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Take a Personal Energy Audit

SUMMARY:  People in faith-based organizations spend a lot of time doing for others. While we all feel lethargic at times, does your energy level lean toward empty? 

Are you "just getting older"?  That may be true, but the passing years might not be the culprit.  Look at your lifestyle to see if it is contributing to a growing inertia. One could call this trend the "portly-fication" of America.

We have become a sedentary society with poor eating and exercise regimens.  Unlike our grandparents, many of us do not earn a living with physical labor; yet, we eat like farmhands.  Even worse, the meals we eat tend to be heavy in processed foods, fats, carbohydrates and sodium.  When we feel hungry between snacks, we find quick pick-me-ups in caffeinated drinks, candy bars and potato chips. The result is an endless loop where our widening girths beget more inactivity that begets more – us.
If that sounds familiar, maybe you need a lifestyle change.  Take this test to see how much your lifestyle might contribute to your energy drain.

Personal Energy Audit
Select  the answer that describes your lifestyle.

  1. I often feel tired by mid-afternoon, so I give myself energy by having coffee, soda or a candy bar.
    Yes                              No
  2. I am so tired when I get home that I use my evenings to recuperate from my busy day.  I usually watch TV, catch up on e-mail or read a book before bedtime.
    Yes                              No
  3. I rarely get seven and a half hours of sleep every night.
    Yes                              No
  4. In the mornings I am so rushed for time, I do not eat breakfast.
    Yes                              No
  5. If I am hungry in the morning, a visit to a coffee or donut shop suffices.
    Yes                              No
  6. I love red meat and try to eat some every day.
    Yes                              No
  7. Lately, I feel under more stress than usual. I find myself rushing to every event.
    Yes                              No
  8. I try to make time for exercise, but I am so busy I rarely have time to exercise more than once a week.
       Yes                              No
  9. I only eat fruits and vegetables a few times a week.
    Yes                              No
  10. I usually salt my food before tasting it.
       Yes                              No
  11. I have gained more than five pounds in the past year.
    Yes                              No
  12. I feel winded going up steps.
    Yes                              No
  13. It has been three or more years since my last physical.
    Yes                              No

If you answered "Yes" to more than three questions, you could benefit from changing your lifestyle.   Think of the three Ds: Diet, Daily Exercise and Doctor Visits.

Review your diet and keep these ideas in mind:

  • Eat three meals a day with occasional healthy snacks.
  • Eat a good breakfast every day.  Breakfast sets the energy stage.  Skipping it often leads to excessive reliance on caffeine and snacks for energy. 
  • Eat three or four servings of fruits and vegetables every day, not every week. 
  • Eat more fish and poultry and less red meat. You will get the protein you need without the fat.  Limit red meat to no more than three times a week.
  • Keep fruit, unsalted nuts and raw vegetables in your office to eat when you feel hungry. Try peanut butter and unsalted whole-wheat crackers or yogurt and fruit preserves as snacks.

Daily Exercise
If you have poor energy, you probably are too sedentary.  It is time to get out of the chair or off the couch and to give yourself a cardiovascular tune-up.  It requires little time to give the heart a little exercise.

  • Chart a short walking route around your neighborhood and establish a routine of walking 15 minutes twice a day.  Set a pace that raises your heart rate.  Going at a snail's pace does little good.  This limited amount of exercise will give you more energy and will allow you to do more than if you spent 30 minutes on the computer.
  • Elevators are not the only way to travel from one floor to another.  Climb the stairs several times a day.
  • Even a slight change in exercise level will improve your sleeping at night.  Research has shown that a good night's sleep is critical to health, so schedule a good 7.5 hours for slumber.
  • Check your breathing throughout the day and use breathing exercises to relax. Stop. Take three or four deep breaths. Relax.
  • Three or four times a week try a new evening activity. Walk. Play games with your loved ones. Read a book for fun. Sit and watch the sun go down.
  • If you are in poor physical condition, contact your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

Doctor Visits
Most people do not enjoy visiting the doctor.  You may tell yourself, "Let me lose five or 10 pounds and then I'll go to the doctor."  Well, STOP IT!  The doctor is there to help and encourage, so let the doctor do his or her job.  Depending on your age, you need regular visits to the doctor to ensure good health and to address problems that will develop.  If it has been three years since your last visit, it is time to schedule a physical.

--- Enjoy good health and wholeness with these tips. The Global Health Initiative wants to hear your success stories and tips for staying healthy: We will place them on our Web site. Be well.