Welcome to Reboot Boot Camp!
You're one step closer to rebooting your well-being!
Each week, we're going to focus on 3 challenges. Some may seem big and some may seem small but they'll all add up to make you an even better version of yourself. This week, we're focusing on getting moving for 30 minutes every day, resetting our sugar cravings and improving our well-being by improving our sleep. An in-depth explanation of all of these goals are below.
Don't forget to set your own goals too! I'm going to give you 3 goals each week but we all have things that we want to work on in life. What is 1 habit change that you've been wanting to make? Create 1 goal that is specific, realistic and easily measured. A few examples are "I will skip dessert six nights per week.", "I will read one book per month" or "I will have coffee with a friend once per week." Notice how each goal is very specific so you'll know when you've hit your goal. Remember, this goal is all yours and can be anything that makes you happy. You can always change it depending on the week too.
Don't forget to write your goals on your tracker.
Let me know if you have any questions. Have a a great day!
Challenge #1: 30 Minutes Per Day of Moderate Intensity Activity
There are so many benefits of exercise that if we could bottle the effects and put them in one pill, everyone would be taking it! Exercise not only helps to improve our mood, energy, strength, bone density, cardiovascular system, brain health and memory but we also tend to sleep better! As if that's not enough, exercise helps to reduce stress, inflammation and our waistline.
Sometimes, we forget that our heart is a muscle. Cardiovascular activity is especially great at increasing the strength of our heart muscle!
This week, we'll work on building a habit of 30 minutes per day. You can break it into 10 minute chunks or accomplish it all at once. This will also get you one step closer to your daily step goal.
Since exercise is often the first things to go when we get busy and stressed and it is also the very thing we need most when we get busy and stressed, this is our first assignment! Aim for 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity* activity like walking, running, biking or swimming.
*What's moderate intensity? Think of cardiovascular exercise on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is super easy. 10 is an all out effort that you could not sustain for too long. Moderate is about a 5 to 6 on that scale
Sugar Detox! Reset Your Sugar Cravings.
Challenge #2: Reduce Added Sugar Intake to Less Than 24 g of Added Sugar*
Have you ever noticed that the more sugar you have, the more you want? This week we're going to reset our sugar cravings.
Why? We all know that if we consume too much sugar, we can gain weight. But, too much sugar has other effects on our body as well. Sugar has has been shown to cause inflammation in our bodies and tax our immune system. Studies have also linked too much added sugar to:
- Heart disease
- Worsening of conditions such as depression and anxiety
- Memory and learning difficulties
- Increase in triglycerides
- Lower levels of HDL
- Disrupted sleep
Sugar also tends to put us on a blood sugar roller coaster which causes our energy levels to go up and down. When we're in the low energy phase, we want more sugar. And, as if this isn't enough, sugar has even been shown to accelerate the aging process! Yikes!
In fact, a recent study in JAMA views overconsumption of added sugar as an independent risk factor not only for cardiovascular disease but also for diabetes, dementia and liver cirrhosis. Added sugar does not include naturally occurring sugars that we find in foods like fruit and milk. Rather, the study looked at added sugar in items like soda, candy and other added-sugar foods like bread and pasta sauce.
Why are we concentrating on added sugar? Naturally occurring sugar like the kind we find in an orange isn't as concerning because the orange is also packed with fiber, antioxidants and vitamins. All the good stuff in life!
Tips to reduce added sugar this week?
- One of the big questions I get is, "what do I do if I have a birthday party?" If you have a special occasion like a birthday and want to have a piece of cake, go for it and enjoy it. You can also reduce your portion size, not finish the whole thing or even skip it. I promise you'll still have fun at the party!
- Be on the lookout for sugar's code words on food labels. If it ends in an -ose, say adios. It's probably sugar. Here are a few other code names for sugar:
- Glucose Solids
- Maple Syrup
- Agave Nectar
- Invert Sugar
- Cane Sugar
- Cane Juice
- Corn Syrup
- Add some flavor to your water by tossing some fruit or cucumber in your water. If you like gadgets, there's a product called a Zinger to help you flavor your water on the go.
- Choose unsweetened cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, etc and add your own sweetener. You'll use much less than the food manufacturers will put in the item.
- Use spices like cinnamon, vanilla extract and cardamom to add flavor so you'll need less sweetener
- Craving dessert? Try some berries. If you really need something sweet, top your berries with some 70% or more dark chocolate which has less sugar.
- Are you using sugar as a reward? Notice if you're using a sugary treat as a reward for getting through a tough day or something else that you didn't want to do. If you do notice you're doing this, think of an alternate reward.
- Don't buy it. A great way to make sure you don't eat sugary items is to simply not bring them into your house. Then, you won't be tempted by that Klondike bar staring at you in the freezer.
Since we all want to look and feel our best, our 2nd challenge is to consume less than 24 g of added sugar/day (1 tsp- 4 g.)*
*The latest proposed sugar guidelines from the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization.
Challenge 3: Sleep for 7 - 8 hours!
Yup, I'm telling you to get some sleep. Our best self is a well-rested self. Not only do we tend to make our best decisions when we're well rested but we also tend to make our healthiest decisions. You may have noticed that your first 2 challenges both have the benefit of improved sleep. This was no accident. We are also tend to not crave sugar as much when we're well rested and our physical strength and stamina is better. Everything is connected.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is essential for our bodies to repair and recover. While we sleep, our bodies repair our muscles and work to rid our bodies of stress and inflammatory chemicals like cortisol. Sleep also works to not only maintain our body but also our brain health, especially our memory.
Sleep is also essential in maintaining our weight. Research has shown that we tend to pool weight gain in our abdominal region when we don't get enough sleep. And, the chemical that tells us that we need to eat more, Ghrelin, increases when we're sleep deprived. The chemical that tells us to stop eating, Leptin, decreases. This makes our sleep deprived bodies even more likely to gain weight.
Sleep also helps to boost our immune function and increase our ability to handle stress. This can also help us reduce stress-induced eating.
Are you saying to yourself, "This sounds great, Laurie. But, how do I find the time and how can I make sure I fall asleep?"
First, though the recommendation is 7 - 8 hours of sleep per night, I know this can sound daunting. For people with young children or certain jobs, this can be downright impossible. If you're not able to do 7 - 8 hours, the challenge is to move your bedtime up by 15 minutes for 3 nights. Then, try for 30 minutes for 3 nights. Even that extra sleep will help.
Second, for tips for getting to sleep or staying asleep, think of how you put a toddler to bed. There's a bedtime routine. You'll want to establish your own routine.
1) Put on your jammies. Just like we tell a 3 year old to put on their jammies to signal it's bedtime, the same goes for adults. Put on something that signals to your mind that it's time for sleep.
2) Begin to dim the lights 1 hour before bed to begin to boost the production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
3) Read a happy bedtime story. Again, kids have the right idea. A happy story promotes happy thoughts. Upsetting conversations or news programs too close to bed can have the opposite effect. They actually increase stress hormones and can disrupt sleep.
4) Keep your bedroom cool.
5) Think of 3 things your grateful for when you get into bed. This way you'll think of happy thoughts before bed instead of your worries.
6) Avoid high-fat, caffeinated, sugary and spicy foods too close to bedtime. Also, while alcohol may help you fall asleep, it often disrupts our sleep as our body processes it.
7) Plan to stop using your computer, IPads, smart phones and video games 30 minutes to an hour before bed.The blue light that's emitted from them can actually suppress our production of melatonin and tell our bodies that it's time to wake up. If you wake up in the middle of the night, resist checking your phone. I know it's hard but give it a shot.
8) Do a bedroom inventory. Are there bright blue lights coming from an alarm clock or the cable box? Try covering them up.
9) Watch out for bright lights in the bathroom. The place where we brush our teeth and wash up RIGHT before bed is also the place that typically has some super bright lights. Try getting ready for bed with just the light from the hallway, with a night light or from the light from your now dimly lit bedroom.
10) And, if you're having trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep, try a breathing technique of 4 - 5 - 4. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for 5 counts, and then exhale loudly with whooshing noise for 4 counts. Or, try something that researchers out of the University of Glasgow call Paradoxical Intention Therapy. This is where you tell yourself to try and stay awake without getting up or using the tv or computer. Often, you'll fall asleep quite quickly.
- Sleep 7 - 8 hours per night. Or, increase your bedtime by 15 minute increments. To make this challenge easier, if you have a fitbit or certain other trackers, you can actually track your sleep.
Remember, any time is a great time to start making changes to our sleep styles. Sweet Dreams!
Good luck with your 3 Challenges! Don't forget to check them off on your tracker.
I'll see you on Tuesday with your first exercise of the day!
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