I’ve felt really “tuckered” lately. Does that phrase resonate with you? I use it when I’m extremely tired, maybe even exhausted, depleted of energy. Just saying “plumb tuckered out” somehow makes me feel less tired, probably because it calls up happy memories of being 12 years old and watching fuzzy-screened, early-morning television westerns. Our family was the first in our neighborhood to get a television, and I would sneak downstairs in my pajamas to watch it, often mesmerized by an hour of the test pattern before the actual programming began.
I adored Roy Rodgers and Dale Evens, but my favorite guy was the crotchety old sidekick. Remember Gabby Hayes? He was “plumb tuckered out” a lot. For example, he would say “dad gum it, diggen’ in that gold mine left me …” followed by "yer durn tootin." According to the online dictionary, feeling “plumb tuckered out” is the opposite of feeling “fresh.” When is the last time you felt “fresh?” You did? Well dag nab it, good for you.
Feeling tired and fatigued seems to go with aging. I did not previously believe that — now I do. WebMD (www.webmd.com) has a fairly comprehensive article on the topic, and I read it thoroughly — I definitely needed some “freshening.” The initial reminder to tired older adults is to check with their doctors and make sure feeling weary is not related to a health condition. Medications for chronic conditions can also be culprits — hypertension meds, antihistamines and diuretics are notorious in that regard. Web MD’s second recommendation to combat fatigue seems a little counter-intuitive: “Get Moving.” Exercise boosts energy — they are right. Yes, it does. I just tried it. Early morning when it’s cool works best for me. If you choose to go later in the day and in the summer heat, be sure to stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids, water especially, no matter how much (or how little) active exercise you are doing. Dehydration is likely to zap energy completely. So is getting too little sleep. By the way, centenarians are commonly reported to be “exceptionally good” or “better than average” sleepers. Napping is fine — 10 to 30 minutes. One study suggests you follow your nap with a cup of coffee, just one.
There are other things that stave off being plumb tuckered. Eating more frequently and assuring the foods you eat are nutrient dense. Whole grains, complex carbohydrates (translation: fruits and vegetables) are best. Do a little experiment for a few days, and you might be very surprised. Rate your energy level on a scale of 1 to 10 at the end of a day of eating in a more healthful fashion. Compare it to your energy level when you were in the plumb-tuckered state. That is the next thing I intend to do — after I drink a full glass of water.
By the way, if you can identify a good-for-you snack item that makes you personally feel more alert and ready to go — just do it. For me, almonds or something containing protein works best.
I predict any of the above ideas will make you feel less tuckered. Yessirree Bob — pretty soon you’ll feel like a young whippersnapper. Dagnabbit.
Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.