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More Sleep = Weight Loss?

I’ve mentioned that I lost 17 lbs last year. This happened without any intention from me, i.e., I wasn’t trying to lose weight. While I think there were several factors to this, one was likely getting more sleep.

Ariana Huffington is on her own quest this month to get more sleep regularly, and one thing she has noticed is that she has more energy for her workouts. “Our sleep consultant, Dr. Michael Breus, has shown how getting more sleep can actually help you lose weight more effectively than exercise, but I’ve been finding the two are wonderfully compatible.”

I hadn’t connected the increased intensity of my workouts with more sleep, but now that I think about it, I think she has a point.

In January, 2009, I was content where I was, wearing my size 6 clothes. I’d certainly been much heavier in my life, and I was feeling pretty strong and fit and glad to be a size 6. I really wasn’t thinking much about my weight, which hovered on a plateau right around 134 lbs.

Our youngest had just turned four and life was getting easier all around because of it. Without so much energy needed to care for the kids, my husband and I were able to focus a bit more on our marriage, which had been on autopilot for the “dark years” of infancy and toddlerhood. My husband’s idea to help our marriage was for us to start going to bed at the same time, instead of him falling asleep at 9 or 10 so that he could leave for work at 6 am, and me working until 1 or 2 am every night.

By mid-January last year, I remember feeling more energetic in my regular workouts. I didn’t change my workout — I still went to Jazzercise three times each week, as I had been doing for two years — but I lifted my knees higher, caught a bit more air on the bounces, and generally pushed myself into a more intense workout.

I was no longer slogging through the workout at a low level. And it felt great.

At the time, I thought I had just randomly made the decision to work harder in my workouts, but in retrospect I can see that it was totally connected to getting more sleep every night.

In July I stepped on the scale at my mom’s house and saw 117 lbs. looking back at me. (I don’t keep a scale at my house to avoid obsession with weight. I really believe its more about how you feel than what you weigh. This is an unusual post for me to talk about weight so concretely, but it’s info I think a lot of people could use.)

Now, almost 6 months later, I still weigh 117-118 lbs., and I’m still working out at a high-intensity in my Jazzercise classes. I’m thinking maybe I’m going to be this weight now, for real. I’ve had to buy all new jeans (size 2 and 0!) and clear out my closet of things I used to squeeze into, even before I had kids. And I’m still getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

My workouts are more fun, my body looks better than it did in my 20s, and I feel strong and energetic. I’ve even been out dancing into the wee hours a few times in the last few months… 🙂 I have a hard time believing that I’m going to be 41 next month.

Who would have thought that you could lose weight just by getting more sleep? It was a revelation to me. I have to say that I feel better all the way around because I’m getting more sleep.

Oh, and my marriage improved, too!  🙂

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