It is 6am and I am finally in a peaceful, deep sleep until my obnoxious, loud alarm sounds off, "Ba-Ding, Ba-Ding, Ba-Ding!" The loud noise startles me and sends my heart racing. I struggle to find my phone, but eventually I find it and dismiss the alarm. I stare at my ceiling and lay in my bed waiting for an external force to roll me out.
There is only silence, but there is always chatter in my head. The chatter rarely stops, it continually lectures me, telling me that I need to get to bed earlier. Which is true, I do need more sleep, but I just can't find the discipline to hold myself accountable. After staring at the ceiling, wishing I could stay in bed for another hour, I finally motivate myself to roll out of bed and head towards the kitchen for my coffee. I stare at the keurig and wait for the liquid motivation to fill my body.
The arguments continue in my head, you need more sleep, you can't just rely on coffee all the time. Quiet! Quiet! I will get more sleep tonight, I am going to bed at 10pm. I can't keep going to bed past midnight.
Quick Note For The Nerds: Coffee doesn't give you more energy. Our bodies all require energy to move, this energy is referred to as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Throughout the day this gets broken down and eventually ends up in the brain as adenosine. When there is too much adenosine in the brain it signals to the brain that is time to go to bed and recover (sleep pressure). However, when you drink coffee, it latches onto these adenosine receptors and doesn't allow them to enter the brain until the caffeine wears off. When the caffeine wears off, the adenosine molecules enter the brain and cause you to feel lethargic. So coffee makes you feel awake by not allowing your brain to know how tired you really are i.e throwing dirty clothes in the closet so no one can see them. (1)
Back to the story....
As the coffee is getting made I head to the bathroom and jump in the hot shower. I don't take very long and am in quite the rush. I finish up in the bathroom and head back to the kitchen to grab my coffee and head to work. Even though nothing bad has happened, the morning seems rushed and I wish I had more time. Luckily, the smell of the coffee fills the air and puts a smile on my face. But instead of drinking the coffee black and reaping its antioxidant effect, I fill it with sugary artificial sweeteners because I can't stand the taste of black coffee. The conversation in my head begins justifying the sugar in my coffee/
Plus, I deserve it, I am already stressed out before work has started and I don't need anything else to ruin it. And If there is one thing I look forward to in the morning, it is my coffee. It gives me energy, gets me focused for the day, and lifts my mood, especially when it is mixed with my coffee mate french vanilla creamer and sugar. I just can't stomach the bitterness of the coffee and need something to make it sweeter. I don't know how people drink it straight black, its disgusting.
The conversation in my head comes to an end and I feel content. I head to work and walk into the building. I feel like the king of the world. I have forgotten about the conversation from this morning about getting to bed earlier and feel great. I have plenty of energy and am ready to take on any obstacle that presents itself. That is...until the coffee and sugar high wears off. Just like gravity, what comes up must come down. A couple hour into work and I begin to feel lethargic. I have too much work to take a lunch, but I could grab a coffee. So I head to the break room and make another coffee. The sugary coffee hits me instantly, skyrocketing my energy levels. My eyes widen and I feel alive again. The feeling of sluggish no longer exists and once again I am the king of the world. For the next couple hours I get a ton of work done, but feel my energy tanking. I look at my watch and it reads 12:05pm.
I grab my wallet, call an uber and head to the closest shop to order your typical american lunch, a sandwich with a bag of chips and a Coke. I mean the commercials are right, everything does taste better with a can of Coke. I order my favorite sandwich, a turkey BLT, with avocado on a toasted roll with a bag of salty chips and a cold soda to wash it down. That meal is absolutely heaven. When the sandwich arrives I consume it in minutes. Before I know it, I have already finished the whole sandwich. The meal leaves me full to the brim, a little too full actually because my energy levels have tanked. I have fallen into a carbohydrate coma and don't know how to get myself out of it. So I do what most people do, I turn to coffee. I head to the nearest Starbucks and order a large latte. The cream hits my lips and lifts my mouth into a smile. I head back to work and continue to work for the next couple hours before crashing again.
Quick Note For The Nerds: When you eat a meal that is loaded with carbohydrates and low in fiber (i.e breads, processed foods, sodas) it will spike your insulin quickly and transfer the glucose (sugar) from your blood into the cells causing you to crave more glucose (sugar) This will happen much faster than a nutrient dense meal (i.e vegetables, fruit, whole grains) since their is no fiber to slow down the intake. When you consume a meal rich in fiber, the fiber will blunt the insulin response allowing you to feel fuller longer.
I stare at my computer screen and feel my body morphing into the chair. I rarely stand or get up for the next couple of hours. There is just too much work to be done to waste it walking around. But then again, I do need another coffee and I only have one hour left, so it will be the perfect pick me up to get me through my commute. I arrive home from work and head to the kitchen to prepare a meal. My brain is too tired to think, but my stomach growls. I take out my phone and order take out. The food finally arrives around 8pm and I scoff it down as I watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones. I finish my meal, but am not quite satisfied yet. I lick my lips and think, the ice cream in the freezer does sound delicious, cookies and cream, that would be the perfect way to end the day.
I head to the freezer, and take it out. I stare at the container of Ben and Jerry's, I am only going to have a quarter of it, that is it, just one quarter. I pop off the lid, grab a spoon and run back to the couch to finish the episode. The episode comes to an end and so does the container of ice cream. I stare at the empty container with disgust.
You did it again, you said you were only going to have a little and you couldn't control yourself. Have you seen yourself lately? You need to be eating less, not more!
I get up from the couch and throw out the container. I head to the bathroom to get ready for bed. As I brush my teeth my mind stirs another conversation...
I wish I could quiet the chatter, but I can't, it always wins. I feel like a slave to my mind, I never know when it will be a good day or a bad day. I know I need to lose weight, but work is just too stressful, and by the end of the day, I have no way to say no to delicious food; they are the one thing that makes me feel good about myself.
I stare at myself in the mirror. I continue to stare, hoping for an answer, and finally out of nowhere comes an unfamiliar voice.
You can do this, you are more than capable. You have done it before, but you have lost your way. You need to find your way back and stick to a plan. You can't give in to the temptations. You must develop some goals, start small and work on one thing at a time. We can't wait any longer, we have to start now, our life depends on it. We can't keep being a slave to our emotions. So I need you to stop feeling sorry for yourself and make a change. Change can only occur with action, and no amount of positive talk will get you there. So go to bed and get started..
The voice quiets and with a renewed motivation, I pull out my phone and set the alarm for tomorrow "5:30am to 6:00 am Workout".
I understand that this may not be your typical day, but it is pretty accurate for most people who are working an office job or any job that forces them to work long hours and not consume an unhealthy diet. And yes, I do believe our occupation influences our diet tremendously, but more on that another time.
Now, if this day does resemble yours then we have some problems that we need to fix. And I am going to show you exactly how to fix those problems. As Jim Carrey said, let's see that again..
You wake up at 5 am and feel content because you had a great night's sleep and feel restored. You roll out of bed and greet the morning sun giving thanks for your health and vitality. You follow it up with ten minutes of meditation to get your mind focused for the day. After meditation you are relaxed and focused, ready to take on the day. You understand that your thoughts are just thought and that you don't have to attach to them. Even if you are having a rough morning you don't let it make your decisions for you. You stick to your routine regardless of how you feel. Instead, of grabbing the sugary, artificial sweetener to put in your coffee, you put a tablespoon of coconut oil, a scoop of whey protein, and a scoop of Barleans Greens . As you drink your coffee, you perform a hip flexor stretch (couch stretch ) to open your hips and improve your posture to get your body ready for the work day. Once you are done with your two minute stretch you head to the gym for a 30 to 45 minute workout. After your workout you head to work with a smile on your face. The morning workout has increased your energy, mood, and focus. You use these performance enhancing effects to your advantage and get the majority of your work done when you first enter. You only take time away from work to stand up and walk around. But besides that you are deeply focused on only one thing. This continues for a couple hours until you grab lunch. Rather than eating some fast food you grab a vegetable, protein rich meal that leaves you full until work is over. Throughout the day you are cognizant of your health, so you drink water, decaf coffee or tea.
Eventually work comes to an end and you drive home. You are tired, but you know that fast food is not the answer, it may make you happier in that initial moment, but the next day you will regret your decision. Thus, you hold off until you get home where you create a simple nutrient dense meal . After dinner, you put on your sexy orange sunglasses to wind down and relax as you watch tv. An hour passes and you find yourself slowly drifting away. It is only 9:30, but you are exhausted and head to your pitch black room ready for bed. Your head hits your soft pillow, your mind is clear and you slowly fall asleep. You wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, ready to take on the day.
Obviously, these are two extremes, but I wanted to show you the difference between the two. Now, I could show you all the studies and research why the second day is better, but you aren't going to believe me until you actually try it. Thus, if you are struggling to lose weight, maybe it is time you try something new. Let's break this down so you can print it out and hang it on your fridge..
- Morning Routine: 10 minutes of morning meditation ( headspace.com ) and 5 to 10 minutes of light stretching
- Black Coffee or 12 oz Glass of Water *BONUS: blend it with 20 grams of protein and coconut oil (1 tablespoon) * Limit caffeine intake to 2pm*
- 15-60 Minutes of Exercise: Resistance Training 2-4 times per week and Cardio 1-3 times per week
- Stay active at work, limit your sitting to 30 minutes per session. Get up stretch and move around for a couple minutes
- Nutrient Dense Lunch: Have a protein, fiber rich lunch loaded with vegetables (potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, chicken, grass fed steak, salmon, berries, avocados, rice etc.)
- Delay Gratification and Plan for the Future: Resist instant gratification (fast food), and do what will make you happiest when you go to bed at night.
- Practice Gratitude: Appreciate every time you can eat food, slow down and chew your food slower. Put your fork or spoon down and allow the meal to last longer.
- Don't Eat Past 8 or 9pm: Your metabolism is only active for 12 hours, put the spoon down and put it away
- Relax and Get Some Rest: Avoid electronics an hour before bed or wear blue blocking sunglasses for a great night's rest.
- Go to Bed Early: Clear your mind by doing five minutes of deep breathing before bed and get to bed before 10:30.
Follow those 10 rules and you will lose the weight you want. I understand that losing weight is not easy. It is hard because we live in an environment that is loaded with instant gratification.For example, we have all seen those commercials that say...
Are you unhappy? Take this antidepressant and say goodbye to the sorrows.
Are you struggling to lose weight? Take this fat burner 3x a day and your fat will melt away.
The corporate world believes everything can be fixed by a pill because they want your money; they don't care about your health. Unfortunately, nothing in the world is that simple, every single thing has a pro and a con. We must realize that the simple fix is not always the answer, especially when it comes to our diet. The key to being healthy is realizing that healthy food, adequate sleep and weekly exercise is what you need to get in shape, and no pill will ever replace that. You don't need anymore tools, you know what you need to do, so stop waiting and start today. Remember, being disciplined is not a prison, it is freedom.