Everyone knows that in order to be healthy we need to eat nutritious foods and move our bodies. And yet somehow, as simple as that sounds, it can often be a struggle for people to follow through on a consistent basis. For this reason, I encourage my clients to look beyond just diet and exercise and begin to focus on two often overlooked factors: sleep and mood. These two areas have massive impact on our overall well-being and can make it difficult for us to stick to our diet and exercise goals. If we want whole health, we need to remember that food, exercise, sleep and mood are intimately intertwined.
As a completely sleep deprived new mom, I remember barely managing to eat — never mind anything healthy. And getting myself out the door to do any kind of exercise? Forget it. I was too exhausted. But it’s not just new parents who aren’t sleeping. Studies show that lack of sleep is the norm for a lot of people. It is estimated that 2 out of 3 adults currently do not meet their minimal daily sleep needs. Interestingly, research also shows that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to be overweight. Lack of sleep is also a strong predictor of higher stress and anxiety levels. And we know that high stress can lead to emotional overeating.
Think about it.
We know that physical activity is a stress reducer which can contributes to better sleep. More sleep can curb food cravings and help to maintain positive emotions. The stronger we are emotionally, the better the quality of sleep we tend to have.
Recognizing how interconnected these areas really are helps us to develop sustainable health behaviours. While each area is vital to our wellbeing, working on a single point in isolation is unlikely to succeed in the long term.
Where do you rate?
How satisfied are you with your current habits? Rate where you are right now in each of these areas on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 10 (very satisfied):
This exercise will give you an idea of where you might want to start.
The beauty is that because they are so intertwined, making better choices in one area can make it easier to make better choices in the others.
Too tired to exercise this week? That’s fine, focus on your sleep instead.
Not really interested in watching what you eat today? Try to find something to boost your mood instead.
Just don’t leave any one area out for too long, or you may find your new habits drop away.
If you are looking for simple, evidence-based activities to help boost healthy habits focusing on food, exercise, mood and sleep stay tuned! My online wellness program is coming this fall. Better yet, send me an email and I will happily put you on our VIP notification list so you won’t miss it (or the sweet early bird deal!).