The third way to track your progress instead of using the evil scale is:
3. You’re sleeping better
You know those nights when you just can’t seem to fall asleep? Or when you toss and turn in a weird, hallucinogenic, sleeping-butnot-sleeping state?
Sometimes, you don’t even know how tired and sleep-deprivedthey you are, because five hours of fitful flailing is the normal.
There can be many reasons for poor sleep: stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, getting too much light late at night, jet lag, and so on.
Nutrition and exercise can play a role. For instance, if we diet too stringently, over-train (or under-recover), amp ourselves up with tough workouts, or over-eat heavy meals late at night, we may not sleep well.
We may drink too much alcohol and caffeine. We may not get enough protein (to make the right neurotransmitters), nor enough vitamins and minerals (ditto).
We may also have disrupted hormones (such as cortisol, growth hormone, thyroid hormone, and sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone) from stress and poor eating habits, all of which are important for good and restful sleep.
What progress looks like:
Now, with your nutrition plan, you’re getting enough good stuff to make the brain chemicals you need.
You’ve switched to half-glasses of wine with dinner, and — thanks to your newfound energy — laid off the afternoon espresso.
Speaking of dinner, it’s a smaller portion that doesn’t leave you breathing in little huffs and give you nightmares about being chased by cheese.
Or you could be chasing the cheese rolling downhill in Gloucestershire . . . .
In short, your body is no longer in an always-on-battle-stations-go state of chemical panic.
All of a sudden, you seem to wind down an hour before bedtime without a problem. You follow your sleep ritual and conk out easier than ever.
Remember: If you want to change your body and improve your health, sleeping well consistently is crucial. And hey, it just feels good too.
How does nutrition help encourage better sleep?
Fresh, whole foods contain more fiber, protein, and healthy fats, which require more time and effort to digest than the refined carbohydrates that make up the majority of processed food. This keeps you satisfied longer, stabilizing your blood sugar and various hormones needed for good sleep.
Tryptophan, an amino acid in high-quality protein sources, is a precursor to serotonin, which gets converted into melatonin to encourage sleep.
Balancing your energy intake alone can lead to better rest if it helps you lose excess body fat. (Excess body fat can make sleep uncomfortable because of heartburn, lack of mobility, sleep apnea, and other obesity-related problems.)
To find out how your nutrition plan is affecting your sleep quality, check out our downloadable tracking sheets below.
More to come . . . Check back tomorrow as we make our way down the list to number 4.
1. You feel satisfied after meals.
2. You have more energy.
3. You’re sleeping better.
4. Your clothes feel just a little looser (or tighter).
5. You’re in a better mood.
6. You’re stronger and have more endurance.
7. It feels more like a lifestyle than a “diet”.