It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. – Psalm 127:2 ESV
Sleep first. Then eat. Then exercise.
A few times on this weight loss journey I have experienced lows, lows in energy, in self esteem, in overall mental status. Each time can be traced back to poor sleeping patterns.
I had to learn the hard way the importance of sleep. And now that I have been cleared to begin strength training, sleep is all the more important.
Before we go further, please find a way to measure your sleep activity. I use a Fitbit. You can get one like it here. I prefer a device like the Fitbit because it measures sleep based on movement rather than sound.
This cannot be stressed enough; get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
“Sleep first” means, if you are having trouble sleeping, focus on correcting that issue before worrying about the rest of it.
Sleep first means going to bed early.
Sleep first means sleeping longer, rather than getting up early to eat or exercise.
I was getting about seven hours of sleep at night. I had to increase that to at least eight hours when I started lifting weight. Preferably, when lifting weights, I will get nine hours per night. Sometimes that means going to bed at 8:00.
Next, focus on eating, diet before exercise.
If your eating is not right, you will try to overcompensate by overexercising. If your eating is not right, you will lack the proper nutrition to exercise.
If you don’t have time to sleep and eat well, then you don’t have time to exercise. That’s okay. You will get enough time later for that.
Here’s the spiral I have fallen into. I set an ambitious goal for exercising. It meant getting up early and losing sleep. It meant not having time in the morning to prepare my meals. It meant making more compulsive choices when eating. It meant diving into a depressed state.
Now, I have learned to sleep first. I wait to get up until I have reached my sleep goal. Then I prepare my meals for the day. I do not exercise until I have reached my sleep goal and have prepped my meals for the day.
Recently, I had a bad sinus infection. My physician gave me a steroid shot and prescribed antibiotics and rest. I was down for four straight days with no exercise.
From that experience I learned this; I lose just as much weight with just good sleep and diet than with ambitious activity levels where sleep is compromised.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. – Psalm 3:5 ESV