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Getting a better night's rest

The Washington Post quotes a survey that many people, for various reasons, are reporting trouble with getting a good night's sleep. Sleep is an important part of normal biological function, helps with recovery, and contributes to proper metabolic function. Not sleeping enough at night can impact a person's ability to think clearly, perform tasks efficiently, affects focus and attention, and it makes you yawn an awful lot!

Sleep- it's good for you!
A excellent research project of the NIH in its Sport's Medicine journal chronicals many of the issues related to interupted sleep patterns as a result of shift work (link for article). Some negative affects of altered behavioral patterns, such as eating at night (mentioned in section 2.2) have links to obesity because of the low metabolic trends during the night hours. As the paper does note, there was some difficulty in gaining access to enough participants to fully study the effects of nocturnal workers versus the behior paterns and exercise habits of a regular work time population. The paper does stress that there is evidence that exercise helps to manage the stress and anxiety in some of their patients and recommends it as part of an overall holistic strategy for a healthy lifestyle.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep has been recommended for as long as I can find (it's mentioned in the writings of Maimonides, so we are talking almost 900 years of such medical knowledge), but each person has to find the right balance of time based on their activity level. Associciate sleep with recovery time- if you feel refreshed and ready to go after a night's sleep, then you should feel recovered. If waking up is accompanied by muscle tightness, headache, dizziness, etc., then it is time to re-evaluate your schedule.


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Fiber for FItness (or just fitting into clothes)

The average American diet simply does not have enough fiber. White enriched flour has almost no fiber content. The most popular veggies are tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and cucumbers, which have almost no fiber content (or vitamin content for that matter). Fiber helps regulate the digestive system (especially soluble fiber) by moving lipids (i.e. fats) through the blood stream and helping regulate sugar absorption. Insoluble fiber helps move bulk through the intestines, easing constipation and maintaining healthy acid levels.
You should also try to manage the sugar and fiber intake, especially for weight loss. Less sugar equals fewer calories which always contributes to weight loss. Check out the chart below for examples
Other great ideas are some of the whole fruit smoothies such as Bolthouse Farm products which use whole fruits and not juices. Fiber in your diet is an easy way to lose weight without making huge changes, so get started!

Exercise- Some Motiviation Required

It requires some thought in to why we do and don't do things. Exercise was not really much expected of the average person when there was so much labor to do around the home and job. Our evolution from labor based to service based industries has created a need for us to generate time for activity. Hence- our need for motivation.
Exercise in ancient Greece, for example, was an ingrained part of the religion and culture. The Gymnasium was dedicated to physical perfection, but also developed into a meeting place of philosophers and educators.
In some ways, exercise is a motivator today for people to look attractive, impress their friends, potential friends, or just to make people notice them. Vanity can motivate.
Sometimes, it's just about pride. The thought of having to buy new clothes to make room for more of you is just not pleasant (especially when you see the selection available). In fact, some studies have demonstrated that monetary incentives have helped people lose weigh…

Body weight, reexamined...

The constant battle with the scale can be unending and unnerving. Before you even consider using it as your guide to a healthy weight, you should really consider the alternatives:

Body fat percentage: this is the most accurate measure of health and fitness. It means a low weight or lean person can have too much body fat and still have the potential for many ailments associated with being "overweight" including Type II diabetes and osteoporosis, for example. A heavier person with normal body fat percentage would actually be better off. Technology allows us to measure body fat percentage through a bioelectric resistance pad, which are those silver pads you can find on some scales. Make sure you purchase that kind of scale because it really appraises you of true progress- more lean tissue and less fat. See how you fall out on the chart below:

Waist-to-Hip Ratio: this is another effective way to measure how much fat has accumulated around the abdomen. As a general rule, the hips …