Lee-Anne Wann is one of New Zealand’s most trusted health and fitness experts.

Lee-Anne Wann: Stop low energy holding you back

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We often feel so wiped out, so exhausted, that even the best laid plans to exercise and train go out the door - you are not alone in this. Photo / Getty
We often feel so wiped out, so exhausted, that even the best laid plans to exercise and train go out the door - you are not alone in this. Photo / Getty

Starting out a new exercise plan can be daunting, especially if we've been focused on other areas of our lives for a while.

Let's be honest, life happens, work demands increase, errands and chores are never-ending and before we know it, it's been five years or more since we last really challenged ourselves, made a fitness goal and really went for it.

We often reminisce about what we used to do when we were younger and how easy it all seemed with the amount of energy we seemed to have. We could party all night, work all day and still have time to exercise, catch up with friends and enjoy life.

Making such a commitment or challenging ourselves to achieve a fitness goal does not have to be that daunting. We can start decreasing the size of the mountain we've put in front of us using simple and effective options. As I always say "small things make for great changes".

By stepping back and looking at how we can go around the brick wall instead of banging our heads against it we truly can achieve amazing things.

One of the biggest contributors to people starting to exercise or even just getting past the thought of doing it and taking action is lack of energy. We often feel so wiped out, so exhausted, that even the best laid plans to exercise and train go out the door - you are not alone on this.

So how do you get back your mojo? How do you get that fire in your belly and have the body follow?

Rather than forcing yourself to do something the body just does not want to do or berating yourself for being tired and lazy, let's look at some simple but very effective tips for increasing energy and making you "want" to exercise, train, and reach that goal you have been dreaming of.

1. Eat chia seeds

"Chia" is actually the Mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as mega-energy food, especially for their running messengers, who would carry a small pouch of it with them. Chia has been called 'Indian Running Food' and gives an incredibly 'sustaining' surge of energy. Add to your porridge, mix into protein shakes or sprinkle on your vegetables. They also have a great amount of calcium and more antioxidants than blueberries.

2. Yerba mate tea

IT's not a common tea but you can find it in health food stores. It's simply another form of green tea but with even more antioxidants. What's also amazing is that it can offer a multitude of daily benefits including sustained energy, appetite control, and increased mental clarity.

The relatively low caffeine levels make it a great substitute for coffee. And the Theobromine, which is the xanthine also present in chocolate, helps lift your mood. And when you have a great mood - we all know anything is possible.

3. Coconut oil

It's strange, I know, but by adding this amazing saturated fat to your nutrition regime, you can increase energy levels immensely.

Because of the type of fat it is, it actually helps promote energy in the body. So when you're feeling a little lack lustre, try adding a tablespoon to a smoothie. Or, as I like to use it, in a herbal tea in the morning to fire me up or in the afternoon to bust through the 3pm fuzzies.

An added bonus is it can help reduce body fat, manage appetite and is perfect for cooking too.

4. Toxins

This is such a common cause of fatigue and depleted energy levels but one we often don't consider.

Toxins are all around us from car fumes, plastics, processed foods, beauty products, soaps, and washing powder. The body really has to work hard to expel them, which makes us feel tired and lethargic.

Anything you can do to help the body rid itself of toxins will improve energy levels. Try small changes such as using a chemical free soap, swapping your drink bottle for a BPA Free one, avoiding plastic packaged foods and adding lemon to your water to help the liver function more optimally.

5. Post exercise food

It really is important replenish the body's energy levels after training.

So many times I've had clients say they are tired and have no energy, even though they have eaten well that day. What they didn't do was eat well after exercising the day before.

This will have a huge impact on your ability to perform the next day. In the fitness world we like to look at the window of opportunity after training where your body is ready for fuel and will take it and run with it, so to speak. This is within about 20-30 minutes of finishing exercise. A small protein shake with a banana is a great option or other quickly digestible foods such as fruit.

6. Morning exercise

We're not all morning exercise fans and, to be honest, the best time of day to exercise is the time you will actually do it. But you can increase energy levels if you regularly train in the morning. New research shows that by making it a habit to work out in the morning, you can improve low morning energy levels.

It can help you start your work day with more energy by activating your body. And you may be able to stimulate your mind and take that motivation with you to sustain you at non-training tasks. For best results it's also a great idea to try and train at the same time of day that you typically compete or the time when your event is held.

By considering the small things we can change in our lives to help improve energy levels, we set ourselves up to want to achieve more and to feel great when doing it.

It's not always about thrashing ourselves and working harder - we're intelligent, we're Kiwis, let's do what we do best and work smarter.

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Lee-Anne Wann is one of New Zealand’s most trusted health and fitness experts.

Lee-Anne Wann is one of New Zealand’s most trusted health and fitness experts. She is the Vodafone Warrior’s team nutritionist, ambassador for Men's Health Trust NZ and runs a health and consultancy business.

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