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Archive for the ‘ The Tuesday 10 ’ Category

22 May

10 Sure Ways to Sabotage Your Weight Loss

The Tuesday 10

Want to derail a diet or perennially perch on the pound plateau? It’s easy – just be sure to do one or more of the following:

10. Drink Alcohol – lots of it!

Ketosis, schmosis. Cutting out refined carbs and empty calories will definitely help you peel off those pounds, but it will be much harder if you’re drinking more than one (ladies) or two (dudes) alcoholic beverages daily. To speed weight loss and love your liver, do not drink empty calories.

9. Drink Soda – but especially diet soda!

Drinking empty calories will quickly quell any weight loss attempt. But even diet soda is a bad idea, because it makes you awfully puffy. Aside from the water retention, studies show that diet soda actually contributes to weight gain, likely because it increases cravings for sugar and calories.

8. Chow Corn

Part of weight loss means eating more veggies. Like corn, right? No! Corn is not a vegetable. Repeat, corn is not a vegetable! Somehow this sugary grain got lumped into the veggie category, but rabbit food it’s not. Avoid all things corn – corn syrup, corn oil, corn starch – and you’ll reap major rewards for your health and your hips.

7. Pick Potatoes

Mark takes potatoes personally. It’s not hard to see why – these ridiculous spuds are a starch disaster. What little nutrition potatoes offer is wrapped up in the skins, and how many of us eat the skins? You’re better off avoiding America’s #1 “vegetable”. It’s not a vegetable, it’s a tuber.

6. Eat late at night!

Eating late at night won’t necessarily obliterate your metabolism, but few of us are ever truly in need of anything edible after dinner. The exception is if you work out late and want to enjoy a glass of water and a piece of fruit (or handful of nuts) post-gym. Usually, nighttime eating is more about cravings than caloric needs, and it will quickly destroy all the good choices you made during the day. If you must snack, have the aforementioned piece of fruit – or Elliott’s and my favorite, a small spoonful of peanut butter (sugar- and salt-free). Bonus: PB helps you get to sleep.

5. Skip breakfast!

Mark’s not a breakfast-beater, and in general, we don’t believe in adhering religiously to mainstream health “rules” until they’ve been critically examined. Eat when you’re hungry – this seems to work pretty well. That said, just a bit of fuel in the morning is necessary to get your metabolism roaring and wake up your brain. (Eating an apple is as effective as a cup of coffee for making you feel alert, by the way!) Just 100-200 calories is sufficient, so if you despite a.m. eating, at least have a piece of fruit, turkey, or cheese.

4. Eat the same every day.

While it’s not essential to worship at the alter of variety, eating the same meals over and over, at the same exact time of day, can cause a weight loss rut. Sometimes all you need to break out of a diet ditch is a well-planned shock to your metabolism. Humans evolved to accommodate fluctuations in meal sizes and types. Depending on what was in season, the location, and the needs of the group, humans often feasted one day and fasted the next. Frequently, humans ate the same few foods for days or weeks on end. I’m not suggesting you try this out, but it’s not a bad idea to “reset” your system every two weeks or so with a next-to-nothing day, a major-meals day, or a totally-different-food day.

3. Eat once a day.

We all know what happens when you do this. Still, it’s all too common.

2. Go more than 48 hours between workouts.

Wait, I have to work out? Yes, you do! And not only that, you need to keep your metabolism firing by working out every day. You can lose weight by working out less, but you’ll have to eat a lot less, and it can take a lot longer. Working out daily – for as little as 20 minutes – will keep your system hungry and turn you into a calorie-annihilating machine. Don’t believe me? Try it. (Also, if you’re new to working out it will be so much easier to turn it into a habit if you just make yourself do it daily. Soon you’ll crave exercise, I promise.)

1. What do you think is the major saboteur of weight loss? Let’s talk about it!

More Tuesday 10′s

Gems from Mark & the Bees

P.S. You can read about my own successful health & weight loss adventure at Calorie Lab and Livin’ La Vida Low Carb. I’ve learned so much about living a healthy, fit, lean lifestyle from Mark, and I know you will, too!

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!

15 May

Top 10 Best & Worst Protein Sources (vegetarians take note)

steakYesterday, I discussed protein a little bit, and it’s such an important topic that I think it deserves its own Tuesday 10 (Read all Tuesday 10 columns here).

In all the debates this year about sugar (carbohydrates) and hydrogenated oil (fat), we forget that protein warrants consideration as well. The wrong proteins in the diet will quickly sabotage optimal health.

It helps to understand that protein is a macronutrient. What we call “protein” is, in fact, a family of amino acid molecules. When grouped together in various combinations we get proteins. There’s no protein molecule hanging out in that hamburger; rather, the animal tissue is made of many different amino acid building blocks. Protein is just a catch-all term we use. This is why vegetarians won’t keel over as people once feared. However, that doesn’t validate the popular myth that plant protein is equivalent or even superior to animal protein. Plant protein and animal protein is not equivalent, for several reasons:

  • Animal protein is more complete and contains more essential amino acids – the amino acids we can’t synthesize in our bodies and thus require in our diets for optimal health – than plant protein.
  • Contrary to popular belief, dietary animal protein is consistently associated with greater bone mineral density and fewer bone fractures (PDF), while dietary plant protein is associated with lower bone mineral density. Animal protein may increase calcium excretion, but it increases calcium absorption to a greater degree, resulting in a net positive effect on bone health.
  • Plant proteins often come with plant toxins, while animal protein is generally harmless. That’s probably why plant protein consumption has been linked to increased disease risk and animal protein consumption has little to no effect. Heck, the plant proteins often are toxins themselves, as with the case of wheat gluten.
  • It takes more calories to get adequate amounts of protein on a vegetarian diet. Living on beans and tofu increases the amount of carbohydrates in one’s diet significantly (and unnecessarily).

I hope no one believes that anymore.

Here are my ten ideal sources of protein, and their popular but inferior counterparts.

1. Winner: Grass-Fed Beef

Loser: Grain-Fed Beef

The average cow is raised on cheap grain that will kill it after about six months (they’re conveniently slaughtered before this happens – but not always). Hardly something I want to put in my body. Grass-fed, organic beef won’t make the vegetarians happy, but this beef is rich in beneficial fatty acids that are missing from the factory-raised cattle. It’s cleaner, healthier, more flavorful, and richer in nutrients. And grass-fed beef is typically raised in humane conditions. If you eat beef and can get your hands on it, grass-fed is a must. It’s getting quite easy to find these days, but you can order online from many outlets as well.

2. Winner: Pastured Chicken

Loser: Regular frozen chicken

No comparison. Did you know chicken has flavor? Yeah, bizarre, I know. Chicken raised properly on pasture and allowed to eat bugs and grasses (not shoved by the cluckload into dirty factories) is rich in EFAs and is one of the best sources of protein available. Also, if you cover a whole one in salt, pepper, and garlic, stuff it full of herbs, rub it down with grass-fed butter or olive oil, and place it in a preheated oven, you’ve got one of the greatest dinners in the history of the world.

3. Winner: Wild Salmon

Salmon 4Loser: farmed salmon

Fish is healthy, right? Don’t even bother patting yourself on the back for eating salmon if it’s from a farm. Farmed salmon is produced in a way that’s the seaside equivalent of a chicken factory. As a result, the fish are often sick and infected. They’re fed cheap feed that does not yield the desirable omega-3-rich flesh. They’re miserable and full of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Stick with wild only. Most restaurants use farmed salmon, so you have to get a little aggressive about this.

Notice a trend here with my emphasis on good fats in protein foods? Source makes a huge difference in the quality of protein you get. Meat is – or was – a very valuable food because it’s so dense in nutritious fat and protein. What an efficient, rich source of energy! Helpfully, our modern factories have eliminated the nutritional value and left us with weak, flabby, carcinogenic, diseased patties and drumsticks. Hey, thanks, guys. (Although we consumers don’t get off easy: maybe if we ate less…)

4. Winner: Tuna

Loser: fish sticks and popcorn shrimp

I don’t think I need to go into this one.

5. Winner: Pastured Eggs

Loser: egg substitute and/or regular eggs

If eggs were meant to be eaten as mechanically-separated, low-fat, chemically-altered whites in a carton, the chickens would have done it by now. But an egg is a chick in the making. It’s rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins, and – for the calories – a lot of protein. Doubly so if your eggs come from pastured hens. Things like Egg Beaters are the result of food manufacturers exploiting fears based on grossly inaccurate health information. There’s nothing healthy about such unnatural products.

6. Winner: Greek Yogurt

Loser: Low-fat, sugar-sweetened yogurt

No comparison. The Greek stuff is richer, fattier, more nutritious and lower in sugar. Again, when choosing an animal protein source, choose one that also provides valuable fats to maximize nutrition. Don’t go for the conventional animal products that are high in chemicals, hormones, bad fats, and sugars. Yogurt isn’t a staple of my diet, but if I eat it it’s certainly not a plastic cup of sugar-infused strawberry dessert.

7. Winner: Shellfish

oysters2Loser: Deep-fried and breaded clams and oysters

When anthropologists search ancient human coastal settlements, they invariably find piles and piles of discarded shells. Our ancestors weren’t gathering shellfish to make jewelry. They weren’t hoarding pearls. They were gathering them because shellfish, including clams, oysters, mussels, and snails, are sources of animal protein that also happen to be full of iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, omega-3s, and other marine nutrients that we need to thrive. And, since farmed shellfish are raised just like wild shellfish – in the ocean feeding off microscopic lifeforms – without any junk food input from humans, farmed shellfish are just as good as wild. Limit or avoid shellfish farmed in China, however, as the waters there run a little more polluted than other waters.

8. Winner: Whey Protein Isolate

Loser: Whey Protein Concentrate

I know, I know – I just got done saying how important it is to eat whole food protein that comes with other nutrients. So what the heck is whey protein isolate, a processed protein powder that’s anything but “real, whole food,” doing on this list? Ultimately, I’m about results. I’m about food with proven health benefits as shown through science, and the body of literature supporting whey protein isolate as a worthy source of protein is impossible to ignore:

Since whey protein isolate is higher in protein (the stuff that’s giving all the health benefits) than whey protein concentrate, eat the former if you can get it.

9. Winner: Liver (from grass-fed or pastured animals)

Loser: Tofu

Though it’s known primarily as nature’s multivitamin because it contains ample amounts of vitamin A (important for bone health and testosterone production), copper (important for heart health), choline (important for liver health), folate (important for brain and fetal health), and B-vitamins (important for almost everything), people tend to forget that liver is a rich source of protein, too. It might look weird to compare it to tofu, but since nothing else really compares to liver – and tofu is really easy and really fun to pick on – I went with the soy-based meat alternative.

10. What’s your favorite protein source?

Give me a shout, Apples. What protein do you favor? What have I left out? (To comment, simply click on Comments below to log in to the blog forum, or proceed directly to the forum.)

Note: “Cows’ milk is for baby cows,” the saying goes. You’ll notice I left cheese and milk out of this list. While I like a good aged gouda, I wanted to make this list as all-inclusive as possible – and potentially allergenic dairy proteins are not suitable for everyone. Raw dairy is healthy and enjoyable for many people who can tolerate it, but generally, I think quality meat works better for more people than quality milk. Cheese, the fermentation of which denatures some of the problematic components while increasing beneficial nutrients, is generally better tolerated than milk, especially aged cheeses like gouda. Cream and butter are fine in cooking (or coffee), because I don’t fear saturated fat, but I am concerned about folks who substitute nutritious meat with highly-processed cheese.

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!

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!

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1 May

Sergeant Pepper

This week’s Tuesday 10 is in response to junior apple Tricia, who emailed me yesterday with the following question:

“Mark, I have heard that spicy foods can prevent cancer. Is this true? Does this mean things like salsa, or curries? And what about heartburn?”

Great questions, Trish! “Spicy foods” do indeed help prevent cancer. I’m not making that up. (For the research-hungry, check out these must-reads: this study, this site, this article and this blogger’s take).

“Spices” – specifically, we’re talking about capsicum plants like chili peppers – also have important cardiovascular benefits. Junior Apple Steve saw his heart rate and blood pressure drop after he switched from using black pepper to cayenne pepper. (I have it on good authority he now liberally doses all his meals with some heat.) Peppers are loaded to the gills with a variety of powerful antioxidants that go beyond cancer prevention. If they had gills.

Peppery foods carry the reputation of being irritating to the digestive tract, although in truth peppers have healing properties. Many of the spicy foods that are infamous for causing heartburn are actually irritating because of the huge amounts of processed (fried or trans) fat. Trans fat, remember, is a real irritant to the system because it is full of oxidizing free radicals. Throw spice into the mix and no wonder it’s a recipe for heartburn and stomach discomfort. Spice just adds insult to injury if you’re chowing on those fried, high-calorie foods.

Some healthy heat, when coupled with vegetables and sparing amounts of good fats from things like olive oil or nuts, is surprisingly enjoyable for even the most sensitive bellies. And there are plenty of healthy peppers that aren’t spicy at all.

There are dozens of varieties of peppers, and many are not only mild, but sweet. Here are ten great “hots” that will do your body good:

10. Curry

Red, yellow, green, hot, medium, mild – just eat it. Curried vegetables and lean meats are really, really good, and curcumin-containing curry helps prevent cancer. You can buy ready-made curry sauces, but make sure you’re getting a healthy one that isn’t full of mostly sugar and oil. I suggest buying fresh, loose yellow curry powder (which contains turmeric, the important ingredient) and making your own sauce at home. A popular Western alternative: paprika.

curry

This is Barron’s Flickr Photo

9. Chili pepper

However you buy it (dried, fresh), this regular old hot pepper is excellent for the heart. These are Thai chilis. I’ve been addicted to them ever since my recent trip to Thailand.

thai

This is Nicodeemus1′s Flickr Photo

8. Cayenne pepper

Try substituting powdered cayenne for black pepper and watch your heart rate improve. It’s also less irritating to the stomach than black pepper.

cayenne

This is Princes Milady’s Flickr Photo

7. Habanero pepper

Is this thing the spiciest substance on earth, or is it just me? I’m not a fan, but if you love intense heat and/or torture, this guy is full of eye-healthy antioxidants. Good luck.

hab

This is Code Poet’s Flickr Photo

6. Jalapeno pepper

The ubiquitous pepper comes in a range of heat, but almost everyone can handle the mild selection. Lots of flavor, really powerful antioxidant benefit. Salsa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat because it’s essentially an antioxidant explosion – tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and often garlic.

jala

This is ilmungo’s Flickr Photo

5. Poblano (ancho) pepper

Gentler on the mouth, but still really nutritious.

ancho

This is Progoddess’ Flickr Photo

4. Anaheim pepper

Milder still (some come spicy). Both poblanos and anaheims are great peeled, then baked or stewed.

anaheim

This is Confident_Cook’s Flickr Photo

3. Bell pepper

I eat these crisp babies daily – red, orange, yellow, green.

bells

This is JStar’s Flickr Photo

2. Baby bell pepper

Have you tried these out? They’re popping up in grocery stores everywhere. I lop off the tops and toss them into just about everything from salads to stir fries. Appropriately lopped, they also make a great natural scoop for hummus.

minibells

This is Vandys’ Flickr Photo

1. Serrano pepper

A little more kick than jalapenos, and great in salsa, salad, stews, you name it.

serrano

This is Icka’s Flickr Photo

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!

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

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