In a previous blog, “Clearing Your Body,” we talked about measuring your success by taking baseline laboratory markers, getting a body composition analysis, looking at waist/hip measurements, and taking a fully body photograph. These measurements are very important as they can be a huge motivating factor as you go through the program and start to make long term lifestyle changes. In addition to baseline measurements, the next step is to address balance in your everyday life starting with rest, stress, and exercise.
With all of the responsibilities facing people these days, it might seem that time doesn’t allow for getting enough sleep, managing stress, and incorporating exercise; however, these are necessary for success. Harvard Health Publications Newsletter recently listed six areas that are affected by inadequate sleep:
- Learning and memory,
- Metabolism and weight,
- Cardiovascular health, and
In addition, lack of sleep can affect cortisol levels which disrupt the body’s immune system, hormones that regulate hunger and sleep, and overall fatigue, which can decrease motivation to exercise. So, needless to say, sleep is important!
The goal is to aim for 8-9 hours of sleep per night. If you have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep, then take a look at sleep aids, sleep environment, and bedtime rituals. Sleep aids may include certain foods such as pumpkin seeds (which contain high amounts of tryptophan), teas, or sleep promoting supplements. To create an ideal sleep environment, get the room as dark as possible, stay away from electronics for about 1 hour prior to sleeping, and keep the room at a cool temperature. Bedtime rituals may include drinking warm tea, reading for a short period of time, or meditating.
In regards to stress, a certain amount of stress is a normal component of everyday living. However, when stress starts to reach moderate to high levels on a daily basis, it can influence the chemistry of the body in a very detrimental way. When stress increases, then an increase in the hormone cortisol occurs. Elevated cortisol contributes to an increase in blood pressure, blood sugar, blood lipids, and insulin levels. High amounts of stress are also associated with diffuse muscle pain, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, migraines, depression, poor immune function, and much more.
One way to get a handle on stress is to make sure you take time to unwind each day. Find a relaxation technique that works for you, such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, or deep breathing. Incorporating one of these into your daily routine could make a huge difference.
Lastly, it's time to address exercise. As with finding the time to sleep, many patients struggle with finding the time to exercise. Start with setting personal exercise goals and identifying what success looks like for you. Adding just 30 minutes of activity per day in your target heart rate will have tremendous benefits to your health. Always listen to your body and make sure you don’t over exercise or under exercise.
For more tips on addressing balance in your life, download or purchase the PEP at physiciannutrients.com.