Category Archives: Diet

Nutrition Tips For Thanksgiving

The holidays give a lot of people anxiety when it comes to eating, being fearful of overindulging, not being able to control their intake, or for some, not sure how to approach any holiday while still enjoying the foods they love. My simplest piece of advice that I can offer always reigns true for anything in love, eat mindfully but allow your space to indulge without guilt, how do we do this? Well if you keep following along you’ll find out.

 

Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays, mainly because I get two in one year. As a Canadian we celebrate Thanksgiving in October however also being American, we celebrate this holiday but in November. From the pie to the stuffing to the gravy, this holiday is all about the food and I’m here for it (sometimes I end up in a food coma, actually let’s be honest, I always end up in a food coma around Thanksgiving).

 

As always, my tips are just suggestions and in no way do you need to follow them head-on. I’m simply sharing what I share with clients who struggle with this holiday and want to also stay on track with their goals while enjoying all the amazing food that sits in front of them.

 

Fasting for Thanksgiving is a big no-no, you do not need to fast for this festivity unless you are someone who already follows an intermittent fasting schedule. Instead, let us look at the day this way:

 

  1. Enjoy a high protein, low carb, and fat breakfast
  2. If your Thanksgiving dinner sits in the early afternoon, instead of having lunch, make yourself a high protein, low carb/low fat snack.

 

          • If anything, people struggle with getting enough protein in on this day so having 1-2 meals or one meal and one snack that is high in protein will set you up for success.

 

      3. For your Thanksgiving meal, the following is a suggestion:

 

          • 1/4 protein, 1/2 carb, 1/2 vegetable, 1/4 fat (can be included in protein/carb). Within this structure, you’re still hitting all your core groups and you can visually see on your plate where each macronutrient sits.
          • For dessert, if there are many different kinds sometimes I’ll opt for smaller portions to allow more space for a variation or if I’m more prone to want just apple pie, 1-2 slices is the perfect amount for me (I’ll never skip dessert, it’s the best part).

 

Remember, these are just suggestions to get the most out of your holiday without feeling like you overindulged. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t struggle with these feelings then please disregard my suggestions or follow them if you want to also stay mindful of your goals. Everyone is different and we all have different relationships with food, that is why what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for the next person.

 

If anyone needs any extra advice or wants to reach out to speak on the holiday, feel free to DM me on my personal Instagram. I’m always available for a little chat, especially since I’ll be spending the Holiday virtually with my family.

 

Have a great Thanksgiving Union Fam, much love,

 

Jocelyn

Keeping it Real

I took four whole days off of tracking my daily intake and it was my fault. I didn’t go to the grocery store like I said I would, I didn’t prioritize my nutrition around an unexpected busy schedule and I truthfully didn’t feel bad about it because it was a decision I made. As Curtis reminded me this morning, making sure you all as members know that even us, as coaches and employees at Union Fitness, have days or weeks where we fall off the wagon is important.

 

I’ve noticed there’s this obsession in the fitness world where professionals either always appear to be on their game or they aren’t transparent about their struggles, these aren’t the people I want to follow in real life or on social media. As a Nutrition Coach and someone who has chosen fitness as their day-job/career, it was my goal long before both of these titles to always remain honest with the world because it keeps me honest with myself. I cannot possibly coach people through their nutrition habits if I’m not honest with them that I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner, 3 days in a row. True nutrition is understanding that we are human and we cannot chase perfection. 

 

Outside of my professional titles I also train/compete in the sport of CrossFit, I like to say I’m average at best but I do work very hard inside and outside of the gym. Tracking macronutrients for me is a way to make sure I’m not only fueling my body for training but also making sure it is getting enough food to get me through everyday life. Aside from tracking, I see a Physical Therapist for bi-weekly check-ups and I am constantly prioritizing my recovery and sleep. Whatever I am chasing inside the gym needs to be matched outside of the gym. But here’s the thing, no matter how well I am at keeping my priorities aligned, life will always be there and something will always happen and it’s up to me on how to move forward.

 

An unplanned four days off from tracking my food intake was a mistake on my part and this is where personal accountability comes into play. I understand that I made these decisions but that my feelings around these four days were nowhere close to being negative. I rolled with the punches, I told myself to take a break and to just do whatever my body felt it needed and that when Monday rolls around I’ll get back on my game. Truthfully I had planned for Sunday to be back at it full-swing but when Canadian Thanksgiving happens and your boyfriend shows up with a pint of Ben & Jerrys, you just can’t say no.

 

The biggest lesson I can share with you all about nutrition is that when you start to dig deep and build these long-term habits, the moment you slip up, your feelings towards that slip-up change over a period of time. You can go from feeling awful about it to making better decisions and allowing yourself the space to indulge without guilt.

 

So here I am, keeping it real with you all because sometimes you just need to cut yourself some slack and do whatever you want for no reason at all but because you want to or because you wanted to take a nap over going to the grocery store.

Nutrition Debunking Series

TODAY’S TOPIC: BEING CONSISTENT AT HIGHER CALORIES.

 

Well guys, looks like I’m making a thing out of this for however long I can find things that need debunking in regards to nutrition (which could be for a while with the number of things that bother me endlessly about society). I’ve mentioned this before but there is an immense amount of misinformation out there, companies will profit off of this misinformation leaving consumers feeling underfed and eventually unhappy in their skin.

 

In my first “Nutrition Debunking (Part One)” I spoke about a caloric intake in which only a child should be eating, 1200 calories is not a sustainable intake for anyone above the age of 8, so why are companies profiting off of a diet that such a caloric intake is being advertised? I’ll tell you why, because everyone loves a quick fix until they realize this is a quick approach to a long-term issue.

 

When potential clients come to me underfed its truly no surprise, this problem is so common that I have come to almost expect it before the first conversation. Society has ingrained in us that we need to cut calories to lose weight, while that may be true, just jumping into a caloric deficit is not the correct path (especially if the individual is already underfed). The truth is that we need to be more consistent in our eating at a higher caloric intake, such as eating at maintenance. 

 

Maintenance is the baseline amount of calories our body needs per day to function properly.

 

Working towards eating at maintenance is a perfect starting point for people who are ready to take their nutrition to the next level. Now the process in which to get to your baseline can be a month-long process, especially if the client is underfed. Consistency takes time and it can certainly be challenging for most people but our bodies love consistency, it wants to be fed properly and be fed with nutrient-dense foods. 

 

To put it into perspective for you, the average American is probably eating well Monday – Thursday but when the weekend rolls around our nutrition takes a backseat and we find ourselves ordering takeout Friday – Saturday, enjoying a few drinks then spending Sunday recovering and probably consuming less than 1,000 calories or well above what we need to curb that hangover. We could also find that some people are under-eating one week, and the next week they hit their caloric intake perfect, then overeat the following week. Our body absolutely cannot figure out what we are doing and this is when we see process full-on stop.

 

So, before you decide to “slim-down” or hop on a brand new diet, why not see what happens if you become more consistent at eating more food. Make it a 2-week goal, if the 2 weeks felt good then make it to a whole month. A lot of body composition progress can be seen with eating a higher amount of calories for 6 months or more if the individual was well underfed previously and was able to be consistent in their eating habits. Consistency also doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, in my experience following the 80% rule is a great starting point. The 80% rule means hitting your daily intake 80% of the time while also letting yourself be flexible and not feeling stressed out because nutrition should never cause you stress.

 

The mentality of going from being underfed to eating more food can we hard, it can be a huge change for some. We attach a lot of our feelings to food and with that being said, sometimes these feelings can damage the relationship we have with ourselves. Once we start to understand that food is fuel not only will you have a better relationship with yourself but you will find that your mentality is shifting, building that trust between food and the relationship you have with yourself.

NUTRITION DEBUNKING (PART ONE)

What’s up guys, Jocelyn here. I’m super excited, overly passionate and invested about anything and everything nutrition related. After finishing my Nutrition Coaching cert through Precision Nutrition I’ve had so many opportunities to personally help and/or guide people through their own nutrition journeys. I’ve found consistently, even from just coaching in general that there are A LOT of nutrition myths out there, thus another nutritious blog post from yours truly (see what I did there?).

 

Misinformation exists, especially in the fitness world and it’s a huge problem for professionals in this industry trying to properly educate individuals. The market for dieting is growing every year, from weight-loss supplements, juice cleanses and meal plan templates, we are seeing the biggest marketing scheme for “quick-fixes” take over the health and wellness industry.

 

In this blog post I’m going to focus specifically on the diet culture within the fitness industry and providing educational and informational responses on why these chosen paths for weight-loss are ultimately damaging not only for your body but mental health as well.

 

Let me first clear things up, there are no quick fixes especially when it comes to weight-loss.

 

Getting right into it, I want to start off with this idea that we need to eat 1200 calories a day in order to see weight-loss happen. Here’s what will happen if you only consume 1200 calories, you will lose weight (awesome right? Not exactly), you will also lose some fat but also muscle. The biggest problem with restrictive eating is that your metabolism will eventually get used to eating at such a low caloric intake that you will have to continue to eat less and less calories to see progress in your weight-loss. The issue with this is that it creates an unhealthy relationship with food, it creates stress and stress comes with a whole list of things it does to your body. Having such a mentality leads to disordered eating, labeling food as “good or bad” and then eventually binging because you’ve deprived your body of what it needs for so long, this is not only harmful for your body but also your mind.

 

No person on this earth except for a child under eight that doesn’t exercise should be eating less than 1200 calories (according to the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines). As we get older the baseline amount of calories we need to function properly go up and they will also vary dependent on how active of a lifestyle we live and if/how hard we workout. This is why a one-size meal plan templates does not work and why juice cleanses are a superficial. The main reason why a one-size meal plan doesn’t work (side note: it may work for some people when its a customized plan for their specific needs) however, we are all different and that means the amount of calories we need is different from say myself and what my fellow co-worker Curtis needs to fuel his Powerlifting training. Therefore, buying a one-size fits all meal plan template from an Instagram influencer might not be the best move for long-term sustainable success.

 

Let’s move onto juice cleanses, a market that has generated $215 million dollars in 2012 (according to market research firm NPD group via Harvard Health). The biggest issue I have personally with juice cleanses is that they claim to “detoxify” your body when in actuality your body comes equipped with a natural detox system AKA your kidneys and liver. If you have healthy kidneys and liver they will filter blood, expel toxins and cleanse your body 24/7. Juice cleanses will profit off of detox marketing and misguide people thinking this is what they need to do to rid their body of waste so that they feel healthier. These cleanses are generally low in calories and in-turn result in weight loss, however the real question here is what do the participants do once they have finished their cleanse? Just because you rid your body of all the “toxins” within it doesn’t mean you can go back to how you were eating before and evermore your internal desire to binge will be high due to restricting yourself for days. We also need to pay attention to how much protein the body is getting, even if you are vegan/vegetarian these diets still get a healthy amount of protein to maintain muscle mass. Juice cleanses have little to no protein in them, overall the juice cleanse is just a “quick-fix” to a long-term problem.

 

Good nutrition comes from education on whole and nutrient dense foods, a stress-free and relationship centered focus in regards to food. Restricting calories, following diets that are a one-size fits all approach or thinking quick-fixes are going to get the job done is not going to promote health for the long-term. Nutrition Coaches like my myself focus solely on making sure the client in eating enough food to sustain a healthy weight while also reaching their goals, the biggest myth of all is that you need to starve yourself to lose weight when in reality you probably need to eat more than you already are now to achieve your weight-loss goals.

 

Next time you’re scrolling through social media pay closer attention to what type of information you’re taking in and if you have specific nutrition questions, stop me in the gym next time you see me and/or stay tuned for part two!

 

Much love,

 

J

 

References:

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Juicing — Fad or Fab” Harvard Health, health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/juicing-fad-or-fab.

“Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015” 2020 8th Edition 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/.

Toria’s Trip

Hello! I’m one of the new kids here at UF. I wanted to introduce myself and share a little bit of my story with you all. So… I graduated from Slippery Rock University with my BS in Exercise Science and from the University of Pittsburgh with my MS in Health, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease. I am currently an Exercise Physiologist at a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh, and a desk worker/soon to be trainer at UF. Now that you know my education and work background, let’s get into the fun stuff. 

 

When I was a student in college, I had gained just about 50 lbs over the course of those few years from being lazy and unmotivated. I believe I gained 25 of those 50 lbs in just one year. I only saw the inside of a gym maybe a few times per year. I was very unhappy with myself and didn’t care enough to try and lose the weight. I would eat fast food and drink pop (or “soda” for you oddballs out there) literally all of the time. I don’t think I really even knew what a vegetable tasted like. My physical and mental health both went down a steep hill. 

 

A little over a year ago, my doctor ordered a blood test because of the rapid weight gain and how badly I had been feeling. The test revealed that I had abnormally high LDL cholesterol levels (LDL = the “bad” cholesterol). At the age of 22 it definitely isn’t normal to have high cholesterol with no history of it in my family. Since I’m young it doesn’t seem like a huge concern, but I sure was scared for my future health. Not long after that news, I discovered a local CrossFit gym that I figured I could try out. I was intimidated and very unsure of it at the time, but I immediately fell in love with exercise and fitness. I ended up bringing my cholesterol levels down, losing all of that extra weight I had gained in college, gaining some solid muscle mass and a lot of confidence along the way. When I first started out, I could barely do a few pushups even from my knees and that extra weight I was carrying put a lot of stress on my joints. Now I can exercise with no pain, do movements I wasn’t able to before, and I feel great while doing it.    

 

I found a love and passion for exercise, and I realized that it’s something I will never give up on unless something crazy were to happen to me. Exercise is truly one of the greatest things on this earth. To be able to physically perform and experience what it can do to you is definitely a blessing as not everyone in this world is able to. On this journey I have learned that fitness is not about being better than someone else, it’s 100% about being better than YOU used to be. If you put even just a little bit of focus on yourself and your physical/mental health progress, it can truly go a long way. I hope my story helps you realize and remember that even with some of the setbacks that come throughout life, you can do anything you put your mind and body to!

 

Stay healthy friends!

 

Toria

Chef CeJ

Hello Union Chefs

 

Today it’s time to get on the line and run a dish on the fly (chef jargon).

 

Here is what is on the menu at Cafe de Union;

 

Fresh As Heck Cucumber & Tomato Salad

 

Quiche Me I’m Irish…Maybe

 

Pineapple Express & Spicy Shrimp Battle Spears

 

Shake Shake Shake Shakshuka 

 

FAH Cuc & Tomato Salad Recipe

 

I’m a big farmers market fan and do my best to get the majority of my produce from these cool pop up markets. Thankfully Union’s own Big Cod “Farmer Fran” Miller brought in some of that fresh fresh produce.

 

Ingredients: Cucumber, Tomato, Hot Pepper, Green Pepper, Garlic, Olives, Onions, Olive Oil, Wine Vinegar, Salt , a weeee bit of Suggaa. Slice, dice, pour, mix, clap your hands and just like that you have yourself a Fresh As Heck Salad!

 

Quiche me I’m Irish…formerly known as Quiche By A Rose Recipe 

 

I like pies and I like breakfast things, so we put it all together.

 

Ingredients: All the Veggies you like, Hot Peppers, Sweet Pepper, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes, Parsley, Fan Favorite Cheese, Eggs, Heavy Whip It Good Cream, Salt, Pepper, Pie Crust.

 

Sauté up the veggies while the pie crust is baking in the oven and then toss those veggies into a bowl with the eggs, cream and whip it up real good. When you’re ready, pour the mixture into the pie crust and let that puppy bake for about 20-30 minutes. Slice it up and enjoy.

 

Spicy Shrimp Battle Spears Recipe

 

Sweet heat on a fresh Summa Day!

 

Ingredients: Shrimps, Pineapples, Zucchini, Squash, Onions, Sweet Peppers, Mushrooms, Jalapeno, Garlic, Olive Oil, Lime, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt and whatever else you want to toss on the stick. Toss it in foil or right on the grill and let the magic happen.

 

Shake Shake Shake Shakshuka Recipe 

 

A meal all in 1 cast iron skillet.

 

Ingredients: Onions, Garlic, Peppers, Tomato Sauce, Tomatoes Diced, Eggs, Paprika, Chili Powder, Salt, Pepper, Cilantro & Parsley. Sautee all the veggies and sauce in the skillet. After about 10 minutes use a spoon to make a pot hole to crack 1 egg per hole in. Cover the skillet for a few minutes (depending on how “dippy” you like your eggs) Then garnish with the herbs, wipe the drool off your mouth and feast my friends.

 

As always, have fun cooking and devouring new meals! Stay spicy my young Chefs.

 

Cheers,

 

Chef CeJ

It Goes Beyond the Gym

You’ve probably heard it before, “ you can’t outwork a bad diet.” I mean you can try but at some point you’ll either hit a plateau with your goals or you’ll start feeling “blah” and those are things that happen when either you’re not eating enough or you’re not fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs to perform simple daily tasks.

 

If you’re an athlete within your respected sport or a member of Union Fitness coming in at 5:30PM to get bumpy with CJ in #Powerful, you’ve probably more than likely heard someone or our staff briefly mention anything in regards to nutrition. Not only do we want our clients to perform to the best of their abilities but we also want them to feel good in their everyday life. This all starts and ends with the basics of good nutrition. Good nutrition can be defined as eating whole and nutrient dense foods. Generally in a good diet we want to look for foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. These foods include, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and lean protein (when prepared with little to no saturated facts or added sugars/sodium).

 

So back to the all defining phrase, “you can’t outwork a bad diet.” For example, let’s use an early 30’s female, who works a full-time job, eats out a lot, workouts 1 hour a day and likes to enjoy a glass of wine before ending her evening – This would be what her day looks like.

 

6AM Wake-Up

 

Breakfast: breakfast sandwich from fast-food chain + coffee

Heads into work for 9AM

Lunch: chicken salad with ranch and a diet soda

Afternoon snack: greek yogurt with granola + water

Leaves work at 5PM

Takes CJ’s 5:30PM #Powerful

Dinner: burger and fries + glass of wine

 

Now let’s break this down a little, overall she’s not eating terribly but we can nit pick at a few things. First, she’s not eating enough and more specifically she’s not eating enough whole and nutrient dense foods. Secondly, her fast-food breakfast sandwich, diet soda and a burger/fries will eventually leave her feeling the “blah” sensation at some point (if her eating is consistently like this). Her water intake is also very low and my overall observation is she just needs to replace a few things that would fuel her body better.

 

Let’s take a look at the same woman but with a better understanding of eating well.

 

6AM Wake-Up

 

Breakfast: glass of water, breakfast wrap (homemade) + coffee

Heads into work for 9AM

Snack: greek yogurt with granola/blueberries + water

Lunch: glass of water, chicken salad with balsamic dressing and a soda water

Afternoon Snack: Protein bar, banana + glass of water

Leaves work at 5PM

Takes CJ’s 5:30PM #Powerful

Post-Workout: Protein shake + granola bar

Dinner: Seafood pasta + glass of wine

 

After she has learned the basics of good nutrition she implemented a few things, increasing her water intake, increasing her protein intake, choosing drink options that are healthier and making sure her meals are portioned and opting for more homemade meals and whole foods. She is eating more and fueling her body for the simple things like daily tasks whilst getting the nutrients she needs to help her get through a PM workout.

 

The goal here is to understand that regardless if you want to gain muscle or lose weight, you’re going to need to eat but what your nutritional plan looks like is going to be specific to your own goals and your genetic makeup. While we’re at it too, diet culture has long engrained in us that we need to eat less to lose weight and thats not necessary the case (but thats another blog post for another time).

 

It all comes down to fueling your body for daily life and working out. So, whatever your goals may be keep in mind whole and nutrient dense foods are the answer, shop the perimeter of your grocery store and allow yourself to eat the things you love in moderation.

 

Much love,

 

J

My Five

I feel like its been a hot minute since I last wrote a blog and whilst I normally have something to say in regards to nutrition, training or even mental wellness today I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to throw at you five things I cannot possible live without, this is in regards to every aspect of my life and a little “get to know me” type of post if you’re new to Union Fitness and have no idea who that blonde chick in the Birkenstock’s is.

 

My Five

 

Coffee: I’m a huge advocate for letting your body wake up naturally rather then jump out of bed and literally run for the freshly made pot waiting for you on the counter. However, there is nothing like it when I take that first sip in the morning, I truly do go to bed thinking about that initial cup of coffee. I will argue that Starbucks is consistently just okay and I’d much rather opt in for a small business brew that has been locally sourced.

 

Breakfast Food: I don’t know about any of y’all but I could eat breakfast at all hours of the day, I mean its basically an excuse to eat dessert at 8AM in the morning. I’d say my favorite breakfast meal that I don’t normally get to eat would be a crepes with a Nutella spread, bananas + strawberries doused in maple syrup (because I’m also Canadian, duh).

 

The Gym: Pretty sure a lot of people feel me here, especially post-quarantine I realized how much of my socializing in life comes from the gym atmosphere. Not only is it a huge hobby of mine it’s also my job and I’m very thankful to be able to do what I love on a day to day basis. The gym has allowed me to grow immensely over the past six years and within the last three, getting more involved in the competitive aspect I’ve truly learned how important it is to love the process and love the day in/day out mentality.

 

Leggings: I’m getting pretty basic here with my top five but if I’m being real with you, I own two pairs of jeans and thats 100% the truth. Leggings are my work, workout and life choice of clothing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I despise clothes that are tight and especially during specific times of the year sometimes I really just hate clothes and would much rather live on a private island so I could wear a bikini all day long.

 

Ice Cream: Hands down would do absolutely anything (that is legal) for Ben & Jerrys. I’m a fan of chocolate Halo Top but lets be honest, if I’m going to have ice cream I’m going to eat the real stuff, even if a lot of dairy hurts my stomach. I’m just a huge ice cream girl, I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a whole pint in one sitting, truly wondering if maybe I could handle another. Name a better ice cream company, I’ll wait….

 

As generic as my answers are they are so truthful, my life is super boring and primarily revolves around work, training, eating and sleeping but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, now that I’ve told you all my five, I’m nominating my fellow co-worker Cayt Neff to white about her five things she can’t live without!

 

Much love,
J

Bootcamp and Beers

Great people of Union,

 

I come to you electrified with great tidings of events to come! We are so happy to see you all safely return to Union and want to do a little something something to celebrate our members, friends of members and our community with two upcoming events.

 

The first event will start your 4th of July off with a BOOM! Here at UF’s outdoor location we will have an hour long, fun filled Charity Super Class led by Curtis, CeJ and a few special guests coaches. The class will start at 9am, we will toss some weights around, jump, throw medicine balls, carry bars, sprint and much much more. So please feel free to bring a friend, brag about this event on your social media and rock your best 4th of July workout gear. We will be taking any and all donations for………..Wounded Warrior.

 

Our next event “UF & ACB Bootcamp & Beers” will be held at Allegheny City Brewing July 11th from 11am-12pm. A few of your favorite UF Coaches have paired up with ACB to bring you a Saturday morning get you right bootcamp class, that any and all our welcomed, you just have to be 21 or older to enjoy some tasty libations after the class. If you are interested in this class please just give us a heads up or surprise us and show up, no matter what we will be ready to get bumpy then safely cheers some glasses afterwards. We will be asking for canned food items to donate to our local food bank, no money for the class is needed, just a positive attitude and your smiling faces!

 

Thank you for making UF so strong and building a community.

 

Cheers,

 

CeJ

Four Pillars: Sleep

I won’t talk too much about what someone can do during this pandemic. I believe that enough people talking about how to maintain your fitness during the current situation. What I do want to talk about is what I believe to be the four pillars to success in any fitness goal. These are the four subjects that I start with everyone I work with and constantly maintain status on them. Especially, if you feel like you hit a wall or stuck in going forward revert back to these four:

 

Sleep, Nutrition, Training, Water.

 

In that exact order as well. I realize that these might seem obvious but through a series of articles on each, I plan to cover certain points that I find people miss.

 

Let’s start with sleep. Sleep is by far the most important key to achieving any goal you have. Especially any physical goal. If you want to understand how important sleep really is I highly recommend looking into Dr. Matthew Walkers research.

 

Again everyone knows how important it is but how do you optimize it. Well besides sleep hygiene (no tv before bed, going to sleep at the same time each night, and no blue light an hour before bed) I believe there to nutritional deficiencies and air way problems that seriously hinder your sleep.

 

  1. Vitamin D
    1. Vitamin D is highly important for calcium absorption but less known that low vitamin D levels are associated with sleep disorders. Dr. Stasha Gominak has done some great work in looking at deficiencies in vitamin D and B vitamins with sleep disorders. Now, I am no doctor or dietitian so I highly, HIGHLY, recommend getting blood work. This helps establish where you are now. Another thing I want to make clear is when you get the test is important to note that the “normal” range for vitamin D is 30ng/mL – 100ng/mL which is a HUGE range. That just makes sure you are not sick that do not show optimal levels. Just because you are not defined as sick does not mean you are not showing symptoms that are effected by not being in an optimal range. I shoot to keep my levels around 60ng/dL. I do this by being outside as much as I can but also supplementing vitamin D. Again talk to a health professional but here is a link for further info on Vitamin and sleep which could help tremendously

 

https://drgominak.com

 

  1. Magnesium
    1. This one you might have heard of. A lot of sleeping supplements out there load this one up but the real question is why would so many people be so deficient in this one? I believe people consume an abundant amount of diuretics which can flush out important electrolytes and minerals. If you are drawing a blank let’s run through an average day. Waking up to a great cup of coffee is your first diuretic, then maybe around three you have another cup of diuretic and maybe it’s been a particularly long day so you have an alcoholic beverage or two to finish the day with a strong diuretic. Even before that hit’s you, most people’s magnesium levels are lower than optimal since magnesium is green leafy vegetables, which most people don’t consume. Again we are talking about optimal levels and since it’s not fat-soluble you can flush these real quick but also replenish quickly too. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian before supplementing but since magnesium is water-soluble it is fairly harmless to supplement. If you want to consume magnesium through food try a spinach smoothie with more than a cup in it as well as snack on Brazil nuts, which unfortunately taste like dirt.

 

  1. CPAP Machine (Continuous positive airway pressure)
    1. I want to give a client experience with this one. I had a client that wanted to get into powerlifting. The first thing I do is bring up my four pillars (for any goal). At first, he would always say that his sleep was great but after a while, he finally mentioned how he snores rather constantly through the night. Realizing that snoring is not a good sign I recommended a sleep study. It took some time but eventually convinced him to get a sleep study. My client was diagnosed a CPAP machine right away. Let me make something extremely clear, before this he told me he got “good” sleep, he didn’t wake up that tired, and normally felt energized throughout the day but once he got the CPAP machine one of the first things he told me was “I didn’t realize how poor I have been sleeping for so long.” One point I want to stress, the more I work with people the more I realize how common this is. I have seen all shapes and sizes have this problem so just because you don’t have a neck like some of our powerlifters doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

 

You might feel that you are sleeping “well” but I would argue that you also might be sleeping so poorly for so long that your baseline could eventually be one of your worst nights of sleep. 

Side note his blood pressure went down that was on the higher side for some time.

 

I hope you noticed how many times I mentioned “optimal.” It’s important because it’s not usually that giant red flags that hold us back from our goal. It can be the little things over a long period of time that ultimately restricts us from accomplishing our goals. Optimizing the little things can have a profound effect.

Here are added articles/videos that go more in depth:

https://www.sleepdiplomat.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCyJd-9VFq8&t=3s

https://thesleepdoctor.com/2019/02/12/5-vitamin-deficiencies-that-can-affect-your-sleep/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/ask-the-doctor-sleep-and-magnesium-supplements

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27225921/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212970/