Hey folks! Erin is here for another round of Ask a Health Coach. If you’re sleep-compromised, stressed out about carbs, or you’re a chronic snooze button pusher, today’s post is for you. Keep your questions coming in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group or share them down in the comments section. Alicia asked: “I’ve been trying to get up early to exercise, but I always end up hitting the snooze button and falling back asleep. Got any tricks to get myself up on time?” I love that you’re setting goals for yourself. It proves that you don’t have to wait until New Year’s or (another) Monday to make a change in your life. But I get it. Any routine that’s different from your normal one can be a challenge to start, let alone stick with. The good news is, this is kinda my specialty. I love teaching my clients to nurture their own personal accountability. When you’re responsible for your own actions — and the outcomes of those actions, it puts you in the driver’s seat. You’re in control when it comes to what you’re doing and not doing. It also sends a positive message to yourself that you’re worth it and that this change is important enough for you to make it a priority. On the flip side, when you just toss a plan out there, cross your fingers, and hope for the best with a lukewarm attitude (and zero consequences), you’re pretty much setting yourself up to fail. The first rule of accountability? Getting clear on your goals and the reasons why you want to achieve those goals. For your situation, I’d start by asking: What time am I waking up? What kind of exercise will I be doing? What type of equipment or gear will I need? Where will I be doing it? How long will I be exercising? Why does this matter to me? What will happen if I don’t break my snooze button habit? Why is all of this important? Because there’s a big difference between people who set goals and those who actually succeed at them. There’s a great piece of research that shows that having a concrete plan makes you three times more likely to achieve your goals. In the study, 248 participants who wanted to build better exercise habits were divided into three groups. One group was asked to track their workouts, one group received motivational information about exercising, and the third group was asked to formulate a plan for when and where they would work out. More specifically, they were asked to complete the following sentence: During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on (day) at (time) in (place). For you, that might look like: I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on weekdays at 5:15am in my bedroom. Or dial it in even more by saying: I will partake in 20 minutes of weightlifting on weekdays at 5:15am … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Sleep, Stress, and the Snooze Button”
Starting your day with a deliberate movement routine that you repeat every single day can be life changing, because it creates the leverage and the power to become a more focused and disciplined person in all other areas of daily life. Contrast this with the disturbing stat from IDC Research that 80 percent of Americans reach for their phones as the first act upon awakening. Numerous studies confirm that once you activate the shallow, reactionary brain function in the frontal cortex with a smartphone engagement—especially first thing in the morning when you are locking habit patterns into place—it’s difficult to transition into high-level strategic problem solving mode. Julie Morgenstern, renowned productivity consultant and author of Never Check Email In The Morning, explains that when you reach for your phone first thing, “You’ll never recover. Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless… there is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.” The Dope On Dopamine The reason you’ll never recover is because your morning foray into hyperconnectivity is creating a dopamine addiction. When work gets either challenging or boring over the course of the day, you are hard-wiring a reliable method of escape into the realm of instant gratification and instant relief from cognitive peak performance. As detailed in the excellent book by anti-sugar crusader Dr. Robert Lustig called, The Hacking Of The American Mind, we are chasing the dopamine high today like never before. We are doing this in assorted ways that are strongly driven by marketing forces behind Internet fodder (social media, pornography, click bait, and even email and text messaging), prescription drugs, street drugs, alcohol, processed sugar products, overly stressful exercise patterns,consumerism, and other sources of escape and instant gratification. As a healthy living enthusiast reading this blog, you can acknowledge the great sense of self-satisfaction and peace of mind that comes from implementing self-discipline and persevering through challenges and setbacks to achieve meaningful goals. These behaviors stimulate the serotonin and oxytocin pathways in the brain, triggering feelings of contentment, connection and love. Bestselling author Mark Manson asserts that self-discipline is a key to a happy, fulfilling life. Alas, when you hijack the dopamine pathways too often with the aforementioned folly, you down-regulate the serotonin pathways in your brain so you become wired for quick-hit pleasure at the expense of long-term happiness. The Magic Of Morning Movement Extricating from this mess starts first thing in the morning! Since most of us have tons of sedentary influences during the day (commute, office work, evening screen entertainment), I’m going to suggest a mindful routine of exercises, poses, and dynamic stretches that build flexibility, mobility, core and muscle strength. Your morning routine will help you naturally awaken and energize (especially if you can do it outdoors), improve the fitness base from which you launch formal workouts, help prevent injuries, and boost your daily movement quota especially if things get hectic and you don’t have time for formal workout. I’m … Continue reading “Developing our Empowering, Energizing Morning Routine”
The liver is incredible. Most people think of it as a filter, but filters are physical barriers that accumulate junk and have to be cleaned. The liver isn’t a filter. It’s a chemical processing plant. Rather than sit there, passively receiving, filtering out, and storing undesirable compounds, the liver encounters toxic chemicals and attempts to metabolize them into less-toxic metabolites that we can handle.
It oxidizes the toxins, preparing them for further modification
It converts the toxins to a less-toxic, water-soluble version that’s easier to excrete
It excretes the toxins through feces or urine
Bam. It’s an elegant process, provided everything is working well back there. And it’s not the only process it controls.
Whenever I write about sleep, I hear from a chorus of people who struggle to sleep through the night. Anecdotally, it seems a far more common complaint than difficulty falling asleep in the first place.
These complaints are one of three types:
People who have trouble falling asleep
People who sleep fitfully, waking multiple times throughout the night
Those who reliably wake once, around the same time most nights
Understandably, this is a hugely vexing problem. Poor quality sleep is a serious health concern. Not to mention, sleeping badly feels simply awful. When the alarm goes off after a night of tossing and turning, the next day is sure to be a slog. String several days like that together, and it’s hard to function at all.
“I’m tired all the time.”
“I have no energy.”
“I’m too tired to go to the gym.”
“I need a nap.”
Walking around in a fog seems like standard operating procedure nowadays. No matter how common it is, though, feeling exhausted, low energy, or sleepy all the time is not normal. It’s always a sign that something else is going on.
Tiredness, Sleepiness, Fatigue: What’s the Difference?
What does it mean when someone says, “I’m tired all the time?” Are they falling asleep at their desk? Do they need to take an afternoon nap in order to function in the evening? Perhaps they feel too wiped out to exercise or even get off the couch?
Colloquially, we use the word “tired” to describe the subjective experiences of both sleepiness and fatigue. “Sleepiness” is the familiar experience of needing sleep due to sleep debt. We all know what this feels like.
Tracking certain things makes sense, if you go for that sort of thing. Tracking step count is hard without a device. No one’s going to count every step they take in their head. You’d quickly go mad doing that. Same with pulse rate and heart rate variability—you could count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it to get BPM, but that gets unwieldy after awhile and HRV requires a special device. But tracking sleep? On the surface, sleep tracking seems futile and pointless. If there’s anything you should know intuitively without having to measure, it should be whether or not you got a good night’s sleep. You wake up and see how you feel.
Are you groggy? Irritable? Did you just crack an egg into the coffee maker, brush your teeth with light roast beans, kiss your dog good morning and let your spouse out to pee? You probably didn’t sleep very well.
Are you rested? Full of vim and vigor? Can you perform basic bodily functions without requiring a mug of coffee first thing? You probably slept fine.