One of the most common excuses for skipping a workout, perhaps the most common after “I don’t have the time”, is a lack of energy. If you’ve had a stressful day at work or a busy day with the family it can be tough be find the motivation to hit the gym or head out for a run.
While there will be legitimate reasons for not having enough in the tank to make it through a workout, the vast majority of the time you’ll find that once you actually get started you can power through. More often than not, you’ll also feel fantastic when you’re done! It’s just getting started that’s the problem.
A lack of energy can be caused by a number of factors, but most of them can be actively managed to help give you more consistent and much higher energy levels throughout the day. While many people seem to operate on burst of enthusiasm followed by some down time (3pm crash anyone?), by actively working on maintaining and improving your energy levels you’ll have a greater level of focus throughout the day.
So what contributes to this sluggishness and how can we turn it around? Here we’ll look at some of the leading causes of a lack of energy and some simple tips for fixing them.
Fix Your Sleep
When was the last time you could honestly say you had a great sleep? There are so many aspects of modern life which can vastly reduce the quality of sleep you’re getting, and not sleeping well can lead to various issues including low energy, weight gain, poor focus, and even serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Some simple tips for getting a better sleep include:
- Keeping the room as dark as possible
- Going to bed at a consistent time
- Avoiding computers, TV and other screens for at least an hour before bed
- Keeping the room at a fairly cool temperature
- Working out in the morning (more on this later)
Fix Your Diet
A poor diet can be devastating for your energy levels – something I’m sure we’ve all experienced when trying to work after a big, unhealthy lunch! Avoiding certain foods throughout the day will help you maintain a more balanced level of energy and focus, and if you can stick with a healthy eating plan based around whole foods you’ll find that your overall energy levels are far higher than they were previously.
Regular meal times help to prime our body to expect food at particular times of the day. By spacing your food out throughout the day and never skipping a meal you’ll help provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform at a high level.
That doesn’t mean reaching for a donut or chocolate though! Aim for a mix of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to provide a boost in your mood and to release energy between meals. Processed foods and other food high in sugar will provide a quick boost in energy followed by a sustained crash, so they’re best avoided if you’re looking to have a productive day!
Aim to eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, complex carbs and quality protein throughout the day to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best.
Train in the Morning
If you’re consistently finding that you skip workouts at lunch or in the evenings then it might be worth changing your schedule around to accommodate morning workouts. If you don’t have the energy later in the day, why not train when your energy levels are the highest they’re likely to be all day?
Not many people consider themselves to be morning people, but by setting your alarm an hour earlier and powering through for the first couple of days you’ll start to find you look forward to waking up early. You start to crave that endorphin release early in the day, and knowing you’ve finished your workout while most people are asleep comes with a surprisingly high level of pride.
Exercising in the morning also compliments the other important aspects of managing your energy levels as well. Many people find that starting their day with a workout sets the tone for the rest of the day, meaning they’re more likely to eat better and maintain their energy through good food choices.
Morning exercise is also linked with much higher sleep quality than working out at other times of day. So by hitting the gym first thing you’ll sleep like a baby at night and eat like a champion all day!
Bringing It All Together
While there are various other tweaks you can make to your sleep, diet and workouts to help further improve your energy levels throughout the day, sticking to gradually improving each aspect will result in a huge change in the way you feel.
Each aspect compliments the others, so it’s a real success cycle once you get started. Getting a great sleep will give you the energy to spring out of bed to work out in the morning, and the additional energy you will have will make you more likely to make better food choices.
A better diet will help give you the energy to work out regularly and you’ll find you get higher quality sleep at night. Exercising in the morning will encourage you to eat healthily throughout the day and will improve the sleep you’re getting at night.
The difference these aspects can have on your energy levels and mood is profound, and you’ll find other aspects of your life improving as a result. You’ll have more time and patience to have fun with your family and friends, you’ll perform better and get more done at work, and you’ll be in far better physical shape. All it takes is actively managing your energy!