Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sleep and How Badly Do You Want It?

People ask me often how I am motivated to train, especially with two little boys under the age of two. I'll be honest with you, there are says where I DO NOT feel like training at all. There are days when the last thing I want to do is get my incredibly tired self out of bed and go throw my body under a lot of wight a bunch of times.

But, then I think about my goals.
My goals push me out of bed, when my willpower isn't enough.
So what are my goals?
Here are a few of my BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals):
I want to be back at 22% body fat. 
I want a double body weight backsquat,
I want to run a marathon.

Being an athlete well rounded enough to squat twice my body weight and be able to run 26 miles?
Those are big goals.Those are get-your-rear-end-out-of-bed-and-get-moving kind of goals. So in order for me to reach those goal, means there are no days off. That is right, I train my body EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now does that mean I train at the same intensity level every day? No way. So how do I decide when to train and when not to train, since I have two little kiddos and tired is just part of this season of life?

If you look at the picture for this article you may recognize it from the dashboard of the FITBIT sleep tracker. This was my sleep pattern this last week and it is actually a great example of all three of my "levels". So lets break them down one by one.

Level 1 is where I get 6 hours of sleep a night. (I am pretty sure when this happens the angels sing and little forest creatures dance around like in sleeping beauty.) This week was a surprisingly good week because I had two whole nights where I got 6 hours of sleep. When that happens I train at 100% of my ability level. That means I lift as heavy as I can, I go hard on conditioning, and I hit the elliptical during my children's nap time. These are my absolute favorite days.   
Level 2 is when I get between 4 and 6 hours of sleep a night. As you can see, this week there were three of those days. When I get this amount of sleep I recognize that my coordination may be a bit off due to my lack of sleep. Because I don't want to risk an injury, I usually drop all of my weights to about 75% of what I would normally lift. I do conditioning, but at a much more scaled version, and I don't do the elliptical, so I am not over stressing my body. These are the most common days for me right now. 
Level 3 seems to be where I was for most of the past month and a half. These are the nights where my 6 month old son won't sleep at all. I have learned that he does best when I am moving, so I strap him in to my Ergo carrier and I get on the elliptical and I get moving. I cannot begin to guess how many miles I have gone on the elliptical in the last two months, but it has been a LOT. The next day when I get up, I still go in to the gym, I still move m body but I do about 25% of my numbers. I don't do conditioning at all. In the evening I take my boys for a long walk through the neighborhood. And that is it because that is all that my body can take on those days. You have to train smart, or you will end up with injuries, and sometimes that means having several level 3 days in a row and that is alright. Thankfully I think that these days may be coming to an end for our family so I will soon be ramping back up to level 2 or 1 every day,

Essentially when I am saying is that when you are the parent of tiny humans, training can be incredibly challenging. However, it absolutely can be done. I watched a mom this week do her entire workout using her 15 month old son as her weight because her babysitter canceled.

Now THAT is dedication.

The best thing that you can do is sit down ahead of time and decide what your threshold is. How many hours of sleep do you need to feel great? How many do you need to feel so-so? How many is just not enough for real training? Decide these ahead of time and then follow your plan. Be smart, and let your body recover and rest, but at the same time don't use having a baby as an excuse to be out of shape. Because at the end of the day the question remains, how badly do you want it?