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The Saturday Skinny: Sleep is the missing component to many weight loss plans

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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Proper diet? Check. Plenty of exercise? Check. Adequate sleep? Well, that’s another story.

As a parent with two young children (ages 4 and 2), as well as suffering from allergies and chronic back pain, sleep is sometimes elusive. A healthy lifestyle should include all of those elements I listed above (fresh produce and lean proteins, exercise and sleep). I usually manage two out of three.

My weight loss (121 pounds) has been built on a foundation of diet and exercise. When I’m tired, I find it more difficult to make healthy choices.

For the last four months, I have strived to change my sleeping habits. I try to hit the hay earlier and sleep a little later in the mornings.

In this installment of The Saturday Skinny, we’re going to look at what’s worked for me on my journey, from how I got started to my current challenges of trying to maintain my loss (and maybe drop a few more pounds). I usually don’t recommend products or push diet plans, but these have been beneficial in my weight loss journey.

Getting started

When I began my weight loss journey two years ago in January 2011, I weighed 303 pounds. Today I weigh 182. Losing the weight wasn’t easy. I struggled for the first 10 months, only losing 20 pounds. That’s when I decided to get serious. It was October 2011 and I knew I would only “get out what I put in,” as the saying goes.

As a newspaper editor, I have done many stories on weight loss, researched what has worked for others, and spoken with health professionals. I knew what I needed to do, but the task ahead seemed so daunting.

I began by using a specific diet, “The Fat Smash Diet” by Dr. Ian Smith (from the TV show “Celebrity Fit Club”). The small book is really more of a lifestyle plan rather than a short-term fix and seemed to make the most sense to me. I used it as my starting platform and eventually crafted my own plan over time.

My doctor had this to say about the way I lost the weight, “You are doing it the right way.”

I focused on small manageable goals (five to 10 pounds at a time) and made healthy choices one meal and one temptation at a time. It also takes planning to eat healthy.

Eat right

The US Department of Agriculture offers a great resource for those seeking more information on healthy eating. Go to www.choosemyplate.gov and check it out for yourself. One of the best pieces of advice I use regularly is to fill half my plate with fruits and veggies, a quarter with lean protein (like chicken breast or plant-based protein) and the last quarter with a whole grain (brown rice, quinoa or whole grain bread). The website offers plenty of downloadable information so I recommend utilizing the resources available.

This is what they have to say about choosing diets at choosemyplate.gov: “Does it matter how much carbohydrate, protein, and fat you eat? Carbohydrate, protein, and fat are components of foods and drinks that provide calories. ‘Calories’ matter when it comes to body weight, not the calorie source. You should not select a diet that avoids or severely limits carbohydrates, protein, or fat. Similarly, you should not select a diet that avoids any of the five food groups. There are choices within each food group that provide the nutrients you need, without too many calories.”

TIPS: I avoid red meat, dairy and sweets, seeing them more as a treat. The USDA website offers great tips and meal options. When I must hit a fast-food place, for example, I might order two “snack wraps” filled with grilled chicken, without the sauce (about 200 calories for both). It’s enough to satisfy for a meal and is easy on the wallet.

Get your beauty rest

When I’m sleepy, I am not at the top of my game. I find exercise difficult with my energy lagging.

A good mattress and comfy pillows can only go so far, which is why I’ve opted to try SmartSilk pillow protectors, a comforter and mattress pad. Since putting these on my bed, I have found sleep more deep and restful.

Like many, I suffer from allergies as well as a bad back from an accident more than 20 years ago. Just before Thanksgiving, I was in another car accident, which has caused my back pain to intensify. The thick mattress pad and soft comforter have provided relief.

According to the company, “SmartSilk is the first all natural bedding to be certified ‘asthma & allergy friendly’ by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Asthma Society of Canada.”

I am breathing easier, sleeping better and am impressed by the quality of the bedding. I highly recommend using SmartSilk if you’re looking for relief from asthma, allergies or back pain. According to the company it’s also good for those who suffer from fibromyalgia because the, “all-natural silk-filled bedding with its evenly proportioned weight, cooling and therapeutic properties helps the discomfort associated with (the illness).”

The fabric is inhospitable to dust mites and allergens, is a natural heat regulator and is resistant to mold and mildew.

Here’s one last thing I enjoy about the bedding. I’m no longer kicking the covers off to get cool.

“When your body begins to overheat, (the) breathable silk and cotton allows air to smoothly circulate without compromising warmth,” their website states.

NOTE: SmartSilk will be available at Costco, 1800 Cavitt Drive in Folsom, for a special show running Feb. 28-March 10. The products will be offered at a discount from their website prices. You can learn more at SmartSilk.com.

Consult your doctor before beginning any weight loss or exercise program. Follow us online at Facebook.com/TheSaturdaySkinny or Twitter @anewsguy.