Why Sleep is Essential for Moms Looking to Get Fit

running shoesBeing a mom is not an excuse to pass on the habit of going to gym and getting fit, and this was emphasized recently here on Geek Mamas. It can be empowering to have some ‘me time’ and being able to spend a few hours in a day losing some of the accumulated weight during pregnancy.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there, as you can do more research into how to get the best #BodyAfterBaby. Among the many things about fitness and health for moms, it’s important to note the role of sleep and why it should be a non-negotiable part of your fitness regimen.

On catching enough Zs

When you’re a new mom, juggling your own and your baby’s needs can be quite a challenge. This may take a toll on your health – especially when it’s your restorative evenings that are on the chopping block. It’s especially ironic considering that all moms know the importance of their child’s sleep, but don’t exactly prioritize their own.

As it turns out, so many Americans lack sleep everyday that sleep loss is now considered a public health problem. Harvard Health summarizes the effects of inadequate sleep in six different areas of life: learning and memory, metabolism and weight, safety, mood, cardiovascular health, and risks of disease. In fact, the quality and quantity of sleep you get on the regular is so consequential so much so that Time Magazine likens it to the fountain of youth. For moms looking to get fit, adequate sleep helps regulate hunger and appetite hormones while also regulating the way a person’s body processes and stores carbohydrates.

bab1A three-fold challenge

When thinking of getting fit, two things usually come into mind: eating healthy and exercising regularly. However, more and more research is pointing to another pillar in terms of achieving and maintaining a healthy physique: Sleep is just as important, and sometimes even more so, than diet and exercise.

Sleep gives you energy, and prepares your body mentally and physically for your gym time, making sleep an extremely important part of your fitness regimen. Fitness expert Jim White tells Leesa, “When you’re tired you’re less likely to work out, and your body produces more of the hunger hormone leptin, which can lead to overeating. Your muscles recover during sleep – you can’t get truly to a high level of fitness without enough sleep.”

The effects of sleep are so profound that White and other fitness experts would recommend sleeping in after a late night over pushing your body to exercise with just four hours of sleep, which a lot of moms are prone to doing. Success Magazine argues that you need all three parts of fitness – regular exercise, healthy diet, and adequate sleep – to achieve and maintain a healthy body.

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At the end of the day, healthy living is something you can do on your own pace. Finding a gym that also houses a daycare center may be invaluable for moms looking to get fit, while learning more about the importance of sleep gives additional reasons to maintain the lifestyle. Let us know how things are going for your #BodyAfterBaby journey in the comments!

 

Side Hustle Saturday: Making Money with Fitness Apps

I recently learned about fitness apps that not only track your activity, but reward you with money for being active. I decided to jump in and give three of them a try. Here’s my experience over the past six weeks with StepBet, Sweatcoin and Achievement.

I started my fitness research journey with the requisite “toes and scale” photo to record a starting point. It was less intimidating than the bikini/sports bra “before” type shot. So I started at 135.2 lbs, averaged 12,000 steps a day and invested a total of $40.

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StepBet – If you’ve read my “I’m squishy” post then you’ll recall I’m working on that last five to ten pounds of baby weight. This isnt totally about losing weight though, it’s about getting fit and toning up. I do a better job when I’m held accountable, so I decided to take it a step beyond my usual FitBit challenges and put some money on the line with StepBet.

It costs me $40 to join a six week challenge. I synced the app to my FitBit Charge 2 and they set my daily step goal at 15,664, so about 5,000 more steps than my usual goal. I had to also hit two “stretch” days at almost 19,000 steps and then I was allowed one “rest day.” Everyone’s money goes into the pot, and then at the end those who won split it after StepBet takes their 15% cut. You are guaranteed to get your $40 back if you succeed, and hopefully a few dollars extra for your effort.

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Did it motivate me to get up and move? Yes! I was doing good and got into the habit of doing nearly twice my usual daily steps. And then I got sick. Miserably sick with some kind of cold/flu that made me want to hide in bed and definitely NOT walk 19,000 steps in a day. But I trudged on. I had made it to five weeks and absolutely refused to give up my $40! Especially since I had been checking in daily and gleefully watching the numbers of those still in the game slowly drop. That would not be me!

In the end, I did win my game and got my $40 back plus an extra $7.08 for my efforts. I chose to take a break and not enter a new game right away. To be honest, it was a little stressful to be so obsessed with my steps every day. I’m thinking I’ll probably try it again next month, after I’ve had a little break and need some more motivation.

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Achievement – With the Achievement app, you earn points for steps, tracking heart rate and even sleeping. You can also answer health related surveys and click through offers to earn more points. Once your points reach 10,000 you can trade them in for $10, payable through PayPal.

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I answered all the surveys right away and earned 2,000 and then it was pretty uneventful. You slowly rack up points without really doing anything. There aren’t a ton of offers, but you can snag a good deal of points if you do a survey. I’ve been earning an average of 50 points a day just by having it connected to my FitBit. I currently have 4,209 points, so nearly the equivalent of $5. I’m going to just let this one ride and see how long it takes to get my $10.

Sweatcoin – I signed up for Sweatcoin but ended up deleting it after three weeks. You have to have your phone on you all the time and it only counts your steps when you are outside. On a nice walk outside, the last thing I want is my phone flopping in my pocket.

I also found it a little invasive the way it had to be running all the time and when I cleared up my apps, which I do on occasion, I got a notice on my phone saying “You killed me!” It was creepy. Sweatcoin does not like to be force quit. I finally decided it was just taking up space and deleted it since I don’t carry my phone around enough to add up points. Also it seemed the only prizes I was ever going to earn were discounts or free trials on things I didn’t want.

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After six weeks of trying out fitness apps, I was down 2 lbs and up $7. I also adjusted my regular Fitbit daily goal to 15,000 steps. Not bad! I may actually look into joining StepBet as a member before I do the next challenge. Then it allows you to do more than one game at a time and they don’t take the 15% cut.

Anyone else try a similar type app? I’d be interested to hear about it!

#BodyAfterBaby and Why the gym is my new favorite place

gymOne of the best things I’ve done since becoming a stay at home mom is join a gym with child care. I’ve never had quite such great incentive to go work out. No time for yourself? Kid driving you crazy and you need to recharge? Maybe all you really want is a hot shower? Go to the gym for a stress-relieving hour and a half break!

I’ve never really been a gym person. I prefer to workout at home, in private. But now that privacy is a something I’ve given up in favor of motherhood, I have to go out and seek ways to find me-time. Some days that “me-time” comes in the form of slowly peddling a recumbent bike while checking my e-mail.

And while I may often take advantage of the child care just to get a much needed break, just being at the gym so much has inspired me to start working out for real. Some days I surprise myself and actually get sweaty. Within my first few months of going I lost a stubborn 7 lbs. of baby weight that I’d been fighting with for a while and now I’m working on the last five. I think some parts of me are permanently changed in shape just due to housing a child for ten months in there, but I’m excited to now be fitting back into some of my favorite clothes.

And now that it has become a habit and a welcome break, I actually miss it when I don’t go. I even went on a Sunday last week! Normally I don’t even hit my FitBit step goal on a Sunday so this is quite a change for me. I even signed up for some fitness challenge apps, but am saving that for a future blog after I get some results!

Discovering the gym was a real sanity-saver. And the big bonus is I look better, feel better and am happier for the little break every time I go. I highly recommend giving it a try even if you aren’t into working out. You may surprise yourself. I know I did!

 

I had a baby and now I’m squishy

I’ve been working really hard on getting my body back to “normal” since having my son. Normal for me has always been pretty fit. I started at around 130 lbs. and went up to 180 in my last cake-obsessed month of pregnancy. At least, 180 is when I stopped looking at the scale. After I had my son, my normally size 4 self was hovering around a 12/14. Nothing fit. I wore my maternity shorts for the entire summer and raided my husband’s wardrobe for t-shirts because mine were all too tight.

It’s taken me two years but I recently got back to somewhere near my pre-baby weight. I managed to get the scale to budge after joining a gym with the glorious incentive of free child care. I also recently shot photos for Folio Weekly for their Best of Jax edition.

So imagine my horror when I see one of the raw pics, where I am leaning forward and my belly is squishing out the bottom of my corset. Because yes I still have some squish. It made me think of Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance where everyone was focused on her exposed belly pooch. So see, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are wearing something tight on the bottom and bend a certain way, stuff squishes or pooches!

I was relieved to see the art director fixed it before publishing. He said he wasn’t sure if he should because some people are sensitive about Photoshop, but I was like, oh hell no, Photoshop me all you want! It’s not like we were shooting family photos and going for realism. I was dressed as a circus sideshow Strong Woman. I don’t feel like my character would be squishy.

Original photo on the left, published photo on the right with artfully placed text box.

As for me, I’m headed back to the gym to keep working on this squishy thing. But if it’s always there? Oh well. Every bit of squish was worth it. My belly did an amazing job of expanding to accommodate my growing son. It’s pretty amazing what the body can do! And pretty amazing the way it bounces back as well, with a little effort of course.

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Drinking Wine and Blogging in My Activewear

cheersMy wardrobe has taken a dramatic turn since my child became mobile. It’s the heart-stopping, turn your head and he’s gone kind of mobile. Once we entered this activity- enhanced phase and I found myself running down the street, chasing through store aisles, crawling around playgrounds, navigating the grocery store with a child/monkey climbing me…these are not activities for cute dresses and strappy shoes. Nope. I needed to invest in some Activewear.

I started with a cheap sports bra on Amazon that ended up being the most comfortable thing in the world. I ended up buying a 5 pack in different colors! Bye-bye Victoria’s Secret $50 bra! Hello $6 Amazon special. Everything pokes, scratches or just bugs me so I looooove these things. I’m serious. My last order of VS undies I have to wear inside out because the damn seams are so sharp. I warned my husband what was up so he wouldn’t think I was losing it.

Then I invested in some really comfy sneakers and started collecting running capris. Not as long as yoga pants (I’m in Florida!) but not as short as shorts. And then added cute tank tops to pair over the sports bras. This is now my daily wardrobe. While I do actually go to the gym a few times a week, I dress like this regardless of my gym attendance. It’s just so functional! And I think it looks a lot better than the big T-shirts and jean shorts combo I was rocking post-maternity wear.

So I get the yoga pants mom thing now. I may actually look into those when it gets chilly! I am guilty of doing everything in my activewear, because I am up and moving most of the day. I didn’t even go to the gym today or workout and still hit 19,000 steps on my Fitbit just running around trying to balance housework and “toddler things.” So cheers to all you mom’s out there in your fancy activewear. We all know you earned it.