Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Sleep, eat, move

There are times when we all just don’t feel like ourselves. For some this can last for a few hours, a day, a week and for some people – even years. I was one of those people where years of my life were spent living with depression.

I have publicly spoken about my depression and have realised it is something that I have never really written about in my articles.

My story and how I still live with depression is something I will share with you next week; it wasn’t the topic I decided to write about this week.


What I am going to write about is directly linked to my own experience of living with depression or my own trigger points when I know I’m slowly creeping back into a negative frame of mind. Three of my biggest triggers are sleep, nutrition and movement. It’s not rocket science and we would all have picked these three things but how often do you sit back and reflect on how well you are carrying these out?

When my own mood starts to dip or I just don’t feel 100 per-cent, I will always look at my sleep first.
It’s not just the amount of hours I’m getting but how I’m preparing to sleep. Is it a disturbed sleep and what is my mood first thing in the morning?

Getting my body ready to sleep is something I struggle with. My lowest points come sometimes in the evening, when I have come in from coaching or catching up on some messages and I just eat. What I will do, is open the fridge and cupboards, granted it may be healthy food but sometimes it isn’t and more importantly it is not something I need.

Do I really need to fuel my body before I go to sleep after I’ve been out coaching? Am I eating because I’m bored? Is it just a bad habit or is it comfort eating? Either way I knew I needed to stop it.

I needed an action plan that was related to me not eating at night before bed. The first thing I did was write down that I won’t eat after 9pm. Sometimes I may only get a chance to eat at this time after I have trained. The next idea was suggested by a friend. His action is to wipe down the surface of all his worktops letting him believe that his kitchen is closed for the night.

Another poor habit that effects my sleep preparation is my phone. The best thing I did a few years ago was charge it outside my room. Two reasons are that I won’t look at it while lying in bed and I have to get out of my bed to turn off the alarm. Other good habits that help me sleep are; having a cool room so my body is able to switch-off and not be too warm; reading in my bed helps me wind down and finally, making my room as dark as possible.

I don’t seem to wake up at all during the night and if I do I will think about what I did or didn’t do during the previous day and night. No matter how I feel when I wake up, I now have a morning routine which includes 10 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes of mediation and writing at least a page in a journal. This sets me up for the day and gives me time to reflect.


If I eat crap, I feel like crap. If I eat too much, I feel like I’m not giving my stomach the chance to break down all the food.

I seem to operate best when I skip breakfast and eat a healthy brunch or lunch.

I was once an ‘eat every two hours’ kind of guy, but if my mood is low then my eating habits are all over the place.

This seems to be a response to my mood rather than a cause like lack of sleep. It’s something that I need discipline to keep control of at times.

Some rules I have, is that if I don’t buy poor choices of food then I won’t eat them and if it’s not in the house I won’t eat it. It can be as simple as that.

Finally, I need to move every day.

When I was at my lowest points I got lazy and didn’t do much.

As a result, physically my body use to ache. My sciatic nerve use to play up and my lower back would get very stiff.

My morning yoga routine which I just follow from YouTube helps wake the body up and I also do my own stretching routine while listening to the flash briefing on my Alexa device.

Again, the flash briefing is the trigger for me to complete my habit (action) of stretching.

As I’ve decided not to play football this year due to work and personal commitments, I took on the challenge of running an ultra-marathon because I need a goal to focus towards.

I have already booked in with a local personal trainer after this event is complete, to sit down and rebuild my strength from my current running program.

When you have a good training session you can instantly get that extra buzz and lift that you may need to carry out the tasks for the rest of the day. Sometimes to get this buzz, I need a purpose to train and even a little help from others.

The thing with these three areas is that they all overlap.

The body is weird and wonderful all at the same time, and the more you understand your own and accept every part of how it feels and looks, both the good and bad in your eyes, you will have the ability to control your current situation and live a happy, healthy and active lifestyle.

Read the full story in this week’s paper, available in your local newsagents today or subscribe to our Digital Edition by clicking below