For so long, the only marker for wellbeing has been weight. And I am over it. Energy is the true currency of health. A much better reflection of your level of wellness is how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Do you get out of bed, grateful that a new day has dawned, feeling vital and alive, or do you press snooze and think, ‘Oh my God, how can it be morning already?’
There’s very strong science to show that what we receive genetically plays a role in that innate energy. But I see it as a bank account. We are born with that innate energy and then it’s up to us how we live our lives. We are either constantly dipping into our savings account or we are investing back in ourselves.
There is no one answer. There can be biochemical reasons, nutritional reasons and emotional reasons. For some people it can be physical – anything from the after-effects of glandular fever to low-blood oxygenation from shallow breathing. It could also be nutritional. Iron, for example, is still the most common deficiency in the western world. There are pockets of New Zealand where up to 25 per cent of women of menstruating age are iron deficient. That alone is exhausting.
Absolutely. Tiredness is such a generic symptom. People can think, ‘I’m tired because this is what my life is like,’ or ‘I’m tired because I’m getting old’, but the point of the book is to get people taking notice. If you’re feeling fatigued now and last year you weren’t, that’s your body giving you feedback. And regardless if it’s easy to deal with, like an iron deficiency, or it’s the beginning of cancer, it’s better to deal with it sooner rather than later.
Sleep is one of the simplest biological processes that our bodies have to go through for great health. In 2012 there were 680,000 unique prescriptions written for sleeping tablets in New Zealand. That’s a lot of people not sleeping properly. And if you never get to the bottom of why you are not sleeping properly, there’s a cascade of impacts on other body systems. I’m not for a second saying that people shouldn’t take sleeping tablets when it’s appropriate. Use the tablet – but make sure you address the reason for not sleeping.
The way I would prefer to phrase it is ‘energy disrupters’. A lot of people run on an energy rollercoaster. It happens when we rely on highly-processed carbohydrates and also when we rely on caffeine for an energy kick. It sets us up for an energy rollercoaster – booming one minute and falling through the floor the next. Then the only thing that seems to help is more caffeine. It doesn’t mean you should never have it, but a good thing to do is pay more attention. Do you feel better on the day you have just one coffee compared to a day when you have three or four?
If energy is 100 per cent down to age, then every 80 year old would be exhausted and they’re not. People don’t have to be bouncing with energy at 80 – although plenty are – but what I encourage people to think more about is, ‘Am I more tired this year than last year?’, regardless of whether they are 25 or 85. People can be unaware of their own personal energy. They might become fatigued when they are 50, and they’re 60 before they realise they’re broken and can’t lift their head off the pillow.
Photos: Mike Rooke, Bauer Media