sleep

Supplement Your Fitness Goals With These Diet Changes

It’s not easy sticking with fitness goals; so if you’ve managed to make it for longer than a few weeks, you should be very proud of yourself. Unfortunately, most people will stop their workout routine at this point for several reasons; they’re too busy, their enthusiasm has died down a bit, or they’re not seeing enough results to keep putting in the effort.

Regular exercise is a big step in the right direction, but sometimes it’s not enough to help your body reach peak physical health. If you’re trying to break a lifetime of bad habits; it can help to supplement your fitness goals with a few diet and lifestyle changes to boost the effectiveness of your workout.

Eat Well and at The Right Time

You’ve all heard about the importance of not skipping breakfast. However, if you prefer to do your workouts in the morning, it may be better to wait and have your healthy omelet after you’re done. If you eat breakfast immediately before exercising, not only do you risk making yourself a bit sick, but your body has to burn off what you’ve just eaten before tapping into the fat reserves that you want to burn.

Add More Protein to Your Diet

If you find that you’re still snacking as much as you used to before you began working out (even if the snacks are of the healthy variety); you might want to look into adding more protein to your diet. Protein will curb your appetite so you’re no longer snacking throughout the day, and it helps you burn fat and build muscle during your workouts. You can get your protein fix from eggs, almonds, chicken breasts, broccoli, or lean beef. You don’t need to resort to whey protein shakes unless you think they could benefit your personal workout. Try increasing your protein intake before you try other hunger suppressing supplements such as the HCGDiet.com.

Get enough sleep

Regular workouts should be helping you to sleep easier anyway, but if you’re not getting your recommended hours per night; you’re actually hurting your weight loss efforts. You could be doing everything right; balancing cardio with weight training, eating the right foods, and drinking plenty of water. But if you’re sleeping less than seven hours a night, you could, in fact, be undoing all your hard work.

Sleep deprivation disrupts your body’s ability to store insulin, which is responsible for removing fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually, this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. On a wider scale, lack of sleep reduces your motivation, which is a significant factor of people giving up on their fitness goals. You don’t want to go to the gym or for a quick run when you’re tired. You crave more sugar and caffeine when you’re sleep deprived.

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Guest Post: Healthy Sleep During Training is More Important than Getting Some Shut-Eye the Night Before Race Day

Do you really need a good night’s rest the night before a big run? The short answer is yes and no.

Of course getting adequate hours of sleep the night before a race is bound to make you feel ready to take on the world in the morning. And not getting enough sleep is bound to make you feel sluggish. But how much does healthy sleep or the lack of it really affect athletic performance?

A Single Night of Zero/Poor Sleep Has Little to No Effect on Physical Performance

Yep, you read that right. Getting healthy sleep the night before a big race isn’t actually that important for physiological endurance.

While it sounds crazy, it’s also backed by several scientific studies.

In one Dutch study, a control group of men who had healthy sleep and another group of men who had zero sleep the previous night were pitted against each other in 20-minute cycling time trials.

The healthy-sleep group clocked in an average of 7.68km during their trial. And while the researchers expected considerably lower results from the sleep-deprived group, they clocked in a near-identical average of 7.62km. Other physical measurements during the trial, particularly their average heart rate, also came out near-identical.

In another study in 2007, experts from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences analyzed a variety of existing studies on how sleep affects physical performance.

Much to their surprise, the experts found that even a few days of poor sleep translated to stable physiological markers of endurance. But while leg strength, oxygen demand at various speeds, and fatigue resistance were all unaffected by a single night of poor sleep, it was mental cognition that suffered.

And it wasn’t the first time that lack of sleep resulted in poorer mental performance.

The Brain is More Dependent on Sleep than the Rest of the Body

In a 2009 study, European researchers found evidence of decreased endurance in athletes who ran after staying awake for 30 hours. However, they also found that the 30-hour lack of sleep had a very limited effect on the test subjects’ actual cardiorespiratory/thermoregulatory function and pacing. Rather, the lowered performance was a result of their altered perception of effort.

The 11 men who were involved in this study completed 2 running trials. The first trial was after they had normal sleep. The second trial happened 7 days later, and after they were kept awake for 30 hours.

While the test subjects ran farther during the first trial, they reported feeling like they ran the same distance during the second trial. This led researchers to conclude that the decreased endurance was psychological and based mostly on their altered perception of effort (especially since they found evidence that a single night of sleep deprivation had limited effects on indicators of actual physical endurance).

Several past studies also indicate that short-term sleep deprivation can result in poorer memory, longer reaction time, and an unstable mood.

You’re certainly bound to not feel good and ready if you haven’t had enough sleep the night before a big race, but don’t let that feeling fool you. While your brain is telling you that you need sleep, your body could very well be as ready as ever to perform during race day.

If you’ve been training regularly and getting adequate sleep (at least for the past week), getting little to zero sleep the night before race day is unlikely to affect your actual physical performance and endurance.

More Sleep in General is More Important than How You Slept the Previous Night

Instead of the single night before your race, what you should really be concerned about is how you sleep on a regular basis.

In a 2011 study on Stanford basketball players, researchers found that extending sleep to 10 hours per night (for 5 to 7 weeks) resulted in increased performance metrics. They also found similar increases when the study was repeated in other sports like tennis, football, and swimming.

As Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory researcher (and study author) Cheri Mah explains, it’s not just about how you slept for one or two nights. Rather, it’s about “prioritizing sleep over the whole season.

While one night without sleep can be slightly detrimental to your endurance, there are some athletes who say that it makes no difference at all. One of these athletes is American long-distance runner Bobby Curtis, who won the NCAA title for 5,000 meters during his senior year on a somewhat irregular sleep schedule.

Curtis says that while not sleeping a few nights before the race didn’t affect his performance when he won the title, his training did suffer when he didn’t get enough sleep over the last couple weeks.

As Stanford’s Cheri Mah rightly suggests, it’s important for athletes to maintain a consistent sleep schedule that ensures they get adequate sleep.

So instead of worrying about how you’ll be too excited to sleep the night before your big race, focus on getting enough sleep during training. That’s when sleep really counts.

Why It’s Important to Listen To Your Body

Taking care of your body when you are exercising should be your top priority. Without the body there to do the job, you can’t focus your energy into what you enjoy/is good for you. From eating the right food to listening to what your body is wanting and needing, it can be a pretty tough gig to constantly follow up everything that is happening. But there are some things that you may not be noticing with your body that could be a sign of something more meaningful and important going on. Here’s why it’s important to listen to your body.

Sleep

If you’re not feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep, you probably aren’t getting the amount of hours that you need. Although the recommended is a solid 8 hours, there are few people who can actually achieve this – we wake ourselves up more so than we should by looking at our smartphones in the middle of the night to check the time, or stresses and worries can start to creep upon us. Think about when the last time you slept through solidly was. If you can’t remember, it may be time to start going to bed earlier to try and get your 8 hours in. Another cause of feeling tired and restless when you wake up is sleep apnoea. This can come in two forms – obstructive and central – and it restricts your breathing so that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen while it is trying to rest. A simple sleep test will be able to determine whether or not you have it.

Heart Health

Most people aren’t aware of their heart rate and how fast it is meant to beat – it’s usually between 60 to 100 beats per minute, with a rise considered for exercise. It can be hard to constantly keep a check of your ticker, but if you feel like it’s not working as it should be it’s time to get it checked out before it’s too late. Even an irregular heartbeat can be a sign of something more serious; atrial fibrillation, or afib for short, is a condition that is brought on by a malfunction of the electrical system to your heart. Looking up afib information online is easy and can help massively with keeping you alert to the sign and symptoms of it.

Limbs

Pain in your arms and legs during or after exercise is commonly associated with going a bit too hard on your work out, but if it’s lasting any time longer than it should (a couple of days at the most), and you are feeling completely exhausted by what you have done, it could be a sign of adrenal fatigue. The best thing you can do is head to a doctor to get diagnosed and make sure that you’re not suffering more than you should be.

What’re Your Thoughts

Taking care of your body is of the utmost important, but it’s hard to do it unless you’re really considering the signs and symptoms it is offering to you. If you’re feeling unwell or unusual, don’t consider it as a one-off – get it checked out.

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Guest Post: Is a Good Night’s Sleep Critical for a Healthy Life

The answer to that question is yes. Sleep has a very vital role in our lives and is an important requirement for our mental, physical and general well-being. It not only rejuvenates and revitalizes our body but also improves our cognitive functions and strengthens our memory. It affects your life quality plays a very crucial role in life safety.

Your day depends a lot on the quality and duration of your sleep. Your ability to work, feel and behave are all dependent on the quality and duration of your Zzzz’s. Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide(1), depression(2) and anxiety. Continuous sleep deprivation has also been linked to chronic health problems.

Weight Gain

Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can affect your satiety centre and cause you to gain weight. You are more likely to overindulge if you are sleep deprived. Getting a proper 8-hour sleep will ensure you take in fewer calories.

Productivity Issues

It is a no brainer that less sleep equals to less productivity. Not only that, sleep deprivation also causes the inability to think, react and concentrate. It affects your mood and mental health severely and may lead to poor decision-making skills.

Higher Risk of Cardiac Diseases

Patients who suffer from sleep apnea often end up having heart problems. When a person does not get the required amount of sleep, the body releases certain chemicals which keep the body from lowering its blood pressure and heart rate. If sleep deprivation becomes a regular thing, high blood pressure during the day becomes common and can easily lead to cardiovascular issues.

Risk of Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the human body is unable to break down sugar properly. This causes a starvation of your cells for energy since it is not getting energy through glucose. When the quality of your sleep is poor or you are sleep deprived, your body requires more insulin in order to maintain normal glucose levels. Sleep deprivation affects the body’s stress-control centre and causes hormonal imbalances which lead to problems in the regulation of glucose. When sleeplessness becomes a habit, the insulin producing cells stop proper functioning and give rise to elevated blood glucose levels which can cause diabetes. So, that late night chocolate cravings are not to be tended to if you want to continue eating sweet things later on in life!

Depression

Insomnia is a common occurrence among the depressed patients. People who have issues falling asleep, staying asleep or getting quality sleep are at a higher risk of developing depression as compared to those who get quality sleep(3). Sleep apnea has also been observed to cause depression.

Weak Immune System

Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality also weakens the immune system. Hence, sleep deprived individuals are more likely to catch a flu or fever. The human body produces proteins called cytokines that are released by the immune system to promote sleep. When you have an infection or inflammation or are under a lot of stress, some of these cytokines increase. Sleep deprivation causes the production of these cytokines to decrease. It also causes the infection fighting antibodies to decrease in number, thus weakening the human immune system and making the body vulnerable to common diseases.

Emotional Instability

Feeling irritated and emotionally unstable after a sleep deprived night is not uncommon. Recent studies have shown that a sleep deprived mind loses its ability to think rationally. A sleep deprived brain starts exhibiting primitive behaviour and regresses in its ability to think rationally and logically. Hence, the emotions start running amok.

Many psychiatric disorders that involve emotions are related to sleep deprivation. Abnormal patterns of sleep can cause mental instability. A good night’s sleep is very important to maintain a healthy mind and keep your emotions in check. Instead of going for anti-depressants or other drugs, go for a good night’s sleep and this may just be the simplest cure for your emotional and mental behaviour to get back to normal.

Safety!

Sleep deprivation can quite critically affect your life directly too. Sleep deprived individuals are at a higher risk for accidents on the road or at work. There have been many cases of fatal road accidents when sleep deprived individuals dozed off while driving.

The normal adults require a minimum of 8 hours sleep to lead a healthy life. Getting less than 8 hours can contribute to a great deal of physical as well as mental issues. A lot of people are not aware of the dangers of getting less sleep. They may think that they can function properly after getting only a few hours of sleep but if sleep deprivation becomes a habit, it can take its toll on the person’s health and safety in a horrible way. Your body and your immune system depend greatly on sleep. So, change into your Pj’s, turn off the lights and hit the bed for some Zzzz’s so that you can make sure you live a healthy and fuller life.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25133759
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16259539
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=16335332&ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Read Eugene’s latest post on sleep and bedroom designs.

Eugene Gabriel has his BSc (Hons.) Degree in Psychology. He has always been fascinated by the effects of good quality sleep, or the lack of it on human productivity and overall well-being. He has helped thousands of individuals suffering from sleeping problems by teaching them about the healthy changes they need to make in their lifestyle in order to sleep peacefully.

Five Seemingly Innocent Things That Could Be Seriously Damaging Your Health

There are certain things that we know aren’t good for our health, and smoking cigarettes is the perfect example. There is nobody in the Western world that doesn’t know how harmful cigarettes can be for our health; both in the long and short term. But we are all guilty of doing little things which could actually have a really terrible impact on our health and wellbeing in the long term. From maintaining high levels of stress to listening to blaring music, we put our bodies through a lot. Here are some common causes things that could be seriously damaging your health.

Using Your Laptop for too Long

Do you ever come away from your computer after a long day with a terrible headache in the front of your skull, dry eyes, or even dizziness and nausea? Staring at a backlit screen for a whole day is putting all sorts of strain on our eyes, but using a computer is something that’s quite unavoidable. Quitting your job and throwing your PC out of the window is quite a drastic response; there are plenty of things we can do to help our bodies to deal with this strain. Firstly, regular screen breaks are a must; get away from the computer, look into the long and middle distance, and try to avoid too much bright light. A walk around outside with sunglasses on for just a few minutes is perfect. It is advised that a five-minute break is taken every 60 minutes, at least. You could always invest in an anti-glare film for your screen, which stops any natural or unnatural light from reflecting on your screen, making the likeliness of eye strain and headaches lower.

Listening to Your Music too Loud

Ever had the warning from your music device that listening to loud music could be damaging to your health, and just written it off as a nag, keeping your volume blaring? It might seem that your music isn’t too loud, but when it’s projected directly into your ears for long periods; it’s surprising how little volume can do long-term and irreversible damage – somewhere around 75-85 decibels depending who you ask. If you are experiencing reduced hearing, or any sort of ringing in your ears, it’s worth popping into a hearing clinic for some advice. Problems with hearing don’t tend to just crop up overnight; they are usually the result of long-term exposure to noise above the recommended level.

Wearing Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans are a fashion staple. They suit women of almost any body shape and size, and look amazing. But actually, they could be doing our bodies a serious disservice, for more than one reason. Firstly, the tight waistband could be forcing your organs to move within your body; which could cause stomach complaints and digestive issues that last long after the jeans are off. This is especially the case if you wear skinny jeans while eating a large meal. In some cases, the tight waistband literally stops the food from being able to move properly; hindering digestion and causing all manner of discomfort.

Secondly, the tightness of the fabric around the top of the thighs can actually pinch the nerves there; especially when sitting down. This can cause a tingling feeling in the legs and feet, and over a long period of time could cause serious damage. And finally, tight jeans need to be washed more frequently. The continuous contact with skin can cause all manner of bacterial skin complaints which can be tricky to treat. If you’re a huge fan of the skinny jeans, try to avoid wearing them every day, and make sure they’ve got a bit of elasticity, especially around the tops, and just remember to keep them clean, and you should be a-okay.

Using Electronics Before Bed

In order to be happy and healthy, we need to sleep for the optimal amount each night. While this amount of time differs between people, most people can admit that they probably don’t get enough sleep. Whether it’s staying up later than we ought, or just not being able to switch off once we are in bed; many of us are suffering from some sort of sleep deficiency. A surprising but significant cause of this insomnia epidemic is the use of electronics both before bed and in the bedroom.

Electronics and screens act to energize our brains. The high amount of information we receive requires our brains to work at full throttle; which lasts long after we turn our phones off. A blackout period of at least an hour, although preferably two, before it’s time to go to sleep is a great way to convince your brain that it’s time to wind down. Use this time to catch up with your partner, read a book, or take a relaxing bath, and see how your sleep quality and energy the following day are improved.

Eating too Much Fruit

Fact or fiction: a healthy diet should mainly consist of fruit and vegetables? Well actually, it’s fiction. Vegetables yes, but fruit – less so. Most fruits are high in sugars, which are super calorific. When these calories aren’t burnt by your body, they can be stored as fats; which is probably the opposite of what you’re aiming for. On top of this, fruits which are highly acidic, such as apples and citrus fruits, could be damaging the enamel in your teeth; which can lead to cavities and tooth decay. The odd bit of fruit is fine, but make sure it’s washed down with a glass of plain water to avoid the acid staying in contact with the teeth for extended periods. And if you’re on a healthy diet, focus your meals and snacks on veggies, rather than fruit, for a lower sugar intake.

What’re Your Thoughts

Finally, don’t let things get you down. Stress and anxiety have been connected to high blood pressure and possible heart disease in the future; so keeping stress levels low is the key to a long, healthy, and happy life.

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Be Healthy Head to Toe

Mind and body both need to be kept healthy and happy in order for us to achieve our full potential. It’s true, we do need to exercise and eat nutrient-rich food to keep our bodies healthy, but we shouldn’t overlook our mental health either. These equally important parts of us, mind and body, need to work in perfect harmony and balance. Here’s how to keep yourself in tip top shape and feel positive about yourself, and be healthy head to toe!

Mental Health

Sleep

Sleeping is so important for our mental health. It’s time for us to shut off and relax before the stresses of the coming day. It’s important to be aiming for 6 to 8 hours sleep a night. Things that can affect our sleep include poor diet. If you eat too close to bed you may have trouble digesting your food. This could lead to indigestion or stomach cramps. It’s easier for our bodies to process our food when we’re up and moving rather than lying down. So try not to have a heavy meal before bed. In order to reach our potential, we need to give our bodies and brain a chance to recharge.

Brain Teasers

This may sound like a simple step that can be overlooked, but we should be pushing ourselves every day! The long-term effects of doing brain teasers can be huge. Over a period of time we could find our cognitive functions improving and have a sharper thought process. It’s easy and cheap to access brain teasers. Try online games, or buy yourself some sudoku puzzles, whatever works for you.

Physical Health

Eat a Healthy Diet

It’s such an obvious one, but it is often overlooked, despite the fact that the benefits can be huge. It’s so important to eat healthy because what we eat informs how our bodies function. Eating the right foods helps our bodies to create new cells and clear out toxins. It can also help our mental health by giving us increased energy and alertness. Finally, it can prevent the onset of heart disease and even diabetes.

Dental Health

It’s not just about getting abs, taking care of ourselves head to toe extends to our teeth too! Checkups should be a regular occurrence. Broadway Dentist has information about all the different treatments that are available out there. Just like any other part of our body, we need to keep our mouths and teeth healthy. A great smile will keep us feeling confident and positive.

Exercise

Exercise can’t be an afterthought anymore, it has to be a priority. Take fitness seriously and put your body through its paces. Whether it’s yoga or weight training, keeping our bodies fit and healthy helps us to perform to the best of our ability. If you’re new to fitness, don’t panic, start off small. Even incorporating some long walks into your week is a good way to get moving. Increase your level of exercise the more confident and comfortable you feel.

Hair Health

To be healthy head to toe you have to take notice of your hair too! Regular haircuts will keep split ends at bay whilst a good diet will keep your hair strong. Avoid using hot tongs or straighteners on hair without using a protective spray first. If your hair is looking a little lackluster there are plenty of vitamins that promise to restore shine and health to damaged hair.

What’re Your Thoughts?

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Your Mind and Body Both Need Attention: Here’s How to Get the Balance Right

There are many things you can do to improve both your mind and your body. Which is why your mind and body need attention, so don’t focus on one without also focusing on the other. If you do that, you will never be able to make the most of your life. It’s all about getting the balance between them right and taking steps that will improve them both. For some ideas for what you should do, read on.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Small Changes That Make A Big Impact On Your Health

Our lifestyles have a lot to answer for; it’s not always that easy to stay healthy and happy all of the time. The modern world has given us some great gifts that benefit our lives, but also some bad ones. Typically, we are less active than ever, and we rely a lot on technology, comfort, and ease.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Guest Post: Sleep Helps Muscle Regeneration When One is Working Out

Working out on a regular basis is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. It’s a surefire way to keep yourself physically fit, plus the fact that having a good workout routine will leave you feeling and looking fantastic doesn’t hurt either. Going to the gym every day is not an easy task. It takes an insane amount of focus and determination to be able to push your body day after day, come rain or shine. Bodybuilding amateurs, enthusiasts, and professionals dedicate their lives to this pursuit. It’s not just pumping iron once a day; it’s a lifestyle.

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Eugene Gabriel has his BSc (Hons.) Degree in Psychology. He has always been fascinated by the effects of good quality sleep, or the lack of it on human productivity and overall well-being. He has helped thousands of individuals suffering from sleeping problems by teaching them about the healthy changes they need to make in their lifestyle in order to sleep peacefully.

Everything You Need To Know About Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

One of the most important features of a healthy lifestyle is a great night’s sleep. It is super important to get enough shuteye so that you wake up feeling fresh and rejuvenated ready for another busy day of being in the office and the gym! However, it is impossible to guarantee a good night’s sleep every night. But, thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can improve your chances of getting a good nights sleep. Here are some useful tips that can help you drop off at night.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

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