Yesterday I took a hop into the way back machine and brought you a post that I wrote over 3 years ago.  You’d think that I would have learned those lessons by now, wouldn’t you?

Of course, you’d be wrong if you thought this.  I’ve always owned up to being a few threads short of a full sweater.

So, last night I got to bed late.  Why?  Because.  Yes, that’s my whole reason.  I was too lazy to haul myself out of my comfy chair to go to bed.  Makes perfect sense.

This morning, between the scant 6.5 hours of sleep and the cold that keeps on lingering, I woke up so tired it felt like I had only slept for a few minutes before my alarm went off. I stumbled around getting myself ready for work and basically sleep-drove myself to the office (that’s why they have guardrails — they keep you on the road just like the bumpers they use for little kids when they go bowling).

And all morning — from the moment I got up — I was hungry.  Even after eating what is usually a satisfying breakfast, I was still hungry.  Hungry, hungry, HUNGRY. The more I nodded off, the more I wanted to eat.  And you know what? When I’m tired like that, I have very little desire to make decisions that benefit me.  It’s like having to be coherent and productive when I’m mostly asleep takes up all my energy, leaving nothing to toss towards eating healthy food or having the ability to wait more than 45 minutes between meals.

I’m tellin’ ya, people — sleep.  It’s the answer to so many things.  It really is so much easier to stay on plan when I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.  It’s as simple as that.  And like so many other things in my Lean Eating journey, it’s a lesson that I keep teaching myself, over and over and over.  One day it’ll stick, I’m sure.

Monday!  Again!  How does this keep happening?  The new habit this week is all about getting your zzzz’s — or, at least, doing everything you can to facilitate getting the zzzz’s. And, about 3 years ago, I had this epiphany that getting enough sleep was pretty much the cure all.  In fact, I wrote a blog post about it (on a long-stale blog), which I’m going to steal and reprint here (because why reinvent the wheel, ya know?).  So, without further ado, my September 2010 take on sleep:

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve figured out the answer to all of life’s problems.
Get enough sleep. And not just on the weekends, or a good night of it here and there, but consistently, almost every night, get enough sleep.

I bet you expected something funnier, eh?

You might be one of the Sleep Blessed: one of those chosen few who feel really good after just 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. That’s all you need to get your batteries recharged, recover from the previous day of stress or workouts and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to hop out of bed and face the day.

Me? I’m not so blessed. I’ve mentioned it before – it takes 8-10 hours of sleep a night to transform me into someone you’d want to be around. I can get by on 7 a night for a while, but it wears on me and makes me a touch cranky. And 6 hours a night (which is about what I had been averaging)? Really – take my word for it – don’t come near me. Especially if you’re one of those perky-with-5-hours-a-night type people. I just might accidentally run over you with my car. Twice.

For so long — years, really — I’ve been chronically sleep-deprived. It’s one of those things that I joked about but knew on some level that it was reality. But I never fully realized how profoundly this impacted me every single day. When I talked about always being tired, that was the god’s honest truth: I could sleep anywhere. Given an opportunity to nap? Minutes and I was out cold. And a nap wasn’t usually 20 minutes — it was 1-2 hours.

Fitting training into this equation has always been difficult for me — an epic struggle between hitting the street and hitting the couch. And? The couch usually won that battle, at least more often than not.

And then about 6 weeks ago after having weeks of sleep-related issues, I started going to bed at 8pm. Yes – the sun was still shining and I was trying to fall asleep – but the result? I now get a luxurious 8 hours of sleep a night during the week. And then on the weekends? In bed early (sometimes as early as 8-9pm) and up early, but with no alarm and usually I’ll manage 9-10 hours of deep, refreshing sleep. Now that’s livin’ right!

You know what happened? After about a week of getting enough zzz’s, I turned into a sleep evangelist (or for the more secular, a late-night Sleep Is Awesome!! infomercial in my best Billy Mays voice) — I felt so incredibly good and couldn’t stop talking about how such a basic thing as sleep could make everything all rainbows and sunshine and butterflies (perhaps I went a touch overboard…). I couldn’t wait to tell everyone that I knew how damn easy it was to feel like you could conquer anything that life had to throw at you (fine print: I have no kids or husband or social life to get in the way of getting enough sleep, so “easy” might be somewhat subjective, and, of course, your mileage may vary).

Truthfully, I haven’t felt this over-the-top awesome in years. YEARS. Literally. It’s not like my problems have gone anywhere, but my ability to deal with them? So much better than before. Now that I spend my days more awake (without the aid of huge caffeine boosts), my thinking is clearer, I have more energy, and I’m ready to grab life by the tail and shake it around a little, just for grins.

It amazes me that it took me so damn long to put this together. I mean, sure, I’m no rocket scientist, but you’d think that falling asleep during, well, everything, would have been a clue. Or perhaps the fact that I could ingest barrels of caffeine and not have it even make a dent in my nonstop yawning. Perhaps I was too tired to make the connection.

I know, I know – I sound a little insane, don’t I? Again – I just can’t seem to find the words to convey how good things are now. I feel like I’ve spent the past 4+ years walking around in a fog, rarely feeling anything more than just okay, instead of regularly feeling good. My friends and family have noticed my improved mood and positive attitude. My boss even noticed that I didn’t look nearly as worn out as I usually do (he’s one of the good guys, but occasionally manages to put his foot in his mouth).

And while going to bed before the good TV shows even start might make me a bit of a loser, now that I know this secret, I don’t think I can go back. I’m hooked on feeling awake and alive and energetic and – basically – awesome all the time. Who needs a social life, right?

See, I’m like a Lean Eating seer or something, aren’t I? It’s like I wrote that post 3 years ago just waiting for this moment to recycle it. I’m nothing if not environmentally friendly.

Anyway – my sleep ritual has developed over the years, and now I regularly head to the bedroom early and get ready for bed, then foam roll and stretch, write in my journal, cuddle with the dogs and then 10 minutes later I’m asleep. And I get close to 7-8 hours a night fairly consistently (and feel like crap when I don’t). The ritual helps; it gives me time to slow down and relax before climbing into bed, so that when I do I’m ready to close my eyes.

It makes a difference, it really does. Give it a try if you don’t already.

I’m doing my best to forget about this week and prepare for next week so I do better.  I made some sausage and egg muffins, steel cut oats, prepped vegetables and roasted a chicken — that should give me good options instead of eating out every meal.

Health-wise, I’m doing okay.  My back is feeling much better — I’m ready to go back to light training.  However, my snot-filled head has other ideas at the moment — breathing isn’t as easy as it ought to be.  But I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll get back at it, at least half speed.  Just something, ya know?

I’m also going to get back to posting everyday.  Once I miss one day, it’s an easy backslide for me, and writing things out here (even though it’s not always the most scintillating reading around) makes me more accountable and forces me to think more than I otherwise might.

And while I’d rather not, the week in review:

While I’m trying to forget this past week, the scale has no such discretion.  I’ve said it before: it’s amazing to me that at my best I can drop a pound or so a week, but at my worst (and really, this wasn’t my worst), I put on 4 pounds in a week.  How is that even fair?  Hopefully it’ll come back off as quickly as it was put on.

Nada. Zilch. Nothing. First part of the week my back made training an unwise choice, and then the bad cold (sinus infection?) got the best of me.  Can’t wait to get back at it, though.

Writing everything down — like everything else this week — went all to hell.  I simply didn’t do it.  Well, I did it after the fact, but not the same day and I’m pretty sure it’s not altogether accurate because of that.  I may continue to do this for another week to actually get two weeks of this one.

Habit Log:
Weeks 1-2: Fish oil and probiotic
Weeks 3-4: Eating slowly
Weeks 5-6: Stop eating at 80% full
Weeks 7-8: Lean protein with every meal
Weeks 9-10: 5 servings of vegetables a day
Weeks 11-12: Make smart carb choices
Weeks 13-14: Plan Meals

Weeks 15-16: Log all food 

It’s been quite the week:  wake and funeral for my grandma, muscle-spasming-in-my-back issues, things breaking at work issues and yesterday I managed to catch the bad cold that’s been going around (and just as my back was feeling good enough to try working out again!).  You know, because everything else wasn’t enough.

Nutritionally, this has been a most awful week.  I pretty much ate all sorts of crap because it was convenient and easy and I wasn’t feeling up to taking care of myself.  In return, I enjoyed some junk food but felt kind of nasty afterwards.  I don’t like feeling like that.

I need a reset.  I need to eat healthy.  Even though I’m not feeling well, I need to spend this weekend doing food prep so that I have healthy options right in front of me.

Just wanted to update everyone — I know it’s been awhile since I posted here.  I’m around, just sniffling, coughing and miserably whining about not feeling well.  It’s not pretty.

Just a short post today because I’m doing it on my tablet instead of my computer. It’s been a rough week … my grandma passed away on Friday and on that same day I really messed up my back while working out.

As far as my grandma goes, she’s finally in peace. This is what she’d wanted for a long time now and so while it’s sad and we will miss her, there’s a sense of relief knowing that she’s where she wanted to be.

And as far as my back goes, it’s not good. Hurt it Friday afternoon and Friday night I could barely stay upright because it kept spasming. It’s gotten slightly better but is still very sketchy. Every move is done with the utmost care still, though at least the spasms have decreased quite a bit. Of course with a wake and funeral the next two days, it’ll be a lot of on-my-feet time that probably isn’t going to help.

Measurements:  good week for me even with everything going on.  The inches keep coming off … noticeable when I went shopping this morning for dress pants for the wake — I’m down a size.

Workouts:  good until my back decided to stage a mutiny. I imagine I’m at least a week out from doing any kind of meaningful training.

Habits:  finally decided on just writing everything down in a Google doc along with how I felt before and after the meal. It’s getting the job done without making me too crazy.

So my focus in the coming week? Nutrition, of course, since that’s the one thing I can a still do.  It’ll be a challenge with everything going on, but I need to do it.