Mental Muscles; Energizing Our Physical, Spiritual Well-Being

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Mental Muscles; Energizing Our Physical, Spiritual Well-Being


Byline: Shelley Widhalm, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Eighty-two-year-old Joseph Sanders, who walks three miles a day - most of it uphill - is an energy addict.

Mr. Sanders uses and teaches his clients a resiliency training program aimed at increasing energy levels. The program, offered through Health Enhancement Programs in Alexandria, includes stretching, aerobic and relaxation exercises, a meal plan with limited protein and fat intake, and daily drills, such as smiling in the morning and not wearing a watch, "to get out of the rat-race behavior," says Mr. Sanders, director of a research and development company that offers wellness programs to individuals and organizations in the metro area.

"A person does that, and they will maintain their energy level," says Mr. Sanders, who holds a doctorate in psychology.

Getting and maintaining energy is a subject author Jon Gordon discusses in "Energy Addict: 101 Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Ways to Energize Your Life."

"People think it has to be a hard, complicated program, but it's simple little things," says Mr. Gordon of Ponte Verde Beach, Fla. "We have gotten so far away from the basics; that's why people are so tired."

Mr. Gordon coined the term "energy addict" to describe someone who is addicted to positive instead of negative energy, focused on doing things that provide and do not drain energy.

Stress and fear, for example, can be energy sappers, along with anger, lack of sleep and poor eating habits that include too many processed and not enough whole foods, Mr. Gordon says. Energy boosters, on the other hand, range from taking short breaks to eating breakfast, eating heavy meals early and light meals late in the day, and exercising in the morning, he says.

"I don't try to focus on weight loss. I try to focus on lifestyle and energy," Mr. Gordon says, adding that building emotional and mental muscles is just as important as physical exercise. "We have to work our minds and emotions just as much as our bodies," he says.

The amount of energy expended needs to be balanced by enough rest, says Rick Fowler, co-author of "Too Busy to Live: The Addiction America Applauds" and executive director of the Prestonwood Counseling Center in Dallas.

"The key is a balanced life. If life is out of balance, we have physical, psychological and spiritual problems," says Mr. Fowler, who holds a doctorate in social psychology. "If we put too much energy into one aspect, it causes the others to be ignored."

Energy, in part, comes from serotonin in the brain that when depleted causes a person to feel lethargic and depressed, Mr. Fowler says. Serotonin can be replenished through regular exercise and getting eight hours of sleep a night, he says.

Exercise also releases hormones, such as endorphins, and helps a person feel more energized, says Dr. Patricia Davidson, cardiologist at Washington Hospital Center in Northwest.

"It doesn't have to be anything expensive or fancy," Dr. Davidson says, adding that simply walking can do the trick.

A feeling of tiredness may be explained by checking blood pressure and the vital signs and getting blood tests for the thyroid and anemia, she says. If results are normal and energy levels remain low, a person's exercise should be evaluated, she says.

Exercising tones muscles, lowers heart rate and allows daily activities to be carried out with a lower expenditure of energy, says Dr. …

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