Hard work won’t get you to your nutrition goals

nutrition goals

If you’re like most people, you’ve been told time and time again that hard work gets you ahead; in your career, relationships and health. In this ‘hustle’ culture it’s a badge of honour to always be on the go, working hard and pushing yourself to the limits.

If this sounds familiar, I understand. For a long time, I was a workaholic. My parents always told me that working hard was the secret to success. Maybe yours did too.

However, the problem with this was my parents never achieved their goals and they paid the price with their health. My dad had a seizure in the middle of a tennis court and my mum was in a constant state of anxiety.

I became the same; I used exhaustion as a sign that I was working hard enough and came to believe that sleep was an extravagant use of my time. This ultimately led me to burn out and landed me in the hospital. Unfortunately, I still see this pattern repeated over and over with my clients.

Many of us do not value rest. In this article, I’m going to show you why this is a mistake, especially when it comes to your nutrition goals, and the simple yet rebellious act you can make to overcome the illusion that hard work gets you results. Listen up to ease up.


What is rest and why is it important?

I define rest as sleeping, sitting still, and slowing down to do things for the sake of doing them. However, sleep is the most common type of rest that I see clients struggle with and surveys have repeatedly shown that, as a society, we are hugely sleep-deprived.

This has both short- and long-term consequences for our health. People who don’t get enough sleep are at an increased risk of heart disease or stroke, compared to those who sleep seven to eight hours per night.[1] Meanwhile, individuals sleeping less than six hours per night have been shown to be at an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.[2], [3]

Sleep deprivation also disrupts daily fluctuations in appetite hormones, including increasing levels of ghrelin—the hormone that stimulates hunger—and reducing levels of leptin—the hormone that suppresses hunger. This is believed to cause cravings and po cvor appetite regulation.[4] In other words; bye-bye weight loss goals and hello mid-morning cookie binges.

Unfortunately, many of us pooh-pooh the idea of sleep and believe it is a luxury. We don’t consider its benefits and instead perceive it as a sign of laziness. This is a BIG mistake. Rest, including getting adequate sleep, is essential to our biological functioning. It allows for mental and physical recovery and replenishes our energy levels so we can be our best selves. This is a win-win in terms of our nutrition, fitness, and overall wellbeing. Consider how much better you perform in the gym and how much better you eat when you get enough rest.


How do I prioritise rest?

The biggest thing for me in changing my perspective about rest was believing the above benefits. For example, when I made sleep a priority, I saw that my world didn’t fall apart. It actually got better. This meant I could allow myself to let go of the need to be ‘on’ every waking hour of the day.

I also let go of the fear of judgement. I learnt to stop caring about what other people thought about how hard I worked and what time I went to bed. I became very adept at declaring, ‘I’m done for the day. See you in the morning’. If you’re struggling to get enough rest, I encourage you to start doing the same.

If this feels like too big an ask, why not begin by making a conscious decision to go to bed just 15 minutes earlier tonight and set your alarm to go off 15 minutes later in the morning. This means you’ll have that little bit more energy and won’t need as much caffeine to get through the day. Sometimes all it takes is making these small steps to get you where you need to be.

We all need to take more time to rest. Whilst this seems counter-intuitive to what we’ve been told, the consequences of not doing so are huge. If you keep husting your health will suffer, you won’t get to your goals and you’ll be left feeling frustrated. In contrast, rebelling against the grind will benefit your overall energy levels, wellbeing and set you on your way to the health and body you deserve.

Author bio

This material is written and copyrighted by Associate Registered Nutritionist and Wellness Coach, Lizzy Cangro. Lizzy holds masters in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and Nutrition from King’s College London. Her rebellious approach to health and wellness incorporates nutrition and mindset to help clients lose stubborn fat, have more energy, gain more confidence and achieve a greater sense of wellbeing. Visit www.nutritionbylizzy.com and find her on Instagram @nutritionbylizzy for more details.


[1] Francesco P. Cappuccio et al., “Sleep Duration Predicts Cardiovascular Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies,” European Heart Journal 32, no. 12 (June 2011): 1484–92, https://www.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007.

[2] Daniel J. Gottlieb et al., “Association of Sleep Time with Diabetes Mellitus and Impaired Glucose Intolerance,” Archives of Internal Medicine 165, no. 8 (April 25, 2005): 863–67, https://www.doi.org/10.1001/archinte.165.8.863.

[3] Francesco p. Cappuccio et al., “Quantity and Quality of Sleep and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Diabetes Care 33, no. 2 (February 2010): 414–20, https://www.doi.org/10.2337/dc09-1124.

[4] Eric Suni, “Sleep and Overeating,” Sleep Foundation, updated November 20, 2020, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/sleep-and-overeating.