Energy – Build a Strong Foundation

As I mentioned in my blog post two weeks ago, I’ve been reflecting lately on the puzzle pieces of my life and how to put those pieces together to make the best picture for myself. It’s hard, because to know how the pieces fit together, you have to know how to assign priorities. You have to know what things actually are important, as opposed to the things you only think are important.

I settled on five words to use to help me find a way to figure that stuff out. To be clear, these words are not goals in themselves. They are watchwords to help me put the pieces together. They are a way to help me build the house I want to live in. The edge of my puzzle, if you will.

Anyway, the five words I’ve selected are:  Energy, Strength, Independence, Creativity, and Simplicity.

So today we’ll chat a little bit about Energy, which is the first word, and the foundation for all the others.

For a long time, I assumed that Creativity should be the foundation.  After all, living a creative life, and living life creatively is, I think, my overall objective.

But during this time of quarantine and COVID and fear and isolation and dealing with other stressful happenings that were not related to the pandemic, I began to understand that having physical, mental, and emotional energy has to be the first step.  That I have to have energy before anything else will work in my life.  It can not be an afterthought, or a “nice to have.” It is the basic building block.  After all, you can’t take a step forward if you don’t have the energy to do it.

It occurred to me that in my life, there are four key components to having energy – sleeping the appropriate amount, eating the appropriate foods, drinking enough water, and movement. And it also occurred to me that I’m not always that great at any of them, which might be a reason why feeling energetic can be a problem for me. Hmmmm… 

If energy is the foundation of the house, then sleep is the foundation of the foundation.  Getting an appropriate amount of sleep every night is the first course of cinderblocks upon which everything else rests (pun – hah!).

I suck at getting enough sleep every night.  I always have. Or at least I suck at getting enough sleep for my body.  I am constantly sleep-deprived.  I know people who are perfectly happy with five hours of sleep a night, but that’s not me. If I routinely get five hours of sleep, I feel like the walking dead.  I really need about eight or nine hours of sleep a night. but usually I only get six or seven.

When I tried to figure out why this happens,  I realized it was because I don’t prioritize getting to bed early enough.  That’s okay now and then, and I can deal with it if everything else in my life is going okay.  But during stressful times, sleep has to be a priority if I want to be able to live my life to the fullest extent I can.

Okay, sleep is important.  Check. The next rung up on the energy ladder is food.  Specifically, eating the food your body needs to feel its best.

For me, this is complicated because a) I personally am a stress-eater, and b) when I don’t get enough sleep, my body drives me to eat sugary foods to try to produce the energy I need to handle the stress as well as the day-to-day tasks. And, as I’ve already said, c) I suck at getting enough sleep.

Now, isn’t that special.

After the initial high, sugary foods can sap anyone’s energy, but when you factor in the fact that I am diabetic, the sugary foods I’m driven to eat are basically poison.  The sugars strip me of the energy I’m trying to have, prompting me to eat even more sugar to compensate.  Which goes about as well as you might expect. But if I can keep my eating on a good path, my blood sugar moderates and I automatically have more energy.

Just as a side note, I have experimented extensively over the past few weeks, and I can say with certainty that sugary foods eaten during a pandemic have the exact same effect as sugary foods eaten when we’re not in a pandemic.  FYI.

Okay, great.  So, first priority – sleep.  Second priority – eat appropriately.  Next is drink enough water.

Sometimes when I think I need sugary foods to have more energy, what I really need is a glass of water. I love me some coffee, but I can get dehydrated without realizing it. Then I am driven to look for the sugars because dehydration saps my energy. And another vicious circle is born.

All right. So, sleep.  Got it.  Eat appropriately. Yup. Drink enough.  Fine. Then we come to the final course of cinderblocks making up my energy foundation – movement.

One thing that has become very apparent to me during the last few months is the importance of movement.  Nothing special, just movement in general.  Getting up and moving around instead of sitting like a slug in your recliner.  Movement sparks energy, and energy begets energy.  More on movement in the strength portion of the proceedings.

But that’s enough for today. That’s the foundation I’m striving for.  Appropriate sleep.  Appropriate food. Enough water. Movement. Those four things are the cornerstones supporting the house, so they have to be the first things I make time to do. Everything else–any other goals I might have–depends on them.

Next, the floor of the house – strength.


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