In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brady said, “My body is my asset,” in reference to taking care of himself and being strict with his habits. He talked about the fact that if his body is not working, he cannot do what he loves. And this is true not only for a supremely successful NFL quarterback, but for all of us. If we don’t take care of our bodies, we will be limiting ourselves and our lives- our livelihood- in a number of ways.
Soooo, we make the decision to start practicing healthier habits and we know what we should do, but our minds can come up with all of these excuses as to why we can’t or shouldn’t change what we are already doing. Change is scary and our identity is tied to our daily habits. Our mind starts to fight against the idea of losing its current identity and we start to think things like ‘Things are fine the way they are’ or ‘It would be almost impossible to make that work with my schedule’ or ‘It probably wouldn’t work anyway’ or ‘I just don’t have the energy to add something else right now’ or even ‘My wife/husband/roommate/etc would not go for that’. We start to talk ourselves out of changing and question why we really wanted to change in the first place.
The changes that we want in order to feel better in our bodies, many times, are thwarted by our minds and we keep ourselves small and stuck right where we are, fearful to change anything. This can happen with even the smallest of changes.
I am here to tell you that you can be a better version of yourself simply by looking at what time you do the things you do in a 24-hour period. The WHEN can set you up for the WIN.
Our brains have the ability to know the difference between day and night. There are cells in the brain specifically for this function to regulate our circadian rhythm and hormone release schedule. This awareness helps our bodies to know what time to turn on different functions. In the ancient science of Ayurveda, this body clock is the basis of setting up a daily routine. In the West, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to 3 men who had done research on the effects of living outside of one’s circadian rhythm, so western society is also recognizing the importance.
If we can check in with what time we eat dinner and what time we go to bed, we can begin to shift things like how much energy we have throughout the day, our weight, how clearly our brain is working, how rested we feel when we wake up, digestive and elimination issues, inflammation in the body… the list is long and magical.
So, let’s start with these two things. Dinner and bedtime. And yes, the mind will fight with us on this as well. Ok, dinner first. I cannot tell you how many times recently I have read, “If you want to lose weight, eat dinner earlier.” Seriously. Moving dinner time to before 7pm can HUGE difference in the body in many ways. It’s SO simple that people do not believe it could work and thus, won’t even try it. Yes, it will take some effort for some of us, but it will pay off. The energy we put in to making dinner happen earlier will be paid back and then some if this can become a regular occurence. This may take some meal planning and prepping, maybe getting things ready first thing in the morning before leaving for work, or maybe even enlisting the help of others in the household.
If we can begin to eat dinner before 7pm and make dinner a lighter meal, our body will be much more able to digest and assimilate the nutrients, it will be more ready to go to bed and get deep, restorative sleep, and we will see a difference in our energy levels, weight, and digestive issues. Earlier, lighter dinner is like the ‘magic diet pill’ many have been looking for.
Next up, bed time. What time we sleep can be more important than how many hours of sleep we actually get. The restorative effects of sleep before midnight are well worth changing our nightly routine for. Believe me, I know this first hand. Now, for some of us, 10pm seems really early to be going to bed. What about all of the work that can be done late at night? Think of it in these terms: the nightshift in our body has a certain time that it comes on shift to do its work and if we are still up working, the body must wait. That waiting causes a depletion of energy for the next day, an increase of inflammation, and decreased ability to clean toxins out of our cells. At sundown, our digestion turns off after gradually slowing down since around 2pm. And at about 10pm, the internal restoration is scheduled to begin if we are shutting down in order to allow it to occur. If we can put the late night work off until early the next day, we will be more efficient and creative in getting the work done and feel more rested and restored.
The goal with this is to start small. Try backing dinner and bedtime up by 15 minutes each to begin. And don’t expect perfection if it is the first attempt. We are aiming to just do our best. It can be hugely helpful to find others who are working on the same shifts to have support and understanding along the way.
Tom Brady and I both believe that all people can be the best version of themselves with attention to what the body needs. Let’s try not to let the mind get in the way of the body and remember that our body is our asset.
It really will pay off. And if you need support in practicing it, reach out. That’s what I’m here for.
I will be practicing right along with you.