Hey guys, I had some time off the trails a month ago due to a minor injury from a 24hr race and some work stuff that I’m focused on. During that time I actually unintentionally reduced my body fat due to a small life change I made. I’d say I decreased body fat down from the 7% it was last tested at to around about 6% and I actually don’t want it any lower than that -neither should you! I read Durian Riders book: Carb’ the f**k up! In this down time and whilst I’m not convinced that a fruitarian diet is optimal I did take on board a few new lifestyle habits that have really helped my training and –as Durian would say- my participation in daily reality. Some of those remaining habits I’m going to share with you today. Now I don’t recommend eating junk and doing no exercise or movement at all. To tell you the truth I ate ‘clean’, did a little yoga and ran about 3 miles twice a week for the month in question –but if you consider that I have a very sedentary day job, eat the food quantity of three people and was even eating an extra 100 grams of carbohydrate a day on top of my normal racing diet then you get the picture for why this small life adjustment was so damn pertinent. Here’s how you can pull it off in 5 steps:
Step 1: Drink water and ditch coffee/wine/beer (some of it anyway!). Drink a litre of water upon rising and a pint of water before going to sleep. The reason I started to incorporate this protocol was for the detoxification of the water passing through your system during the night and also for the fact that I felt like I wasn’t drinking enough water during the day time. The REAL benefit of this protocol though was the fact that the hydration and energising practise of consuming the water meant I had almost no desire to drink coffee (previously my favourite part of the day). You see I was screwing up my adrenals and augmenting my stress (see my article: ‘tea coffee and the plight of the adrenals: http://eatsleepgrowrepeat.com/tea-coffee-and-the-plight-of-the-adrenals/ ). I was consuming too much coffee –more than one cup a day… much more. I was also drinking wine every other day before bed which will further disrupt your sleep. This habit has now been replaced by drinking a bottle of mineral water in bed. The thing is, after reaching peak hydration you really won’t need the wine anymore –and if you did you would almost certainly consume far less.
Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and Its Discontents (1929): ‘Intoxication: we escape our displeasure by forgetting it, shunting it aside and turning to things like alcohol, drugs, etc. Here we treat the symptoms (our displeasure itself), not the causes (the reasons for our displeasure). As strategies of avoidance and denial, these can increase the real displeasure they are intended to circumvent. (Farthest from reality.)’
Step 2: I stopped going to bed at midnight and started hitting the lights at around 10pm. There is a big difference in the amount of melatonin secreted and absorbed if you make this change. The hardest thing for me was making the change until I started thinking about going to sleep earlier differently. Here is a list of resolutions to your probable concerns thus far:
- “I can’t go to sleep earlier as I’m too busy!” –You get the time back the next morning and you will wake up feeling much less time pressure/stress. This in turn has made me much more productive and I’m sure it will do the same for you.
- “I’m a night owl/not a morning person” –I was the most extreme case of not being a morning person but it all comes down to lifestyle and conditioning. We aren’t born one way and every moment is an opportunity to change.
- “I need that time to relax” –As I touched on in resolution ‘a’ you get the relaxation/productivity time back the next morning. The real silver-lining of this point is that you can stare at blue screens all you want the next morning without this disrupting your sleep patter and you can enjoy the free time without this feeling of guilt that you are staying up late and screwing up your sleep/hormones/recovery.
The key for convincing myself to try an early night was that I stopped seeing it as a cost on my time and started seeing it as a trade of guilty/damaging night hours for relaxed/productive morning hours. I also stopped seeing it as a time to lay in bed bored and unable to sleep and started to see it as a time to lay in shavarsana and relax, think over some goals in my life, listen to an audio book for half an hour or even switch a side lamp on and read a book if I really couldn’t sleep. The reality is though, that I always slept almost immediately due to action taken in the next step…
Step 3: See the light and don’t see the light: At night time do not look at a blue screen and avoid overhead light at least an hour before bed. In the morning go outside and see the sun for a few minutes. This practise will help adjust you circadian rhythm and hormone response thus helping you feel like sleeping at night and feel like performing during the day time. This is a relaxing moment to think about the day ahead with your newfound time in the morning. I thought about doing this about a year ago when I was accompanying a smoker on an outdoor cigarette break and I thought to myself that I should make a time to stand outside and drink a green tea or something; to get some vitamin D and better adjust my circadian rhythm.
Step 4: Stay in bed for 7.5 – 9 hours a night and throw out your alarm clock wherever possible on the weekends: Increase the sleep to increase your fat loss and hormone optimization. I’m not going to go too much into the science because there is a whole host of biological processes that are actioned while you sleep. The main takeaway for me was: more melatonin, more cellular clean up and renewal and more testosterone. If you want to feel bullet proof and better able to deal with stressors such as deadlines, discipline, being around assholes, predisposition to depression/anxiety and hard exercise then more sleep and more testosterone is the answer. Wherever possible I just throw out the alarm clock (usually Saturday nights) as this not only gives you a completely natural and long sleep cycle but I also believe, in most cases, it indicates how in training debt you are. When I’m training and working hard I will often sleep solidly for ten hours but on easier weeks only nine. Bear in mind that there are exceptions to this as in the penultimate stage of adrenal fatigue you may feel less able to sleep- in a wired zombie like state.
Step 5: If you are in any state of adrenal fatigue (I estimate that almost everyone is at some level) then my advice is to sack off the ketosis and super low carbohydrate diet and give your adrenals a break by taking on board some additional carbohydrates during the day. I know there will be a few ketogenic athletes reading this who won’t want to do that and are performing well on low carb’ and that is fine BUT in my experience ketosis is so difficult to get right that even full time, very well informed athletes can’t always pull it off without screwing themselves up: see Ben Greenfield for example. For anyone with life stressors coming from work/family/exercise I believe you are much better off doing the tried and tested medium to high carbohydrate approach to life and training. If your adrenals are functioning optimally then you will sleep better and wake up much further recovered. You will have an enhanced ability to deal with your daily tasks. Bonus step 6: A cold shower/bath in the evening will assist with sleep, mood and fat loss even further but it isn’t a necessity unless you’re really struggling. So there it is. I don’t usually like anything with a title that implies you can get something for nothing or that you can get more by doing less as these assertions are usually flawed. The approach of getting more sleep to lose fat and optimise your experience and training is completely valid though. Indeed sleep IS training. If you have been struggling with weight and even with life itself then this may be the paramount solution –or at a least the best step in the right direction.
So go forth! SLEEP MORE, DO LESS, WIN MORE!
Take it sleazy gangsta,