Aging is a funny thing. And by “funny” I don’t mean LOL funny. More like OMG what happened? funny.
One day you’re Person A, going through your day, running errands, seeing a movie, going out to dinner. You get home, you’re pleasantly relaxed, have a glass of wine, and go to sleep at around 11:00 or so.
Then comes the day when Person B appears.
Person B doing the exact same activities now requires a nap, an ice pack, a couple of ibuprofen and 15 minutes Googling “symptoms: extreme exhaustion for no reason” on WebMD.
The difference between the two scenarios: a couple of decades.
The most frightening part is you feel like Person A most of the time, so when Person B rears her ugly head, you’re always unpleasantly surprised.
Falling asleep at your desk in the middle of the afternoon because you added 10 minutes to your usual cardio routine or did an extra set of chest presses.
I totally get it.
It’s enough to make a person actually read the cremation flyers that mysteriously show up in the mail.
At 59, I’m not only NOT the life of the party, but the mere thought of staying up past 8:00 p.m. for any reason beyond a mandatory evacuation is beyond my comprehension.
I get emails on this topic all the time, like one I received this week from a reader, Suzanne. As a lifelong fitness aficionado, Suzanne was searching for reasons why she no longer was able to do her prior workouts with the same gusto. She suspected adrenal fatigue.
Truth is, even if you’re fit and active and have been for years, the body simply requires more recovery time as we age. It’s one of nature’s cruel reality checks.
The same activity done in your 20s, 30s and even your 40s literally takes more out of you, according to a number of medical experts I’ve spoken to over the years.
Instead of one recovery day off a week, you may need two or three.
That said, the normal energy downgrade with age does not mean utter exhaustion from simple task. If doing the laundry makes you feel as if you’ve just completed an Ironman triathlon, you may want to get a professional opinion.
It could be something or may be nothing.
First, rule out “something” by marching yourself over to your primary care physician to rule out anything serious such as anemia, sleep apnea, a heart disorder or any other number of fun situations.
Once you’re given the green light, see if any of these handful of common culprits may be at work…
1. You’re dry as the Sahara
Even being slightly dehydrated by 2% can cause fatigue. Not drinking enough water can also be behind an afternoon “tension” headache. Dehydration makes your heart less efficient; it pumps harder to do the same job. This reduces the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs. So increase the water you drink throughout the day and see if you feel more energetic. Experts recommend 11 cups a day, which may be combination of water and other liquids.
2. You skip breakfast
If you think you don’t need breakfast and expect to make it to lunchtime without being ravenous, think again. Eating breakfast fires up your metabolism and sets the tone for the day. Skip this meal and end up hungrier, crankier and tired by noon. Include a lean protein, healthy grain and some fat. A good example is a smoothie made with fruit, protein powder and low-fat yogurt or milk.
3. You’re powered by sugary treats
An occasional treat won’t ruin your day, but a steady diet of Pop Tarts, donuts and and fast food throughout the day makes your blood sugar spike and dip worse than a Six Flags roller coaster ride. Those dips wreak havoc with your energy. Keep blood sugar steady with small mini meals throughout the day. Each should contain a lean protein to keep you full longer between meals.
4. You’re surrounded by clutter
No, this post is not sponsored by Hoarders. But interestingly, a Princeton study showed that a cluttered desk mentally exhausts you and restricts your ability to focus. Can anyone say “overwhelm”? Do a clean sweep, or at least put the mess behind closed doors to avoid taxing your brain.
5. You snooze in on weekends
If you get up early on weekdays, you probably look forward to a Netflix binge on weekends and sleeping in Saturday and Sunday. Who can blame you? Problem is, by Sunday night you’re wide awake at your normal sleep time and feel jet lagged through Monday. This can easily carry on through part of your week as well. The key lies in keeping similar hours, or at least waking up close to your weekday time and getting in a nap to recharge during the day. Be sure to keep it at 20 minutes or less or you risk becoming even more tired when you wake up.
How’s your energy level? Do you practice one of these energy-draining habits – and will you try these tips? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
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