SLEEP is the absolute key to this change.
The picture on the left is from early December 2015, late one night at the gym after a very stressful day. Our sixth baby was in the throes of 10 straight months of teething, so January and I weren’t sleeping much at all.
Because of this lack of sleep, my mental health took an unbelievably bad turn for the worse.
But that’s really just a small part of the whole story.
Truthfully, I’ve slept terrible my entire life.
I have been lifting weights for the better part of my life since I was 13. I firmly believe that with the intensity and volume I have trained with over the course of 27 years, I should have at least 15-20 lbs more muscle mass on my frame.
The reason I don’t? Simple. I never slept well.
To build muscle, it’s pretty simple: you train with a combination of compound and single-joint lifts, eat plenty of lean protein, and get plenty of sleep.
The first two are no problem. Sleep is where I have always, ALWAYS struggled. My muscles never got the proper rest they needed, and so I simply don’t look like I’ve been as much of a gym rat over the years as I actually have been.
Additionally, sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain, as you can see by my belly on the left (of which I was sucking in as much as possible!). Sleep deprivation keeps a hormone called cortisol elevated abnormally, which causes the body to cling to the weight. It didn’t matter that I was eating vegan, gluten free, and all organic. SLEEP TRUMPS ALL, and so does a lack of it.
The picture on the right was taken yesterday morning, after a good night’s rest; five months into the most consistent and most restful sleep I’ve ever had in a five month span in my entire life.
I actually only returned to the gym two weeks ago after taking two entire months off from the gym.
I do, however, go on walks every night with our oldest daughter and our dog Thor, but that was the extent of my fitness for two months! I eat fruit in the morning, but I don’t watch what I eat the rest of the day.