Here is your monthly dose of health updates.
Every month we share the answers to questions frequently asked by our private coaching clients and online course participants along with a few health related news and science updates that you may have missed.
If there’s a topic you’d like us to explore next month we’d love to hear from you! Simply reply to this email with your idea or request.
A Plan vs A Hope
One discussion that we regularly have with clients when it comes to habit change for health optimisation is the difference between hoping and planning. Whether it be for staying on track with optimal nutrition, incorporating movement and exercise more often, or even something less obvious but also important for health like thriving at work or improving the quality of relationships at home, the key is planning.
So how do we change that? – It’s actually quite simple, just requiring a few minutes, a pen or your digital schedule.
For example, rather than saying “I’ll try to move more next week”, take a moment and grey out 30-60 minutes of time each day in your schedule that is non negotiable. You can also go one step further and write in the specific activity that you’re going to do, like ‘workout plan A’ or ‘brisk walk’.
Similarly when it comes to maintaining healthy nutritional habits and avoiding giving in to cravings, simply write down what you are going to eat each day for lunch and dinner for the next 7 days, and then buy the necessary produce. Look at the list each day to remind yourself what you planned for tomorrow. When you’re hungry refer to your list or take from what you have already bought and prepared. This simple proactive approach will help keep you focussed. You may not always stick to plan but when you have the plan written and the food available you’re less likely to order in or choose something less ideal.
5 minute rule for working out consistently
As with so many things in life, consistency (and frequency) of action is usually much more important for long term achievement than intensity or duration.
So regardless of your specific goals or targets within a workout plan or movement program, if you’re the type of person that struggles to maintain a routine over the long term you likely need to take a different approach.
One method we find works well, both for exercise or even other tasks that involve commitment and focus, is to commit to the smallest amount of time you consider to be attainable on a regular basis – 5 minutes for example.
Can you perform 5 minutes of easy exercise every single day? Most likely. Just commit to starting and completing 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes you want to stop, thats ok. You can be satisfied with yourself that you’ve honoured your commitment. If you feel like you can go for another 5 minutes, great, go for it!
This mindset works because even in its most minimal form you will be doing more for yourself physically and psychologically than if you didn’t show up and exercise at all. But it’s likely that you’ll also get past that initial phase of lacking motivation, and you’ll be happy to continue for longer. This will organically develop into a healthy habit of moving or exercising every day, without it feeling overwhelming. The kind of habit that feels a normal part of life, just like bathing or toothbrushing.
So next time you’re procrastinating with any task, be it exercise or starting a new project at work, simply commit to doing 5 minutes of it and see how far you get.
Healthy substitutions for avoiding sabotaging your nutrition
This tip elaborates further on the point made above with regard to nutritional planning.
It’s a fact that everyones journey to health with regard to food choices and consumption has moments of misdirection needing a reminder and course correction. That’s OK. But there are things that you can put in place to help minimise the frequency of those transgressions, and to also lessen their detrimental effect on your progress.
Here’s a couple of examples . . .
Fill the void of a bad habit with a good one – Will power alone is rarely enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when it comes to food choices and cravings. For example, If you crave a snack as a reward for completing a tedious task then reward yourself with something else. You can reward yourself with an activity that you enjoy doing – changing the activity or environment is usually enough to remind you that the snacking was an emotional urge rather than a nutritional hunger from your body. Simply moving on to an activity that is more stimulating, or by changing scenery (going outside perhaps), you will notice that the craving dissipates and the feeling of hunger disappears. To aid further, use the next example as a secondary protection helping to keep you on track . . .
Reposition the point of friction – In the case of food choices this is really easy to do. Start by throwing out all the foods and products that you shouldn’t be consuming. Similarly, delete the food delivery apps from your phone and delete your credit card details so that its harder to order take away without having the chance to re-consider. At the same time make sure you have healthy alternatives at hand for when those moments of cravings do overcome you. Cold cuts of meats, fatty cheeses and even just a good quality salted butter can be great bridging tools to quash a craving without derailing your nutrition.
These two measures are often enough to create a new and positive behavioural pattern. Remember alongside your dietary intake, other influences on your pleasure-pain hormonal circuitry can also upset the balance and influence your cravings. Social media, computer games and message notifications can also set your system out of whack without you realising. It may be prudent to re-asses their effect on your mindfulness too.
A reversal in policy from the American Heart Association
After 50 years of damaging guidance The AHA finally concedes that a Low Carbohydrate High Fat diet can be a useful tool for managing, reversing or preventing type 2 Diabetes and metabolic disease, therefore reducing the factors also contributing to cardiovascular disease.
An official scientific review: AHA Journals
Study of 400k people in UK shows that eating vegetables has little impact on your chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
TL:DR – Eat mainly the proteins and fats of animals, organs meat when possible; move often and exercise daily; expose yourself to the sun regularly (even when cold); avoid excess carbohydrates, avoid processed foods, avoid vegetable (seed) oils; limit consumption of food to a short window each day (6 hrs) undertaking longer fasts (24-48hrs) periodically.
Consumption of vegetables my signify a person who is health conscious, but it isn’t necessarily the factor contributing to their improved health.
Read the study
Animal Fats & Your Brain
Whilst the protagonists of the plant based movements often use the misunderstandings of saturated fat and cholesterol and it’s role in the arena of Cardiovascular disease as an argument supporting their ideologies, protecting your brain is yet another reason why going vegan may not solve your problems.
Learn why here: Psychology Today Article
Every month we’ll recommend some of our favourite resources for additional learning or inspiration in the fields of Health, Fitness, Lifestyle and Self Development. If you’ve found a book that has made a positive impact on your life, do let us know!
Here’s this months selection! . . .
The Great Cholesterol Myth; Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – by Jonny Bowden – https://amzn.to/3NojAmx
Atomic Habits; An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones – by James Clear – https://amzn.to/3uspt9K
The Big Fat Surprise; Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet – by Nina Teicholz – https://amzn.to/3IIPmar