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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Be Receptive

Webster’s Dictionary defines “receptive” as the following:

re•cep•tive: adj able or inclined to receive, especially: open and responsive to ideas, impressions, or suggestions

Last night in a particularly chaotic Bikram Yoga class, I was struggling to block out my surroundings and focus on my practice.  Often, it helps me to find one thought to meditate on throughout the class and about halfway through, the teacher gave an instruction to “be receptive”.  I liked it.  It stuck with me.

Lately I have been struggling to be consistent with my diet and fitness.  I have been living and dying by the scale, day after day, allowing my mood and confidence to be determied by a number, allowing myself to be discouraged when I don’t see immediate progress.  While half of my brain is logical and knows that consistency will pay off in the long run, seeing the scale move up a pound or two kind of makes me want to eat pizza.

But if I were being receptive I would know that on days that I workout in the morning I am happier.  That running makes me more flexible for Bikram and that doing Bikram gives me more balance for running.  That when I sleep less I need less sleep.   That my skin is clearer and my mind is clearer.  That my sleep is deeper.  If I were being receptive, I would allow myself to feel strong, to appreciate my body, to find peace in my mind. 

I think that to me, being receptive means being “open and responsive” to the positive during my journey.  I am going to focus on being receptive.  Looking forward to the positive…

Thursday Things

1.  I was dragging again this morning.  I stopped at Starbucks on my way into the office to get a coffee.  Lately I have been enjoying the blonde roast and while I should have ordered a larger size, a “grande blonde” did not sound as appealing as a “tall blonde”.  I didn’t have nearly enough coffee to start my day.

2. Speaking of coffee, there is a cart on my corner where I have been purchasing my morning joe on the way to workout in the morning.  I don’t know if there is some magical cart coffee recipe or it is just so early in the morning, but it tastes spectacular.  And it is only $1!

3. My new favorite breakfast food is Brown Rice Farina.  It is cereal made from milled brown rice and takes only 5 minutes to cook.  It is creamy and delicious and extremely filling.  I have been eating it with sunflower seed butter and cinnamon.

Creamy Brown Rice Farina 

4. Remember when I was looking for ways to get my week off to a better start?  Well maybe I should consider a new soundtrack.  I love 80’s music and just reading this list of songs makes me happy.  I am adding this to my list of things to do for the weekend. 

5. The NYC marathon lottery drawing yesterday got me thinking about racing again.  Now I need to find some good races in the city.

6. And since I am going to be doing all of these races… I am going to need some new running shoes 🙂  I am considering trying out Mizunos:

Mizuno Women's Wave Musha 4 picture Aren’t they pretty?

7. Also… I’ll probably need to start training.  That is likely going to be important.  While I do think that lifting, spinning, Bikram, and other forms of cardio are important in developing speed, strength and endurance, nothing can really replace outdoor running.

8. I really want to make it to Brooklyn to get a coffee at Red Lantern.  Unfortunately, I might have missed the boat since the Times just did a piece on them which means it will be packed this weekend.  But how can I not try the multiple homemade nut milks that are served at the coffee bar?

9. I might think about coffee too much (see #1, #2, and #8)

10. Happy almost Friday!

Motivation for Monday

Sometimes, no matter how I spent my weekend or how prepared I am for the week, Mondays are just… difficult.  This morning I was slow to get out of bed and to the gym and I have been feeling quite sluggish all day.  Sometimes even coffee can’t give me quite the motivation that I need so here are some things that I am using for inspiration today:

I regularly get the emails from the Clean Eating Diet distribution and I rarely read them but today I happened to notice this Success Story and the headline caught my attention.  I have struggled with the same thing that Lesley describes in her story and continue to try to recover from a “rebound”.  I can certainly relate as I have found getting back in shape much harder this time around and it is comforting to know that I am not the only one. 

If the pictures of Monica are not impressive enough, her words really struck a chord with me.  It is incredibly inspirational to see that a plant based diet can be implemented in building and maintaining muscle.  Additionally, in the interview she suggest that readers focus on the “why” of going vegan.  I think that this is an important reminder for all people who limit or restrict their diets in one way or another.  With constant information overload on what we should and should not be eating, it is easy to lose sight of the basics.  I am going to spend some time this week thinking about why I am chosing to eat the way that I am.

It is impossible to not be energized and motivated reading about Liz‘s races.  She is even upbeat when her plans change and she can run only a half marathon.   We should all be In it to Win It 🙂

Movement today:

a.m. 30 minutes of intervals on stair climber

p.m. Bikram Yoga