If not, then you are a part of the 1 in 3 Americans who get less than the optimum amount of sleep.
Why Does That Matter?
Sleep is important for a multitude of reasons. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, lowered immune system, and hunger pangs, to name a few.
When you’re tired, you’re more likely to make poor decisions, like grabbing that extra donut at work. I find that it’s easier to order out when I don’t have the energy to cook, but I don’t always make the best choices when I do so.
Not resting enough can also cause hunger pangs, and you’ll find yourself grabbing a late night snack when you should be in bed.
Sleep and Weight Loss
Did you know losing sleep can also cause your metabolism to get out of whack? The University of Chicago did a study on sleep, and found that not getting enough can cause your insulin levels to go off the rails.
When your insulin isn’t regulating properly, you end up holding on to fat cells that your body would otherwise let go of. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hold on to extra fat cells!
Sleep is also important for repairing muscles that you used while working out. And resting throughout the night is when your body works on digesting your food.
Sleep and Motivation
Ever feel super tired and you just don’t want to get that workout in? *Insert cheesy announcer voice* “Sleep can help!”
If you’re well rested, you’ll take the time to take care of your body. I mentioned eating out earlier, but if you have the energy, you’ll be more likely to cook healthy options at home.
Staying on track with your goals is much easier when you have the energy to do so.
So, What’s My One Big Mistake?
You aren’t getting enough sleep!
How to tell if you need more sleep:
Do you wake up feeling groggy and can’t get going throughout the day.
You just HAVE to have that morning coffee, or the lunch and afternoon one too.
Find yourself needing your afternoon nap to function into the evening.
You feel “brain fog” while trying to keep up with your daily routine.
You’re just exhausted and lacking energy.
How Do I Get Good Sleep, and How Can You?
There are a few strategies I like for getting more sleep. They’ve always worked for me, and I believe they’ll help you too.
Beds are for sleeping.
My psychiatrist has always told his patients that “Beds are for sleeping, and “extra-curricular activities” only.” What does that mean?
Only use your bed for sleeping or sex. A lot of people like to wind down with a bit of TV time in the bedroom, but that can confuse your body. We don’t even have a TV in our bedroom!
When my body lays in bed it knows it’s time to sleep. Now this isn’t an option for everyone (some use their bedroom as the hub of the house), but I’ve found it immensely helpful to get the TV out and designate the bed for sleeping.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you enjoy your bed. Get yourself a nice pillow that’s comfortable, a set of good sheets, and darken the room as much as you can.
Put down the electronics.
This is one I still struggle with, but almost everyone will tell you to not use any electronics for the last hour before you sleep.
The blue light is stimulating for your mind. That stimulation makes it hard to shut down after you get wound up. It’s also been show to inhibit melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you sleep.
Some ways around this are to put your phone into a night mode (iPhones call it Night Shift and Androids call it Night Light), or buy blue light blocking glasses. I have a pair that I love, and I do remember to wear them most nights.
Watch your caffeine intake.
This one is not fun, but you have to watch how many of those tasty lattes you’re having. I try to limit myself to one 8 oz cup of coffee a day (I have a weakness for cold brew), but sometimes I need some pep in the afternoon and I’ll have another.
If you decide to have coffee in the afternoon, make sure you cut it off several hours before bed. I go down at 9:30 pm, so I make sure I don’t have caffeine later than 4 pm. Sodas and some teas count for caffeine as well, so be mindful of those.
This is the most important piece of advice I can give: set a schedule and stick to it.
For the past 10 years I have stuck to a fairly strict sleep schedule. Excluding a few variations, my schedule has stayed the same.
I go to bed every night at 9:30 pm. No matter what (within reason). There have been times I’ve peaced out on game nights just to get in bed at the right time. All of our friend’s just expect it now.
Going to bed at the same time each night almost guarantees that I wake up at 6:30 am. That’s a consistent 9 hours of sleep, which is my sweet spot.
I wake up feeling rested and refreshed, usually a couple minutes before my alarm. Some days I might wake up a bit slower than others. After a long day that’s to be expected.
My psychiatrist is the one who suggested a sleep schedule, and it’s a small part of Social Rhythm therapy. This therapy has been proven extremely effective for bipolar patients. The rest of the therapy is centered around taking your medications at the same times (I do) and eating meals at the same times (I can’t quite get that one down).
Even if you’re not bipolar, I can say with certainty that your body can benefit from a schedule. Humans are creatures of habit, and our circadian rhythm works best when it’s actually a rhythm!
I’ve had my kids on strict sleep schedules from almost birth, and they were both consistently sleeping through the night before 6 months old (my daughter at 10 weeks!). Bodies need a schedule, then they naturally know what to do.
You won’t get on a schedule overnight, and it might even take a while to adjust. There are also a few factors that can make a routine difficult (jobs, kids, social engagements), but trying to set one can be very beneficial in your journey.
Setting A Schedule
Pick your times.
It’s easy to know what time you need to wake up, so count back from there and pick a time to go down. You might have to play around with how long you’ll need to sleep, but just feel it out and find out what works.
Start your routine with enough time to stay on schedule.
It takes me about 30 minutes to get ready for bed, so I start it at 9 pm. If you don’t leave yourself enough time for your routine, then you won’t get to sleep on time.
Get in bed and stay in bed.
The first few night of trying to fall asleep (and stay asleep) will probably be difficult. If you wake up in the middle of the night make sure you don’t turn to your phone or a book. You’ll just stimulate your mind further and have trouble falling back to sleep. If you really must do either of those, then make sure you get out of bed to do so. Bed = sleep only
Stay with it ALL the time.
This means no sleeping in on the weekends, I know it’s a bummer. You have to consistently follow the routine if you want your body to adjust. Soon enough you’ll find yourself popping out of bed on Sunday morning with no problem!
Go Forth and Sleep
So, we talked about the importance of sleep, we talked about how it can benefit you, and how to achieve it. I hope this post will help you out, and I hope you’ll feel more rested.
Trigger warning: mentions of miscarriage, depression, binge eating, and of course weight loss.
Who Am I?
My name is Tessa, I’m 29 years old, I live in Arkansas with my husband and two children. There are a lot of words that describe me (mother, wife, daughter, kind, creative, unique), but today I want to focus on the big one:
During my weight loss journey people have praised me for my dedication and determination.
I always laugh and say, “Really it’s just stubbornness.”
And it’s true! When I was little everyone knew I’d argue anyone on anything, and one time I sat in a hot car until I nearly passed out because my mom wouldn’t take us for ice cream (how my parents survived raising me I’ll never know). As an adult I have learned how to channel that stubbornness to get what I want, and namely to achieve my goals.
My History With Weight
Growing up I was always stick skinny, but right around 5th grade I started gaining weight. Everyone said I’d go through puberty, grow tall, and the weight would stretch out. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
When I was 18 I started a diet that basically operated like Keto, but you reached ketosis through medications (not a great idea). It was through a doctor, but right after stopping I gained the weight back.
In Love and Gaining Weight
I yoyoed for a few years, then I met my husband. They say you gain “love pounds” when you start a new relationship, and that was definitely true for us. He (being a guy) was able to drop that weight pretty quick, I on the other hand didn’t.
We got married on 11/12/13, and I said I was going to lose weight for the wedding (I didn’t), then lose weight to prepare for getting pregnant (again no weight lost).
Wedded Bliss… For A While
In the summer of 2014, we found out I was pregnant. We were both over the moon excited. Unfortunately, it ended in a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks. That loss led me into a deep depression. I was already suffering from Bipolar disorder before getting pregnant, and losing our baby just snapped something in me.
After the miscarriage I gained weight like crazy due to comfort eating. During this time I would even binge until I was so full, I would throw up. It was definitely a bad time in my life.
This Weight Has Gotta Give
Things changed in March of 2015. I was 304.6lbs, and I was exhausted. It was the heaviest weight in my life (at that point). I decided I was going to change this. Over the next year and a half, I lost 80lbs largely through Weight Watchers and playing tennis.
I was happy and full of energy. I felt great, I was meeting my goals, everything was perfect. We were still missing one thing though…
Baby On Board
In March of 2017 I fell pregnant with my son, who was born in December of 2017. During my pregnancy I gained 90lbs. Yup. Right back to where I started and then some.
After my son’s pregnancy I had a really hard time postpartum. Due to my Bipolar disorder, I got hit pretty hard with postpartum depression. It even got bad enough that I ended up in an inpatient behavioral health hospital. With their help and the tools I learned, I was able to pull myself together and I gained a new view on life.
Over 2018 I managed to not lose any of the weight I had gained in my pregnancy. Luckily though, I didn’t gain any extra either.
Another On The Way
In 2019 I got pregnant with my daughter, who was born January of 2020. I only gained 15lbs throughout the pregnancy, and 6 weeks postpartum it was already gone.
Here We Are
In February of 2020 I decided I was done being this heavy again. My weight was at 309.3lbs. I lost the weight once; I knew with enough perseverance I could do it again.
And as of August 2020, I have lost 60lbs. That’s 60lbs in 6 months! I’m not at my goal yet, but I know I’ll stick it out and get there soon. I don’t have a definite goal weight, but I’m wanting to lose about 40-60 more pounds. I’ll know when I get there. No one knows your number on the scale besides you and your doctor, so it doesn’t matter to me where I land.
So How Did I Do It?
Sorry to break it to you, but there’s no magic pill. No crazy secret. No quick fix. Can you guess how I did it?
No matter what method you settle on to lose weight or get fit, the most important part of all of it is determination. You have to make up your mind that you’re done with the way you’re living, and that you’ll do your best to change it.
If that’s the only thing you take away from my posts, then I’ll be happy having imparted that wisdom.
How Can You?
There are a bajillion and one methods for getting fit. Everyone will tell you that their method is the best, but really there’s no “one size fits all” routine.
What works for Jill might not work for Kathy.
So, what worked for me might not work for you. Lucky for you, I’ve tried a wide range of options during my weight loss journeys that I can give advice on, so I know at least one of them will help you out. The main methods I’ve had success with are:
Water, Water, Water
Keeping myself centered
I’ll have posts on all of these topics in the future, as well as posts about recipes, meal planning, and general well-being. Your mental well-being is just as important as the physical side of things.
You Can Do This
Even though there isn’t a quick fix or easy route, I believe that you too can get to where you want to be. Whether that’s weight loss, getting fitter, or just achieving a better mental space. You have that same stubbornness within you, I know it. You’ve just got to harness it into dedication and perseverance. You’ve got this, and I’ll be here all along the way. I believe that you can achieve any goals you want to achieve.
I do need to say that I’m not a professional in any of these areas. Always consult with you doctor before beginning any type of diet or exercise program. I’m just sharing what I’ve found works for me.
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