Getting enough sleep isn’t only important for your mental health; did you know that it also affects weight loss?
While we sleep, our bodies repair and detoxify. Sleep helps build muscle, it helps repair blood vessels, it supports growth and development, and it helps keep the immune system strong.
Sleep also affects our hormones, particularly insulin. Insulin controls our blood sugar levels; if we aren’t getting enough sleep, or enough restful sleep, this can lead to elevated blood sugar, which in turn can lead to diabetes and obesity. To maintain proper hormone balance, which controls everything from weight loss, to appetite to sex drive, we need deep, restful sleep.
Another way sleep causes weight gain is the resulting behavior from a lack of it. Think about this: you wake up after a poor night’s sleep; you’re too tired to make breakfast and can only manage some coffee. You stop by Starbucks to get a latte and pick up a breakfast sandwich. Maybe you grabbed your dinner leftovers from the night before, so you’re at least having a healthy lunch (hopefully). At 3pm you’re feeling like you’re about to fall asleep, so you either reach for another coffee, or get a sugary drink to perk you up. By the time dinner rolls around, the last thing you feel like doing is preparing dinner, so you order in. See what I mean?
Lack of sleep not only affects our immune system, our ability to repair on a cellular level and our hormones (which control weight loss), but lack of sleep sets us up to fail.
If you do drink coffee, have your last cup by 1pm. Aim to get around 8 hours of sleep per night, 10-6 or 11-7 is a good place to start. Make sure your room is comfy, dark, and free of distractions while you sleep. The next pillar of healthy is movement!
(Don’t worry, I’m definitely NOT going to tell you that you have to bust your ass in a gym to get the body you want).
Despite what many people say and what you’ve likely been told, you don’t need a gym membership to lose weight, but you do need to be active.
Many of us are mostly sedentary, sitting behind computers all day. This doesn’t mean you can’t still be active. Set a timer on your phone or computer every half hour, get up, stretch out your legs, take a small walk, do some lunges, just move! This is so important and really does make a difference.
Personally, I am not a big fan of the gym. Repetitive workouts can easily become really boring, so I’m a fan of getting my workouts from activities. Here are some ideas:
- Go on a walk in your neighborhood
- Go for a swim
- Go kayaking
- Do squats while you brush your teeth
- Play Frisbee with your kids
- Do a few sprints
- Ride a bike
- Take a day trip a lake, ocean or park
I know these things seem small, but they really do add up and make a difference.
The body composition is mainly reliant on what you eat. You can work your ass off in a gym, but if you’re eating Doritos all day, not much is going to change, and you’re still going to be extremely unhealthy.
On the other hand, if you’re eating a good diet and making sure to move around, get a walk in, play with your kids, go run around with your friends, you will be able to lose weight, and you’ll be able to do this on a long-term basis.
Stay tuned for the next two pillars of weight loss!