Lean – Part #1 – Sleep

The transition to a plant based diet has been easier for me in many ways than I ever thought it would be.  I don’t miss eating meat and I don’t have a difficult time finding thigs to eat when I am in restaurants.  I have been enjoying cooking with beans and vegetables and am actually happy to be no longer dealing with raw meat and eggs in the kitchen.  The part that I am struggling with is coming up with a program for leaning out.

I think that there are many important factors to consider in a program that is designed reduce body fat.  Specifically, and in order of importance:

  1. DIET. Diet, diet diet.  You can not out-train a bad diet, period. 
  2. Sleep.  Your body will be unable to recover from a good workout or properly process the nutrients from a good meal without proper sleep.
  3. Strength Training.  To burn calories, build muscle and strengthen.
  4. Cardio.  The type/amount of cardio included in a fat burning program is different than that for other goals
  5. Stretching.  Another great reason to do yoga.

Today I am going to discuss #2 because it is the part of my program that has been most neglected as of late and I am making a concerted effort to improve this area immediately.  Since moving to New York, my sleep habits have been inconsistent, at best.  I have been sacrificng rest to work more, make it to more workouts, and spend more time enjoying the city.  While all of these things are important, none are more important than sleep.  While I would like to run, lift and do yoga everyday, I need to face the fact that at this point in my life, that is just not a reality.  And when I try to force it, I end up sore, tired, hungry and unhappy.  Not only does sleep allow my body to recover, it helps me to stay on track with my diet.  Any time that I get too tired and low on energy, I reach for comfort food.  My body feels drained and without the option of sleep to rejuvinate it, it tells my brain that it needs more fuel.

There are many things that I plan to do to improve my sleep.  Firstly, I am going to be conscious of what I eat prior to going to bed.  I am not a big believer in the “Don’t eat after 8:00” rule for diet purposes, but I do notice a difference in the amount of time it takes me to fall asleep when I eat right before bed.  Sometimes this can’t be avoided, after a long day at work and a late night at the office, a meal is necessary.  Other times, I have more control over my eating schedule and in those cases I am going to try to eat my last solid meal earlier in the evening and have a green juice for my last food of the day.  Not only will this hopefully help me to fall asleep faster, but I’ll feel more energetic in the morning without the extra heavy feeling that sometimes accompanies a late night meal. 

Secondly, I am going to work on my routine.  I have started making it to the gym in the mornings, which is my favorite time to workout.  While my body easily adjusts to getting up a few hours earlier, I have not been going to bed any sooner at night, which results in exhaustion by the weekend and sleeping until 8 or 9.  In order to make my sleep more regular, I need to get a solid 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night and not try to “catch up” on the weekends.

Thirdly, I am going to sleep when I am tired.  I hope that with the other changes, there will be fewer days when I am fighting myself for sleep, but on those days when I just need a few more hours, I am going to make every effort to let myself have it.  That might mean skipping a planned workout or taking a nap on the weekend, but it will hopefully just make the next day that much stronger.

Over the next few weeks I will be doing a weekly update on these 5 Pillars of fat burning as I make a concerted effort to lean out.

Yesterday’s workout: Back/Biceps/Chest (with abs)

    Exercise Sets
1 1A Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs 4
1B Dumbell Bicep Curls 4
2 2A Pushups 3
2B Captain’s Chair Leg Lifts 3
3 3A Seated Row 4
3B Weighted Bar 21s 4
3C Barbell Chest Press 4
3D Bench V-ups 4
4 4A One Leg Standing Kettlebell Row 3
4B Plank Walk  3
Cardio Stairclimber Intervals 20min
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