Archive for September, 2014
…there are three things you should never neglect: food, feet and sleep.
The relationship we have with food is unique to each of us. And depending on what is going on in our life, that relationship may change from time to time. Handing out detailed nutritional advice is one thing I am extremely cautious about as a trainer. There are too many variables involved, so it is in my client’s best interest to refer them to a more experienced and educated person.
I am a true believer there is no one “cure-all” nutritional program. What works for me is likely very different from what works for you. Factors such as goals, metabolism, likes/dislikes of foods are to name just a few. But in general, I do encourage my clients to each as much whole food as possible. I mean, food that is typically found on the perimeter of the grocery store. Here you’ll find fruits, veggies, protein such as meat and fish, dairy and eggs. Anything that comes in a box, can or jar is likely to be processed and have ingredients that are difficult to pronounce.
33 joints, 26 bones and several muscles and tendons make up a single foot. We are asking this part of the body to take on a lot of weight, gravity and shock throughout the day. To keep your feet healthy
- Examine your feet regularly
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit
- Wash your feet daily with soap and lukewarm water
- Trim your toenails straight across and not too short
Your foot health can be a clue to your overall health. For example, joint stiffness could mean arthritis. Tingling or numbness could be a sign of diabetes. Swelling might indicate kidney disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
Good foot care and regular foot checks are an important part of your health care. If you have foot problems, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Back in July I purchased the Jawbone UP to help track my sleeping and number of steps I take per day. The feedback, especially for the sleep has been very useful. I now have a better understanding of why I feel the way I do after a “good night’s sleep” vs a “not so good night’s sleep.”
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
If your body begins to feel a little gunked up, heavy, uncomfortable, take a look at these three things: food, feet and sleep. Is there something you can improve on one or all of them?
Over the last several weeks I have had conversations with clients and friends whom are looking to make changes in their life. Some are towards better eating habits. Others are to be more active, maybe by counting how many steps they take per day. These are great starts to making changes to their lifestyle.
It takes commitment to change. Behavioral changes are completed in a series of distinct steps. The following is taken from Psychology Today-
- Precontemplation. In this stage, we’ve either literally never thought about needing to change a particular behavior or we’ve never thought about it seriously. Often we receive ideas about things we might need to change from others—family, friends, doctors—but react negatively by reflex. After all, we’re usually quite happy with our current stable of habits (if we weren’t, we wouldn’t have them in the first place). However, if we can find our way to react more openly to these messages, we might find some value in them. Remember, they aren’t sent with the intent to harm.
- Contemplation. Here we’ve begun to actively think about the need to change a behavior, to fully wrap our minds around the idea. This stage can last anywhere from a moment—to an entire lifetime. What exactly causes us to move from this stage to the next is always, in my view, the change of an idea (“exercise is important”) into a deeply held belief (“I need to exercise”), as I discussed in an earlier post, Cigarette Smoking Is Caused By A Delusion. What exactly causes this change, however, is different for everyone and largely unpredictable. What we think will produce this change isn’t often what does. For example, it may not be the high cholesterol that gets the overweight man to begin exercising but rather his inability to keep up with his wife when they go shopping. This is the stage in which obstacles to change tend to rear their ugly heads. If you get stuck here, as many often do, seek another way to think about the value of the change you’re contemplating. Remember, it’s all about finding and activating a motivating belief.
- Determination. In this stage, we begin preparing ourselves mentally and often physically for action. The smoker may throw out all her cigarettes. The couch potato may join a gym. We pick quit days. We schedule start days. This mustering of a determination is the culmination of the decision to change and fuels the engine that drives you to your goal. I firmly believe that human beings possess the ability to manifest an unlimited amount of determination when properly motivated by a deeply held belief.
- Action. And then we start. We wake up and take a power walk. Or go to the gym. Or stop smoking. Wisdom—in the form of behavior—finally manifests.
- Maintenance. This is continuing abstinence from smoking.Continuing to get to the gym every day. Continuing to control your intake of calories. Because initiating a new behavior usually seemslike the hardest part of the process of change, we often fail to adequately prepare for the final phase of Maintenance. Yet without a doubt, maintaining a new behavior is the most challenging part of any behavior change. One of the reasons we so often fail at Maintenance is because we mistakenly believe the strategies we used to initiate the change will be equally as effective in helping uscontinue the change. But they won’t. Where changing a strongly entrenched habit requires changing our belief about that habit that penetrates deeply into our lives, continually manifesting that wisdom(and therefore that habit) requires that we maintain a high life-condition. If our mood is low, the wisdom to behave differently seems to disappear and we go back to eating more and exercising less (this isn’t, of course, equally true for all behaviors, especially for addictive behaviors we’ve long ago abandoned). In a high life-condition, however, that changed belief will continue to manifest as action. When you’re feeling good, getting yourself to exercise, for example, is easier because the belief that you should exercise remains powerfully stirred up and therefore motivating. The key, then, to maintaining new behaviors…is to be happy! Which is why it’s so hard to maintain new behaviors.
By recognizing which of the five stages of change you find yourself in at any one time with respect to any one behavior you’re trying to change, you can maintain realistic expectations and minimize your frustration. Focus on reaching the next stage rather than on the end goal, which may seem too far away and therefore discourage you from even starting on the path towards it.
Almost two years ago I wrote a piece called Bridging the Gap. I wrote about the importance of bridging the gap between the medical word and the fitness world. Many trainers would agree with me that there are people in medicine that have a difficult time trusting what we do. And to me, that’s a shame. I say this because I often hear a client say, “My doctor says I need to lose weight,” “I have high blood pressure and diabetes and want to get off my meds.”…yet, the doctor creates no plan of action to help them.
I feel extremely lucky to work with trainers that take pride in their work and dedicate much of their free time and money to continuing education. Health and wellness is important and we, as trainers, are a great fit to bridge that gap.
Just this morning, a member of the health club came to me and said, “Ann, do you remember that assessment you did on me a few years ago? You said I should check in with my doctor because of some of the results. I was skeptical and let it slide. A few months later, I rolled my car and while I was in the hospital and they did some tests. The doctor found a blocked artery. I ended up having a stint because of that. I should have listened to you earlier.”
Over the last few weeks I have had a great opportunity to speak at a local hospital with patients that have undergone weight loss surgery. Many of them were extremely brave, sharing their story with me, a total stranger. They all have their own story and each was just as inspiring as the one before. One lady was 17 years post surgery and found that attending the support groups was still vital in her continued success. In order for her to go through with surgery, at that time, she had to lose half of her body weight. 350 pounds. It took her five years to go from 700 to 350, but she did it. She had the surgery and has been losing weight ever since. A gentlemen shared that he has gone from 700 pounds to 299 in less than three years. His goal to is be under 250 by next summer. Another gentleman who was just six months post surgery, is enjoying his new self. His relationship with food, himself and others has drastically changed. This last weekend was the first time he’s purchased new clothes since the surgery and he was shocked at the waist size he was able to fit into.
I had been asked to speak to these patients about the importance of exercise as part of their continued success. So many programs like this focus solely on nutrition and calories, that they are missing an important piece to the puzzle. I talked to them about finding exercises that they enjoy, such as karate, walking, or yoga. We discussed how to measure intensity through the “talk test” or rate exertion on a scale. I asked them to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. And it became a great dialog, in a safe environment, free of judgement.
I was delighted when the social worker reached out, because I think this was an important first step in bridging the gap between two worlds with a common goal.