The Transformation: Eccentric Exercise

I am almost as famous for my dislike of exercise as I am for my once-legendary appetite, my adoration of leeks, and my penchant for photographing my feet.  I am not sure when I started to dislike exercise so much, and really it’s rather odd given that I took up ballet at the tender age of 2½ (no I do not have any pictures of me wobbling around in my pint-sized pink leotard) and then plié-d, jeté-d, and pirouetted every week thereafter for 17 years.  Perhaps I just never viewed dance as exercise.  In my late teens and early twenties I spent a not-insignificant amount of time at the gym weight training – sometimes daily – which I enjoyed immensely.  Or maybe it was the trainers.  Who knows.  The only thing that matters, when all is said and done, is getting me to exercise now.  And I am deliriously happy to tell you that I have crested the I-hate-exercise hump!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have zero shame about using that many exclamation points.  This is BIG, people.

My eccentric exercising and interval training went south a while back, not due as some may have supposed to dislike, but due to near-constant exhaustion and an obnoxiously busy schedule – only some of which was self-inflicted.  A case of not putting the most important things first leading to not being able to put the most important things first.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Especially when you are cheerleading the world on with their eccentrics but not getting it done yourself.  Bad.  Very bad.  Then this happened; getting back on track became critical, so I made a commitment to myself, and exercise was part of that commitment to my overall health.  It was also key to switching on my fat-burning hormones.  Love that.

Once I had made headway in the sleep, supplement and *SANE eating departments I found I had the energy  – and the desire – to begin doing the eccentric exercises and interval training in earnest.  If you are struggling to exercise you might want to start by looking at those things and seeing if there’s anything there that needs a tweak.  If you are constantly exhausted, even catching sight of an exercise bike or a dumbbell can feel like you’re standing at a Mt. Everest base camp staring up at the summit with days and days of strenuous physical activity ahead of you.  And if you suffer from depression, oh my.  The irony is that depression can be helped enormously by exercise.  It’s a funny old world.

The first thing I did was get back on the bike for that 10 minutes of interval training.  I knew it would be hard but I also knew it would be over in 10 minutes, and I could do 10 minutes.  Now this next bit may all sound a bit woo-woo, but I decided a mantra would help those 10 minutes along, so every time I started to push the pedals around I said out loud, “I have a strong, lean, healthy, fat-burning body!  I have a strong, lean, healthy, fat-burning body!”, until the pushing was over.  And you know what?  It DID help those 10 minutes along.  It DID make it easier when I focused on saying those words instead of focusing on how hard those pedals were to push round.  And you know what else?  Saying that out loud, over and over again started to change how I viewed my body.  I started to see myself as already having the strong, lean, healthy, fat-burning body that I wanted rather than the weak, exhausted, fat-storing vessel I was walking around in.  This switch of focus dramatically increased my desire to do what I needed to do.  Whoop whoop!  With enthusiasm in place, everything becomes easier.

The second thing I did was recognize that I had not been getting enough resistance into my at-home eccentric workouts to make them effective.  Consequently, when I was ready to get the eccentrics back into my routine, I bit the bullet and joined a gym where I could use machines with endless resistance opportunities.  I am lucky to live in a community where there are two gyms a 3-minute drive from my house.  As well as use of all the machines, the gym I chose offers a wide range of other fitness classes, one of which is Restorative Yoga.  Bonus!  Joining the gym got me unlimited resistance for my eccentric workouts and a yoga class – at no extra cost – to boot.  Score!  The drop in my grocery bills easily covered the $12-a-week gym membership.

The other thing I noted was that for me, deciding which day and time would consistently work best with my schedule to go to the gym, setting a recurring appointment in my calendar, and making a commitment that no-matter-what I would go, worked much better than seeing the weights in the corner of my bedroom at home and thinking, “Oh, yes, I’ll do that later today”, which usually lead to, “Oh I am too tired now, I’ll do it first thing in the morning”, which lead to, “Oh I have so much to do today, I’ll do it tonight”, and on and on.  Needless to say, the eccentrics never got done.  Getting a gym membership is putting your commitment out there, and I found that really motivated me.

Now I go to the gym first thing on a Saturday morning.  I do the 4 exercises that Jonathan recommends in The Calorie Myth – shoulder press, chest press, row, and leg press.  It’s 20 minutes including the drive there and the drive back.  And then I’m done for the week.  Magical.  It’s amazing how fast you build strength when you do eccentrics on the machines – I raised my leg-press weight 40# in 3 visits, which is hugely exciting.  The leg exercises are the most important ones to work because your legs and glutes are your biggest muscles, so you get maximum overall benefit from working them.  I take my mantra, “I have a strong, lean, healthy, fat-burning body!  I have a strong, lean, healthy, fat-burning body!” to the gym with me, except I don’t say it out loud.  I may be all brave and bubbly – or obnoxious depending on how you feel about me – on our shows, but put me in a gym with a bunch of strangers and you won’t hear a peep out of me.  Talking of shows, when I walked into the gym last Saturday and saw the wall of people pounding away with their headphones in I wondered if any of them were listening to Jonathan and I as they ran or cycled, and then I giggled all the way up the stairs.

The first time I went to the gym I took my copy of The Calorie Myth and worked through each exercise slowly so I was sure I had the right machine and was doing it right, but I only had to do that once.  Most gyms will also offer you a free session with a personal trainer who could work through them with you so you have the confidence that you are doing them right.  I find my body lets me know the next day – loudly – whether I did it right or not.

The effect of increasing resistance on my eccentrics has been dramatic.  The first time I went to the gym I couldn’t even believe how sore I was the next day for the next 3 days.  Within days I began to see my clothes get looser and my body shrinking.  I could feel the fat-burning switch had flipped.  My appetite was cut in half and I had tons more energy.  I was excited for my next trip to the gym.  Wait. WHAT?!?!?!??!  I know, right?!

The only other eccentric exercise I do on top of the four machines is leg lowers – where you lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air and slowly lower your legs to the ground to a count of 20, never letting them touch the floor.  Then bend your knees and stretch your legs straight up again.  I do this 6 times, at which point I reach eccentric failure and have to stop.  Why do I do these?  It makes me feel better mentally to think that I am strengthening my core.

Now I have got into my stride and set a routine I am finding getting my eccentrics and interval training in easy.  They are just things I do, like doing the laundry or washing the car.  Ok, no, I don’t wash the car every week, but you get my drift.

In other news, my BFF Alisen – galpal extraordinaire and Big Breakfast Adventure cohort – moved her eccentric exercises to the gym the week before I did and is experiencing similar results – moving up in resistance and down in body size.  Hurrah!

I hope – if you struggle with the whole exercise part – that this will help you unlock whatever it is that has been holding you back or making it hard.  While I don’t think for one minute that exercise was my cure-all for switching my fat-storing to fat-shifting, it definitely played an important part.

Not least of all it has made me feel good, and whatever makes us feel good – we should do more of that.

 

PS. If you are just getting started with exercising you would be wise to check-in with your Dr. before getting started.  Just to be on the safe side.

PPS. If you are looking for a bike for interval training, this is the one that Jonathan and I have.

PPPS. You can see the images in The Gallery here (lock) and here (post and chain).

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Anne - Carrie – Thank you for publishing this series on your Transformation. It is wonderful to read your journey and super inspirational for so many of us who have struggled with any part of your experience. While I have not faced the health challenges you have so lovingly shared with us, I have faced THIS one. You inspire me!

Julie - Thanks for this post! I need to find a way to get back to the gym post -baby. It’s too bad there probably isn’t a way to do them while carrying said baby. I have the same bike (pet Jonathan’s reco) and love it. Such a great deal! My only problem is getting the seat tight enough so it doesn’t pivot back. Have you had any issues with it?

carrie - I have that same problem, Julie…except I don’t sit on it because I have to stand up to push the pedals round ;-)

carrie - You can do it, Anne!!!

Keith - Carrie, congrats on pushing through to the other side! It’s definitely been great to read everything you’ve shared so far about your journey. I’ve only been SANE for a few weeks and after discovering your blog I’ve found the consistent support I’ve needed to succeed in the form if your recipes, shared experiences, and advice.

I’m facing my first day at the gym tonight so this latest post is much needed. Keep on keepin on and know that many of us are constantly inspired to do the same because of you!

Ellen - This is another great blog. BUT, the photos are incredible! I just checked your site and didn’t see them on there yet. Just saying they are extremely nice – and I’d like to see what else you have done lately.
:)

Julie - Ha! Yes, I stand to push the pedals around too! But I sit during the warmup and between intervals. Do you stand the whole time??? Anyway I fixed my bike for now…. Bigger wrenches to apply more torque to those bolts!

carrie - Julie – I lie on the bed panting between intervals ;-)

Michelle - Can you tell me what your time in the bike looks like? Do you do a certain amount of time intervals of hard core pedaling? thanks

carrie - Michelle – 30 seconds pedaling at highest resistance I can push while standing, and then 2 minutes rest. I do this 5 times and then I simply cannot do any more.

The Transformation: Supplements

Hello, dear readers.  It’s time to talk supplements!

Before we get started on the specifics of what I take and why, I want to be clear that I am not making recommendations here.  I am simply sharing what I do, why, and how I have found it to be beneficial.  Your mileage may vary depending on where you are and what your goals are.  Your supplementation should be specific to your needs.  I also want to be clear that there is no magic pill or potion that will do for you what eating *SANE foods and doing eccentric exercise will when it comes to reducing body fat.  I don’t take any of these supplements to help me lose weight, although it is true that when our bodies are working optimally they will naturally burn body fat instead of storing it.

As always, you would be wise to consult a Dr. before starting any supplementation, especially if you are taking any medications.

If you are new to supplementation you may find, like I do, that you have to take them with food.  If I take them on an empty stomach I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll be coming straight back up again.

These are the supplements that I take daily.  If you’re going to supplement you need to be consistent.  Taking them here and there will not help you, so do whatever you have to do to make taking them routine.  Set them out the night before, use one of these so you know whether you’ve taken them or not, keep them somewhere visible in the kitchen so you always see them, have a reminder posted on the ‘fridge door, set an alarm, or you know I am sure there’s a app for that.

To save time in the morning, every couple of weeks (but you can do whatever frequency works best for you) I get a pile of small Ziploc baggies and put a days-worth of supplements in each one.  This means I can just grab a baggie and go without having to take the time to undo a multitude of bottles every day.  Yes I could get up 5 minutes earlier to make sure I have time to take supplements, but a) I value my sleep more, b) it gives me one less thing to do as I start my day, and c) I never miss taking them.  Winning! 

Supplements

MULTI-VITAMIN AND MINERAL

This is my make-sure-all-the-bases-are-covered supplement.  While eating lots of veggies means that in theory you are getting enough of everything, the amounts of nutrients vary according to many factors, not least of which is how long they have been harvested.  You don’t know exactly when your romaine lettuce was plucked, and the nutritional value falls the longer ago that was.  We have no absolute way of telling exactly what we’re getting.  Plus, who has time to keep track of everything you eat in order to calculate whether you’re getting enough selenium or vitamin K in your meals?  Not me.  Even if you had the time, it would probably drive you crazy.  The multi-vitamin / mineral is my buffer for getting a basic daily amount of everything.  I get my multi from Melaleuca, which unless you’re already a customer – or know someone who is – it’s a pain to get them.  I recommend doing your own research to find a high-quality (there’s lots of rubbish out there!) multi.  I am big fan of Now Foods supplements so that could be a good place to start.

VITAMIN D

I am deficient in vitamin D.  It seems like everyone I know here in Seattle takes a vitamin D supplement to top up what we get in the way of natural sunshine.  The other reason I take it though is because research shows that vitamin D may play an important role in mental health and in depression.  We don’t know if being deficient in vitamin D causes depression or whether depression causes a deficiency in vitamin D, but either way, I am going to take steps to get my levels up.  I use Now Foods Vitamin D.

ADRENAL SUPPORT

This is the supplement that my Naturopath recommended to get my adrenal glands healed and back on track.  You can read about my long-suffering adrenals here.  I have found this supplement enormously beneficial, particularly in getting my brain jump-started in the mornings and giving me more energy.  I use Vital Nutrients Adrenal Support.

L-GLUTAMINE

This is an amino acid that Jonathan recommended I try to help with the constant fatigue and loss of mental focus that I was experiencing at the start of the year.  L-Glutamine is a major fuel and energy source for the body and brain.  Research has shown L-Glutamine to improve brain functioning, promote alertness, focus, memory, problem solving, and overall intellectual functioning.  L-Glutamine has a high priority in brain health.  It also supports protein synthesis, builds muscle and stores glycogen for energy in the muscle tissue.  L-Glutamine has also been shown to decrease addiction cravings and I have definitely noticed a decrease in my food cravings since I’ve been taking it.  Hurrah!  I use Now Foods L-Glutamine.

BEEF LIVER TABLETS

This is another recommendation from Jonathan to help me in the energy department.  Reported benefits include reduction in fatigue, increase in energy and stamina, greater gains in lean muscle from workouts, a reduction or prevention of muscle loss due to aging, and reduction or prevention of muscle soreness.  Each tablet also provides 2g of protein.  I have gone from being too exhausted to exercise to being able to increase resistance at the gym every week since I’ve been taking these.  I use Beverly International Ultra 40.

CURCUMIN / TURMERIC

I have had psoriasis (some Drs. say eczema) since I was 11, so when I read that turmeric is an incredible anti-inflammatory I had to try it; slowly but surely my psoriasis is improving.  Turmeric has been credited with a whole host of other beneficial properties – a great antioxidant being one of them – but it has also long been used in Chinese medicine for treating depression, so it’s no surprise I was all over it.  I use Now Foods Curcumin.

NIACIN (B3)

I have been using niacin for several years to help with depression.  It has also been found to lower total cholesterol and relieve joint pain.  I have enjoyed all 3 benefits since taking it.  If you are considering taking niacin I strongly recommend you read this post to determine how much you need, which kind to get and how to take it – the tips and tricks are towards the bottom (it’s a long post).  I use Now Foods Niacin.

OMEGA-3

A quick search on the web will bring you countless benefits of supplementing with omega-3.  I do it for 3 reasons – it’s anti-inflammatory benefits, for joint health, and because there is evidence that omega-3 may be useful for depression and bi-polar disorder.  I use Now Foods Ultra Omega-3.

 

That’s all, folks!

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Rose - Carrie, did your Naturopath help you with the adrendal dosing or did you follow the dosing info on the bottle and take them along with your other supplements? I use Nutri-Meds Whole Adrenal (bovine based). So far I’m at 80 mg in the morning along with my morning W.P. Thyroid 65mg. I’m still tweaking my adrenal dosing. I continue to tweak the dosing. In a few weeks I may cut the 80mg in half and take every 12 hours, then a few weeks later try 80mg in the morning/night.

I truly believe that many, MANY people who struggle with weight and/or depression have uncontrolled thyroid+adrenal issues.

I’m thankful Carrie and I have access to great Naturopaths. For folks who don’t have these resources in your city/county, keep in mind many practitioners will speak with you via Skype and send you the tests along with the lab’s shipping labels. Just call or email the Naturopath and ask!!

carrie - Rose – dosing on bottle and from the Naturopath were the same – 2 as soon as I get up in the morning. The results were amazing!

BA Shane-Holser - I’ve been reading good stuff about L-Glutamine and this post is what finally pushed me into action. I just picked up a bottle of the Now product. Hoping for fewer cravings, more muscles & improved GI health. Thanks for your post!

Gina - Hi Carrie. I got my liver pills but no idea for dosage. What did you find that works best? Bottle says one pill per 10 pounds of body weight. ..bottle would be gone fast then:)

carrie - I use the base amount it says on the bottle – 4 tablets with breakfast.

Big Breakfast Adventure | The Wandering Goose

It seems I’ve known Kate for longer than I’ve been alive.  We worked together in England some 17 (SEVENTEEN?!?!?!?) years ago, and now here we both are by some lovely quirk of fate living 26.4 miles apart in Seattle, Washington.  When you think how enormous the world is that’s pretty wild.

Kate left England almost exactly a year before I did although prior to that we had drifted apart when our work paths forked in differing directions.  I don’t recall now how we did reconnect all these years later but I suspect Facebook had at least something to do with it.

A couple of months ago we decided it was high time we met up for coffee and filled in all the gaps in our respective lives.  When we did I was thrilled to hear that Kate still talks with a funny accent, although not as funny as mine given that she now uses ‘d’s’ where the ‘t’s’ are – like a real American.

Kate was quick off the mark to sign up for The Big Breakfast Adventure when I announced my weekend breakfasting intentions a while back, and despite not being a morning person she bravely agreed to meet at The Wandering Goose at 7 am on a Sunday for a spot of grub and a cup of tea.  We Brits do love our tea.  I opted for peppermint since the green tea on offer was Genmaicha – made with brown rice and a complete mystery to me.  Meanwhile, Kate put all Britishness aside and plumped for coffee.

Big Breakfast Adventure  |  The Wandering Goose  |  Carrie Brown

The Wandering Goose is a delightful little spot – warm, cozy, and, once you’re in the door, every bit as inviting as a crackling open fire on a cold winters day.  I arrived right at 7, settled into a well-loved oak bench and watched as a stream of regulars stopped in to grab a coffee and a muffin, or linger over a plate of something more substantial.

Kate raced in after whizzing past a few times looking for a parking spot.  It gets busy early on 15th in Capitol Hill.  I knew when I caught sight of a Mini whooshing past the window that it must be her.  What else would she drive?  Still bleary-eyed she chose a large bowl of granola with various accoutrements.  By all accounts it was very sweet and it was later blamed for it’s heavy nap-inducing properties.  Those oats, you just can’t trust them.

For me it was a toss-up between the Bubble and Squeak – how entirely British! – and the Veggie Hash.  I opted for the Veggie Hash with the potatoes removed and some sausage added.  It came with greens poking mischievously out the sides and a couple of messily poached eggs nestled on top.  It was a hearty, filling skillet of yum.  The sausages were mildly spicy, adding some extra warmth to a dreary winter day.  I suspect that some of the veggies included in this dish were not altogether the *SANEst choices, but I wasn’t going to let a couple of pieces of parsnip spoil my enjoyment of this tasty concoction.

Big Breakfast Adventure  |  The Wandering Goose  |  Carrie Brown

Kate is a marketing wizard so we brainstormed for a little while on some ideas for getting my cookbooks out there.  Kate is a big, big fan of my soup and veggie cookbooks so she is gun-ho to tell the world what healthy deliciousness awaits them within the pages.  And I’m always up for spreading the word to help more people eat smarter and live better.

Kate then shared her recent experience with Laughing Yoga, and I have to say just her lively description had me in stitches.  She is trying to persuade me to go to a class with her, and while there’s a big part of me that can see how beneficial this would be, there’s a bigger part of me that is just too shy to contemplate spending an hour with a bunch of strangers laughing my head off over nothing at all.  I think for now, anyway, I’ll stick to my Restorative Yoga, which, I must tell you is doing me the power of good.

Catching up with Kate was lovely.  We’ve since spent more time over coffee and a leisurely walk in the park.  It’s good to connect with people you enjoy.

Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Matilda - That goose logo is awesome, love the mug.

Gosh I haven’t gone out for breakfast in years. Like since before kids. Must do it one day, and of course the SANE way.

The Transformation: Sleep

If there is one thing I would credit more than anything else with my recent transformation I would say it was sleep.  Yep, fixing my insomnia was key.  That may not be the key that you were hoping for, but you know me – I have to say it like it is.  I say sleep was the key because I have learned recently that it doesn’t matter what else you are doing right, if you are not getting enough good quality sleep then nothing else works nearly as well as it could.  Sleeping well and for long enough on a consistent basis allows everything else to work better and faster.  A lot better and faster.  So get some sleep.

Oh.  Wait.  Sleep is not always as easy as that, is it?  By a long shot.  I don’t think I have ever been more frustrated by anything, ever, as lying in bed, night after night, completely exhausted but completely unable to sleep.  Some nights I would lie there in the dark, Mr. McHenry draped over one leg, Daisy curled up by my side, and cry – tears rolling down the sides of my face in utter despair – until after 3, or 4, or 5 hours I would finally nod off for 45 minutes, just about the time the alarm shrilled me into consciousness again.  Sometimes I would get up and go camp on the brown leather couch in the den, Mr. McHenry in tow, like changing the décor would somehow lull my body into sleep mode.  So yes,  I understand how difficult it can be and if you are in that spiral of misery my heart goes out to you.

I was going to write a long, wieldy, and wildly informative post about every nuance of sleep that I could.  But then I found this post and realized that I could never hope to write a piece as staggeringly comprehensive, so if you’re suffering in the sleep department I strongly recommend that you read this first and then come back and see what specific actions I took that solved my sleep dilemma.  Even if you think you sleep pretty well and feel pretty good when you get up I encourage you to read this article.  You may discover you are not doing as well as you thought you were, and it would be really sad if the efforts you are making in other areas of life were not getting the results you’re after and it turned out that tweaking your sleep was all that was required to super-charge everything else.

Did you read the article yet?  It’s OK, I’m happy to wait while you do.  Goodness knows you’re worth waiting for.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of some milk churns I found in California the other week in a delightful town whose name completely escapes me.

Milk Churns  |  Carrie Brown

Here’s the steps I took in my campaign to regain my sleep sanity:

  • I turned off the heating in the bedroom at night.  We sleep better when our brain and body temperatures are lower.
  • I gave up my love for a big, fat, down duvet (comforter) and starting sleeping with just two micro-fleece blankets.  I immediately stopped waking up drenched in sweat.  It didn’t take me long to stop missing the duvet.
  • I stopped drinking any caffeine after noon.  In fact, I switched to decaf coffee and green tea in the mornings too until I got my sleep down.
  • I stopped drinking any liquids after 6 pm so needing to pee didn’t wake me up.
  • I started going to bed at the same time every single night.  No staying up late at weekends.  No waiting until I was tired.  I set a schedule and stuck to it.
  • I set my alarm for the same time every day – regardless of the day of the week.  Our brains and bodies – not to mention our circadian rhythms – love routine.
  • I started a “going to bed” routine an hour before bedtime – feeding and putting the ‘kids’ to bed, closing all the blinds, locking all the doors, showering, reading, you get the drift – that reinforces to my brain and body that I am winding down for sleep time.
  • I stopped getting any ‘blue light’ at least 2 hours before bed time, where blue light = TV (that was easy, I don’t have one), computer, tablet, smartphone, LED and fluorescent lights.  ‘Blue light’ suppresses the production of melatonin, something we produce that makes us sleepy at night.  The upside is I now have a red light bulb in my bedroom which I think is a total hoot for a single girl who lives with 6 cats.  NOTE: If you must use a computer close to bedtime then download this handy little app: http://justgetflux.com/.  It changes the light from your computer screen to less ‘blue’.
  • I closed all the windows in my bedroom to stop any noise from outside.  This was hard for me because I love to have a roomful of fresh air, but sleep was more important.
  • I closed all the blinds so there was no stray light in my bedroom.  I like waking up to sunlight pouring in through the windows, but sleep was more important.
  • I started taking a melatonin supplement an hour before bed to help my brain know it was time to sleep.
  • I worked really hard on reducing the stressors in my life (that post will be up soon!) so that my brain wasn’t kept awake worrying about or obsessing over stuff. 

All of these things helped.  I was getting a lot more total sleep, but I was still waking up every 2 hours and sometimes found it really hard – if not impossible – to get back to sleep again.  You might find that one or a combination of these tricks is all that you need.

  • For me, once I had done all these things and was still a ways from getting an uninterrupted 8 hours a night, I bit the bullet and called in The Cavalry.  I hate taking medication that I don’t *really* need, but in this instance, getting back in the sleep game was the most important thing in my life that I could do, so ego be damned, I headed to the Dr. and got some Trazodone, which is actually a non-addictive sedating anti-depressant, but these days it is most widely used for treating insomnia, especially in women.  Obviously, Trazodone might not be right for you, so you will need to be guided by your Dr. if you need to go down Medication Avenue until you get your sleep back on track.

I am now getting 8 – 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep most nights.

IT HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED MY LIFE.  It made all the other things I needed to work on possible.

The End.

Now go get some sleep.

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tracy - Read the Hormone Cure by Sarah Gottfried. I read it after listening to Jonathan’s bonus podcast with her. I had NO idea how much our hormones affect our sleep!!! Sweet dreams!!!!

Pat Baker - I do not see any reference to getting up to urinate. Does this break your sleep? Is this normal. I drink tons of water all day and at night. Therefore I get up but is that bad for me? I am thirsty at night and do not want to stop drinking water. So what is the answer??

Susan - Wonderful, informative article! I struggle to get enough sleep almost every night. I plan to implement many of your suggestions. I usually watch a TV program before bed and then read for about an hour before lights out. Now, I’m going to shoot for 2 hours of readings and melatonin.
Thanks for sharing!

Sahara - Thank you…

carrie - Hi Pat – THANK YOU for reminding me of another thing I changed! I stopped drinking after 6 pm so I wouldn’t be woken up by the need to pee. If it doesn’t bother you and you don’t feel your sleep is compromised by getting up in the night I would imagine it’s OK, but I find disturbed sleep almost as bad as no sleep. You will have to decide what is more important for your own situation – drinking water right up until bedtime or getting uninterrupted sleep.

BJ - This sweet little program automatically changes your computer light from blue to something softer at sundown.

f.lux

http://justgetflux.com/

carrie - BJ – so glad you mentioned that – I had forgotten what it was called!!! I will add it to my notes above – THANK YOU!

Pam - A great book about sleep is HEALING NIGHT, by Rubin R. Naiman, Ph.D.

Keith - Excellent tips, I need all the help I can getting good sleep. So glad you’re sharing all of your experiences and knowledge with us — it has helped my life immensely.

I do not have a Swiss-Army knife of sleep tips yet, but here is one or two that I’d like to share that I’ve discovered ever since I started eating SANE:

I’ve suffered from insomnia for over 20 years and nothing has ever helped until a problem I started having while eating SANEly prompted me to discover a solution that works for me.

The problem: I was eating a veggie and tuna salad with low-fat Cottage Cheese for lunch every day at work. I loved the body results I was getting (three belt notches thinner!) but I realized that shortly after lunch-time I would crash HARD. I found I was just dead tired all at once and wondering how I was going to get through the second half of my work day without falling asleep.

After some google-research I found that many people experience a severe sleepiness reaction to Cottage Cheese because it is packed with tryptophan. Plus sitting in my lunch bag for half the day was “warming” it up enough to kick all that tryptophan into high gear.

I tested it by removing the Cottage Cheese from my lunch. Sure enough I didn’t experience any kind of sleepiness thereafter.

The best part? I now eat half a cup of low-fat Cottage Cheese an hour or two before bed every night along with a teaspoon of raw peanut butter and a cup of chamomile. I fall asleep fast, stay asleep ALL NIGHT (this is unprecedented for me) and I wake up naturally before my alarm every morning.

The biggest boon is that my mood is so much more stable now and I have lasting energy throughout the day, not to mention the benefits I’m sure it’s having on all my other metabolic processes.

I hope that tip helps at least one other person! Thanks to Carrie and Jonathan Bailor for your amazing books. Without SANE eating I wouldn’t be nearly as healthy and may not have discovered this simple fix for my own brand of insomnia!

carrie - Keith – that’s brilliant! What a fantastic discovery!

Chelsea - Carrie, about how long after you started this sleep transformation did you notice a change? I’ve been having some irregular cycles and I expect my hormones are a bit out of whack, so I’m thinking getting on some sort of a more reasonable, regular sleep schedule (I’m a severe chronic night owl-seriously, it’s bad! Haha) should help regulate that a bit better. But I’m curious how long it took for you to see a difference, and how long I might expect before I might notice a difference? Thoughts?

carrie - After a whole week of good sleep I started to feel things changing. Sleep is SOOOOOOO important! Fix those hormones – you can do it!

Pen - Thanks for all these tips. I had just come to the conclusion in my own life that lack of sleep was underlying a lot of other problems, so I have started implementing a lot of your suggestions. Thanks very much.

A Veritable Transformation

I know you know this, but I thought I should just come right out and say it, so you know I am fully aware: I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking lately.

I feel a little bit guilty about leaving you mostly recipe-less, but only a little, because I know it’s only a temporary situation.  I think it would be fair to say that conjuring up 136 (!!) recipes for my 3 cookbooks in the space of 5 (!!) months made my interest in cooking sneak out a side exit, like it was having a smoke break.  Instead of wanting to stand at the counter chopping and mixing and sautéing I was far more interested in curling up on the couch with an oversized blanket, a cluster of cats, and a peaceful, uplifting read.

The other reason I am only a little guilty about the whole lack of recipes thing is because I have come to realize with startling clarity that we need more than just delicious new *SANE recipes to reach our health and body-fat goals, although you tell me over and over how my recipes make this journey easier and a lot more tasty for you.  While *SANE eating and eccentric exercising are two essential keys to a SANE lifestyle, there’s a lot more to living better.  And as you’ll see as you read this post, there’s more to health and fat-loss too.  It’s all so inter-connected.

This clarity came early on in the year when my adrenal glands decided they didn’t want to play any longer, having already supported me through 18 months of chronic stress while I merrily ignored all the physical signs along with endless words of wisdom from my therapist.  By the time January rolled around I was completely exhausted and finding it increasingly difficult to function.  My brain refused to switch on in the mornings, my body had less energy than a bowl of cold rice pudding, and all I wanted to do was sleep, which was ironic given the level of my insomnia.  Getting more than 2 hours of sleep a night was like trying to get pants on a fish.

Then one day my body just quit.  Reason #2 there’s been a distinct lack of recipes around here the last few weeks.  I enlisted the expertise of a Naturopath and after running a battery of tests – some of which, interestingly enough, entailed mailing vials of my spit to Tacoma – the results were clear.  My adrenal glands had shut up shop; something I could no longer ignore.  So I took an giant step back  – hugely grateful to my employer for allowing me the time away – and surveyed the scene, determined to do whatever I needed to do in all areas of my life to turn my world right way up again.

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And here, lovely readers, is the real purpose of this post.  The changes that I implemented to repair my long-suffering adrenal glands had an unintended benefit – I magically started to burn body fat.  I freely admit that some comments I received back in November that prompted this post bothered me deeply.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me and say, “This whole *SANE thing obviously doesn’t work.”  Imagine how thrilled I was then when a couple of weeks ago I saw Jonathan for the first time in a month, and when I walked in the door and ditched my coat over the chair he exclaimed, “WOW! You look amazing!”  Quite the result, especially bearing in mind that it had not been my focus, and given my struggles since my weight-loss stalled earlier last year.  That whole stalling deal was pretty annoying for the girl who is supposed to be a poster child for *SANE living.

Have you been doing everything right in the *SANE eating and eccentric exercise department and are still not seeing a shift but don’t know what the hold-up is?  Then this post may be exactly what you need.  I knew you’d all want to know what I’d done to get over the hump and start losing again – even (or maybe especially?!) if it was unintentional.  I knew my fat-burning hormones had switched on as soon as it happened because my once-legendary appetite tanked.  As JB put it, “Now your body is going ‘Ooooh! There’s some fat to burn right there on your leg!  I don’t need you to eat as much food now’.”

Now, you’ll have to bear with me here because if I wrote everything I want to tell you in one loooooooooooooooong post it would take me two months to write it and you all day to read it.  So I am not going to do that.  I am going to write one post per topic.  This will also make it easier for you to find and re-read the bits that you feel are most relevant for you instead of having to trawl through the whole darn post again.  You can add this as reason #3 for the lack of new recipes – this stuff is important, so I am going to focus on these posts until they’re done.  Then I’ll get back to the recipes.  Promise!

So now you have some context I can tell you that for the last 7 weeks I’ve been focusing on me.  In doing so I now {finally!} realize how hugely important it is that we all spend time focusing on ourselves – not in a self-ish way, but in a self-care way.  Taking care of ourselves is what will keep the wheels on the bus and the lights on.  Had I taken a little me time on a consistent basis I wouldn’t have got to the place of collapse.  I was forced to get off the merry-go-round.  I encourage you not to wait until you are.

There’s ten things that I’ve been working on that together caused my body’s transformation.  Over the next few weeks I’ll write in depth on each topic with exactly what I did and why.  Take the bits you need and skip the bits you don’t.  I hope you find it useful.  I hope it helps you get on track if you’re not, stay on track if you are, and most of all stops you from getting thrown off the merry-go-round – it’s quite the fall.

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#1. SLEEP

Jonathan waxes lyrical about our bodies need for lots of good quality sleep and it’s the reason why I have this as my #1 transformer.  You can eat the best *SANE diet in the world and exercise eccentrically to perfection every week, but if you’re not getting enough great sleep life will suck and it will be much harder for you to burn body fat.  Insomnia can literally make you go crazy, not to mention how it impacts our ability to perform in every other area of life.  Nothing else that I was working on was worth a hill of beans until I got the sleep bit figured out.  If you’re not sleeping, make this your #1 goal.  Everything else you implement will work out much better if you get the sleep down first.  Here I share here how I solved my insomnia.

#2. STRESS 

Next to sleep, getting my stressors under control was critical.  If your body is constantly under major negative stress it doesn’t matter what else you do to support your health, it won’t work – or at least it won’t work nearly as well.  For example – the adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that play key roles in the stress response and metabolism.  Cortisol is one of those hormones, and cortisol serves an important role in controlling the metabolism and use of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  So no matter how good I was with my *SANE eating, with a messed up adrenal gland – caused by stress – my metabolism sucked.  Here I share what I am doing in the area of stress management to bring everything back into balance.

#3. ESTABLISHING ROUTINES AND CONSISTENCY

Consistency is absolutely key to lasting and effective change, and setting routines makes consistency so much easier to maintain.  Routine may conjure up thoughts of boring or stifling, but in reality routines make it possible for you to get far more of the exciting stuff in life.  Here I share why that is so and what routines I’ve now established, plus how and why they have helped so much.

#4. EAT SANE

Woah.  Wait.  You mean you weren’t eating *SANE before now, Carrie Brown???  Hang on there, tiger – don’t panic!  I have been eating *SANE foods almost exclusively for 20 months now, but there were two things I was doing that were not allowing that *SANE food to be effective: I was regularly skipping meals altogether when life got too hectic, and I was eating the wrong ratio of macronutrients – too much protein and fat, not enough non-starchy veggies – because for me protein is the easiest thing to grab on the go.  Here I share what I did to change all that and what I do now to make it easy for me to keep the ratios right.

#5. ECCENTRIC EXERCISE

It’s no secret that I do not like to exercise, but the real reason I kept falling off the eccentric wagon was two-fold: I was constantly exhausted and my schedule was nuts.  Here I share what changes I made so that I now look forward to my eccentrics and interval training every week.  Yes, I really did just type ‘look forward to’.

#6. GREEN TEA

It took me a long while to heed Jonathan’s “Drink green tea!” mantra.  It’s hard when you hate the taste of the stuff.  Here I share how I conquered the green tea monster.

#7. SUPPLEMENTS

It’s a good idea to take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement just to make sure all the nutritional bases are covered – and Jonathan agrees with me.  Depending on your own particular needs there may also be other things that would be helpful for you to supplement with.  Another thing that fell foul of my exhaustion, ridiculous schedule, and soaring stress levels was supplementing my body with things it needed to thrive.  Here I share how I got that back on track and what supplements I take on a daily basis.

#8. YOGA

I have learned how important it is to re-boot your brain regularly, and yoga is a great way to do that.  My first yoga class was a revelation to me – my brain was still for 75 minutes straight.  Here I share what kind of yoga class I attend and go into the myriad of reasons why it’s so good for us.

#9. REJUVENATION

It’s really essential to get your R ‘n’ R in – something I have only got my head around in the last 6 weeks.  I have always been hopeless at relaxing because I always felt a compelling drive to be productive for every waking minute of every day.  Here I share what I did to change that and what I now build into my life on a regular basis to ensure I allow myself to get rejuvenated.

#10. PATIENCE

You can’t fix the consequences of long-term chronic stress – or anything else – overnight, as much as you might want to.  I am giving my body the time it needs to rest and recover.  I know if I keep on doing the right things consistently my body will heal itself.  That will take time.  I am learning to enjoy the journey. 

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You may find that by reading my list you’ve already pinpointed areas you think you need to change.  My list may prompt you to take action you already knew you needed to take but hadn’t made a priority.  You may be just starting out and need to work on everything.  Wherever you are at I look forward to sharing the specifics of my transformation over the next few weeks.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that I have re-kick-started my *SANEity!

In the meantime, whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Sue Rochester - Dear Carrie I was so pleased to read this post and glad you are feeling so much better. Can’t wait to read your changes in the next few posts. We have plenty of recipes to be getting on with so don’t worry about creating new ones just yet.
Take care and keep up the good progress, you inspire us in so many ways thank you xx

Andrea M. - So glad you’re taking some much-needed, much-deserved ME time!! Good health is about much more than SANE eating and exercise, and we’ll look forward to reading what you have to share. Keep taking good care of you! <3

Gina S - Again you have the exact words at the perfect time. Just what I needed. I’m in the same boat and am ready to fix my body inside.
Looking forward to the next installment!
Thank you!

Alexis - Carrie, I’m glad you are taking time to reset and take care of YOU! I’m particularly interested to hear what you did for rejuvenation – I’m also hopeless at relaxing and know I need to get better :)

jolanda - Dear Carrie, thank you for sharing these very private life situations. I’m sure you needed some courage to take this step and I’m grateful for it. It’s awesome to read you feel so much better and you are in charge of things in your life again.
People say look at the big picture, I like to see the small details in the picture. You reached me a lot these last couple of months and id like to thank you for that. Looking forward to the details….take care :)

Nancy - Go girl! I love your posts, and of course the recipes. But the recipes are second to how much I admire your bravery and your humor. You do us, your ‘lovely readers’, a great service by your honesty about mental, emotional and physical health and how they all interplay for you-so we can see how they might work for us. Thank you!

Gary Moss - This all sounds so familiar. Or most of it. I am left to wonder why my mind and body want me to sleep twelve hours a day, but I’m allowing it to happen instead of overriding it. We’ll see where this and better structure for meals and exercise go. I am patiently waiting for a big change in my body sometime in the next months. Thanks for putting it all down for me to read about.

Gary Moss - ps. My physician prescribed an hour of intensive cardio five days a week to get through this time. I do not agree!

Theresa - Carrie, I am so glad for this post! I was feeling a bit frustrated by the lack of results today although I know they will come eventually. Like you, I spit into tubes and mailed it off and found that I had low cortisol so I know that’s a factor in this process that I need to attend to. I’m doing a lot of things to reduce stress and encourage healing. I am looking forward to reading your upcoming posts about your journey. Thank you for sharing :)

Maree Chappell - Dear Carrie,

How I laughed at your description of feeling so low you want to crawl into bed with your cats! Amen to that one! I do love those furry little buggers!

And getting pants on to a fish – well the mind boggles. So in the midst of your struggles and ill health, Carrie you are still making us laugh! You are a rare one. May you heal fast and the fat loss continue!

God bless!

Maree

Jan - Thanks Carrie, you have shone the light on my health status. I love your frank honesty, no wonder you are the poster girl for sane eating. I look forward to your future posts and in the meantime, I am getting my adrenals checked!

Julie - Carrie girl, thank you for letting us know what is going on with you. You know, when you recently said that you couldn’t eat as much as you used to, the first thing I thought was “well, the Sane way of eating is really kicking in for her”. That’s what happened to me. I just can’t eat as much. I am looking forward to hearing about all you are doing to heal. Thank you for being honest with all your lovely people.

Allie - Hooray, Carrie! What a great update. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this with us. I’d be really interested in you also sharing what the naturopath did – especially what kind of testing. This is something I’ve been considering for some time now. Much love to you on this journey.

Allison - This is amazing. There’s so much more I want to say but suffice to say, this is amazing. I can’t wait to read more. And we lead parallel lives, honestly!

This has come at the perfect time. Just amazing.

Ellen - Thanks, Carrie! This is going to be very helpful, and is incredibly timely. You are awesome!

ellen - p.s. ditto on the info about the naturopath. sounds exotic – wonder if they have those here in North GA? :)

Lynn - Thanks so much for this Carrie, i’ve been going through a similar situation and coincidently have started to look at some of these factors too. You are further down the line than I am and it is an inspiring read.
Looking forward to the next bit…

Ellen - Carrie,

Thank you SO much for addressing this topic and your experience with it! I am in a similar situation, having abused my body for way too long, and I love your reminder to treat our bodies with compassion even when we are frustrated with “cortisol belly” and exhaustion and such. I can’t wait for your follow-ups!

carrie - So glad these posts are helpful, Ellen! I don’t want anyone to feel the way I have for the last several months.

The Transformation: Yoga » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] A Veritable Transformation […]

The Transformation: Rejuvenation » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] then my adrenal glands went on strike and my world came to a screeching halt.  Most days when I got home from the day-job I barely had […]

The Transformation: Meal Plan » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] the results from my transformation started to become physically apparent I’ve had bucket-loads of requests for more detail on […]

Tina - Dear Carrie,
I can’t thank you enough for your time to share these single steps of your transformation. In my fourth month of SANE eating I didn’t lose much weight or inches – and indeed I can relate to so many aspects of where you found yourself before turning things around: insomnia, huge stress levels, being overwhelmed by exponentially growing to do lists – and then the additional stress of justifying the way I was eating now, and what I was not eating anymore, for months, without any visible results.

carrie - Food is a huge part of the puzzle, but there are other things in play that can help us on our journey to health and fatloss which we would be wise to consider.

The Elephant In The Room » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] A Veritable Transformation […]

The Slippery Slope » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] have often mentioned that since my transformation I can eat a treat every once in a while without any issues whatsoever.  I now know I need to […]

Get Yourself A Pedicure » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] this year I’ve been working on self-care, although admittedly it took a crisis for me to recognize that it was vital to my existence as well as making me more useful to the […]

Megan - Thank you so much for sharing. I am relatively new to SANEity and am finding your posts so inspirational. I have been really struggling with my sugar addiction, which is not helped by the fact that my husband does not share my enthusiasm for healthy living. Thank you for giving me direction and permission not to be perfect!