My Stories

Healthy Lifestyle

Running – isn’t it fun?

Monday! A great day to start the week with a new goal. Couch to 5K  Inspired by a client who has reduced his weight by 27kg and has now started a running programme supervised by his physiotherapist, I am here too restarting my Summer running schedule.  Every year I mange to get through the first 6 weeks (running consistently for 20 minutes – with walking either side) and then something gets in the way #excuses and I sneak out of completing the whole thing!  

So… Start date July 4 2016 – End date Sunday September 4 2016.  

See that face of utter determination – this year I am going to learn to RUN and learn to LOVE it too. 

Healthy Lifestyle

Gut by Giulia Enders 

Considering whether to purchase this book I read the dedication which was addressed to Giulia’s single parent mum – as a single parent myself… of course I am going to buy it!   

Giulia Enders is working on her medical doctorate conducting gut and microbiological research.  Her book ‘Gut’ is an international bestseller, and on reading it is easy to see why.  It is very easy to read, and divided nicely into chapters  and sections where you can find the particular thing you want to know about your gut very easily.  I would nonetheless still recommend reading through from beginning to end as it gives such straightforward explanations backed up by science, as well as much common sense advice regarding how to put your best gut forward.  Yes!  That is a joke…

I wasn’t too enamoured with the illustrations which I think could have lent more to the actual content that was being described, but this is likely personal preference and some of them certainly made me smile.  They lightenend the book’s content though sometimes seemed a little obtuse.

Gut is divided into three main chapters: 

1. Gut Feeling describes the structure of the gut, talks about the kind of foods we eat and how they affect our management of allergies or suspected intolerances;

2. The Nervous System of the Gut informs us on how we experience food physically from our eyes through to our large intestine, and remarks on the relationship the brain has with the gut as well as why reflux and vomiting may happen, and best management of constipation;

3. The World of Microbes: 70-80% of our immune system resides in the gut and Giulia Enders describes very nicely how the gut flora develops and how to manage the good and bad bacteria we are faced with daily.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more in a common sense way  of the impact the gut has on general health and well being, and what steps they can take to improve current gut management.  You will definietly learn something here.  

Be Active

Can anyone do yoga

Can anyone do yoga – yes is the answer

Recently I was asked by a potential client what was necessary to maintain her current fitness and health levels as she progressed through her next decade.  I was reminded of how easy it is to fit exercise and activity into life pre children and how challenging it can become as our bodies seemingly deteriorate in the mirror

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But… having recently returned from a much deserved (even if I have to say this myself) joyous week of yoga, red wine and cheese in the South of France I can put out an alert that no matter your age or current levels of strength, endurance, flexibility or fitness generally it is wonderful to practise yoga.

There are so many different types from the more powerful and aerobic, to the more restful and meditative, everyone can find something to suit them. It really is worth searching out different classes and different instructors.  My yoga of choice in my 30s was Ashtanga – but having moved on in years and had children to occupy my time, it seemed difficult to absorb a class into the weekly routine.

Needing some breathing space this summer and having two weeks free when my children would be with their Dad,  I somewhat impulsively googled, and lo and behold found myself at La Roane with Janaki and Davey from Brighton – yoga instructors supremo.  What a pleasure.  Age range: 28 – 77.  Yoga experience – immeasurable.  Most flexble yoga bunny? 67… ankles behind the ears indeed!  From sea kayakers swimming in cold pools at 7am, walkers investigating caves, to 77 year old three times per week spinners, my yoga group was inspiring, exciting and enthusiastic about life and all it has to offer.

So when I speak to my client regarding what is necessary to maintain current fitness levels I will be remarking from a research perspective that yes… we have to do more and be more active to try and maintain our bodies, but the most important thing of all is to find the activity or exercise which you will love and enjoy, and which will continue to give you pleasure and fun, no matter what age you are.  And I have found my yoga mojo again… Hurrah.  Thank you Hannah for my fab photo, and thank you Cherry for being a flexible friend.

Be Active, Behaviour Change

My Harvard 10,000 steps

I’ve just returned from a week in Boston.  Amazing trip.  I stayed with friends and took a course at Harvard Medical School, the Blackburn Course in Obesity Medicine.  This is such an all-encompassing course  it makes you feel really up to date with the very latest in health research regarding weight management.  We were certainly made aware that weight management is a really new science, and for researchers there are more unknowns than knowns. In spite of the wealth of diet books  everywhere what works for you as an individual can be completely different to what works for the person at the next desk.  But whenever you make an attempt at trying to achieve anything with regard to healthy living,  remember this as progress in the right direction.  I, of course, am reminding myself of this as I am still working towards an average of 10,000 steps per day.  Interestingly although my course began at 8:00 am every day and did not finish till 5:30 pm, I managed to achieve my 10,000 steps daily.  I think when immersed with like-minded individuals a subtle pressure is exerted, which you rise to.

So the expectation attending a course such as this, is that the attendees, because we are all aware of the health risks associated with unhealthy lifestyles and being overweight is that we live the optimum healthy lifestyle.  So I did, last week anyway.   As I mentioned earlier, it’s all progress in the right direction.

Over the next few weeks my intention is to post some of my learnings from my course at Harvard, elucidating some of the very latest research.  And, as always, will be making practical suggestions regarding how to map and absorb these learnings into every day life.  Look forward to it.

My attempts at 10,000 steps… Progress in the right direction.

Be Active

10,000 steps – sometimes easier said than done

10000-Steps

If you’ve read my profile you’ll know how easy it is for something to get in the way of my leading a more active life than the one I have planned in my head.  So after achieving my 10,000 steps per day for a whole week just a short while back, my children were absented from school for 14 days(!) to enjoy a mid-term break and to allow the school to move premises.  This upset to what I would now like to call ‘my routine am walk’ led to a decline in the number of steps achieved to such an extent that I stopped wearing the pedometer altogether.  Midterms included a trip to Kent, a 5 day stay with a friend in Newcastle, heaps of kids, bottles of red wine, shared strawberry cheesecake, then lime cheesecake,  doritos and chocolate.  Thank goodness those boys are back to school because whoever was living in my head whilst I was away forgot all about the healthy lifestyle to which she aspires.  And having gotten out of the habit of wearing my pedometer I then forgot to clip it on first day back to school.  Never mind – it’s on now!  And we can only plan the future, not the past.

Planning

My planning for the future includes a commitment to my pedometer for 2 weeks this time.  I figure if I can achieve 10,000 daily steps for 1 week I can certainly achieve it for 2 – and I suspect you can also should you so wish. The school moving premises has in fact made this a whole lot easier.  I clocked 3,000 steps through my drop off, and another 3,000 with my pick up.  I am sitting at under 8,000 here at 4:30p.m. showing me the little movement that was achieved the rest of the day as I sat at my computer.  I figure if I add a detour after drop off in the am I can add another 1,000 steps in pretty easily.  Determined. Determined. Determined.  It’s just for 2 weeks, so we’ll see how I go.  Getting excited about it now.  Here I come with another star chart for myself.

Top tips for best pedometer usage

1. Wear your pedometer every day  – you know it makes sense.  You will capture a picture of how inactive/active you are day to day.

2. After your first week of clocking your steps calculate your average.  If not meeting your 10,000 steps quota for healthy living increase your current output by 1,000 steps per day for one week.

3. Draw out a chart and work yourself with time towards the 10,000 goal.  Don’t think about how long this will take – just think day by day, and week by week.  Then work yourself towards the big number.

4. Reward yourself at the end of each week with a non-food treat. Before you know it the summer will be here and you will be a walking machine – just like me in my head!

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Healthy Lifestyle

10,000 steps. These feet were made for walking.

10,000_steps

While breakfasting on Monday (Feb 4 2013) and listening to early morning radio I learned it was World Cancer Day.  As a dietitian I am always shall we say ‘harping on’ about the merits of being active, but sometimes statistics really sink in.  The expert discussing cancer prevention remarked ‘being active for just 30 minutes every day would  halve our risk of developing some of the most common cancers’.  Maybe because it was my birthday this week, and I was reminded when looking in the mirror that yes indeed I really was another year older I set myself a challenge.

10,000 Steps

Since Monday I have clipped on my pedometer each day and once I have dropped my kids to school, but before sinking into my work chair, I have headed to my local park.  One good circuit of brisk walking will tick my 30 minute target.  It’s Friday today and I am feeling good.  I have 5 stars on my chart.  One day I even found myself breaking into a run. That was a particularly cold day and my legs decided for me.  So my pedometer is clocking around 5,000 steps by 10am with another 5,000 by the end of the day.  The 10,000 steps per day programme, based on a Japanese proverb, has been explored and validated through research as a useful tool to get sedentary populations moving. Recent research has also validated the use of a pedometer as a useful way to get individuals to do more (Sports Medicine, 2009). Those using the pedometer walk more, have a lower weight to height ratio, and have lower blood pressure than those not using  pedometers in the research (JAMA, 2007). And as mentioned above, there’s the link to cancer prevention too.

Top Tips

  1. Buy a pedometer
  2. Track your steps on a chart or calendar.
  3. Find a walking partner or a set of headphones to keep you busy.
  4. Walk 30 minutes every day.
  5. Buy a good pair of trainers if you need to.
  6. Establish a routine to meet your 30 minute daily goal.

Get walking. Get Healthy.

Healthy Lifestyle

Big Plate. Little Plate.

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Apart from when you bought them have you ever thought about how big your dishes are? Or indeed your  glasses?  I have, mainly because of the work of Professor Brian Wansink at Cornell University, New York State.

His team delivers research around the notion of ‘mindless eating’ – where we don’t really make decisions about how much we eat, we just eat! And it’s not just because we’ve been taught to clean our plates.  Many other things come into play when looking at portions sizes. Those of us who have visited or had friends visit the U.S. can all tell tales about how big the restaurant portions of food are; something which has not happened in Europe.  But we may not have been aware that our dishes have increased in size such that the dishes and glasses we now buy for dinner are more than 30% bigger than they were 50 years ago.  You might not think this too much of an issue but to a dietitian this is endlessly fascinating. This small change can subtly make a difference to the number of calories we eat every day, and the quality of calories we eat, both of which will have an impact on our weight.  

Consider these examples of outcomes from ‘mindless eating’ research:

We serve more from big cereal boxes than from small cereal boxes.

We serve more onto big plates or bowls than small plates or bowls.

 We serve ourselves more food if provided with big serving spoons than smaller ones.

Further research has demonstrated that having this information at our fingertips is not enough even for the highly educated. We need to physically change our environment if we want this knowledge to work in our favour.

Use these tips for easier healthier living.

1. Serve your main course on a smaller plate

2. Use your big glasses for water.

3. Serve wine in your smallest glasses.

4. Serve puddings and desserts in small bowls or cups.

5. Serve healthier salads on larger plates.

Simple steps to a healthier lifestyle.  By improving your environment through smaller dishes, smaller wine glasses and bigger water glasses you won’t have to make decisions towards ‘choosing’ the smaller portion of food.  Those decisions will be automatically made for you as we generally stop serving when our plates our full (yes we all do this!). This concept buys in nicely to the blog on will power.  By eliminating yet another food based decision from our daily lives we keep our willpower reserves in good order for when have to make the more difficult food based choices. So big plate? Little plate?  Now you know…

p.s. I tested this theory out at my book club dinner the other night.  I managed to serve way more water than normal using my big water glasses; I can’t say the same for the wine as didn’t have any small glasses.  Oops! Just off to the shops.