Sleep, waist or time or necessary for survival?

You guessed it; we need adequate shut-eye consistently to be our best self. Brain fog, cravings and depression are just a few negative side effects of inadequate sleep. 7-9 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep every night will enable you to think clearly, communicate effectively and put forward you best self to the world. Enough sleep will allow your energy levels to rejuvenate, your muscles to repair and grow and the chance for your body to concentrate on fighting invading bacteria and infections. A good night’s sleep is essentially your nightly maintenance schedule.

It’s easy to get caught up in a passion project, TV show or a work deadline and stay up late – but beware that you will pay for it in the end or in this case the next day. Tired, cranky and generally off your game.  I know, especially as a parent, that sometimes interrupted sleep cannot be helped, but the negative side effects can be combated with the following; fuel your body with nutritious food and water, allow for a slower paced schedule the next day, get in a little nap if you can and simply be kind to yourself and adjust your expectations.

In the meantime, when you can, get to bed before 10pm, limit the use of tech devices after 8pm and indulge in a nightly pre-bed relaxation routine or ritual that prepares you for all of that inner body repairs.

Super sleep is super powerful.

Stress

Whether you are super busy with work, not getting enough sleep or being chased by a lion, your body perceives this as only one thing; stress. It is truly the silent assassin. Without getting too scientific about it, what stress does to the body is makes us release the hormone cortisol which in short makes us store body fat and prioritize only metabolic functions that are necessary for survival.

 

If someone where to ask you, are you stressed? You might say; no I’m fine. But what about the 5 hours of interrupted sleep you are getting each and every night, the processed takeaway food being consumed every other day or the lack of water your are drinking. Stress is anything deemed not optimal by the body. This is by no means a lecture, but you don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that your body is designed to be fueled on pure nutritious foods for optimal health. All the other ‘bits’ we add in are more difficult for the body to process therefore creating stress.

While you sleep is the time that your body rejuvenates, relives energy stores and heals ailments. Without adequate (7-9 hrs per night) this too causes the body strain.

Worry is huge for some; being anxious or nervous takes its toll on the body as well and withdraws energy that would normally be used for healthy bodily functions to be sidelined for a temporary issue. Over-exercising is another one; running 10km 6 days a week is bound to leave your body feeling drained and strained

 

It is all about awareness. Say you have the perfect training plan, meals are prepped and on track but you still don’t see the results you are after. What else could be going on that is causing you body to be under stress? Dig deep, combat those issues head on and see the bright light on the other side that will lead you to a lighter heart and a lighter self.

Think of the sky

Meditation is something I have always wanted to explore; something that I think would be a true privilege to experience. A close friend told me recently that as part of a course she is doing at the moment on mindfulness she was asked to dote 1 hour to doing nothing… no television, no phone, no ipad, not even a book! The task was to simply sit and BE. I found this idea completely confronting… Sure I have plenty of time without technology or someone to talk to but I would usually be busy doing something like cleaning the house, mowing the lawn or riding my horse.

As a society we have become completely unable to simply sit and be quiet. We are all guilty; waiting for a plane, a doctor appointment or even at the grocery check-out… We will stand there with our phones and be entertained. I could go on and on about the social implications of being so tech-driven but today I want to think more about that idea of being at peace with you. Being ‘ok’ with who you are and where you’re at right now. You know sometimes when things seem dauntingly impossible or scary… try to think about the bigger picture. When your life seems to be filled with rain or storm clouds now and then, take a step back (or jump up in this case!) and think that above all this crazy weather there is the big bright sky and its really not that big of a deal. Next week I will touch on how meditation and mindfulness can combat the biggest reason behind not living your healthiest life… STRESS

Moderation

Ahhh, Moderation… Probably the most hated, cringe-worthy word ever uttered to someone trying to lose fat. We are so used to the rules of dieting; eat this, not that, exercise like this for the best results and avoid these foods altogether that the thought of listening to our hunger cues and doing it on our own is down right scary.

 

Subconsciously we are led up the garden path of abstaining perfection until… your brothers wedding, your best mate’s birthday or Friday night work drinks. It goes a little something like this: all week deprive, restrict, and withdraw until come the weekend we are deemed to have done such a good job that we deserve a little treat! You have worked out as per the given schedule, not eaten the foods you love and cut back on your alcohol – it’s been tough! So it’s the weekend and what do we want to do – go all out. Monday rolls around and we are back on-board the diet train.

Not only is this incredibly bad for your digestive system it is also horrible for your mental health. Perfection should never be the goal and giving up the foods you love entirely, to me, is punishment.

 

There is a solution and it IS moderation, 365 days a year. But here is the trick: Save those indulges for special occasions and eat enough to be satisfied, have a bite or two of your favourite food EVERY day and be conscious nourishing your body to be at it’s best. Save those extra titbits for post workout or during the time when you are hungry. Remember hungry? Listening to cues that your body is sending is paramount – I’m hungry, full, tired or thirsty. It is so simple yet we complicate it by all ‘the rules’.

You are extra hungry after a long day at work, you crave certain foods due to hormonal cues and after a long run or exercise session, you get hungry. These times will balance out on the days when you are not super busy and you do get your rest – eat a little less.

Moderation is all about you. Creating a receptive and flexible metabolism where you are fueling your system with what it wants when it needs it.

Fear of failure

Why is it that we have ingrained in us such a fear of failure? ‘Fear’ can sabotage ‘try’ in an instant and not only that, think about what you could be missing out on because of it.

 

Have you ever noticed in a social setting or gathering of people the best and most intriguing stories come from those events in life that have challenged us? That time you got bogged up the paddock, when you fell over in your running race at school sports day or when you were thrown off your horse the first day of mustering. Moments in life when, at the time, you felt frustrated, confused, embarrassed or even angry in the situation but later you over-came something, learnt something or were able to laugh at yourself. I love thinking about that; you win or you learn.

 

Being brave to walk into the new gym, having courage to try that new exercise or the tenacity to get up and go again after several times being knocked down. All of these experiences provide learning; learning about yourself, learning about your life and becoming aware of all the new things you want to learn.

 

Struggles are what make the good times and successes GREAT. We can appreciate the sweetness only after we have tasted the sour and sweated a little. So, lean into that struggle. Get a little uncomfortable. Be a bit vulnerable. Then watch yourself and your self-confidence grow and shine. There is so much to live and enjoy in this life; don’t let fear hold you back.

You’re doing great

Late last year I got a last minute dentist appointment one Friday morning in hopes of alleviating the sharp pain I felt in a lower molar. Thinking it would be a quick needle and filling, I would be out of there in 20 minutes to enjoy my scheduled restaurant lunch date (with myself)… 3 hours later, out I walked/stumbled.

They had found a very infected and rotten tooth (yuck!) and I was in need of an immediate root canal procedure. I lay there, mouth open, not knowing how long it would take or at which second I would feel the flinch-worthy pain of an active nerve being hit. It was horrible. I believe at one point I asked with a slur ‘can’t you just knock me out?’

The nurse looked into my distressed eyes about half way through and simply said in a calm and assuring voice, ‘you’re doing great’.

Such a simple statement; however at that moment it felt so comforting – you’re doing great. You are doing a great job and every now and then it doesn’t hurt to remind YOURSELF that.

Our busy, ever-compounding life gets more and more complicated and it begins to feel like we are just treading water at the best of times to keep up. If, unfortunately, you do not have someone in your world reminding you of the fact; you’re doing great.

The perfect start

What if I told you that in just 3 minutes a day you could improve your life? Would you laugh, and then pause for the sales pitch?

If you have read my columns you would know that I am absolutely not about products or ‘quick-fixes’ but more about healthy, purposeful daily intentions.

So here it is; here is the 3-minute-a-day challenge that I hope might become one of your effortless long-term habits. What if first thing in the morning you stood up out of bed, leant down and touched your toes then, while breathing deeply, slowing reached up to the sky – repeat for one minute. Minute two, push ups, on your toes or on your knees as many as you can in one minute. Its only 1 minute, you can do it! The third and final minute will be star jumps, fast or slow, bounce or no bounce, but continuous for one minute. That’s it! If you follow that up with some water and a walk (if you can) then you are well on your way to a good day. You’re awake. Your blood is pumping, a little muscle burn perhaps and some heavier breathing. The perfect start to your positive intentions for the day ahead – you can pat yourself on the back and BOOM(!) you’ve already had a success for the day.

This little win may lead to a salad for lunch, a spontaneous trip to the gym after work or some sit-ups during t.v. time.

For more incidental exercise ideas or small acts of movement to include in your day please feel free to email me at sigsfitbits.com