There was a really interesting article that I came across a few days ago: Workout or Fix a meal?
In the article, "findings suggest that one healthy behavior can take time away from another healthy habit, and that public health recommendations need to take into account the time people have for beneficial lifestyle habits on a given day."
Now if you want to lose weight or change body composition , you may be thinking to yourself that you know that diet is just as important as exercise but if you are an athlete, this is likely going to ring a bell when you think about how much attention you place on your cardio routine but often feel like you don't "have time" for stretching, good sleep or meal planning. I think one of the most common reasons why triathletes don't strength train is because they say "I don't have time."
"There's only so much time in a day. As people try to meet their health goals, there's a possibility that spending time on one healthy behavior is going to come at the expense of the other," Tumin said. "I think this highlights the need to always consider the trade-off between ideal and feasible time use for positive health behaviors."
I remember writing an article not too long ago (December) on my blog about sleep and exercise and which one being more important? So many athletes sacrifice quality sleep for training and I often find it being a limiter in quality, consistent training and racing. Not to mention that culprit for moodiness, stress and feeling exhausted throughout the day. There are many people who have extremely bad sleeping habits and choose to eat large meals before bed, sleep on the couch or just don't feel as if sleep is important and then there are those who won't even think twice about skimping on sleep.
I wanted to repost my article along with a yummy recipe as you think about some of the habits in your life and how you can tweak things to create a more balanced, healthy and active lifestyle.
The other day I posted on my Trimarni facebook page
about how much I value sleep. Appropriately, there was an excellent article
from the Washington Post showing and explaining how sleep can affect disease, appetite and other health problems.
I highly encourage you to read the article if you are someone who struggles with getting a restful night of sleep, most days per week.
As for how much is enough? I think that differs person to person but it also has to do with your lifestyle routine. We know that the body is constantly repairing when we sleep...and working. So for an age group athlete who not only trains for races/events but has a full-time job (parent or in an office), sleep is vital for consistent gains in life and to minimize risk for illness and injury. You do not have to prove you are a superhero by being able to function with only 4-5 hours a sleep.
Additionally, as you will read in the article, a restful night of sleep is the key. Good sleep means that for most nights, when you fall asleep, you are out for enough cycles to wake up feeling rested. I know for myself that I've learned that I can only afford one to two nights of sleeping 6.5-7 hours for anymore I struggle with activities of daily living. My energy fads as the week goes on, I have more afternoon cravings, I don't think as clear, I don't recover as quickly, I feel moody at times and my performance suffers with training. However, with only one to two nights of 7-hours of sleep, I know that a good night of sleep for 8-8.5 hours (depending on my training phase) most days of week will help keep my life in balance. So, the issue is not trying to make time for more sleep but rather, making sure sleep is the priority and making everything else fit in for a consistent life routine.
In other words....are you the athlete/fitness enthusiast who falls asleep at 9pm, wakes up at 11pm to get a snack because you are hungry, you go back to bed at midnight (falling asleep with the TV on or browsing through your iPhone/pad) and then wake up at 3am to go to the restroom because you had a bowl of cereal w/ milk at 11pm (or before bed) and then you jump out of bed at 4am when the alarm goes off so that you can do your 3-mile recovery run?
Sit down with a piece of paper and make sure you have your priorities in the right place:
Make time for sleep
Make time for a healthy diet
Don't expect to life a busy, go, go, go life and hope to find the time tomorrow because you will be "good" tomorrow. If you are currently training for an event and find yourself like a zombie by thurs or friday, perhaps it is more beneficial for consistent quality training to take a rest day on Wed or get a little extra sleep by modifying workouts mid week than trying to be a superhero and expecting your body not to fail you from Mon - Sun, week after week after week.
So, then the question comes into the diet - does a healthy diet override quality sleep or is sleep more important than a healthy diet?
I am sure you can guess my answer.
It's all about balance.
There is a great saying that "you can not out-train a poor diet". In other words, if your diet is not balanced in a way to support the metabolic processes during activity, don't expect to eat whatever you want and however much you want and then just "exercise" your way to "good" health. Sadly, it doesn't work like that.
I find that when it comes to creating an individualized, balanced lifestyle, people are always quick to think about the person who is an anomaly. You know, the one who can eat whatever she/he wants but still has great race results or has the "perfect" body (if there is such a thing). Or the person who ate only x-foods (aka followed x-diet) for 3 months and lost 30 pounds and now feels amazing. When was the last time you just thought about yourself and didn't compare your life to others....wishing that you could be like others or questioning why others have it so easy or why they can do it and you can't?
I think about my own journey in the past few years and I am very proud of my own changes in regard to living a lifestyle that I feel is balanced and healthy. As a health professional, I am not forcing my lifestyle on others but rather helping to inspire and motivate you to think about what it is you can do to make for a balanced life. Certainly, some of the things that make me feel healthy now were established overtime so when it comes to the diet, you can't expect to feel the positive rewards overnight.
This blog post is simply to show you that your life is your life. If you can give a little thought every day as to what works and doesn't work (depending on what you want to "feel" like and be doing now, in 10 years and in 50+ years) and how you can make small changes for tomorrow, I have a feeling you are going to feel so much more balance in your life and overall, a better way of enjoying your time on Earth.
To keep you motivated in the kitchen, here are two yummy creations that will make you feel great....and with a happy belly, I am sure you will sleep better in the evening.
Colorful Seasonal salad
Leafy green lettuce
Quinoa (Red or white)
Lemon Tahini Dressing (or spread)
(As featured in my lastest monthly Plate Not Pills Article on LAVA: Manganese)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp water (add more for desired consistency needs for a dressing)
1. Combine ingredients in small blender (ex. Ninja cup blender) and store in glass jar or Tupperware container in refrigerator.