beat fatigue

It’s 2 p.m. and you’ve hit the wall.  You’ve got three more hours at work  ahead of you. You’d love to hit the gym and exercise, but how? You’re just too exhausted!

Constant fatigue can stem from a variety of culprits. Poor sleep, too much partying, or even more serious underlying medical conditions like diabetes and fibromyalgia can drain you big time. Chronic weariness can be mental, too. Stress at work and in your relationships, depression, etc., can sap your get-up-and-go and leave you dragging and blue.

If your fatigue persists over a period of weeks, then you need to see your doctor. But there are certain energy draining enemies that you can confront right now if you want to get from slow to “go!”

Enemy #1: Eating a sugary, fat-filled breakfast. Carbohydrate-rich meals inevitably cause you to crash, leaving you tired and feeling fuzzy mentally. Instead of sugars and starch, start the day with whole grains and lean protein. Try a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries or two poached eggs with tomatoes and lettuce.

Enemy #2: Skipping your exercise routine. People who regularly complained of fatigue increased energy levels by more than 20% with regular, low-intensity exercise, according to a 2008 University of Georgia study. You don’t have to run marathons or live in the gym, just do something, even for as little as 10 minutes a day. Use the stairs, do push-ups on breaks, walk to lunch.

Enemy #3: Drinking more java. 1-2 cups of coffee per day will no doubt give you that needed zap of energy. But any more than that will keep you awake at night. Coffee also over-stimulates the production of two hormones-adrenalin and cortisol- that can work against you, causing you to be cranky and store more fat.

Enemy #4: Eating the wrong snacks. Stay away from sugary junk like  cookies and candy. Avoid high-energy, sugary energy drinks. These foods cause a sudden spike of energy as your blood sugar rises, then a crash as your body has to over produce insulin to help your system deal with the excess sugar. Instead, try high fiber or protein snacks like a slice of turkey, edamame, or nuts like pistachios, almonds or walnuts.

Enemy #5: Feeling too stressed. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between the anxiety of dealing with a bitchy boss or being chased by a rabid dog. Either way, the body releases “fight or flight” hormones that help you cope with stress. The trouble is, the build-up of heavy duty hormones can wreak havoc on your body. Besides wrinkles and fatigue, you can eventually expect a whole array of physical  problems like heart disease, ulcers and diabetes. Try yoga, visit a spa, learn to meditate.

Tom Bonanti is a Fort Lauderdale-based personal trainer, fitness writer and massage therapist. His column appears exclusively in Hotspots. Tom welcomes your comments at