Category: Habits

Developing our Empowering, Energizing Morning Routine

Starting your day with a deliberate movement routine that you repeat every single day can be life changing, because it creates the leverage and the power to become a more focused and disciplined person in all other areas of daily life. Contrast this with the disturbing stat from IDC Research that 80 percent of Americans reach for their phones as the first act upon awakening. Numerous studies confirm that once you activate the shallow, reactionary brain function in the frontal cortex with a smartphone engagement—especially first thing in the morning when you are locking habit patterns into place—it’s difficult to transition into high-level strategic problem solving mode. Julie Morgenstern, renowned productivity consultant and author of Never Check Email In The Morning, explains that when you reach for your phone first thing, “You’ll never recover. Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless… there is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.” The Dope On Dopamine The reason you’ll never recover is because your morning foray into hyperconnectivity is creating a dopamine addiction. When work gets either challenging or boring over the course of the day, you are hard-wiring a reliable method of escape into the realm of instant gratification and instant relief from cognitive peak performance. As detailed in the excellent book by anti-sugar crusader Dr. Robert Lustig called, The Hacking Of The American Mind, we are chasing the dopamine high today like never before. We are doing this in assorted ways that are strongly driven by marketing forces behind Internet fodder (social media, pornography, click bait, and even email and text messaging), prescription drugs, street drugs, alcohol, processed sugar products, overly stressful exercise patterns,consumerism, and other sources of escape and instant gratification. As a healthy living enthusiast reading this blog, you can acknowledge the great sense of self-satisfaction and peace of mind that comes from implementing self-discipline and persevering through challenges and setbacks to achieve meaningful goals. These behaviors stimulate the serotonin and oxytocin pathways in the brain, triggering feelings of contentment, connection and love. Bestselling author Mark Manson asserts that self-discipline is a key to a happy, fulfilling life. Alas, when you hijack the dopamine pathways too often with the aforementioned folly, you down-regulate the serotonin pathways in your brain so you become wired for quick-hit pleasure at the expense of long-term happiness. The Magic Of Morning Movement Extricating from this mess starts first thing in the morning! Since most of us have tons of sedentary influences during the day (commute, office work, evening screen entertainment), I’m going to suggest a mindful routine of exercises, poses, and dynamic stretches that build flexibility, mobility, core and muscle strength. Your morning routine will help you naturally awaken and energize (especially if you can do it outdoors), improve the fitness base from which you launch formal workouts, help prevent injuries, and boost your daily movement quota especially if things get hectic and you don’t have time for formal workout. I’m … Continue reading “Developing our Empowering, Energizing Morning Routine”

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Ask a Health Coach: Is Eating Healthy Even Worth It?

Hey, folks. If you’ve ever wondered if watching what you eat is really worth it, you’ll want to check out today’s post. PHCI Coaching Director, Erin Power is here answering your questions about managing macros, weighing the pros and cons of meal prep, and the value of paying more for your food. We love getting your questions, so keep them coming in the comments below or head over to our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group.
Debbie asked:

“I don’t know what to eat anymore. I was following a strict macro split of 56% fat, 28% protein, and 16% carbs, but I’m worried that my protein is too high. My goals are to maintain my weight, build muscle, and control my blood sugar since I am pre-diabetic. I know higher protein isn’t good for diabetes as it converts to glucose and then you get an insulin dump and gain weight. Can you point me in the right direction?”
Feels stressful doesn’t it? All the measuring, weighting, counting, and adding — just to get your macros to line up and reach some magical equation that you’ve decided will make everything work out perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, I love that you’re committed to doing what you can to prevent diabetes and reverse your current diagnosis (I wish more people followed your lead here), but I have a hunch it’s sort of ruling your life right now. And it doesn’t have to.

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Ask a Health Coach: Real Tips on Breaking Through a Plateau

Hey folks. This week, Primal Health Coach Erin is answering your questions about breaking through plateaus with tips and strategies you can start putting into practice right away. If you’re stuck in a weight loss rut, stalled out on your fitness routine, or need a push getting out of your comfort zone, today’s Ask a Health Coach post is for you. Got more questions? Keep them coming in the comments or over in our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group. Kimberley asked: “I’ve lost a total of 70 pounds and have maintained my weight loss for over a year now, but I’m struggling to lose those last 10 pounds. Any tips on getting the scale to move again?” First of all, congratulations. The fact that you’ve lost that amount of weight and kept if off is proof you’re committed to your goal. Even better, I love that you’re not using words like “diet” or “falling off the wagon,” both of which imply that you’ve embarked on a temporary lifestyle change. Weight loss is a long-term process that includes ups and downs. And plateaus like the one you’re experiencing right now are a natural part of that process. Anytime you’re going through a plateau, you can take it as a sign that something needs to change. It doesn’t need to be a drastic change, but it is an opportunity to take a closer look at what you’re doing — or not doing. I find that the biggest culprit of weight loss plateaus with my own health coaching clients is that they’ve loosened the reins a bit. In the beginning of your journey, you might have been meticulous about avoiding grains and refined sugars. If you’re following the Primal Blueprint, you might have kept your split at a solid 80/20. But as the months and years go on it’s absolutely normal to let some things slide without realizing it. Eating more than you think is extremely common. Extra handfuls of nuts. Wine every night. A carb-fest on Sunday that turns into sandwiches and ice cream all week. You get the picture. Occasional indulgences should be enjoyed guilt-free, however it’s important to be aware of them instead of mindlessly refilling your glass. Small changes can be sneaky, and they add up fast. Tip: Keep a Food Journal for 3-5 Days I’m not a big fan of tracking calories and macros in general. But taking a few days to get back in touch with what you’re really doing can be a game changer for breaking through a plateau. After keeping a food journal, one of my clients found that the good stuff she was loading her morning yogurt with (chia seeds, flax seeds, unsweetened coconut, and nuts) was packing on about 400 calories more than she thought. Tasting bites of food while cooking or cleaning up are two other common places those extras tend to slide in. Need more convincing? Researchers at Kaiser Permanente found that participants who kept a food diary lost twice the … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Real Tips on Breaking Through a Plateau”

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Ask a Health Coach: Why Pain Doesn’t Equal Gain

Hi Folks! This week, Erin is navigating the age-old pain versus gain debate, providing strategies for injury-free workouts, ditching the restrictive diet mentality, and the real reason you’re not seeing results. Keep your questions coming over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group or in the comments below. Raymond asked: “I’m struggling to lose the last 10 pounds, mainly because I can’t be as active as I need to be. Every time I try to exercise or do strength training, I end up in pain. Part of me doesn’t want to do it because I know I’ll be miserable for a few days afterward. Any tips on exercising pain-free?” It sounds like you’re clear on your end goal: to lose those last 10 pounds. But you’re also struggling with body pain every time you work out. I hear you Raymond. Pain is no fun. Thankfully, you don’t have to subject yourself to it in order to lose weight. The whole no pain, no gain mentality is total BS. Punishing yourself just to reach your end goal is never a good plan. But let’s take a step back and look at your situation for a minute. You say every time you try to exercise or strength train, you end up in pain. Is that true? Is it every time? Or is it only when you do certain exercises or do them for a certain amount of time? We often look at workouts as lifting dumbbells, taking a class, or going for a run. Or we overdo it on a consistent basis because we’re comparing our workouts to that of someone on Instagram or in our circle of friends. All of which has the ability to create undue pain. And not just physical pain. Just remember that any form of movement has the potential to lead to weight loss, or as I prefer to say, fat loss. And a big part of how successful you’ll be starts with how you perceive your efforts. So, I’ve got to ask. Do you look at your workouts as a chore that might finally get the scale down 10 pounds? Or is exercise something you actually enjoy doing? It’s possible that by reframing the way you see your workouts, you could actually diminish your perceived pain. In one study, researchers saw a major distinction between spinal cord injury patients who were motivated to be physically active by positive versus negative incentives. Positive incentives were things like seeing an improvement in mood either during or after the activity and feeling satisfied with their accomplishments. Negative incentives were all motivated by fear or obligation, often causing the participants additional discomfort and pain. Back in the day, our ancestors stayed active by chasing antelope so they’d have dinner or they walked to the nearest spring to get fresh water. There was no selective pressure to find joy in exercise because it simply needed to be done to survive. Thankfully, these days, we have the choice to work out in … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Why Pain Doesn’t Equal Gain”

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The Definitive Guide to Breaking Bad Habits

Over the past few months, you’ve probably picked up a few habits you might not be thrilled with right now. Maybe your new normal has you staring mindlessly at the fridge looking for something snacky (and packing on a few extra pounds). Putting your workouts off ‘til the gym reopens. Or managing your stress with another drink, another bag of chips, or another hour of scrolling through your social media feed.

A lot of my clients have noticed that the bad habits they used to have are resurfacing too. Which is totally normal given the circumstances.

So, what gives?

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Do You Have Tech Neck, or Nerd Neck? How to Fix Forward Head Posture

Nerd neck. Tech neck. Computer neck. Text neck. Forward head posture.

You might not be familiar with these terms, but you almost certainly know what they describe. Picture someone sitting on a bus or park bench looking at their phone. See in your mind’s eye how their head juts forward of their shoulders and droops down? That’s forward head posture.

Before we were all sheltering at home, you couldn’t go out without seeing it everywhere. In coffee shops, restaurants, public transportation, even walking down the street, person after person hunched over their device. That’s not a natural posture for humans, and it’s taking a toll on our collective health.

Nerd neck, tech neck, text neck, and computer neck are interchangeable terms that denote the pain and other symptoms that come from spending too much time in this position. It’s not clear exactly how prevalent it is, but a quick survey of my friends revealed that every single one had experienced neck, shoulder, or back pain that they attributed to spending too much time on their devices. When the Pew Research Center polled American adults last year, 28% said they’re online “almost constantly.” Various surveys estimate the average person spends 3 to 5 hours a day just on their phones. This doesn’t count hours in front of a computer, watching TV, or playing video games. Teens’ and college students’ usage is considerably higher.

All this is to say, tech neck is undoubtedly widespread. I’d bet it’s become even more prevalent in the past few months as people are spending more time at home with their devices.

The good news is that it’s not terribly hard to correct and prevent. A few simple changes, plus easy daily exercises, and you’ll be standing tall once more.

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