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Napping and ice cream

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Napping and ice cream photo

I’m at a party and my friend tells me her boyfriend works out seven days a week.  I give him a high five.  But, I added, take a day off.  We all need a day off.  And stay with me, I’ll get to the ice cream.

When you work out, you are breaking down muscle fibers.  The idea is, muscle fibers build back up stronger and bigger after you workout, but you must rest for them to heal.  Many power lifters take a week off and come back to break plateaus because they let all their micro-tears heal.  I’m not suggesting you should take a week off, but we all need rest.

One of the best things you can do to lose weight and gain muscle is sleep.  I wish I could tell you an energy drink, coffee, or a supplement will help you make up for sleep but it won’t.  Caffeine can give you a little pick-me-up but it’s not a permanent solution and it won’t help muscles heal.  I won’t bore you with all the benefits of sleep but here’s an important one: sleep helps regulate hormones that affect and control your appetite.

If you are having a trouble sleeping, workout harder.  Kidding, but working out does help you sleep.  Other sleep aids:

•         Creating a night time ritual
•         Reading in bed
•         Writing down your thoughts prior to bed
•         Running a noise machine (i.e. rain, white noise, beach)
•         Eat a big bowl of ice cream

Ice cream will probably not help you sleep, but it can help you stay on the healthy train.  Whether your weaknesses are cookies, brownies, cupcakes (they are everywhere), ice cream, enjoy!  Pick one day a week and splurge.  I’m not saying, eat an entire cookie cake, but have a cookie, eat a burger and enjoy.  If your diet consists of burgers and fries, then this will be a huge upgrade.  However, this tip works best when you work in an office like I do.  On most days my office looks like Halloween, minus the outfits.  Candy and baked goods are a little too abundant.  By having a cheat day you can avoid the urge to grab a mini Snickers (which ends up being two mini Snickers and one peanut butter cup) and wait till your cheat day.  My sister once told me, I need a little something sweet each day.  For those of you like my sister, find food items that are sweet and satisfying but without all the sugar, fat and calories.  Here are a few suggestions:

• Fruit
• Dried fruit (check out the sugar, make sure they have some fiber.  I like apricots)
• Sweet potato
• Greek yogurt with honey
• 70% Cacao dark chocolate

When I cheat, I skip the veggie burger and go with a cheeseburger and a chocolate chip cookie (not in the same meal).  What’s your cheat food?

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