We instinctively know what is healthy for us and what is not.
Everyone knows that eating fruits and vegetables is a good thing, that having a handful of nuts (but not too many) might be okay for our hearts or that fried foods and sweets are bad.
Nearly 40 percent of American adults are obese and another 30 percent are overweight.*
No sleep = no leptin. Leptin is the hormone that get released when you get enough quality sleep.
No leptin = no appetite suppressant for 24 hours.
When you don’t get adequate sleep, not only do you not get leptin and its appetite suppressing qualities, you get leptin’s evil twin: ghrelin.
Lack of quality sleep = ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that gets released when you don’t get enough quality sleep.
Ghrelin = appetite stimulant.
So if my claim is true and we know what to do, then why are we not doing it? Are we just lazy? Is it a lack of willpower? Temptations abound? Physiological changes in our brain that act like heroine when all we really did was eat cheese? All of those have some truth, but I think the bigger issue is something different.
We are not doing what we know is good for us because we’re too freaking busy to do it.
Our way-too-packed, non-stop, stress-inducing, sleep-deprived lifestyle is killing us in the way that we do not have time to make the right choices we know we need to make. Our plates are too full with our lifestyles and not full enough with the things that will keep us healthy and of healthy weight.
A common thread that runs through the lifestyles of my clients is that they are too busy to take care of themselves, even if they wanted to. They simply don’t have the time. They wake up early, get a gaggle of kids out the door, work all day, get home at 6 p.m. and there is no food in the fridge–because who had time to go shopping? And are you kidding–meal prep? Think ahead? Plan in advance? Not a chance–not to mention carving out enough time for adequate sleep or setting off a cascade of events designed to make you gain fat.
But this is how we do things. We’re American. Fast. Be all you can be, then go be some more. No pain, no gain. Lean in, for God’s sake. Well, I disagree. I say, lean out. Lean back, actually.
Lean back, against the counter with a glass of wine and some extra time to enjoy your life. Do the hard work of rearranging your lifestyle so you don’t die of a heart attack earlier than your destined time.
I know what you’re saying. “I can’t lean back.” “I can’t quit my job, I have bills, responsibilities, health insurance, etc.” “She’s nuts and might be able to do that but I can’t.” Well, I might be tiny bit nuts, but you probably are too, so the way I see it is that you and I both have the same choice. Find time to do those things that we want to do and know it will keep us healthy, fit and well–or don’t and suffer the consequences.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to do in order to be a healthier, or perhaps a smaller me?” Then whatever the answer is, actually work toward it. I’m not saying that you should quit your job, but maybe you have to work harder for a little while to be able to scale back. All I’m saying is that the importance of finding time to have a life will increase the quality and duration of your life.
Being healthy and losing weight is not all about knowing what to eat. It’s about finding the time and balance in your life to do it. Read a book about stress management instead of the latest high protein diet. Take your vacation days. Have a brain health day off and go hiking. Make a plan to get you into a place where you can work 32 hours a week instead of 46.
As hard as it may be, the consequences could be grave if you don’t.
Originally published in Fargo Monthly June 2017