The self-care activity you’re probably neglecting

Work demands ✅

Taking care of all the kids needs ✅

Getting in that Peleton ride or early morning run ✅

Sleeping 8 hours a night?? Ummmm….I don’t have time!

This is a topic on self-care that is always on my mind. Mostly because I’m a busy, working mom and I GET IT! I struggled with insomnia and the effects of lacking sleep for many years. And because I have so many clients, family and friends who are struggling with this too, I feel it’s super important to address.

But first, let’s delve into WHY we need sleep-

Sleep is an integral process in the body. It:

  • AIDS in cognitive functions
  • Regulates emotions
  • Boosts immunity
  • Balances metabolism
  • Balances hormones
  • Regulates blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Combats fatigue
  • Suppresses cancer cell growth

Lack of sleep has been connected to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer.

Now, before we start getting worried about what our late night work emails or Netflix binges might be doing to our bodies, let’s just take this one step at a time. Like any other sustainable lifestyle change, your not going to drastically improve your sleep overnight. It’s a process and grant yourself the patience and room to make it a process. Pick 1-2 changes from the lost below to implement each week, and add on only when one habit has become more automatic:

Lifestyle modifications to improve sleep:

  1. Find 1-2 pockets of your day to meditate. It can be for five minutes at a time, but make sure you make room in your schedule to do this consistently.
  2. Exercise daily! This can be a traditional workout, yoga or a walk. But daily movement is essential.
  3. Keep your sleep and wake times consistent, even on the weekends. (Easy if you have two young kids like me. But important for all of us).
  4. Remove those LED lamps, laptops and televisions from your bedroom. (When we moved from our apartment to our house five years ago, we moved the tv from our bedroom to the family room. I swear to you that was the start of my improved sleep patterns!)
  5. Always sleep in your bed. Not the couch as your watching tv late at night. And hopefully not on your kids floor as I find myself doing some nights…
  6. Keep the temperature in your bedroom around 65 degrees.
  7. Don’t hit the snooze button!! I mean, I always New this, but recent research taught me this new fact…”Jolting” awake multiple times a morning affects the cardiovascular and nervous system. Yikes.
  8. Eat a primarily plant bases diet (yet another point for plant based!!)
  9. Don’t shoot the messenger for this one- try to stick to one caffeinated drink per day, and finish it entirely 10 hours before bed.
  • Be mindful while eating (another tough one for us moms, amiright?!? I mean, when was the last time I ate my food warm and didn’t get up at least ten times per meal to fill cups, clean spills cut food or quickly stop the baby from dumping her entire plate on the floor??)
  • See what I mean…I’m not gonna implement all of these strategies overnight and either are you. But I will keep adding no a few at a time and I’ll get there.

This week, I’ve been working on:

  • Not hitting snooze! I was so good about this pre-pandemic, but anxiety and stress made it hard to have my usual morning energy. But honestly, it’s been feeling SO good to get up early, before the rest of the house.
  • Stop drinking coffee by noon. This has been easier than I thought… I’ve been sipping on cold brew hibiscus tea all afternoon instead of another cup of coffee and I love it.
  • Daily meditation-twice a day when possible.
  • Hope this article gave your all some good tips. Remember that all that other self-care stuff doesn’t work if you’re not getting enough quality sleep.

Tell us, what tips will you be trying this week…

(And here’s the cutest reason I didn’t sleep for eight months this year…)

Cutting Through the Noise on Fitness Trackers

I may be a Health Coach, but I’m just as overwhelmed as all of you by the number of activity trackers out there. I’ve tried a few and currently love my Apple Watch, but there are tons of other great options. Which is why I’ve partnered with ConsumersAdvocate.org to share information about what research is out there on trackers. Here’s a summary of their latest research findings:

Assuming you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 10 or so years, you’ve probably seen fitness trackers evolve from a fad into more than just a trend. By all accounts, it seems as if they’re here to stay; especially when looking at data from Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare survey, which reveals that 1 in 5 American adults use wearable trackers or health apps to complement their fitness routine. 

Whether you’ve considered getting one in the past or are just curious to learn more about the different models and what they exactly track, this guide crafted by the folks over at ConsumersAdvocate.org has more than enough information to help you find one that suits your needs without breaking the bank.

Here are some of their top picks:

Xiaomi Mi Band
Best for: Affordability

Usually, if things sound too good to be true, there’s usually a catch. But in this case, we’re hard-pressed to find a better fitness tracker than this one for just $40. To top it all off, the Mi Band doesn’t only cost less than its competition, but it offers just as many apps and features, including smartphone notifications, sleep quality and heart rate monitoring, inactivity alerts, reminders, and music streaming. 

The Mi Band is slim-fit, easily adjustable, and is made up of surprisingly durable materials like aluminum alloy and thermoplastic elastomer (try saying that fast 3 times). Unlike other fitness trackers, it even has a locator option within the mobile app so that the band lights up if you ever lose it (think FindMyiPhone).

While the exact cost of the Mi Band isn’t listed on its website, consumers can still locate and purchase it from several online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. 

Fitbit
Best for: Motivation

Boy, Fitbit really took the “tracker” aspect to heart with this one. Their devices are designed to track almost every part of your day and show you how even the smallest change in your routine can make big changes to your overall fitness goals (parking further away, taking stairs vs elevator, etc). This type of micro-tracking is meant to appeal more to those who aren’t usually fitness geeks and keep motivation levels up by measuring how those little victories count towards the greater goal. It’s like having your own personal trainer on your wrist, in a sense.

If you’d like to go a bit more hardcore than that, the Fitbit Ionic offers on-screen workouts and memorizes over fifteen exercise modes to keep things fresh and constantly challenging. On the flip side, those who plan to integrate their fitness trackers into their general, day-to-day lifestyle will probably benefit more from the Fitbit Versa 2 – this one offers Fitbit Pay for on-the-go payments, voice commands, Amazon Alexa, and more practical features that make certain things easier for daily use.

Polar
Best for: Athletes

If you really want to take off the kiddie gloves, the Polar A370 is specifically designed to appeal to the most demanding fitness nuts out there. For $150, this tracker can last up to four days on a single charge and includes GPS tracking, phone notifications, sleep tracking, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. Oh, and you also get access to a whole suite of stats and graphs that chart your progress with clinical-like accuracy. If you really wanna splurge, you can get the hybrid smartwatch version with even more applications and granular tracking features for $100 more.

However, because this brand caters to more serious fitness nuts and committed athletes, all the available bells and whistles may seem overwhelming to more casual users. The training log is very detailed, which is nice but isn’t really necessary for the average person who just wants to get off the couch and feel good about themselves. After all, there is such a thing as too many spreadsheets.

There’s no excuse to stay on the couch

Yes, we know most people are still social distancing themselves and it’s way easier to just hit play on the next show on Netflix rather than to actually stay committed, but it’s this type of technology that can make things a little easier to stay on top of your physical and mental health during such chaotic times. The good news is there’s plenty of ways to get moving at home and there’s a good chance you’ll find a model that suits your specific needs, so there’s never been a better time to try new things and find new ways to stay motivated.

Check out ConsumerAdvocate.org’s best fitness tracker guide here if you want the full breakdown of the rest of the reviewed models.