In my last blog, I looked at physical stress and our lack of movement/exercise in the winter months. I wanted to cover some chemical stress and how a lot of people start the day wrong which can lead to poor energy, motivation, weight gain and sickness.
My mornings like most are very hectic. We often wake not believing it’s that time already. Often a broken night from children and knowing there is so much to do in the next hour or so before I even think about getting to the clinic. We can then often compromise the most important meal of the day our breakfast.
So many people will either skip breakfast completely or chuck down some sugar laden caffeine injection before shouting at the kids to hurry up their going to be late for school!
I touched briefly on stress hormones in the last blog. Cortisol is an important hormone that keeps us alive, it drives the fight or flight response, however too much over long periods of time leads to chronic stress and illness. It’s not a solution to have a high carb/sugar breakfast to give us a boost, the same with caffeine. I compare this to dipping into your overdraft. It will provide you with a short-term boost in energy, but you’re going to have to pay it back later with interest. Therefore, simple carb or sugary cereals, toast and jam, fruit juices etc don’t help you. As the sugar hits your blood stream your brain then sends your pancreas a message to increase insulin production this enables your body to utilise that energy quickly. You will then feel more awake and gives you that artificial boost. Now if this is done on a regular basis to provide energy it can lead to insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue and even type II diabetes. Interestingly this used to be known as adult onset diabetes but is now growing at its most rapid rate in the young of the population hence called type II.
Also as the boost wears off, lucky if it lasts an hour or two you get a sudden slump called an insulin spike, this is where you will feel even more tired/sluggish and then crave more sugar caffeine before its even 10am, hope that’s not sounding familiar.
The other option of skipping breakfast is often worse as this really slows your body’s metabolism down, as the body can go into an almost starvation mode. This can create more cravings and research shows people often gain more weight when doing this and certainly have less energy/productivity at school/work.
A better approach is providing a gradual release of energy that lasts until lunch. To do this it needs to be a varied supply of energy. So, a mixture of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. This can be in limitless combinations but I’m going to concentrate on what I do on a particularly busy morning when I’m running late, or more likely Jake is!
Scrambled organic free range eggs, sliced avocado and mackerel (usually straight out of a tin is fine try to get it in olive oil). The mackerel can easily be replaced with bacon/sausage or cold meats. It’s fine to have vegetables for breakfast, in fact it’s ideal as it slower release carbohydrates and will keep you full for longer.
Organic porridge oats again I add almond nut butter, tahini for protein. Personally I use coconut milk, chopped banana and add cinnamon, pink salt and either honey/maple syrup for taste.
I’ve been meaning to write a blog for years, working in natural health, competing at several different sports and raising a young family (my biggest achievement to date!) has given me a great insight into many aspects of health and well-being. This has also created a very hectic life opening 4 Chiropractic clinics in the past 15 years, getting married to my beautiful wife and starting a young family, which is probably why I haven’t written a blog earlier!
The aim of the blog is to share as much knowledge and personal experience as I can as both a natural health provider, Chiropractor, sports enthusiast, father and researcher.
I feel there is so much information out there we often get overwhelmed by it all, so hopefully I can provide guidance and maybe even a little wisdom.
So, where do I start, I’ve been studying health for over 20 years and being the new year I think many people want/need to give themselves a healthy boost to get over a hectic Christmas and new year period.
The biggest reason we feel sluggish and negative this time of year is due to a dedication to poor habits for at least the past month. What do I mean by this? In Chiropractic, we talk about stress in 3 main component parts, physical, emotional and chemical.
First on the list physical stress, let’s be honest most of us have found every excuse over the past couple of months why we shouldn’t exercise. It’s too cold, wet, damp, icy, foggy or whatever we can think of not to make our usual exercise habits. Most people think their joints ache more in the winter due to the cold, but the biggest factor is that we all tend to move less. This isn’t just bad for our muscles and joints but the research clearly shows it effects our brain too! Over 50% of brain activity is driven by movement and is processed through a part of the brain called the cerebellum. Therefore, as we live a sedentary lifestyle half our brain is shutting down. It also changes the hormone balance in our brain, to produce less endorphins (feel good chemicals) which we naturally produce with exercise. This can be a real trap as we are less likely to exercise when we feel demotivated. Less daylight also drives this process further. Personally, I have found this year the most challenging ever, with Brooke (9-month-old baby girl) my 2nd child, deciding to be a nocturnal species! Which was a complete shock. Jake my 7-year-old lulled my wife Debbie and I into a false sense of security. He was one of those perfect babies that could sleep through an earthquake and would often need to be woken in the morning. This has all changed and 2 is definitely more than twice the work and has stretched myself discipline to its limit. However, sticking to the plan and my habits has got me through.
I’m not saying I’m perfect but, the only way I could overcome these challenges was to have a plan and stick to it. I feel if people would approach their health like they do their work or social life they would have more consistent success. It’s like booking an appointment or meeting at work, we wouldn’t dream of cancelling or missing those but are quick to cancel on ourselves. Our most valuable commodity is our health. Everything is easier and more enjoyable when you are healthy and the opposite when you are sick. I have always made my health a priority.
I also pack my gym bag the night before if I plan on exercising first thing in the morning, it’s just one less hurdle to overcome when your debating on hitting the snooze button!
Have your nutrition planned, I will be doing a full blog on good breakfast habits, especially towards starting the day right! Our daily habits are determined by our daily self-talk. So what is influencing this, again this is a huge subject but I feel so much time and motivation can be lost on social media. How many hours to we waste especially laid in bed scrolling through Facebook etc. Wouldn’t that time be better spent planning your next day or week ahead, or better still sleeping to give us the energy to exercise the next day!
This might not be revolutionary but try not using your phone as your alarm, mobile phones are not only a big temptation to waste time and lose sleep, but can interfere with our brain wave patterns as our phones are constantly getting messages and updates throughout the night, at least put it on flight mode. A great investment I made was on special alarm clock which wakes you by slowly getting lighter and the sound of bird tweets. This is supposed to mimic how we should naturally wake, and the research shows lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels for the rest of the day when woken like this as oppose to the usual shock of our phone alarms! Obviously, Brooke can often wake me before the birds!
We often feel burnt out, so don’t start the year with high intensity, high impact exercise in an effort to lose weight quick. Start by creating long term healthy habits and commitments to yourself. Just going to bed earlier, waking earlier and get moving. This could be a walk to work instead of driving, some stretching, yoga or Pilates. We are happy to provide you a simple stretching or core strength routine you could implement. This doesn’t sound like much but if you make this small change consistently maybe not after a week or a month but in time you will massively change your health and energy levels.
So, these are the first of many tips to get your new year to a healthier start. Your health effects everyone you know and love.
It isn’t being selfish finding time for yourself and prioritising your health. Think about putting your own oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else. Please find time for you and your health so you have energy and time for your family. In my next blog I want to look at chemical stress and what we put in our body especially that first meal of the day!