Disclosure: This post is sponsored by our friends at Sleep Number. All opinions expressed are strictly our own.
Have you been frustrated by your fitness efforts? Have you been struggling to lose weight? Have you been wondering why you are training so hard and so consistently, and eating so on point, yet you are STUCK? Do you feel like no matter what you do, you are languishing in the plateau zone?
You aren’t alone. And while this might sound like a cop-out, it’s not. This might not be your “fault”.
Ladies, take it from me. I’ve experienced all of the above, all while knowing that I had health concerns that many other women didn’t have. (Hypothyroidism, Cortisol problems, adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance.) And even all of that considered, I kept feeling that whatever wasn’t happening with my body was SIMPLY a result of either my training or my diet. I kept going more extreme with both.
My fat loss didn’t happen. My stress levels went up tenfold. All the health problems got far worse.
FINALLY when I started listening to my doctor (You can listen to my recent 2-part episode with Dr. Lane Sebring here: PART 1 and PART 2 and read his take on sleep here.) and my trainer, Whitney Jones (pictured above and quoted below) and my Dietitian (quoted in the next Sleep Series post, stay tuned!) I realized that there was a bigger issue at hand.
It wasn’t my training or my diet that was wrong. It was my LIFESTYLE..
My lifestyle. My Alpha Female, highly competitive, owner of a startup, workaholic, overtrainer, undereater, highly stressed filled lifestyle was killing me slowly and not so softly.
What did all of my trusted experts tell me I needed to do? Train harder? Eat Less? Do more cardio?
They said it was most important I focus on healing my body. They said I needed to eat more and train less. (Details on this in future posts, stay tuned) They said to focus on stress reduction and sleep as priority #1.
Guess what- after focusing on this (plus other lifestyle changes) for about 6 weeks now, my body is starting to react favorably. And in retrospect I can tell you that what I was doing before:
- Stressing out all the time
- Not sleeping
- Worrying about all of the above
None of this worked. I didn’t lose fat. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t look good.
It is hard to scale back but trust me, now that I understand how our bodies work and that our they need food and rest, consistently, I am changing the way I view fitness. The way I was living before and approaching fitness was wrong and it HURT me in a big way. Now – with the help of my doctor, my dietitian and my trainer, I’m on track the RIGHT way. I treat my body with respect. I train appropriately and I focus HARD on getting solid sleep and rest- I take naps every afternoon right now. It’s part of my healing. I go to bed earlier. I train in the morning. I eat to fuel my body. I practice self-care. I take REST DAYS.
I’m worth it. My body is a temple and this is now how I treat my body and finally it’s responding back saying THANK YOU.
Here’s what my trainer Whitney Jones says about the importance of rest and sleep for optimal fitness gains. And clearly she knows what she’s talking about:
“Along with eating right and exercising, quality sleep is crucial to your fitness goals. People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep struggle to lose weight and even maintain their current weight. Put simply it directly affects your hormones and alters the way the body responds to food. A sleep-deprived body will produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers the reward center in your brain and makes you crave food. Especially sugary or salty foods which make you less likely to be able to say no to unhealthy treats. And when you’re sleep deprived it effects your workouts in the gym because you have no energy. To make matters worse, it can become a vicious cycle. The less you sleep, the more weight you gain, and the more weight you gain, the harder it is to sleep. So get your sleep!”
Does this article resonate with you? Are you thinking about your fitness struggles and now thinking, maybe your sleep or lack of it combined with lack of rest days/days off from training could be affecting your hormones?
You can change your sleep. You can make yourself a priority. Start developing a wind-down routine at night at least 20 minutes before bedtime. Keep your phone and tablets out of the bedroom. Stop watching the news before bed or leaving the TV on to fall asleep to. Treat yourself to an Epsom Salt Bath nightly with candles and chill music. The salts are relaxing and also good for muscle recovery; bonus.
Wake up refreshed and — try this- SIT DOWN to eat!!! Don’t eat at the counter or in the car. Relax a bit. Watch what happens.
Of course, we would be extremely remiss if we didn’t tell you that if you want Princess Sleep you should treat yoself to a Sleep Number bed. This girl sleeps in one every night and it has made me get the best quality sleep ever. And this is coming from someone that had difficulty falling asleep for 5+ years! I am rather obsessed with my Sleep Number bed and this is why we asked our friends at Sleep Number to work with us on this series to educate y’all on why you need better and more sleep for overall health and wellness.
Ask Santa to bring you a Sleep Number Bed. Did I mention you can get a Sleep Number bed with foot warmers to help you fall asleep faster? And they automatically adjust to you to ensure you’re sleeping well throughout the night? And they have sleep tracker built into the bed called SleepIQ technology to help you understand how your days impact your nights and visa versa. You’re welcome.
Tell us in the comments below – does your sleep life need a makeover? What are your sleep issues? Let’s fix that shall we?
Whitney Jones is a trainer, business owner (www.theprophysiques.com), mom of 2, and IFBB pro who has competed in over 28 shows, and recently won the 2018 Arnold Classic and The Olympia. You can find out more about her and her training services at www.fitwhitjones.com