Sometimes life likes to throw everything at you all at once, for me this happens quite often. As much as I feel like I handle multiple tasks well, the body isn’t made to be in a constant state of overdrive. If you think about the human lifestyle before the modern convenience of homes, cars, grocery stores and etc, humans hand to find a way to survive and thrive on their own. Hunting and gathering were tasks that involved much walking, short bursts of high intensity movement, and selectively expending energy if the payoff was greater than the loss. Humans slept when the sun went down and woke when the sun came up. They had to expend enough energy each day to achieve deep restorative sleep each night, they couldn’t rely on coffee and energy drinks to get them moving in the morning. The human body works the same way as it did back when life was simply about survival.
When the body is in a state of heightened alertness, it is in fight or flight mode. Essentially your body is turning up its senses and getting ready to react to whatever situation may arise. In this state, the focus is on survival, all other processes like digestion are slowed so the body can react quickly. Your body enters the fight or flight stage more often then you think, this response can be triggered by daily deadlines, important phone calls, incoming bills, making big decisions, or simply running late for work. Most of us live in this state quite often, and even though it may not trigger a panic attack or extreme anxiety that being chased by a bear would elicit, the effect on your body remains the same.
In addition to living in a world where the daily hustle exists in almost everyone’s lives, we tend to stack harmful behaviors against our bodies by not getting the proper quantity or quality of sleep. Sleep is the only anabolic state for the body… deep sleep, that is. Being awake is a catabolic state, meaning our bodies are breaking down daily and the only way to restore and replenish them is by getting DEEP sleep! Can you see how this would be important? Deep sleep is also known as stage 3 and 4, Non-REM, during this stage you typically do not have dreams. Your body can only make growth-hormone when you sleep, and it’s also smart enough to only make this available at night. if you think you can outsmart your circadian rhythm and sleep whenever you feel like it and reap the same benefits, you are sadly mistaken.
Recognizing the importance of getting adequate sleep and spending large parts of the day in rest-and-digest mode instead of fight-or-flight is the first step. Doing so in such a fast-paced modern world presents its own challenges. While I am doing my own experimentation on learning how to find the proper balance to support my body, learning and listening to other people’s methods of relaxation is always helpful. I have recently tuned into a few new podcasts. I highly recommend listening to episode #51 from the Total Human Optimization podcast called Sleep Smarter with Shawn Stevenson. (Thank you Rick for recommending that one!) There are also some great talks on the Underground Wellness Podcast, and tune into the Functional Wellness Summit that will be available to listen to for FREE from April 14-21st, all you have to do is enter your e-mail to receive the link to the interviews. There is always more to learn and educating yourself is the best way to start living a better life.
Now for the recipe! This is another one that came out of the “whatever is in my kitchen” approach, but I have to say its savory, satisfying and delicious! Oh, and its pretty easy! Try it out 🙂
- 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs (I used skinless but you could also leave the skin on!)
- 3 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
- 1 package of sugar-free bacon
- 2 cups spinach
- sea salt
- poultry seasoning
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a large skillet, cook 2 slices of bacon until crispy.
-In the microwave or on the stove, steam parsnips until you can easily pierce them with a fork and mash them until no large chunks remain
-When bacon is cooked remove it from the skillet and add the spinach, sauté until spinach is wilted
-Chop the crispy bacon into 1/4 inch pieces and add it to the mashed parsnip
-Add the cooked spinach to the parsnips also, mix to combine ingredients
-Season the inside and outside of the chicken thighs with salt and poultry seasoning
-Place a large scoop of the parsnip mixture in the center of each chicken thigh and wrap with an uncooked slice of bacon (use a toothpick to secure the bacon if needed)
-Place the stuffed thighs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes
-Turn the oven to HI broil and cook for 2-4 minutes, flipping halfway so the bacon cooks on all sides
-Remove from oven and serve! Yum!