In the month of August, I decided to run a month long experiment with 2 conditions:
- Remove processed foods from my diet for the duration of the of the month.
- Work to increase my sleep by going to bed earlier.
A lot of research states that the best way to improve your health is to increase the number of hours you sleep and cut out all of the processed junk (or severely reduce it).
ALL of my numbers improved even though I missed my daily 8 hours of sleep. The challenge still holds up. I am going to continue both experiments of course throughout September and probably the rest of my life.
You can read the Two Year Fitness Update (2016-2018) blog post to find out the exact method I use to track my calories and daily weight measurements.
I changed my bedtime from 12:00 AM to around 10:40 PM during the week. My alarm was set to wake me up on 6:20 AM on workout days and 6:50 AM on non-workout days.
Overall, I got much better sleep and really stayed awake throughout the day with minimal naps needed. In addition, I noticed that when I got a great night’s sleep, I was actually tired the next night and ready for bed at my new time.
It was a compounding effort to keep me on the ball. EVERYTHING in this life is built on and rewards consistent action.
An additional thing I noticed is that sometimes I couldn’t sleep the entire time and my body would naturally wake up earlier than 8 hours. The difference is that I wasn’t tired and groggy as before
I tracked my sleep through the Sleep As Android app which is available in the Google Play Store. I have been using the app for 2 years and I purchased the premium $5 version.
NO FAKE FOOD
The main change of processed food means exactly what it sounds like. I stayed away from Pop-Tarts, Oreos, frozen food and things like that. My main focus was to cut out things from the vending machine, premade fast food sandwiches (like shrink wrapped turkey sandwiches), and Brisk Ice Tea and other fruit juices.
And to that regard, I did it well. I ended up making my food 75% of the time and when I wanted some snacks or something like that, i aimed for fresh baked cookies or donuts. A lot of time, I relied on my old standby of water with lemon and lime juice in it.
I also had a lot of watermelon and other fresh fruits to fill in the gaps. Even though I reported a 500 calorie deficit on average, I wasn’t hungry at all. I had real food filling me up.
And when I was out and about, I relied on Naked’s and Boathouse fruit smoothies to keep me going. And 100% organic orange juice. So more fruits and veggies.
To be honest, it was much easier than I thought it would be. Over the next few months, I will be looking into juicing my own fruits and veggies to save money and to make sure I am not relying on outside products for everything.
I will say this though, steak and vegetables made in the Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt (Amazon) is a damn god send.
Overall both tasks were much easier than I thought. Once I knew that I had to be in bed by 10:40 PM (or thereabout), I kept a lot of tasks and made sure to start winding it down around 9:30 PM or 10:00 PM.
The same thing occurred with the diet change. When going into the store, I bought fresh made to order sandwiches if I wanted to eat out or pizza from a local place.
I didn’t wander into a Wendy’s or buy a 2 pizzas for $10 from a major chain. I planned better in advance to make the most of it because I knew I was challenging myself.
In both cases, I didn’t pin myself into a corner and then made an easy excuse to give myself a way to quit/cheat/lose.
And by doing both of them this way, I have seen first hand how easily sustainable this is overtime with a little more planning and input ahead of time.
And really that is what this is all about.
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James DeVaine says
this is something that seems very hard to do. it is amazing that you are able to stick to something so hard to maintain. i know other girlfriends and such who have tried to do the diet thing and have failed within the first few hours. and i don t know anyone who can stick to a solid time to go to bed.
this is just … wow
Thanks for the comment James.
I aimed to increase my average of hours of sleep which was easier. My goal was to get as close as I could to 8 hours of sleep a day. The earlier bed time works for the work week since I have a day job.
But getting 7-9 hours of sleep on the weekends is easier, except when my body decides 7 hours is enough.
I am still doing the sleep and diet thing because in that one month, I felt really good.