Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Archive for the ‘ Sleep ’ Category

29 Aug

How to Avoid Jet Lag

Unnatural Acts: a Primal Approach to Jet Lag

One of the coolest things about being a 21st century “evolved” human is that we can travel to just about anywhere on this planet within a very short period of time and experience different cultures. All but our most recent relatives lived their entire lives never straying more than a hundred miles from their birthplace, yet we routinely hop on a jet, fly across the country or halfway around the world for a few days of travel and then return to our caves just as easily as playing a round of golf (or in my case, even more easily than golfing).

21 Aug

10 Forgotten Stress Relief Tips

There are plenty of excellent stress guides out there. Some will offer spiritual tips, while others will give you practical advice. Still others offer nutrition and fitness ideas to mitigate stress. Stress comes in many forms – relationships, work, health, hormones, momentary dilemmas, and more – and there are just as many ways to tackle it. Here’s a list of helpful stress soothers that are so simple, they’re often forgotten. They’re not ground-breaking by any means, but they work! So, while these won’t resolve major conflicts or heal a tired body, they will give you a quick mental lift. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.

17 Aug

5 Tips to Get a Great Night’s Sleep Tonight!

sleepBefore you head out, check out these tips for serene shut-eye. You’ll wake up tomorrow feeling renewed, refreshed, and ready for your weekend!

1. Eat a light dinner tonight.

Keep the portions small this evening. Going to bed on a full stomach is not healthy, and it also keeps you from getting the deepest possible sleep. You don’t have to go to bed hungry. But do not stuff yourself simply because it is now the weekend.

8 May

The Secret to Health & Longevity: Are You Following the 10/90 Rule?

I have a little saying: if you’re doing 10 things right, you’re 90 per cent of the way there.

The details are important, of course. Potatoes and broccoli are both vegetables, but the green stuff is a lot better for you. Walking and taking a kick-boxing class are both heart-pumping activities, but you’ll get a lot more out of the class. Knowing the “details” of nutrition and fitness is challenging and rewarding. Knowing the details can also be completely overwhelming at times! Just when you think you “know” something is healthy – low-fat milk, for example – along comes some health expert like yours truly who says, “Bring on the butter!” Thanks, Mark.

Today I’m going to let you in on my little 10/90 rule. If you’re doing the following 10 things, you’re already 90 per cent there. (And by there, I mean on the road to good health for many years to come.) I’m not saying the details aren’t still important – they are. The details often mean the difference between good and great. But the details change. As we continually learn more, we must constantly adjust.

So start with the 10/90.

These are my 10 healthy things, but I’d argue that if you’re doing 10 healthy anythings, you can’t help but come out ahead of the pack. Way ahead! So many people never work out, always eat processed and fast food meals, slurp soda all day and alcohol all night, never get a handle on the stressful factors in their lives, and never deal with negative issues in their lives, either. And that’s the norm.

Try 10 to be 90. (An A- ain’t too shabby.)

10. Move Daily

I work out for 45-60 minutes nearly every day. Whether it’s beach sprints or resistance training, I never skip exercise. To me, the idea of avoiding exercise is like not brushing your teeth. Gross, huh? So is not exercising. The leaner and stronger you get, the better you feel – and the longer you’ll live.

Key point: not only will you live longer, you’ll live longer without disease. The last thing I want is to be 75 on six meds and chained to a walker. So I take major action to avoid that. But even if you get out and walk for 20 minutes, or stretch every morning, some type of daily movement to get your blood flowing and your muscles lively is the right idea. The more, the better, obviously.

9. Drink to Lighten Up

I’m not talking about beer here – although that’s certainly one way to lighten up. I mean liquids that literally purify and lighten you. Water is an obvious one, but I’m not that strict about it. (I swear, I’m really not that hard core. Although I readily admit to having a hard core.*) Some days I have very little water – I just don’t bother with the “rules” of water intake. Drink when you’re thirsty. It seems to work very well for cats and dogs.

I’m also not opposed to caffeine. Coffee and tea are healthy and provide antioxidants. But whatever you do, just avoid the liquids that fatten, depress and numb you (soda, smoothies, juices, milkshakes, cocktails). Drink stuff that’s going to keep you light and refreshed.

8. Eat Green Stuff at Every Meal

I don’t care if it’s broccoli, salad, spinach, brussels sprouts or kale – if you’re eating something green at every single meal, you’re on the right track. Only about 1 in 4 Americans eat anything beside potatoes and ketchup on a daily basis, so if you commit to ruthlessly slaughtering plants as a way of life, you’re going to be healthier than just about everyone. Far more important than how many meals you eat, or when, or how much, is eating green stuff every time. It’s easy to keep calories low and blood sugar in check if you do this.

7. Hey, Meatasaurus: Choose Your Protein Wisely

Clean, lean…cruel? It’s up to you and your personal level of comfort. I recently wrote about the trouble with meat of all kinds. Everyone has to find their own fit when it comes to clean, lean, cruelty-free protein sources, but one thing that applies to everyone is this: avoid processed protein. The backbone of the American diet – bacon, pepperoni, sausage, ham, hamburger meat, deli meat – is also a very effective nail in the coffin. (Note: soy is also a processed protein.) This is by far one of the most important aspects of health. Processed meat and excellent health don’t go together. Ever.

6. Don’t Eat Processed Foods

This could easily be rules 9 through 1. Move daily and avoid processed foods, and you’re literally doing what the vast majority of Americans don’t do.

I always say (along with every self-help guru) that doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. People waste their lives waiting to live. They hope to be healthy, they dream of better bodies, they wish for greater health, they itch for fulfillment. But they don’t make changes. Insanity.

A good rule of thumb is to look around at what people usually do, and do the opposite. Americans eat processed foods. Wanna be healthy? Don’t eat processed foods.

5. Have Fun!

Yesterday I made a quick case for the need to party. It’s vitally important to good health. Go have fun! Cheerful people are healthier. Simply enjoying your life will cover a multitude of forgotten antioxidant smoothies and canceled appointments with the therapist.

4. Love Somebody (you)

Whether it’s a pet, your kids, your spouse, your best friend or your parents, make sure to foster loving, trusting relationships. At the end of your life, what’s more meaningful: knowing you shared love and made the most of life, or sitting around with a big pile of stuff? Take care of your body and your spirit so that you can really make the most of your relationships for years to come. That’s what life is all about, and it’s why we want health to begin with. Love doesn’t hurt, right? Love is the exact opposite of hurt. But we get used to hurting ourselves, and it spreads. There’s very little love anywhere, if you think about it. Look around – most people are hurting, not loving.

If you’re hurting yourself (not loving yourself) by being unhealthy in some way, how can you ever expect to experience love with anyone?

3. Find a Pillow You Can Drool On

I’m not really a big fan of the whole 8 hours of shut-eye rule. What’s more important is the quality of sleep. Invest in a bed and a pillow you look forward to crashing into every night. I’d rather spend 100 bucks on a great pillow than on a pair of jeans. This is one of those things I’d even recommend using a credit card for. Normally, I don’t advocate spending beyond your means, but 6 or 7 hours of quality sleep every night (or 8, if you can) will add years to your life and keep the wrinkles at bay.

2. Be the Boss: Let Things Go

You are in charge of your soul – no one else. How are you going to care for it? One of the most important things you can do to ensure longevity and good health is to trust yourself enough to let things go. (Sounds weird at first, but think about it.)

For one thing, studies actually show that moving on makes you live longer. But “moving on” isn’t about repressing emotions (unhealthy) or playing “tough guy” with yourself (denial). Bad things happen and it takes time to grieve them and work through all sorts of negative emotions. By all means, give yourself all the time you need. You’ll know when it’s time to let go (and don’t beat yourself up if you take longer than others). You’re the boss, after all!

“Fidelity to self” is a maxim I live by (thanks, Marcus Aurelius). Have faith in yourself in all things, and moving on will be possible. In fact, I think that this is the only way to move on and get the most from life. If you give your personal authority over to others – even experts and those with good intentions – it will be much harder to let go and move on.

I believe that many times we “get stuck” in the wake of something negative because we’re not trusting ourselves enough to lead ourselves out of it – we submit that power to someone else. When you make yourself C.E.O., your soul becomes free, and the bad stuff just dissipates in its proper time, as it should. But most people never do this, because it takes a massive leap of faith. We’re conditioned to cheat on ourselves, essentially, by giving our personal authority to others. As the soul dies, so goes the body.

1. Bad stuff happens. Rejoice!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – was it Nietzsche who first said this? It’s really true. You all know that I am a big believer in reducing stress. Whether from the inflammatory free radicals in processed foods, the pollution and noise in our environment, or the fast-paced nature of our lives, stress is stress. Aging is essentially stress. That said, a little stress is actually good for you. Think of how we prune rosebushes and trees every year, only to see them grow back fuller and stronger. When you get pruned by life, realize that it’s an opportunity to grow. You’ll be stronger for it.

So there you have it. The 10/90 plan for a healthy, long life. It’s not too hard, is it? Move around, eat green stuff, drink liquids, don’t eat processed stuff, have fun, love somebody (start on yourself), spend some quality time with your pillow, be your own boss, and be glad that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

What do you think?

Previous Tuesday 10 Posts

* Bad fitness joke (guilty as charged)

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 Apr

10 Ways to Get an Extra Hour of Sleep

Just…ten…more….minutes. Sound familiar? Many of us are sleep-deprived, groaning through another morning with coffee and those annoyingly peppy news anchors just to get to a reasonable state of functionality. We skip breakfast, practically assault the snooze button, shave or apply makeup in the car (we’ve all seen it!) – just to get a few precious minutes of “extra” sleep. Clearly, that “extra” sleep isn’t extra at all. You probably need it! Here’s how to get it.

10. Tivo your shows.

For a few extra dollars a month, you can watch your favorite programs when it’s convenient for you.

9. Unplug the TV.

Better yet. Unplug the TV except on weekends or other scheduled days. TV disrupts good brain patterns, is subtly stressful to your body, and can keep you up too late. Especially avoid the evening news, which is usually focused on anxiety-inducing topics that are anything but peaceful. TV left on all night as a comfort actually disrupts good sleep and the production of growth hormone, so skip that, too.

8. Unplug the alarm clock.

For many people, the knowledge that the clock will blare all too soon is enough to prevent deep sleep. Do you find yourself waking constantly to check the time? The alarm clock can create anxiety and snooze-buttonitis. Try going to bed early enough to wake naturally at the desired time. Or, try simply trusting yourself – if you tell yourself you need to wake at a certain time, you usually will. This really works for many people – but I don’t recommend this for catching those early morning flights! Our bodies quickly adjust to waking at certain times. If you are at odds with the alarm, that’s a good indication that you need a different sleep cycle.

Another option: talk to your boss about a slightly different work schedule that accommodates your health needs. Be willing to part with some other benefits if a different schedule means a lot to you. (Although, ideally, your boss will understand that flexibility on his/her part will only increase your productivity. Good luck.)

7. Give yourself a “worry time” that is not near bedtime.

People often find themselves worrying or pondering obsessively about their day or upcoming tasks as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Allot a different time, such as a brief period after lunch, for worrying and pondering. Or write down everything before you get into bed. The beauty of this is that by giving yourself a specific, non-bedtime “Fret Fix” you begin to see how silly and needless worrying really is – it’s a great little cure for worrying and stressing in general.

6. Siesta!

If you lunch is an hour, consider napping for half of it from now on. Or take a nap after lunch and work a little bit later each day. This will refresh you enough so that you may not need extra sleep at night.

5. Enforce a strict bedtime rule.

You might just need to go to bed earlier. Whenever you go to bed, make it a rule. There will be times you don’t follow it, of course, but try to get into a regular sleep pattern. Give yourself a little extra time to get relaxed and sleepy – this shouldn’t count into your seven or eight hours.

4. Unplug the phone.

Cut out any possible interruptions that may interfere repeatedly with your sleep.

3. Wear earplugs.

This works wonders! If you are a light sleeper or are sensitive in general, reducing the effectiveness of one of your senses can be more powerful than sleeping pills. Sleeping more soundly through the night isn’t technically “adding” an hour, but it will feel like it.

2. Do you wake up really early from stress

…and then just lie there? Take steps right now to address your anxiety:

- Journal before bed

-Tell yourself, confidently, that you will have a good night’s sleep

- Remind yourself that it’s really okay if you don’t have a good night’s sleep

- Try ten minutes of stretching, a cup of chamomile tea, or a twenty-minute hot bath to help ease stress.

1. Simply grin and bear it?

Learn to get by on less sleep with positive rather than negative tools. Instead of forcing your eyelids open by way of a morning blazing hot shower and endless cups of coffee, get energy from other sources, such as more nutritionally dense foods (protein and fat), daily vigorous exercise (just 15 minutes is all you need), and listening to upbeat music.

Here’s one way to wake up:

How many alarm clocks do YOU need?

Afternoon Naps

How do you get a good night’s sleep? Share your tips!

Like this article? Digg it!

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple