You Know Lack of Sleep Affects Weight Loss, Right?

sleep and weight loss

Have you said bye bye to sleeping through the night?

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

Here’s some tips to help you get back to a restful night

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re only 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!) That doesn’t mean if you’re not sleeping well you should give up exercise though because exercise can help your sleep patterns.

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.

Try not to skimp on this.  The guidelines are science based and no, you’re not that different!

So if you’re not sleeping, here are some tips to help you get a better night…

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 7 day 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-flavoured snack).  Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine (preferably in the morning) 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.
  • 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, closing all screens and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

To make it easier why not try implementing one of these at a time?  Perhaps try to go to bed 10 minutes earlier every night this week or switch off your phone, tablet or TV half an hour before you go to bed.  Then next week extend the screen free period a bit longer.

You don’t have to do it all at once but you should do it!

Coffee… Should you be drinking it or not?

Coffee is a bit of a Marmite drink - most either love it or hate it.   And it's not just the taste to consider, there's also how it makes you feel.  Not to mention the frequent headlines that say coffee is great, followed the next day by "avoid coffee it's bad for you!"

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to coffee and it comes down to your genetics and how much coffee you're used to drinking.

It's worth pointing out here the difference between coffee and caffeine.  Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. 

Also, you should know that decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.

Let's look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then we'll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

Caffeine metabolism

About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half are "fast" metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance
  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  • Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

Coffee and health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
  • Increased sleep disruption
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of certain liver diseases
  • Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality")
  • Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.

Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
  • People who often feel anxious
  • People who have trouble sleeping
  • People who are pregnant
  • Children and
  •  teens.

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

  • Give you the jitters?
  • Increase anxious feelings?
  • Affect your sleep?
  • Give you heart palpitations?
  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, why not try eliminating it for a while and see if there's a positive difference.

Exercise away your troubles and manage stress with movement

manage stress with movement

Lots of people do exercise for the physical benefits they get from it without really thinking about the mental benefits they’re also reaping.  Exercise is excellent for your mental well-being and for managing stress which is the cause of a number of health conditions and contributes to weight gain.

Stress affects the body in a number of ways. It causes the muscular system to tighten up, which is a defense mechanism to avoid injury or pain. This muscle tightening over long periods of time can cause stress headaches that are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck, and head. It also affects the respiratory system, causing you to breathe harder. This can lead to  panic attacks or even trigger asthma attacks.

When the body is stressed it produces epinephrine and cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormones.” Exercise teaches these various systems (cardiovascular, muscular, nervous, etc.) to communicate more effectively. In other words, think of exercise as a practice run for handling stress. The physical stress that you put your body through during exercise trains these systems to work more efficiently together. So when you start dealing with stress these systems are already better prepared to respond.

The American Psychological Association reported:

[Exercise] forces the body's physiological systems -- all of which are involved in the stress response -- to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system. And all of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body's communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.

Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness, increasing concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. Perhaps one of the most well-known facts about exercise is that it increases your brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins (as you may know) are the bodies “natural painkillers.” They are neurotransmitters that reduce the feeling of pain and fatigue, allowing you to continue the physical activity. These endorphins are the reason that people feel so good after a workout.

So how can you put exercise and stress relief to work for you

Here’s a few simple tips on how to manage stress with movement:

Consult with your doctor. If you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.  It might also be a good idea so start a programme where there are qualified coaches to help get started and progress safely.

Walk before you run.
Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can   lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury.  For most healthy adults, the World Health Organisation recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

Also, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week. Resistance exercise using weight puts a heavy strain on the muscles, and can produce more endorphins in a faster period of time than cardio exercise. Certain strength-training exercises produce more endorphins than others, according to Luis M. Alvidrez and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico. Multi-joint exercises that put stress on more than one joint and large amounts of muscle have been shown to produce the most endorphins during and after the workout.  Again, begin with the help of a qualified coach.

Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Trying to force yourself to do something you don’t like is only going to add to your stress levels.

Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts and keep you going long after you might have otherwise stopped.

Change up your routine. If you've always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can't fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. Interval training, which entails brief (60 to 90 seconds) bursts of intense activity at almost full effort, is being shown to be a safe, effective and efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of longer duration exercise. What's most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

Whatever you do, don't think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it's a Zumba class or a meditative meander along the riverbank — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and deal with the stresses of life.

Inspire Fitness in Chippenham know how to manage stress with movement.  Look at the range of exercise classes we offer.

Are you in pain? We might be able to help…

Ruth is now a qualified Biomechanics Method Corrective Exercise specialist which means that she can prescribe exercise programmes to help eradicate chronic pain conditions caused by malalignments and poor body mechanics following a full structural assessment.

Contact us if you’re living with chronic pain and would like to discuss whether we can help.

Whoop Whoop – 900 Workouts Eileen

Eileen achieves 900 workouts

We love it when one of our members hits a major milestone and we get to celebrate with them.

Eileen always works incredibly hard and never wastes a workout so to have done 900 is phenomenal.

Well done Eileen.

We’re waiving signing up fees for March

Name the puppy competition

During March we’re waiving signing up fees in exchange for a donation to Bath Cats & Dogs Home.  You can donate toys, towels, treats or certain types of food.

There’s also a name the puppy competition to win the gorgeous chap in the photo.

We’re delighted to be helping such a fantastic cause.

New class, ABC

Carolyn will be leading a new class on Thursday mornings to help ladies improve their balance and work on toning their arms and strengthening their core muscles.

Is your slow metabolism stopping you from losing weight?

losing weight

First of all, what is metabolism?  After all, it’s a word that we hear a lot about these days.

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.Continue reading

Are Your Food Rules Helping You?

strict diets

During Eating Disorders Awareness Week (27th Feb – 5th March 2018) I started to think about the food rules that we live by and whether they serve us well or not.

You might think that you don’t have any food rules and that you’re quite relaxed about what you eat but I bet you do. Continue reading

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