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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

There are tons of articles telling you to exercise first thing in the morning, teaching you how to become a morning person, etc. None of those tips or arguments have ever worked for me personally. Ever since I started being more physically active, I’ve always prefered to exercise in the afternoon or at night.

Here are a few reasons why I’d rather workout at night.

Job schedule

I need to be at the office before 8 am, the earlier the better. Some of my co-workers even arrive at 6 am! That means I usually leave the house between 7:00 to 7:15 am. So in order to squeeze in a workout before that, I’d have to get up very, very early. On the other hand, thanks to my work schedule, I normally get to leave the office before 5 pm, which gives me plenty of time to hit the gym or go for a run in the summer months.

More energy at night

Some people happily jump out of bed full of energy at 5 am, way before the sun is up. I’m not one of them. I’ve always been a night owl. I have way more energy at night than in the morning. My co-workers know by now that they’d better not talk to me before 8 am, as my brain is just not functioning properly before that. Same is true for my body. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving in slow-motion.

After work stress release

While my job is usually not that stressful, I do have bad days once in a while. A quick jog or bike ride, a calm pilates or yoga class, or a cheerful Zumba class are the best way I can think of to instantly boost my mood and balance out my stress levels.

First work than play

I probably have to thank my grandma for that attitude. For me personally, exercise is play! It’s fun, it’s ‘me time’, and I just enjoy doing something healthy for my body and soul. Working out even feels like a reward sometimes, not a chore.

Go all out

Exercising after work also means that I can use up all my energy. I can totally exhaust myself, because all I need to do after my workout is taking a shower, grabbing dinner or a late night snack, and relax on the couch. To me, that sounds so much better than a full day of work at the office.

In the end, it totally doesn’t matter when or how you exercise, as long as you regularly move your body, preferably in a way that you enjoy.

Do you rather exercise in the morning or at night?

See you!

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No, I didn’t totally forget about my personal Better Sleep Challenge! While this little project didn’t go as planned, I did learn a lot during the past few weeks.

My original intention was to get more sleep during the work week by going to bed at 10:30 pm on Monday to Thursday. Honestly, that totally didn’t happen. Screwed! While I did come close on a few days, more often than not I stayed up until way past 11 pm.

But I think I did at least figure out a few ways to improve my quality of sleep. I’ve made an effort to get all my preparations for the next day (packing breakfast, lunch, and snacks, laying out my clothes, packing my gym bag) done earlier in the evening, so that I can really relax and unwind afterwards. I also skipped my usual late night hot chocolate on most nights, as I’ve found that the cocoa and the sugar, even if only small amounts, kept me alert and awake for quite a while. Surprisingly, I did manage to turn off my laptop at around 10 pm almost every night, even if there were still a few unread posts left in my Google Reader.

I’ve also learned that a strict, early bed time created a lot of pressure, which made falling asleep even harder for me.

The bottom line is that I can’t force myself to do something that I don’t really want.

I know I should get more sleep during the week, but I just can’t force myself to go to bed when I’m not ready yet. I want to finish watching a thrilling movie, read some interesting blog posts, and talk and cuddle with my husband. Even if it’s not rational, those things are more important to me than an extra 30 minutes of sleep.

After all, I still have the weekends to catch up on missed sleep.

And with that, I’m off to bed!

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Project Better Sleep – Week 1

Last week I announced my personal Project Better Sleep. Today I have to confess that my first week was a total failure. Oops!

I planned to go to bed at 10:30 pm on Monday to Thursday, but that totally didn’t happen. On Monday and Wednesday I got at least close to my goal, being in bed before 11 pm. And I totally paid for it. On Friday and Saturday I was so tired that I took a two-hour nap on each day.

Why is it so hard for me to stick to an earlier bedtime? I think there are two reasons. First, I just can’t finish my ‘preparations’ for the next day in time. I always pack breakfast, lunch, and snacks, lay out my clothes, and sometimes pack my gym bag if I plan to workout during my lunch break or after work. Despite the fact that I have streamlined the whole procedure as much as possible, it still takes quite a while every night. This week I’ll try to get all my prep work done right after dinner, so that I can relax the rest of the night.

Second, there’s some personal drama going on in my life at the moment, that has literally been giving me sleepless nights. Arctic cold, broken shower for five days, financial issues – but worrying doesn’t change anything, so I’ll try to focus on the good things in my life right now.

Although week one wasn’t successful, I won’t give up and continue my little project until the end of the month, like I originally planned.

Time to go to bed!

See you!

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Project Better Sleep

Now that my personal off-season is almost over, I’ve been thinking about how to prepare for my upcoming races. I used to think that I just need to get my long runs and my weekly mileage in, and that’s it. But apparently I was wrong. When you are training for a race, you also need to care about proper fuel and recovery.

What to eat before, during, and after training runs or races is a very personal thing, and I’m still trying to figure it out, but I really love the running fuel tips over at NoMeatAthlete.com. And Caitlin from the blog HealthyTippingPoint.com wrote a great post about how to recover quickly after long, tough runs.

But today’s post is about the one thing that I’m struggling with the most: Sleep! Because of my job I have to get up at 5:30 am every morning. But as I’m a natural night owl, I have a hard time going to bed before 11 pm. As I can’t fall asleep immediately, I get about 6 hours of sleep per night. While this is enough for many people, it is definitely not enough for me, especially when I’m going to increase my weekly mileage again. I’ve already noticed, that I’m very tired on most days, struggling with lack of concentration all day long. The problem is, all the sleepiness is gone after 9 pm, so I usually can’t motivate myself to go to bed at a (for me!) reasonable time.

For a while I’ve tried to simply accept my current situation, thinking that I don’t really need more sleep, that I’m totally fine with only 6 hours per night during the week, as long as I can sleep in on the weekends, but this approach just isn’t working on a long-term basis.

So here’s the deal: During the month of February, I’ll try to go to bed at 10:30 pm on Monday to Thursday, which should give me about half an hour of extra sleep per night. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but it’s a start. Additionally, I hope to improve my quality of sleep, which will include turning off my laptop about 30 minutes before bedtime, and a few other strategies.

How long do you sleep? Do you feel like it is enough?

See you!

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(Note: I’m not an expert in nutrition. I’m just sharing my personal experiences and some knowledge bits that I’ve found online.)

Healthy eating is probably one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions every year. But what does ‘Healthy Eating’ mean? Some say carbs are bad for you, others say fat is evil, some say you have to eat every 2-3 hours, others say you should starve yourself for up to 24 hours, some say you have to eliminate salt, others say you have to eliminate sugar. It’s so confusing!

But there is one thing that almost all diets agree on: Vegetables are good for you!

Most dietary guidelines recommend consuming at least five servings of fruit or vegetables a day, depending on your usual caloric intake.

One serving equals:

  • 1/2 cup of fruit
  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • 1 cup of leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables

(Source)

A few weeks ago, I joined the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. Part of this challenge was to aim for seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day. That sounds like a lot, but I quickly got used to it, and it’s even become natural for me now.

So, how do I do it?

First you have to find your favorites, in other words fruit and vegetables that you truly enjoy eating. My current personal favorites are apples, bananas, clementines, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. On the other hand, I really despise celery, fennel, and beets, and I’m allergic to kiwis. I won’t force myself to eat things I don’t like, and in my opinion, you don’t have to, either.

The next step is going to the grocery store and buy those fruit and veggies. That’s kind of obvious. In order to be able to eat a lot of vegetables, you have to buy them first.

The key to getting in seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day is to have one or two servings with every meal or snack. Squeezing all seven servings into one single meal is practically impossible.

Here are some sample meals and snacks, based on my recent eats (that is actually what I ate on last year’s Christmas weekend):

Breakfast with vegetables and juice

Breakfast with vegetables and juice

As I prefer a savory breakfast, I usually add some raw vegetables (cucumber or carrot sticks, tomatoes) and a small glass of 100% fruit juice to my usual sandwich. That’s at least two servings of produce already.

Soup and Salad

Lunch - Soup or Salad

For lunch, I prefer something light, like soups or salads. Depending on ingredients and portion sizes, that’s about two or three servings of vegetables per meal.

Betchussam and Kidney Bean Curry

Asian dinners

We often have Korean or other Asian dishes for dinner. That includes exotic sides like seaweed salad, mung bean sprouts, and kimchi (spicy pickled radish). I’d estimate that most of my dinners contain about two servings of vegetables.

Smoothie and Fruit Salad

Smoothie & Fruit Salad

Whenever I get hungry between meals, I snack on some fresh fruit (clementines, bananas, apples) or I make myself a smoothie with frozen fruit or defrost a fruit salad mix. That’s one more serving of fruit.

As you can see, it all adds up. With a little practice, eating lots of vegetables and fruit is not that hard. And it’s delicious, I promise!

How many servings of produce do you eat per day? Do you try to eat more vegetables?

See you!

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