Ugh – this winter is kicking the shit out of me! Not so much the cold and snow but the lack of sunlight – I have severe brain fog. I can’t get out in the fresh air to walk the dog, my energy level is low, and I’m eating crappy foods – good grief – this needs to stop and now!
The Brain Fog – seriously I cannot focus at all… Recently I started taking my vitamins again… fog slightly lifted after 3 days. Still feeling tired and sluggish – I’m not doing what I need to do. Not sleeping well. Have myself over-scheduled. So here are some tips and tricks to help me and maybe you get back on track.
It is so hard not to eat comfort foods this time of year, I mean really – who want to eat a salad when its cold? A huge helping of hot mac and cheese sounds more like it. For the last few days I have been back on my green smoothies kick – chocolate yumminess! Ingredients: 1/4 cup blueberries, dark cherries, frozen spinach, and 1 scoop of choc shakeology – you can also use a scoop of any protein power.
So – here is the thing about blueberries – Studies show that blueberries boost “concentration and memory” for up to five hours because “the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to [your] brain – and keep the mind fresh”. YOWZA!
Spinach and other leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain. (A good, general tip: the greener a leaf vegetable is, the better.) Leafy green vegetables are also full of B-vitamins, which are “proven to help your memory, focus, and overall brain health and power”. They also contain folic acid, which improves your mental clarity.
Ok – I just started this one today because of what I read here – drinking green tea helps you focus for two reasons: one, it contains caffeine, and two, it contains l’theanine. There is no doubt that caffeine helps you focus and improves your alertness. Good. That’s covered. Well, what the hell is l’theanine? It’s an ingredient that’s been shown to “increase alpha-wave activity”, which increases tranquility and releases caffeine more slowly, instead of all at once, which can lead to you crashing. The two ingredients also combine to “produce a better ability to focus attention, with improvement of both speed and accuracy”. If you’re able to handle the caffeine content, introducing green tea into your diet is pretty much a no-brainer. Loving this little tidbit!!
Avocado and Fatty Fish – According to WebMD, “every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain”, and avocados “[enhance] blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells”. Avocados are also “loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps keep hunger pangs at bay”.
Fatty/oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which “aid memory, mental performance and behavioral function”. People who are deficient in omega-3’s are more likely to have “poor memory, mood swings, depression and fatigue”. Fish has also been proven to improve your concentration and mood. The main sources of fatty fish are “salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kipper”.
Ok – I do like Avocado – but the fatty fish not so much. I tried to eat salmon, but I just don’t like it – going to look for a good fish oil supplement. No pete and repeat 😉
WATA!! If you want to improve your focus, you need to drink enough water. Water “gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes”, and it has been proven to help you “think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity”. Every single function of your body depends on water, so it is critically important that you get enough of it. UGH – I use to drink almost 100 oz a day – now I can barely get in 32 oz! Part of it is I’m not hitting the gym – I could get 20 – 40 down in a whack there. My old routine – 20 oz on the way to work, 20 at work in the AM, 20 in the gym at lunch, 20 in the PM at work and 20 on the way home. I miss that routine – need to get back in the grove!
Dark chocolate – HELL YA! (dark chocolate, not the sugary, milky kind) can help you focus for a number of reasons. First, it contains a small amount of caffeine, which has been proven to heighten mental alertness. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which helps you de-stress, and it also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel good and heighten your mood. This doesn’t mean you should eat a huge brick of chocolate every day, like the delicious-looking one on the right, but it does mean that dark chocolate in smaller doses can significantly boost your focus.
Nuts are great for your body in the long-term. “Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age”, and you just need an ounce of them a day to get this benefit. They’re also rich with essential oils and amino acids that aid your focus.
Ok – I got the above two covered in a simple little Kind bar – yes, be kind to yourself… It’s the Kind dark chocolate, nuts and sea salt bar – freaking amazing!
One of the best antidotes to beating fatigue and increasing energy is to exercise more, not less. “Contrary to popular belief, exercising doesn’t make you tired — it literally creates energy in your body. Your body rises up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger,” says nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a nutrition adviser for the Journey for Control diabetes program.
How Does Exercise Increase Energy:
As your heartbeat increases with a vigorous workout, more blood surges through the brain, more oxygen is absorbed by your brain cells, and you feel more mentally alert and energetic. Better-conditioned muscles also make daily tasks that much easier. When you exercise, your ability to recruit and use muscle fibers are increased so you require less effort to perform any physical task. And as you become stronger through exercise, so does your immune system. Being sick drains us of energy. Exercise boosts immunity, which helps averts illness, or at least reduces its length and intensity.
See I know this – yet I’ve let it slide – – thus my current state – booh! I do yoga a few times a week, but that is not enough – I always feel better and more energetic after I work out – It has happened over and over again, so why wouldn’t I believe it to be true… Basically the solution to my current exhausted state – get off my A$$ and get back in the gym! Start paying attention to what I put in my body – meaning foods that create energy and not zap it – like anything with processed sugar, stay away from caffeine after 3 pm so it doesn’t affect my sleep, fried or fatty foods, and oh – no skipping meals this will really mess you up..
Well – I don’t know about you, but I know have my marching plans for March – come on spring – help me out!!