Fit at 50, Part 3: Food, Sleep + a Positive Attitude = Fuel for Life

As a teenager, I suffered with an eating disorder while enduring my parents’ torrential divorce. So many things were about control in my life, and I turned to food as the one place where I could take charge. Eating only a single Snickers bar each day was my way of claiming the control I needed. It was, however, thankfully brief as my mom threatened to put me in the hospital if I didn’t begin eating some other foods. A non-starter for me.

Over time my relationship with food has become very positive and more conscious. Now, for me, food is a means to an end. I view food as fuel for my workouts and my hectic life as a business owner, wife, and mom of two children.  I have learned that – and this is true whether you are 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, or 80 years old – to be happy and healthy we need to be intentional about the three things that keep our bodies running smoothly: Food, Sleep, and a Positive Attitude.

Food

While I’m not a car fanatic, if given the keys to a Bentley, I would put the highest-grade gasoline in it and make sure it is tuned up regularly for optimal performance. I’d take good care of it.

So why is your beautiful body any different?  

Food is America’s most harmful drug. In some ways food can be considered even more addictive than crack, according to Dr. Nora Volhow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Less than 20 percent of people who use drugs like heroin and cocaine become addicted, while two-thirds of Americans are overweight. Eating certain foods, particularly processed ones, stimulate the same pleasure centers of your brain as addictive drugs, making us all susceptible to addictive eating.  Unhealthy eating habits can also arise during turbulent emotional times or as a result of unresolved emotional issues.


 While I love food, but it doesn’t rate as high on my list as many other things in life that make me tick, like growing, learning, praying, workouts, connection with loved ones – oh, and watching my beloved Angels with my awesome brother, Alex, or the Nats here in D.C.

It’s not cliché, we are all capable of eating to live, rather than living to eat. I don’t stress if I have too much of this or that. Tomorrow is another day. I am also comfortable with hunger. I know I have plenty of fuel to get through long periods of the day without food. Fat burning happens when we’re hungry. So, make a conscious choice to get a little hungry! I choose to let the focus of my day be on my activities and not on my next meal. I eat lunches through Power Supply and order healthy dinners to prepare at home with my family through HelloFresh. Smart planning and prep is key for me to stick with proper fuel for my body.

Food surrounds us. In my profile of our amazing client John Gosling, John spoke about how his relationship with food stems from being an immigrant growing up in England. Food rationing was the norm until he was a teenager. When he arrived in the United States, he was shocked at the access Americans have to food 24/7. We have so much food here in the United States. It is abundant; considerably more than we need.

Feeding our bodies the foods it can process, that contribute to our health, in appropriate quantities, further results in “Fit” at any age. Our bodies were made to consume whole foods. The body doesn’t even “like” junk food. It takes longer to process, it confuses many of our systems, and it has to work harder to process them.

Sleep

What if there were a magic potion that offered recovery from a stressful day, built muscle, and burned fat? It’s as close as your pillow.  When our twins were born, we hired a “sleep coach” for the babies. Coach Suzy taught me that sleep is “primal.”

Sleep enhances your memory performance and your problem solving skills. Moreover, adequate and sound sleep bolsters your fitness performance. It helps maintain a good mood (more to come on the importance of this) and gives you the energy needed for your day. It helps ward off illness. Lastly, where I’ve seen the most significant result: you become more resilient in the face of stress. All of these combined make sleep Vitamin S for beautiful aging.

Several years ago, after our four-year stint of sleepless nights due to our son’s chronic night terrors, I decided to learn even more about sleep. For me, sleep became my sport, experimenting with pillows, blankets, lighting, and routines. I also learned that 10 hours of sleep is not only necessary for our children but something to strive for myself as well.  Back then, nightly terrors simply made 8-10 hours nonsense, yet those were also the days I was “running” on empty, racing against myself with little purpose but to get through the day. The benefits of taking your sleep as seriously as your fitness and your food are astounding.

Positive Healthy Attitude

Often overlooked in the field of fitness is the importance of maintaining a positive, healthy attitude in life. We don’t always think about this, but every word we speak and every thought we have has an energy associated with it. Words and thoughts can be energy-draining or they can be energy-enhancing. I’ve been through the regret and guilt and attempted to run off all of my “mistakes.”  This is why it is critically important to pay attention to how you talk and how you think.

If a large percentage of my energy is spent on what others are doing or how badly I have it, my own perception of my life is skewed and I am a victim. I feel like I am in a lose/lose situation and I feel listless. If I focus my energy on my priorities: for me my family, my Faith, my fitness, and having fun, then I leave some space for the unintended energy needed. Then I am in my own personal homeostasis. I am doing what God has sent me to do: just to be me…the wonderful me.

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