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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 and

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

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Refined foods don't nourish our bodies. Now where have I heard the before? Report
Loved this article. I checked out Dr. Lipman's website. It has a plethora of information with an e mail tips series you can subscribe to if you like. Report
I would try different things however, this information is NOT NEW PEOPLE! It has been repeated, recycled over and over again. Report
I like the idea of living a little closer to natural cycles but how did he come to the idea that smoothies are natural? I bet blenders are few and far between in rural South Africa. Report
Seems like most of us are in agreement... all this guy does is tell us to eat HIS food and read HIS books and it's absolutely the worst thing I have ever read on SP! Report
Same idea from someone else Report
Shameless plug. I would never buy nor read this book! Lipmann must have a good agent/promoter/publicist. Or he invests in SP. Report
If I write a "how to" book, will you plug it for me as you did this one? I don't see that he's said anything "new" other than try HIS smoothies and read/follow HIS book's program. Report
I recently met Dr. Lipman at a retreat in California. He definitely practices what he preaches, and there is something for everyone in his integrated, holistic approach to taking better care of our bodies, our minds and and our spirits. I'm thrilled to see him featured on SparkPeople--makes me an even greater believer in this growing movement. Report
I need all the help I can and will check the library as soon as I get rid of this flu bug. Report
Interesting topic. I know my rhythm is definitely off beat. Report
I'll definitely take a look at the book next time I go to a big bookstore that sells new books only. I struggle daily with low energy, depression, and anxiety. The book is worth a peek, but I'm unlikely to buy it. I need to give my SP exercise program a chance, and build in the habits that are proven to help, some of which are mentioned in the interview above. Report
It might have some useful information. I ordered it from the library. Report
There doesn't seem to be a anything that makes me want to spend money on "Spent". Being disabled, I have had to make many lifestyle changes to distract myself from constant nerve pain. I cook most meals from scratch using fresh produce, mostly because there is some form of sugar in so many processed foods that I got too tired of looking for them. Because I cannot stand or sit for very long it is so much easier to grab fresh produce in the winter and grow my own in the summer. Other than the Smoothies - it doesn't seem the "spent" has anything new to offer me. I've heard about the sleep method before and I don't want t spend my money on a book just for a smoothie recipe that either I already have or can find online. By the way, no offense but the good doctor may feel 10 - 20 years younger than his 54 years, good for him, (which happens to be my age) but he should be more honest, he REALLY doesn't LOOK 10 - 20 years younger! I detest false advertising. Report
Thanks for letting us know. That spammer account has been closed! :) Report
re:message #51--why are you spamming here on SP? Those sites have been exposed as nonsense and scams. If anyone from SP monitors these boards, that message should be removed, along with that member. Report
I appreciated the commentary about refined foods and sugars, but felt like most of the information provided was very basic, which made me wonder whether it would be worth the cost of buying his book; maybe I will check it out at the library! smile.... Report
This sounds many of us call it a gimmick, but so many of cant "get outside the box". Western medicine is not the only way to heal the mind and body. We all think at one time or another that there has to be something better for our minds and bodies out there somewhere. This book may give a few people the idea that maybe the fatigue and discomforts one might feel may end thru healing the mind and eating better, something they hadn't read in all the other books out there. So, yes I would read this and might just find something that suits me, and works for me. Report
Much of this is common sense. Often times, it takes people many times to hear the same thing over and over before it actually sinks in.
I have not read the book, and yes, it does sound like common sense to some people, but to others it may be a new idea. As I read these comments, I sense the people have lost the ability to think about things in other people's shoes.

I would be willing to try the smoothie. Not because it is some kind of hype, but I have had some chronic health problems, and I practice traditional as well as nontraditional medicine. Report
I never have had a t.v. in my bedroom, and that means all of my life. This was an interesting article, but not sure about his book. What is said here, is basic things that we should already know. Also, like some others have said, most of this Spark has taught all of us, in case we didn't know it about the refined sugar, and getting ready for sleep at night. Report

I agree that a healthy diet should not need multi-vitamins. The author suggests natural herbs.

I would have liked for the author to have given a recipe for a protein shake. I would like to try it and then decide about the purchase of this book.

He has an endorsement from Dr. Christiane Northrup M.D. and she is one of my favorite doctors,and M.D. that uses natural medicine. Report
I agree with most of what he said, but also agree that it has been said before. Of course, there is a rampant increase in autoimmune diseases in this country--so people are not listing to anyone's advice. Maybe this book would be "the one" for some people. I do, however, disagree with the idea that you can tennis ball your aches and pains away. I suppose it can work a little, but nothing compares to actual human touch from a trained professional. Report
It is to bad, Dr. Lipman didn't stay in South Africa and take care of the poor people there who seriously need a doctor, rather than coming to America so he could make money off of a book. Report
Although I'm sure he has some "new" ideas in his book, so far it sounds like the same information I get off SP. I'm pleased to see that SP isn't haughty enough to think they have all the answers. That's one of the reasons I love this site. But as for SPENT?? I think I'll pass. Report
Sorry, I don't want to drink your smoothies and read your book. What a gimmick. We already know to avoid sugar and processed food. This isn't exactly rocket science. Report
I remember my mother not allowing us to have much refined food or sugary snacks when I was a kid. We ate alot of apples though. They were pretty cheap then. This whole thing is Pete and Re-pete! Report
if u stop eating refined/fake sugar and junk food, u will have SO MUCH MORE ENERGY! Report
This guy is so full of himself. You'd have to pay me to read it. Like lots of people are saying, this is too much of an infomertial Report
I agree with post #46, this sounds and looks like an infomercial, also a multilevel type thing. Could be good for me, but so is Kyani, and I can't afford that. Besides, I love to chew my food, not drink it. He does make some good comments, but as someone else on here said, this is stuff we all know is good for us. Because I have conditioned myself to bad habits, I need to undo them, and drinking my way to good health doesn't set well with me. Good luck to those who try it. Report
I would read the book because I am desperate for any help with improving my energy. I know exactly the kind of exhaustion he's referring to and I'm definitely open to making changes to combat that. Report
This came through as a cross between a sermon and an infommercial . . . something I'm not used to seeing on Sparkpeople. I found no concept of the sheer delight one can get from a well-balanced and health-conscious meal with friends and conversation. The idea of downing one of these shakes while others were enjoying a chicken breast on a bed of mixed greens with a light dressing, followed by some fruit and cheese . . . there is just no comparison (and I'm now heading home to put a chicken salad together for dinner!). Report
While it makes sense I don't think I'll be buying his book. Seems to me that he relies on supplement to help him. Just cut refined sugar and anyone will notice increased energy . Report
I will check out the site and see what it has to say! I will think about ordering the book after checking out the site. Report
I am not sure if i will read this book or not.. Report
Most of this does seem to be stuff I already knew, mixed with some things that I see as red flags. (Reggae slows you down? Really?) So, no, I won't be buying the book. Report
I am looking forward to reading this book to see if I can add any more changes to my lifestyle and diet. Report
This is mainly common-sense knowledge (wait...I mean, this is stuff most people know they should do, and just don't, or, if they're younger than 30, may never have been taught in the first place), but if it gets folks reading, and thinking, and making positive changes in their health, I'm all for it! Report
As a post-op gastric bypass patient, I can attest that not everyone gets ALL the nutrients their body needs from the food they eat. Some people do not process their food well, either. So getting your blood tested to see if you are anemic, low on B, C, or Calcium (or other vitamins) doesn't hurt. Not everyone eats well every day, either, even SparkPeople! So taking supplements is not a bad thing; it should be done under a doctor's care, though, and with a big dose of common sense. I wouldn't necessarily take supplements based on a recommendation in a book, but reading the book might spur me to contact my doctor to ask.

I might pick up Spent purely for the reason that I would like to review what I could do to possibly improve my life to feel less tired. After having a TV in our bedroom for seven years (and only having watched it about 4 times, total), I finally convinced my husband that it was simply taking up too much space, and we removed it. Long ago, I learned that I was light sensitive (I have Seasonal Affective Disorder), so I have room-darkening shades in my bedroom, and I even cover the clock so that the light doesn't keep me awake.

My little dog snores, and my husband does snore lightly if he's very, very overtired, so I use foam earplugs to keep out the majority of their noise. I find that the earplugs are comfortable and provide a little white noise that helps me fall asleep (I think I can hear my own breathing and that rocks me to sleep).

I don't drink caffeine (again, because of the gastric bypass), so that's not an issue, and I try not to eat processed foods. I still would like to review his book and see if there are other things that might help.

As I like to say, "Keep what you like, and leave the rest." There's nothing wrong with learning about someone else's view of how to live a more restful life. Report
4 hears ago I was a litteral couch potato. Back then I had undiagnosed auto-immune thyroid disease and the worst symptom was extremet fatigue. Because of the fatigue, I subsisted on sugary and processed convenience foods which only made the fatigue worse. Insomnia was definitely not a problem since I slept most of the time. Since my thyroid no longer functions, I have to be on HRT meds, but making lifestyle changes has virtually eliminated any episodes of what he calls spent.

The most important changes for me were:

1. Radically reducing my intake of sugary and processed foods.
2. Eating less at any one time but eating more frequently.
3. Consistant exercising, Report
Thanks for the tips. Report
Sounds like the same-ole same-ole to me . No I won't buy the book because most of the info is common sence or already covered in SP Report
To invest in common sense roads to healthier lives, some of us just start following the wisdome that we've all had access to- get sleep, get fresh air, avoid processed foods and sugar, get exercise. But some get farther investing in common sense when they pay to do so, I guess. Since I haven't read the book, I can't comment on if there's something "new" here. But like others who've posted here, I wonder: If eating unprocessed foods (whole grains, veggies, fresh fruit, lean protein, hydrationg with water) why does one need supplements? WHy does one need special pre-made concoctions to make a healthy smoothie? Certainly that is a way to SPEND but it also is a way to get LESS fresh (and possibly less nutritious) ingredients. His message is an important one for our times but perhaps instead of being SPENT ($$$) we should SIMPLIFY!
Another turn off for me: the claim that the authur "looks 20 years younger" (not in the photo)- put it this way: my grandmother at 53 looked like she was 53 and she lived to 103. Let's get real to get healthy! Report
This seemed way too much like product placement I don't feel confident that he has any truely new and novel ideas Report
May consider skimming through the book if I can get it for free Report
Too many red flags here. This guy appears to be selling something. I clicked on the links and found myself feeling really uncomfortable. I read what he has to say about swine flu, and while I do agree with much of what he says, the way he said it put me off. I don't trust this doctor. Won't $pend my money on what he'$ $elling. Report
I love his approach - minus the supplements. Will definitely check out his site. Thanks for the post. Report
Have to read this, I need it! Report
Since it is 2 am and I am not asleep, maybe I should give the book a look Report
I will check the book out of the library when it becomes available. If I htink it has good advise for a lifestyle change then I will buy a copy. His answwer always seems to be "Buy my book!". I will try before I buy. Report
I like having the TV in my bedroom; it's the only time I can watch without multi-tasking - unless nodding off is considered a task! It also blanks out the street noises even when turned down low. The rest of it - well it's nothing we haven't heard before and if we aren't already living it, buying yet another book isn't really going to change anything! Prefer to get the motivation and encouragement from other SPs :)) Report
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