changing habits Archives - Balm Natural Health

Who will you be post social isolation

Posted by | Accountability, Balm Blog, Blog, changing habits, Diet, Exercise, Fat, Health, Naturopathy, Social isolation, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Most people are going to go one of 2 possible ways during the months of home isolation we are facing.

  • They will use the time to keep fit, using a home gym or doing whatever they can to work out at home. They will come out looking great, healthy, toned and fit. OR
  • They will spend the majority of their time on the couch feeling down and depressed, eating all of the comfort food they have stocked up on. They will come out feeling rotten and having put on lots of weight.

Quick question…

Which category are you going to be in once we are allowed out to socialise again???

One of the biggest issues with social isolation and having to spend so much time at home, is that it can have a profound effect on your mindset. This in turn impacts your health and your waist line because you are doing less and generally eating more calorie dense foods. The consequence of both poor mindset and gaining weight is that it can impact your immunity making you more susceptible to infections. Furthermore, any illnesses can then hit you harder than they otherwise might have.

The three key issues you need to consider to keep you healthy, fit and trim & terrific in ISO are:

  1. Easy and constant access to the wrong food

In the past we were always told simply not to have bad food in the house. But when the hoarding began, it was generally the quick energy, lower nutrition and processed foods that people grabbed. This generally included pasta, noodles, biscuits, processed snacks and canned food. Having so many of these foods in the house provides a constant temptation at a time when your resolve is probably at its lowest.

Quick tip #1 – Plan your meals ahead.  Choose meals that use healthy fresh ingredients wherever you can, such as fruits and veg. If you don’t have to think about what you are going to have when it is meal time and you are already hungry, you are less likely to reach for the quick fix.

Quick tip #2 – If you just can’t help yourself with the snack food, decide ahead what you consider to be a healthy amount of snack food to consume in a day. Then use containers to create daily quota portions. Once your daily quota for the day is gone, that is it! Your next option is to eat an apple or carrot sticks.

  1. Reduced motivation to exercise

When you fill your body with energy dense foods, this can spike your blood sugar up. This is always followed by a blood sugar low. Low blood sugar not only drives you to seek more energy dense food to bring the blood sugar back up again, but it will reduce your energy and motivation to exercise.

Quick tip #1 – Getting up and starting to exercise is always the hardest part. Once you start exercising you will start feeling better straight away. Schedule a time that you will set aside to exercise and have any equipment and work out clothes out and ready to go. At the time, just get started. Even if you tell yourself “I can stop in 10 minutes if I need”. Once you’ve started, you’re more likely to keep going.

Quick tip #2 –  Get in as much incidental exercise as you can. For example, do your housework with vigour, do some squats while waiting for the kettle to boil or jog on the spot during the advert breaks on tv.

  1. Lack of accountability

Research has shown that those people who are regularly accountable to someone will lose far more weight than someone who is accountable to no-body or only now and then.  This is probably one of the most important aspects of weight loss. During social isolation many people are living alone and therefore not being accountable to anyone.

Quick tip #1 – Set yourself up an accountability buddy. Tell them what you plan to do each day in terms of exercise or diet and how much weight you want to lose each week and check in with them at least weekly (if not daily) to boast how well you’ve done or confess what you just haven’t managed to do.

Quick tip #2 – Even better, take your health online. set yourself up on a program making you accountable to a professional who is completely on your side and knows how to keep you motivated and can provide professional advice and tips to keep you on track.

So, the 3 things you need to really watch for are: Be aware of what food you are making accessible to yourself and make sure you have plenty of healthy options available; find ways to get any exercise in where ever you can and make a plan for your daily physical activity; make yourself regularly accountable to someone who can keep you honest, motivated and on track.

By the way, if social isolation is turning you into a comfort food eating couch potato and your frustrated by not being able to go to the gym, missing the peer support and accountability of your friends and personal trainer and don’t know where to start with keeping fit and health at home then the ‘TeleHealth to Trim and Terrific’Online MiniProgram will be perfect for you.

Click here to find out more

Sleep and the modern day body clock

Posted by | Balm Blog, Body clock, changing habits, Circadian rhythm, Health, hormones, Insomnia, Naturopathy, Sleep | No Comments

In our modern day lifestyles, our body’s
desire to stick closely to a set sleep/wake time (our body clock or our
circadian rhythm) is often overridden, ignored and generally abused. The fact
that shift work has now been classed as a carcinogen is surely proof of the
importance of working with rather than against our body clock.

There are actually circadian clocks in
every organ of the body and never before have we lived so out of tune with these
circadian rhythms.  There is even a term
for this. It is called social jet-lag and refers to the misalignment between
our biological clock and our work and social schedules. One of the main consequences
is poor, broken or inadequate sleep. This then causes fatigue and anxiety and
can heighten any other underlying conditions such as allergy, hormone imbalance
ad weight gain.

The way to manipulate our body back into a
regular rhythm and improve sleep is to provide our body systems with the right cues
at the right time to encourage the body into a strong, regular rhythm where all
organs are in tune.

One of the biggest cues our body clock
responds to is light and dark cues. 
Because we now expose ourselves to so much unnatural light late into the
evening (lights, television, computers, phones etc) we confuse our body clock
and force it backwards. These lights inhibit the production of melatonin which
is important for sleep initiation. Many people find themselves laying there
wide awake when they first get into bed, but then struggle to wake up when the
alarm goes off. These people may believe themselves to be natural night owls
when in reality they have just confused their body clocks. The best way to
combat this is to keep lights turned down and switch televisions, computers and
phones off at least an hour before you want to get to sleep. If that’s not
possible, you can get devices or glasses to block the stimulating blue light
emitted by these devices.

Another strong cue used by the body to set
our internal clock is eating and fasting. It is recommended to keep your eating
to a 10-12 hour window during the day. There is a close relationship between
the gut microbiome and the circadian clock and so eating late at night will
confuse our sleep/wake rhythm. This disruption then contributes further to
weight gain meaning that the timing of your calorie intake contributes to
obesity beyond the simple fact that you consumed extra calories.

Activity and inactivity are also strong
cues for circadian rhythms. If you find you have to drag yourself through your
morning, exercising first thing on a regular basis can convince the body that
early morning is wake up time. Similarly, exercising late into the evening  disrupts the body’s wind down and can make
for a poor sleep followed by a tired, sluggish day.

Keep in mind that your body prefers to be
in a strong, regular pattern and you can manipulate this by giving your body
awake time cues during the morning and day with sunshine, activity and healthy
food.  Then use slow down cues at night
with lowered light, less activity and stop eating well before bed time.

Body temperature also follows a circadian
rhythm and having a warm bath or shower before bed can also help initiate sleep
as the drop in body temperature following the warm shower is another trigger
for the body to fall asleep.

Contact me if you’d like a copy of my sleep
tips handout.

Changing Bad Habits

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, changing habits, Diet, Health, Naturopathy, Physical stresses, self prescribing, Sugar, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Approximately 45% of what we do each day is habit. All habits were once conscious decisions we made which we continued with until it became an automatic behaviour.

Why are habits so difficult to change?

Habits are strongly influenced by all of our previous life experiences, plus, people generally prefer an immediate reward over more significant, delayed ones. This is known as delayed discounting and was the subject of a cute experiment with children which you’ve probably seen on tv. Children were told they could either have a marshmallow now, or if they waited 15 minutes then they could have 2. Many found that 1 marshmallow too irresistible and were not able to adjust their behaviour in order to wait 15 minutes and alter their outcome.

Willpower

But changing habits also requires a certain amount of willpower. Willpower is like a muscle in that it can fatigue with use. Our willpower is stronger in the morning and once we have used it 3-4 times in a day, it generally starts to decline. How many times have you woken in the morning with the intention of eating well and exercising but then found yourself on the couch that evening with a glass of wine saying, I’ll start tomorrow? This is why it is easier to change a morning habit than one later in the day.

The Cue

There are 3 components to every habit: a cue, the behavior itself and the reward. One key to establishing good habits is to manipulate the cue. For example, if your plan is to go for a run after work on Monday nights, then before you leave the house that morning, lay out your running gear and bottle of water where you will see it as soon as you walk in the door. Then you don’t have to think too much. Just change into the gear, pick up the bottle and off you go. Remove as many distractions, road blocks and reasons to make excuses as possible.

The Reward

If the reward of feeling good after the run isn’t enough to sustain the new behaviour until it becomes a habit, maybe use the reward of a small piece of chocolate straight after the run as incentive to establish the behavior.

Goal-setting and self monitoring

It has been found that one of the most effective behavioural change techniques is the use of goal-setting and self-monitoring. Be accountable to yourself and track or chart your results. Couple that with some short term dedicated willpower and you are in the best position for creating a new habit. See attached my Exercise Diary which you can use or adapt to track your progress in the behaviour you want to change or implement.

Substitution

When it comes to eliminating bad habits, substitute that bad behavior with a better behaviour. For example, if sitting down in front of the tv on a week night is your cue to pour yourself a glass of wine, try substituting the glass of wine for a herbal tea or some other healthy drink. The cue of sitting on the couch at night will eventually no longer be associated with wine. Whats more, I can assure you that when you do allow yourself that glass of wine on the Saturday night, you will enjoy it so much more!

 

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