When I was doing gym classes a few years ago, I would bonk halfway through without fail. I could actually look at the clock and know what time the shakes would be setting in. I felt like some kind of freak! I couldn’t understand why I could barely finish the class. Everybody else in the class seemed to be doing fine while I could barely lift my arms.
So I started taking an energy drink in the gym with me, and looking back it was only a band-aid. It helped get me through the workouts, but I didn’t want all that sugar. Then when I started lifting weights regularly on my own again, I sucked down energy gel when I started to feel shaky. However, gel is expensive and I wasn’t sure it was helping all that much. It’s hard to believe how uneducated I used to be!
Solving the Bonking Mystery
My evolution to energy continued. I began eating something high in carbs before my workout, like oatmeal or cereal. Then I found pre-workout shakes, which included carbs and protein (and of course the super food berries). Finally I found the importance of eating lean protein with all my meals, something fairly obvious but not to someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat.
Nowadays I eat several small snacks (and three meals) a day that include both complex carbs and lean protein. Clean eating is a lifestyle change that will give you energy, not drag you down like nasty pre-packaged and fast foods. I used to crash at one or two o’clock every day and today I never crash – including during workouts.
Too Tired Not to Exercise
Of course, the other part of the energy equation is exercise. I used to drag my ass around, always tired. I didn’t exercise of course; how could I when I was so tired? I remember one Thanksgiving when my mom was visiting. I was so lethargic that I couldn’t even get off the couch to help. My family cooked the entire meal without me.
It wasn’t until I started working out regularly again that I felt energetic every single day, all day. It was truly a life-changing transformation. Instead of needing to rest throughout the day, I just keep going and going, right up until bedtime. In fact, at one point I was working out so much that I was having trouble sleeping (I adjusted my workout schedule and my sleep improved).
When I got back into weightlifting last summer, many days I had to force myself to go. But I made a decision that if I was tired, that was the best time to go. Thankfully, this approach made exercising a habit and now if I miss a workout, well, you don’t want to be around me! If I go to the gym tired as hell, you’ll find me coming out feeling “normal” and in a better mood. Now how can you say no to that?
Your energy will only improve if you exercise consistently. If you think you don’t have time, then I hope you enjoy sitting around feeling tired. If you’re ready for a change, start by doing whatever activity you like – walking, cycling, a video, hiking. Just do something.
Personally, I’m completely ineffectual at trying to exercise at home. I must actually go to the gym or I’m unmotivated. I need to be around the energy of other people, see other people’s fit bodies, and have an endless array of machines and weights to choose from. I taught myself to lift weights by going when no one else was there. Gradually I became more confident and didn’t care if anyone else saw what I was doing.
What motivates you? Figure it out and get moving. Make sure your body is fueled. If you’re already moving but bonking along the way, take a good look at your eating lifestyle and give your body what it needs to move. Don’t forget to think about post-workout fuel too!