There are two questions I ask about when people inquire about getting in shape or losing weight.
“Are you drinking enough water and staying hydrated?”
“Are you getting enough quality sleep?”
Sleep is vital in so many ways (see blog on sleep), but as we get older, we tend to assume we can get by on less– while at the same time falling asleep and staying asleep become challenges.  Those blue screens from our TVs, iPads, electronic readers and phones are wreaking havoc with falling asleep for young and old. To help you look good, feel good, and maintain good weight and hormone levels, try these steps to increase the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep, EVERY night.
1. Try to keep a consistent sleep routine. This means going to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Keeping the “status quo” routine will train you to fall asleep more easily and wake up more refreshed.
2. No TV or electronic media use in bed! Use the bed only for sleep and sex.  Try to keep the bed for sleep ‘n sex! Also, improve your sleep surroundings so electronics are OFF and the environment is quiet, dark and free of clutter.
3. Watch the timing on caffeine intake, especially after 2:00 PM. Even a single cup of coffee or tea in the morning means a sleepless night for some folks.
4. MOVE!  Getting physical especially with walking, running, or swimming provides three important sleep benefits like falling asleep faster, achieving a higher % of restorative deep sleep, and staying asleep during the night. Watch the time you work out, however, because exercising too late causes physiological changes that might interfere with your sleep.
5. Avoid excessive napping. Plain and simple, long naps can disrupt your natural sleep cycle. A short nap can be wonderful, but sleeping an hour or longer during the day might keep you up at night.
6. If you smoke or chew, now is a good time to STOP. Tobacco & nicotine speed up your heart rate, raise blood pressure, and stimulate fast brainwave activity that keeps you awake.
Along those lines, use alcohol cautiously. I agree a glass of pinot can be relaxing…but, the effects disappear after a few hours and might cause frequent awakenings.
7. Give in. If you are tossing still after 20 minutes in bed, get out of bed and read awhile to help you relax.
8. Check the temp. Keep the bedroom at a constant, comfortable temperature, and avoid getting over heated.
Want to optimize your life? Improve the quality and quantity of your sleep at night. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference to your nightly rest. And THAT will help you be more productive, mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long.
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Until next time, choose fit. Be happy.  
What have you got to gain?
~Lisa    
 

 

If you read last week’s blog, you probably did the same math I did….and  probably thinking like Scoobie Doo, “Ruh-roh!” But, all is not lost and you CAN eat out successfully. Like any successful goah achievement, however, you have to plan.

When you know you’re going to eat out, consider better food choices you can make that day. You might plan a lighter lunch if you’ll eat out at dinner. Try not to skip meals because low blood sugar might encourage overindulging later. Most importantly, don’t show up at the restaurant starving. If you really want to splurge on a higher calorie entrée, by all means, skip dessert. Commit to sticking to your plan once you’re in the restaurant. And try to avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. Those are very difficult to combat mentally when the “value” proposition teases us into thinking we need to eat more. Because buffets really test my control, I just avoid them.

Your Attack Plan

If eating out, you might try some of the strategies below:

  • Don’t forget “portion distortion”! We have been brainwashed into thinking portions should be larger–and food often comes in multi-serving sizes. So order regular portion sizes instead of the jumbo or super sizes that are so common. Ask for a smaller size.
  • Try an appetizer, half an entrée, or share a meal with a friend and order an extra side salad. This is also a money saver!
  • Ask if you can make healthy substitutions, for instance, a baked potato instead of fries, or a salad or fresh fruit instead of coleslaw. Ordering ala carte is a good idea also—and always ask what healthy substitutions are available. Most restaurants want you to come back.
  • Ask for half your entrée to be wrapped up to go before the food is brought to the table.
  • Learn to spot which dishes are made with lower calorie cooking methods.
  • Ask how dishes are prepared and if they can do it your way by either grilling the chicken or steaming the vegetables.
  • Always request that sauces and dressings be provided on the side.
  • Don’t tempt yourself! Have the waiter remove the bowl of chips or peanuts, or the basket of bread. (Personally, I can’t sit in front of a bowl of chips and not eat them.) Calories from mindless nibbling can add up before you know it.
  • Don’t sit near the dessert cart!
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol is high calorie. It contains few nutrients and weakens your will power.

You can do it! Be strong & plan ahead.

Till next time, LIVE fit. Be happy.

A recent study of our US dining habits by the American Cancer Society took a look at 12k adults over a 7 year period. According to the study, we eat out an average of 2X a week, taking in an extra 200 calories…and the quality of those calories is more saturate fat, sugar and sodium.

Their lead researcher Binh Nguyen, PhD, said “If you eat out 2 days per week and do not exercise or reduce intake during the day, the additional caloric intake is about 20,000 calories per year, the equivalent of about 6 pounds annually.”

Yikes. Ok, I am an analyst by day, so I immediately  started doing more  scenarios…what if we eat out 3X a week, or 5X a week, or more..? You get the picture. Scary huh? Couple that with significantly more sedentary lifestyles (sitting is the new “smoking”) and it’s no wonder we have the health challenges we do.

Now, you can eat out and still eat healthy, but it will take a little planning in advance. Try these simple strategies:

Before you head out, look up the restaurant’s menu online. Most have calorie counts for better decision making. Just remember, many calorie totals exclude salad dressings and other toppings.
If you can’t get calorie counts, keep an eye out for lower fat options like clear, broth-based soups or spinach salads with the dressing on the side. With entrees, go for grilled, broiled, or steamed vs. fried. You can always ask your waiter for healthier options and most restaurants will work with you on adjustments. (high maintenance ordering as my kids like to tease!)
Remember portion distortion. Most entrees will serve 2-3 people! Split your meal AND save a buck. This works even better with desserts…if you must indulge in the chocolate cake (Lisa), get a spoon for everyone at the table!

 

Be fit, live well, laugh often.