Clive Pohl: The Living Building Challenge: Visionary from the Start

Designers and builders have long looked to rating systems for “how-to” guidance on green building. From the early days of the current environmental movement they were intended to serve as recipes for improved performance and environmental stewardship. Looking back at the earliest iterations we see a snapshot in time that describes a tension between our desire to improve and the relentless influence of market forces.

Variation in the early standards were a reflection of their author’s priorities. Some were heavily influenced by corporate interests who professed a commitment to sound environmental practices – until it impacted their bottom line. Some positioned themselves just ahead of the marketplace in a mission to gently lead economic transformation while others, in recognition of a rising carbon count, ignored economic constraints and advocated for a leap toward true sustainability. They embraced the notion that a “sustainable” marriage would never be good enough. Perceived as too expensive these standards were mostly ignored.

Though they all sought popular embrace it was, of course, impossible for one standard to provide universal satisfaction. After all, much of the construction industry held fast to the notion that a market economy is America’s only true core value.

As the aughts became the teens the plight of the polar ice caps entered mainstream consciousness, catastrophic weather patterns became increasingly commonplace, and our complicity in climate change more widely accepted. Jurisdictions around the country began to embrace legislation requiring credible compliance, building codes were rewritten to reflect increased urgency, and an army of skeptics (from architects and engineers to general contractors and their subs) had no choice but to hook up to the bandwagon. Even reluctant manufacturers began to recognize the value in environmental branding and compliant materials became increasingly affordable. The marketplace was transforming.

Rating systems, too, evolved to reflect this new economic paradigm and while consensus remains a distant target it is safe to say that they are becoming increasingly alike. They are, in fact, learning from and moving toward the most ambitious and visionary standard, the one that never allowed economic forces to dictate: the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Launched in 2006 the uncompromising principles described by the LBC attract the curiosity of the others with a gravitational pull commensurate to the ever-widening recognition that we have run out of time to simply reduce our environmental impact. In fact, the extent of our past misdeeds demand that we must, as quickly as possible, learn how to build environments that surpass sustainability by replenishing and recharging our resources. Anything less would be like approving spousal abuse as long as it is “occasional”.

Utilizing the metaphor of a flower the LBC posits that buildings should, like flowers, be rooted in place, harvest all of their energy and water on site, be entirely pollution free, and support the larger community through equity and inspiration. These are principles that were inconceivable to the earliest rating system authors and, yet, they represent a target that has been certifiably attained by 25 industry leaders with many more closing in.

Organized by seven “Petals” and 20 subset “Imperatives” the LBC standard further expands the definition of minimum requirement by going beyond the usual standards. It insists that our built environment should

  1. Give Back. Net POSITIVE water, energy and waste means that these buildings are providing energy and water for others and putting waste back into productive use.
  2. Reconnect. Biophilic design principles seek to right a long standing imbalance  by encouraging daily connection with nature. We spend 90% of our lives indoors. Even our neighbor’s access to nature cannot be impeded.
  3. Inspire. Recognizing the value of both sides of the brain the standard encourages an embrace of design elements solely for human delight – alongside the analytics that ensure efficient performance.
  4. Respect. By creating built environments that uphold the dignity of all members of society regardless of their physical or economic capacity the LBC aims to harness the power of transparency as a force for social change. Some LBC programs worthy of further exploration: the JUST Program for social justice, the DECLARE Label for chemical toxin transparency and the new Equitable Offset Program which accumulates funds to provide renewable energy infrastructure for charitable enterprises.

Beyond continued advocacy one can only give thanks to visionaries like co-creator Jason McLennan who chose to see beyond the allure of the almighty dollar and to believe that humanity can, if so informed, live in a “socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative” manner. While this is clearly easier said than done, the way is being paved and the rest of must simply face the right direction and place one foot in front of the other.

Josh Bowen: Breakfast of Champions

joshBreakfast. The most skipped meal of the main three we typically eat. Why? Well, most people will give you the greatest excuse of all time “not enough time.” I will tackle this “time” issue in a moment but would also like to offer this piece of information:

In a recent study by the American Diabetes Association of 5,000 men and women found the following of people who eat breakfast consistently;

34% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
43% less likely to become obese
40% less likely to develop fat around the midsection

Now I realize this breakfast “debate” could go on forever but when you look at the root of the word, it literally says break the fast. Therefore, I am behind the breakfast concept and really believe this is all about behavior rather than just eating. If you eat first thing in the morning, you are less likely to be starving by the time lunch rolls around and less likely to gorge yourself on whatever is in front of you. Eating breakfast also allows you to get the required macro (protein, fat, carbs) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients your body needs for daily performance and body fat decrease. Basically, it is a requirement of life!

So I have you bought in one breakfast, now lets talk about the objections to eating breakfast.

I don’t have time

Make time. Period. You make time for other activities, you can make time for this. Some of you are rolling your eyes but this is important. Waking up 30 minutes early is not going to kill you. Diabetes, obesity and fat around your stomach will.

I don’t know what to eat for breakfast

This is a fair objection. So lets dissect it and help you out.

So you are a busy mom or dad and you have to get the kids dressed and out the door as quickly as possible. Or you are a stressed out college kid who needs to get to class but wants to sleep an extra 15 minutes because you were up studying last night. Or you are a hard working personal trainer who needs to get to the gym before 5:30 am to meet his first client on the day and needs to get a lot of food in quickly. Did that cover everyone? Good. Here are few ideas for breakfast that do not take a long time and still satisfy the objection of good sources of protein, carbs and fats.

Eggs

Always a good option for breakfast, whether whole egg or just egg whites, they do not take much time at all and are pack with protein and micro nutrients to help start your day. If you are in a hurry get the liquid egg whites and zap it in the microwave or add them to your smoothie.

Oats

I use the brand “Love Grown Foods” oat clusters that are GMO, gluten and everything else free. It literally tastes like cereal and can be used as such by adding a little almond milk. Quick, easy and a great source of carbs. My preference if you are going to eat cereal. You could always sprinkle some protein powder on top as well.

Smoothies

Many of my clients love smoothies for breakfast. They are easy to make and you can get really creative with them. Here is a great illustration on how to make a smoothie:

or

or

Quest Bars

Everyone knows I have a love for Quest bars and while I don’t always recommend eating them for breakfast, if you are in a hurry a bar plus a handful of almonds would do the trick. Stop with the Power Bars, Coby.

Protein Shake

To go along with the smoothie idea, having a simple protein shake mixed with almonds and oats, would be a great substitute for the old school eggs and oatmeal.

Almonds/Nuts

I mentioned these already but almonds and nuts are packed with great nutrients and more importantly fat that your body needs for high performance. If it were a matter of nothing or nuts, go with nuts or you’ll go nuts.

Side Note: McDonalds Egg White Delight does not count as breakfast.

I realize we are all in a hurry. I realize that we can all make a zillion excuses. And I realize not everyone will read this email and put anything into practice. BUT I hope you see the value of breakfast and some of these options will help you get something in your system before you go to work or school.

Josh Bowen: Failure Doesn’t Exist

joshFailure does not exist. The very nature that we can fail at anything is fallible. When you attempt something you may or may not achieve the outcome you were looking for but there is a learning experience that will carry you on for future attempts. It would be blasphemous to never give it another go. The concept of failure implies that one can something wrong that they never can attempt again, which is laughable. The sheer experience is success enough to us learning and growing, thus not failing.

As humans you crave the experience of everything. We want to feel it and be in the moment. But yet most of us are afraid of failing at something we really want or at least think we do. Why is this? What could possibly be the worst that could happen? If you don’t get the job you want, that is your dream job, does your career end? If you struggle starting your own business that you have wanted your entire life, does life end? Whats the worse that could happen when asking a girl you always wanted to out with on a date? These are the thoughts we have and are often talked out of by ourselves no less. We are afraid of failing, when failing does not really exist in the first place.

Failure, as it typically is perceived, is just an opportunity to grow through an experience of greater challenge or adversity. Failure is just an opportunity in disguise, a blessing that will shape us into who we will be. In every situation you have two choices; quit or keep moving. It is that simple. If you quit, you will regret the decision days, months, years from now. If you keep going, you may be surprised in the outcome. The destination you cherish may be one more attempt from happening but you will never know if you quit.

There are tons of examples of famous people who refused to give up and didn’t believe failure was possible or even an option. Here are a few:

Albert Einstein

Wasn’t able to speak until he was four and his teachers said he “wouldn’t amount too much.” He later became one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen.

Michael Jordan

Was cut from his high school basketball team. He later went on to be the greatest basketball player ever to play.

Walt Disney

Was told he lacked creativity. His films are some of the most creative and loved in the history of movies.

Steve Jobs

Helped found Apple in his 20’s and by his 30’s the board of directors fired him. So Jobs founded another company, which was eventually purchased by Apple and was back working with the brand again.

Milton Hershey

Had three different candy companies before Hershey’s became a candy giant.

Arianna Huffington

Was rejected by 36 publishers. She created the Huffington Post.

What do all of these people have in common? The obvious is they wouldn’t take no for answer, they kept giving it their all and they didn’t believe failure existed. They learned. It made them who they are. The struggle made them appreciate their achievements. How much more are we capable of, if we just stop being afraid of something that doesn’t exist.

What would you do if failure didn’t exist?

Josh Bowen: Five Things Money Can’t Buy

joshWith everything going on around us, I have to stop and think about what really is important. What puts my soul on fire and makes me get out of the bed at 5 am? Helping people is the obvious answer, its what gives me the most return on anything I do. I do what I do simply because I love helping people get better.

But something else struck me over the last several days; the most important things to me are not things at all and money can’t buy them. This puts life in perspective for me.

When I visited Mrs. Carmany’s (my client) 2nd grade class on Thursday, I didn’t know what to expect. Would they receive me well? I honestly worried I would say something I shouldn’t and have to sit in time out.

But something really cool happened. When asked about my gym and the name of it, the kids wanted to know what Aspire meant. So I asked them a question about who their “hero” was. Without hesitation and with no time to think, a young boy raised his hand and said “you are my hero.”

WOW.

That kid could of asked for anything and I would of given it to him, that meant so much. That is something money cannot buy, the love and admiration from a young soul whose innocence and heart was greatly appreciated. For a tough dude like myself (some of you are laughing, I see you) this softened me up. This also set my mind in motion, what other things around us do we have that money cannot buy?

So here goes…

  1. Freedom We all to often take our freedom for granted. We have the freedom to chose and freedom to be whatever we would like. If we want something we have freedom to go get it, no questions asked. Be thankful for this.
  2. Purpose Money cannot buy you purpose in life. You can bounce from job to job, relationship to relationship but unless you truly go after what you want most in life, your purpose will not be fulfilled. What moves you? What are you passion about? What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Go do that.
  3. Peace of Mind Like the Zac Brown Band sings, “there is no price on a peace of mind.” I really believe there is no price on a peace of mind. Being at peace with the way things are and not bothered by things out of your control is the ultimate form of freedom. We should all strive to be around people and things that give us a peace of mind and shy away from people and things that stress us and ridicule us.
  4. Great Friends There is nothing better than a person or persons that would drop anything to come to the aid of a friend. There isn’t a price to have someone who constantly strives to make you better and is there for you when you are down. Remember this; the definition of a great friend is someone who sticks around when you are at your lowest, trying to build you back up. Money cannot buy this.
  5. Love There are a thousand sappy love songs about love and how there is no price tag on it. I will save you the serenade but its factual. Money cannot buy love. Love has to be felt more so than shown. It comes in all forms and can come from anyone. Always tell your loved ones how you feel about, for you never know when it will be the last time.  Was this about fitness? No, I get it but this transcends my world. We are so bogged down thinking about what we DON’T have, we forget about what we DO have. If we could all go back to 2nd grade and have no worries and be innocent again, maybe the world would be a better place?

Josh Bowen: Nutrition Overhaul without Counting Calories

joshLet’s be real here, we all hate talking about what we eat. We either don’t want to talk about it because our nutrition sucks and we know it sucks OR we don’t want to talk about it because we don’t want to change it. We like our eating habits, regardless if they are benefiting us or hindering us. When I ask a blanket statement of, “How is your nutrition,” you get a ton of different answers, mainly ones that want to deflect the question all together. From there, the general public focuses and obsesses over the amount of calories something has. This week we heard a story of a client not wanting to put brown mustard on a turkey sandwich because they didn’t want to go over their calories for the day. It can get a little absurd.  This is not our faults, we are taught in the media that eating less will make you skinny, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

JB- “Do you believe in counting calories?” The answer is simply no! A calorie is not a calorie. They are not all created equal. 200 calories from McDonald’s and 200 calories from fresh vegetables are two totally different things. I also don’t believe in consuming less and less calories (below 1200 for women and 1800 for men) as this practice destroys our metabolism.  But what I do believe in is using your portion sizes to guide your nutritional choices. This guide could help you tremendously as you look to overhaul your nutritional plan and get healthier and fitter.

For men:
With each meal have the following:
1-2 Palms of Protein
1-2 Fists of Vegetables
1-2 Cupped Handfuls of Carb Dense foods
1-2 Thumbs of Fat Dense Foods

For women:
1 Palm of Protein
1 Fist of Vegetables
1 Cupped Handful of Carb Dense Foods
1 Thumb of Fat Dense Foods

Examples:

Protein
*Preferably Organic
Ground turkey
Eggs
Beef
Fish (cod, orange roughy, salmon the best)
Chicken

Vegetables
*Preferably Organic
Broccoli
Asparagus
Cauliflower
Kale
Green beans
Carrots
Romaine Lettuce
Edamame

Carb Dense Foods
White rice
Quinoa
Sweet potato
White potato
Oats

Fat Dense Foods
Almonds
Nuts and Cashews
Avocados
Olive Oil

For more foods check out The Best Damn Grocery Store List…Ever http://eepurl.com/biIymf

We all know that counting calories long term is futile, annoying and just not sustainable. Being able to manage your portion sizes just by using your hand, can be a great alternative. It could possibly be more effective as well. In closing, remember to just keep it simple.

Julie Rath: Fall Style Tip #1 — Layering Made Easy

Fall is a great time to upgrade your style, and while there is so much you can do, I wanted to break it down and make it super simple for you. So I put together three Fall style tips that are easy and fun to implement. Read on for #1.

Fall is a confusing time — and it’s upon us. You can be walking down the street and see a guy in a parka on one block and another guy in shorts on the next. How does one dress sensibly when the day starts and ends in the 50’s but peaks in the 70’s at midday?

The secret lies in the layering.

Fall is a confusing time -- and it's upon us. You can be walking down the street and see a guy in a parka on one block and another guy in shorts on the next. How does one dress sensibly when the day starts and ends in the 50's but peaks in the 70's at midday?   The secret lies in the layering.

In order to be fully prepared for such irrational weather, it’s key to have a cadre of thin layers.

Some can be basic, and others patterned. The main thing is to have a mix and not too much of one color.

Pull together a collection of thin v-neck and henley sweaters, thin cardigans, solid t-shirts, cotton henley shirts, sportcoats and transitional jackets (these include field-type jackets, leather or suede, and lightweight bombers). The reason the layers should be thin is that it will give you the ability to regulate your temp most easily. And thinner layers combine more easily together.

You can pile the layers on when it’s cold and peel them off when you overheat. And if you’re out from dawn to dusk, carry a small classy duffle to throw extra layers into.

Something like this:

Men's Fashion Tips: Dressing for Fall

 

Josh Bowen: Conquering Depression with Fitness

joshI recently read an article about the rapper Eminem and his personal struggles and how he dealt with his depression. The rapper was addicted to sleeping and pain pills and was in personal turmoil but he found solace in working out. He lifted weights and ran to cope with his personal pain and finally was able to deal with his depression and other personal issues.

This article got me thinking…a lot. With so many people suffering in this world, can and how can fitness be used as a vehicle to to improve our mental health? The obvious answer is yes but I also have to be honest with myself, as I know this all too well.

Time to get real… For whatever reason, whether it be hereditary or my brain doesn’t work correctly or its just part of my personality, I have dealt with depression since I was 20. I have a tendency to have more lows than highs and I have to put maximal effort into changing some thoughts that come along.

I have mild depression. I am like a lot of people. I write this not so you feel sorry for me (last thing I want) or that you look at me any different. I make the best with what I have, I am not a hero by any means. I just deal with the hand I am dealt. But depression is real and the one thing I have always found comfort in is working out. It helps tremendously on my psyche and my self esteem. Its my medicine and my temple.

By nature, I am a problem solver. I love helping people improve themselves and their situations. Helping people overcome what goes on in their mind/brain is something I find gratifying. Conquering depression, whether mild or severe is a war but it is a war that can be won, especially with fitness. I have worked with many people who have overcome their battles with depression and come out on the other side a better and stronger person. Most, if not all, would attribute their success to fitness. And so would I. Here are the stats: 14.8 million American adults suffer from some type of depression 6.7% of the U.S. population The average onset of depression is 32 years old. Women are more prone that men to have major depression  I would be willing to bet these statistics will continue to climb as years go by.

This is a major problem but with a great solution…working out.

Here is how:

  1. Stress Relief Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. The tension of the world around us, the amount of social pressure we feel can often send us into a state of depression. We shut off the world. But nothing will help more than a great workout. The increase in serotonin production (feel good hormone) can make our body’s and mind’s feel better, reducing stress and relaxing the body. There is nothing better than pumping some iron when you feel down!
  2. Self Esteem The social pressures of today are unfathomable. The amount of pressure we put on ourselves to look a certain way or be a certain way, have a certain job or be a certain place in life is ridiculous. That pressure is waring out bodies out and causing us to become depressed. The comparing yourself to others is only killing your mind and body, so stop doing that. By increasing your fitness you are altering your body’s composition and being a better version of yourself. Feel better about you!
  3. Coping Life can suck, I wrote about it last blog. Sometimes it feels like the sky has opened up and dumped everything and anything on you. Murphy’s law can happen at any time. Tragedies happen everyday. Fitness can help you cope with your emotional pain and drive you to become better.  I hope you can appreciate the honesty here. There are many people who have these issues and problems, whether mild or major, temporary or permanent.

In closing remember these two things: 1. Tough times pass but tough people are here to stay 2. Your current situation is not your final destination

Josh Bowen: Never Give Up

joshI write a lot. I write more than I read. I write on real life happenings, mostly on fitness, nutrition and motivation. My world inspires my writings. This entry is no different. You may like this entry, you may not but it applies to us all. Each day we are presented with a choice to keep going on some things or to quit and give up. This is a blog inspired by someone going through an unimaginable amount of pain and sorrow, to the degree most will never know. The pain is lots but her spirit will never be broken. #teamawesome

We all are under the understanding that life is not fair, it can be cruel and unjust at times and if you are not careful it can beat you to the ground, if you let it. Some things don’t make sense. Bad things happen to good people. The universe sometimes is not in our corner. This week these known facts became even more apparent to me. Sometimes this world just plain sucks. We all know it and sometimes it gets to us, even when situations have nothing to do with us. When we see people around us hurting, it puts life into perspective. It becomes a learning lesson. How many times can you get knocked down and still get back up. This is the true measure of strength.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. That reaction is crucial. The severity of your situation can cause you to become jaded, frustrated, angry and the worse thing…quit. We often dwell more on our failures than our successes. We often feel like the universe is telling us no, when in fact it may be telling us “not yet.” Perception is everything, how you look at your situation through your own eyes is how you ultimately react to it. Its a choice, either quit or keep going.

Don’t let the world shake you to your knees. Get back up and come back for more. As the old adage says, “get knock down seven times, get up eight.” Here are some great reasons to never, never, never give up:

You are Alive and You Can

As long as their air in your lungs and gumption in your heart, anything and every is possible. No matter how many times you have failed, you are alive and can do it again.

Believe in Your Dreams

Your dreams are you dreams, if you give up on them you give up on yourself. Keep going forward.

No Regrets

People usually only regret things they didn’t do rather than things they did do. Go do stuff and have no regrets.

It Will Change for the Better

“For every dark night, there is a bright day after that. So keep your head up, chest out an handle it”
-Tupac Shakur

You Deserve Happiness and Success

Our birth rites are freedom, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We deserve that. YOU deserve that. Keep plugging away until you find that.

Tipping Point

Everyone who has ever achieved massive success will tell you that they were on the brink of quitting when they finally broke through. When you feel like it can’t get any worse, keep going forward. On the other side of hell is success.

As the great Jim Valvano said at the ESPYs years ago when he was fighting cancer, “Never give up, never give up.” Never, ever give up on your dreams. Keep inspiring.

David Host: Kentucky’s Unnecessary Trauma

David HostKentucky county clerk Kim Davis sits in jail today because Governor Steve Beshear and his staff appear to have overlooked a 76-word statute.

I do not condone Ms. Davis’ apparently willful violation of a federal court order. Nor do I agree with her stated position that she has a constitutional right to ignore any of her duties as a public official. Nevertheless, a cursory review of KRS §402.080 – the Kentucky law which authorizes county clerks to issue marriage licenses – shows that Ms. Davis possesses no power to issue marriage licenses to anyone. Indeed, it appears reasonably clear that none of

Kentucky’s 120 county clerks have that authority until the Kentucky legislature amends the statute to contain gender-neutral language.

The text of KRS §402.080 states as follows:

“Marriage license required — Who may issue.

“No marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor. The license shall be issued by the clerk of the county in which the

female resides at the time, unless the female is eighteen (18) years of age or over or a widow, and the license is issued on her

application in person or by writing signed by her, in which case it may be issued by any county clerk.”

Under the express terms of KRS §402.080, “the female” must apply for a marriage license before a county clerk “shall” issue a marriage license; and the statute further declares that “[n]o marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor.” Although the U.S. Supreme Court did not strike down this statute directly two months ago, KRS §402.080 is certainly unconstitutional within the meaning of its decision. Thus, it appears that Kentucky has operated without a valid marriage statute since the date of the Court’s decision.

Although I remain a dedicated member of the “loyal opposition,” I believe that Steve Beshear is an able and honorable man who has served as one of my native state’s better governors during my lifetime. In general, he has thoughtfully put the interests of Kentuckians ahead of any other agenda – which is why I have been surprised and disappointed by his decisions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

The fundamental impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling was to strike down as unconstitutional any state marriage law which expressly restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. Yet, the Court does not have the authority to reach into any state and write a replacement statute. Thus, each state had an obligation to immediately review its marriage statutes to determine if action by that state’s legislature might be necessary to implement the Court’s ruling.

Some states might have already had gender-neutral marriage laws on their books prior to efforts in recent years (through additional statutes or state constitutional amendments) to expressly define marriage as between persons of the opposite sex. In those states, no legislation was necessary for the Court’s ruling to go into effect immediately. In states like Kentucky, however – where the Court’s decision invalidated the core statute which authorizes marriage – legislative action seems essential in order to preserve anyone’s right to marry. As Governor Beshear has rejected bipartisan requests to call the Kentucky legislature into special session, a serious question exists whether any person has received a legally valid marriage license in Kentucky during the last two months.

As Kentucky’s chief executive, Governor Beshear’s critical responsibility following the Court’s ruling was to assess its specific impact upon Kentucky’s marriage laws, and determine what steps were necessary to bring those laws into compliance. Instead, he immediately instructed Kentucky’s county clerks – 120 independently elected constitutional officers – that they must begin issuing marriage licenses on a gender neutral basis, even though it seems that Kentucky law no longer authorizes them to issue any marriage licenses.

I respect the fact that having engaged in a good-faith effort to defend Kentucky’s existing marriage laws (to the extent that he hired outside counsel when Kentucky’s attorney generalrefused to proceed with an appeal), Governor Beshear wants to move beyond this issue. I further understand his concerns about the cost to Kentucky taxpayers of calling a special legislative session – particularly when that special session is almost certain to feature lengthy and acrimonious debate regarding how to implement a U.S. Supreme Court decision with which a significant majority of Kentuckians appear to disagree.

Yet, I cannot perceive how Governor Beshear has any choice under the existing state of Kentucky law. Moreover, a special session would allow the legislature to formulate “conscientious objector” provisions which excuse county clerks whose religious beliefs prevent them from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Perhaps most important, this measure would end the trauma associated with Kim Davis and the stance she has felt compelled to take.

At some point, the absence of immediate corrective legislation could cost Kentuckians far more than the expenses associated with a special legislative session.

 

Josh Bowen: Sleep – the Ultimate Fat Killer

joshOn the paradigm of “fat less” principles we often focus on nutrition and exercise as the most important. However, we often forget about the recovering aspect, more specifically sleep and its important on muscle growth, fat loss and overall health. In fact, 30% of Americans sleep less than the recommended amount (7-9 hours). Pair that statistic with the obesity rate of 35.7% and you have something worth looking at.

A study done by Brigham Young University found a trend between amount of hours slept and body fat percentages with females. The study found that having too little sleep, 6.5 hours on average per night and having inconsistent sleep/wake times contributed to higher body fat percentages than those you slept 8 hours per night on average and had consistent wake/sleep times. Conclusion of the study, which you can read here http://www.ajhpcontents.com/doi/abs/10.4278/ajhp.121012-QUAN-500 found that quality sleep and consistency of sleep contributed to lower body fat percentages in women. I imagine the same would be for men.

So why does sleep matter when it comes to our body fat percentages? Here is how:

Growth Hormone

Sleep is important because of the recovery aspect of it. When you work all day and workout 2-6 days per week you must have sound nutrition and sleep to repair the damage done. If not, your body fights you by breaking down and becoming injured. While you sleep your body releases growth hormone from the pituitary gland to help repair you muscles so they grow and it also helps in breaking down fat stores and releasing them into your system to be metabolized. Essentially growth hormone reduces your body fat percentage by growing your muscles and breaking down your body fat. If you didn’t sleep adequately, this process would be interrupted and could actually back fire on you.

Cortisol

I have talked about cortisol many times, as it does the exact opposite of what testosterone and growth hormone do. It stores body fat because the body becomes overstressed (increased training, life stress, lack of rest) and increases your body fat percentage. If you don’t sleep this guy kicks in, instead of growth hormone and your body fat percentage goes up and you wake up tired and groggy.

Cumulative Effect

Our lives are busy and it is not feasible to get the required amount of sleep EVERY night. However, as with most things, it is a cumulative effect over several weeks, months, years that has the most effect on our bodies. By trying to be consistent every night and getting adequate rest and sleep we can see a dramatic difference in our bodies. This is a must!

What can I do if I didn’t get enough sleep?


Naps are great for getting in extra sleep you may have missed. Even if it is a short 20 minute nap on the couch at your lunch break, anything to increase the amount of rest you get is important to your physical goals.

This topic deserves multiple entries as I believe it is that important. Even thought I do not have statistical data to prove my claim, I would say the best results I get with clients are due to them being able to control stressors of life and getting adequate rest. I would also like to add reducing the amount of alcohol in the diet does impact sleep patterns and helps reduce body fat. Moral of the story is sleep lots and drink alcohol sparingly if at all.

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