Seems too good to be true, right? But it’s not. The best way to improve performance in the gym, on the field, or in life is free: 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Simple, yet only 60% of Americans are getting the minimum 7 hours. From hectic work schedules, to late night homework after practice or workouts, sleep seems to be the last priority of our nightly routine.
The negative effects on the body from sleep deprivation range from the central nervous system to the endocrine system. The immune, respiratory, digestive, and cardiovascular systems decrease in performance with lack of sleep as well. However, your brain may be the biggest “loser” from staying up too late. For example, during deep sleep (stage 3) your brain “reviews” the memories and things you learned during the past day, organizing and cementing them to become long-term memories. Simply put, more sleep = better memories and increased learning!
These negative affects carry over to the field/court/track as well. One study done on 24-year-old healthy males showed a 10-15% decrease in testosterone production after just 8 nights of getting less than 5 hours of sleep. Another study done on 10 males showed that aerobic performance decreased 11.8% after just ONE night of no sleep, and a 4.1% decrease after one night of 4 hours of sleep. Add that to the list of other negative effects, and performance suffers tremendously.
Sleep experts suggest a cold, pitch-dark room to get your best sleep in. Putting electronics away an hour before bedtime is another way to guarantee you falling asleep faster than ever. Electronics emit blue light, which in turn sends signals to our brain to stay awake and alert. As it gets darker earlier, try to start making sleep a priority. Whatever you have to do, get your sleep!
Three platters are not enough; three platters are never enough for a day of feasting. Three slices of cake are not enough; three slices of cake are never enough for Christmas. Three bottles of wine are not enough; three bottles of wine are never enough for New Years.
Despite what you may have heard, the average person does not gain 10 pounds over the holidays, in reality, the number is more like 1-2 pounds. But don’t celebrate with confetti and jump for joy just yet. These subtle increases in weight can be dangerous. Do the math: 2 x 5 =10. That is 10 pounds added in 5 years, and that’s not including the other ten months of the year. So, maybe it wouldn’t be wise to eat whatever you laid your eyes on, and maybe it would be wise to act as if the myths—the average person gains 10 pounds—were true.
So, this leads me to my question, how can the compound poundage be avoided?
- Stick to your New Year’s resolution. Every gym is packed the second day of the first month of the year, and it seems like every gym is vacant before the second day of the third month of the year. If compound poundage is a concern, please stay consistent. Even if the “meat head” dropping the weight and snorting pre-workout appears a little intimidating; even if maneuvering through the gym can feel like an avalanche, do something. Run on the treadmill; walk on the treadmill, remember, doing something is better than nothing. Stick to it!
- Eat slower, this is probably my favorite one. The best thing about eating slower is that it gives your body time to recognize that it is full. It takes approximately twenty minutes from the beginning of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety. Leptin, the satiety hormone, inhibits hunger and is the reason why the cake at the dinner table looks so unappealing after 40 minutes of munching.
- Always keep a cup of water in close proximity. If it’s a safe ploy for restaurants to use to keep customers full, why not use it? Water is the most healthy appetite suppressant. So consume in abundance, no need to worry about getting fat—yes, ladies, no need to worry about getting fat. If struggling to compress that appetite, grab a bottle of water.
Keep these valuable tips in mind throughout the holidays, and most importantly, enjoy your family and friends.
Engage, Transform, Inspire!
Unless you been living under a literal rock for the past 20 years, you are probably aware there is an obesity epidemic in the United States of America. Health costs are soaring, obesity-related diseases are on the rise, and even our children are affected.
According to the most recent studies, the U.S. spends a ridiculous $190.2 BILLION per year on obesity related illnesses – a full 21% of all medical spending in the US. Child obesity accounts for 14 billion per year. The trend, alarmingly, is not slowing down. if things continue as they are, the expected outlay for medical expenses with be $549.5 billion. Being obese or morbidly obese is just the tip of the iceberg though! We have sacrificed our health for convenience. At this point, more than 50% of adults are overweight. More than half.
So what is the answer?
The same answer we always give: Eat right and exercise. That’s literally it! It may takes some time, but it works.
If you are lost and need help, come join us at Fitness 4 All – every new member gets a free assessment with a personal trainer that will guide you through nutrition, your strengths and weaknesses, and the things you can do to transform your life for the better.
As part of its 160-year mission to improve the health and overall well-being of the communities it serves, Mercy is pleased to announce a unique new partnership between its Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Program and Fitness 4 All, a local organization focused on taking athletes and teams to the next level by providing sport-specific strength training and conditioning services for every type of athlete.