Sugar Detox Champion! 🥇

“This sugar detox challenge came at the perfect time for me, and my family. I had been noticing how the kids were asking for convenient (junk) snacks and fast food, cereals and frozen meals. Since they are teenage boys, they could eat with abandon and seemingly not gain weight. For awhile, I could ignore the voice in my head that said I had to make a change. After all, my husband and I work full-time and with the kids activities and daily life, we were busy and I had a hard time saying no to their requests. It was much easier to give in than try to figure out new food options or recipes. I wanted to be a better role model and I knew I had to address my own sugar consumption. Even though I considered myself a healthy eater, certainly better than average, and had removed a number of junk foods from my diet, I still had my soda dependency to work through. I told myself I needed it for a caffeine boost and that since I ‘only’ had 1-2 sodas a day, it wasn’t a big deal, but it was. I signed up and mentally prepared myself for the change.

The first few days were difficult to say the least. I had a headache and experienced fatigue to the point where I needed to take a nap in the middle of the day. By days 4 and 5, I felt like I was coming out of a fog. My brain felt like it was functioning better and I could think more clearly. My energy started to boost back up, without caffeine! I started noticing my skin tone improve. Things were looking good…

I relapsed over the weekend and felt sluggish, unfocused and foggy-headed. This was a valuable lesson because now I can definitely see the difference when I have less sugar. This makes me feel stronger and more committed to making it last.

I’m not a slave to sugary drinks anymore. I noticed that Coke is kind of a gateway drug for me and, if I had it at lunch, I’d end up ordering a specialty coffee drink (with more sugar) later on that afternoon. Along with this, my alcohol consumption has decreased because I’m no longer having mixed drinks.

Other benefits over the past 25 days include better bowel movements and a yeast infection clearing up, avoiding late-night ice cream and snacks, and having more energy. From my original measurements to the last day of the challenge, I’ve lost 3.5 lbs and a 1/2 inch from my waist. In just 25 days! My skin looks healthier too and though I’m in my late 40s, I’ve been told it’s ‘glowing’. I’ll take it!

My husband and my children still enjoy their frozen treats most evenings, but we’ve all started looking at labels and trying to find better options in the snack or frozen-food aisles. One of my sons has seen his acne clear up significantly and the other is now mixing his sports drinks with water to reduce sugar too.

The sugar detox challenge was full of information that helped me to change individual ingredients in my kitchen and make improvements to our meals. I appreciated the individual support to help me with my challenges with health issues and travel, which I often do for work. Even though I didn’t do it perfectly, Adrienne was always very encouraging and offered practical tips that fit my situation and I still had great results without pressuring myself to do it perfectly. It was totally worth doing. My family and I have learned valuable lessons that we will carry through the rest of our lives.”

Tara G.

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The ’25’ Sugar Detox Challenge is aptly named because it really is a challenge to put effort into changing up the way we view and engage with added sugars. The first 3 days for most people is no joke as energy tends to dip and symptoms can worsen. Getting through that leads to the other side where you can start reaping benefits (which can show up differently for each individual but typically results in improvements with digestion, skin, energy and even body composition). If you have a dependent relationship with sugar, consider this challenge as a way to help break-up with it. Remember: you don’t have to do it perfectly to get results.

Ready to get started? Join today – we start August 14th!

3 Tips & The Summer Slowdown 🐌

Being more of a ‘pitta’ type, according to the ancient science of Ayurveda, our fiery, driven nature has often been amplified by the hot summer season. With the energy of a squirrel possessed, we would run around, overwork, explore and adventure, and constantly be Doing. This year has been different, even strange, in a way. We know something crucial: stacking heat – such as intense exertion in high temperatures – can lead to heat stroke or even burnout. With the latter, we’ve been there before and never want to go back. What to do? Instead of speeding up and pushing the speedometer to 120 mph without rest, we’ve challenged ourselves to exit off the highway of hustle culture and slow down.

Has it been easy? Heck no. Resisting the urge to avoid our feelings and inner lives by salsa dancing, overwork or keeping endless social commitments has had rather dire consequences for our mental and emotional health (not to mention physical). If you too have been feeling a bit burned and frayed around the edges, join us in putting the brakes on. Here’s how:

Increase Downtime & Rest

Most mornings we have an intense exercise class and, though the kinetic energy can continue for hours, we tend to get sleepy in the early afternoon. In past years, we would have dosed up on some sugar, coffee, or chocolate to keep going. Not only that, but the critical voice in our head would have shoved us back into productivity. We’d hear: “You don’t have time – there’s too much to do! Rest later!” Luckily, age has come with wisdom as well as discernment of lies and truth. Now, we give ourselves permission to rest or nap for about 20 minutes. How might want more downtime look and fit into your life? Here are some ideas:

  • Take a break in the middle of the day for ‘tea time’ – even iced tea and a few moments to connect eye-to-eye with your kids, your partner or even your dog
  • Give yourself the gift of an earlier bedtime
  • Transition yourself from work to home life by taking a short walk or a few deep breaths with your eyes closed
  • Create a bedtime routine you enjoy
  • Read a favorite, relaxing book with some hot tea in the evening
  • Give even just 5 minutes of meditation a try, any time of the day, to get re-centered

Monitor your Mental Health & Bring back Joy

If recent news about mass shootings, gun and abortion laws have you rattled, maybe don’t add to it with local, constant news about burglaries or random acts of violence. Also, good news may not make the headlines the way fear does but there are many kind & thoughtful people in this world working for positive change. Consider the thought that there is no such thing as the ‘good old days’ because every period in history has had its positive advances and its social ills. We are all here now so let’s do the best we can to improve our environment and foster community & connection while we hurl through the galaxy together on spaceship Earth.

Do you know what joy is? Where does it live in your life? So many of us are not sure how to answer that question these days. It’s worth exploring and pondering what brings you joy as it adds an element of ‘juice’ to your energy tank. Joy can put a bounce in your step as you run errands and be a buffer against the storms of life. Whether it’s playing soccer, baking, writing calligraphy, dancing, oil painting, playing with pets or children, see how it might be possible to add a little bit of joy-generating activities to your life.

Inner Healing

We saved the most challenging, and yet most rewarding, for last. It’s a fact: our past experiences can and do influence who & where we are in the present. While we needn’t spend all our time in what some would call the ‘basements of our minds’, visiting traumas and slights you’ve experienced can help explain how the old beliefs established back in the day are playing out today. Whether that’s numbing out with food or alcohol, acting out in anger or rage, distracting with ‘busy’ activities, or a myriad of other ways, we often have no clue where we picked up these deeply-embedded and unhelpful coping mechanisms. We love the title from Sarah Wilson’s book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful which comes from a Chinese proverb about conquering a beast (e.g. bad habit, anxiety, etc) by deeply engaging with it. The aphorism has been apt during the past month while we’ve been digging back into a self-healing therapy modality whose exercises have brought us into profound inner connection and understanding. Be forewarned: inner work can be mentally and emotionally exhausting & may require the assistance of a therapist.

Before we all know it, autumn will be here – not just with its pumpkin spice everything, but with harried school preparations and planning for holidays. Take a moment, a few hours, days or a month to slow down in whatever way feels best for you. We promise that ‘productive’ rest (not laziness – here’s a refresher on the difference) and recovery will allow you to speed up once again, this time with a sense of rejuvenation.

🔋 Get Energized, Bunny! 🐇

Maybe you remember the Duracell battery commercial with the little pink bunny rolling across the floor and beating a drum with the tagline “it keeps going, and going, and going…” If you’d like energy to keep you going all day long and perhaps all week or month long, you’ll want to pay attention to these two main forms of energy – physiological and psychological energy – as well as more esoteric ones we’ll get into shortly.

We could recount a song all about the Kreb’s cycle (nerd out with us and have a listen) and re-live the intense science behind chemical reactions, but suffice to say, the citric acid cycle is all about how our body creates energy for physical and mental performance.

For your best chance at improving your natural physical energy, consider some tips:

  1. Get proper sleep and nutrient-dense foods into the diet (those with a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants along with the calorie intake). Avoid added sugars, questionable additives, and low-quality fats.
  2. Understand energy drains. Low energy can be a result of everything from improper thyroid function to having processed foods that are high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. We can also feel lower energy as a result of the body’s burden in dealing with environmental factors such as poor air or water quality, exposure to plastics, heavy metals, mold and/or chemicals.
  3. Exercise will initially seem to be an energy drain, but it will gift you more energy on the other side of your workout and can help with sleep (another energy-giver).

Psychological Energy

It’s a common experience to be influenced by interactions with other people. After some exchanges you may feel more energized, inspired, and light whereas after others you might have felt lethargic and down. Whether the conversation was one-sided or ‘all about them’ or featured constant complaining, you may feel like you’ve come into contact with a ‘Colin Robinson’ or energy vampire.

Another example of psychological energy identified by research is called the ‘mental load’, the cognitive and emotional labor involved in keeping up a household and tending to family. In most cases, the mental load tends to fall on women to bear. This can include researching and planning options around a son’s new braces, figuring out all the ingredients needed for Thanksgiving dinner, remembering birthdays and anniversaries of not just their own friends and family, but their partner’s as well. And this is a small list. Take a moment to see if an element of mental load could be influencing your psychological or mental energy.

Depression has a number of causes and, when it settles in, you may find your overall energy zapped – mind and body. Depending on the duration and severity, you may benefit from talking with your doctor or healthcare provider, therapist, and integrative health coach.

Physical clutter can also lead to mental clutter, feeling as though your mind is overstuffed with ideas, to-dos, and that your attention is pulled in many different directions at once. Because physical clutter can impact mental health and affect everything from sleep to anxiety and our ability to focus, it’s an area worth improving. (Psst! See our next class coming up in December)

More Esoteric forms of Energy

Examine the energies of yin and yang or masculine and feminine within yourself and how you live your life. Are you always hustling, running on adrendaline, and contracted (hunched or tight shoulders)? Or do you live a slower, more free-form and intuitive-based life? The first one is more yang or masculine energy and the other is more feminine or yin energy.

This can also play out in food – alcohol and sugar are more extreme yin whereas meat and salt are more extreme yang. These extreme yin/yang foods can create cravings for each other AND can be what we turn to to balance ourselves out. An example would be a very ‘yang’ type of person – think New York City executive- walking fast, yelling into his phone, tight and contracted shoulders. He may turn to more yin foods, such as alcohol, drugs, sugar or ice cream – to help balance himself out. It’s an interesting way to look at food that most nutritionists don’t, but can help explain cravings and how each of us finds a sense of equilibrium in our lives.

We also have the Ayurvedic concept at play – for those who are more vata energy, there can be a scattered energy or fast ‘windy’ feeling to our thoughts. This is another way of viewing energy and gives a clue on how to balance out a person’s energy. Here’s a primer on Ayurvedic body types and seasons.

Tips to improve psychological energy:

  1. Spent time wth those who inspire and make you laugh
  2. Examine your own Ayurvedic dosha (we have resources to help!)
  3. If you’re finding your masculine energy too high and feminine energy too low, consider engaging in more creative projects – art, music, dance, pottery, or yin yoga – and slowing down in all areas of your life. Be open and receptive to ideas, people, and connecting with yourself and your spirit.
  4. Consider acupuncture for the physical and psychological balancing of Qi
  5. Beyond calories, look at your foods from more of a yin and yang perspective.
  6. Get curious about the mental load you’re carrying as well as how your environment makes you feel. If it’s too cluttered, get help and inspiration during our upcoming Minimalism class.
  7. If you have depression, reach out and get help

As you can see, energy doesn’t come from the amount of caffeine in your cup, the calories you eat and how they convert to ATP – it is a multi-faced area of study. Choose one area to focus on and a simple step to improve that type of energy (e.g. drinking more water, having more art or play time). For personalized assistance with a holistic nutritionist and comprehensive approach to energy management, reach out.

Sleeping Better, Together in September

“Wake me up when September ends” – Green Day

While the song is about grief, and we don’t desire to hurry this month along, it makes us think about how most of us struggle with getting enough sleep. So, today we are going to get serious about sleeping better, all together, in September.

Kids are back in school, and, for most of us, the summer activities are dwindling down. The sun is setting a bit earlier and now is one of the best times for us to follow the natural rhythm of the season by getting to bed a wee bit earlier.

The problem is, even if we know we should prioritize sleep, there are a couple tricky things that get in the way. Here are some common issues and ideas to help thwart them:

1.The ‘Gremlin’ or ‘Inner Child’. This one got us good over the past weekend. It was date night and Netflix paraded a German post-war mystery/thriller show in front of us. Why not give it a try? Turns out that it was a series and, as our normal bedtime rolled around, the Inner Child trickster was all ready to protest “but I don’t wanna go to bed! I want to see what happens AND I’m learning/practicing my German AND tomorrow is Sunday so I can sleep in…” on and on, the rationalizations went. Long story short, staying up until 3am not only messed up our sleep but the tired, slow, foggy thinking and lack of motivation to do anything the next day led to more of the same on behavior on Sunday night. Thank goodness we got back on track on Monday. How to solve this: the first step involves awareness that the voice in your head is one of your inner child or gremlin. How will you be able to tell? Well, generally the thoughts you’ll have are about very short-term, false pleasure and how you “deserve” to do, or eat something. There’s a ton of rationalizing and usually done in a way that fools you into thinking the bad choice is a benefit (i.e. “I’m learning German with this show!”). The inner child doesn’t care about tomorrow’s hangover – it’s all about getting the candy, staying up late, partying and playing NOW – without evaluating potential consequences. Whether it’s with sleep, food choice, or something else, evaluate where the gremlin or inner child tends to pop up for you.

2. Rely less on Willpower and more upon Routines. The former you can only do for a certain amount of time until it either becomes a habit or falls apart. Routines can help create easy, automatic behaviors – just like brushing one’s teeth doesn’t require as much will to execute as it is just following part of the morning or evening ritual. When we turn off our devices at 11:30pm and expect good, deep sleep we are skipping the transition time our brains and bodies need to make before going to sleep. By creating an effective bedtime routine, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re moving into restorative, restful sleep time and you’ll likely see an improvement in both quality and quantity of sleep. Stay tuned for our bedtime routine in a future blog.

3. Don’t “Should” yourself – be Realistic. You might have ideals of going to sleep at 9pm and getting up to be a productive, early bird at 5 or 6am; however, it’s important to be realistic about your evening activities and how late they run (this is why our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise didn’t work out so well). If you’ve been a night owl for most of your life, part of it could be genetics or your particular cronotype (and is unlikely to change), or you’re going to need to set up some small improvements first (e.g. going to bed at 12:45am instead of 1am). When you put the kids down for bed, do the hours afterward get stretched out as you enjoy some much-needed alone or self-care time? Don’t give up your me-time; adjust the dial a bit and consider watching one or two episodes of your favorite show instead of four before bed. You don’t have to sleep when your kids do, but if you stay up too late, no one will be happy the next morning.

4. Track your Progress and Celebrate your Wins. Remember how the teacher would give you a gold star for reading a book and after 20 stars you got a reward? We can do the same thing for ourselves by tracking and celebrating our own progress. One of the best tools we use, and share with clients, is our Habit Tracker. With a simple sticker or “x” you can see how many days out of the month you had enough water or sleep, got in some exercise or meditation practice. Consider tracking ONLY sleep for this month, in order to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a simple prompt “in bed before 11pm” is a place to start tracking your success this month. Celebrate as you see the row of stickers or “x” marks build and reflect to see how the habit has served you (e.g. more energy, etc) well. This will help reinforce the change you’re making.

Let’s create a movement to reclaim our rest as we all sleep better, together, in September.

Is it Laziness or Rest?

Sometimes we can’t escape it either – the whispers of shame saying, “you’re being so lazy; you haven’t done _x_ in _y_ days.”

In the equation, “x” could be any activity and “y” can be any duration of time. Filled in, this could look like anything from “you haven’t vacuumed in over a week!” or, more recently and very apropos to this article, “you haven’t written a blog in over 20 days” and even “you said you were going to get started with daily yoga like over a month ago” (sometimes the shaming voice sounds like a Valley girl). Whether you call it “gremlin voice,” “inner bully,” or something else entirely, we all have it and oftentimes the negative voice has a loudspeaker and commands our attention, while our “inner best friend” voice gets drowned out.

We teach our clients all about this, and we practice awareness of these two forces ourselves. So, when the inner bully voice recently came booming into our thoughts, accusing us of being super-lazy by not writing a post in our usual time frame, we thought this was the best opportunity to explore the the truth and to let our inner best friend voice weigh in.

The gremlin voice will tell you all sorts of lies and typically either push you to over-compensate, over-perform, over-do anything (and consequently burn out) OR it will paralyze you with why-bother or ‘Eeyore thinking’, overwhelm and perfectionism.

The first step we take is to evaluate whether the accusations are true. In this case, we did an exploration into what “lazy” and “rest” actually mean. Here’s what we came up with:

The definition of lazy is “unwilling to work or use energy.” Laziness can look like staying in one’s bathrobe all day and watching hours of TV. Laziness can have you feeling stuck, mired, and doing lots of passive activities or staying ‘busy’ while ignoring the larger results you want or need to accomplish. This results in feeling like you’re not moving forward in your life (and perhaps even feeling like you’re moving backward). Laziness also drains your energy and can feel like giving up and quitting, avoiding the challenges in work or life. It is not useful to us and is not a characteristic you want to embody. Lastly, laziness also does not not help us produce desired results in our life.

Rest is not laziness; it is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” In a word, it is restorative – and when you’re done resting, you feel energized and revved up to go. Adequate rest can help prevent burnout and will help you move forward in a ‘juicier’ state of being. Rest is useful, necessary, helps you recover from illness and produce desired results in your life. Here’s the rub…HOW you rest, and whether the rest occurs BEFORE or AFTER an important activity, matters.

Not wanting to do something is normal – and is part of the human condition. The feeling can exist; however, the difference is whether we still proceed to do the hard things in our businesses and our lives, or lay around watching Netflix and not produce the results we want in our work and relationships.

One of the best things we’ve done in recent years is calendaring our week with REST first. After that, we schedule the activities to get us the RESULTS we want. We desire to be proficient with our time and work against Parkinson’s Law. The alternative, we’ve found, is that we get distracted with Facebook or social media, only to find that we spent 8 hours on something we could have done in one hour. Keep in mind too – procrastination is the result of perfectionism and produces stress as we make ourselves do something.

Produce or create, then rest. Repeat and harvest the results you want – whether it’s completing marathon training or writing a book.

Examples of rest:

  • finishing a blog post or podcast and then sitting on the couch to watch a favorite show
  • running a few miles and then taking a nap
  • cleaning the house and then soaking in the tub with a good book

What all of these have in common is that there is a sense of accomplishment and feeling of having earned a reward, this rest, after completing a task. The rest activity is enjoyable and restorative.

Contrast this with examples of laziness:

  • avoiding homework by watching YouTube makeup tutorials
  • shopping online instead of cleaning the house in preparation for guests coming over
  • playing video games for hours while your essay for business school is due tomorrow

What these have in common is that the activities aren’t truly a form of rest because there’s the background voice of “you should do your project/homework/cleaning…” and after we’re done with the YouTube videos or online shopping, we quite often don’t feel better or fueled-up for the activity we need to do. We might just act only under time-pressure of now having a few hours to write the essay before it’s due. This is common in people who claim, “I do my best work under pressure”; however, in this case, the end result is feeling worse and drained.

The best way to overcome laziness is to acknowledge that we don’t feel like doing the activity that needs to be done, and doing it anyway.

If we aren’t intentional with our rest, it can become laziness. The place to aim is somewhere in the middle of these two – work hard and rest (and play!) when we need to.

Bottom line: do you feel restored or drained after your version of resting? Do you feel like you’re producing your desired results? These will be your clues as to whether rest or laziness is involved. Commit to resting well – in a way that feels restorative, earned, and in a way that takes care of you.

A Case for Morning Routines

Have a better tomorrow by learning about morning routines then building and implementing your own! (Video version available here in our Go with your Gut free Facebook group).

Benefits of a Morning Routine

1. With a set morning routine, you’re on auto-pilot and the morning flows fairly seamlessly. The alternative is jumping all over the place as you feed the dog, get dressed, check your voicemail, and look for your keys.

2. Peace is a result of a well-planned morning routine; instead of feeling scattered and stressed, you can enjoy your cup of coffee or tea and know that you are ready for the day.

3. Feeling organized about your day – you can see your appointments and activities laid out, and you have a plan to achieve your most important goals, even building in self-care!

Life before a AM Routine

We’re speaking for ourselves here, but you can likely relate.

1. Inconsistent wake (and sleep) times. Sometimes we’d wake at 6am, or 8:45am or 11am…this left us feeling discombobulated and stressed as we struggled to fit in all our appointments and to-do tasks. Even worse, we’d work into the night and then create a self-perpetuating problem of inconsistent waking times.

2. Adrenaline rushes. Running around grabbing work materials, finding the outfit we planned on wearing was in the laundry hamper and having to figure out an alternative, looking for keys or an umbrella…and then hoping and praying traffic to get to meetings on time. Mornings were full of stress and anxiety.

3. Forgetting water and/or lunch. This lead to us either skipping lunch or buying a $13-20 lunch when we had perfectly good food at home. What typically followed was both food waste and money waste (from lost groceries and eating out).

This way of living cost us time, peace, and money. Something needed to change. Tired of the results we were getting, we decided, “No more of this chaos, we’re getting organized with our mornings.”

Our First Attempts at a Morning Routine

We’ve read all these articles about successful people who wake up at 4am or 5am, so we decided to enlist willpower and sign ourselves up for a 6am boxing class (during the snowy/icy winter season). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Why? For one, it didn’t work with our life and sleep schedule. We don’t go to bed at 8pm or 9pm typically and so we were always tired in the mornings. For two, we like food; the problem was fueling ourselves around this class. If we skipped breakfast, we’d typically feel faint during the 1-hour high-intensity workout. If we ate even a small snack 15-30 minutes ahead of time, we felt nauseous.

Reading about the great achievers, such as Richard Branson and Tony Robbins, showed me that some of these morning routines were 2-3 hours long. That was never going to work with our lifestyle so we had to create our own flexible 30 minute AM routine with exercise included. We’ve changed it throughout the years and kept it flexible to support where we are in life. Here’s what it looks like now (we’re big fans of alliteration, as you’ll see):

1. Wash and water – we brush our teeth first thing and then drink 1 cup of water before jumping into exercise…

2. Strength-training and skincare – we’ll play a very short podcast and bust out squats, full push-ups, ab work, bridges, ‘superhumaning’ (laying on the belly and lifting arms and legs), and pull-ups. All done in about 6 minutes! Then we’ll typically wash our face and body and get dressed.

3. Bunnies (pets) and breakfast – we have two (unbonded) bunnies and we’ll let one out as we prep our coffee or tea and breakfast. About halfway through, we switch them out. Typically we’ll also do our ‘mental/spiritual gym’ exercises. For your purposes, insert dog/cat/kid(s) where we have bunnies listed.

4. Launch into life – we go into the office and check the day’s calendar and our most important goals; we set alarms and put the phone on airplane mode (as needed); we’ll also take breaks to do household activities (e.g. laundry) during the day

This is not a *perfect* morning routine. Use this for inspiration to create your own routine. Now that we’ve created a customized morning routine, the only regret we have is not starting earlier in life. High school, college, and post-college could have been SO much easier and not filled with stress and anxiety. Peace is a gift we can give ourselves with a simple morning routine. The key is to make it work for YOU!

So what do you think? Do you already have a morning routine? Is there a way to improve your mornings by putting them on auto-pilot?

An Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise

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Waking up early is tough. Finding time to workout is even tougher.

For most of us, arranging time for a workout is even more of a challenge than the exercise itself. Along with pulling ourselves out of bed, working hard all day, and either making dinner, taking children to activities, grocery shopping, paying bills, or may even relaxing for once…..where does the time go? Certainly, as the day progresses, we realize working out simply isn’t in the cards. Then we feel the guilt and shame as we say to ourselves, ‘well, maybe tomorrow’.

During an early morning sweat-fest, a hot yoga studio instructor shared this maxim: “at 6 A.M., the only obstacle standing between me and my workout is ME; by 6 P.M. all sorts of obstacles exist to prevent me from working out.” Truer words may have never been spoken.

With repeated exposure to articles and TED Talks touting the benefits of waking early to exercise as one of the activities successful, productive people do, a couple of us here decided to try an experiment. We committed ourselves to waking up before dawn and working out before our day started – all in the name of science.

To be honest, we’ve long envied those dedicated individuals who wake up and engage in an intense sweat session, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, meditate and then start their workday, refreshed and ready to pounce on their assignments. Who WERE these people anyway? And….would we feel the same?

For the sake of testing the ‘early bird catches the worm’ hypothesis, we will do this – for you, our dear readers – following the scientific method. Just for fun.

Questions

Are people who wake up early fitter, happier, more productive and successful? What factors play into such aspects? How will waking up early impact energy and focus throughout the day?

Background Research

According to an article on Forbes, early rising is a trait associated with CEOs, political heavyweights, and other influential people. So we have some correlation here….not causation.

Some argue that if you get the same amount of sleep you would waking early versus later on, there’s no difference in productivity. There are a number of successful political figures, philosophical writers, psychologists, and inventors who were night owls. According to Russel Foster during his TED Talk on “Why do we Sleep,” he says ‘early to bed, early to rise…’ is a myth.

With regard to exercise, it seems as though early morning workouts may present some advantages, including having more focus during the rest of the day, using natural daily hormone cycles to your advantage, boosting your metabolism, and being less likely to skip the workout later in the day.

Our Hypothesis

We suspect (and dread finding out) that the early risers do, in fact, have some advantages over those who prefer to wake up closer to sun-rise, including increased dedication to physical fitness and productivity.

Testing the Hypothesis by doing an Experiment

Well this is where the rubber meets the road. A couple of us here at One Bite made a pact to run ourselves through this experiment and so on a few dreary, dark mornings we somehow found ourselves inside of a boxing gym or hot yoga, slightly before 6am. Accountability partnering does amazing things.

Analyze Data and Draw a Conclusion

Our sample size is small and we have tested waking up at 5am and performing a 6am workout 3x in two weeks. We kept our environment and schedule as we normally would (no built-in nap times or ‘light’ workdays). Our observations:

  1. Getting enough sleep and having an accountability partner is key. Missing either one of these drastically reduces the possibility of an early morning workout.
  2. Focus and productivity (caffeine-free) ran us well into the early afternoon before sleepiness and lethargy stepped in.
  3. Feeling terrific and highly energetic until early afternoon
  4. Having workouts that were varied and that we looked forward to doing was important.

Share the Results

Will we be waking up at 5am everyday? Certainly not. Early rising requires early sleeping and it just feels plain lame to be going to bed by 9pm – not to mention that it hampers social activities and actively works against  night-owl tendencies. However, we discussed creating a compromise with our own natural cycles in mind and working with them for an earlier morning in general.

We cannot over-emphasize how happy and accomplished we felt with having completed a workout by 7am – this alone won out over the alternative of scheduling a later-day workout but having a higher risk of skipping it. By all means, if an early morning workout just isn’t for you, ensuring proper exercise during other times of the day is better than nothing.

What are your thoughts? Will you try the experiment for yourself?

Call to the Nation: Take your Vacation!

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Of all industrialized nations, America has the least number of vacation days. A far cry from the 30+ days offered as annual leave and paid holidays by other countries such as Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy, some Americans are lucky to get (and use) the roughly two weeks given as a ‘benefit’. However, quite a few of us are not even taking this small amount of time off, in the true sense of the word. To ask for a week or *gasp* two off requires advance notice of a few months, large efforts to secure work while away (though about a third of us do work during vacations), and tends to bring a decent amount of anxiety as we worry about being perceived as disloyal or lazy.

Often vacation time is now mostly utilized as personal days, taken here or there, to run errands and ‘catch up’ with life’s demands or to take a mental break from the severe stress of over-work. Do you know anyone who works 40 hours a week? Rarely do we at One Bite Wellness encounter a person who works 40 hours or less at a job; most people answer their work ranges from 45- 60 hours per week. Because of this over-working, we have higher levels of stress and depression and less recreational time with friends and family, much less time to cook and exercise.

Americans may be economically more advantaged than other countries in the world, but we seem to have lost our health and longevity. We have some of the poorest health rankings and spend more money per capita on healthcare than almost any other country. In 1980, we ranked 11th in the world for longevity; now we’ve fallen to 42nd, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

How did we get here? Well the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 regulates the maximum number of working hours, over-time, child labor, and minimum wage but never mentioned paid time off. There was never a baseline set for vacation or sick time and now it’s up to the employee and employer to negotiate. Many companies will give workers about 1-2 weeks off per year, but they can also stipulate that you cannot use more than a certain amount of days in a row. About a quarter of Americans don’t get any vacation time at all.

Benefits of a Break

  • Studies suggest that those who take vacations are less likely to suffer from heart disease and other illnesses.
  • Taking a vacation from work is associated with better health, relationships and social life, productivity and creativity, and general well-being.
  • Replenishment and life-enriching experiences, preventing ‘burn-out’
  • Stronger social and familial bonds
  • Improved patience and tolerance, less anxiety and depression

These benefits really take place over a block of vacation time, not a day taken here or there.

Focusing on this issue of vacation time forces us to examine our values, as individuals and as a country. What do we value? Economic progress over all else? What about our health and our families? Our mental well-being? We work hard and long for progress and production, but if we want to improve our quality of life and well-being, we have to fully realize that vacations matter greatly.

Do it for your sanity and your health. Be ‘time rich’. Take a vacation– holistic nutritionist’s orders. 🙂