"I just don't get it. I'm eating healthy, you see my food journals. I'm working out 4 days a week, you see me sweating my face off. But here we are, standing on this stupid scale, and it hasn't budged a bit in over 5 weeks! What gives?"
Any guesses what the problem is? Maybe the client is sneaking in a bucket of brownies each day. Maybe they're running to the water fountain when I'm not looking and splashing water on their face for faux sweat. Maybe it's a weekend Taco Bell binge.
All the above are possibilities, but my money is in the bed... wait, ON the bed (phew, that could've made for an awkward article). When I see a client hitting all the high notes on their food, exercise and proper lifestyle activity but still a lack of results persists, I look at their sleep habits.
It's fairly common knowledge that not counting enough sheep at night will lead to a bad time during the day, yet people continue to undervalue the importance of shutting those eyelids. Let's look at some helpful tips to improve it, shall we?
In this technological age where we all have an electronic device tethered to our hands, it is crucial to power them down so you can do the same. Our devices emit bright blue light from their screens. This makes for a vibrant screen but it actually dulls your brains ability to use melatonin. This leads to a disrupted sleep schedule which leads you to disrupt everybody's mood the next day because you're so crabby.
Some smartphones are now coming with a built-in ability to reduce blue light. There are also apps like Twilight and F.lux (yes that period belongs there) that allow you to reduce it according to your schedule, giving your screen a slight red hue. This will let you use your device but not keep your brain wired to a daylight setting.
Also important is engaging in relaxing activities before bedtime. Things like reading a book, getting your thoughts/worries on paper (and out of your head) or taking a warm shower or bath can help. Conversely, drinking alcohol will actually hurt your sleep. You may feel relaxed initially, but it'll disrupt your sleep patterns and can leave you drowsy the next day.
Speaking of feeling drowsy, eating a small meal is OK but if you've gone all day without food and you decide to hit the buffet before bed you're going to have a bad time. When you sleep your body hopes to recuperate and repair from the previous day, but if it's spending its energy digesting a calorie-laden meal you'll wake up feeling groggy at best.
Create a sleep routine. Do what you can to streamline it and don't allow interruptions to your pattern. This can help your brain and body know that it's time to hit the hay and help the ease the transition to dreamland.
Lastly, you can check out my recent blog post at FreshEvolutionFitness.com titled "Sleepy Time Supps" for a detailed list of affordable supplements you can find just about anywhere that offer a myriad of benefits. I swear by a few of them myself. Since I'm usually coming home from the gym and going to bed within 30 minutes, I need a healthy option to help me drift off naturally.
Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger or just be a nicer person, your sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. These tips will take you from Crabby-butt-zilla to a happier, healthier you.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com