I can't believe how quickly time has been flying by. You'd think that writing a blog post - just one! - every week would be easy to pull off. But no - it's been a busy few weeks, with all kinds of very painful, sad, scary, exciting, life-changing events occurring one after the other: From helping move my parents out of their house into a retirement home to meeting with my adored husband to end our 25 year marriage to buying myself an incredible loft so I can begin a new life - a "new life" that, frankly, I don't really want.
So you might not be surprised to learn that I am fucking TIRED. One thing I will say is that I am healthy, my loved ones are doing fine, and I'm surrounded by wonderful people. So make no mistake - I realize that despite all my disappointments and heartache, I've got it good.
These past couple of months I've allowed a few of my normally consistent habits - what I call my core values - to go pretty slack. I've let myself indulge in comfort eating, which means I'm happy as hell there's no Paleo Police! (There's not.) And exercise? I can hardly lift my fork! (It's OK; I just use my hands, all Cavegirl-like.) Over the weekend I was running a fever of 99.5 for no other reason, I think, than just because. I can only guess at how much cortisol and adrenaline I've been pumping out since I got separated last fall! Yikes.
So as I try to recover from this crushing loss and face the uncertainty of the new life ahead of me, I realise more than anything that it starts with sleep. I've gone from hitting the hay at 9:30 or 10pm - important because my workday starts early - to staying up til all hours. It's not uncommon for me to be dog tired at 9pm but catch my second wind and keep going until midnight or 1am. No, I'm not Martha Stewart who can sleep for a few hours and rise refreshed! Ideally I need a solid 8 or 9, and that's when my body doesn't think it's fleeing from tigers and bears! 5 and 6 hours of sleep don't cut it for me (nor for most of us).
What I decided to do last week is make sleep THE priority. I have several things I need to work on, like eating a clean paleo diet, getting back to powerlifting, and being my normal, peppy self. But as I thought about the daunting task of taking these on, I realized that inadequate sleep is at the root of all of them.
When we are tired and stressed we're more prone to craving sugar and less able to resist it. We have less energy to exercise and doing so may not even be wise. Our memory suffers, as does our mood. So rather than try to become Superwoman overnight by fixing everything at once I thought I'd start at the beginning: Getting in the solid sack time my body craves. After just a few days I can already feel a difference, not only in my energy level but in my attitude.
A few months ago I heard an eye-opening interview by Dr. Lauren Noel on her Dr. Lo podcast with Hal Elrod, who had published a book called The Miracle Morning. The Amazon Kindle edition is inexpensive so I bought a copy and began to implement his steps. Then life got messy again, my sleep got screwed up, and I let the steps go. This week with improved sleep habits I decided to bring them back and am the happier for it.
My "miracle morning"
Hal Elrod's concept is that if we can make time to start each day doing specific activities to motivate and inspire us, we've given our day the best start imaginable and from such an auspicious beginning great things will spring forth. What Hal proposes is taking time, such as an unbroken hour, to do these 6 consecutive things for 10 minutes each:
The first time I did this I learned that I'm not a fan of doing affirmations and visualisation as a dedicated practice. While I absolutely believe that saying kind things to ourselves and imagining ourselves in a positive light is a key to happiness and reaching goals, I prefer to do them throughout my day. Maybe that's just me. So I don't devote an hour to my "miracle morning" and I don't do these 6 steps.
Instead, I do this:
- Meditate for 5 minutes
- Dynamic yoga and stretch for 5 minutes
- Make coffee, feed the cats, then read for 10 minutes or more
- Spin intervals for 10 minutes
- Eat, dress, and go!
By the time I get in my car I'm invigorated and have done no less than 4 things that align with my values: Meditation, stretching, reading, and exercise. How awesome am I?!
I realize I have the luxury of having time that's my own, something that's harder to come by when you have kids in the house. If you decide to create your own "miracle morning" make sure you're sleeping well because I can't tell you how many times I've heard that when there's a choice between cutting sleep to get up earlier to exercise and sleeping adequately with none, you'll be healthier to snooze. THAT's how vital getting enough sleep is! It is SO important that a person seeking to shed fat could eat spot-on and train hard and smart only to completely stall in their progress due to a lack of sleep.
So sleep tight!
For more information on the link between sleep, health, and well-being don't miss:
- T.S. Wiley discussing her book Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival on Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low-Carb podcast
- The Definitive Guide to Sleep at Mark's Daily Apple
- Unplug the Noise, Sharpen the Signal, an article about unplugging our gadgets and our brains, at Whole9life.com
How's your sleep? Have you tried creating your own Miracle Morning?