Ready, Set, Sleep

We’ve all heard the saying that abs are made in the kitchen and, to a certain extent, this is true. But let’s not leave out back fat and flabby thighs. All of our body is effected by what we eat and drink. But our food habits are just a piece of the puzzle that leads to success. There are other pieces that need your attention. Do you know what one of the most important is? Sleep.

It’s one of my favorite things to do. It seems to be the first thing people sacrifice when life gets busy and it’s understandable. When you sleep, you don’t get anything done. But that’s not exactly true. Your body and mind need this time to recuperate, renew, and heal. But that’s not all.

Studies indicate that sleep is critical when it comes to losing weight because it affects hormones that influence your weight loss. Leptin and ghrelin are controlled by your fat cells and when they get out of whack, your body is sure to feel it. When things are functioning as they should, your fat cells produce leptin and you don’t feel hungry. When your fat cells produce ghrelin, hunger is stimulated.  This is the natural balance of our hormones and everything works fine when the body has what it needs. These hormones we never think about need to be controlled when attempting to lose weight and guess what helps this happen? Right. Sleep.

So what happens when we don’t get enough sleep? It all begins with insulin. Sleep deprivation cause your fat cells to slack on their job. Lack of sleep triggers your brain to need more food. In short, insulin sensitivity drops and things start getting wacky.  When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones react. As a result, your body senses the imbalance and it begins to feel a little stress and, boom, there it is. Trouble trying to sneak in through the back door.

When this imbalance starts taking place, cortisol enters the picture. Why? Because lack of sleep releases cortisol. Now you’ve got nice little hormone cocktail that’s going to make a mess of things. Why? Because cortisol activates pleasure centers in the brain, which might make you want some cookies or ice cream. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin, too, which makes you feel hungry. So, it is possible to feel hungry having just eaten because of these hormones. It is a never-ending cycle that can mess you up if you don’t get it under control.

Sleep is underrated. It does a body good and your job is to find out just how much you need. Don’t try to make yourself one of those people who can go on four hours of sleep for days. One day when you don’t have to get up, go to bed at a decent hour and sleep until you wake up. Notice how rested you feel and go to bed early enough to make that happen on a regular basis.

Your body will love your for it and getting that diy tummy tuck won’t be so hard to do.

 

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Sources:

National Institutes of health:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18564298

Mayo Clinic
Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloy and Metabolism

NewsMaxHealth:
http://www.newsmax.com/health/Health-News/sleep-blood-pressure-diabetes/2013/11/06/id/535194/

 

 

 

The Smell of Success

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Over the years, it’s worked out that I have one main t-shirt I wear when exercising. This particular shirt is my favorite to wear because it’s loose and thin. It’s also old. And it stinks. It might smell good after a wash but there’s always an underlying odor that I smell almost every time I wear it. No matter what.

I’m not too worried about it. I only wear the shirt when I’m working out, so basically no one else sees it – or smells it. But I’ve come to realize the shirt and it’s body odor mean something to me. When I’m taking it off and it’s sweaty and stinky, I know I’ve done something good. That stink is my fat and I’d rather have it on my shirt than on my body. It is the smell of success. I’ve come to not really enjoy that smell but, rather, appreciate it.

Then, there’s the case of my shoes, which have seen better days. They probably stink, too, but I’m not going to get too close to find out!

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It’s all good because these things show that I’m working and improving and I hope you are, too.

If you have any items that demonstrate your efforts and you’d like to share what they are, I’d love to hear about them.

Till next time, be proud of your sweat!

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Each new day, opportunities arise. They will slip by if you let them. They do not knock loudly and they don’t seem to wait around for very long before something else takes their place. Generally, we call these distractions because that’s what they do. They take your eye off the prize. Don’t let this happen. Each day is precious. Don’t waste them.

Here we are in another year and while a part of me hates the pressure of New Year resolutions, another part relishes in the idea that I can begin again. As soon as NOW.

So, yes, here is another post about making healthy resolutions. Don’t view resolutions as negative things but rather things that will inspire you. They’re not awful and if they are, try looking around for some better ones! Resolve to be healthier and happier! Screw resolutions that suck and make you feel like crap because they are unrealistic. Instead of having a list of a bunch of don’ts, try a list of a bunch of dos. Because health and fitness are good things and you will love the results they bring.

Especially this spring when tank tops and shorts come around. Make this spring something to look forward to by working on your body and that homemade yummy tuck now. Here are some quick resolutions that will yield fantastic results:

Move more.
Exercise more.
Eat healthier.
Drink more water.

Don’t overload yourself with resolutions that sap your fun and energy. Try small things and add a bit every day.

Looking for some exercise that will help you see results? Try Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day-Shred. It’s a quick workout that will change your body. No joke.

I’m currently on Level Two and it’s a tough but rewarding workout.

Not for you? Tell me what is. I’d love to know!

Resistance

Thanksgiving is over. For those that want to maintain weight or lose weight, those words come as a relief. No doubt the holidays are fun but for someone counting calories, Thanksgiving can bring chaos. The holiday is over; it’s a new day and new days are great for new beginnings. But…

One could say we are only midway through the eating season. It’s not yet December, which welcomes Christmas, another holiday people like to eat and another holiday that adds stress to those attempting to avoid bad foods.

Temptation is real and if it were easy to resist, things would be different. For some, temptation is dreadful. Food tastes good, you only live once, just for the holidays…. the excuses to eat are in abundance this time of year. Excuses are so thick, you can simply pluck them from the air.

But you don’t have to. You can resist. What, you say? Resist? It might be the hardest thing in the world for some of us to do… resist something that tastes good. Where’s the reward in resisting? If there were a reward that felt as good as eating delicious food, it might be easy to resist, right? Right.

So how do you do it? I don’t have any magic answers. I only know I feel more in control of my body and my actions when I’m exercising and trying to eat right. The two hold hands in my world. Let me explain… When I exercise (especially in the morning), I’m starting my day great. It helps me set my mind and my attitude to one of success because I’ve done the most physically difficult thing I’m going to do. From there, I feel as though I’m armed for the day. I’ve worked out and I don’t want to blow it. If I eat that piece of pie that might be 350 calories, I’ve completely negated my workout. Looking at things from this perspective helps me stay on track.

What I’m telling you is that, for me, exercise is oil that keeps the gears of my weight loss routine running smoothly. I can say no to a slice of cake if I know it costs 27 minutes with Jillian. That stuff is hard and it’s just not worth it. Exercise is much more difficult than eating. Period. Think about it that way for a while and you might actually restructure your thought processes toward food. And it might be worth it.

Or, I could be totally off. Let me know what your thoughts.

Progress

One of the most amazing things about the human body is its ability to adapt. The first few days of any new kind of exercise will leave yo feeling sore and defeated but, if you persist, you’ll find with every day, some progress.

The 30-day Shred is difficult for many reasons. It’s a lot of getting up and down and, if you’re not used to that, it can be really hard. If you have a belly, it might get in the way of getting on the floor and back up again. However, if you continue to pursue, you’ll find that after about the first week, things begin to change.

The first few days of any new regimen is simply surviving. You may feel like you’re getting your butt kicked and the best you can do is go through the motions. It is tough, no doubt. The following days might be filled with dread but you will notice small changes that bring encouragement.

For example, you may notice that you can lift your feet higher on butt-kicks or that you can do 30 seconds of jumping jacks without stopping to breathe. You might also notice that you can get down on the floor a little bit quicker and you can get up without as much effort. You might also notice you aren’t breathing as heavy as you were a week ago.

It’s all part of the process and, if you follow through, change will come – maybe even quicker than you think… the trick do staying committed during the early stages of any exercise routine is noticing how your body adapts in the smallest of ways. Give yourself kudos when you can do one more push up or a few more lunges – these small changes are significant because it’s your body telling you, “I can do this!”

Believe it.

Inspiration, Motivation and Willpower

Track finish line from above Athletics 2000 Sydney PG

Inspiration, motivation and willpower are funny things. You need all of them to succeed. Many people may focus on just one of these when they are working toward a particular goal, but I think they work better as a team. This is especially true with weight loss and fitness because these goals take time to reach and sometimes you need something to hang on to while we’re waiting for success. Let’s break it down and I’ll show you what I mean.

Inspiration is that spark of arousal; that hint of hope that initiates change or, at least, thinking of change. It can be something as simple as a picture of Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton or even an old photograph of you. Inspiration can also be also be how you feel when you do something positive. For example, I love that soreness after a workout. That soreness can last a day or two so even when I’m not exercising, I am constantly reminded of my progress and potential success. I can’t express just how empowering that feeling is; it’s wonderful. You might be inspired by the numbers of calories burned after an exercise or the feeling you get from turning down a doughnut at the office. Inspiration comes in many forms and it’s okay to accept any and all of them if they help you achieve your healthiest best.

Motivation is that thing that gives you a reason to move. It’s actually very similar to inspiration in that both make you want to do something. However, in terms of diet and achieving a flat tummy, or whatever you want, motivation is closely related to incentive. For example, if I exercise, I will burn fat or if I strength train, I will build muscle. A motive is something that causes you to act; it is a goal that causes motion. In short, it leads to action. You can sit and look at a picture all day long but what makes you want to move? This is where the goal comes in… You need that goal, that motivation, to get up and make the move.

Willpower is the another link in the chain. Some will tell you it’s the most important aspect of any goal because it requires control. For that reason, it is probably the most complete aspect because control can be hard at times. However, it’s not impossible. It’s hard to pass up cheese dip at family functions. It’s hard to turn down pizza in social situations when everyone else tells you to eat up and enjoy. Chocolate goodies at the office are the devil but everyone wants you to eat one. Yeah, it’s hard and that’s why willpower is so important. You cannot live without it and inspiration and motivation make it easier. When you are aware of how strong your mind actually is, willpower might even become a powerful weapon.

When you put the three together, it becomes easier. For example, if you’re in the office and someone wants you to eat a doughnut and your arms are sore from yesterday’s workout, you might be more inclined to pass. If your butt is burning and hurts you every time you get up, those cookies look like the devil because they represent all the reasons why you have to workout in the first place. If you can change the way you look at cookies, pizza and beer, you can see them as motivation and even inspiration. How many minutes will you have to workout to burn off that pizza? Or how about thinking of sacrificing your last workout for a candy bar. Really?

If it takes a lot for you to get up and exercise, you should look at your temptations as an opportunity to say no. Why? Because you know it isn’t worth it. If you’re feeling the burn in your triceps from yesterday’s workout, you’ll easily pass on the cookies because cause you don’t need them. Does the taste of food trump your hard work? No.

It’s all connected and the thing you can never lose sight of is your goal. Inspiration, motivation and willpower are some pretty important tools to help you get there. Don’t ignore the tiny voices in your head urging you to greatness – those burning muscles and tight abs did not happen for nothing and the question you need to ask yourself is if the pizza is worth negating all that work.

The answer is no. Use your inspiration and motivation, whatever they are, as your source of willpower and allow them to motivate you to say no – an act that moves you closer to the finish line.

Photo: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission

My Plan of Action

I’ve been asked before what I did to get the results I did and, in a nutshell, it was mainly a combination of exercising and eating right. That’s right, nothing new here, folks.

I remember reaching a plateau and wanting to try something different. My routine for months had been riding a stationary bicycle for about an hour a day. My exercise was always some form of cardio and I always felt satisfied when I did between 55 and 60 minutes. I used a heart rate monitor and always tried to keep my heart rate around 80 to 85 percent.

To break the plateau, I decided to give Jillian’s 30-Day-Shred a try. I remember not having a lot of confidence in that video simply because the workout was only 27 minutes long. However, after the first day, I knew it was going to be tough. The big change with that workout was the floor work. I was accustomed to exercising on my feet or on my butt. The getting up and down for push ups, crunches and planks was something I wasn’t used to so it was tough.

I also did the workout for more than 30 days. I did not move to level two until I felt like I was good at level one and didn’t move on to level three until I felt like I sort of conquered level two. Overall, I did the workout for about four months.

I kept my daily caloric intake around 1200. This was also over quite a few months and I did allow myself days where I would eat more. Maybe once a month I would eat pizza or drink wine.

It was tough in the beginning but after I began to see results, it became easier. I suddenly wanted to see more and that desire for success was the fuel to keep going.

I think the hardest part of anything kind of journey like this is the waiting for results. It’s tough when you feel like you’re working so hard and aren’t seeing any change. But I can tell you with confidence that if you stick with it, you will see results.

I remember Jillian saying you’ve got to trust the process and it’s true. You do. And when you do, you will see results and that leads to success.

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A Fight Worth Winning

Good news: if you hang with exercise long enough, you’ll see results. I said good news, not necessarily new. Old or new, that’s nice, isn’t it? Nothing is quite as rewarding as seeing your body or your strength change and improve after hours of hard work. Unless you’re talking about watching your favorite band perform live from the first row. Seriously, seeing how your body changes is a gorgeous thing. Over time, motivation keeps you moving.

That’s where I’m at this week with p90x. After six weeks, I’m feeling stronger. I still have to use the chair with the pull-up bar but I squeezed out one more rep with each segment – except Friday when I felt too tired to do the last set.

Something is happening with my core, too. My waist feels thicker, which is kind of disturbing, but as long as I’m not gaining or growing in inches, I’m not freaking out too much. My hips look smaller and I’m seeing contour there. So, ab-ripper x is working despite my hatred for it. I keep doing it because I know it’s going to tighten my tummy and give me the abs I want.

Most of my morning cardio this week was plyometrics. I’m just in love with that routine and I want to master it. I’m able to touch the floor on all the touch-the-floor moves and I can almost make it the whole 30 seconds… Almost, I get pooped sometimes, though. I tried Insanity one morning and as much as I want to like that routine, I don’t. Yet. Maybe after my performance improves, I might like it. Maybe not. Right now, I’m going to do what I like.

Six weeks into p90x. Not exactly instant gratification (but it is gratifying!). That’s the hurdle to jump with any goal. You’ve got to see each action or small step you make as part of a bigger picture. You’ve got to believe in the process and not throw in the towel. I had to get halfway through p90x to feel stronger and better. And I know for the results I want, I’m going to need to do it again. Because I know something better waits on the other side, I want to move forward.

Sometimes you need to feel like you’re fighting for it because you are. Remember it’s worth the fight. You deserve to feel the reward and reap the benefits of your hard work. Hang with it long enough and you’ll be glad. It’s like knowing spring will arrive after a long winter.

In honor of all things springy…from morning sweat to a sweet morning…

Spring-loaded rock star jumps.

A morning loaded with spring.