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Published on June 6, 2019

Lose Stomach Fat Fast With These 10 Diet Hacks

Lose Stomach Fat Fast With These 10 Diet Hacks

Ready to hear the dirty little secret no one tells you about how to lose stomach fat?

The secret is — you can’t. At least, not the way that you think.

Studies show that blasting your abs with tons of crunches won’t trim your belly fat, just like doing curls won’t give you tighter arms and squats won’t give you leaner legs.[1]

Spot reducing fat, or picking and choosing where you’d like to lose fat on your body, is a complete and utter myth.

The only way to get a leaner midsection is to shed fat from your entire body. To do this, you’ll need the right combination of diet strategy and exercise — something you can stick to long enough for your body to start tapping into the fat stores in your belly.

There are as many approaches to losing weight as there are people on this planet, but no matter who you are, here are 10 diet hacks to keep you on track as you lean down in your quest for a flat stomach.

1. Create a Consistent Calorie Deficit

Eating the right number of calories on a daily basis is the number one driver of fat loss.[2] Don’t let the low-fat or low-carb gurus fool you!

What’s the right number of calories?

Well, a calorie is a unit of energy that our bodies primarily derive from food. Every day, we burn a certain number of calories depending on our size, age, gender, and activity levels.

To burn fat, which is to say, to force our bodies to tap into our fat reserves and use them for energy instead of food, we need to eat fewer calories than we burn in a day.

The key is not to overcomplicate your diet by demonizing specific food groups or macronutrients.

Aim for a deficit of about 500 calories per day. The easiest method to calculate this is to multiply by 12 calories per pound of bodyweight and eat that many calories every day.

If you do nothing else on this list except consistently hit your daily calorie target, you WILL lose weight.

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2. Eat Slower and Be Patient

Eating fewer calories to lose weight is really simple, but that’s not to say that it’s easy.

Forcing your body to burn its fat stores for energy is an uncomfortable process that might leave you feeling drained and with less energy, while getting used to smaller meals may leave you feeling hungry at first.

One great workaround is to eat slower, chew more, and be patient.

There is evidence to support the idea that eating more slowly can increase how satisfied and full some people feel after a meal, and decrease your desire to eat more.[3]

It simply takes time for your stomach to communicate to your brain that it’s full and satisfied! If you eat quickly, you might bypass this signal and wind up eating more than you really needed to feel full.

Not only that, but it takes a solid 2 to 3 hours for your body to convert food you’ve just eaten into actual, usable energy. Even after eating a large meal while dieting, you may still feel hungry, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat more.

If you’re patient enough and allow your body to do its work, you’ll usually feel a jolt of energy a few hours after eating.

3. Eat More Protein

If you hit the right number of calories every day, you’ll be well on your way toward losing your belly, regardless of the overall makeup of your diet.

However, there is lots of evidence to suggest that people interested in fat loss should consider a diet high in protein.

People who eat more protein are generally more satisfied and tend to eat fewer calories overall.[4] Plus, a healthy dose of protein every day will help you preserve more muscle mass and encourage your body to lose more fat.

Your protein needs will vary depending on your gender and activity levels, but most people should shoot for at least 40 to 50 grams of protein every day.

4. Delay Your First Meal

Ever heard of intermittent fasting? It’s an eating style wherein you drastically reduce your eating window during the day while remaining fasted the rest of the time. For example, you might be “allowed” to eat for 8 hours, from noon to 8pm, while the rest of the time you only drink water.

The health benefits of fasting are vast and go far beyond weight loss and include boosts in mood, energy, focus, longevity, and more.

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However, you needn’t jump right into long, extended fasts, though they can be extremely effective.[5]

Try pushing your first meal back just a few hours after you wake up. You’ll likely trigger more fat burning than you would by eating right away, and surprisingly, you’ll probably be a lot less hungry eating nothing than you would after eating a small breakfast.

Even mild fasting can dramatically decrease your overall appetite and calorie intake throughout the day.

5. Work Your Core

I know I said you can’t force your body to lose stomach fat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the day that it does!

Work your abdominal and core muscles 2 to 3 times per week to build strength in your midsection. As you begin to lose fat, you’ll discover better tone and definition in that area than if you ignored it.

What are the best core exercises? Leave the crunches on the bench and try some more challenging moves like:

You can find more here: 5 Killer Stomach Workouts for Impressive Abs

You don’t need much, just 2 to 3 sets of 20 reps or so a few times per week should be plenty to build those abs and prepare them for their big reveal.

6. Do the Right Kind of Cardio

Believe it or not, exercise is completely optional when it comes to losing weight. If you eat the right number of calories, the fat will come off regardless.

However, it will be much easier to create your consistent calorie deficit if you’re active and burning extra calories at least a few times per week. Plus, exercising is a whole lot better for your health that not exercising.

Cardio can definitely help! But you’ll have a few choices for how to go about it:

  • LISS (Low Intensity Steady State): Going for a long walk or light jog would be considered low intensity cardio. The benefits of this kind of exercise are that you’ll burn calories without taxing your body too badly and driving up your appetite. The downside? It can be kind of boring and lengthy, therefore difficult to incorporate on a consistent basis as a result.
  • HISS (High Intensity Steady State): Think going for a long run. The plus side of HISS is that you’ll burn more calories a lot faster when compared to LISS, however these workouts are more draining and difficult to recover from. You may find yourself extremely hungry as a result of the exertion.
  • HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): HIIT refers to short bursts of intense exercise followed by stretches of rest or long intensity work. Imagine walking on a treadmill and occasionally working in high-speed sprints, or doing a circuit of pushups, air squats, lunges, etc. with rest intervals worked in. These workouts burn a ton of calories quickly and dramatically improve your conditioning, but they can also be difficult for your body to recover from and can drive up your appetite.

Each form of cardio has its place, but for fat loss, I’d recommend sticking mostly with LISS or HIIT workouts to burn extra calories a few times per week.

7. Eat More Filling Foods

Again, hitting a calorie target sounds simple, but that doesn’t make it easy!

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If you find you’re consistently getting hungry throughout the day when trying to stick to a diet, you may need to change up your food choices.

Sure, you could technically lose weight by eating 1200 calories of Doritos every day, though I wouldn’t recommend it!

Your best bet will be to eat lots of nutrient rich foods that satiate your body and take time to digest.

Simple carbs (white bread, sugar, etc.) are unquestionably delicious but offer little nutritional value, so your body churns through them quickly. They might briefly fill your stomach, but they won’t leave you satisfied for long.

Complex carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes) and lean proteins (chicken, turkey) will keep you full for longer and better fuel your body for any workouts you might incorporate.

8. Utilize Strategic Refeeds and Diet Breaks

You likely won’t need these strategies when you first begin your diet, but as you start to see results and get to a lower body fat percentage, you might find your body needs a break every now and then.

After all, burning your own fat for energy is difficult on the body and mind. Long-term adherence to the diet is a lot more important than getting results as fast as possible.

Consider adding in one refeed day per week, where you eat an additional 500 calories or so (usually complex carbs). This will help restore your body’s energy and promote a healthy metabolism.

You can also take a 2 to 4 week diet break, where you eat your body’s maintenance calories (around bodyweight times 15 calories per day) and allow yourself to recover and rejuvenate.

Funny enough, you may find that eating more actually encourages your body to shed some of the fat it’s been desperately clinging to. Studies show that people who take strategic breaks from dieting now and then have better long-term fat loss results.[6]

9. Get More Sleep

So much of adhering to a fat loss diet comes down to willpower and mental focus.

Know what the number one killer of willpower is? A lack of sleep.

Sleep deprivation can cause chaos with your hormonal balance and ability to regulate your appetite, but more importantly, it can leave you with very little self-control. People who don’t sleep enough find themselves snacking more and overeating more frequently.[7]

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Shoot for 7 to 9 hours per night to feel your best. Go to bed earlier if need be, and definitely consider shaking up the bedtime routine.

Blue light from phones, computers, and TVs, for example, is known to disrupt sleep patterns. Opt for a book before bed if you’re having trouble getting to sleep on time.

10. Track Everything

An extra bite of your friend’s dessert here, a quick snack there, and another dollop of sauce or oil on your plate… It all adds up, and those extra calories can easily derail your diet if you’re not careful.

To be sure you’re hitting your calorie goal every day, it’s best to track everything, even if you’re only using your best estimation (though calorie counters can help, too).

Tracking meals is one thing, but for the best results you’ll want to write down every single thing you take into your body including sauce, oil, sides, snacks, drinks, and more.

Forgetting about that 300 to 500 extra calories you had during the day will be the difference between losing belly fat fast, and not.

The Bottom Line

I wish there was an easy way to quickly lose fat from your belly, believe me!

What more people need to understand is that, although targeted fat loss is impossible, fat doesn’t come off of your body completely evenly, either.

For many people, especially men, the stomach is their body’s absolute favorite place to store fat. You may need to lose a significant amount of weight before your body is ready to start tapping into its belly stores.

Remember to set your calorie target and focus on hitting it every single day. Exercising, getting lots of protein, and incorporate tricks to stay motivated can really help, but the energy deficit is the primary driver and fat loss and should be your main priority.

You’ll likely need to stick with the plan for a long time before that stomach completely flattens out.

More Articles About Losing Weight

Featured photo credit: Gesina Kunkel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Evan Porter

Fitness Enthusiast, Expert Researcher, and Full-Time Dad. Author and owner of The Trusty Spotter and Dad Fixes Everything.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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