I had to invest in a new mattress

I had made diet, exercise and routine changes to my lifestyle, and within the first seven days I could feel the benefits. All the articles I had read about having more energy were true. I can honestly say, I had not felt this energized and alert for years. Even my family had noticed positive changes in my moods, I was a lot less snappy and had more patience with the kids.

I was sleeping better. I found it easier to fall to sleep, I was not disturbed regularly like before, and woke up feeling refreshed and energized. I had noticed one thing though, I was beginning to get aches and pains. In parts of my back I was beginning to get pains in the lower areas. Because I was sleeping so still, whatever side I was lying on began to have aches and pains.

If I had slept the entire night on one side, the shoulder I had slept on would have quite severe aches when I first woke up. The pain would not last long, but I would feel stiff in my shoulder for the first hour of the morning. This was a clear indication that the mattress I was sleeping on was not up to the job any more. A new mattress became a priority, very quickly.

I had always slept on a spring mattress, but was keen to make the progression onto memory foam. The health benefits of memory foam far out weigh those of springs. In fact, the only real benefit of a spring mattress is the price. They are generally a bit cheaper.

I  read that there can be heat problems with memory foam. This did not concern me however. I have never had any trouble with sleeping in hot conditions, and the fact I have air conditioning in the house, means I can control the general room temperature. Other than this, there are not really any down sides with memory foam, other than the price. Brands like Tempurpedic can cost several thousands of dollars. I did not have this budget, so was looking for a quality, sensibly priced mattress. I opted for a Sleep Innovations mattress 12 inches thick.

I have a king size mattress, so it cost best part of 600 bucks, but compare this to some of the other brands around, I think I got a bargain. Am I impressed with my purchase? Yes I am.

The mattress arrived vacuum packed which made it easy to handle. I left it go, to expand. I came back after about six hours and it had reached its full thickness. I did not notice and extreme smells. Yes there was a new foam smell in the room, but whenever you have a new piece of furniture, it has a new smell. The smell from the mattress was no different. Nothing more than I would have expected.

Sleeping on a memory foam mattress is definitely different. When you first get on, it is firm, yet soft and cushiony. As you lay on it for a while, you can feel your self sink, and the mattress contour your body. It did take me a little while to get used to this feeling, but I can now say I am firmly converted to memory foam, and would recommend to anyone. When I sleep, it is deep and undisturbed. When I wake it is refreshed, and no aches, pains or stiffness. It is quite possibly the best investment I have ever made. The sleeping environment is slightly warmer than my previous mattress but perfectly fine.

Changes in my body

After starting my smoothie breakfast regime, I quickly noticed some differences in my body, not physically but internally. At first it was strange and a little nerve wracking, but I stuck at it, and now everything is fine.

When you first read about adding a daily fruit and vegetable smoothie to your diet, you are warned that you make feel a little peculiar. I experienced some quite severe stomach cramps, and a little light headed. Initially I was going to stop, I thought to my self, there is no way you are meant to feel like this. My wife told me to persevere, she has participated in detox diets before, and assured me that these feelings were completely natural.

When you think about it, I made some pretty extreme changes. From virtually all processed, high fat foods, I was now consuming stacks of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, and whole proteins. No processed meat. Is it any wonder that my body was thinking what the hell was going on.

As well as all the nutrients and vitamins I was getting, I also consumed a massive amount of fiber. Although not nutritionally beneficial it does play an important role in your digestive system. Fiber is classed as a carrier, it helps you body move all the food and waste through your intestines and bowel, to be removed.

I think it was the fiber that was causing stomach cramps. I would imagine I had quite heavy deposits of all sorts in my gut, and the fiber was giving me a through clean. Needless to day on about the third day, I had a massive break through. My cramps were quite bad by now, but I had the urge to use the toilet. I think the fiber had been working quite hard, because what left my body that day was quite hard to believe ( sorry if this is a little graphic but I do not know how else to put it).  I had no symptoms of an upset stomach, everything was as normal, but in a much larger volume. On this day I bet I used the toilet four or five times.

It was after this that I really felt different and energized. Imagine all that waste stuck in your body, weighing you down, potentially poisoning you, in small doses. I began to fell lighter, less bloated and more energetic. My wife said I was through the worst and should now see some real benefits.

I am glad to say she was right. The heavy bloated feeling has stayed away. I feel happier, more energetic and have much more patience with life in general. Things that used to get me down, now don’t bother me. I just get on, and tackle what is in front of me.

I do not experience any more stomach cramps, still have a healthy smoothie for breakfast, which sets me up for the day. My bowel movements are regular and consistent, with no troubles.

I am so happy I decided to make the changes when I did. I did not realize what I was missing out on in life by the way my previous lifestyle was making me feel. I only hope that my accounts here, can inspire others to make similar changes. I went the whole hog and changed everything, but just one of these changes will make a significant difference. I guarantee it!

I realized my caffeine intake was too high

When making my diary, before starting to make the healthy changes in my life, I noticed I drank quite a large amount of coffee. I think I was using this as the energy kick I needed at various points though out the day. I was consuming, at a minimum, 10 cups of coffee a day. As an average, this equates to over 1000 milligrams of caffeine per day. Anything over 700 milligrams is considered quite high.

This was definitely an area where I wanted to cut back. As I was adopting a healthy nutritious diet, I presumed I would no longer need this caffeine intake to give me the energy I needed. I do however enjoy a cup of coffee.

keurig

“Coffee” by amenic181

Most of the time I only ever drank an instant coffee, for speed and ease, so I never really savored a high quality tasting coffee. So I Made a deal with myself that I would cut out the large quantities of instant coffee, but would invest in a nice coffee maker for my treats a couple of times a week. After much looking, I opted for the Keurig K65 automatic machine. The reviews for this maker are good, and it is still quick to make a great cup of coffee. As much as I enjoy drinking coffee, I am not one of these people who want to learn all the ins and outs, to become a fully trained barista. With this machine, all the science of coffee is placed in a pod, which you pop into the maker. The rest, the machine takes care of.

How am I feeling after cutting down on all of this caffeine intake? Fine now. When I first began, I cut all the caffeine out, but was still introducing all the fruit and veg. I did feel a little lethargic and have tired spells. Now I have a very good nutrition intake, and a great balance of fruits and vegetables ( thanks to my smoothie maker), I have more energy than I ever did while just drinking instant coffee.

I have have not experienced any negative effects from cutting out the coffee. In fact, I have recently had a health check at the doctor, and he remarked how my blood pressure had reduced since my last check. I informed him of the changes I had made, and he said it could well have been the reduction in caffeine. My whole lifestyle change ( diet and exercise),  has helped  reduce my blood pressure, but caffeine is a known source for raised blood pressure.

So I now have good wholesome food as my energy source, and have coffee as a treat. I have to say, that I do enjoy coffee much more now. I savor the aroma and taste much more than when I simply drank instant for convenience.

A great way of getting your 5 a day

Fresh Strawberry Smoothie , Juice For Healthy by Praisaeng

Fresh Strawberry Smoothie , Juice For Healthy by Praisaeng

Although I had changed my diet, and was choosing healthier options though out my day. I was still struggling to eat as much fruit and veg as is recommended. As I was making a determined effort to change for the better, this was a problem that I had to overcome. How do people consume all of the veggies and fruit they require to meet their daily allowance? Back to Google I went.

This is where I discovered juicing and smoothie making. There are various types of juicers that squeeze, chop and break up foods. All of the juices, vitamins and minerals are removed, leaving a dry pulp behind. This is a great way of consuming all the good bits and leaving the dry tissue behind. Depending on what type of juicer you choose, they can be quite slow and time consuming, but remove every drop of juice. There are faster juicers but they are not as efficient as the slower ones. Oxidation occurs, which means the juice needs to be consumed immediately.

Another option is to make a smoothie. This basically blends all the foods extremely finely, with the addition of a little water to make a smooth, thicker drink. It is generally much quicker to make these smoothie drinks. You also have the added benefit of getting all the fiber from the fruit pulp. This is removed when juicing, and left behind.

Fiber does not have any nutritional benefit, but is great for the digestive system. It helps carry and move everything through your intestines. It leaves you with a much healthier digestive system and bowel.

A great thing about juicing or smoothie making, you can have the benefits from fruit and veg you don’t like without having to taste them. Virtually all the recipes for health benefits combine green vegetables with fruit. The stronger sweeter flavors of the fruit mask virtually any vegetable. I hate celery and not all that keen on broccoli. However, I can make a smoothie with these and spinach, add strawberries, banana and pineapple, and all you can taste is the fruit.

It sounds hard to believe, I know, but its true. You only get the flavors of the fruit. I also like to add a few nuts, the flavor of these come through. But not a hint of the green veg.

This is also a great way to get some extra nourishment into your kids. I can make a strawberry milkshake with milk and ice cream, and add a broccoli head. You cannot taste or see the broccoli in the shake, just a strawberry thick shake. Just make sure the kids don’t see you making it!

With all these benefits, I now make sure I have either a smoothie or fresh juice for breakfast, with a small bowl of muesli. I sometimes have a second smoothie as a snack later in the day, but not always.

I am truly feel so much better from getting all the vitamins from the fruit and veg. I feel more alert, have more energy, and generally happier. A great site I found which has awesome information is, Juicing Made Easy. There are stacks of juicer reviews, recipes, and generally lots of info to absorb.

Adding fresh juice to your diet has got to be one of the best things you can do. Getting all the nutrients, satisfies you, and actually make you feel full for longer. You will actually find yourself preferring healthy foods without even realizing it.  Go ahead and give it a try!

Things I learned about sleep

After researching the problems about falling to sleep, I was aware that I had an old mattress, that was probably past its best, and no longer suited to my body. Unfortunately, not in a financial position to change my mattress, I began to save. I also found some other lifestyle habits that might have been causing some problems with me falling to sleep.

Firstly, I soon learned that the time I was eating my final meal of the day, was far too late. Eating late and then going to bed shortly after puts all sorts of pressures on your body. When eating during the day you are in an upright position most of the time. This might sound a minor thing, but having gravity helping your body push food down through the stomach and intestines, helps a lot. Compare this to eating late and lying down, Your bodies internal muscles have got to do all the work, forcing the food around. This can lead to indigestion, heart burn and a general feeling of discomfort.

Eating foods that are high in fat and processed does not help the digestion process. These foods are much more difficult for your body to digest and breakdown. It takes much longer, your stomach has to produce extra acids to work on the food. Your body has to work, this much harder, for a product that is far less nutritionally beneficial, than fresh produce.

Too much alcohol affects your sleep. It might help you nod off as soon as your head hits the pillow, but if affects your sleep patterns, which leaves you feeling tired. You fall straight into a deep sleep missing the REM stage of sleep. This REM stage of sleep is vitally important. During a normal nights sleep you can move in and out of the REM stage of sleep several times. It is this, that allows you to feel refreshed when waking. After alcohol, you miss this step and go into a deep sleep. You might only enter REM sleep once or twice. Leaving you feeling extremely tired the next day. So if you drink alcohol on a daily basis and are suffering with tiredness, it might be worth trying to cut back.

Exercise can help you sleep better. The benefits of exercise have been proven and include: better mood, stronger bones and muscles, stronger heart and better brain. Exercise is also good at helping you sleep, depending on when you do it. Exercise triggers all different kids of reactions in your body, most of them stimulating. Therefore it is not advisable to do vigorous exercise just before bed. But exercise early in the day is great for the day ahead, gives you stimulation and energy. As the effects are starting to wear off, you are preparing for bed. You will find that you will have a much better nights sleep.

When getting prepared to sleep your body begins to lower its temperature, so it is advisable to not inadvertently raise you body temperature by accident. This can cause delays in falling to sleep.

These are a few things I found. Not all of them applied to my situation but I thought they were worth a mention. The two things that I addressed were the time of night that I was eating, and the types of foods I was eating. I do not drink much alcohol so this did not apply to me. Exercise was not an issue before. But now that I do exercise, try not to leave it too late in the day.

Getting Motivated for Exercise

I had not done any real exercise for years. I would go from home to work, from work to home, and sit in front the television all evening. After being at work all day, trying to find the motivation to exercise in the evening was not easy. I wont lie to you. In this part of my lifestyle change, I was going to use baby steps. After all, I had not done anything for years, so whatever I did was going to be an improvement. My wife and I agreed this was something we were going to do together. This helped with the motivation, we pushed each other, when the other couldn’t be bothered.

Our exercise began with baby steps. After our evening meal we would go for a walk. This started off as a half an hour gentle walk, but now  we are at the stage where we have a very brisk walk for about an hour. We now thoroughly enjoy this time together. We are lucky enough to live in a very beautiful area with lots of coastal walks with beautiful scenery and fresh air.

After an hour of very high speed walk, our hearts rates are up and have worked up a sweat. Simple and free, no need for an expensive gym membership. We are finding as the weeks go by we are walking further, in the same amount of time. This shows we are getting fitter, stronger and healthier.

Since starting the exercise , I have experienced a lift in my moods. I don’t think I was miserable before, but I can definitely notice an improvement. I think the exercise has also given me more energy. I watch very little television anymore, there are always more things I enjoy doing. I find sitting in front of the box a waste of my time.

"Bikers" by watiporn

“Bikers” by watiporn

At weekends when we have much more time, we like to go out for longer periods, exploring the area. We have invested in some mountain bikes. With  these we can cover miles and miles during a day. We chose mountain bikes over road bikes because it gave us the option of bumpy off road terrain. This offers some different challenges. Bumpy surfaces, uneven ground, and sharp changes in up and down slopes. All of these make our muscles work in different ways, making sure that we keep our balance, and the bikes moving.

We don’t really think about this exercise as a chore any more. It is something we really enjoy and look forward to doing, in our time together.

Not only have I noticed a difference in my moods, but as time goes by, I am seeing a difference in how my clothes fit me, especially my jeans. The waists are become quite loose. Soon I will have to buy smaller pairs, which I haven’t done for years!

Time to attack my diet

Before you can change anything, you need to know what you are doing. So for 1 week I made a diary of what I was eating. Every time I put anything in my mouth, I made a little note. It is only when you do this that you realize just what you are eating. When I looked back at the diary, there was food I could not remember eating. So subconsciously I was eating, and not even knowing it. Unfortunately it was not fruit and vegetables, it was chocolate and sweets.

So I had to train myself to think about what I am eating. The first effort I made was to cut out the the sugary sweets and chocolates. But I needed something to give me my sugar fix. A quick read gave me a list of fruits which are naturally sugary. Grapes, banana, and strawberries, all became high on my snack list. I knew my sugar intake would still be quite high, but this would be a good first step. Natural sugar had to be better than, the artificial ones in sweets and chocolate. Not too mention all the beneficial vitamins I would be getting.

To satisfy all my sugar cravings, I kept a selection of fruit handy.

At the start of the day, I always skipped breakfast. Only having a strong cup of coffee. I learned that missing this first meal of the day, is what caused the huge sugar cravings I was having, later in the morning. My sugar levels were dropping dramatically, causing the craving. The high sugary chocolate was causing a sharp rise, bringing my levels back up. The problem with this is, this type of sugar creates a quick spike in your sugar levels, but in drops very quickly again. The feeling of satisfaction only lasts a short time, before you have the cravings again.

The key to stopping this happening, is a complex carbohydrate for breakfast. These types of carbohydrates release their energy slowly, as your body breaks them down. The slow release means your body maintains a very stable sugar level. This reduces any cravings you experience.

I had to train myself to get straight out the bed when my alarm went off. I found it hard at first, having never really eaten breakfast, but now I wake up looking forward to it. I generally have a muesli or granola, these are great for supplying the slow release energy your body needs. On days off, when I have more time I might have scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.

Bean Salad by Apolonia

Bean Salad by Apolonia

I now always take the time to prepare my lunch  instead, instead of buying a prepacked sandwich. My lunch now normally consists of a salad with a selection of vegetables, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and sweetcorn. I add a small hand full of wholemeal rice or pasta, and top with a choice of meat, usually chicken or turkey. To finish off lunch I have a piece of fruit, for that little bit of sugar.

My evening meal is now eaten at a more appropriate time. I always eat between 5-30 and 6-30. This gives my body plenty of time to digest everything, so I am not feeling bloated or uncomfortable when going to bed. Both my wife and I work full time, so preparing a healthy meal, without having to wait hours is still a priority.
A stir fry is quite often a favorite of ours. Fresh meat and vegetables, quickly fried in a healthy oil, with some herbs and soy sauce, creates a filling healthy meal. Fish and steamed vegetables is also easy to prepare. I have reduced my potato intake. I generally measure my potato my only having what i can fit on the palm of my hand. This stops the bloated feeling.

Though out the day I try and drink plenty of water, instead of sugary drinks. To add some flavor and variation, I sometimes add a slice of lemon, orange or lime.

 

Why was I always feeling tired?

Before I made the changes to my lifestyle, I was always tired. No matter what time I went to bed, or how many hours of sleep I had, I always felt lethargic. It was always a struggle to drag myself out of bed in the mornings. I figured if I could sort this, it would be the start of my transformation.

In the evenings I could be sat down watching the television, feeling tired. But as soon as I would go to bed, it would take an age for me to fall asleep. I would toss and turn, begin to feel irritable, and feel tired. But unable to fall asleep. This was one of my biggest frustrations. So I began to Google. (how did we ever mange without the internet?)

I Googled all sorts of terms related with sleep problems. A few factors which kept appearing were

  • Stress & Depression
  • Diet
  • Poor Quality Mattress
  • Weight

As busy and hectic as my life was, I would not say that I was suffering from stress or depression. I did not have any worries about my relationship with my wife, family, work or finances. In fact all of these things were the best they had been for years, so I crossed that off the list of possibilities.

I knew before I even started Googling, that I had a poor diet. I did not have fast food take away all the time, but I did eat quite a lot of pre prepared meals. Lots of processed food, high in sugars and fats. A diet like this is a disaster for your body. It does satisfy the hunger pains, but does very little in supplying your body with the nourishment and vitamins it requires. I ate very little fruit or fresh vegetables. I knew this had to change. Also the time of day that I ate was a concern. I always had my evening meals late at night. Very rarely would I eat before 9-9.30pm.

Combine the types of foods, with the times that I was eating them, and its no wonder I found it hard to sleep. So a diet change and eating pattern was high on the agenda for change.

I would not say I had a poor quality mattress, in fact at the time of buying, it was quite expensive. But it was over 10 years old. After some reading, it dawned on me that I may not have been 100% comfortable whilst in bed. The mattress did have some sagging, it was a spring type, not a newer memory foam one, and I was very different in size and shape to 10 years ago. So a mattress was also placed on my list of things to change, when finances allowed.

Then there is my weight. I would not say I was massively overweight, but I was heavier than I should have been. No where near obese, but carrying more fat than needed. Whether this was a factor in my sleeping problems or no, it was an issue I wanted to address. Sleeping problems due to weight are generally associated with the obese and up category. As a youngster, I never had any issues with weight. I was always active, playing sports of all kinds, and outdoor activities.

As I have grown older, the exercise has fallen away, and this is definitely something I wanted to change. As you grow older, it is probably even more important than when you are young. From reading, I discovered that exercise stimulates the mind, as well as strengthening your heart, body and muscles.

There are three things I was left with to address

  • My Diet
  • My Exercise
  • My Mattress

My diet and exercise were the easiest things to start changing, as they required very little expense to make the changes. So they were first.