So far we have explored why we need to sleep and the implications if our sleep is disrupted or reduced in quality. This last chapter looks at some of the reasons you may not be sleeping well and offers some things to think about to develop sleep habits that encourage better quality sleep.
Poor sleep does have potentially serious health implications, so if you are persistently not sleeping well seeking professional help is advisable. See the NHS advice at the end of this article.
There are a number of factors why good intentions to eating more healthily or exercising more never make it to fruition. Maybe you try something once and then give up and go back to what you did before, or you talk yourself out of even starting. And so nothing changes for the long term. This can be disheartening and frustrating.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You are not alone. Eat, Move, Be Happy can help you change this story.
Read on to discover Eat, Move, Be Happy’s 5 top tips for starting and continuing your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Our philosophy is to:
We believe that we can all achieve fantastic things if we have the confidence to try stuff – and we have some awesome success stories to share. Eat, Move, Be Happy offers a different way of thinking about eating and exercise starting with the question:
Most of us know what we should be doing to have a healthy lifestyle – eat better and exercise more – and yet we don’t do it. Why?
Starting here we help you unravel your current habits around health and wellbeing, including eating and exercise. If you know more about why you do what you do, and how you can practically shift habits to healthier choices, this helps build momentum and confidence to ultimately Eat Better, Move Better and Be Happy(er)!
Habits are the psychological shortcuts that help us get through the day. We form habits when we do the same things regularly. This means we don’t have to spend as much time thinking about what we do and how we do it – we just do it, saving energy and time.
So, accepting that our habits are ingrained (for a reason) and it takes more than pixie dust to shift them to new ones, how do you start?
There are some common barriers to changing our habits – we have talked about these in relation to eating habits before in Eat Better.It actually doesn’t matter what the habit is, the psychological hard-wiring of our behaviour means changing habits is tough.
The first thing to remember is the hardest step is the first step! And you are not alone in this – you are just human.
Some of the common barriers to taking that first step are:
Lack of self-motivation or support – “It seems like so much work, I can’t do this alone…”
Busy schedule, lack of time or not convenient – “I can’t change how I eat right now. The exercise class I want to do doesn’t fit with my schedule. I travel a lot, am rushed off my feet and it’s just not convenient at the moment”
Difficult emotions/mental health – “I’m going through a difficult time in my life right now, I enjoy comfort food and I can’t deal with even more by going on a diet. I cannot face exercise on my own/ with others, I am too self-conscious, they will be better than me, I am not good enough…”
Fear of getting it wrong or looking silly – “I can’t do exercise, I’m not coordinated, balanced, young enough. I will look like a fool! I won’t be as good as other people.”
Inertia – “I’ve always been like this, I’m not going to change now…”
Not wanting to give up current life – “I like socialising with my friends too much!, I have family commitments and they come first”
Lack of knowledge/skills – “I hear so much contradictory advice, I don’t know where to even start!, I cannot commit to 5 hours of exercise a week so what is the point in starting? I am rubbish at sport/ can’t do the technique”
Home environment/family/friends – “I’m surrounded by food, treats and people who are not interested in changing how they eat or exercise”
Too much temptation – “I can hear the chocolates/ TV calling to me!”
Food tastes – “I don’t like the taste of ‘healthy’ food”
Exercise preferences – “I prefer team sports and there aren’t any local teams. I don’t like gyms.”
Putting it off/lazy – “It sounds like hard work, I will start tomorrow. I will start when I can really give it my attention and commit…”
Environmental barriers – “There is nowhere to get healthy food/ do the exercise I enjoy where I live/work”
It’s not high enough on my to-do list – “I already eat and exercise well. I’m not unhealthy. I’m happy as I am.”
Making excuses – Any or all of the above plus countless more…
Understanding which ones relate to you is a start. When you know what you are really dealing with you can better prepare to overcome the barrier. And it is far better to tackle them in smaller chunks rather than try and deal with everything all at once.
We know this can feel daunting. This is where Eat, Move, Be Happy can help you.
Eat, Move, Be Happy Approach
We at Eat, Move, Be Happy know people are better at overcoming their barriers when they have support. Everything is better when you have the support of others! Apart from anything else it is fun to share – your attempts, your successes and also the things that didn’t go according to plan. The encouragement from others is huge in helping keep momentum and in you holding yourself to account for the choices you make.
So out firstTop Tip is:
Don’t go it alone!!!
Our online wellbeing community means you can connect with other people, ask for and offer support, ideas and encouragement and grow together. Plus we are on hand to add our pennyworth from time to time and point you in the direction of resources on the website.
Our secondTop Tip is:
Get your head in the game.
Only you can make the changes you want to make. You have to want to do this – with your heart and your head. They are linked and your head has a strong influence. The Eat, Move, Be HappyMental Health series helps you raise awareness of your psychological wellbeing. With practical tips you can use every day to help you refocus on the things you want to try and the choices you want to make.
Support is on hand, but no one else can do it for you. Being really clear about why making the changes matters is an important step – and working through that with the help of our Eat Better podcast series and Learn & Explore resource will provide a step by step guide to making the change.
Our thirdTop Tip:
Doing something is better than doing nothing.
No matter how long you exercise for and how frequently. Obviously we would encourage you to build up your exercise routine and challenge yourself. We know you will feel so much better physically and mentally when you do.
We believe the key to exercising more is our fourthTop Tip:
It might sound obvious, but you are much more likely to exercise if you enjoy it. Nobody wants to send time doing something they don’t enjoy. And it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you are active, moving more, getting a bit out of breath on occasion and having fun.
We can help you with structure and a plan for your exercise routine. You can build your own workout from our Workout With Us online video library and plan hassle free training with our written Weekly Workout Plans. And we can help you develop your knowledge and technique with our exercise demos and tutorials. All you have to do is give it a go and try.
And our fifthTop Tip:
The second time is always better !
So we encourage you to try things more than once before you decide something is not worth the effort. Whatever it is.
When we first try something new we are not likely to be great at it – which can feel a bit frustrating. Stick with it, the second time we are more aware of what to expect, always more relaxed and a bit more confident. We know this!
Getting this far is a good way to you making your first step. And remember, the first step is the hardest!
Help keep yourself moving forwards by:
Review the common barriers above and write down the ones that apply to you most frequently. You will then be clearer about what you are dealing with.
Review our Top Tips for overcoming barriers and write down how you will put these into action.
Test Eat, Move, Be Happy to start on the road to your new habits and enjoy a five day free trial. There are lots more ideas and resources to help you start and continueand we think you’ll like what you find, love the results you get and want to stay.
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I don’t know if it’s just me, but these last few days have started to feel like that week between Christmas and New Year. The days have started to lose their structure, people not going to work, shops looking ransacked and everyone hoarding food because they don’t know when they will be able to get more…Happy days, eh?
So remember what it’s like during and after that Christmas week:
You forget what day it is.
You get less productive.
You drink and eat more.
You exercise less.
You spend the next month trying to get life back under control
You experience the most miserable time of the year.
And that is what happens after just one week of chaos! We have got several weeks/months of this to look forward to!
So why does this happen? Well, a major reason is how all our usual habits and structure of living is thrown on its head. Our routine goes out the window and our lives are left unstructured. And when everyone around you is in the same situation, it quickly becomes really hard to function properly (just like that Christmas week).
So I guess we have a couple of options before us:
Descend into anarchy, learn what we can from Mad Max and go hog wild.
Adapt to the new situation and keep/build as much structure/routine into our lives as possible.
Personally, although option 1 sounds exciting, option 2 will probably be best overall…
Identify your old structure/routine
Identify the old structure/routine you had in your day last week. Everyone is different, but it probably followed a pattern something like this:
Wake up at a set time.
Get breakfast/shower/clean teeth etc
Get yourself/others to school/work.
Eat a meal at a set time.
Come home from school/work.
Eat a meal at a set time.
Do “leisure” stuff (watch TV, go to the gym/pub etc).
Clean teeth and go to bed at a set time.
Once you know what your routine was, we know what your “anchors” throughout the day were. You could trust these, you know where, when and why these things happened. It is these “anchors” that help us get through the day/week/month.
After speaking to people, I’ve noticed that many of these “anchors” have come unstuck and without anchors, our lives can start flapping about like a mother hen. And that’s no good for anyone. Being a health and fitness coach, the first thing I notice people doing is not exercising or being active enough, and even, dare I say it, eating badly (I’m sorry, it’s my job to notice these things!)
So what can we do to help fix things?
Set new anchors
Yep, if our old anchors helped keep us grounded, new anchors can help us get grounded in reality again. Of course, things may have changed now, so we will have to adapt, but the principles should remain the same. There are some habits that are simply just “good” for us, regardless of the context. And just because we can go all Mad Max, doesn’t mean we should.
So, take a look at your calendar/diary for the coming week. If it’s anything like mine, it’s emptier and has a lot of things scribbled out. But we can still incorporate good habits and plonk them in there as big, heavy, solid anchors to keep us going. Some suggestions include:
Still get up at a set time (you decide what time).
Still do your morning routine of shower/s**t/shave etc.
Still have all your meals at set time (even if you don’t need to)
Still go to bed at a set time (even if you don’t need to)
Set aside a time to do the jobs you have been putting off for months (yes, I’m actually going to do some admin!)
Set aside a time for social fun (it may get difficult, but life is all about overcoming difficulties)
Set aside time to stay connected to friends and loved ones. Even work colleagues, especially if you’re working from home
“Eat the right things...Eat the right amount of those things”
Our goal should be to make sure we eat and drink mostly unprocessed, good quality, whole foods. But the next step is to make sure we eat the right amount of those foods. Because it is possible (though less likely) to gain unwanted body fat from eating too much “healthy” food.
Because of the sheer abundance of food these days, many of us have lost our ability to know how much food is “enough”. Just some of the reasons for this include:
Proteins are the bricks and mortar of our body. They are found in our muscles, bones, skin, hair, blood and internal organs. There are 10’s of thousands of different kinds of protein, but they are all made up from about 20 different amino acids linked together in different combinations. We can create from scratch all but 8 of these amino acids. We must get these 8 “essential” amino acids from our diet to survive.
Foods that contain all amino acids are called Complete protein sources.
Foods that are missing some amino acids are called Incomplete protein sources.
Every gram of pure protein supplies our body with 4 calories.
I want you to know about the 3 main types of fat in our diets:
Unsaturated – These are found as either mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated fats. These are the “good” fats for our body. You can identify them because they are usually liquids at room temperature and usually come from plant sources..
Saturated – These are the “bad” fats for our body. You can identify them because they are usually solid at room temperature and usually come from animal sources.
Trans Fats – These are the “very bad” fats for our body. They are often “man-made” and found in processed and fried foods.
Every gram of pure fat supplies our body with 9 calories.
Nope. They don’t. Unless you mean too many carbs, because in that case, yes, too many carbs can make you fat. But only in the same way that too much of anything (protein, fat etc) can make you fat. Do you know why? Because it’s too much! Too much of anything is by definition, too much. So stop stressing about them.
“No one got fat from eating too much fruit and veg”
That’s a fact! Remember the healthy eating plate I showed you at the beginning of this course? If you have forgotten, shame on you! But just in case, click here to remind yourself…
Some of the benefits of having plenty of fruit and veg in our meals include the low calories, high fibre levels and range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients they contain. Their high fibre content means they bulk out a meal without adding many calories. This means you feel fuller for longer without the risk of gaining weight.
As a rough rule of thumb, different coloured fruit and veg are high in different vitamins and minerals. So if we make sure we eat a wide range of colours, we are making sure we get the full range of nutrients we need. In other words:
How much body fat or muscle we carry is down to how we have been eating, drinking and exercising for the last few months and years. In other words, our eating, drinking and exercising habits dictate the shape and squishiness of our body.