Tough Days Are Good Reminders

The holidays are a great time to enjoy rich foods, tasty cocktails and late nights with family and friends. I did all of those things and enjoyed every moment of it…until the alarm went off this morning.

Could it be time already to get back to reality? Was I really ready to start my day with a green smoothie?

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually stayed on track with my workouts – I ran in a Turkey Trot and still attended my Boot Camp classes. And I didn’t overindulge ALL day long; I at least tried to keep myself in check for the majority of the day to hold on to the most calories possible for the festivities. 

But today was a great reality check for me.

Lack of Preparation

Even though I knew today was the day to start clean eating I hadn’t taken the time to go to the store to buy the things I needed. So after Boot Camp I was hungry and ready for a green smoothie but only had about half of what I needed so off to the store I went. By the time I got home I had no patience do deal with the washing and the measuring so I opted for turkey on a slice of Ezekiel bread. Was it still a good choice, sure, but not how I wanted to start the day.

Lack of Sleep

During the week I do my best to stick to a pretty normal sleep schedule. I’m definitely not a morning person so anything I can do to get going in the morning is a huge help. Over the past week I had stayed up late, gotten up early some days, slept in late on others and completely ruined my established schedule. The result: this morning was complete struggle. Between trying to encourage 3 kiddos to get their things together for school and trying to motivate myself for the shock of the cold weather and Boot Camp, the 8 hours of sleep I got the night before didn’t seem like nearly enough.

Lack of ‘Good Food’

As I said, I didn’t completely blow my diet but I did indulge in things I don’t normally eat. I can tell while I didn’t lack in the quantity of calories, I definitely lacked in the quality of calories. It’s a little difficult to accurately describe but in short, my mind doesn’t seem as sharp, and my energy level (and motivation) is clearly lacking. 

So was today rough? Yes. Could it have been avoided? Yes. Would I have changed my past week? Yes, well some things.

I think we all need a break from a strict routine but we need to be mindful of how all of those decisions will work against us when we are ready to get back on track.

I’m thankful for the lessons of my tough day and in the future I’ll:

  • Take a little bit of extra time to get my shopping done the day before
  • Enjoy a night or two of staying up a little late but stick to my sleep schedule as much as possible
  • Carefully consider what is worth indulging in rather than having a little bit of everything 

So I would encourage you to not be discouraged by choices of the past holiday but learn from them. I know I have.

As a side note: check out the veggie turkey I made.

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Get Your ZZZs!

How many hours a night do you sleep? Do you really know?

I have to say prior to a couple weeks I wasn’t fully aware of how little sleep I was actually getting. I started using an app on my iphone that tracks my sleep patterns and it gives me stats on my bed and wake time, how restless my sleep was and my average sleep time over the period of using the app.

I’m happy to say after just over two weeks of use I am finally up to an average of 7 hours of sleep per night, which isn’t quite to the average recommended 7.5 hours/night.

We all know the obvious impact of not getting enough sleep: grogginess, moodiness, depleted immune system. But did you know that lack of sleep may also affect your ability to lose weight?

Let’s take a look at a couple ways that being deprived of sleep can negatively impact your intentions for a healthy lifestyle:

Eating habits: If you are staying up late working or just watching TV you are far more likely to choose an unnecessary late night snack. On the flip side, when you wake up in the morning and you’re exhausted, anything that can provide quick energy seems like a good choice. Unfortunately that might include a fattening gourmet coffee and sugary danish – not the best way to start your day. Bottom line is sleepiness works against our willpower and will often result in reaching for comfort food instead of nutrient rich healthy foods.

Metabolism: Believe it or not, your body’s metabolism actually is more efficient when you get sufficient amounts of sleep. The science behind it has to do with two hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells you when to eat, and with sleep deprivation you have increased levels of it. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop and you have lower levels when sleep deprived. So the equation is simple:

More Ghrelin + Slow Metabolism  + Sleep Deprivation = No Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Motivation: Being tired is a great accelerator for finding reasons to skip a workout. Think about it, your body is already tired, are you really up for putting your everything into a workout that is likely to result in body soreness to top it off? In reality, exercise actually releases chemicals that increase your mood, and energy levels, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

So how do you get more sleep?

  • Set your bedtime and stick to it. Whatever you didn’t get done today will certainly be there tomorrow.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day.
  • Avoid eating near bedtime, especially high-fat heavy foods.
  • Turn off the television and computer at least 30 minutes before bedtime, the bright lights and stimulation can make it difficult to shut down.
  • Avoid exercise too close to bed if it makes it difficult to fall asleep (for some exercise prior to bed does not affect sleep).
  • Try and keep a consistent waking time.
  • Keep your room at a comfortable temperature with adequate bedding. Being too hot or too cold can ruin a good night’s sleep.

I encourage you to create a sleep schedule for yourself and stick to it for a couple weeks. I think you will notice a difference in how you feel and maybe even a change in the numbers on the scale.