this was probably the reason why I ultimately stopped drinking milk, for the taste of eating my morning cereal with milk that wasn’t perfectly chilled became a bother. When I really think about it, I probably haven’t had milk straight up in some 20 years, and the only time I ever really ate cereal since my youth was as a snack food (Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Punches of O’s were amazing as a late day snack). Anyway, I will admit the worst thing my parents could have done for me was give me a light and give me books when I finally got my own room at the age of nine. My father gave me a bunch of his old Tom Swift books, and since I didn’t like reading during my prime television watching hours, I usually reserved the activity for what was supposed to be my sleep time. Tom Swift was very much the Harry Potter of his day, except the Tom Swift series was around for a good 70 years (I still harbor the idea of bringing him to life on the big screen, but that has been shelved for a while since teens these days like vampires, magic and other ridiculous nonsense like the Hunger Games and Divergent, where they are nothing but oppressed little brats as opposed to kids that are creating stuff--maybe that is why the Millenials are so melancholy).
So yes, while the Tom Swift series that my father gave me may have been set in the 1950s, it was still a good yarn. My love for the books ultimately led me to finding the weird futuristic offshoot that was published in the 70s, where Tom Swift wasn’t even based on Earth anymore and was fighting space bugs and trying to solve quantum singularities. Fortunately the series came back to reality in the 90s, where Tom was doing more believable stuff like accidentally creating an invisibility suit and building a machine that could reduce and expand the size of a human being, all while being chased down by an experiment gone haywire where he created nano-machines in the shape of common bugs in case we ever destroyed the particular genome of bug and would need them to fulfill the uses of their live counterparts. Yup, some of it was actually some pretty heady stuff. I even created my own fan fiction once in regards to the book series, writing about some crazy adventure where me and Tom went off in some submarine to save the underwater civilization of Atlantis (I was getting into some weird stuff at that time, like aliens, the Nazca Plains, spontaneous combustion, bigfoot, etc.). Those were definitely some good times, and it really changed when I finally got my own VCR and started watching movies into the night while also sneaking late night reruns of shows I used to love in the 80s. Anyway, what I am getting at is I ultimately became quite the night owl, and I loved every second of it. It created the most privacy in my life giving me the best options for doing what I wanted to do after school and then do what I couldn’t do when my parents had control of the television. I lost a lot of sleep, and it was a good thing I rode the city bus for as long as I did because I fell asleep quite easily. But here is something else that might have contributed to my gradual weight gain after high school: my night tendencies probably had a hand in my poor health. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/night-owls-diabetes-risk_n_6978722.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592
Now, the main reason for my health problems were still mostly to do with my poor diet, lack of exercise and a very deep disdain for myself. But before that, I was getting pretty pudgy. Let’s face it, when you work two jobs, this sort of problem can crop up quite easily. I was working from six a.m. until two p.m., getting up at five in the morning. I would go to my second job around six, typically after taking a nap and eating a huge meal, and not get home until 10 p.m. or so. By then, I was wired and couldn’t fall asleep until maybe midnight. If anything, this is where my coffee, soda, junk food and energy drink habits gestated from, and my assumption in regards to this is not far from the truth. In the above mentioned article, poor sleep patterns put you at a higher risk for such ailments as diabetes and reduced muscle mass. Now, I can understand the diabetes part, merely to the idea of how eating patterns are altered when you stay up at all hours of the night. Since you are more likely to drink (and I used to drink a lot!) you are also more likely to eat unhealthy food, which for me would have been a whole pizza with chicken wings or maybe my never-ending bag of joy from Hamburger Stand, where I would eat eight cheeseburgers, four fries and four chili dogs in one sitting. And yes, I really did used to eat a meal meant for a family four by myself. It somewhat mesmerized my friends, who to this day consider my dietary change such a shock. Anyway, the sleep and muscle mass correlation is quite simple, mainly for two reasons. First and foremost, when we have proper sleep over an appropriate period of time, our bodies are essentially repairing itself. Think about having a hard night at the gym, leaving with your body aching and you ready to take a long nap. During the course of the evening, your body is regenerating from all the punishment you put it through, and the rebuilding process is what essentially allows you to get bigger in terms of muscle mass. So here was a problem I was running into for a short while when I tried really going hard at the workout thing. Not only was I burning too many calories and not eating enough (thus burning my muscle up quickly due to my body most likely trying to protect my fat stores for long term energy), I was ruining my sleep patterns due to the extreme soreness I was creating in my body, making it difficult for me to fall asleep at night. It was no surprise that I really didn’t lose any weight during those two weeks, and then I gained a lot of weight back when I got back on a normal workout and eating schedule. So the first rule of working out, just maintain a consistent regimen and don’t overdo it.
Now the second point is a little obvious, for when you lose sleep, you are essentially losing energy. When you get enough rest, you are rejuvenated and have a good amount of energy to face the day. But if you are not, you start relying on other sources to keep you awake. As I mentioned before, I started abusing junk food in general to stay operational, even if it meant just for an hour or two at most. It didn’t give myself much help either considering I worked at a Circle K, and it turned out to be a store that was always testing the newest products the company wanted to trot out, so I got a taste of just about every knock-off energy drink and every flavor of chocolate bar you could imagine. The best product I ever had was when they introduced a cinnamon creme filled bagel, not to mention we were one of the first stores in the city to start selling the flavors of potato chips that were only available in Mexico like Tapatio Ruffles or Salsa Verde Dortitos (now all of these flavors are pretty common around Tucson, for we are even getting the weird Gatorade flavors like Cucumber Lime while also getting all of the Mexican varieties of Sprite, Pepsi and Coke). So there you have it. When you have no real rest and junk fuel in your body, what do you expect when you hit the gym? It was no real surprise that I lost a lot of gains in 2014, especially since I was nearly unemployed for half the year. I was staying up to all hours of the night, drinking the occasional beer and snacking on some late night meals. And it showed in the gym, where I was often lethargic and not entirely on point with my effort. But like so many other things in life, things change.
It is still a struggle so to speak in regards to keeping up the effort, especially when I found out a gained a few pounds from my uneven workout schedule from the last couple weeks. One thing I didn’t mention about the importance of sleep was how it helps with your mood. When you are tired and grouchy, you can become quite bitter and agitated quite easily. More often than not when I have had sleep issues, I tend to stop running because of the amount of exertion needed to reach my goals in regards to this endeavor. Personally, I don’t ever want to feel that way ever again, which means I have to take my scheduling quite seriously (even though it is kind of late as I put the finishing touches on this blog). It’s getting a little easier though, especially now that I have to go into work a little earlier than normal, which means I will be more than exhausted by the time I get to sleep. And of course, I still need to get my swamp cooler turned on, for my house is starting to turn into a furnace now that the summer months are creeping in (the biggest problem with my place is that it is cold as heck during winter and warm as Hades during the summer, so there is really no relief when I leave or stay home). But this all part of the fitness game, for if I really want look good and aesthetic so I can sell my book some day in regards to my adventures, then I have to get some better sleep. Fortunately, I have thoroughly read all of my old Tom Swift books and Hardy Boys books and the old Choose Your Adventure stories that I have collected over the years. Not to mention I am finally getting into the final episodes of one of my favorite shows called “Fringe,” which for reasons left unmentioned I missed the entire final season of the show (which I am now about to start watching this upcoming weekend!). I guess the good news is that I cannot read much anymore, merely due to my weird eye condition that absolutely bugs my eyes out and give me headaches. If I was able to stay up late and read like I used to, who knows what my sleep patterns would be like. I do have a book that I need to finish about the history of Area 51, so that is still on the docket. Not to mention I want to reread the Divine Comedy someday while also rereading Paradise Lost. Yup, no matter how old I get, some things just never change.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.