Energize! Eating for Change Challenge

Having more stress does not mean I need more exercise. It means I need the right exercise, with the right sleep, and the right nutrition. It’s all about balance for reduced stress, endless energy, and happiness.

Dr. Michael Breus- Energize

Welcome back to my year-long experiment of finding the right lifestyle for myself. My hope with this project is to inspire you to find what works best for you by seeing how different programs and “diets” work, or don’t work, for me. Technically, this month I started on what’s called the Fast Diet, but between my Wheat Belly Detox and Fast Diet, I discovered a book called Energize– Go from Dragging Ass to Kicking It in 30 Days. It’s a collaboration effort from Dr. Michael Breus, aka the Sleep Doctor, and Stacey Griffith, the founder of SoulCycle. And it’s not your normal “diet” book, mainly because it doesn’t focus on diet…like, hardly at all*.

Michael and Stacey share their personal stories about lacking energy, or getting burnt out with their routines, and while I couldn’t exactly relate to either story personally, I felt their struggles. And having a fitness guru and sleep expert team up really intrigued me.

So, I dove into Energize, learning about what the authors call my Power Type. This idea has ZooFit written all over it. They name each Power Type after a certain animal. The Wolf is the night creature, finding less energy in the morning but comes alive later in the day and into the evening. The Lion is the exact opposite. They are early-risers, and tend to fade away once evening hits. The Bear is the Power Type right in the middle (reminds me of Goldilocks, and it being “just right”, which is fitting that this Power Type is what a majority of people relate to, at least energetically speaking). And finally, there is the Dolphin, representing the true insomniacs, who sleep very little each night. (Yes, dolphins do sleep, but the authors are good at explaining how this is still representative of the Power Type.)

Once you know your Power Type, according to the book, adhering to your corresponding Power Protocol will help energize you and keep you moving, help you lose weight naturally, and improve your overall health and well-being.

There is a lot of really good information about our different energy systems– sleep, movement, nutrition, and emotional energy. As much as I’ve studied these four aspects of well-being, I didn’t learn a TON of new information, but was reminded of good gems that will help me in maintaining healthy habits, and possibly help others on their path as well.

*(they DO discuss nutrition, but this book is heavily focused on sleep and movement)

Sleep

My big take-away on the importance of sleep is how it improves self-compassion.

If you are rested, you’re nicer to yourself. The gentler you are to yourself, the lower your stress. The lower your stress, the better you feel and sleep and handle life’s curveballs. The energetic wheel continues to turn. The question is, are you on top of it, or being run over by it?

Dr. Michael Breus and Stacey Griffith- Energize

I mean, again, it isn’t earth-shattering news to me, but a great reminder on the importance of sleep.

The authors also share the benefit of a post-exercise nap. Taking a short nap after a bout of exercise has been shown to boost your memory, focus, and mental clarity. So, if you have a presentation, or an interview, perhaps your best ritual would be to exercise for 15-20 minutes, look over your notes, and then take a short 20-minute nap. Boom. Instant memory energizer.

One thing I admit I don’t agree with the Sleep Doctor on is how long one should stay in bed to be rested. His recommendation for all Power Types (except maybe Dolphins) is 8 hours. Yes, a very very large majority of humans need 8 hours of sleep a night. (You are more likely to be hit by lightning than be the type of person who can get by with 4-6 hours of sleep.) However, most of us have very poor sleep efficiency, and 8 hours in bed does NOT equal 8 hours of sleep. Most of us need to be in bed for 9 hours to get close to the appropriate amount of sleep.

Movement

Photo Credit: Zdenek Machac (Unsplash)

I love what Stacey Griffith has to say on this subject. She is very similar to another movement guru on this topic, Michelle Segar (check out her book No Sweat). Both of these fab-fit women say it’s more important to move throughout the day than it is to move for one long workout session and sit the remainder of our day. Stacey gives us a great option to try out: 5 movement breaks, each only 5 minutes long, with 5 exercises that hit our energy with the right boost at the right time. Start your day with a 5-minute Stretch, then mid-morning, shake things off with some mobility exercises. In the early afternoon, give yourself a natural pep in your step with Bounce (a quick cardio-blast). Then a little later in the evening try Build, a quick strength training (using body-weight exercises) routine. Right before you go to bed, give yourself some Balance with a 5-minute yoga practice.

Folks, I hate yoga. I really, really hate it (don’t at me with “you haven’t found the right one…” I have tried at least 15 different studios/teachers/programs, and yoga is not my style. But five minutes of balancing exercises at night to prepare for bed? Yeah, I can do that! And I enjoy it! Which is mind-blowingly awesome and amazing!

I admit I’ve made the five movement breaks my own with a ZooFit flair. I roll a pair of dice and play a 5-minute game of Fate of the Die for my Build or Bounce break. I changed a couple of the exercises to fit my needs (bad back right now). But the 5x5x5 works wonders. Try it out. As Stacey tells us in Energize:

“If you don’t believe you have five minutes for yourself, check your cell phone usage data. How much time do you spend on Instagram or Facebook?

Nutrition

Photo Credit: Bonnie Kittle (Unsplash)

Sleep allows us to replenish our body battery.
Movement makes our battery stronger.
Fuel—what we eat—sustains our body battery.

Dr. Michael Breus and Stacey Griffith- Energize

The authors really don’t spend much time on nutrition, and what they share aligns with almost everything I know about nutrition myself. Eliminate processed foods. Avoid added sugar. Limit grains.

The main focus for the Energize program is not WHAT to eat, but WHEN. The authors advocate shorter eating windows, depending on your Power Type. Typically this entails waiting 3 hours after you wake-up before you break your fast, and stop eating about 3 hours before you go to bed. Most eating windows are about 10 hours. If you want to lose weight, or if you have a slower metabolism, they recommend an 8-hour window.

This is the main practice I’ve been trying to follow since my Wheat Belly Detox. I am far from perfect (as in, last night I got home late and was STARVING so ended up eating past my shutdown), but I will say when I hit this window, along with eating the right foods, I am starting to see a difference.

Emotional

Photo Credit: Dusan Veverkolog (Unsplash)

I am appreciating more and more modern fitness and wellness books taking this very important pillar of well-being into account when teaching their readers about self-care. It’s so, so important.

Fatigue focuses our brains on the negative. The more exhausted we are, the less capable of stopping the flood of “anticipatory anxiety” of the fear of bad things happening in the future

Dr. Michael Breus and Stacey Griffith- Energize

The first thing the authors tell us on the topic of emotional energy is, basically, it’s okay to not be okay. Without a doubt, letting yourself feel what you feel and being true to yourself is the greatest source of energy you can ever tap into.

To prepare for when you get down (which WILL happen, even with the Energize program, because, spoiler alert: we’re human!), make a list of mood boosters. Most of us know that laughter, music, and nature are mood boosters, but be specific. What makes you laugh? What playlist can you jam out to that will always hit the right chords for your mood? Where in nature do you feel most at home?

And don’t forget to let your Power Type help you, along with the Power of Movement. Even if you don’t feel like doing 5 minutes of exercise, it does a world of good. Plus, folks, how proud will you feel when you accomplish something like a workout, especially when you didn’t feel like doing it?

Not Perfect, But Energizing

Photo Credit: Mohamed Nohassi (Unsplash)

The Energize program looks pretty legit, but it isn’t without its flaws. The Power Types more or less lock you into a Power Protocol, which can feel restricted and confusing at times. What if you are a Bear but have a Lion work schedule? What if you are a Lion but really want to set yourself up as a Wolf? The authors share how to live with a person who doesn’t match your Power Type, but it doesn’t help much when YOU don’t match your Power Type.

And I love their stance on the fasting and eating windows, but again, being rigid doesn’t help when life happens. I also embrace the Intuitive Eating idea, which is the philosophy of honoring our bodies AND our hunger. This means if you are truly hungry after your eating window has closed, go eat. But when I see some positive changes in my weight from practicing my Power Protocol, I admit it’s definitely reinforcing my efforts to stay true to my Power Type (I’m supposedly a Bear, although I think I’d like to try to shift to a Lion).

Feel free to check out the book yourself. I found a copy at my local library, which I always advocate supporting this wonderful resource. See if you can energize your life with your Power Protocol and go from dragging ass to kicking it.

Hummingbird and the Bear

Honestly chores will always be tedious. Deadlines will be stressful. Conflicts will take a lot out of you. The Power Protocols won’t change that. But the demands of life that seem exhausting to you now won’t send you back to bed or straight to the couch anymore. If you make small tweaks to your schedule, what used to deplete your energy will barely make a dent.

Dr. Michael Breus- Energize

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