Back to Basics Challenge: HABIT 3

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For the past 6 weeks, we have been working on building in life-long sustainable
healthy habits. For the first three weeks we worked on drinking water (find
those posts here, here, and here), and for the last three weeks we have worked
on moving our bodies (find those posts here, here, and here).

Today I introduce a new habit to you- SLEEP. 

This is a HARD habit. To be honest
with you, the past two habits have not been challenging for me as I mastered
these back at the beginning of my journey. But sleep, SLEEP, is a hard one. We
lead busy lives. We rush and we strive and we try to fit in way more than our
24 hours is meant to hold. And because of that, some things are pushed to the
back burner or cut out completely- sleep needs being one of them.

The truth is, you can eat really well and stick to nutritious, whole foods and
get in plenty of exercise and still not lose weight because of one thing that
is missing: SLEEP.

I know that it is easier said than done, but I also know that it’s worth
working towards. So each day I’ll give you some new information on why your
body needs rest and some tips/ideas on how to incorporate it.


Week 1, Day 1:

Sleep
matters for weight loss
. It not only affects your metabolic
functioning, but it also affects the food choices you make throughout the day.
Think back over times in your life when you were really sleep deprived (moms of
newborns I know you feel me on this one).

Now think back to the food choices you made while in this stage of life. Were
they good, healthy ones? Probably not! Numerous studies have shown that the
more sleep deprived that you are, the more ‘comfort food’ you will choose to
ingest. More specifically, SUGAR LADEN FOODS seem to be our food of choice as
well as HIGH CARB junk (both terrible for our waistlines and our hearts).

Your task for today, get out your motivation journal (if you don’t have one
yet, go back and look at habit #2 intro and week 1), and record in it your
sleep and wake times for one week. Every day this week write down the time you
lay down to go to sleep, the time you actually think you fell asleep, and the
time (or times) you woke.

Day 2:
When we don’t get enough energy from resting each night, our body will try to
get energy from other sources, namely the sugar laden junk foods I talked about
yesterday. Our bodies want to find the quickest, most accessible energy
possible, which is why we head towards sugar and carbs. As you may know,
choosing to indulge in a high sugar/high carb food feels good temporarily until
your blood sugar crashes and then you need more and more to even it out.

Your task for the day- head to bed 10 minutes earlier than normal. That’s it.
10 minutes.

Day 3:
When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, your insulin sensitivity is affected.
This is the body’s capacity to process the carbs you eat instead of storing
them as fat. By not sleeping, our insulin sensitivity can be reduced which
means you are MORE LIKELY to store food as fat, and yet still be just as hungry
after eating.
Your task for today: Don’t fall asleep watching TV, reading an electronic
device, or looking at your phone/ipad. Give yourself at least 10-20 minutes of
down time where you read a traditional book, talk with a friend/spouse, or do
some relaxation activities. Try to pay attention to if this improves how
quickly you fall asleep tonight.

Day 4:
Lack of sleep has been proven to increase inflammation in the body. That means
an increased risk of developing cardiovascular, metabolic, and
neurodegenerative diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
When our bodies rest, our bodies are able to heal, repair and renew. It matters!

Your task for today: Cut off ALL caffeine after 2 pm. See if it makes a
difference in your ability to fall asleep quicker OR to stay asleep throughout
the night.

Day 5:
Today I want you to plan ahead and try to set a reasonable bed time. Take the
time that you are supposed to wake up in the morning and then count backwards 8
hours. Once you’ve figured out what time that would be, set an alarm on your
phone for 30 minutes earlier. For example, if I had to get up at 6am, I would
count backwards and know that at 10 pm I need to be asleep. Now, count back
another 30 minutes, and set an alarm for 9:30 p.m. At 9:30, all electronic
devices should be off and I should be either reading or resting in bed trying
to settle down so that at 10:00pm, I can go to sleep.

Day 6:
How did it go last night? Did you feel any more rested when you woke? Or maybe
you had trouble falling asleep that early? Remember that each day’s tasks are
building off of one another, so it’s important that you’re doing things such as
cutting off all caffeine after 2 pm, and turning off electronic devices and the
TV at least 30 minutes before bed. Today, I want you to spend about 10 minutes
before your bedtime in prayer, stretching, or relaxation exercises. This will
signal to your body that it’s time to begin shutting down and to prepare you
for a good night’s rest.
There are some great resources you can utilize on YouTube or even apps you can
download for your smart phone that will coach you vocally through different
relaxation techniques. 

Day 7:
Did you know that your immune system relies on sleep to keep you healthy? To be
able to defend your body against foreign and harmful objects, proper amounts of
rest are required. Those that are chronically sleep deficient are more likely
to be sick and to have trouble fighting off common infections.
Today’s task: Continue each of the items from earlier this week, but add in a
new one: Set a “stop time” for work. This is a time that you pre-determine that
you will not work past. If all of your tasks/work isn’t yet done for the day,
you still set it aside and go to bed. I can promise you that even if you don’t finish
everything, you will be MORE productive the following day if you’re properly
rested.
Now go spend your 30 minutes relaxing, praying, stretching, and head to bed!

For the printable checklist for the week, you can access it here:

Here
are links to ALL previous Healthy Habits Posts:

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