A necessary component of success is to achieve a high level of physical health, which can be measured in terms of your energy level. To gain and sustain a high level of energy you need to eat, drink, exercise and rest properly. If you do this while maintaining your ideal weight and keeping a positive mental attitude you will have exceptional levels of energy throughout the day. As you practice these disciplines and form the habits that lead to health, they will improve your success in every other area of your life as well.
Drinking large quantities of pure water will have a dramatic positive effect on your overall health. It is one of the fastest ways to improve your physical and mental performance as well as to raise your level of energy. At least half of your daily fluid intake, 3-4 glasses, should come from plain water. Begin the morning with one glass, have one handy throughout the day and take one before you go to sleep.
If you are drinking enough water, your urine should be almost clear. The darker yellow it is, the more dehydrated you are and the more impurities you have stored up in your body. When you continually flush your system with water, you will cleanse your body from toxins and waste products, such as extra salt, alcohol and sugar. Water not only keeps your system clean, but also aids digestion and reduces your desire for food. Much of our fatigue during the day is caused by dehydration, and you can often increase your energy simply by drinking a glass of water. Start this habit immediately by drinking a glass of water right now.
The major benefits of eating healthy foods come in the form of increased energy, mood and performance. To keep a high level of energy throughout the day you should eat 4-6 times per day with 3 main meals. The portions should be small, balanced and varied. Avoid foods high in sugar since they severely reduce our ability to perform. These simple carbohydrates give a temporary lift, but a long-term drop in energy. Instead, focus on complex carbohydrates by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and other high fiber foods such as potatoes, rice or pasta. The proteins you eat should contain little or no fat such as lean meat, chicken, fish, beans or low fat milk. As for fats they should be enjoyed in moderation. Make an effort to reduce foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol from your diet and replace them with the healthier unsaturated fats.
We generally eat far too large portions containing too much fat. The more natural, light and fresh your food is, the more energy it will give you and the better your whole system will function. By simply shifting to fruits and cereal in the morning and salads with every meal, you will increase your energy level considerably. If you have fruit nearby you will probably eat it – so create an environment that supports healthy habits. A person who eats lean, light foods and less of them will live longer, be much fitter, healthier and have more energy. Keep in mind that there are no foods so bad that you can never eat them, just as there are none so good that you can eat them every day. Set a goal today to discipline yourself to mainly eat foods that contribute to your health and energy.
A quick and efficient technique you can use to give yourself an immediate boost of energy is to take several slow, deep breaths. When you take a deep diaphragmatic breath it oxygenates your blood and makes your cells healthier – which is the basis of your own health. It also stimulates your lymphatic system which greatly increases the rate that your body eliminates toxins. The most effective breathing ratio for this technique is to inhale for 1 count, hold for 4 counts and exhale for 2 counts. For example, you can breathe in deeply for 6 seconds, hold for 24 and exhale for 12. Find the largest numbers you can comfortably do. Repeat this pattern 10 times in a row three times a day and it will drastically improve your level of health and energy within a week, especially if you are not already exercising. You can do one first thing in the morning, another one before lunch and the last one before dinner. This kind of breathing immediately clears your mind, calms you down and sends a surge of energy throughout your entire body. Try it right now.
There are three major types of exercises: aerobic, strength and flexibility. For improving your health the most important type is aerobic exercise, where you engage your major muscle masses for 30-45 minutes. Your target heart rate should be 65-80% of your maximum pulse, which is 220 minus your age. You should be continually breathing deeply, but not be out of breath. Aerobic exercises are, for example: swimming, skiing, jogging, biking, spinning, martial arts, dancing or brisk walking. Find at least one exercise that you enjoy and can do consistently 3-5 times per week, and try new ones occasionally. To make your exercise more fun you can find a training partner or listen to audio programs while working out. If you are not used to exercising, it is best to start out with a low intensity activity such as walking, and gradually increase the difficulty as you get more into shape.
Your body and mind functions on oxygen, which is why aerobic exercise is terrific for raising your mental and physical energy. You will concentrate better, elevate your mood, be more creative and work productively for longer periods of time. Strength training is also important for your fitness and overall health and should be done 1-3 times per week.
Physical fitness contributes enormously to our health and energy. If you are overweight, then one of your major goals in achieving physical success should be to reach your ideal weight. To lose fat you must eat less and exercise more. There is simply no other way to achieve permanent weight loss. Excess weight is caused by consuming more calories than you spend. If you increase your burn rate and decrease your caloric intake you will naturally lose weight.
If you want to reduce your weight and look fit, healthy and attractive, then you should set a goal to lose half a kilo per week until you reach your ideal weight. A slow weight loss like this promotes long-term loss of body fat. Any more than this and you may end up losing muscle mass or giving up in frustration. To lose half a kilo of fat you have to burn 3500 excess calories, meaning that a healthy plan to achieve this goal would be to net 500 fewer calories each day through a combination of diet and exercise. For this to mean anything you need to estimate how many calories you use each day. This can be done by first calculating your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the daily amount of calories expended while at rest, using the Mifflin-St Jeor equation:
- RMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + (5 for men) – (161 for women)
You then multiply your RMR with an appropriate activity factor, which is 1.2 for a lifestyle with little or no exercise, 1.375 for light activity (exercise 1-3 days/week), 1.550 for moderate activity (exercise 3-5 days/week) and 1.725 for a very active person (exercise 6-7 days/week). For example, a man living a sedentary lifestyle, who is 180 cm tall, weighs 80 kg and is 30 years old would burn about 2100 calories per day.
For you to be able to measure your caloric intake and make adjustments to your diet you should keep a daily food diary with the name and calorie count of everything that you eat and drink. Do this for a couple of weeks or until you can tell approximately how many calories different foods and drinks contain. Look up the calorie count online for foods that do not have their calories listed. You should also record your progress in your food diary every week or so, for example by using a body fat meter scale.
A common mistake people make when trying to reduce their caloric intake is to go through cycles of starvation and binging, which lead to weight gain. This pattern causes your body to go into starvation mode, where it slows your metabolism and stores extra calories as fat. Instead, you should eat small meals regularly. Spread out your caloric intake throughout the day by eating every 3 hours that you are awake, to keep your metabolism continuously working to burn calories. Note that for weight loss purposes what you eat is not as important as the amount of calories it contains, so you can have smaller portions of the foods you enjoy rather than following a strict diet. However, foods that are high in fat can get you over your calorie limit quickly without you getting all the required nutrients. Fats contain 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have only 4.
In terms of exercise, the more intense the training and the longer you do it for, the more calories you burn. For example, a person weighing 80 kilos that exercise for 30 minutes would burn about 100 calories walking at 2 mph, 170 calories walking briskly at 4 mph, 390 calories jogging at 6 mph and 520 calories running at 8 mph. A good exercise program for weight-loss is to do aerobic exercise 30-60 minutes every day. You can split this period up with breaks if you need to.
On the other hand, if you are used to exercising and want to lose fat even faster, you can change the last 10 minutes of this program to anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise means you train at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate for several intervals. Simply choose a pace that brings you near exhaustion, hold it for 20-60 seconds, then take a rest and repeat until the 10 minutes are up. Anaerobic exercise, including weight training, will raise your metabolism for several hours resulting in a much greater overall weight loss. Weight training will also add more muscle, which increases the amount of calories you burn even when doing nothing.
Getting sufficient rest is a vital component of your health and general well-being. The optimum sleeping time is about 6-8 hours, but as a rule of thumb, if you wake up feeling refreshed you are getting enough sleep. If you feel you are sleeping too long you can reduce your sleeping time by increasing your quality of sleep. You can do this by going to bed more tired, getting lots of sunlight during the day, sleeping in a dark room, sleeping regular hours and by drinking a glass of water before sleep. Things that reduce our quality of sleep are for example stress and lack of exercise. Also avoid eating, smoking or drinking alcohol or caffeine several hours prior to sleep.
The single most important key to health, energy and longevity is a positive mental attitude. Your mind has an incredible effect upon your well-being, and the majority of our health problems are psychological in origin. Our mood is also closely tied to our energy levels, and while positive emotions generate energy, negative emotions drain it away. We all know highly optimistic, cheerful and happy people who always seem to have an unlimited flow of energy. Fortunately, this works both ways and every healthy habit you develop will also tend to make you more cheerful, optimistic and able to enjoy life to a greater extent.
- Drink enough liquid each day, of which at least 3-4 glasses should be pure water.
- Eat small, balanced, varied and nutrient rich portions of food 4-6 times per day with 3 main meals.
- Breathe in a ratio of 1-4-2 for 10 times in a row, 3 times per day.
- Exercise aerobically at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes.
- Reach your ideal weight by controlling your caloric intake and expenditure.
- Get enough sleep each night and sleep efficiently.
- Mood and energy goes together.
Donald Colbert - The Seven Pillars of Health (book)
Donald Colbert - The Seven Pillars of Health (audio)
Handbook of Success