When you think about high energy, what comes to mind first? For some it’s a Red Bull energy drink with between 80 and 111 mg. of caffeine. For others it’s supplements like creatine which creates bursts of speed and energy before weight-lifting. And for others it could be sugar or chocolate, my favorite.
In interviewing Sheri Traxler, certified intuitive eating counselor, we learn about creating authentic high energy not based on shortcuts of energy that create a roller coaster of highs and lows throughout a day. Her message is not one of diets but of creating a high energy lifestyle with thoughtful preparation, healthy habits and quick wins with or without lattés.
Body and Brain Connection
To create authentic high energy, you are supporting your own body systems. The goal is to have between fifteen and sixteen hours a day where you are alert and able to make good decisions with clarity and vitality. You may have some variation in the level of energy, but no huge dips. If you consistently face low energy, have trouble sleeping and find yourself sick more often than healthy, starting a healthy lifestyle regime with a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods will help.
Our bodies are like machines that need cleaned up and rebooted. Our brain is our computer. When a computer runs out of operating room or memory, you have to usually clear up some space first, then restart. This is similar to cache. Cache is that stored memory on your computer and can grow quite large, using up a lot of disk space. Deleting the cache data helps to troubleshoot, helps to increase the loading time of web pages and increases the performance of your computer. From experience, it also decreases frustration as I’ve had to do this often! In the same way, deleting fads and substitutes for solid sources of energy will create space for authentic high energy.
High Energy from Thoughtful Preparation
Good preparation will help you stay on track as you aim to develop good habits. Creating healthy habits with small, measurable steps will bring the results and change you desire. (see Tiny Habits) Preparation, especially for snacks, is extremely valuable because is much easier to make bad choices when exhausted or in a hurry. When Sheri was doing two-a-days running cross-country in college, she was also dieting. However, she didn’t prepare her body for the energy she needed. When she got to the break room, she blew her diet with the plentiful doughnuts. Her lack of preparation with the right type of foods and snacks brought on symptoms of adrenal fatigue as well as guilt.
When I was teaching in the public education system, there was no shortage of goodies in the teacher’s lounge. Taking the time to prepare healthy snacks for those break times with the right combination of foods had a positive effect on the rest of my day, and even established a pattern for the rest of my life. I have subsequently pre-prepared some of the food and snacks for much of the travel and other engagements I’ve done as well. Doing so has saved me when layovers were cut short or when offered less than optimal snacks on a plane or break room.
High Energy from Healthy Habits
Sheri has a number of short videos that not only approach healthy eating, but our mental practices, workspace and exercise. They are very well done and worth checking out. (see: Sheri’s videos) Her powerful plate is very easy to implement and customize. It is a balanced plate of food for steady energy through the day. She tells us to draw a circle. Split it in half, then in quarters. Her powerful plate consists of 50% fibrous, non-starchy vegetables, 25% carbohydrates, and 25% protein with a sliver of healthy fat to keep your blood sugar steady. She gives examples of those foods in her videos.
Similar to the theory ascribed in Tiny Habits, Sheri says you can tie an activity to some other part of your life. For example, stopping to take a couple good, deep breaths and focus on your posture every time you walk to the restroom can have a rejuvenating effect throughout your day. Also, if you find yourself sitting at a computer for hours at a time, plan breaks at least every fifty minutes, even for five to ten minutes. If you can get outside in the sunshine, you will increase your serotonin, the feel-good natural hormonal boost.
High Energy with Quick Wins
Besides implementing the powerful plate, Sheri has some other quick wins that most of us can apply easily. Getting good sleep is of primary importance. In 2021, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) issued a position statement noting that sleep is essential to health, calling for better emphasis on sleep health in education, clinical practice, inpatient and long-term care, public health promotion, and the workplace.
Many studies validate Sheri’s point on turning off all electronics one hour before bedtime. It’s tempting to use your computer or phone before bed. But studies have shown electronics can interfere with sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, a natural hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for sleep. This then leads to neurophysiologic arousals that increase feelings of alertness when you should be winding down instead.
Ernest Hemmingway said, Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Good advice from this Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner.
Sheri also speaks of white space meditation, which is not really meditation as most of us visualize. But it is time for you to mentally take a break with a tiny reboot. When you take a break, try not to think of your to-do list or the next project or phone-call. Clear your mind and give it some room to relax. This is white space meditation.
If you’ve ever taken a walk and suddenly discovered a solution for an issue that seemed to come out of nowhere, you’ll validate how important it is to get away from a situation for a period of time. For those of us who are multi-taskers, this is difficult, but do something totally different, even for five to ten minutes. You’ll be amazed at the increase of clarity you feel. For me, it’s going outside to prune a couple branches or pick fruit off one of our trees. It creates a different perspective while I focus on an entirely different task.
Enjoy Your Work and Life
Enjoy your work. Don’t feel bad about communicating what you don’t enjoy. There are many who are looking for a deeper purpose and satisfaction in life. A good exercise is to note all that you really do enjoy about your present position and if possible, expand on those areas. This takes communication and maybe some negotiating, but it is worth the time and energy it takes. With the addition of a good diet and healthy habits, you are on your way to creating authentic high energy!
To create authentic high energy, you are supporting your own body systems.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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