Here are Kelly’s recommendations for raising your energy level naturally and making weight loss easier:
• #1: Eat food that is full of qi, or natural life energy. That means whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and organic meat. Avoid foods that are packaged, refined, and filled with artificial chemicals—especially artificial sweeteners and gimmicky “diet foods,” which often are low not only in calories but in nutrition. Emphasize quality as much as quantity (calories).
• #2: Don’t change dietary regimes too often, especially if your "digestive fire" is not very strong (meaning you feel sluggish, bloated, or gassy after eating). Pay attention to how you feel after meals to determine which foods support your well-being.
• #3: Eat slowly and mindfully. Set aside sufficient time to eat, and avoid distractions during meals such as computers and television. Taking time to really enjoy the flavors and sensations will help you feel satisfied without overeating, and it will support healthy digestion.
• #4: Live in accordance with your body’s natural rhythms. Eat a hearty breakfast. In TCM, 7 to 9 a.m. is the best time for digestion. Have a nutritious lunch and eat an early, light dinner. (The Chinese eat at 5 p.m.)
• #5: Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. to allow the liver and other organs to fully detoxify the body. The liver cleans the blood between 1 and 3 a.m., and you must already be in a deep sleep before 1 a.m. to get the full benefits. Sufficient rest is essential for healthy metabolism.
• #6: Engage in gentle qi-enhancing activities. Examples include chi gong (qi gong), t’ai qi (tai chi), restorative yoga, nature walks, gardening. Enjoy! This type of exercise is especially important for those tending toward burnout, to bring their energy back into balance.
• #7: Try acupuncture. Many people who try acupuncture find that ear needles work quickly to help reduce cravings and compulsive eating. After acupuncture, people notice that they’re naturally hungry at appropriate times of day, but not ravenously hungry. They are less stressed and less prone to engage in emotional eating.
To learn more, check out Feed Your Tiger: The Asian Diet Secret for Permanent Weight Loss and Vibrant Health by Letha Hadady (iUniverse, 2010).
Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, is a Rodale.com advisor and director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA, and author of The Mind-Body Mood Solution. His column, “Mind-Body-Mood Advisor,” appears weekly on Rodale.com.