Hands up who has done more activity than us in the last week? Congratulations, if your fingers are still pointing skywards!! We’re pumping and grinding our way through this challenge but this week my theme is…. zzzzzzz’s! You’ve got to close your eyes to dream.
Our session last Saturday was a killer! And completing and surviving a mega session is by far one of the best feelings for any gym goer. The feeling of progression achieved while challenging yourself is second to none. It puts you in a really positive mind-set mentally and that can override any physical weariness leaving you raring to return to the bar!
But someone once said that Sunday is a day of rest and rest is what I needed on Sunday. As a result of taking that rest, we were back into a week of positivity following last Monday’s hiccup! Even better, I spent my weekend in good company and good cutlery! I even enjoyed one of my meals off a real plate in a real restaurant. I didn’t stray too far from my programme because the meal was simply one of my Tupperware treats microwaved then served up royally to enjoy with the rest of my family but regiment is what keeps us sane in challenge mode.
And so this week’s post will focus on what has made this week a particularly rewarding one, not just in terms of growing strength but also in that ever adjusting mind set.
If rest is supposed to be for the wicked, I’m afraid I have to disagree. Not only did I begin my week with some self-indulgent R and R, I continued it in the same fashion. I used to be an avid 8 hour-a-night kinda girl and the very thought of two minutes short of my ‘nightful’ caused me a deal of stress. Since making the move to the capital and having a million and one things to do in a measly number of hours, I have rather compromised my duvet hours. I now count myself lucky if I get more hours than the fingers on the hand that is bashing out this blog but if this challenge is teaching me anything it is that I need every hour of kip I can get. This week I have made a point of organising myself in a way that allows me the maximum head on pillow time in order to help my muscles (and brain) to recover!
More than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. And when you consider that the figure for obese people is nearly identical it’s easy to join the dots and conclude that the connection is not a coincidence. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling significantly hungrier, less satisfied after meals and more obviously lacking energy to exercise. So after a week of extra shut-eye, it’s no wonder I had a spring in my step.
Aside from the obvious ‘fight the fatigue’ benefits of getting more sleep, it is essential to helping our muscles recover after the stress and strain we are currently asking them to endure. Lack of sleep increases vital recovery time by slowing down the production of the growth hormone. Poor sleep means less slow wave sleep and that is when the most growth hormone is released. It also increases the stress hormone cortisol. This means that an already reduced production of growth hormone is further curtailed by more cortisol in your system. It’s a vicious cycle and can lead to everything you do requiring that little extra, unavailable energy. When that means your workouts, you are what the scientists call… knackered!
Another important feature of this week of positivity has been variety. Our training programme is there to be adhered to but that’s not to rule out a little variation as to how we stick to the basic structure. We work different parts of the body throughout the week accompanied by two days of ‘cardio’, one for HIIT and one for LISS. We also break leg work up into big compound movements one day and plyometric-based movements the next. No two days are the same and this week we certainly emphasised and benefitted from that. By continuing to keep both the workouts and locations interesting you avoid plateauing, not just physically but mentally. New equipment is somewhat energising for us fitness enthusiasts and so when presented with a new range of toys it’s only expected that our performance is refreshed!
We often write and talk about the struggles and strains experienced during this challenge but we are enjoying the barriers met and hurdled. Each is a chance to prove both to ourselves and our bodies that we can achieve what we have set out to and that we can achieve the body composition changes we desire through a structured and well-planned nutrition and training plan. Oh and lots of zzzzz’s!