Here is your monthly dose of health updates.
Fake it ’til you make it – Your health may rely on it
For many, the first few weeks or months of habit change is an obstacle course littered with moments of relapses, frustration, self doubt and sometimes feeling like you’re starting right back at the beginning.
A common phrase we often hear is, ‘I’m just not that person that enjoys exercise’ or ‘I’ll never be one of those “healthy people”’.
People often forget that discipline and habits are closely linked, and that one encourages the other. Today, there is a level of taboo around the concept of discipline with it often being associated with punishment, but discipline can be equally associated with your desires and reward. Without a certain amount of stubbornness and commitment to yourself, developing new habits will fail with a change in the wind, and without some carefully thought out triggers for your habits along with intentionally introduced frictions for distracting behaviours, then no level of discipline and stubbornness will be sustainable in the long term.
‘Faking it’ can be a useful tool for the purposes of overcoming that disassociation with the person you want to be until your habits are so routine and strongly developed that they require no additional thought or effort. Whilst we use the term ‘faking it’ lightly, we really mean to identify as the person you want to be from the moment you start your journey rather than waiting for some proof or justification that you are in fact that person.
Just like the ex smoker who refuses when offered a cigarette, stating “no thanks, I don’t smoke” vs the constant relapser that responds with “no thanks, I’m trying to quit”, or the yoyo dieter that keeps some just-in-case ready meals and a pack of biscuits in the house (but just one) vs the person that buys their groceries whilst saying “I only eat real food, poison isn’t for me”.
Sometimes reminding yourself who you are (i.e the person you’re aspiring to be), and affirming that aloud to yourself in the mirror when having moments of self doubt can be enough to tip the scales in the right direction for keeping you on track.
Use this tool not just with regards to your health, but with other goals and targets you wish to attain, and see how focussed you become, aiding your determination and helping you to progress towards the place you want to be.
Taking advantage of anxiety
Anxiety is often thought of with the connotation of being a bad thing, but what if having no anxiety at all was equally as unhelpful?
On a primal level anxiety is an emotion that induces a set of protective behaviours that can save our lives. Unfortunately in the world we live in, our anxieties are regularly teased in situations when we are in fact in no immediate or future danger at all. For many, this negative overload is an impairment, however with a little awareness and mindfulness that can be practiced we can actually use anxiety to our advantage in order to live our best life.
Take a look at this diagram:-
We clearly see that having no anxiety can result in little productivity just like having excessive anxiety, so how do we make the most of our peak arousal to benefit from optimal performance? Here’s one idea . .
Draw out a table listing all the things that are bothering you in order of most distressing to mildly distressing.
In the next column, write down ‘thing’ needs to change or action to be taken in order to placate your concerns.
Next put a mark next to each subject that you feel you can have direct control over. (i.e. Is the action described in the previous column something you can do, control or directly influence?)
Of those ones that you can control, write down the consequences of the action not being completed. (For example, if I don’t lose weight, I’ll forever have knee pain and not be able to go on adventures or play with my kids; or if I don’t organise my mountain of emails my boss may have to remind me of something at another time). Also, rate between 1-5 which of these consequences is the worst for you in your life and which aren’t the biggest deal for you even if you find the topic stressful or concerning.
Now that we have narrowed this list of things that concern you down to things you can control, and of those, things that are actually super important to you, take the most important issue first and decide which actions you can do today, tomorrow or over the next few days in order to eliminate the issue from your list and knock it back into it’s place.
If you’re someone that feels anxiety regularly and to an overwhelming extent, or you’re someone who isn’t often worried much but instead are frustrated from lack of productivity, this may be a useful exercise to do on a weekly or monthly basis.
Morning sunlight for a serotonin boost and better sleep
Whilst many people associate Serotonin as being the ‘Happy Hormone’ generating the feeling of well being and calm, it is often misunderstood and confused with Dopamine – the motivational, reward and pleasure hormone.
One of the main ways that our body increases Serotonin in our brains is when exposed to sunlight (UV A & B).
Why all this info? – Well you may also know that Melatonin is the hormone related to drowsiness and sleep, and as such we want our Melatonin levels to rise in the evenings helping us to fall asleep with ease.
But, did you know that Serotonin is a precursor to Melatonin? In other words, your body takes the Serotonin it has synthesised following exposure to the sun, and converts it into Melatonin later in the day and especially after sunset and in low light conditions.
With this knowledge we can conclude that if your body isn’t given the chance to synthesise enough Serotonin earlier in the day, then it will not have anything to make Melatonin from – and this deficiency will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
The take home: boost your mood at the start of the day whilst laying the foundations for a higher quality of deeper sleep later on – Just get out in the daylight for 15-30 minutes within the first 2 hours after sunrise. You’ll likely notice the positive effects within days of adopting this habit if not immediately.
Keeping your sperm in good shape – fertility problems aren’t just a woman’s concern
Whilst it is expected that sperm production is reduced as men age, and with it sperm quality is also impaired with age, this study found that one of the main factors associated with these reductions both in older men but more concerningly seen in younger men was elevated BMI.
Whilst the study was small scale and doesn’t specifically prove causation, it’s findings are inline with a vast and growing body of research highlighting the same pattern associating a higher BMI or Body Fat % with poorer overall health and the presence of chronic health conditions.
Is it time to call out Statin medication for what it really is?
A recent meta-analysis has compared the data of 21 trials highlighting the difference between the relative efficacy and absolute efficacy of cholesterol reducing medication for its intended purpose – reducing Cardiovascular disease and related events. Unsurprisingly the review paper shines a light on how the statistics have previously been misrepresented to increase and maintain sales volumes, despite having very little real world impact on it’s intended use case, and contributing to other chronic conditions along the way.
Perhaps now is the time to question your doctor on the data and explore other ways of improving you health.
Evidence of what our ancestors ate uncovered at Stonehenge (UK)
Archeologists tested faecal samples found in the region. Their investigation confirmed that Neolithic man and their dogs consumed offal and fish eggs. This discovery helps support our increasing understanding of what an ideal human diet may look like for optimal health.
Check out the details here
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! . . .
Soil, Grass and Cancer: The Link Between Human and Animal Health and the Mineral Balance of the Soil – by Andre Voisin –https://amzn.to/3KdDgqm
The Fasting Cure: Reset Your Body; using fasting to cure ailments and manage weight – by Upton Sinclair – https://amzn.to/3MpaCnB
End Your Carb Confusion; a renewed body, mind and spirit – by Eric Westman – https://amzn.to/3vHmLgS
Every month we share tips, motivation and points to consider in order to achieve and maintain optimal health along with a few health related news and science updates that you may have missed.
Often we’ll share the answers to questions frequently asked by our private coaching clients and online course participants.
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.