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Up & At It

Exploring the best ways to stay energized during your busy life

Product Review: Caffeinated Chocolate

You know what’s better than coffee? Nothing. But if I had to choose something, it’d be img_1182chocolate!

AWAKE Chocolate combines the best parts of coffee and chocolate in their caffeinated chocolate bars. Although it doesn’t taste like coffee, their chocolate provides your sugar fix while keeping you awake and alert. It’s the perfect mid-class snack that will give you the energy you need to finish your school day and get going on the homework-filled evening.

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It was around 2 p.m. when I decided to have my first piece of AWAKE chocolate, as I had class that day until 5 p.m. And let me tell you… I’ve never enjoyed my 2-5 p.m. class more than I did the day I had AWAKE chocolate. Seriously. Not only was I energized, I also had a little afternoon snack of chocolatey-goodness.

This is seriously a student’s best friend. You need to all try AWAKE now!

 

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6 Medical Reasons That May Explain Why You’re Tired

** Hypochondriacs beware: I have less than zero medical education/training/knowledge. This article is based on research that I’ve done on my own and should absolutely not be used for diagnosis or treatment. Everyone gets tired. Not everyone has these conditions. Consult a doctor for real concerns. **

We all get tired and have days where our energy is nonexistent, but usually after some rest and a good night’s sleep the fatigue vanishes.

Sometimes, however, even weeks of good sleep won’t get rid of the fatigue. When this is the case, there may be a underlying health condition that’s causing you to feel tired all the time (hypochondriacs still beware: you might just be tired). I know this because I’ve been diagnosed with not one, but two medical conditions that cause fatigue (my self-depricating humour finds this both hilarious and depressing).

In high school I was constantly sleeping 8-10 hours a night and taking naps everyday, but I always assumed I was going through growth spurts or that I was so active I needed the extra sleep. Turns out that wasn’t normal. After a series of blood tests and ultrasounds, I was diagnosed with anemia and hypothyroidism – two conditions that result in fatigue and are at the top of this list.

  1. Anemia: There are various types of anemia, but ultimately anemia occurs when your blood isn’t carrying enough oxygen to the rest of your body. A common cause of anemia is a lack of iron, which produces the hemoglobin protein in your blood that’s responsible for carrying oxygen to your body. Eating foods high in iron or taking iron supplements are common ways to manage iron-deficiency anemia. Find out more.
  2. Hypothyroidism: If you have hypothyroidism it means your thyroid gland is underactive. This happens when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone to keep the body functioning normally. Causes include taking certain medications, thyroid surgery or an autoimmune disease. Although hypothyroidism cannot be cured, it can be managed relatively easily by medication and regular blood tests. Find out more here.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): CFS occurs when you experience chronic fatigue for six months or more. It’s incredibly difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure. Management of CFS is based around reducing symptoms, which include headaches, muscle pain, sleep problems and feeling sick for more than 24 hours after physical activity. Find out more.
  4. Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea happens when you experience pauses in breathing while you sleep, which can last from a few seconds to minutes. These pauses can happen 25 times or more an hour, and cause you to go from a deep sleep to a light sleep. This results in a poor quality sleep, which makes you tired during the day. The pauses happen when your airways get blocked and are caused by over-relaxed throat muscles, large tongue and tonsils, obesity and aging. Losing weight and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes can help reduce sleep apnea. Find out more here.
  5. Depression: People who have depression often have sleeping problems, which can be either sleeping too little or sleeping too much. If you have depression, you may feel tired a lot and have no desire to get out of bed or do anything. Once diagnosed, depression can be treated through various therapy options or medication. Read more here.
  6. Anxiety: People who have anxiety often experience fatigue for four reasons:
    – Poor sleep quality from constant worrying and stress
    – Mental fatigue
    – Adrenal fatigue when your adrenal glands (which release the cortisol hormone to combat stress) function slower than needed due to over-use
    – Adrenaline crashes from your body releasing adrenaline after misinterpreting anxiety for being danger

    To reduce anxiety-induced fatigue, you can avoid late-night stimulants like TV, caffeine, or stress-filled activities. You can also exhaust yourself in a healthy way (anxiety causes unhealthy exhaustion, which results in poor sleep) by being physically active everyday to tire out your body and sleep better. Read more here.

Sometimes, we can’t control our fatigue, and it’s okay. If you’re reading this and recognize symptoms that may be a result of one of these conditions, please consult your doctor before doing anything (I’m a communications student – not a medical one).

Signs you’re addicted to coffee (and what to do about it)

It’s no myth: caffeine is addictive.

I never used to doubt this, but I used to doubt the possibility that I was addicted. I mean, could one, two or three cups of coffee a day really result in an addiction?

The answer is yes, and I learned this the hard way.

It wasn’t until I was broke and travelling Australia that I realized my coffee addiction was real. Coffee is a completely different experience in Australia (I’ll delve into this later in another blog post), but basically it’s incredibly expensive and finding drip coffee machines  in that country is about as easy as finding a lost earring after a pub crawl.

So, between affording a place to stay, food to eat, or coffee to drink, coffee quickly got cut from the budget. At first I didn’t think this would be an issue, but I started getting really bad headaches and felt incredibly irritable a lot, which is unusual for me. I didn’t connect the headaches and irritability with coffee right away, but when I did it made complete sense.

Headaches and irritability are two of the main symptoms of coffee withdrawal. Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depressed mood
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness

The good news? Symptoms usually only last a few days.

I stopped drinking coffee cold turkey, which heightened the severity of these symptoms. If you plan on quitting coffee, don’t do what I did. Slowly remove coffee from your diet. If you usually drinking three cups a day, cut that down to two for a few days, then one for a few days, then stop. Your body will slowly adjust to the lower caffeine levels and will be ready for it to stop completely.

Of course, if you consume caffeine in products other than coffee (i.e. pop, sweets, etc.) this may affect how your body responds. Either way, figure out how much caffeine you consume in a day, then over a week or two slowly remove it from your diet.

If that doesn’t work, you can do what I did: lower your accommodation budget and start drinking coffee again!

Five Facts About Coffee You Didn’t Know

Friends! I’m so excited. I don’t mean to brag at all, but I do believe I know a lot about coffee and that I’ve acquired a certain level of coffee expertise (realistically I just drink it a lot, but let me think what I want). BUT, the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and a video about coffee facts showed up. To humour myself, I decided to watch the video, and you’ll never guess what happened… I learned something!

Good ol’Facebook pulled through at taught me something. Or, rather, Food Envy taught me something. Turns out it’s actually a pretty sweet Facebook page and has a lot of interesting, food-related content (what isn’t interesting about food, though, right??).

I’ve embedded the video into this post for y’all to enjoy, but if you’re done and want to see more check out Food Envy’s Facebook page and learn something else (I know I did). Enjoy!

 

 

The art of the all-nighter

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter to cram for that final exam or finish that one essay you’d been putting off for three weeks? Well, you’re in luck, because so have I!

If you’re a student and you work to support yourself, rest assured you aren’t alone. There are many resources and articles out there giving students tips to stay awake and pull a successful all nighter, but the most helpful one I’ve found so far has been from Greatist. Some of the tips in the article may seem obvious, but it’s all backed up by research and facts, which were extremely helpful.

I liked the article and its suggestions so much that I made a video of it! Here’s how to deal with the next day’s repercussions:

Can water replace coffee?

A variety of sources and doctors have been saying that cold glasses of water throughout the day can provide the same energizing effect as a cup of coffee.

According to Chris Bailey, a blogger who’s dedicated years of his life to exploring productivity (his blog is awesome, definitely give it a read), drink 16oz of water every morning is the best way to stay energized and productive throughout the day.

Bailey says the main reasons for this are the fact that you become dehydrated during your sleep, which will result in grogginess and lack of energy and the fact that drinking water right away in the morning will fire up your metabolism and wake up your whole body.

One article even suggests sparkling water and coconut water will be just fine as replacements for coffee, but I wasn’t so sure.

Now, I wasn’t too convinced with these findings. Is water really an okay alternative? I mean, I wanted to believe it for many reasons, the main being:

  • it would save me a lot of money,
  • it would be healthier,
  • and it save me time from making or buying coffee everyday.

So, with these articles and findings in mind, I decided to do an experiment. For a week I was going to only have water whenever I felt tired. I planned to wake up and drink two big glasses of ice cold water every morning, and if I needed a pick-me-up during the day, I’d have some more ice cold water.

The results?

I lasted two days.

At first I was feeling confident that I could do it, but I found myself getting extremely tired around noon, then I would get my second breath and get exhausted again right after school around 4:00 p.m.

I couldn’t handle not having my eyes open any longer, so on the third day I had coffee at lunch. That being said, I do have to admit that the mornings were okay with just water. It did wake me up (probably the cold more than anything), but it didn’t give me sustainable energy for the day.

Also, ever since the experiment, I’ve continued to drink my two glasses of water each morning (along with a nice cup of coffee), and I’ve been feeling a lot more energized with the two. Coffee dehydrates you, so it’s important to continue drinking water if you’re an addict like me and can’t go more than two days without your caffeine fix. I recommend drinking (*chugging*) two glasses of water each morning, followed by a cup (or two if it’s that kind of day) of coffee. Then, after that, for each additional cup of coffee have another glass or two of water.

I’ve been following that routine since my failure, and I have to say, I feel better and more energized. So, although water may not be a perfect replacement for coffee, it’s defintely a good addition!

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Coffee or water? I say both.

Brb, moving to India

Apparently Canadians are sleep deprived.

A study conducted by Aviva, an international insurance company (go figure), found that 30 per cent of Canadians say they aren’t getting enough sleep. This puts Canada third in the list of sleep deprived nations, with the U.K. (37 per cent feel they don’t get enough sleep) and Ireland (34 per cent) ahead of us.

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CTV News released on article on the findings and created this graphic to show the findings of Aviva’s study.

 

Aviva also asked survey respondents to rank their plans for the next year in order of importance, and doing more exercise and losing weight were ranked more important than getting better sleep.

In its report, Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health writes:

“Sometimes a few lifestyle changes are all that’s needed to boost your sleep levels, such as establishing a routine, eating dinner earlier in the night or avoiding TV and mobile phone screens before bed. Sleep trackers are also a great way of monitoring your rest patterns. However, if stress, anxiety or other mental health issues are what’s keeping you awake, getting help and support – including seeking advice from your GP – is recommended. Tackling sleepless nights is a crucial step to improving overall health and wellbeing.”

Lather, rinse, repeat… With coffee?

Get double the coffee levels in your morning routine with coffee-infused soap!

You already drink your coffee in the morning, so what’s so wrong with washing yourself with it?

Buck Naked Soap Company has a ‘Coffee Start Up Soap‘that has coffee as one of its ingredients. It doesn’t say how much coffee it has in it, but it’s advertised as a soap that will help invigorate you while also battling dry skin like eczema.

Now, it sounds great in theory, right?

Well, I used the Coffee Start Up Soap and I didn’t notice any difference in my energy levels whatsoever. That being said, I didn’t really expect it to act as a supplement for coffee. I did however enjoy the thought of lathering myself with coffee, and it smelled absolutely amazing.

I’m the kind of person who has coffee after their shower (it’s practically my motivation to shower quickly), and having the opportunity to smell coffee while I showered was surprisingly amazing. It was like an opening act for the headliner of a concert. There’s no way it could ever replace my real cup of coffee, but the added caffeine didn’t hurt.

 

What do coffee & climate change have in common?

A lot.

Climate change is affecting coffee crops in major coffee-producing regions around the world.

According to an article by the Specialty Coffee Chronicle, coffee is a “Goldilocks” crop, which means the weather can’t be too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet – it needs to be perfect conditions for coffee to grow.

As climate change worsens, extreme drought, flooding and dramatic weather patterns are becoming more and more common worldwide. In 2014, an extreme drought in Brazil caused the loss of nearly one-fifth of the country’s coffee crop.

According to a 2016 report released by the Climate Institute, which is commissioned by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand, around 120 million people worldwide depend on coffee crops for their livelihoods, with the majority of them living in developing countries. These coffee farmers are often small-scale farmers, which means they usually only work with 1-2 hectares of land.

So it isn’t just the availability of coffee for people living in North America that’s at stake – it’s the livelihoods of small-scale farmers around the world that rely on rearing coffee crops to feed their families.

According to a 2011 study by MIT, if Earth’s temperature continues to rise at its current rate, 80 per cent of the Arabica-coffee producing areas in Central America and Brazil will be “unsuitable to the crop by 2050.”

For years, large corporations that rely on coffee production, like Starbucks and Lavazza, have been warning consumers of the threat climate change poses to their coffee.

Not only can climate change decrease the amount of coffee crops harvested, the genetic diversity of coffee crops is also at risk. This means that taste, smell and price are all vulnerable to climate change.

There’s a lot at risk here, folks. Namely, the livelihood of 120 million people. But, sometimes it can be hard to see the connection between your actions and those of people living in developing countries, so think of your coffee if that’s easier.

No matter where you get it, or how you like it, climate change will affect it.

Find out how you can help.

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