Category: Habits

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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Self-Efficacy: Reach Your Health Goals Every Time

Who can help you reach your health goals every time? Nope, it’s not me. Although health coaches are a great resource for helping you set goals, overcome obstacles, and get out of your own well-intentioned way. For the record, that person is also not your spouse, your roommate, your friends, or your kids.

The one person who can make you reach all your health goals is YOU.

I see you out there working hard, swapping your typical yogurt and banana breakfast for a protein-rich meal of eggs and bacon. I see you squeezing in a few sprint sessions a week and limiting blue light at night. You’re committed to doing everything right. Until, something goes wrong.

Tell me if any of these statements sound familiar.

“I’ll start over on Monday”

“I guess I’m not cut out for this”

“My husband/wife/kid keeps sabotaging me with sugary treats”

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Epigenetics, or What I Mean by “Reprogram Your Genes”

You can’t change your genes. But you can program them.

The modern world presents a number of problems for our genes. The world we’ve constructed over the last 50 years is not the environment in which our genetic code evolved. Our genes don’t “expect” historically low magnesium levels in soil, spending all day indoors and all night staring into bright blue lights, earning your keep by sitting on your ass, getting your food delivered to your door, communicating with people primarily through strange scratchings that travel through the air. So when these novel environmental stimuli interact with our genetic code, we get disease and dysfunction.

The genes look bad viewed through a modern prism. They get “associated” with certain devastating health conditions. But really, if you were to restore the dietary, behavioral, and ambient environments under which those genes evolved, those genes wouldn’t look so bad anymore. They might even look great.

This is epigenetics: altering the programming language of your genes without altering the genes themselves.

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