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Why This Personal Trainer and Former College Athlete Wants You To Give Your Brain a Break

Cori Lefkowith created her personal training program, Redefining Strength, because she saw too many people obsessing over a number on a scale or how their workouts stacked up compared to their friends. Fitness is an incredibly individual journey, and the journey itself should be fun—not just the end goal. 

Cori herself has been an athlete since the age of three, when her mom first took her out onto the tennis court, which culminated in her earning a tennis scholarship to Boston University. Today, she trains athletes and fitness obsessives out of Orange County, and maintains and impressive workout schedule of her own. But she says that none of the active stuff is possible—the gains, the glutes, the grueling workouts—without an equal emphasis on the quieter side of life. 

Revamping your sleep isn’t an easy fix…but it’s worth it

Even though taking a nap sounds easier than overhauling your entire diet, Cori notes that changing our sleeping habits isn’t something you can do with the snap of a finger. “So often we talk about changing our diet and exercise habits because those are ‘easier’ to change,” she says. “It's not as easy to just instantly change our sleeping habits. But sleep affects basically EVERYTHING. Sleep can affect our energy levels, our focus, our recovery, even our hunger levels (and partly it can do this because sleep deprivation can change our hormone levels).”

So if you’re looking for optimal body functioning—and the best results from your workouts—take the time to build a good sleep routine from the bottom up. You’ll be surprised at how much everything else in your life changes. “If you're eating well and training hard, but not seeing the results you want? Take a look at your sleeping habits!” Cori says. 

Are you hungry—or just tired?

People don’t often talk about the link between sleep deprivation and hunger pangs, but Cori has noticed a direct correlation between the two. “A lack of sleep can cause us to eat when we aren't hungry and even crave things our body doesn't really need,” she says. “Proper fueling is a key component if we want to perform optimally. And sleep can affect our hunger cues and our eating.” Next time you find yourself thinking about the world’s largest milkshake, take a moment to ask yourself if better sleep might be the real thing your body’s craving.

Train smarter, not harder—and that includes sleeping enough

These days, there’s a lot of pressure to go-go-go, especially among athletes, but Cori has seen that attitude backfire. “Too often we focus on training harder instead of smarter,” she says. “We set our alarms to get up early for training sessions and stay up late doing work or even that second session of the day. Athletes put in all this work on the field and in the gym while sacrificing sleep.” 

Does this sort of dedication pay off short-term? Sure, but Cori notes that it “too often ends up backfiring” as athletes “get injured or their performance suffers simply because they aren't recovering properly.”

Avoid these pitfalls by simply adjusting your mindset—and by getting yourself a notebook or app that’ll help you keep track of your workouts. “More isn't always better,” Cori points out. “We've got this attitude of ‘No pain, no gain.’ But training harder isn't a guarantee that we will get results faster. Train smarter. Track your workouts and make sure your workouts are focused on your goals—not just on trashing you.”

Last but not least, take a brain break

“Our brain is a powerful ally—or enemy,” says Cori. “Taking care of your mental health and taking time to relax and recover is key.” This means that when you’re focusing on recovery, don’t just think about massages, ice baths, and cool-down stretches—think about things like meditation, reading, or even watching a good movie. “We often think about recovery as something we need for our BODIES,” Cori says, “but our minds need it too! Find fun ways to unwind and be active even on your days off in a non-stressful way.”

Want to build a good sleep routine from the bottom up, just like Cori recommends? There’s no better place to start than your mattress. At MOLECULE, we’re passionate about creating sleep products to help your body recover overnight and feel energized in the morning. Check out our MOLECULE mattresses, which ensure optimal temperature regulation during sleep to create a better atmosphere for nighttime recovery.