Exhaustion, an uncomfortable sensation, encourages sleepwalking through choices, an opportunity for sabotaging hard work and momentum. A series of small decisions made under the influence of sleep deprivation that seem insignificant can completely throw your destination off course. Without mindful deliberation poor eating habits can ultimately lead you astray, miles off kilter from your goals or desired life. Adjustments, seemingly inconsequential, can and will revolutionize results significantly, as an airplane 1% off course from California ends up 150 miles north or south from an east coast destination, depending upon the trajectory. Ultimately sleep deprivation causes unconscious choices, leading to lousy habits and failure.

Recently a behavior, cumulative in nature, seemingly inconsequential, caught my consciousness, and awakened my senses. Asleep at the wheel and without a minimum of seven hours of sleep, I function intoxicated by sleep deprivation. Autopilot, inattentive, and a barely breathing body walks through the day surviving unaware, like sleepwalking through life. Decision making becomes elusive; choices are habit-driven. Hence, old habits haul to the frontline to lead the battle. When the battle is weight loss, healthy eating, and extensive exercise, former leaders who typically lost that war resurface with old tactical equipment, poor strategies, and disastrous results.

Therefore, when sleep deprived, running on five hours of disrupted sleep, I pulled off a fairly successful boot camp class, yet arrived home exhausted, depleted, and walking on borrowed time. Numbed into submission upon the couch, the uncomfortable sensation ensued. Unsteady, famished, and imbalanced, I reached for the habitual recovery protein shake, completed some parental duties, and returned to the couch hours later in a semi-conscious state. The next meal, prepared by a habit-formed ritual, I consumed unmindfully. Soon, the sweetness of the blueberries from my recent meal caught my attention, reminding me of comfort, goodness, and relief. The discomfort of low energy, exhaustion, and depravity, led to the unconscious choice and consumption of a quart of organic blueberries.

While lobbing berries into my mouth one by one, the sweet sensation relieved and numbed the discomfort. Serving its purpose, I was dumbfounded, looking at an empty container as the last blueberry vanished. Suddenly aware of a bloated feeling, my emotions downcast with shame, sadness, and disappointment. Unable to comprehend the why of it all, I accepted responsibility and journaled the blueberry consumption into My Fitness Pal. Yet within an hour, the physical effects of bingeing on blueberries surfaced as the sugar level plunged into discomfort of low energy and exhaustion, sometimes identified as “food coma.” I lay upon the couch, surrendering to the coma with momentary lapses of shut-eye. Upon waking, shredded parmesan cheese whispered my name intuitively, and a sleepwalking body consumed half a pint of the salty scrumptiousness, balancing the former blueberry sweetness.

Again an unconscious choice repeated until I awakened long enough to recognize the mishap, change environments, and contemplate the root cause, sleep deprivation. Sympathetically an argument can be made that blueberries and parmesan cheese are acceptable choices for overconsumption, limited damage, and rapid recovery. Yet this habit-forming behavior of blueberry bingeing occurred a half dozen times in the past three months. Unaware the source lay in lack of sleep, the habit dug deeper and gained strength; uprooting the habit has proven challenging. Getting to the foundation of “why binge?” is half the battle. Consciousness, analysis, and problem solving are crucial to recovery.

Sleep is imperative in winning the weight loss war. Sleepwalking choices are consequential when repeated over time. Initially they creep in without much impact, yet remain a diverting recipe, offroading goals, producing negative zig-zag patterns, and habitually sabotaging concerted efforts. Successful ingredients for weight loss include conscious choices made under the umbrella of a rested mind. Sleep deprivation as the foundation of future actions is a recipe for disaster through unconscious eating, raised cortisol levels, and habit forming actions. Blueberry bingeing may seem negligible, but overtime it may be the leader of the losing battle. When waging a weight loss war, it is best to hire a well rested leader, able to consistently and consciously choose best practices, leading to a successful, lasting lifestyle.