You’ve decided you want to lose some weight.
Maybe you just had your kiddo and you’re hoping to drop the extra pounds you gained during pregnancy.
Maybe you had your kiddo months (or years) ago and you’ve decided now’s the time.
So you’re searching for some tips and strategies to make that happen.
I hear you. And I would love to help you (and what I share in this post can absolutely help you).
First you need to know this…
A lot of moms (especially new moms) feel pressured to lose weight. They want to get their “pre-baby body back” because they feel like that’s what they need to do.
And losing weight is an absolutely okay goal to have – but not at the expense of your emotional or physical health.
It’s really important that you remember that you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to lose the baby weight.
So, while I’m here to help, I don’t want you to feel pressure from me (or anyone else) that this is something that needs to happen. Because it doesn’t.
You get to decide what you want for your body. I’m not going to tell you what that should be and I understand that weight loss may be something that you want. And that’s cool.
Just be sure it really is what you want and you know why it’s important to you. The real, deeply meaningful why that’s submerged under the layers of “look good on the beach” and “have my pre-baby body back”. So it’s going to be easier for you to get (and keep) some awesome results.
Now that you’re sure this is what you truly want, and you know why this is important to you, let’s talk about the how.
But a key part of the equation that’s easy to miss – especially for moms – is sleep.
According to research out of the University of Arizona, overweight or obese women who consistently got good quality sleep that lasted 7+ hours boosted their chances of successfully losing weight by 33%.
That’s a huge number. That means that sleep is essential to weight loss.
And it’s not just the experts at Arizona that are seeing this trend.
In Canada, researchers found that when two groups were put on the exact same diet and exercise program, the group that got less than 6 hours of sleep a night lost significantly less weight then the group that got 8+ hours of sleep a night.
We also have a hormone in our bodies called leptin. It suppresses our appetite and helps ensure we don’t overeat. So obviously it’s important that this hormone is working at top-notch capacity if we want to lose weight.
But research shows that sleep deprivation can lower leptin levels by 19% compared to the leptin levels of people getting a good night’s rest. Less leptin means you’re more likely to not feel satisfied and have a higher chance of overeating.
Another study found that not getting enough good quality sleep can make you crave more salty, sweet, carb-y foods. But I don’t have to tell you that, right? One night with a teething baby and all you want is all the carbs!
To take it a step further, when you’re trying to lose weight you want to lose fat right? You’re not interested in losing water weight or muscle mass.
Well some interesting research out of Chicago found that when people on a diet got a good night’s sleep (about 7 1/2 hours) they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less (just over 5 hours). In both instances they lost about 6.6lbs total in two weeks.
But, when they were getting good sleeps, they lost 3.1lbs of fat. When they weren’t getting enough sleep they only lost 1.3lbs of fat. So if fat loss is your goal, not just weight loss in general (which I’m guessing it is) sleep is obviously crucial to boosting your chances of losing fat quicker and easier.
Pretty compelling evidence that sleep is essential to your weight loss success, right?
Now before you say, “Jen. Sleep more? Really? I’m a mom. Getting 7+ hours of uninterrupted sleep is like winning the lottery!” hear me out.
Yes, I know that having a baby, or toddler, or lover who snores doesn’t make it easy to get a good night’s sleep. But sleep is just like exercising or eating healthy.
You can always make choices that make it easier for you to eat healthy and exercise.
And there are choices you can make that can improve the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting too.
Here are 5 practical, simple ways to help improve your sleep:
1. Enjoy More Sunshine In Your Day
You’ve probably heard about melatonin and how it’s important for sleep. Melatonin basically tells your body when it’s time to be awake and time to go to sleep.
And our body’s ability to produce melatonin is impacted by light exposure – especially sun exposure.
If you get out and enjoy some sun during the day it’ll help boost your melatonin production train at night and improve your sleep.
So head out for a walk and get some sun in daily (or as often as you can). Even on a cloudy, cold day you’ll still be exposed to plenty of light. (The bonus is that this is true for you and your littles. Exposing them to some sun during the day can help your kids sleep better too. Which will obviously help you get better sleeps. Win!)
2. Put Your Phone Away
I know you really love scrolling through Instagram right before bed but I have bad news for you. Your phone is probably giving you crappy sleeps (or not allowing you the opportunity to sleep as well as you could).
There’s a whole whackload of science-y language behind it but let’s just keep it simple and say that the light coming from your phone messes with your melatonin production (remember we need melatonin for sleep). And not getting enough melatonin can impact your sleep quality.
This goes for middle of the night feedings for baby too. If you’re tempted to take out your phone while baby is drinking the bottle, resist the urge. You’ll both be able to get back to sleep easier if you keep the lights down low and avoid the urge to Pin all the things.
So put your phone away and read a book before bed instead. Or better yet, have sex – since having an orgasm before you nod off can improve your sleep too. 😉
3. Try This Bedtime Drink
If you’re having trouble getting or staying asleep at night (perhaps you’re anxious about how your toddler is going to react to being put in daycare so you can get some gym-time in tomorrow) try drinking this before bed:
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp raw, unfiltered honey
1 Cup (or so) of hot water
I’ve tried it a couple times and it definitely seemed to help me feel calm and sleep well.
Give it a go and let me know how it works for you.
4. Adopt a Caffeine Curfew
Having caffeine too close to bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep and impact the quality of your sleep.
Most experts agree that having your last cup of coffee (or caffeinated tea) by 4pm at the latest is the best choice.
This may be a hard one to adopt if you’re used to your after dinner coffee, but give it a try. You don’t have to stick with it forever. Just see how it impacts you and go from there.
5. Keep Your Room Cool
Our bodies naturally cool themselves down at night to get ready for us to sleep. In fancy terms, this is called thermoregulation. Ooooh! 😉
And if your room is too hot, it can be hard for your body to get in the optimal state to help you fall (and stay) asleep.
Research has actually shown that insomniacs tend to have higher core body temperatures before bed then people who don’t have trouble sleeping.
So keeping cool seems to be key. What temp should your room be set at, you ask? Most experts agree somewhere between 60-68 degrees Farenheit, or 15-20 degrees Celsius. The more bedding and pajamas you use and wear, the cooler you should keep your room.
Remember. You Don’t Have to Be Perfect. Just Give it a Try.
You may be thinking, “I’ve been drinking coffee after dinner for years with no problems” or, “I’ve always scrolled through my phone before bed and I get to sleep fine”. Which is totally fair. It feels like it’s working for you and you like it so you’re not sure about this whole switching things up thing.
But I have a challenge for you. Try adopting some or all of these strategies for one week. Just one week. And see how you feel. See how it impacts your sleep (and mood, and cravings…)
If you’re going to start with one or two I recommend going for the caffeine curfew and not taking your phone to bed with you. Bonus points for also trying to get more sunshine during the day.
This may feel like one of those times where you’re thinking, “This is great and all but how’s it actually gonna work in my life?”
I get it. I’m with you.
We’re busy moms. We don’t have the luxury of pooping alone (or at least without a tiny person lurking outside the door) most days so how can we make great sleep happen daily?
The truth is it doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to get it right every single day.
Life is chaos sometimes so it’s hard to always make these things work. But simply adopting a couple of the strategies that feel like they’ll have the most impact in your life and getting them done as often as possible can do wonders. Especially when you’re trying to lose weight.
You know now that sleep is critical to your weight loss success.
Remember – you don’t have to lose weight after having a baby. But if this truly is a goal you have – and you want to go for it in a healthy, realistic way – then sleep is a key part of the equation.
So if you find yourself tempted to scroll through your phone at 10:30pm remind yourself that this is for a good cause. The better sleep you get, the better results you’ll get.
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