Peak Fitness Cannot Be Achieved Without Proper Sleep

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Think of your body as a car. If you continually drive your car, it wears out quicker. The same thing happens to your body. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll start to experience fatigue, illness and weight gain.

During the night when you are sleeping, your body is repairing itself from the day’s activities. Small muscle tears are healing and hormone levels are being adjusted back to normal.

Repairing Muscle

During sleep, more blood is supplied to your muscles so there is an increased amount of oxygen and nutrients available. Then during the non-REM portion of sleep, the pituitary gland releases a shot of the growth hormone GH. Because more oxygen and nutrients are already at the muscle, the repair and growth happen when the growth hormone signals it to begin.

Of course when you don’t get enough sleep, not as much of the growth hormone is released, so not as much repair and growth occurs, eventually leading to loss of muscle mass, weight gain and fatigue.

Hormones and Weight Gain

When we don’t get enough sleep the hormones cortisol, ghrelin and leptin get out of whack in our system.

Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands when the body is faced with a “fight or flight” situation. Unfortunately, for many of us our normal daily activities involve enough stress to have elevated cortisol levels in our systems. When you don’t get enough sleep that level stays elevated longer than it should. The effects of an elevated cortisol level over time is weight gain.

Why cortisol results in weight gain is due to what it does in the body. When cortisol is released, it floods the bloodstream with glucose so the body have the energy it needs to deal with the stress while at the same time inhibiting the release of insulin. So now the cells are deprived of glucose and cortisol won’t let insulin put back the glucose it took out. The cells signal the brain you are hungry. High levels of cortisol can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

The hormones ghrelin and leptin have opposite effects of each other. Ghrelin, produced in the stomach and pancreas, signals your brain it is time to eat. Leptin is produced in the fat cells and is responsible for telling your body that you are full. When you don’t get enough sleep, ghrelin builds up, but leptin does not thus leaving you hungry all the time. And what are you going to do if you feel hungry? Eat, which leads to weight gain.

Also when sleep deprived, part of that hungry feeling will be a craving for sugar, fats, salt and refined carbs – all which we know are not good for you and result in water retention and weight gain.

So it is pretty easy to see that if you are not getting enough sleep, your efforts to reach peak physical fitness will be stymied at the least and unachievable at the most.

The Important Role of Mindset in Peak Fitness

In most cases the body can accomplish what the mind tasks it to do (within reason). Call it motivation, the drive to succeed, goal setting or whatever, having the proper mindset will get you to goal.

Don’t set yourself up for failure

But you do have to be careful that your mind does not set your body up for failure. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t think that you are going to lose 50 pounds in a couple of months – it just isn’t going to happen, nor would you want it to happen that quickly. But imagine you can lose two pounds per week and you can – that is a realistic goal.

Do it for yourself

Another thing about a mindset is the goal you set for yourself has to be about the betterment of you; not to make someone else happy. Take an addiction for example – smoking. How many times do people try to stop smoking before they really do quit? If they are doing it because their spouse wants them to or for some other reason besides them wanting to really quit, they’ll fail. But once they set their mind that they do want to quit, it happens. So the lesson learned is if someone else sets your goal, you don’t “own” it and stand a greater chance of failing.

What’s in it for you?

Part of a mindset is collecting a reward for attaining some type of achievement. What will yours be? And when? When you set a goal, decide your reward at goal or even smaller rewards at milestones along the way. Make sure your reward does not jeopardize your effort. In other words if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, your reward shouldn’t be eating a bag of potato chips. Make your reward tangible and worth the effort to obtain, but one that won’t sabotage your efforts.

Success builds on success

Once you get close to achieving your peak physical fitness goal, set a new and higher goal. Once you are in the mindset of working toward something, not having that carrot on a stick hanging out in front of you can slow or even halt your momentum, meaning you can fall back into your old ways again.

Changing a mindset is about deciding to go in a different direction, having the drive and determination to get there and then staying there by making it a habit. It can take up to 6 months to change a habit so stay the course and expect a set-back or two before you can say your mindset is your new habit.

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