Snooze to get strong and thin

I was reminded recently of one more thing to help lose weight.

Sleep.

That’s right. Get more sleep. Exercise tears down the body, rest builds it back up. Our mindset is backwards. We often think that we need to pack more into the day and that will make us better. Sometimes, working longer isn’t working smarter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to snore the day away and think you’re going to get ripped while snoozing. But, the body really does need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to recover. And, you can’t “make up” sleep. Five hours a night during the weekdays and 10 on the weekends doesn’t cut it, sorry.

Here’s a real life example. I used to work for a big bank (this one’s pretty strong and only received a minor amount of bailout money). When I left the bank in 2005 to start our business, my exercise routine didn’t change significantly, but my sleep did. Previously, I was getting 5-1/2 hours each night and had trouble falling asleep. Despite the stress of starting our own business without a safety net, I no longer had to catch a 6:10AM train and I started to get 7-8 hours each night. Not only did I start falling asleep faster, but I lost 5 pounds within two weeks and I haven’t seen those pounds since.

Goodnight.

A means to an end

For me, fitness is a means to an end. It’s a way for me to be able to enjoy the outdoors and the things I love to do with my family. During the summer, we spend time canoeing, orienteering, biking, and enjoying the kids softball games.

I grew up racing bicycles, starting with BMX and travelling around the US, transitioning to mountain bikes, and this past year trying my legs at road bike criterium racing. Each race brings back different emotions, but one is special to me.

The Iceman.

I’ve done the Iceman 16 times. It’s a 27 mile journey through Northern Michigan’s sandy hilly terrain, held during the first weekend of November. I’ve done it in 50 degree temps, and I’ve done it in 10 degrees with 5″ of snow on the ground. I broke the seat off my bike one year just a few miles into the event and finished the entire race standing up (it was torture, but I couldn’t bring myself to quit…and I wasn’t last). Five of the races have been with my daughters on a tandem mountain bike.

I’ve written about the race for both Windy City Sports and Michigan Sports & Fitness. You can find the first of the two stories right here (sorry, the page is formatted strangely, but the words are still there)

I’ve been in hundreds, maybe thousands of races over my lifetime. The five that I’ve completed with Rachael and Sara are my proudest. They’ve grown too big for the tandem tag-a-long bike, so this year’s race won’t quite be the same, but I’ll always have the memories. Maybe someday they’ll ride alongside on their own bikes. Hopefully someday they’ll be strong enough to finish the race ahead of me!

For me, fitness is a means to an end. It’s a way to develop memories like this.

How will fitness make a difference for you?