Category: Stumbling Blocks

Ask a Health Coach: How to Stay on Track After Hours

You know that black hole of time between work and bed? There’s nowhere to go, nothing new to watch, and a bottle of wine (or bag of chips) calling your name from the other room. Call it the pandemic happy hour or straight-up boredom, but if you’re using your after hours time in a less-than-ideal way, check out this week’s post from PHCI Coaching Director, Erin Power. And keep your questions coming in our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group or below in the comments. Ann Marie asked: I don’t have a problem eating healthy during the day, but I can’t seem to control myself after dinner. I just feel ravenous, even when we’ve made a healthy meal. I try to hold out but once my husband goes into the kitchen for a snack, I’m right there with him. And once I start, I can’t stop eating!! How do I tame my late-night cravings? I think it’s safe to say that your eating cycle is off, Ann Marie. What do I mean by eating cycle? It has to do with your circadian rhythm. People used to eat during the daylight hours and fast at night. But with our new normal, there’s a good chance you’re burning the candle at both ends and just grabbing a coffee or quick bar or yogurt to fuel yourself during the day – and then feasting at night. You’ve totally moved away from your body’s natural rhythm. Why does this matter? Because your circadian rhythm controls everything from your appetite to your body temperature to your hormones – even how fast you heal from wounds. This study looked at the behaviours of night-shift workers and found that they have a 43% higher risk of obesity than their 1st shift counterparts. The culprit? Circadian misalignment. Researchers had participants who worked the midnight to 6am shift complete a self-administered questionnaire about their occupational history, socio-demographics, habits around food, smoking, alcohol drinking, leisure-time physical activity, sleep patterns, and mental stress. Of the 3,871 participants, 26.8% were overweight and 83% were obese. They were also more likely to smoke and drink more alcohol. My guess is that you’re on autopilot most of the day, totally oblivious to your hunger cues. And once your body perceives that it’s made it to the end of that day, it shifts into ravenous mode. In general, your body doesn’t have a lot of need for fuel at this time of day, so eating your largest meal at suppertime, then snacking all night is actually out of alignment with your biology. So how do you get your circadian rhythm back on track? Eat your biggest meal during the daylight hours. I like to start with a satiating protein rich breakfast. If the idea of eating within the first few hours of waking doesn’t sound appealing at all, you’re likely still full from dinner the night before, so begin tapering the size of your last meal (including snacks) for a few days and you’ll notice a … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: How to Stay on Track After Hours”

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How to Enjoy Your Holiday Feast, Guilt-Free

I think everyone can agree that things look a lot different this year. We’re planning smaller holiday gatherings with just our immediate families. There are restrictions at stores and restaurants. And, in some places, limited supplies of groceries and household items. One thing that looks the same (at least with my health coaching clients) is the internal dilemma of whether or not they’re going to stick with their healthy eating habits or say “Screw it!” and dive into a plate of real bread stuffing, cornstarch-thickened gravy, and multiple slices of pecan pie. On one hand, there’s the philosophy that holidays are a special occasion and should be treated as such. And that includes all the traditional carb-laden goodies. On the other hand, there are people who are 100 percent committed to their Primal lifestyle and prepare their holiday feast accordingly. Let me emphatically state that there’s no right or wrong answer here. Just Don’t Call it a ‘Bad Food Day’ Honestly, I don’t care if you indulge in several servings of green bean casserole or marshmallow-crusted sweet potatoes. What I do care about is the level of guilt you carry around with you after doing so. What does guilt have to do with food? Guilt is the feeling that you’ve done something wrong. At a young age, most of us are taught the difference between right and wrong. So, in a general sense, you might feel guilty if you stole something, hurt someone, or got caught up in a lie. On the other hand, you might have been rewarded or praised for doing something right (i.e. getting good grades, helping a neighbor, doing chores without being asked). Examples of Food Guilt: I shouldn’t have another piece Dessert/bread/wine is unhealthy Once I start, I can’t stop I’ve totally blown it I don’t want to see the scale tomorrow Diet culture tells us to feel bad if we overeat or indulge in *forbidden* foods. It says that a higher number on the scale is equal to lower self-worth. Don’t get me wrong, certain foods come with consequences. Depending on your bio-individuality, foods with higher amounts of sugar, industrialized oils, and artificial ingredients might leave you feeling foggy, fatigued, bloated and on the fast-track to chronic disease. But moralizing foods for their good vs bad qualities always backfires. Metabolism is Influenced by State of Mind In addition to the heavy emotional baggage you have to carry, deeming certain foods as negative actually discourages metabolic activity. It all starts in your hypothalamus, which processes senses, emotions, and biological functions like hunger. When you feel guilty about what you’re eating, the hypothalamus transmits signals that slow your digestion and cause your body to store more calories as fat versus burning them for energy. In theory, saying to yourself “this will make me fat” becomes kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the flip side, when you enjoy food as you’re eating it, the hypothalamus releases pleasure signals that stimulate digestion so that you thoroughly break down … Continue reading “How to Enjoy Your Holiday Feast, Guilt-Free”

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Holiday Meal Script: When and How to Explain Your Food Choices

Holiday get-togethers can be dicey, even uncomfortable, for those of us who eat a “weird” diet. Everyone has an opinion or a biting remark. As tempting as might be, you can’t just holler, “I’m not weird, YOU’RE weird. I’M eating a SPECIES-APPROPRIATE DIET!” in Aunt Martha’s face when she tries once again to put a biscuit on your plate. You have to say something though, right? Or do you? When do you have to explain your food choices? I’m tempted to say: Never. End of post. By and large, your diet is nobody else’s business. But communication is vital in relationships, and here’s where it gets tricky. On the one hand, you don’t owe anyone an explanation, and it’s disrespectful on their part if they expect you to justify or defend your choices. Often, though, people are just concerned, confused, or simply curious. You don’t owe these folks an explanation, but in the spirit of open communication, you might choose to offer them one. General tips for keeping the peace: Keep it personal. You won’t get as much pushback if you focus on how your diet makes you feel. Don’t launch into a lecture about phytates or how soda is ruining our country’s health. Nobody’s looking for a lesson on leaky gut and inflammation during dinner. Don’t overexplain yourself or get defensive. Keep it short and sweet, then move on. Don’t try to convert them. If you start to proselytize, you’re doing the same thing to them that they’re doing to you. Your simple explanations will plant the seeds for anyone who’s interested in learning more later. Don’t get sucked into an argument. State firmly that you’d rather not discuss your diet. If the other person continues to challenge you, walk away (or, in 2020, leave the Zoom). Beyond that, the best strategy for dealing with diet queries depends on who’s asking and why: Mild Incomprehension This is the “I don’t get it…” and “Wait, so you’re not going eat stuffing?” crowd. There’s no malice. They just can’t grasp why someone would give up bread and pasta. Strategy: Deflect “Haha, I know, I thought it was crazy when I started, too, but I can’t believe how much better I feel. Plus I get to eat all the turkey. Ooh, will you pass me a leg? Hey, how’s work going?” “No stuffing for me, thanks. I’m trying this experiment for a while longer. Did I see on Facebook that you’re writing a book?” “It’s true, I’m eating Primal/paleo/keto/carnivore now, but you don’t want to hear me ramble on about my diet. Let’s go see if Mom needs help setting the table.” Sincere Curiosity You can tell these folks from their tone of voice. They are genuinely interested in hearing what you’re doing (and maybe even trying it for themselves). Strategy: Lightly educate It’s up to you how deep you want to go here. My advice is to stick to basics and offer to talk more later. Avoid launching into a diatribe … Continue reading “Holiday Meal Script: When and How to Explain Your Food Choices”

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Ask a Health Coach: Is Snacking Okay?

Hey folks! Erin Power is back for another round of Ask a Health Coach. This week she’ll be answering questions about beating the 3pm slump, what to eat when you’re hungry all the time, and strategies for speeding up a slow metabolism. Comment below with more questions or head over to the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group. Pete asked: “I get so sleepy in the afternoons. In fact, sometimes, I actually have to take a nap. What can I snack on to beat my daily 3pm slump?” Feeling a dip in energy mid-afternoon is so common, a lot of offices actually have a nap room. They also have boatloads of processed snacks, sugary coffee drinks, and vending machines to help you perk back up after your carb-laden lunch. But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s normal. Sure, you could be having a reaction to what you ate for lunch. Some food choices trigger a blood sugar spike and crash (think pasta, pizza, giant subs, a handful of candy). If this is the case with you, I have a better solution than doling out energy-boosting snack ideas…or napping. The lowest hanging fruit here is to manage your post-lunch sleepiness by swapping refined carbs for satiating and blood sugar stabilizing protein and fat. Maybe a Big Ass Salad or some leftover roasted chicken and veggies with butter. Even a handful of mixed nuts is better than a sandwich. It’s not always food related though. You have a natural drop in energy as part of human circadian biology. And it comes, you guessed it, about mid-afternoon. Knowing that your body has a built-in lull that happens around 3pm, the best thing you can do is anticipate it and plan accordingly. That means don’t schedule any overly draining tasks during that time. Instead, practice a little self-care and schedule in 15 minutes of stretching, walking outside, or listening to energizing music. Another possibility for your slump is mental drain. Even if your workday isn’t overly stressful, everything else in the world is right now, so again, cut yourself some slack and pay attention to how drained you feel on a daily basis. It could just be that by 3pm your brain (and your central nervous system) are so tapped that it signals a reset (i.e. you to take a nap). To avoid burnout, I like productivity apps like Focus Keeper. This one’s based on the Pomodoro Technique and breaks your day into 25-minute focus sessions, followed by 5-minute breaks. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you’re not breathing. And by “not breathing” I mean, you’re taking small shallow breaths that rob your brain of oxygen. Chances are you spend most of your day hunched over your computer, which compromises your breathing and your energy flow. Next time you feel that midday lull, think about the last time you took a good, deep breath, then sit up straight and take six slow deep breaths. Test out any of these tips and my guess … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Is Snacking Okay?”

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How to Deal with the Pressure of Never Having Enough Time (and Why It’s Total BS)

If you’ve read Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek, you can just jump to the end of this post. For everyone else, I invite you to take a closer look at your relationship with time. Especially those of you who are too busy to spend, oh, I don’t know, 5 or so minutes reading this. Somehow, “I’m busy” has become the new “I’m fine” in response to being asked how you are. I get it thought — I know you actually ARE busy, but stay with me here. Whenever I’m working with new clients, they’ll typically tell me they don’t have time to sit down for a satiating, nutrient-dense breakfast, so they just grab a “quick toast and coffee.” Or they have too much going on and can’t get to bed on time. It’s not just a once-in-a-while-thing either. It’s day after day after day. Sound like your life? If so, let me ask you this: why do some people seem to effortlessly crush their to-do lists and others find theirs growing out of control? Seriously, There’s Not Enough Time I never like to say “We all have the same 24 hours in the day,” because that logic is fundamentally flawed, and can come off sounding privileged. In truth, all of us are filling our 24 hours in different ways depending on our jobs, lives, families, hobbies, obligations, and unique life goings-on. Sometimes I choose to be busy during my 24 hours because I have lots of things that are important to me — family, friends, my clients, my home life, my role at the Primal Health Coach Institute. And *usually* I like that because I enjoy my work and I like being productive. I’m choosing to be busy because it leaves me feeling fulfilled. The problem arises when it leaves you feeling like a victim, like you can’t keep up, or like you just want to bury your head in the sand. Lack of Time = Lack of Priorities It all comes down to priorities. If better health or a leaner waistline was really important to you, you’d make it a priority. Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, you unknowingly put other, less important priorities in their place (everything from stewing over a mean comment on social media to worrying how you’re going to get it all done). Whenever you catch yourself having an I-don’t-have-enough-time moment, remember that what you’re spending your time on is a choice — and you always have options. This is the perfect time to take a step back and ask yourself these four questions: What’s important here? What’s not important? Am I wasting time on things that aren’t important? What else could I be doing with my time? Go ahead and do this exercise with me for a sec. Get out a piece of paper (or the notes section on your phone) and jot down your daily schedule. What time do you typically get up? When do you go to bed? How much time do you … Continue reading “How to Deal with the Pressure of Never Having Enough Time (and Why It’s Total BS)”

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Ask A Health Coach: How’s Your Relationship with Food?

Hi folks, today we’re back for another edition of Ask a Health Coach! Erin is here sharing her strategies for making good health a priority during the pandemic, plus what to do when you feel like you’re putting in a lot of effort without a lot of reward and what she eats in a typical day. Got more questions? Keep them coming in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group or in the comments below. Annie asked: “I love the way I feel when I eat clean, but meal prepping always takes a backseat to all the other things I need to do, especially now that I’m working, parenting, and homeschooling. How do I carve out time to eat healthier?” You’re not alone in feeling the pressure of doing it all. With all of our waking hours being consumed by work and family responsibilities, making time for the non-essentials like exercise and eating well (which I would argue are essential), seems nearly impossible. At first glance, the issue is pretty straightforward, right? There’s not enough time. There are only 24 hours in a day anyway. But here’s the deal, people who feel like they have the least amount of free time, the ones who feel the most overworked, are actually doing it to themselves. In this study, researchers had 7,000 participants estimate how much time was needed to accommodate their basic needs compared to how much free time they had in their schedules. It turns out that their time constraints were an illusion. The pressure of what we have time for and what we don’t has more to do with the things we assign value to rather than how many hours there are in a day. That being said, everything we do in life is a choice – what we eat, say, and do, where we spend our energy and our money – they’re all choices. And, as you might guess, there are consequences of those choices. There’s no doubt that your life is busier than ever right now. You’ve probably never worn more hats in your life, but instead of looking at food as an afterthought, or telling yourself you “don’t have the time,” I suggest you try giving it a little more attention. Here’s why. If you choose not to make meal prepping a priority (or at least keeping healthy food on hand), the consequences might be that you find yourself grabbing snacks throughout the day, ordering less-than-healthy takeout, or not eating enough quality food, which can bring on an afterhours binge. And the consequences of those actions might mean you’re feeling foggy and fatigued day after day, making it even more difficult to do all the things you need to do. Keep in mind, these are just consequences of your choices. Also, you mention that you love the way you feel when you eat clean, so, you already know it’s worth it to take good care of yourself. You know how it feels when you can’t stop snacking … Continue reading “Ask A Health Coach: How’s Your Relationship with Food?”

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