A common question that I get from my members is, “Richard, I am losing weight and feeling good but I have plateaued a little, what can I add to my routine to help me tone up more and lose a few more pounds?” My response to them is usually not what they are looking for.
Being in the fitness industry I hear a lot of things that are new and magical that will help people lose weight and tone up. There are so many “Get Skinny Quick” schemes out there right now, and people are so desperate to lose weight quickly without any effort, that they will pay or do almost anything to try.
True weight loss and body composition change comes to people who work at it and have the discipline to stick with it. The issue is that most of us do not have that. How many people do you know in your life tried out a fad diet, meal plan system or fad weight loss system and lost some weight? Now how many of those people have kept that weight off? People can have success on the fads but they are not sustainable and this is why they almost always gain their weight back.
When someone asks me what they should add to their routine my first question to them is, “How much sleep do you get each night?” And I would say at least 90% of people tell me less than 7 hours.
Everyone is so busy now days and sleep is usually put on the back burner as far as importance throughout the day. Someone will make extra time for some additional workouts but won’t make time to get to bed earlier. Someone would spend hundreds of dollars on a supplement to help them burn fat but won’t make time for extra sleep.
There are the obvious reasons to get adequate sleep like being less cranky and irritable. But there are even more reasons that many people do not know about. During sleep your body releases all different types of hormones that are to help you regulate and recover while you sleep. Here are a few – HGH, cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin – this isn’t a research paper so I’m not going to list what they all do or cite sources but feel free to do some research on them.
Here are the basics of what all those hormones do. They help you be healthy. From helping you not store fat in unwanted places like your belly, hips and liver. To burning the fat already stored in the unwanted places. Our bodies repair itself during sleep and that includes building muscle.
When you sleep more than 7 hours each day your hormones will also help you feel less hungry and more satisfied. Those that do not sleep enough usually have more more food cravings and less self control.
So the first step to breaking through a plateau is getting more sleep. It won’t matter how much exercise you do if you are not sleeping enough you won’t lose the weight or break through your exercise plateau. For most people getting more sleep is a lot easier than trying to stay super strict to a diet plan. Here are some tips for getting more, higher quality sleep.
- Eat a healthy, higher quality diet. If you are eating better you’ll sleep better. It is a cycle.
- Make your room as dark as possible and keep it cool.
- Avoid electronic screens before bed. Do not use your phone, kindle, ipad or tv when you are in bed.
- Avoid caffeine late at night or for some as early as the afternoon.
- Do not over eat before bed.
- Avoid alcohol before bed.
Lastly, plan out your sleep. If you are someone who never gets 7 or more hours of sleep you need to plan. Time block your day in a way that leaves you the right amount of sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep each day you will not break through that plateau.