Perseverance.  Focus.  Endurance.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)
        Hebrews 12:1-2
The non-Nuclear Energy Crisis

ALRIGHT. So you’re powering through your day, getting stuff done, completing assignments, filing reports, presenting projects, meeting with clients, feeling like a freakin’ boss for being so on top of everything. But then, all of a sudden, this wave of, “how about I just curl up on the floor and like, sleep, pass out, die, whatever. No one will mind, right?” Know what I’m talking about? That seemingly random slump in the middle of your busy day? For me, I always feel it when I do math problems, but then again, I associate math and sleep under the same category. Anywho, y’all get that. What’s up with that? Your energy levels just plummet down to Atlantis, never to be found. Typically, this is fixed with a nice brewed pot of coffee...four pots later....you’re good...right? Wrong! Coffee isn’t the only saviour here! Not to mention that coffee gives you a quick high, resulting in overstimulation, which ultimately turns into a killer headache after consuming all that caffeine. Not to mention that this excess drug (yes, caffeine is a drug) takes a toll on your kidneys. SO, I decided that y’all need some better energy options that won’t give you the shakes, or that demonic, half-crazed look that so many people get when it’s, “two pots down, three to go!”


5 Alternatives for Coffee/Caffeine  (yes, I’m drinking coffee as I type this. Judge me.)


1) Goji Berries!

    This little red fruit resembling cranberries is popular in Asian medicinal practices, promoting longevity, fertility, boosting immune function, and improving circulation. Might I add that it’s packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and most importantly, antioxidants?! Goji berries are rich in vitamin A and many studies have proven (this is indeed a REAL study, I’m not just promoting the fruit, okay?) that subjects who consumed goji berries &/or drank the juice showed higher levels of energy and serotonin, the “happy hormone.” These little guys are found in trail mixes, teas, juices, and herbal blends. The (mostly) whole foods store Trader Joe's carries ‘em in their dried form, like cranberries. They’re not as sweet as cranberries, but add quite the punch for a snack.


2) Guarana (whaaaaaat?)

    I’m sure you’ve heard of this stuff. Read the label of any energy drink (Monster, Red Bull, Amp, 5-hour Energy, etc.) and you’ll find it listed in there. Guarana is actually a small, deep red fruit (much like goji berries) that has officially made it onto my superfood list. They’re also commonly used in supplements and multivitamins, even many preworkout mixes. So, what’s the big deal about this hot-shot berry? It’s got caffeine. And lots of it. Yes, I know I’m supposed to be giving you alternatives, but this stuff is too good and useful to pass up. So shhhh. Trust me. Guarana has been found to: boost energy, increase stamina, and up one’s physical endurance. How? It’s the absolute richest natural source of caffeine; 2.5 times the amount found in regular coffee! The compounds theophylline and theobromine, which occur naturally in guarana, make it ideal for longer lasting energy WITHOUT the crash and overstimulation that countless cups of coffee provide. You can get this gold in the energy shot form at whole food markets or supplement stores and you can get a hold of it in its extract form, which is spendy, but hey, anything for energy these days, right?


3) Pumpkin Seeds!-believe it or not!

    Turns out you CAN indeed do something with the brains of your Jack o'Lantern from last Halloween that you begrudgingly scooped out and either froze or fed to the dog. These babies, raw or toasted, are packed with protein, healthy omega-3 fats, and fiber! The minerals zinc and magnesium, and elements manganese and phosphorus are found in pumpkin seeds, supplying additional energy support to help you last longer throughout the day/workout/run/dinner with your inlaws. The best part? You can consume these guys right before a workout and not experience bloating or cramping in the middle of your session because, unlike fat from dairy, pumpkin seed fats do NOT cause GI distress. Yippee! You’re welcome.


4) Edamame. No, it’s not some weird fish.

    SOYBEANS! First off, let’s demolish the common misconception that soybeans are estrogenic and hurt your gains. THEY DON’T! They’re a complete protein and won’t give you boobs. Okay. Now that that’s out of the way... Soybeans are high in B vitamins, which help break down carbs into glucose to be used for energy! The compounds copper and phosphorus are also found in soybeans, which also aid in the conversion of food into energy. Let’s not forget that it’s got loads of fiber in it, aiding digestion even more. One cup of shelled soybeans (steamed) contains over 8 grams of fiber and a whopping 17 grams of protein! Good deal! This is ideal for a post-workout recovery meal. Find ‘em in any supermarket (I’m a Sam’s Club girl; they have healthy food in bulk! *gasp*) All yah do is steam them in the bag and chow down. Add salt for those extra electrolytes from sodium.


5) Almonds. GO NUTS!

    I looove these guys. I always have a huge bag on hand and when it runs out, I go into manic depressive mode. They’re great to have on hand as a quick snack when you’re running on empty. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, an essential antioxidant that helps with immune function and partners with vitamin K to give your blood a little umph. Also packed into these beauts is copper, B vitamins, phosphorus, and magnesium, which all aid in boosting energy levels and making yah “look alive.” Almonds have around six grams of protein per serving (roughly a handful...unless you have Paul Bunyan’s hand...then I’d be concerned), and contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which help to lower LDL cholesterol levels, AKA the bad kind. Really, almonds are the ideal food; they curb cravings, give you lasting energy, and make a fantabulous snack. So chow down!


So, before you head for the break room and pour yourself another cup of coffee (that’s what, your eighth cup?), have a go at these naturally energy-boosting superfoods. Put. The mug. Down. Here’s another little tip: sometimes, when you’re feeling that really low slumpy feeling, your body is telling you, “I NEED TO GO FOR A RUN!” Maybe. You never know. Unless you try. So uh, lace up, and see where you go. ;)

Happy Trails!

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