How to have healthy sleep

It’s no secret that I love my sleep.

I both enjoy sleep and I sleep well. Some of it is personality, I think, but I do think I have some very good sleep habits too.

Whenever I put up my sleep stats on Instagram, I always get so many direct messages from people who say things like, “oh that must be nice” and “how do you sleep so much?”.

Well, I sleep a lot because I’ve realised that when I’m tired I won’t be as productive as I will be when I’m rested. Because when I’m up after a good night’s sleep, I’m a machine 🙂

Sleep also has many other benefits like being good for your mental health, stress relief, immune system, heart, good for managing weight. In addition, and this is a big benefit, it’s good for your memory, and helps you focus and concentrate. I also heard Lisa Genova on a podcast say that deep sleep helps clear out brain waste which prevents Alzheimer’s.

Here are a few of my tips:

  1. Set a sleep goal. My goal is 7 hours 30 every night. I upgraded my Fitbit recently and while my Fitbit now gives me a sleep score, my sleep score is always better when I sleep more than 7h30.
  2. Sleep when you’re tired. Realise that when you’re tired, the very best thing you can do no matter how much work there is still to get done, is to actually sleep.
  3. Move your body. I sleep my best sleep on the days I have a good workout. It’s boring to say this but our mothers were onto something when they told us to go outside and play.
  4. Stop caffeine at lunch. This is not a problem for me, but I know many people who do not have good sleep habits when they have coffee after lunch. Dr Rangan Chatterjee, in his book, The 4 Pillar Plan, talks about how, at bedtime, about 25% of caffeine is still in our system. If you don’t sleep well, stop your coffee at 12 and see if it makes a difference.
  5. Avoid your phone before bed. Everyone gives me a hard time about this one but hey, if you want to sleep better, avoid your phone for a good 1 – 2 hours before bed. You can charge your phone at an outlet across the room. I charge mine next to my bed but it’s on the floor, face down, almost slipped under the bed. I also don’t look at Whatsapp after my phone goes dark (shortly after my work day ends). There is a downside to it but I’d rather have a few more messages in the morning than have restless or disrupted sleep.
  • How is your sleep on a scale of 1 – 10?
  • Do you have good sleep hygiene?
  • Do you spend time on your phone before bed?

If you want to work on these tips, all you have to do is start working on one at a time, track your sleep, and see how it is affected.

On being moderate with fitness

If you have a Fitbit or other such fitness device, you’ll know that the “recommended” number of steps you should walk a day is 10 000.

I’ve never been able to get to the 10 000 steps. I wrote about that here, here and here 🙂

Interestingly, I heard some research from a reputable company that there is no research to support 10 000 as the magic number. There is research (decreased obesity and other related diseases) around the 7 500 steps mark though.

I still maintain that for my kind of job, if I’m walking around too much and racking up steps, I’m not actually working so the two things are diametrically opposed. I can either work or walk around.

In October, I decided to analyse my Fitbit stats. I only racked up 13 days of more than 5000 steps.

So in November, I decided to make my goal 5000 steps and try and get that number to 20 days of 5000 steps or more. I made it – got to 21 days.

I decided to do the same in December and managed to get to 5000 steps for 24 of the 31 days.

In January, since I knew I’d be on holiday for 10 of the days, I upped my goal to 25 days. Managed 28. That is excellent for me!

Now in February, I’m on a 14 of 18-day streak as at the time of writing this post. This has been a “normal” work month for me so plenty of client meetings, and therefore the days when I just cannot are quite usual.

What I have learned about my fitness journey is this:

  • Saturdays and Tuesdays are easy because I have a scheduled dance class already.
  • I’m much more likely to try get to my 5000 steps when I’m within a comfortable distance (if I have 4600 or so at 10 pm, I will walk up and down my kitchen) but not if I feel like it’s unattainable. This is a life lesson for all goals, don’t you think?
  • I’m a moderator with fitness. I’m definitely not an all or nothing type person. I prefer to do a bit on a very consistent basis than rack up 10 000 steps once a week and 3000 on the other days. What about you?
  • Shoes make a big difference. On gym days, when I have on my takkies (exercise shoes), I’m much more likely to run up and down my stairs to fetch things upstairs/ downstairs than I am when I’m wearing work shoes or flip flops.
  • I really need to increase my fitness very slowly to have success.

Do you track the steps you walk?

Do you walk more when you’re tracking?

Do you know what your average number of steps is, and when your highest days are?

Switching up what’s not working for you

I’ve had a goal on my list since the beginning of the year, and that was to increase the amount of exercise I get in a week, in particular, to strengthen my core.

This was not happening despite wishing it were so. Imagine that.

Then my usual Zumba instructor had an operation and she was off for 6 Saturdays. One of those Saturdays we had a visiting lady do a Pound class.

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@marcia0608) on

That pound class opened my mind to new possibilities and reminded me that I had a fitness goal I’d made exactly 0% progress in.

Another gym in my neighbourhood opened earlier this year, still in the same network. So I checked their classes and phoned them to see if I could try out a Barre180 class.

I tried the class, loved it and have been going ever since.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, I’ve been in a habit where we, as a family, go to the gym together every Saturday morning for years and years. I love the time together, that we’re prioritising fitness and health, and I still (two months in) miss going to gym with them. It’s complicated, but basically, there is no kids’ programme at the new gym and in order for me to go with them on a Sat and still go to my new one during the week would cost me a lot of money, which I just can’t justify.

I’m trying not to focus on the missing part too much, and I’m going for more walks with the kids 🙂

And the best thing is… two of my jackets can now close and my flexibility has increased such that I can easily touch the floor again. Yay.

Over to you.

Think back to the goals you wrote down at the start of the year. Are there any you’re completely stuck on? Do you need to shake things up?

Do you need a goals re-set? There’s still time to make inroads into a couple of your goals. If you need a goals brainstorm and strategy session, email me and let’s set that up on Skype or Facetime.

I love my new water bottles

I bought three water bottles last week and I love them so much I’m posting about them much sooner than I normally do.


Isn’t that just gorgeous?

It’s the Consol Grip and Go bottle – they come in a number of gorgeous colours – I have hot pink, lime-green and purple 🙂

They take 500ml water so I know I have to drink 4 a day and somehow I feel cuter drinking from these than from the styrofoam (ugh!) cups at work. For one, they’re glass but also the spout is about 3 cm wide so it almost feels like you’re drinking out of a drinking glass, which makes the whole drinking water thing a lot easier.

Do you find it easy to drink water? What’s your method  of getting it all down?

This post is not sponsored although I do love glass so if Consol wants me to review some other things, I’d love that 🙂

One of my main goals this year

I’ve been thinking about my goals a lot this week.

There’s something about the sea air and beautiful views that help you get clear about what you want.


All the goals I set at the end of last year are still good though although I may have added a tad too much on my plate, business-wise. However, let’s see how we go.

But one of the main things I want to accomplish this year is to lose some weight. I really want to get down to at least 61 kg.

I found a Weigh-Less booklet in my work desk on my first day back this year and I laughed when I saw I was 58 kg and my goal was 52 kg or something. Oh, how I’d love to be 58 kg again. I was 59 kg when I fell pregnant with the twins, got back to 59 kg before they were 5 months old and then some weight piled back on sitting at my desk 🙁

Now I’m between 66 and 67 kg (and admitting it on the internets!) so here we go again.

With my friend Weigh-Less and my personal trainer, I hope to have those extra kilos off by May when our winter starts.

Would you like to share one of your main goals this year?


Have you had a look at these incredible life workbooks?

Here’s the link so you can also get yourself a copy.


3 reasons why I need to work with a personal trainer

One of my goals this year was to hire a personal trainer to get me to my goal weight.

I’ll be honest – I was really loathe to do it at first but I’ve now accepted that I’m the type of person who has to pay for accountability otherwise it just won’t get done.

Two months in and I’m not there yet but am making good, steady progress.

When I mentioned my intention to people, they’d say things like, “oh, but isn’t a personal trainer expensive?”

My answer is, “depends how you look at it.”

I like to think of this as an investment in my health and fitness.

But that got me thinking about the main 3 reasons why I need to have a personal trainer:

1. He challenges me to go further and do more

My natural style is competitive which is why I’ve always loved group classes. There’s just something about the energy of healthy competition that makes me push myself more and stretch my limits.

If I didn’t work out with a personal trainer, I’d never do the exercises I should, simply because I’m weak and feel pain at the slightest thing.

He tells me I can do it and is my cheerleader through the pain.

2. I pay a month in advance

This helps me to not be a slacker when I feel tired or not in the mood for exercise. Or if it’s raining. (Traffic in Jhb is terrible when it rains and any sane person would stay indoors)

I know that because I’ve already paid, I need to get myself to the gym and use up that money.

3. He teaches me to do the exercises correctly

This is a big one. There are many exercises I’ve seen and done versions of in my 8 years of going to gym.

Apparently for a lot of them, I’ve been doing them wrong all these years. Who knew?!

Working out with him means he is checking my posture and making sure I do exactly what I’m supposed to, and that all my muscle groups and joints are correctly supported.

In the two months, I’ve worked with Frisco, Sara and Kyle and they have all kicked my butt. I don’t like it at the time but I do LOVE the results of a flatter, trimmer, toned tummy and centimetres off all over my body.

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?

How are you working towards your health and fitness goals?

Coaching challenge:

Do you recognise your stumbling blocks with your goals as I had to with mine? It doesn’t have to be health and fitness goals; any goals will do.

How are you going to overcome them?

Do you need accountability and support? If you have organising goals, Spring into Organising is just for you.



5 ways to organise your health and fitness goals

Did you know what the two New Year’s Resolutions/ goals are that are on almost everyone’s lists?

1. Lose weight
2. Get organised

Judging from the parking lot at the gym, number one is a whole lot more popular at the moment 😉

It also happens to be one of my goals for the year. Granted, I don’t have a huge amount to lost but I am small-framed so every kilo shows quickly.

There are a couple of things I’m doing that seem to be working for me and I thought I’d also share them with you:

1. Decide on an exercise programme ahead of time

I also like a bit of “go with the flow” spontaneity but that just doesn’t go with a weight loss regime.

I checked the gym’s schedule of classes (I only do group workouts) and decided which ones I’d do every week.

One less reason to procrastinate exercising.

2. Make yourself accountable to as many people as possible

I’ve told everyone in my team at work that I intend going to the gym every Monday and Wednesday and that they have the right to check in with me every Tuesday and Thursday to see if I’ve been.

Also, at the end of each class, I tell a couple of the regulars, “see you on Wednesday” so that there’s additional accountability.

3. Set yourself up for success

When I get home from work I change out of my work clothes and straight into my gym clothes. I’ve found that when I’m dressed the part I’m less likely to try and skip the workout.

4. Organise your eating

Every week I decide in advance what I’ll have for breakfast, lunch and supper so I’m less likely to snack on just anything.

I’m by no means perfect but I know I eat a lot less of the wrong foods by planning my meals.

5. Pack your “out of the house” food

It’s good to know what you’re going to eat as in number 4 but when you’re starving and it’ll take 30 minutes to find a healthy meal, you’re more likely to simply grab a bag of crisps and a Coke.

Again, I pre-pack cereals, etc. for the entire week and every night while preparing supper, I empty out my lunch bag and repack with food for the following day.

So far so good.

I’ve only been doing this for two weeks this year but from previous years’ experience, I know this system works well for me.

The one thing I need to stop doing is…

Buying chocolate. I keep saying I’ll only have one little block but so far that’s not working so no more!

What do you do to set yourself up for success with your weight loss and fitness goals? And what do you need to stop doing?

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