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The Science of Energy

This blog post was written by Jessi Thome a student majoring in dietetics at the University of Minnesota. Since I am known as the “Energy Igniter” I asked her to write about the science of energy.

The idea of eating energy seems a little off. Energy! Don’t you get that from sunlight? There are a lot of questions of exactly what energy is and how you can consume it. So let’s get a better understanding of the science of energy.

15 oct Jessica Thome picture

Her favorite things – she loves Gopher Game Days, cooking using different recipes and then eating it, building relationships and spending time with people, and lazy Sunday’s listening to John Mayer while going for a run (walk) by Minnehaha Falls.


Since I am a student at U, we go into a lot of detail. So instead of me just telling you energy is good, now I am explaining why.

  • Nutrition is a science that studies the interactions between living organisms & food.
  • Food provides nutrients and energy.
  • Nutrients are chemical substances in foods that provide energy & structure and help regulate body processes.

People are drawn to processed and convenient foods that are easily obtainable but do not necessarily provide nutrients. Instead, these foods contain high levels of calories, sodium and fat. These foods can lead you to feeling fatigued and bloated. We need to start eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seafood, and dairy products for the long lasting energy that we crave so much on a day to day basis.

Energy-yielding nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and fats these foods fall under the category called macronutrients. Macronutrients are needed in the body in large amounts each day to provide us with enough energy.

Carbohydrates include sugars and starches, they provide 4 calories per gram. (Side note: fiber also is a carb however it does not provide energy). Lipids are commonly called “fats” or “oils” they are a concentrated form of energy. They contain 9 calories /gram, and although lipids contain energy they still can be high in saturated fatty acids so be careful to not overconsume certain lipids. Proteins are required for growth, maintenance and repair of the body, they also supply energy. Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, legumes and grains can provide protein. Proteins provide 4 calories per gram.

We talk a lot about energy and the importance of it; however make sure to do so in moderation. Energy is used to maintain body functions and fuel physical work. Happy Science! Choose your energy wisely!

Nutrition Science and Application; L. Smolin & M. Grosvenor

Permission Granted: Put Yourself On Your To Do List

The leisure days of summer are a fading memory and the demanding, schedule driven fall is here to stay. You feel like you will never have enough time to get it all done. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. What if I told you that you were focusing on the wrong measure – your time. Time is finite. There are only 24 hours in a day. Rather, focus on your infinite energy.

The ultimate measurement of a successful life is not how much time we spend on this planet but rather how do we invest in our energy with the time that we have.  There will never be enough hours in the day but there can be enough energy if you invest wisely.


Energy investment begins with discovering the art of self-care. Self-care is the personal foundation necessary for a successful business and the KEY to a rewarding and satisfying life. Every day you have a choice on your investment and expenditures of time and energy. Here are five energy tips to get back your time.

  1. Have 15 minutes of me time every day. Get up 15 minutes early, make your favorite beverage and sit and reflect on the abundance in your life, read a magazine, call a friend. What is important is the daily ritual of 15 minutes of “me time” and your investment in your energy.
  2. Keep a passion and purpose journal. Identify your values and find pictures, words or quotes that make those values come alive in a “Value Journal.” Take photos of people you are grateful for. Gratitude also creates a feeling of energized abundance.
  3. Reclaim your space. Clean out a cupboard, closet or drawer. Organize the energy around you to increase your productivity.
  4. Move your body. The best ideas come when you are taking a walk or exercising. Better have paper ready for all the creative ideas that popped while you were moving your body.
  5. Slow down to calm down. My all time favorite “slowing life down” exercise is from Fred L. Miller and his book “How to Calm Down Three Deep Breaths to Peace of Mind.”
      • Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Then take three deep breaths to calm down and clear your mind.
      • Breathing easily, inhale. Now exhale, silently saying, “Fifteen.”
      • Inhale again. This time while exhaling, silently say, “Fourteen.”
      • Continue inhaling and counting down a number with each exhale.
      • After you reach zero, take a few gentle breaths, all the while noticing how you feel.  When you are ready, open your eyes.


Fred Miller states, “The three deep breaths will calm you down in less than ten seconds. Counting backward from fifteen to zero will relieve even more layers of stress in less than sixty seconds.”

The first step to a rewarding satisfying life is giving yourself permission to put yourself on your to do list. Creating and cultivating your inner rich life will create a personal foundation of calm confidence and a feeling of freedom like you can do anything! Make the decision TODAY to put yourself at the top of your to do list.

Remember you only have one life to live, imagine if it was one you loved!


images: stuart miles and stockimages


Are Zzz’s Important? You Get to Decide


I’ve decided NOTHING beats a day where I WANT to jump out of bed when my alarm rings ready for the start of a great day. My ideal weekday is having a coaching client from 7 to 7:45 am, going to aqua aerobics at 8:15, meditating in the sauna and being home for a 10 am client. It feels so productive, so indulgent and so happy. But, it all depends on one variable – my sleep. If the lights are out at 10:30 pm sharp I can easily get up at 6:45 am. I wish I were like Gary who only needs to sleep from 10:30 pm to 5 am and often does not require an alarm. Some people are genetically predisposed to require very little sleep.  But most of us live in a sleep-deprived society.  And if wasn’t for me honoring Gary’s need for lights out at 10:30, I would be sleep deprived too. I find when we really probe the reason my clients are feeling overwhelmed it often stems from their lack of sleep.

Getting less than seven hours of sleep has the following huge health consequences.

  1. Obesity. The shorter the sleep the greater the obesity measured by body mass index (BMI). By age 27, if you sleep less than 6 hours you are 7.5 times more likely to have a higher BMI. (Getting to bed sure seems easier than being on a diet.)
  2. Increased appetite. Sleep debt increases your appetite due to lower levels of leptin, a hormone that decreases your appetite and higher levels of the hormone ghrelin a peptide that stimulates your appetite. (Weight gain is not about willpower; rather your environment and getting yourself to bed.)
  3. Diabetes. Adults who sleep less than five hours were 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, compared to adults who slept seven to eight hours. (All I can say is that diabetes is an ugly disease that affects your entire body…avoid it if you can.)
  4. Immune dysfunction. Sleep less than 5 hours or less increases mortality risk by 15 percent. (I have not worked so hard to not live happily ever after in retirement. How about you?)
  5. Cardiovascular disease and hypertension.  Five hours or less was associated with a 45 percent increase risk of heart attacks and strokes (The big problem with heart attacks is that often the first sign IS the heart attack.)
Can’t count the number of times I fell sleep and Gary would find Danielle wide awake but still content to cuddle with me. Those were the days!

Can’t count the number of times I fell sleep and Gary would find Danielle wide awake but still content to cuddle with me. Those were the days!

Science tells us that sleep is a critical component of energy and health.  The big myth is that although you can teach yourself to sleep less, you cannot teach yourself to need less sleep.  Please read that sentence again. Your sleep needs are biologically determined.  If you get sleepy when you are bored, sitting quietly in a warm or dark room or when you are trying to read or listen to a lecture you are sleep deprived. Boredom does not cause sleepiness.

When I ask coaching clients if they had one wish what would it be? They reply, “I wish I didn’t have to sleep.” I don’t know about you but if sleep can help you avoid all of these huge disease risks and you don’t have to even sweat, use your brain, or be busy it seems like a no brainer to me to get yourself to bed. If you don’t make the decision to take the time for sleep it may be made for you in the way of a health challenge or crisis.  You get to decide!

We would love to hear your sleep tips.

///image by imagerymajestic with permission///


7 Sleep Tips from my Dietitian Nutritionist Friends

Kim Fox RDN LD CDE and her family

I firmly believe in establishing a bedtime routine about an hour before you typically plan on going to bed. I shut off the computer, get my clothes and other things needed for the following day, set the alarm, wash face and brush teeth, and read for a few minutes before I’m ready for some shut eye. My body now tells me when it’s time for me to start shutting down.

Kim Fox, RDN, LD, CDE ///http://foxnutritionanddiabetesservices.com/

jamila lepore

Stop drinking caffeine by 2 PM (including tea, coffee, soda, and any other caffeinated beverage). It takes several hours to be eliminated by the body so even if you can fall asleep right after consuming caffeine, the quality of your sleep is compromised. This results in that sleepy-groggy feeling you get even after a “full” night’s sleep.

Do 10-15 minutes of stretching or light yoga before going to bed. It helps relax your mind and body, making it ready for a good night’s sleep.

If you’re the type of person whose brain goes a million times a minute as soon as your head hits the pillow, this tip is for you. Instead of keeping your to-do list on your mind, leave a notebook by your bed and write it down. That way, it’s out of your head, you won’t forget about it, and  you can work on it tomorrow. Because right now, it’s time for sleep.

Jamila Lepore, MS, RD/N /// www.nononsensenutritionist.com

Susan Linke photo 3

Magnesium is a very effective sleep aid.   Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation is a safe and easy way to improve relaxation, sleep time, sleep efficiency, and insomnia.    Food sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, peanut butter,  cooked oatmeal, spinach, collard greens, soybeans, sesame seeds, and beans.   A 20-30 minute bath soaking in Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a relaxing way to absorb magnesium through the skin.   The quickest way to get some extra magnesium (and zzz’s)  is through supplementation.  Some of the more common magnesium supplements, like magnesium oxide, are not well absorbed and have a laxative effect.   The most absorbable forms of magnesium include magnesium citrate, malate, taurate or the chelated forms of magnesium including chelated magnesium glycinate, succinate or fumarate.

Susan Linke MS RD LD CLT/// www.susanlinke.com


I spend the last hour or so before bed winding down. I turn off my computer and put away my phone and usually read. I spend 10 minutes in legs up the wall pose (literally your legs up a wall), which can calm the nervous system.

Lauren Fowler, RDN, CD, CLT/// mindfulmealsblog.com

Tina Braet Thomas MA RD CDE CLT CWC LD

Having a set bed time most nights certainly allows my body to get in a rhythm. I also use a sound machine with either ocean waves or a light rain sound seems to do the trick for me.

Tina Braet Thomas, MA RD CDE CLT CWC LD/// http://coach.wellcoach.com/tina-braet-thomas/

Krista Ulatowski MPH RDN

I value my 7-8 hours of sleep each night, without a doubt. There certainly are nights where my mind is whirling, and I find that keeping a notepad and pen by my bed allows me to jot down my inspirations, allowing me to revisit them in the morning. Also, avoiding those tall lattes after 5pm is also wise!

Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN/// https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristaulatowski


Trying to reverse type 2 diabetes?  It’s not always about diet. Getting 7-8 hours sleep most nights will help your body use insulin more efficiently, which makes it easier to control blood sugar and weight.

Karen Marschel, RDN LD CDE/// www.kmnutrition.com





5 Secrets to Vitality and Enjoying Life

1.       Create a healthy morning routine versus rushing around.

2.       Shift your day like you are on vacation.

3.       Identify unhealthy habits and stop them.

4.       Communicate until you feel understood.

5.       Do what nurtures you every day!



5 Ways to Say Love

What is love defined by 4 to 8 year olds

  • “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired” Terri age 4
  • “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine age 5
  • “Love is when my Mommy makes Daddy his coffee and takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is ok.” Danny age 7
  • “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Noelle age 7

The winner of a contest that author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia had to judge as the most caring child was a four year old whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentlemen who recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old man’s yard and climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mom asked what he had said to the neighbor the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

How are you giving your love today?