Food & Fitness

When You Can’t Find a Cure…

So, remember this post? Ha. I guess practicing what you preach is something I’ve got to do some work on.

On Wednesday, I got in a reasonable amount of exercise and ate fairly well until about 4 or 5pm. That was when I decided to make some popcorn. It was lightly salted and tasted delicious. As I was munching, I thought to myself, “this would taste even better with some caramel popcorn mixed in!”. If you recall, we had a pile of caramel popcorn at my work*. So I grabbed a small handful, mixed it in, and it was glorious.

Then, of course, it was necessary to have a little bit more. And a bit more. And a bit more.

Until my stomach started to hurt. Then I figured that I’d had way too much sugar and should really stop eating. So I put my bowl away. Then I remembered that there were also a huge pile of cookies in our fridge. And for some reason it seemed like a good idea to keep eating sweet stuff, even though I really was not feeling well at all, so I had about 4 shortbread cookies. Plus a few bits and pieces of other cookies.

It was not a very good end to the day. Amusingly (or not so amusingly), yesterday morning my body fat percentage was up an entire 1% from just two days ago. Is it possible for that to even happen? I mean, we’re talking sugar extravaganza overload here, but even so, an entire percent seems a bit excessive.

I think that a big part of this MUST HAVE SUGAR NOM NOM OUCH STOMACH HURTS EAT MORE SUGAR TO FEEL BETTER OH GOD I FEEL WORSE process that went through my mind was due to my sleeping issues. I’ve mentioned before that I have difficulties with sleeping- being able to fall asleep, being able to stay asleep and not wake up throughout the night, and having nightmares- and unfortunately I really feel as though I’m running up against a brick wall right now. When I can’t sleep, my mind isn’t as sharp; it seems almost like my body is craving the sugar to ridiculous extremes (and yes, I had eaten plenty earlier in the day, and enough protein, so it wasn’t that my body was desperately hungry or protein-starved or anything like that). It’s harder to control yourself, or to have normal thought processes, when you are severely sleep-deprived.

The Nighty Night tea I drink a few nights each week doesn’t always help. There doesn’t seem to be any particular pattern as to when it helps. Likewise, overloading on calcium, or eating a small amount of carbohydrate with protein a few hours before bed, don’t seem to change anything, either. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; there does not appear to be any rhyme or reason either way. And that is the most frustrating part about it all: I never know what I might be doing that is triggering the restless sleep I keep getting.

The mother dear, as a veterinarian who practices Chinese medicine, has been doing a little research for me to figure out what I’m deficient in. She has convinced me to start taking a few herbs to balance out my body, which she says is very imbalanced at present.

This afternoon I am also going to get tested with a Metabolic Analysis, which will tell me a bit about what nutrients I need more or less of, and the best kinds of food for my body.

I’m hoping that both of these things will make some kind of lasting change. It’s no fun at all to be constantly tired, to succumb so easily to the lure of sweet stuff, and to have huge dark circles under my eyes. I’ve spent most of my life with these sleeping problems, and the thought of spending the next 50+ years dealing with them is not pleasant.

What do you do when you feel as though you’ve “exhausted” 😉 all of your options?

*The “pile” is now significantly diminished.

Day 18 of the 200 Reps Challenge

20 Shoulder Presses  (targets the shoulders)

20 Stability Ball Abdominal Leg Raises  (targets the lower abdominals)

Perform this set ten times for a total of 200 Shoulder Presses and 200 Stability Ball Abdominal Leg Raises!

For the Shoulder Presses:

1. Stand with feet hip width apart, back straight, shoulders back, and a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the dumbbells so that your upper arms are parallel with the ground; your elbows should be at the same height as your shoulders, and your palms should face forward.

2. Press up, keeping your body straight the entire time, until your arms are almost completely extended straight up in the air (but be sure to maintain a slight bend to the elbows; do not hyperextend your arms). Slowly reverse the position. This is one rep.

TIP: Do not let your back sag or arch; if you find that you are swinging your body around, you are not getting any benefits from this exercise! Keep your abs tight and ensure that the movement is all coming from your arms and shoulders, not the momentum of movement from your body.

For the Stability Ball Abdominal Leg Raises (Two Variations):

Variation A:

1. Lie down on your back on a mat. Position the stability ball between your ankles and squeeze it lightly. Keep your arms out at your sides, in line with the shoulder.

2. Lift your legs, holding the stability ball between them, until your legs are almost completely straight in the air. Reverse the position. This is one rep.

Variation B: If you do not own a stability ball, you can perform this same movement without the ball, or you can also attach ankle weights to your ankles for some extra weight.

TIP: Keep your back and hips flat on the floor the entire time, raising only your legs. Move in a slow and controlled fashion.


  1. coco

    sorry to hear that you’re having sleeping issues. I had it for almost two years very badly. i tried everything out there and nothing worked. So I think the main reason was due to stress, even though i didn’t feel stressed out, but unconsciously I was and I couldn’t return to normal sleeping pattern until I de-stress. So I’d suggest you to analyze your stress level and how it affects your sleeping patterns. Hope you find the reason and solve it soon! I know how awful is being sleepless.

  2. South Beach Steve

    I feel for you. I am the same way when I don’t get enough sleep. It just doesn’t work for me at all. And the sugar cravings – I have them too, but I have found what causes them for me. Anything with a high GI. I just have to stay away from that stuff. Even whole grains tend to cause some issues with me.

    Good luck getting some answers.

  3. Maggie

    Oh, I so hear you… yesterday I had a holiday party at work. We went out to dinner. Dinner was lovely, I was very full at the end. But I thought it would be a good idea to order dessert. So I did, finished it + some of Bobby’s dessert, and was overly stuffed and felt almost sick. So what did I do when I got home??? Ate gingerbread of course. I don’t know why, and then I went to bed feeling bloated and horrible. Must find a way to stop. Sigh. (I am *still* full from last night.)

  4. fd

    Sorry to hear about the sleeping issues and i totally hear you on the craving sugar to a gross and undignified extent when tired. When i’m tired my body just says ‘i want more carbs more carbs more carbs’ and if they can be super saturated fatty while we’re at it, that would be great too. i really have no solution, except to accept it when its happening, and to recognise it early when its kicking in, acknowledge what it is and what the reason for it is and do your darndest to ignore it. i dont believe there is a failsafe way to deal with it. being low on sleep is particularlz difficult in winter i think when its so dark and cold and the food acts as a nice comforter.

    on the not-sleeping, i had sleeping issues all through childhood and my teens and on and off now in my twenties. the first time i managed to get over them was when i switched to a much softer bed. seemed like a ridiculously easy solution at the time 🙂 but since then it has started happening again and i notice that the periods of bad sleep are much less severe when i DO LESS. its not that the individual thigns i do stress me out, its just that my brain cant really wind down with trying to keep track of them all and keep track of all the thigns still to do. conversely if my life is filled wiht only one thing that i find incredibly stressful, i still sleep well, i think because my mind can focus on just solving that stressful situation rather than keeping tabs on everything. my sense is that I cant link all of my physical ills to nutrition and the stuff I eat (or dont eat) or the exercise I do (or not). sometimes i really just have to challenge the way i live my life and take a plunge and experiment with it. although i do hope you come up with a nutritional deficiency cos that’s a much more easily practicable solution. 🙂 wishing you healthy sleep!

  5. Dr. J


    Be careful about going down that over treatment path! Sometimes doing nothing is the best treatment. It’s that “you can’t stir a pond to make it calm” point of view.

    As for leg extensions, I don’t think very light weight for that activity is a problem for someone who does not have degenerative joint disease. I only know it worked for me with P-F syndrome, which you probably don’t have, but I just thought I would add the treatment while I was commenting.

  6. Sagan Morrow

    Coco- Yes, I think that stress has something to do with it- unfortunately I’ve tried analyzing my stress in about a dozen different ways and it’s still not working! It almost gets to the point where the EXPECTATION of it makes it happen.

    Steve- Ooh interesting about the high GI thing, I didn’t think of that! I’ll have to look into that and see what foods top the GI list.

    Maggie- Somehow, continuing to eat after we’re BEYOND full is “comforting” at the time. It sorta delays the sick feeling until you’re finished eating. But then the sick feeling just worsens. Sighs. Hopefully we’ve both learned our lessons!

    fd- Thanks so much for your insights! I’ve tried changing the mattress and that sort of thing and, like for you, it appeared to work for a little while and then it just didn’t. But I think there might DEFINITELY be something to what you say about the mind not shutting off… maybe a lifestyle change really is necessary. Hm. This could be quite the challenge indeed!

    Dr. J- Oh don’t worry! I’ve sworn off the idea of sleeping pills or anything like that. And believe me, I’ve tried doing nothing, and it doesn’t change much at all. I’m going to try some (safe) herbs at least for a little while to see if it helps. That’s the farthest I go for these kinds of things 🙂

  7. JavaChick

    I don’t generally have a problem sleeping, but I have noticed that when I am over-tired I crave sugary, fatty carbs. My theory is that the body is lacking in energy and trying to get it anywhere it can.

    Speaking of nightmares though, I did have a weird dream last night that had Husband and I running around in a scene straight from a disaster movie – we were in some unknown city and there were flood conditions going on and we were running around in the pandemonium trying to find a safe place to hole up. Very strange.

    Hope you find a solution to your insomnia – not being able to get enough sleep is a nightmare in itself.

  8. charlotte

    The less sleep I get, the more I crave sugar too! Plus sugar seems to be a self-reincforcing cycle for me. The more I eat the more I want. Those two sad facts combined with a new infant mean I’ve been hitting the jelly beans pretty hard as of late:) I feel your pain, girl…

  9. Holly

    Sleepy Holly = Sugar crazed Holly. 🙂

    I really try to be diligent about my sleep, but it is hard when life gets in the way. I always have Melatonin as a back up. I used to take it 3 or 4 nights a week, but since starting back in school, I’ve only had to take it a few times.

    Not being able to sleep is SO frustrating. I hope you get it figured out soon!

  10. Dr. J


    I was thinking about you. If you are really feeling tired, etc as you described, I want to offer a suggestion. See a regular family medicine doctor. You have done some serious international traveling this year (Cambodia, I think), and you may have picked up something, or possibly mono. Tell them where you have been, and get a liver series. You don’t have to do what they tell you if your family and you think it’s not good advice, but at least you will have the information.

  11. Jamie Walker

    Omg, I know the feeling! I have been having the most difficult time with sleep. For me, I have no problem falling asleep. Its just that I wake up from sleep CONSTANTLY. I have nightmares, night sweats (embarrassing but true), and pretty much alarm clock anxiety. And yes, I have to battle the sweet stuff fight too. And yes, I crave it when I am drained. My mom thinks it has something to do with hormones (aka my birth control) — I’m starting to think she’s right!

    WOuld love to hear how this turns out.

  12. Chris Cuvelier

    Are you really overly stressed about something? When I am, I often have trouble with sleep…that is never any fun. 🙁

    If you need a natural energy fix during the day, let me know, happy to send you a few samples of Zola’s Energy Smoothie.

  13. Sagan Morrow

    JavaChick- I concur with your theory! And that IS a strange dream… I wonder what triggered it.

    Charlotte- It is DEFINITELY a self-reinforcing cycle.

    Cammy- I have not. Thanks for the idea and the link!

    Holly- Sugar-crazed indeed! Today I found out that magnesium can be a huge huge help, too. I’ll have to think on that one.

    Westwood- It might be psychological. In which case… well, I guess that means I should start giving my mental/emotional self a little bit more attention.

    Dr. J- That IS a good idea, except that I’ve had these issues all my life, and they haven’t increased/decreased or changed all that much since my traveling. So I don’t think I contracted anything while I was overseas.

    Jamie- Yesterday my mum actually made the exact same comment that the pill might be the problem- but I haven’t found that the sleeping problems go away when I’m off the pill, personally. It’s quite the dilemma! And I think that like Westwood said it could very well be psychological; once we EXPECT to wake up throughout the night and that sort of thing, we just DO it.

    Chris- It might very well be due to stress. Can you tell me what the ingredients list is for Zola? I haven’t been able to find that anywhere on the Internet and my curiosity is insatiable 🙂

  14. liz wx

    Hi Sagan

    I’m really sorry about the sleep issues. It sounds awful. I wake up several times most nights but susally manage to get back to sleep fairly quickly. Just thinking about the relaxation thing – have you tried yoga? I don’t men specifically just before you go to bed, but as a general way of reducing your stress levels and of recharging your energy? There are some exercises that are supposed to be virtually as good as sleeping for this. If they helped you at all, you might find you were less anxious about how you’d sleep each night, and thereby gradually break the viscous cycle.

    I’m normally getting up here at about midnight or 1.00 am Winnipeg-time, so I’ll send you some good-sleep vibes as part of my getting-ready-for-work routine!

    Hope you manage to crack it one way or another.


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