Sleep Sweet Spot

Answering emails, eating late, finishing the laundry, checking facebook, laying in bed thinking about tomorrow’s to-do’s because maybe you had a late afternoon coffee…all of this and more affects what time we go to bed and how much sleep we’ll get.

Sleep Deprivation

When we don’t get enough sleep, it leads to a nasty sleep deprivation: which gives us a shorter attention span, slower reaction time (stubbed your toe again?), diminished motor skills (say goodbye to setting your next PR), poor concentration & memory and reduced decision-making skills (say hello to that donut). Not fun.

Lacking the right amount of sleep also affects our mood and appetite – a nasty mix I like to call, “HANGRY“. The American Cancer Association has found higher incidences of cancer in individuals who consistently slept six hours or less or more than nine hours nightly. New research recently reported that people who regularly sleep 7½ hours per night live longer. When you’re sleep deprived, your cortisol and hunger hormones both surge, causing a corresponding increase in insulin. You also experience decreases in leptin, melatonin, growth hormone, testosterone, and serotonin, all of which lead to weight gain.

It also increases the chances for us to get sick. When you get enough deep sleep, it allows the body to repair and regenerate tissue and to strengthen the immune system. When you miss out on that precious recovery time, your body starts to break down.

Sleep Sweet Spot

Unfortunately, last night I had a hard time falling asleep thinking too much about what I have to do today and feeling more sore than usual. According to my sleep tracker, I was in bed for 7:38 hours, but only 76% (5:33 hours) was deep sleep and I was awake 11% of of time (:45 minutes) restlessly moving around and getting up for a bathroom break and 1 hour was considered light sleep. No wonder I’m already ready for second breakfast at 9:30am. Knowing my body’s rhythm, I’ve experienced that my sleep sweet spot (deep sleep…not time laying in bed) is about 7 hours. That means I have to shut off electronics and get myself organized early.

A national panel of sleep experts just released new recommendations that call for more hours of sleep.

  • Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

Whether you’re looking to improve athletic performance, think faster on your feet, lose weight, or just get in a better mood, the right amount of sleep can do the trick – take it a little more seriously and you might just reach your goals faster. What can you do right now to make sleep more of a priority in your life?

Do you know your sleep sweet spot?



What Time of the Day Do You Workout?

Want to know the truth about what time of the day is best to workout?

The answer: It doesn’t really matter. It’s what time works best for YOU and your schedule. Choose a time that you’ll be consistent with and not procrastinate (and stop hitting the snooze button 10 times).

If you were looking for a scientific answer, it’s not really clear cut. Research shows benefits to working out at various times throughout the day. 

As a busy working mom, every evening after my toddler twins go to bed consists of endless laundry and cleaning from the day’s festivities, and prepping for the next… which means my mornings are usually a bit of a blur. I wake up at 5 a.m., sneak in to give Max and Joshy a kiss, and then it’s either into the car to commute to New York City or coaching classes at my CrossFit gym. I’ve found that if I fit in exercise first thing, it sets my whole day (week, month, year, life!) up for success, because it makes me feel happier (hello, endorphins!) and I’m much more productive. I also see it as a powerful symbol for my children that I’ve chosen to make my health a priority in my life. When I do that, my whole family and everyone else around me benefits (believe me, I feel sorry for my husband on the days I miss my workout).

So, I make a commitment to get it done morning, noon or night.

I shared some of my tricks with Redbook Magazine that I’ve devised to make the process a little easier. (Hint: It all starts the night before by setting an alarm to go to bed!) Check it out here!


Dear Diary…

Do you keep a fitness journal?

You should.

Keeping a fitness journal holds you accountable to your goals, helps you see what works and what doesn’t work, tracks your progress and keeps you motivated. I have kept a fitness journal since I can remember – it helps me stay motivated as I work toward goals. I used to use a good ol’ fashioned paper/pen on my calendar so I could flip through it and visually see my progress, but I now use my smartphone calendar and an app to keep me on track. Yup, there’s an app (many of them) for that! Some of my favorites I’ve used in the past are: Xercise, CardioTrainer, MyFitnessPal,  Runkeeper and now I use Wodify, which is a CrossFit membership based app. What are some of your favorites?

Use a journal to write down (in detail) your goals, your plan and what you actually do for your workout including your warm-up, your workout (including repetitions, time, how much weight you used), any modifications to the workout, the results of the workout, and be sure to jot down any thoughts or feelings you had in regards to the day (how much sleep you got, your energy level, sex drive, work productivity, moods, any of it…and all of it).

When you journal, it’s a lot of fun to be able to look back and see how far you’ve progressed. And if you have a day that you’re being hard on yourself (we ALL have those days now and then), it’s encouraging to see you’ve really have come a long way already and it’s a reminder that journeys are full of peaks and valleys. Remember to accept the challenges that you may be facing (embrace them) because you need to know that these challenges will. make. you. stronger.

So, grab a pen and paper or fire up your smartphone and get journaling!

Quick (Anywhere, Anytime) Workouts

These quick workout will keep your metabolism stoked; burning calories long after you’re done. Get a sweat on then make your plan for the rest of the week by scheduling in your workouts to your calendar and making it a priority.

Monday: 3 rounds of 10 squats, 20 alternating lunges, 30 jumping jacks
Tuesday: Every Minute On the Minute for 10 minutes: 5 pushups
Wednesday: 5 rounds of 21 supermans, :15 second plank, 9 sit ups
Thursday: Bundle up and head out for a walk or Jog 1.5 miles and stretch
Friday: Every Minute On the Minute for 10 minutes: 5 burpees
Saturday: Maximum hollow hold followed immediately by 20 mountain climbers. Rest as needed. Repeat 4 times.
Sunday: Recover: bundle up, go for a walk and strech

Apparel credit: G2OH–

Running in the Rain

“Life gives you lemons, make lemonade” they say.

We’ve all heard it before. Whether you decide to make lemonade or a dangerous margarita (sans sugar of course), this optimist saying means something different for everyone.

For some of us it simply means that when life throws lemons at you, you squeeze the shit out of it until something good comes of it.

So yesterday I decided I would make the most of my commutes going forward (I already work on the bus when most others are sleeping) but now with Memorial Day Murph in the near future (1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run…all with a weight vest), I figured I would start running from Port Authority to the Hearst Tower again (exactly 1 mile) with my 20+# backpack. (I occasionally did this through the winter…to stay warm.)

Last year I did the hero WOD, Murph, without a weight vest…that was tough. This year, I want to wear the extra weight, so I’m using the opportunity I have during my commute to train for it.

During my rainy commute into the city this morning I made up my mind that I would still run even in the rain. Screw the lemons. Walking out of Port Authority, I was pleasantly surprised to see the rain had just stopped.  I cranked up my tunes, buckled up my 20# backpack and ran up 8th Avenue singing out loud like a crazy person (just trying to blend in)!

Rainy days are your perfect chance to make the decision to leave the lemons sitting there to rot or pick them up and squeeze the pulp out of them!

Have a happy day!