Though the following blog is geared towards moms, the message is also for fathers and those without children. Take care of yourselves. You deserve it.
Our entire lives change once we become moms. Not only are we trying to navigate the new journey of motherhood, we are also trying to find our new mom identity. Moms are often consumed with taking care of everyone and everything. Yet, we often forget to take care of ourselves. We feel pressure to be the perfect mom but still have other commitments such as jobs, volunteer activities and more. We feel pressure to do it all, yet balance it all perfectly while still trying to find time for ourselves. Motherhood does not have to be selfless or selfish.
Self-care looks different for each mama. For some it might be a daily workout, or a bath before bedtime, others fill their cup by going out with friends or a monthly date night with their significant other. Whatever self-care looks like for you, it should be done often. Self-care is not a luxury, it is crucial if we are going to be the best mom, wife, employee, sister etc. that we can be.
Yet, why do so many mamas struggle with self-care? Is it because of societal pressure that now we are moms, we should give up our former life and give everything to motherhood? Is it because we feel guilty and spend all our time caring for our children and running our household? Attending a workout class, going to a book club once a month, having frequent dates with your significant other or getting a pedicure does not make us a bad mom. Activities to take care of your body and mind is not selfish nor should cause feelings of guilt. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Our children are always learning from us and we are their greatest and most constant example. We do our best to teach our children about proper nutrition, playing outside to get in movement, getting adequate sleep and so forth. We are teaching them self-care, right? But if we never take care of ourselves, what are our children learning about self-care? They are learning that self-care is not a priority or that self-care can be put by the wayside.
Motherhood is constantly changing. We are moving through different stages at a rapid pace and life is busy for everyone. At times, you might be doing a great job of prioritizing self-care and then other times it might start to suffer. Whatever you have going on in your life, make it a habit. Don’t have time to get to an exercise class every day? Make sure to get in a few short walks. Can’t find a babysitter for a long and much-needed date night? Put the kids to bed, pour a glass of wine and sit down with your spouse and have a date night at home. Ask for help and support. Trade babysitting days with your neighbors. Work out a schedule with your significant other for you both that allows both of you to take time to yourself. Don’t see self-care as something nice you do for yourself. See it as a necessity.
I just returned home from a week long trip with my sister, and prior to that I was able to do a long overdue (as in 14 years) girls weekend with my college girlfriends. I have previously written about how traveling has changed for me over the years as my relationship with food and exercise has changed. Yet, I am still often reminded of how far I have come when I travel. This is even more apparent when I travel alone or without my children as when traveling as a family, I am obviously very focused on their needs vs. my own. But now that I am less focused on exercise and food, I am actually able to focus on so much more when I travel. There were so many incredible things about both these trips but here are the most significant.
I think truly connecting with others can be a challenge once you are a mom. Not only is it nearly impossible to have a actual adult conversation with someone else while your small kids are around (either by phone, text or in-person), when you are not with your kids, you are often talking about them, worried about them and thinking about them. Kids take up a lot of mental and physical energy (as they should) but sometimes it is hard to step away from that for a time being.
In Oregon with my girlfriends, we had 11 kids among the 5 of us so obviously we were going to talk about kids a lot BUT we became friends before kids and so we are connected differently than some of my current friends and had so many memories before we became moms. After, we all in checked in with our families we were able to truly connect. The fact that we were able to sit down for multiple meals without having to get up 600 times to clean up spilled milk or get an additional condiment or pick up food thrown on the floor was blissful. We could really have a grown up conversation.
One of the best parts of the trip was that there was no complaining. It was so refreshing. Not that everyone doesn’t have the right to complain once and awhile, but we did not just sit around and whine about our kids and husbands and how tired we were and how hard motherhood is and how dirty and messy our houses were. We are all constantly exhausted and challenged in motherhood, can relate to each other, are in the trenches right now and trying to do our best. None of this needed to be reiterated. We laughed and shopped and drank wine and talked. Another favorite moment of mine was when we all sat outside for about an hour in almost complete SILENCE drinking wine and reading. It was blissful. I imagine none of us get to just sit like that very often.
Connecting with my sister was another amazing trip. We have not traveled together with just the two of us for 5 years. We talked politics, food, nutrition, exercise, goals, future plans, the past, and more. We enjoyed amazing meals, saw an entire city, sat on our porch every morning and every evening drinking coffee and then wine. We went to art museums, toured a Bourbon distillery, went to Churchill Downs, took a super funny, cheesy amazing city tour. So different than my daily routine, it was wonderful.
Even as a fitness professional, I do spend the majority of my days sitting at my desk like most office workers. Even days I teach and train are for a very small amount of my total day. In Louisville, we walked and walked and walked. We walked over 50 miles in 4 and 1/2 days. It was cathartic, it was a great way to see the city, it was even sometimes mentally and physically challenging. It was wonderful.
In previous travel, I would have tried to locate the nearest gym and try to plan someworkouts throughout the week. I did pack a resistance band and had planned on going on a run and doing some body weight workouts but after walking an average of 10 miles each day, I did not feel the need (or want) to do any additional workouts. It was probably great for my body to have a total different form of exercise for a week. And the funny thing, I was so friggin sore. Sore as in I had done hours of high intensity exercise. My calves were tight and my hips ached by the end of the day. There was no way I was going to do any additional working out. As my sister joked (who just came off a 5 month around the world trip with a lot of walking, check her adventures out here), I am ‘gym fit.’ But it is fairly accurate. I can teach or take a hard 60 minute group exercise class or a complete an intense CrossFit workout but walking a city for 4 days left me aching. It was amusing and humbling and made me think about spending more time on my feet throughout my work day.
One of my favorite activities but also an activity that use to bring me some anxiety. I use to try to bring so much food with me when I traveled as I was constantly worried that I might be in a place that did not have healthy options. Then I would have to chose between being hungry, since I would not want an unhealthy option which I thought would lead me to eat more later due to hunger or eat the less healthy option and feel guilty. Wow. So much mental energy was spent on this! My sister use to joke that I literally always had food packed with me where ever I was going and this was before motherhood, when of course you need snacks with you at all times for the littles. Yes, I often pack some type of snacks as I do not want to be eating airport food all the time and I also like snacks but I used to pack pre-portioned ziplock bags of protein powder and oatmeal and more and then when I arrived at my destination would need to scope out the food scene and grocery store options almost immediately.
What I have discovered is that I am going to be okay. I am not going to the Sahara I am not going to die without food for a few hours or even without healthy options and even if I decide to pick the less healthy option, does not immediately negate my consistent healthy eating and exercise. In Kentucky, we ate 2 meals most days and one night we opted to hit the grocery store for cheese, vegetables and crackers. The food in Louisville, to my surprise was amazing. Louisville has much pride in their food and is very big on locally sourced food. One restaurant we went to had large black and white photos of the farmers where they sourced their food as the restaurant’s artwork. All our meals were really delicious and a memorable part of the trip.
I am a creature of habit and generally thrive on routines. But it is so good for our mind, body and soul to get out of those routines. I cannot wait to travel again and hope that you find some time to travel and connect, walk and of course eat delicious meals.
We all know that our country has had an obsession with protein for quite some time now. It is a huge marketing tool and companies seem to be adding protein to everything! Protein crackers! Protein peanut butter! Higher protein bars!
In my professional and personal opinion, I think most people do get adequate amounts of protein in their diets (because as stated we are obsessed with it) but society as a whole eats too much low quality protein. I use the term low quality not in the terms of our body not being able to absorb the nutrients but low quality meaning highly processed, pumped with fillers and from questionable sources. Protein needs, just like overall calorie, carbohydrate and fat requirements are based on a few factors. Gender, age, height, weight, activity level and current stage of life (pregnancy, menopause, disease) etc. all influence how many calories and macronutrients we need each day. Obviously, some of these will change and some will not. There are a few different recommendations for protein requirements but it is certain that an athlete or someone highly active requires more protein than someone sedentary. I also tend to eat a bit higher protein diet as I am very active, it makes me feel good, perform well and maintain my weight.
Though vegetarians diets are obviously nothing new and our country is still protein obsessed, I have recently seen the flexitarian diet become increasingly popular. This diet is mostly plant based but also allows meat once in awhile. I like the term plant based carnivore. The meat is more of a side dish than a main. I think this emergence has to do with many reasons from the environmental impact of meat to the questionable sources and food safety of the meat in this country. Regardless of the studies you can find supporting eating meat or not (and trust me, you can find research to support the pros and cons of both) I do not think anyone can argue against eating more vegetables. The recommend servings of vegetables is 4-5 per day for someone eating around 2,000 calories and the average adult (according to 2013 CDC data) eats only 1.6 per day!
I was a vegetarian for 8 years. Let me rephrase that, I was a starchitarian for 8 years. I did not eat mostly plants, I ate mostly bread, processed soy made into fake looking meat products, crackers etc. I thought I was doing it for health reasons which when I look back, I was eating so many processed carbs and frakenfoods that I would have been better off just eating meat once in awhile. I was 12-20 years old so probably not my brightest years. But I still see this today in many adults. They are vegetarian but aren’t eating that many vegetables. They are eating mainly starches and processed carbs. So though I do believe you can eat a vegetarian diet and get all the nutrients you need, I do think you need to be more aware of certain nutrient intakes.
Vegetarian diets can include insufficient amounts of protein, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium if not well balanced. I am not talking about or addressing vegan diets in this blog as with the lack of eggs and cheese and dairy, vegan diets, need even more careful planning and attention.
Vegetarians need to pay attention to the quality of their protein. A protein based food is deemed high quality if it contains all the essential amino acids. Most meat based products have all the essential amino acids while most plant proteins do not. An easy way to get all the amino acids as a vegetarian is combing certain foods that compliment each other with all the essential amino acids, such as rice and beans.
Iron is another nutrient that is more commonly found in meats but beans, pumpkin seeds, lentils, spinach are all higher in iron. Consuming iron rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods will help increase the absorption. Vitamin D can be found in fortified milk but getting enough sunshine each day (10-15 minutes) is an ideal way to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Vitamin B12 is found in cheese and eggs. Lastly, dark green leafy vegetables are high in calcium. Though not likely to be deficient, Omega-3’s from fish are absorbed better by the body, but chia and flax seeds are a good vegetarian option source.
If you want to lose fat or become leaner as a vegetarian, I do think it is possible but you do need to pay attention to your meals a bit more. Here are a few tips that can help:
Make vegetables and not starchy carbs the focus of your meal. The croquettes I made the other night called for potatoes, quinoa and black beans. That is a lot of starch in one meal. I removed the potatoes and they were delicious!
Ideally, you still want some type of protein with every meal or snack. Think about adding cheese and a hardboiled egg to a salad, topping Mexican dishes with cheese, sour cream or plain greek yogurt, using high protein tortillas, higher protein grains such as quinoa, add peanut butter or powdered peanut butter to oatmeal, find a high quality vegetable protein powder and make smoothies with it.
If you are constantly hungry, then something is off. This could be a lack of protein (or other nutrient) but make sure you are not filling up on starchy carbs. How is your fat intake? Vegetarian diets tend to be naturally lower in fat (because meat contains fat) and if you are actually eating lots of vegetables, they are all naturally low fat. Make sure to include healthy fats in your diet as well. Avocado, nuts, seeds, certain oils are all good sources of fats to help our body function properly but to also help keep us satiated.
If you are constantly fatigued/tired (not mom tired 🙂 but tired all the time even after a decent night sleep) something is off. If you feel sluggish especially in your workouts, your iron levels or your ferritin (stored iron) could be low. This can be checked by your physician. Now, you do not need to necessarily assume you have low iron because you are tired but if you are a vegetarian woman of child bearing age, it can be more common and easily checked by a blood test.
Make sure you are eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Though I would recommend this for everyone, as mentioned, vegetarian diets can be insufficient in certain nutrients. Eating various colors and types of produce will help your body get a variety of vitamins and minerals which are all important for various body functions.
My family has committed to going meatless once a week. Here are the last few meatless meals I have made that have been delicious and filling! This has challenged my meal planning skills a bit but it has been fun to get a little more creative in the kitchen.
-Grilled vegetable burritos
-Black bean and quinoa croquettes
-Veggie and cheese frittata
-White bean and vegetable soup
-Cauliflower fried rice
My black bean and quinoa croquettes which got a “super duper yummy” from Caleb. #win
So though I do not plan on going back to a complete vegetarian diet as I do love meat and think it definitely can be part of a healthy diet, I do find myself thinking about and trying to eat a little less meat overall.
Looking for more health tips or new recipes? Want some simple but challenging workouts to do at your house? Join me and lots of others during the month of April in the Healthy Baby Fit Mom #Consistency Challenge! We start this Saturday! Totally free, not selling anything, just a great way to jump start spring with a commitment to yourself! This challenge comes with FREE coaching on fat loss, kids nutrition, workout tips and more! Join here.
It’s that time of year again when I pick out my few favorite fitness/health related items. Below are a few items that I have been loving this past year that would make great gifts for fitness minded family or friends or even yourself!
I am loving these right now. They are super small, easy to use and versatile. I have been using the bands myself and with my clients but I am also traveling with them now. Upper body weight work is fairly easy with push-ups, dips and a million plank variations but it can be hard to challenge the lower body without at least some type of weight equipment. Enter mini bands. You can work hips, glutes, adductors, abductors and more. You can even use these with plyometrics. There is an entire assortment available on Amazon here and the are inexpensive. I will be doing a quick video on a few exercises you can do with these so be on the lookout on my Facebook or IG page!
2. EzPz Mat
Okay, so let’s be honest, this is really a gift to yourself. You can pretend it is for your baby/toddler but I just bought this and am pretty sure I will like it more than Madelynn. Madelynn is in the stage of purposely dropping EVERYTHING first onto her highchair tray from her bowl and plate and then generally on to the floor/in our dog’s mouth. Or instead of her signing that she is ‘all done’ with her food she basically windshield wipes her tray so that all the food goes pretty much flying. Caleb thinks it is hilarious. Needless to say meal time is awesome and not messy at all. Then I found the EzPz Mat. I just came across these a few weeks ago at a charity event I attended and am already in love. I just ordered the mat and cannot wait to use it and travel with it. They stick right on to the highchair or table and are super easy to clean! I will also be traveling with this. You can find them here.
3. Monthly Music Subscription
I used to spend A LOT of money on purchasing and downloading music. Then some genius invented music rental services. I now spend about $10/month for unlimited music. You can literally find pretty much any song of any artist on most music rental services. I also have playlists for the kids to listen to in the car. To justify this ongoing purchase, 🙂 research also shows that “that synchronous music tends to drive exercise intensity (i.e., the faster the beat, the higher the intensity). Researchers also clearly identified the effect of increased arousal related to the tempo of music, thereby making intense exercise seem less stressful.” Many subscriptions let multiple devices be on one account and you can follow your friends if you like their music tastes. This is such a great way to constantly update your music without spending tons of money or time downloading and hopefully keep you motivated at the gym.
4. Essential Oils
Okay, I know I had this one on here last year BUT I found some new ones this year that I cannot live without. This past year, I started using a roller (pre-mixed and already diluted formula) for my headaches, a new digestive enzyme that is a must for upset stomachs and this sweet little magic sleeping oil called Vetiver. There are still so many out there that I have to learn but these are my current favorites. And though I hate crafts I have been very ‘Pinteresty’ lately making my own lotion, astringent, sugar scrubs and more. Contact me for more info or you can sign up for Young Livings awesome wholesale program and always get 24% off! Get more info here.
This is my current favorite sleeping combo for both Caleb and I.
5. Compressions Socks
I was pretty skeptical when compression socks first became popular to assist with running and recovery. However, I am a converted user now. I actually bought these when I was pregnant and having the worst leg cramps that I could not sleep. My husband first brought me home some compression stockings from the hospital he works at which is often given to patients who need help with circulation (diabetics, blood clots etc.) However, I figured if I was going to wear these I might as well buy a decent (and stylish) pair I could use after my pregnancy was over. I now use them for any runs over about 3 miles and think they really make a difference. You also look like a pretty serious runner when wearing these 🙂
6. Kitchen Gadgets
I am actually not that into gadgets but wanted to share my top few favorite kitchen tools that make my life as a healthy busy mom and cook easier. I will say my #1 tool is a decent set of knives but beyond that the following make my life in the kitchen a easier.
a. Crockpot- you literally dump everything in and press on. Need I say more? You can get cheap ones or really fancy ones. Either way, this is a must have.
b. Zoodler- this fun tool turns zucchini and other vegetables into noodle like strips. We eat zucchini noodles with sausage and marinara very frequently in my house. Caleb likes to help make them into noodles and everyone will eat their veggies this way. Here is the one I have.
c. NutriBullet- any type of high powered blender will work, I just currently own a NutriBullet and like it due its power and size. I make protein/veggie smoothies for myself and the kids frequently.
What tools/equipment have you been loving this past year? I would love to hear other ideas.
I hope you all have a very merry and joyous holidays with friends and family! XOXO
I met one of my best friends Jill, 11 years ago and we still talk almost weekly. When we met, were were both doing the fitness hustle, teaching a million classes a week, doing our own workouts on top of our classes and were obsessed with what we ate. When we talk now we laugh about our habits in the past and how we spent unreasonable amounts of time and energy on our food and workouts. As we have been laughing about this lately, I have thought about the biggest changes I have made, some which have come naturally, some which took a bit more effort.
I don’t count anything anymore.
I have already written a blog on why I do not think meal plans or calorie counting works so I will not go into detail here but for years I counted so many things. I counted the number of meals I had in a day, counted calories, macronutrients, calories burned in a workout..if you could measure it, I probably counted it. If counting any of these works for you, great! I am not saying they are wrong or bad, they just stopped working for me. I had to free up my mental energy for other things. I have absolutely no idea how many calories I eat in a day now nor the amount of carbs or how many calories I burned in a workout. If I wanted to really know, I could come up with those numbers but the point is I do not really care. My goal is to feel good, function well physically and mentally, feel confident in my clothes and enjoy the way I move and eat. If any of these seem off, then I pay more attention to my eating, exercising and how I have been taking care of myself overall and adjust as needed.
2. I don’t have food rules anymore nor do I do food guilt.
I just wrote to my tribe earlier this week in my monthly email about how I use to have all these rules when I traveled but really I had all these rules all the time. No drinking during the week, one big dessert a week, one cheat meal a week etc. I still think it can be beneficial to have some basic personal nutritional guidelines such as not drinking your calories (except half and half and wine of course) but none of these are hard and fast anymore. Though I prefer not to drink my calories, if I wanted a milkshake or a some caloric drink, I could have it and not be upset at my self for “breaking” my rules. It’s just food. I also cannot do the food guilt thing anymore. If I choose to have something indulgent then I should own that and enjoy it and move on.
3. I spend more money on quality food
Through the years, the quality of my food is so much more important to me. I realize this could be partially due to having more disposable income to spend on higher quality food than I had when I was just out of undergrad and living very frugally while in graduate school. I am much more wary of our current food system. I also have much more knowledge and believe whole heartedly that not only food but quality of food can significantly impact our overall health and well-being. Though I still eat some packaged foods, I read labels, specifically ingredients diligently. I no longer do sugar-free or ‘frankenfoods’ such as fake meat products. I think spending money on high-quality food is one of the best investments you can make for your health.
Completing races 10 years ago in North Carolina when I was a ‘cardio queen.’
4. I workout about half as much as I used to.
I workout so much less now that I often wondered what I did at the gym. I often would do at least 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of lifting almost every day. For whatever reason, that was a rule I created for myself (I obviously used to like rules, see above 🙂 ) Some days I would workout in the morning and then go to hot yoga in the evenings or I would teach a class and do my own workout too. Now, granted cutting my workout time was basically forced when I had children since I just had less time overall but I found I could workout in about HALF as much time and LOOK THE SAME and maintain my weight. Though I want to continue to get stronger, faster and sure maybe a little leaner why workout twice as much for the exact same results? I think at this point in my life, my body shape is fairly set (without drastic change of course). I now workout much smarter.
5. I focus much more on strength than cardio.
I do a lot less cardio. Though I still compete in a few races every year to fuel my competitive side I do not train for specific events as much. Again, some of this is simply time. I am not willing to give up my Saturday mornings with my family for 4 hours of running/cycling. However, I realized I could get a lot more bang for my buck with strength workouts. If I am short on time, I can get a more effective, fat-burning, all body workout with dumbbells than simply going for a short run. The other biggest change with focusing on strength workouts is my appetite. Medium intensity cardio makes me want to eat everything in site, strength workouts do not. Though I still like going on medium intensity runs more for a mental benefit, I can definitely tell the difference in my hunger and cravings when I do a 3 mile run vs. 20 minutes of hard weight workout.
My life at 35!
Though my life was much different in my 20’s than it is in my 30’s and I have much less time and am busier, I can say that I am in better physical shape. I worked out a LOT more in my 20’s but I did not nearly have as much knowledge. I know how to recover, I know how to fuel my body properly, I know how to treat my body with much more kindness. Though in my 30’s I was pregnant twice, birthed and breastfed 2 children, I can definitely say that I am stronger, a little bit leaner and a whole lot smarter at 35 than I was at 25 and though I definitely feel my age some days, I am proud of what my body has accomplished and can currently do and have much more confidence than I did 10 years ago.
If you are looking for a way to be more efficient and cut your exercise time down, ESPECIALLY around the holidays, check out my 30 Workouts Under 30 Minutes E-Book that was just released Monday! 5 workouts are included in each of the following categories, Body Weight, Dumbbells, Metabolic Conditioning, Cardio Equipment, Various Equipment (Medicine Ball, etc.), Core/Yoga/Mobility. All of the workouts are short and effective, perfect for this time of year. You can pick your workout based on what equipment you have available!
The best part is, if you are unsure of certain exercises, new to weight training or just like seeing how the workout should flow, once you have purchased the e-book, you will receive a link to my You Tube Channel with short demonstration videos of all of the exercises and workouts!
The e-book is on sale now but ends at midnight on Friday, November 18th so don’t delay and grab a copy!! If you purchase it this week, I will be throwing in 6 extra workouts!That is 36 workouts for 1/3 of the cost of one session with a trainer!
Having a newborn is hard. Feeding, changing, soothing, trying to figure out what the hell you are doing are all challenging. Yet, I honestly thought one of the hardest things about having a newborn baby was the lack of sleep. I was very lucky as Caleb was a fairly good sleeper early on but I was still getting up every 2-3 hours to feed him. I have always liked my sleep but I do not think I realized how much the lack of sleep could and would affect me. I remember a few weeks into this whole ‘parenting’ thing and I asked my best friend how people deal with the lack of sleep and she said, ‘you just get used to it.’ Which was eventually true but oh, those first 6 weeks were so hard. Getting used to little sleep is not ideal for your health but as all moms know, you just do it. Regardless if you have a newborn baby, do not prioritize sleep or have a hard time getting enough sleep, know that sleep can affect your metabolism, energy levels, hunger levels and more.
Again, blessed with a fairly good sleeper, Caleb was sleeping ‘through’ the night (through the night in my book equals 5-6 hours straight) since he was about 4 months old. I know, we were VERY lucky. This of course has not been every single night from 4 months of age to now. He has gone through stages of waking up in the middle of the night. Sometimes just has rough weeks, sometimes does not sleep well when he is not feeling well, teething or when we travel or for whatever the reason for the last 2 weeks he has been waking up at 3 am for just a few minutes, long enough to wake me up :). So though I thought once he was sleeping through the night, I would be granted with 8 hours of blissful sleep every night until the next baby, this was far from true! I have learned that I will probably not sleep as soundly as I once did until my kids are in college. Not to mention, I was an incredibly light sleeper before kids and am even more so now that I am always on the alert in case he wakes up or I often check the monitor when I wake up in the middle of the night. Moving him to a toddler bed was definitely a few weeks of fairly sleeplessness nights due to the fact, I was terrified he was going to come into our room and scare the living crap out of me.
So as I prepare for BB2 in the next few weeks and back to the routine of getting up every few hours, I started thinking about how everything seems so much harder when you are exhausted, especially working out. Though working out can give you energy, pretty much the last thing you want to do when you are exhausted is expend energy exercising. Though I am going to try to not put too much pressure on myself to lose the baby weight right away, I know that I will want to lose weight and exercise will make me feel better. But with the importance of sleep, which is better for fat loss, sleep or working out?
Puberty, pregnancy/post-natal and menopause are the biggest hormonal changes and shifts in a women’s life. Your hormones are all over the place and most women feel this both physically and mentally. Dr. Jade Teta, one of my mentors from Metabolic Effect, a natural health, fitness and fat loss company and who is extremely educated in biochemistry and hormonal balance states just how important sleep is for balancing hormones.
“Sleep quantity is one of the most important considerations in balancing hormones. Every night your body goes through its rhythm of hormonal computing to repair, regenerate, and revitalize the tissues of the body. This process is complicated and takes time. This hormonal balance is not only necessary for you to feel your best but can actually impact your fat loss efforts. Leptin, cortisol, insulin, and adrenaline are lowered. This allows the body to be able to hear the signals of these hormones once again reversing hormone resistance. Hormone resistance is a negative state in the body that occurs when the wrong hormones are around at very high levels for very long times.”
He continues “Just like walking into a room with a strong smell, eventually the body can no longer “hear” and react to the signals being sent. While the negative hormonal signals are turned down, glucagon, HGH, testosterone, and other growth promoting, fat burning and antioxidant hormones like melatonin are elevated. The combination of this hormonal environment puts you in a fat burning, anti-aging, and growth state. However, this process takes time while the body slowly switches from fat storing to fat burning. The longer you sleep the more likely you are to make that switch and enjoy several hours of fat burning. People sleeping less than 8 hours a night may never reach fat burning mode at all. For the most effective sleep 9 hours is closer to ideal.”
I definitely know from experience that when I do not sleep well that I am hungrier and often crave sugary and starchy foods. Why? Well, because when we are tired, we are looking for an energy boost. Sugary and starchy foods are going to give us a much quicker energy boost (and at that moment the brain and body does not care about the crash later) than protein and vegetables. So we naturally want something sugary. I also know I am more irritable and have less patience when exhausted.
So for optimal fat loss should you get up and work out or sleep in? Ideally, you should get 8 hours of sleep, hopefully wake-up rested and workout. But we all know that does not happen every day regardless if you have young kids at home. Like many things in the fitness world I do not think there is a black and white answer to this question. There is also a big difference between fatigue and pure exhaustion. If you wake up and can literally, barely pull yourself out of bed then maybe the sleep would be more beneficial. Think about the past week. Have you had some really hard workouts or stressful days? Then the extra sleep will most likely be best for your body. Have you not worked out all week and have gotten a fairly good amount of sleep throughout the week? Then the workout might actually give you the boost you need.
But what about if you have a newborn and cannot get 8 hours and are getting up every 2-3 hours. Then again, I would do what feels best. If you were able to get some solid sleep between feedings and feel ‘fairly’ rested then I would try to get in a workout, even if it is a walk and some body weight exercises. If you were up literally every hour and just got the baby to sleep and have a few extra hours, then by all means sleep. Dr. Teta states “Don’t stress if this amount of sleep is impossible the good news is that research shows a 10 minute nap and even 5 minutes of meditation can undo many of the negative metabolic consequences of sleep.”
Regardless if you are not sleeping well from young kids or just having a period of restless sleep, your workouts can be compromised if you are so exhausted that you cannot put forth any amount of real effort. Yes, every workout is not going to be super-duper awesome everyday but the majority of time, exercise should make you feel better not worse. If you slog through a workout and are so exhausted the rest of the day that your cravings are out of control, you can basically undo your workout by consuming more calories for the energy boost you are seeking. Dr. Teta’s sums it up with “if you don’t sleep and you don’t nap and you try to run marathons at the same time, you are screwed.”
So though I hated the advice ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ as I felt like I should be doing anything but sleeping like showering, laundry and trying to eat something, do not underestimate the power of sleep, even in small increments. I cannot stand the pride so many people put on lack of sleep in this country. “I only sleep 5 hours a night and I get so much done blah, blah.” When did the least amount of sleep become a trophy winning competition? Sleep is so good for you physically and mentally, so next time when you have an extra 20 minutes with nothing to do, which I know can be rare, do not feel guilty taking a nap or sleeping a little longer, it can actually improve your fat loss efforts.
I would love to hear how other mamas managed the lack of sleep during those challenging first months or years 🙂 of parenting.