Saturday, August 23, 2008

Energy For Life

One of the most frequent complaints I get as a Physical Therapist from patients is, lack of energy. Many times I get patients to rehabilitate who have gone through a period of hospitalization after a major illness, and who had become weak in the process. They have very low energy levels, complain of feeling "weak," and are unable to physically function on even the most basic levels. Many have difficulty getting themselves out of bed without assistance, many are unable to walk or get off the toilet without assistance!

You too maybe feeling "weak" and lack the energy to perform day to day tasks. It may not be where you need assistance to walk or get out of bed, but you lack the vitality, drive and vibrancy needed to feel good. Your energy levels are low, and you are popping vitamin pills hoping to increase your energy. You may be also loading up on caffeine to stay awake and energized throughout the day. You always feel tired and stressed out, and to make it worse, you cannot sleep at nights! You go to the doctor and have a check up done, and they find nothing wrong with you. Your doctor tells you "eat right and exercise" and tells you to return in six months for another check up. You are absolutely frustated, and do not know what to do.

Does this sound like you? Many Americans, who are otherwise healthy, suffer from these symptoms every day. Doctors have come up with may labels to describe these physical symptoms such as Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Adrenalin overload, stress, depression, and so on. Regardless of the diagnosis however, one thing is clear: We need to get a better handle and control of these symptoms, as they threaten our quality of life.

In my professional experience, I have found that of all the "treatments" given to increase energy levels, only one "treatment" does an effective job in boosting energy levels. Many of the traditional treatments for low energy levels do work to a certain extent, but their effects are usually short-lived. Drinking energy drinks, popping vitamins, caffeine, and taking medications all have short-lived effects, and some may even have adverse side effects. Exercise is good, but can also leave you feeling more fatigued due to muscular fatigue. For myself however, I have found three things which if done in combination, will increase your energy levels.

1. Eat whole foods
Stay away from processed foods as much as you can. The life-giving properties are usually removed or destroyed in processed foods. Examples of processed foods include products made from white flour, white sugar, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and food additives. If what you are eating cannot be found in nature, then it is junk, and you should stay away from it. There is no man made food, however "nutritious," that can ever take the place of or improve upon what God has created to nourish our bodies.

2. Get plenty of exercise in clean air
Our sedentary lifestyles is one of the leading causes of obesity and poor health. People who are sedentary are more likely to make have low energy levels versus non sedentary people. Most people feel more tired after a day of hanging around the house doing nothing, than doing actual work! One of the best ways to get exercise and be productive at the same time is to do some physical work. Physical work includes gardening, housework, yard work, grocery shopping, working on the house, taking care of little children, building something, and so on. Fun activities that are also exercise include sports, hiking, bicycling, roller blading, white water rafting, aerobic dance, swimming, and so on. Spiritual activities that promote exercise include lithurgical dance, nature walks, church outings, church program activities, and church missionary activities. God created our bodies with the intent to move. Movement is life. When He created Adam, He did not place Adam in a house with all the amenities of convenience, but placed him in a garden to tend the garden and take care of it. Adam was placed where he could enjoy nature and commune with God in the fresh, clean air of Eden. Breathing in clean, fresh air energizes us. As we exercise, our bodies requires more oxygen, and our cells are revitalized by the increased intake of oxygen. That air however needs to be clean and pure, for our cells to function properly. The inhalation of toxic, smoke-filled air has led to many diseases including emphysema, and lung cancer. Medically speaking, people with low oxygen intake, below normal, exhibit decreased energy levels and decreased ability to perform work and function physically. Therefore, if you want to be at your optimum energy level, then you must take in adequate amounts of pure, clean air.

3. Seek spiritual renewal
Spiritual renewal is usually the one thing that is ignored in seeking increased energy levels, yet without spiritual renewal, all our best efforts may be useless. In our search for physical wholeness, it is important that one achieve wholeness in mind, body, and spirit. Wholeness of mind means that you are emotionally stable. Wholeness of body means that you are free of disease, and wholeness of spirit means that you have a healthy relationship with your Creator. All three aspects of physical wholeness are however actually interrelated, and therefore one cannot achieve true wholeness of body or mind, without the spiritual input of the our Creator. When we have a healthy relationship with God, He restores our health and gives us healthy minds. He takes away our worries and cares, as we lean upon His strength. He revitalizes our bodies and renews our energies. It is only through trust in Him, that many have found the real and only cure for their low energy levels. In Isaiah 40: 29-31 it says,

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

The key therefore to physical wholeness and wellness is spiritual wholeness. Spiritual wholeness is characterized by spirtual holiness in body, soul, and mind (1 Thessalonians 5:23), where your whole body, soul, and mind (spirit) are under the control of God and His power, as you give your life over to Him. You no longer depend on your ways, instead, you put complete trust in His ways and His will, as He leads you along the path of righteousness and true wholeness. May you find your strength in Him.

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