By Maria Savino
Do you ever feel tired, sluggish, unproductive, and like you are struggling to get through your day? I’m sure all of us have experience this at one time or another, but the reason for it may not be what you think.
Your lack of motivation or energy is not always due to lack of sleep or your mindset. Often, low energy and decreased productivity are the results of a poor diet.
Food is fuel and the different nutrients that you receive from food are essential for your body to perform certain tasks.
For example, carbohydrates are needed for energy, protein is needed for growth, development, and tissue repair, and fats are essential for cushioning our organs and insulating the body.
When your body lacks a certain nutrient it will let you know, often through unpleasant physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or irritability.
For example, when I was a child, I constantly had headaches. I clearly remember my almost daily doses of children’s Tylenol. By high school they had become even worse. My pediatrician recommended more protein in my diet. I got glasses, but nothing really made a difference.
It wasn’t until I became interested in health and wellness in college that the headaches finally went away. So what had changed? The difference was that I was finally drinking the correct amount of water! I have no doubt that this was the major solution to my headache issue, because now on the rare occasion that I’m dehydrated the headaches come right back.
More recently, I learned this lesson once again, this time concerning what happens to my productivity level when I don’t start my day with a balanced breakfast. I had run out of my protein powder (which I put in my smoothies every morning) and was at a loss for a quick vegan protein source.
The first few days without my protein powder I only had a banana for breakfast. Yes, just a banana.
During the first few days of these single banana breakfasts I thought I was just tired, stressed and emotionally down in the dumps. I had very little energy, no drive to do anything and I was constantly snacking.
By the fourth day, I was getting pretty annoyed. Why couldn’t I just find the motivation? Why was I so tired? I’ve had plenty of sleep.
It wasn’t until I actually sat down and reflected on my week that I made the connection. Every day I had a horrible breakfast I had experienced low energy, decreased motivation, and decreased productivity.
Once again, I had learned how strong the connection is between how we take care of ourselves and the course of our day-to-day lives.
Although it may feel counterproductive to take extra time in the morning to make breakfast instead of getting straight to work, I realized that for me the opposite is true. If I want to have a productive day I need to take the time to make myself a balanced breakfast and remind myself that the extra minutes spent will be worth it to have energy for the rest of the day.
I know that many of us see taking time for ourselves as a waste of time, but that could not be farther from the truth. The reality is that your mind and body are the machines that allow you to do everything you want to do in life, so taking the time to care for yourself is incredibly important.
As a certified health and wellness coach, I ask my clients to think of it this way: You would never expect your car to run on its top performance if you never got the oil changed, filled the gas tank, or rotated the tires, so why do you expect your body to perform when you aren’t taking care of it?
Long story short, you have no idea how your diet and health habits are affecting your life until you change them. Your current habits may be holding you back from hitting your full potential, and one small change to your diet could completely transform your energy levels, productivity, and happiness.
Your health doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you are experiencing low energy and decreased productivity, I want to challenge you to start taking the time to figure out what your body needs. I want to challenge you to put yourself and your health first, and experience the positive ripple effect your efforts have on the other areas of your life.
By Maria Savino