Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ah, the healing properties of SLEEP

I found the secret to weight loss…or at least the secret to jumpstarting my weight loss again...SLEEP…remember that one thing in my life that’s usually lacking? I had forgotten what real sleep was like. It turns out that sleep in your life helps you with a number of things, like self-control, more energy, the ability to wake-up in the morning without crying and gnashing of teeth…you know the basics. I know it seems that I’m making light of this, but believe me I really do know and appreciate the concept of getting enough sleep. If you’ve ever read this blog before, then you know that it is rare for me to get anywhere near to ample sleep (I generally average about 5-6 hours a night). I’ve read a gazillion books on diet, nutrition and fitness that all say the same thing…no matter what you’re doing right, you can't progress in you fitness goals if you don’t get enough sleep. In fact there are studies that say that you really should have 8 hours…no less than 7 and no more than 9, but to really aim for 8. It has something to do with your biochemistry and the hormones and chemicals that your body produces in that amount of time…anymore or less and you will jeopardize the delicate balance that is the miracle of your natural process. It is also important to mention that if you do get less than 7 hours of sleep and if you continue this pattern, then within a few days your body will compensate for the lost chemicals and create new ones that will encourage you to eat more calories in order to have energy. OH, and we all know that we don’t make the best choices when we’re over tired, so pair that with hormones like the increase of ghrelin and the decrease of leptin, and you’re basically screwed when it comes to your diet and willpower…believe me I know…I’ve tried. And one more thing…when you’re overtired, you’re less likely to go to the gym or get in your daily activity…yeah, it’s bad all around. (I gotta give a shout out to Jillian Michaels, I really took notice of the whole sleep vs weight loss issue from reading her book Master your Metabolism...not to mention a whole slew more of useful info.)

So, I’ve been making it a point to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night with my goal aimed at 8…this is my new practice, my new priority…SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP. I’ve stuck with this new mantra since last Saturday and it seems to be working its magic. I wake up in the morning feeling rested, I’m able to make good choices during the day, and the scale is already showing results. Here’s what I’ve been doing besides sleeping this week: I’ve started food journaling again, and while eating clean and writing it down, I’m also watching my caloric intake. I’ve been averaging about 1300-1400 calories a day and I feel satiated, and in control and happy with my progress thus far. Now that I’ve gotten the nutritional part under control this week with my new found rest-induced life, next week will focus on not only continuing on the whole sleep and eating clean thing, but it will also be the week where I reintroduce my fitness goals. Working in working-out where I get at least 20 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. I usually average about 30 minutes on top of all the walking I do around the City, so I think I’m finally going to start seeing results again...I'll let ya know as we progress.

Oh, and let me tell ya about my dinner last night…Taco Salad…delish. No I didn’t order or indulge, I made it at home and it turned out so great, satisfying, and so easy. Let me share the ease. I picked up pre-cut salad greens (a nice mix that had romaine in it for extra crunchiness), I grabbed an organic tomato (SO important…if you don’t eat any other fruit/veggie organic, please try to eat organic tomatoes – the non version is sprayed with 7 different pesticides, picked green, shipped cross country and the sprayed with argon gas [yep, what they euthanize dogs with] to ripen them quickly so they can sell them quickly to you….and tomatoes are such an important food when it comes to nutrition benefits)…so now we have our salad base. Then go to the dairy isle and try to find organic sour cream, if that’s not available, I went with the SmartBalance version which was pretty good, and then grabbed some finely shredded natural cheese (a Mexican blend) as long as it’s in the cheddar family. Then over to the Salsa isle where I grabbed some Green Mountain Salas (Hot is my liking) to add to my salad (so good and you can find it at Whole Foods and other reputable markets that cater to the healthy side). Don’t forget to pick up some fat-free “refried” beans while you’re at it, or some black beans, it adds a nice layer to your wonderful Taco Salad. And finally over to the meat isle where you pick up a nice pound of natural, 93% lean ground beef. I almost forgot, to make your life easier, go to the spices isle and grab a package of taco seasoning (I got the one with 30% less sodium) and maybe a small little can of tomato sauce to add thickness and sauciness to your meat :) …I used crushed tomatoes that I had at home. Now all you have to do is microwave the beans with a touch of water…cook up the meat really quick with your seasoning packet & tomato sauce, and prepare your salad. It literally took me 10 minutes to prepare dinner, especially by using the pre-cut greens & shredded cheese. I like to layer it like this: In a wide bowl, I throw in 2 handfuls of greens, then add some of the organic tomato I chopped, followed by the heated “refried” beans (about 2 tbsps), then I sprinkle a little shredded cheese followed by 2 tbsps of the taco meat, then another little sprinkle of cheese, followed by a tbsp of sour cream and finally a couple of tbsps of salsa. Now we’re ready to dig in. It’s so full of flavor, texture and goodness, that I can’t wait to do it again…seriously delicious!

Recap for your grocery list:

1 pkg. pre-cut greens (w/romaine)
1 organic tomato
1 pkg sour cream (try for organic or SmartBalance)
1 pkg of shredded cheddar cheese (I like the Mexican blend and go for natural if available)
1 packet of Taco Seasoning (go for the reduced sodium if possible)
1 can tomato sauce (small)
1 can Fat Free “Refried” beans
1 lb. of natural lean beef
Pam or Non-stick cooking spray to cook the beef in if you don’t already have it at home.

Makes enough for 4-5 people (or yummy leftovers if you’re lucky)

Bon Appetit


Melissa said...

I have this book on my nightstand as well because I think we all underestimate the importance of hormonal balance (this is where sleep comes in ..again!). I am also trying to get the chemicals out of my life--eating more organic, more natural makeup, Burts Bees hair stuff, natural toothpaste, Seventh Generation cleaners...etc...It can't hurt and will probably help! If anyone has any sort of autoimmune disorder, its a necessity to clean up the chemicals in their life, but it can also help anyone, really.

Bronny said...

I had discovered this week that I had been wanting to eat more, no matter what it was due to limited sleep throughout the night (interrupted sleep). Who would have thought. It all makes sense really.

BeckStein said...

Agreed Melissa, environmental pollution does affect everything in our lives, especially our bodies. I've definitely cut back on use of certain types of containers and chemicals. I also control what I drink water from if possible. This is a very good point to bring to light. Thank you for the share.

Bronny, it's tough to control what we put in our mouths when we're not rested. It takes away from making sound decisions, especially when we're tired and it comes to food. Have you looked into supplementing some melatonin into your diet? It helped my bf when he was having restless nights and insomnia. It's natural and helps you find a balance...just make sure you really give yourself 8 hours if you take it. Also, what may help in the sound sleep department is the following: No eating 2-3 hours before bed, no caffeine or Vitamin B12 after 2pm, and no exercising within 2-3 hours before need that 2-3 hour gap to allow your body to calm and prepare for bed. If your starving, have a warm glass of water and remind yourself that you can have a big breakfast in the morning. I promise it helped me :)