CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- See if you can relate to an email I received: "Practically every time I commit to exercise, I fall off the wagon because I don't have the energy to make myself go."
This is a very common reason many find it impossible to remain dedicated to an active lifestyle. Talk about a power outage!
Several things need to happen to feel like exercising before or after work hours. After all, few of us have the luxury of exercising in the middle of the day when energy levels may be higher. These four keys to energy will make or break us:
1. Exercise recovery
3. Pre-workout fuel
This involves diet and the amount of time between workouts.
Diet: Your body gives you a golden opportunity for about an hour after a workout. During that time, you need to replace the carbs and protein you've expended. If you don't, your muscles won't build as effectively, and you won't replenish your energy stores.
Protein for growth and repair and carbohydrates to refill your tank should be on your menu. Protein comes from food -- beef, chicken, fish, eggs or even in a whey protein powder drink. Carbs, slow-burning ones in particular, are needed to restock the glycogen your muscles use for fuel. So include grains such as quinoa, brown rice and vegetables and fruit.
Muscle recovery: If you stress the same muscle groups day in and day out without giving them ample time to regenerate, you deny them the benefits they've earned. Nine out of 10 people do not over-train, they under-recover. Getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many people feel guilty when they take a day off.
Don't want to take a day off? No problem, as long as you target different muscles so as to allow the necessary 24 to 48 hours' rest for the muscle. This is the time they repair and strengthen themselves. Without sufficient rest and recovery, your muscles will be more vulnerable to injury, and you'll be tapping into a depleted energy source when you hit the gym.
Make an effort to get eight hours of restful sleep two to three nights in a row and see if you don't wake ready and willing to exercise. Just like plugging in your cellphone at night is critical to its energy stores, deep sleep will recharge you and allow you to begin the day with a 100 percent battery rather than, let's say, 26 percent.