Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.

  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.

  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. For real!

Try not to skimp!

(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.

  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)

2 cups of boiling water

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)

2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?

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How to stay on track with foods on the Holiday weekend

I totally get how hard it is to always stay on track during the normal weekdays; but what about a holiday weekend and what about the summer months where it’s a constant reminder of our current results? I wanted to share exactly what it is that I do and how I have stopped thinking I had to be either “good” or “bad” on my plan. The secret is to find balance and to have a plan in all that we do.

Do you have to be perfect? I have to say that I don’t really enjoy this word as it only makes us feel like a failure. There is absolutely no such thing as a perfect human being. LOL We all trip and fall and following a meal plan with a normal life is a recipe for not being perfect. But the irony of it is that being imperfect is part of finding our success long term.

Say what? Right?

Bring your own healthy foods with you so you can at least enjoy some healthier options if nothing else is available.
Bring your own healthy foods with you so you can at least enjoy some healthier options if nothing else is available.

This is what I’ve learned over many years of trial and error and feeling like a failure over and over again. You can follow any meal plan that fits your body’s needs and succeed. There is no magic “one way” plan. Today I will  share my simple strategy for success over a holiday celebration without feeling like a failure or as someone who has to be deprived in order to succeed.

  1.  Stay Hydrated. This is really the easiest thing to do and something we tend to skip over when we aren’t as focused on following a plan or being “good”, right? When you wake up every morning, holiday mornings and every other morning every day, drink at least 1/2 – 1 liter of water before you eat breakfast. Drink the water immediately as you are already dehydrated from hours of sleep and no hydrating in those hours. If you aren’t a fan of plain water, squeeze some lemon or lime juice into your water or cut up some fruit and herbs and place into a large pitcher, filled with water to create infused waters with fun flavors.
  2. Plan your meals when not at the event or celebration. If you are planning to attend a party or festivities, make sure to structure your day’s foods around the event. I like to start the day as every other day and eat my breakfast. I then plan in snacks and other meals that I’d eat normally at home in order to keep my body fueled and on track as usual. I also pre-plan what I’ll have at the event. If I don’t know what foods will be available, I will always bring something that I know I can eat if nothing else fits my needs. Obviously you’ll want to enjoy fun foods and drinks but being mindful and mentally preparing yourself for the day will only guarantee a better result.
  3. What to choose at the event. The next step is to understand exactly what to choose when you’re at the party or event. If it’s a buffet style meal, walk around the table at least 3-5 times and take note of all the available choices. There are more than likely many options of foods that you don’t even like but in our culture of indulging, we tend to just eat everything placed in front of us because we feel that’s a necessity. It’s not and stop eating what you don’t like. That’s rule #1. The next step is to fill your plate primarily with veggies and protein. Be mindful of the amount of dressings and sauces you place on your veggies or meats. Finally, choose the 2-3 options of foods that you truly love to eat. It may be foods that you don’t ordinarily allow yourself because you’re usually following a plan to eliminate high fat or high carb foods. At the event, choose your favorites and limit the choices to no more than 3 items and serve yourself a regular portion serving size. Don’t just put a dollop of mashed potatoes on your plate if you want a full serving. You’ll only leave feeling deprived and that opens up problems long after you leave the party.
  4. Eat dessert! Simply put, I love sweets and if I am at a party and there are sweets available then I’m all in! But I like to follow the rules of eating one serving size and enjoying it in public, with a fork or a spoon in front of others. Why is this so important? Because we will take our time to enjoy the foods or treats and not scarf them down mindlessly and automatically eat more in response to just getting that “fix” of the treat. Be mindful, enjoy what you love most and leave the rest for everyone else.
  5. Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 2. Yes, you can. You are an adult and have the ability to limit your alcoholic drinks (if you choose to imbibe) to no more than 2. Go ahead and have your favorites without worrying about the amount of calories, sugar, etc. If it’s something you rarely allow yourself then go ahead and enjoy it in front of others. Above all else, have dignity in yourself and your body. When you’ve reached your limit of 1-2 drinks, choose to drink something that will look like a drink and feel like a drink by pouring club soda or sparkling water into a fancy glass and spritzing with some cranberry juice or other flavor and voila…it will almost seem like you’re drinking but you’ll feel so much better in the morning. No guilt and no headache. Enough said.
Limit drinks to no more than 1-2 for the day.
Limit drinks to no more than 1-2 for the day.
  1. Get activity into your day. You don’t have to plan in a typical workout if you are in the mindset to “chill out” but make sure to schedule in more movement into these days. Take a walk with your dog, your loved ones or by yourself listening to some motivational words of wisdom on your phone. Go for a bike ride, take a hike, go for a run. Meet some friends and enjoy fun activities that feel like socializing but get your heart pumping too. It really doesn’t matter what you choose to do…just do something instead of sitting on your butt all day.

So there you have it. Simple steps anyone can do to enjoy the holidays and still wake up the following day without remorse or guilt or bloating that stops your heart. Have a healthy, fit and festive holiday! You are worth it and more!

I like to get some fun and healthy flavors into my body to feel like I'm cheating but I'm really not!
I like to get some fun and healthy flavors into my body to feel like I’m cheating but I’m really not!