or body lotion. Better yet, double your sensory pleasure by eating grapefruit, peppermint and rosemary. You’ll enjoy their smell while reaping added health benefits. Here’s how:
Don’t hibernate in the gym or (worse) on the sofa during the winter months. Beat your winter exercise rut and create some heat in the cold. Besides being invigorating and beneficial to your overall health, outdoor winter activity releases endorphins – mood improving chemicals that increase energy levels and may even help ease depression. Try these cool winter sports:
Eating rich fatty foods, such as chips or french fries, can leave you sluggish. “You spend a lot of energy digesting and processing heavy, rich or fatty foods. This can leave you feeling tired,” explains Vancouver Registered Dietitian Patricia Chuey. Instead, she suggests reaching for “clean” foods, such as apple wedges and a few whole almonds, that won’t leave your fingers – or insides – feeling greasy. At 4 pm when you’ve lost your oomph and are tempted to hit the vending machine, go for a yummy and nutritious alternative. A tall Starbucks Vanilla Crème, for instance, using nonfat milk and no whipped cream has only 180 calories and 35 per cent of your recommended daily calcium. Other options Chuey suggests:
For even more high-energy food ideas, check out our Energy-boosting meal plan.