Learn to sleep better

Rather than fitness, this month, our Facebook group is talking about sleep.  Seriously !!!  I know, I know.  You’re already thinking that all you need to do is lie down, close your eyes and it just happens.  Or does it ?

We’d probably all understand that getting a good nights sleep is a great way to recharge and improve our mental state, but what if I were tell you it can also affect your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight ?  Well ladies, I’m here today to tell you that’s EXACTLY what it can do !!! Sleep is an ESSENTIAL part of your fitness regime.  So if you’re serious about getting into shape, sleeping and resting should be a core part of your routines.

Ready ? Set………….  Lets errrrr, sleep !!!

Tip one – Feel the Rhythm

circadian rhythmGetting in sync with your natural sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm to use its scientific name), is a really important part of sleeping better.   A regular sleep wake cycle will result in you awaking more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times, even if you only alter your sleep schedule by an hour or two.
Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Strange as it seems, If you need an alarm clock, you may need an earlier bedtime !  And lastly, I know its soooo hard, but try to avoid sleeping in, even on those lazy weekends it feels you deserve after the week from hell in the office !

Tip two – Control your exposure to light !

sleep
A light box can be a great way to increase your sunlight intake

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.  Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert. However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm.
In the morning, try to expose yourself to as much natural bright sunlight as you can. The closer to the time you get up, the better.  The light on your face will help you wake up
Spend more time outside during daylight. Take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night.

 

At night, we want all the opposite things.  So…… Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens or simply turning the brightness down.  Say no to late-night television. Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead.
Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source.
When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also consider covering up electronics that emit light.

Tip Three – Food can make a difference !

Breakfast 1
Repeat after me – healthy food, nomnomnomnom !!!

Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime.  WE want to avoid big meals at night (after 20:00 really). Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
You also should be trying to avoid drinking alcohol before bed. While a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your sleep cycle once you’re out. On the subject of drinking, you should try not to drink too much in the evening as, well, you know.  Lots of trips to the bathroom, nobody wants that !!
Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs. Eating lots of sugar and refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, and pasta during the day can trigger wakefulness at night and pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep.

 

Tip Four – Wind down and clear your head !

medtationDo you find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well.
If anxiety or chronic worrying dominates your thoughts at night, there are steps you can take to learn how to stop worrying and look at life from a more positive perspective. Even counting sheep is more productive than worrying at bedtime.
If the stress of work, family, or school is keeping you awake, you may need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
The more overstimulated your brain becomes during the day, the harder it can be slow down and unwind at night. During the day, many of us overstress our brains by constantly interrupting tasks to check our phones, emails, or social media. Try to set aside specific times for these things, and focus on one task at a time. When it comes to getting to sleep at night, your brain won’t be accustomed to seeking fresh stimulation and you’ll be better able to unwind.

Tip Five – Improve your sleep environment

 

Sleeping
Do you love your bed THIS much ?

A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Sometimes even small changes to your environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.

 

  • Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet  18 Celsius is just about perfect for a great nights sleep.  Any higher than about 22 Celsius and you’re going to find it difficult to nod off.
  • Keep noise down. If you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from neighbours, traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with a fan or sound machine. Earplugs may also help.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable. Your bed covers should leave you enough room to stretch and turn comfortably without becoming tangled. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide more or less support.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex (Yummy !) . By not working, watching TV, or using your computer in bed, your brain will associate the bedroom with just sleep and sex and make it easier to wind down at night.

That’s a few of my favourite tips for getting to sleep – what’s your favourite ?  Don’t be shy, let me know !

Madds x

transgirlfitness 4

 

Things to avoid before you sleep

Getting enough sleep and a good nights rest actually takes a lot more effort and preparation than going to bed early enough in the evening. I know it might seem like too much of a hassle, especially when it comes at the wrong wnd of the day, but arranging your days activities so that you slow down mentally during the evening can really pay dividends for a good nights sleep.

Let me walk you through the things that I do……………….

First things first, I’ve made sure my bedroom is ready for sleep. It’s the second most important thing I do there (on occasions) I’ve purchased a tempur style mattress which is soooooo comfortable, I just love going to sleep now, rather than fall asleep on the sofa in front of a tv playing to itself. Next, I set the alarm clock on my phone and LEAVE IT DOWNSTAIRS on charge. That way, I get a good rest without distraction and more importantly, can’t hit snooze when it goes off, for 10 more minutes. If I want longer in bed, I set the alarm for later. Simples.

Making sure I only sleep in bed (and, you know) is important because it associates bed with a place where I’m relaxed and ready for rest. If I use it as a sofa for watching tv, or taking my laptop to bed to work on a couple of bits of work, then it just becomes like any other room in the house. Think about it, the Kitchen is for cooking, you wouldn’t do that in bed would you ?

During the day, I make sure I get all the stressful or strenuous activities out of the way early on. As keen as I am on fitness and exercise regimes, I don’t personally exercise too late in the day (after 20:00 for example) as I find that exercising later than this will often leave my adrenalin levels high, which makes it hard to sleep.

At home, before I go to bed, I don’t drink coffee (So I make sure I don’t have Joanna round, who’s permanently wired for it) I’ll also not drink any alcohol or wine. I just make a bottle of my favourite Lemon water and take it to bed with me, just in case I wake up thirsty. I also don’t rely on anything like milky drinks, or sleeping pills. When I’m tired, I go to bed, its as simple as that !

When I’m in bed, rather than watch TV, I’ll tend to read my kindle for half an hour or so. Something nice and simple, not too stimulating, but one of those books you can just mush into, pick up and drop when you want and just enjoy the moment. I’m actually reading a book about Sardinia at the moment, planning my next holiday ! lots of relaxing photos of lovely beaches and pleasant landscapes. Perfect !

Then, last but my no means least, I always wear an eye mask and ear plugs in bed. I just find it darkens the room for me and creates a silence that is restful. I don’t need any apps to play running water (makes me want to pee) wind chimes (makes me stay awake listening for the next bong) or walks through a forest with a flute (gives me a headache) I just need ot make sure I go to sleep tired.

What are your tips for going to sleep and getting a good nights rest ? I’d love for you to share them with me !

Hugs

Madds

transgirlfitness 4

 

10 Alternatives to going to the gym…

When we mention fitness training our minds tend to normally waver towards hours on the treadmill, waiting for your turn on the weights machine, sweating it out in a spinning class or perhaps doing some funky moves at home to the latest workout craze…but getting fit and staying in shape doesn’t have to be all about the gym with reps, and sets and timings.

It should be about enjoyment and living your life.

So I have listed out my 10 favorite alternative approaches that not only will get you in amazing shape but also offers the opportunity to learn a new skill set, make new friends, get out of your comfort zone, vastly improve your health  and generally become a more interesting person than ‘Jenny , I spend hours at the gym looking in the mirror and taking selfies more than I do working out’!

1- Mixed Martial Arts

WomensSelfDefense-900x600

MMA fighters are arguably some of the fittest athletes out there. Their style of fighting is a combination of boxing, kick boxing, Jujitsu and wrestling to name but a few. Even if you don’t have any desire to be a fighter, simply training to be one will place you in the best shape of your life. I’m not talking about doing an MMA class with your local fitness Instructor, I am talking about enrolling in an actual MMA gym and training as if to become an actual fighter.

The benefits of MMA style training include:

  • A full body workout
  • Brutal cardio sessions
  • Builds Strength & Power
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves flexibility
  • Learn to realistically defend yourself and build self confidence
  • Burn calories FAST
  • Instill a sense of discipline you can carry over to other areas of your life
  • Its fun & safe
  • Make friends and become a part of a family

Here is a little motivation if you feel like you wanna be badass!

Continue reading “10 Alternatives to going to the gym…”

10 Alternatives to going to the gym…

When we mention fitness training our minds tend to normally waver towards hours on the treadmill, waiting for your turn on the weights machine, sweating it out in a spinning class or perhaps doing some funky moves at home to the latest workout craze…but getting fit and staying in shape doesn’t have to be all about the gym with reps, and sets and timings.

It should be about enjoyment and living your life.

So I have listed out my 10 favorite alternative approaches that not only will get you in amazing shape but also offers the opportunity to learn a new skill set, make new friends, get out of your comfort zone, vastly improve your health  and generally become a more interesting person than ‘Jenny , I spend hours at the gym looking in the mirror and taking selfies more than I do working out’!

1- Mixed Martial Arts

WomensSelfDefense-900x600

MMA fighters are arguably some of the fittest athletes out there. Their style of fighting is a combination of boxing, kick boxing, Jujitsu and wrestling to name but a few. Even if you don’t have any desire to be a fighter, simply training to be one will place you in the best shape of your life. I’m not talking about doing an MMA class with your local fitness Instructor, I am talking about enrolling in an actual MMA gym and training as if to become an actual fighter.

The benefits of MMA style training include:

  • A full body workout
  • Brutal cardio sessions
  • Builds Strength & Power
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves flexibility
  • Learn to realistically defend yourself and build self confidence
  • Burn calories FAST
  • Instill a sense of discipline you can carry over to other areas of your life
  • Its fun & safe
  • Make friends and become a part of a family

Here is a little motivation if you feel like you wanna be badass!

Continue reading “10 Alternatives to going to the gym…”

Buddhist prayer for Healing

Buddhist prayerJust as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers, and join together in the oceans,
So may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings.
Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.
By the power of every moment of your goodness,
may your heart’s wishes be soon fulfilled
as completely shining as the bright full moon,
as magically as by a wish-fulfilling gem.
By the power of every moment of your goodness,
may all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacle come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.
For all in whose heart dwells respect,
who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
may your life prosper in the four blessings
of old age, beauty, happiness and strength

Message for my Empath Sisters

EmpathMy Friend and Sister,

It’s been a while since we last spoke, how are things going for you ? I heard you were having a hard time of things at the moment.  Me too. I think a lot of us are.

Do you know why ? I’ve been trying to figure it out too. It seems to me there’s so much going on in the world at the moment, so much violence, hurt and anger it’s hard not to be affected by it.  How do you protect yourself from all this negativity without closing off completely?  How do you not lose hope when hope no longer seems like a renewable resource?

You need a friend like mine, Heaven Lee.  She asked me the best question the other day: “How is your heart?”  It’s such a beautiful question, I love this question, we should all ask each other this question more often, at least once a day.  It’s impossible to sidestep it with one of those superficial answers – you know the ones, we’ve all used them before (“fine” is a particular favourite of mine).  It implores you to dig a little deeper.

But more than asking each other this question, let’s commit to answering it honestly, without judgement, or regret.

How is my heart? My answer today would be, it’s sad.  It’s sad for many reasons — some big, some small, some personal, some not so much.  The shootings in Orlando and in Birstall and the emotion they stir whey heavy with me and there are times where it’s easy to be overwhelmed by it.

That’s why as well as writing to ask you how your heart is today, I wanted to remind you.

  • You’re not “weak.” – Sensitive people like you, who live with an open heart feel things deeply, experience emotions on an intense level.   And an open heart is easily broken, that’s not weak, that’s a sign of bravery.  Just you being you makes you brave, strong and resilient. Don’t forget that.  The world needs you to keep your heart open, to be kind, to do your best.
  • You’re not responsible for anyone else’s happiness.  Empathetic, sensitive people like you have a special ability, you can really feel the pain of others.  It’s can be a magical gift  but also a heavy burden. When you feel someone’s pain or displeasure, it’s only natural to want to take that pain away, right? So we contort ourselves socially and emotionally to try to make everyone else happy. Your actions might have a positive intent, but the results are bad for everybody in the long run.  You exhaust yourself.  People around us learn to pile their feelings onto you to sort out. I’m giving you permission to kick that habit. Being a compassionate, supportive person doesn’t require heroic action or emotional acrobatics.  Remember

 – Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save, they just stand there shining –

  • You don’t have to watch the news. Or even scroll endlessly through Facebook at posts which annoy you.  Or follow Instagram accounts that make you feel poor and boring. It may be impossible to tune out all negativity , but you can be proactive in choosing which messages and energies you interact with.  You get to decide what to watch, read, listen to, and think about. Protect yourself. Choose accordingly.
  • You can’t save the world. So take that weight off your shoulders. There are many little things we can all do to help save the world — be nice to people, recycle, volunteer.  So figure out what you CAN do, and do it. And then forgive yourself for the rest.

 

The world needs you to keep your heart open, to be kind, to do your best. The world is hard enough. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

 

Your friend

Lavender and Peppermint Cupcakes

lavender cupcake.pngThere’s not long to go now before Cupcake day for the Alzheimers Society here in the UK – just 11 days in fact !!!  But if you’re still uncertain about hosting a party yourself, or maybe just not sure what to cook if you’re going to one – why not check out this delicious recipe my friend Denise recommended to me earlier ?  Better yet – sign up for a party for a great cause and get baking !! You can find the link here !!  Cupcake Day

Read on for the details – I know you know you want to !!

Ingredients

150g (4oz) caster sugar
150g (4oz) self-raising flour
3 tea guru sweet dreams teabags
150g (4oz) butter, softened
2 large eggs
3tbsp milk
50g (12oz) fondant icing sugar
Purple food colouring

12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper bun cases

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Tip the sugar and flour into a food mixer, add the filling of two teabags and whiz to grind the tea down slightly, before sifting into a mixing bowl.
Add the butter, eggs and milk to the bowl and beat until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the paper cases and bake in the middle of the oven for 15-18 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean).
While the cupcakes cool make the icing by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl and then beating in 5-6tbsp cold water to give a thick, glossy icing.

Add a few drops of food colouring to the icing, mixing well so that it blends together.
Spread icing onto each cupcake, and before the icing sets sprinkle on a small amount of tea from the last tea bag.

Leave the icing to set before serving !!! Then Break out the munching !!!