Of all the weight loss tips I’ve given thus far, this one might be the most surprising. I mean who would have thought that technically doing ‘nothing’ could actually mean shedding unnecessary pounds?
When most of us think of ways to get the scale to be a little nicer to us, it usually equates to adding more to our already overdone/overscheduled to do list: Exercise more/longer; change up the diet or hop on the newest food bandwagon; get more rest; think better thoughts and on and on. But what if I told you that while (some of) these things are all good and well, they may not necessarily be in the right order?
Oddly enough, one of the most important things you can do to help your body shed unwanted weight is develop a regular sleep schedule. Getting your fanny to bed at a decent time at about the same time nightly really and truly does do a body good.
According to research—and these types of studies have been done over and over again, essentially showing the same results—changing your sleep habits so that you develop a regular sleep schedule can actually equate to a lower percentage of body fat.
One such study done at Brigham Young University showed that:
- Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day (particularly a consistent wake time) was most strongly linked with lower body fat. In fact, staying up late and sleeping in may actually do more harm than good.
- Getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep and more than 8.5 hours of sleep was linked to higher body fat
- High quality sleep was associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat
The importance of sleep reminds me of just how desperate I was for it not long ago. After Naomi was born, I remember feeling so out of it and almost sick to my stomach at times when I would only get a few hours of sleep nightly. Let me tell you that at that point in time, exercise was one of the farthest (and I mean farthest!) things from my mind. I learned the hard way several years ago that attempting to workout while being totally exhausted would not be a great idea and could even cause any hopes of losing the baby weight to come to a screeching halt.
Instead, I spent my days keeping things in perspective—as in my house was a mess but I could have cared less—keeping my thoughts positive, eating as well as I possibly could without overwhelming myself and taking as many naps as was humanly possible.
Going through this process solidified what I already knew to be true: If you’re not well “nourished” mentally and physically or well rested, most attempts at intense exercise are going to backfire. In fact I’ll even go out on a limb here and say that getting just a few chaotic hours of sleep nightly and then expecting your body to go 90 miles an hour at the gym is not only ridiculously hard on your body, but pretty counterproductive as well.
What exactly am I suggesting then? Well for starters, it’s probably high time for a reality check with your daily routine to see what kind of shape it’s in, no pun intended. If you’re not sleeping well at night but trying to force your body to workout every day, you might need to take a step back and evaluate if you’re even benefiting from your efforts. I know from past experience that being overweight is no fun at all. However there comes a time when you need to take a good, long look at the season of life you’re currently in and evaluate whether or not your schedule/routine is working for or against you.
So if I had to give some kind of order as to how things should get prioritized, it would look something like this:
- Get rid of negative/toxic thinking and change your perspective
- Eat real, nourishing food you can pronounce and that your great grandmother would have eaten
- Get somewhere between 7-8 hours of “patterned” sleep nightly
- Work out in a manner that is feasible for the current season of life you’re in
Take some time to evaluate where you’re currently at. Do you feel vibrant and full of life or are you barely dragging yourself out of bed each morning? If it’s the latter, is it due to the fact that your body isn’t getting the kind of quality rest it so desperately needs? Start treating your body right and it will give you what you want in return: a sound mind, great health and plenty of energy to reach your fullest potential.
So get to bed at a decent time and develop a consistent sleep pattern. You never know…it just might change your life!