SPENT: Tactics to Regain Energy in Life and Feel Great Again


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Editor's note: After graduating from medical school in his native South Africa, Dr. Frank Lipman began treating patients about two hours from Johannesburg. Despite poverty-stricken conditions, he noticed that his patients were free from insomnia, depression and anxiety, which had plagued his urban patients. They rarely complained of back pain or fatigue despite long days of hard labor.

People lived by the rhythms of nature. During that time, he realized how important natural rhythm was to humans' lives. He immigrated to the States and, after a residency in internal medicine, started studying Chinese medicine. He has spent decades developing methods to help people overcome exhaustion and regain their lives. He recently published SPENT: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again (Fireside/Simon & Schuster; January 2009) and took some time to answer our questions via email.

dailySpark: What foods should people eliminate from their diets straightaway to boost energy?

Dr. Lipman: Refined sugars and processed foods are major "Spent"-causing substances (I call them substances because they are not real food). Once you remove them from your diet, and get past the withdrawal symptoms, you will see a major boost in energy.

dailySpark: What should people do for a midday energy boost instead of reaching for coffee or other caffeinated beverages?

Dr. Lipman: When you have one of my smoothies for breakfast and a lunch with protein and vegetables, there is less chance of you needing that coffee midday. In addition, the adaptogen herbs I recommend also help this midday crash. But if you still do still feel like you need your coffee, I recommend instead going outside for a walk in the natural light and fresh air after sitting under artificial light all day. Also you can use tennis balls to release tension in your body and open up energy pathways which will energize you.

dailySpark: Why do you encourage drinking smoothies for breakfast?

Dr. Lipman: Smoothies are easy on your digestive system so it leaves more energy for other body processes. Also my recipes for smoothies contain protein and good fats and are loaded with phytonutrients, which will give you a boost in energy all day long.

dailySpark: What are some steps people can take to help them sleep better?

Dr. Lipman: There should be a transition period between wakefulness and sleep. Most of us move from high speed to vertical in bed in a matter of minutes and then wonder why our brains and bodies are vibrating and we canít fall asleep when we are so tired. So create an electronic sundown, which helps prepare your body for sleep. That means switch off all your electronic equipment, including TV, BlackBerries and computers by 10 p.m. Also make sure that your bedroom is dark and if you cannot make it dark, use an eye mask.

dailySpark: In your book, you suggest that people limit the bedroom to sleeping. Does having a TV or computer in the bedroom really affect sleep habits that much?

Dr. Lipman: Absolutely! How you prepare for sleep is as important as how you exercise, eat and live during your waking and walking hours. Good sleep leads to a high functioning body that can focus, metabolize food well, and most importantly, feels good!

A dayís cycle of early morning light, daytime, dusk and nighttime supports your circadian rhythms or your bodyís necessary and natural biological pace. In the morning, the light stimulates your metabolism and daytime hormonal functions and sundown triggers the key sleep hormones that help us to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Dimming the lights after 8 p.m. and shutting off all electronics and blinking lights after 10 p.m. will help reflect the natural progression of the day, and help you sleep better.

dailySpark: If there were only one change you could recommend for people to change their lives, what would it be?

Dr. Lipman: Read my book, as there is so much in it to help people change their lives. Everyone is different and has different issues that need to be addressed. The book gives people many different tips to choose from. There is no magic bullet solution when you are "Spent."

dailySpark: The "Spent" program, which I know you have been perfecting for 25 years, takes six weeks to implement. Is this a "diet" or a lifestyle change?

Dr. Lipman: This is not just a diet change but a multi-faceted lifestyle change to address the epidemic of exhaustion that so many of us are experiencing. People nowadays are feeling rundown, physically, mentally and spiritually, and no longer have the wherewithal to live their lives. A quick-fix wonít solve thatóbut making the modifications to your diet and exercise, learning relaxation techniques and implementing the extraordinary healing power of ordinary things that I recommend will give you energy and leave you feeling refreshed every day.

dailySpark: How do you keep your own energy levels high?

Dr. Lipman: I practice what I preach and basically live my life according to the program that I recommend. When I am feeling more "Spent," I will do more restorative yoga and take more supplements. But for the most part, what I recommend in the book, I do myself. And it seems to be working. I am 54 years old and look and feel 10-20 years younger.

dailySpark: These days, with the economy on everyone's minds, how do you encourage people to treat themselves well while living on a budget?

Dr. Lipman: Actually the whole book is full of cheap, simple, common-sense tips that you can easily incorporate into your life. For instance, get an eye mask to darken your room, take breathing breaks through out the day for relaxation and get outside and go for walks to get some natural light. Use music to entrain your body rhythms. For instance reggae can slow you down, but music with a faster beat will pump you up.

One major complaint of being "Spent" is an achy body, full of tension and pain. So instead of a pricey massage, I recommend using tennis balls to give yourself the ultimate foot or shoulder massage. Releasing the tension with simple exercises illustrated in the book can be done anytime, anywhere.

Also, rather than hiring a personal trainer, begin a restorative exercise program, which is a short burst of activity, followed by a period of rest. This can be as simple as alternating between running and walking for 30 minutes at a time.

dailySpark: What is the single biggest cause of exhaustion?

Dr. Lipman: The fact that we live our lives so out of sync with our natural body rhythms, so it feels like we are swimming upstream.

Dr. Frank Lipman is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, where his personal blend of Western and alternative medicine has helped thousands of people recover their energy and zest for life. For more information, visit www.franklipman.com and www.Spentmd.com.

Do you battle fatigue and exhaustion? Would you be willing to try some of Dr. Lipman's methods to gain energy?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   Food on the Run: Au Bon Pain


  • 26
    He sure is right about the refined sugar and processed foods. He makes sense. Do we have to buy his book to see his smoothie recipes? Keeping electronics out of the bedroom makes a lot of sense.

    What is really sad is that we are allowing our children to eat refined sugar and processed foods that are clearly not healthy and do nothing beneficial for their bodies. - 5/5/2009   1:14:21 AM
  • 25
    I have a problem when the most common response is "Buy my book" or Read my book. If you answer the question(s) with new information, it might spark us to actually go out and buy your book. Gives us a hint as to what it might hold. With what little info he provided, I am not motivated to purchase his book. Martha Stewart was touting over a decade ago to not have TV's in your bedroom. She said that a bedroom should be a sanctuary where only two things occur :-) Dr. Braselton and Dr. Spock spouted that adults should following the routines of putting their children to sleep: bathe or wash your face, brush your teeth, turn down the lights and read a simple story in a calm, quiet environment. So far the author has once again proven that there is nothing new under the sun.

    As for the issue of smoothies for breakfast, I've been drinking smoothies for breakfast for over two years now. They are high protein, low sugar and a great way to start the day. - 5/4/2009   11:41:26 PM
  • 24
    this is nothing more than an advertisement - 5/4/2009   10:41:17 PM
  • 23
    would really like to read his book to get some tips - 5/4/2009   10:33:30 PM
  • 22
    I would like to read his book and see what else he suggests. - 5/4/2009   9:53:51 PM
  • 21
    I'd be interested in reading this book. I do feel exhausted quite often and would love to feel more energized. I am definately going to look for this book. - 5/4/2009   9:46:51 PM
    Sounds really great. A couple hours before I went to sleep, I turned off most of the lights but still had the computer on to create the mood for bedtime. When it was time to get to sleep, the room was so dark that I fell asleep instantly. I have not had such a good sleep like that in a long time. - 5/4/2009   9:28:31 PM
  • 19
    I'm not going to buy the book because with my exercise I feel tired at night and go to sleep between 10 and 10:30 at night. I wake up 8 hours later. I get things done in the morning, yes I have coffee, and I have breakfast and get things accomplished. I'm awake all day and if I'm tired when I get home at night I fall asleep for an hour maybe. I don't have trouble sleeping or feeling energized. - 5/4/2009   8:20:48 PM
    I like to chew my food not drink it. I know about refined sugar and I like a cup of coffee in the afternoon. - 5/4/2009   7:59:41 PM
  • 17
    At first I was like, great! I can really use some help with exhaustion from time to time. Then I kept reading. Everything he said was something I had heard before. And it seemed he danced around some of the questions, by answering... read my book. Not sure whether or not I'll pick it up. - 5/4/2009   6:36:41 PM
  • 16
    I'll have to agree with ARCHIMEDESII, are for replacing neutrients that you are missing and as far as Dr. Lipman stated he eats a healthy meal therefore what's he talking about taking suppliments?
    Anyway, this is interesting but I would not buy the book. just because I don't think that I would read it. for the most part I do sleep quite well and ONLY if I'm tired.
    I don't sleep that late but NOT THAT early either. - 5/4/2009   6:28:14 PM
  • 15
    I'm well on my way. Just today I felt so sleepy and tired after lunch that I wanted to take a nap. BUT, I made a vow to myself that I would do the Boot Camp exercise after a brief rest following lunch. Well, I feel so refreshed after just a 10-minute lower body workout. Yea, I sweated a little but it was worth the experience of working through mid-afternoon fatigue.

    Reading the articl has given me even more tools to apply to my goals of being stronger, and having more stamina and energy - got to keep up with these grandkids, ya know?

    MARY - 5/4/2009   6:20:54 PM
  • 14
    Pretty common sense and too bad a book is necessary for people to do this! I have gone to bed when tired and woken up on time without an alarm clock for years now. I never watch TV before bed and would be horrified if someone put one in my bedroom. Of course all that stimulation keeps people from sleeping - who could be surprised about that?

    About the food - I've recently gone back to being vegan and feel great. Some folks may complain that they like eating refined foods - sure they are tasty, but it doesn't make sense to pretend they are healthy or eating them doesn't harm our bodies. They do taste good, especially if you are used to them. But that doesn't mean eating them is a good idea. And once you are past eating refined stuff, and in the habit of eating whole food, you just may be surprised at how good REAL food tastes!

    TeacherH - 5/4/2009   6:09:56 PM
  • 13
    Thanks for the information, I will definitely buy this. I have enormous respect for the physicians who recommend this book and look forward to reading this. - 5/4/2009   6:06:54 PM
  • 12
    Excuse me for sounding skeptical but it sounds like another "life" plan. Of course you will lose weight drinking smoothies and only veggies at lunch, of course giving yourself down time before sleep will help you sleep better. Now let's get real, you work 8-10 hours a day, dinner to fix, kids to care for, a DH, school, keeping up with friendships etc etc. Doesn't sound like most of us will shut down at 8 p.m. and veg before bed. Nice if you can do it.

    I think I will stick to my Spark plan. I know it works. :-) - 5/4/2009   5:56:17 PM
  • 11
    After reading this, I had my DH order the book. Not only for myself but for a dear friend who has suffered for sometime in these areas. I look forward to reading and incorporating for myself. I have given up caffeine altogether but do have issues winding down at night and have used OTC sleep aids to help but would like to do away with these as well. Thanks for enlightening me. - 5/4/2009   5:41:56 PM
  • 10
    I admit that I do need to clean up my diet and eat healthier, less-processed foods. I'm sure I'd feel better if I could get my diet in order. I am a bit sceptical, however, whenever diet/lifestyle books recommend or promote supplements or other products to improve my life. Usually, all these things do is lighten my wallet! (However, maybe with a lighter wallet--less baggage, so to speak--I'll have more energy?) Hmmmmmm.........
    - 5/4/2009   4:54:26 PM
  • EDEN30
    I don't think I will be reading this book. Smoothies for breakfast...no thanks. I already know that sugar etc is not good in the morning. Don't get me wrong the book sounds interesting but not for me. - 5/4/2009   4:45:28 PM
    Worth trying for sure. - 5/4/2009   4:20:03 PM
  • 7
    I have spent the better part of the past 3 years working contract jobs, with gaps sometimes months long in between. During those off times, even though I didn't know when I would get my next job, I rarely felt tired, stressed or depressed. I think it was because I was living a slower lifestyle and listened to my body's rhythms. Working out almost every day helped, too. Without having to be somewhere, I found myself going to bed when tired, waking when I done sleeping, and eating on a pretty regular schedule.

    The one thing I can't give up, however, is falling asleep to the TV. Where I live the frogs and insects can get so loud you can't fall asleep. The TV drowns that out. - 5/4/2009   4:07:45 PM
    I think we can all agree that most people do eat too much refined sugar. So, cutting back would make sense.

    However, here's what sort of stuck in my craw, so to speak. He's asked and replies to this question.

    How do you keep your own energy levels high?

    Dr. Lipman: I practice what I preach and basically live my life according to the program that I recommend. When I am feeling more "Spent," I will do more restorative yoga and take more supplements. But for the most part, what I recommend in the book, I do myself. And it seems to be working. I am 54 years old and look and feel 10-20 years younger.

    Here's my question, if a person is eating healthfully, why do they need to take supplements ? Unless a person has a vitamin deficiency of some kind, shouldn't we be getting the vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and nutrients we need from the food we eat and not a supplement ?

    That's what I don't understand. If a person's nutritional intake is healthy, a person shouldn't need a supplement. So, it bothers me that a man who says his program is healthy, but then says he still needs a supplement, tells me something isn't right.

    Another point to consider is how high in calorie are these smoothies ? Some smoothie recipes can contain over 400+ calories in a single serving. A smoothie is nice once in a while, but I don't want to rely on them for a meal. I prefer solid food.

    - 5/4/2009   4:06:39 PM
  • 5
    Sounds interesting but cutting out refined /fake sugar just seems to be impossible when you don't have tons of time or money to spend on the effort. It seems overwhelming to me. - 5/4/2009   3:47:55 PM
  • 4
    Some of it sounds like common sense, which is ordinarily in short supply. I'm not so sure about a smoothie as a complete breakfast, but I haven't read the book. I wonder if my local library has a copy. - 5/4/2009   2:53:50 PM
  • 3
    OMG! This sounds like a must have book,everything I have read so far was up lifting to me.Being tired all the time has me not knowing,not doing and no knowledge on how to change my life and bring me to a better place in life and with myself.I most definatly will be getting this book.Thank You!!!! - 5/4/2009   2:50:11 PM
  • 2
    if u stop eating refined/fake sugar and junk food, u will have SO MUCH MORE ENERGY! - 5/4/2009   2:46:32 PM
  • 1
    i would be willing to try some of the good doctor's methods, as i frequently suffer from exhaustion and sometimes i still can't sleep. i do agree that a darker room helps me to sleep and avoiding caffeine helps me to sleep...plus drinking water instead of caffeinated beverages saves me money.

    jamesgirl - 5/4/2009   2:41:17 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›