Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why do I eat more when I’m stressed?

Whether you tend to eat more or less when stressed apparently all depends on how the brain perceives the stress you are dealing with. In general, when you are faced with an acute stress e.g. if you’re being chased by a dog the fight or flight response kicks in. It’s perceived you are in danger so your brain responds by releasing hormones that reduce appetite. However if the stress is more persistent the brain releases hormones that increase appetite and may lead to what is commonly referred to as comfort eating.

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Regardless of what stress response kicks in, the key is to find ways to manage stress before it really impacts your health in a negative way. Now I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to switch my mind off when I’m trying to relax. I’ve tried so many relaxation techniques including meditation, deep breathing etc. and  one technique that I’ve found works really well for me is Trauma Release Exercise. TRE is essentially exercise that helps the body release deep muscular stress tension and trauma. If you want to know more about it then I’d suggest taking a look at this website. http://treaustralia.com.au/ The beauty of it is that once you know what to do you can easily incorporate it into your daily life. Having said that, while I’m not great at meditation I am working on improving my skills as I think there are great benefits to be gained from regular practice. Some other very simple stress management techniques  I use include deep breathing, listening to music and focussing in the moment when stressed on my senses .e.g. If I’m out walking, I might focus on how the air feels on my face or if I’m eating I might focus and the texture and taste of each bite.  I guess when it comes down to it, it’s about finding what techniques and activities work best for you. Like most things when it comes to health it’s trial and error.

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Tiredness after a big meal- Why is it so?

Ever wondered why you feel so tired and drowsy after a big meal? I know I have. There’s a number of theories out on this, but one of the popular ones is a  sudden shift of blood flow from the brain and muscles to the digestive system. Now if the feeling that you need to take a nap during your day is getting in the way of your productivity then there’s a few simple tips to avoid it.

  1. Start by having smaller meals. This will help keep your blood sugar and ultimately energy levels more stable, provided of course you are making healthy choices.
  2. Try eating more meals with a higher water content such as salads and soups. Apparently these are digested higher in the stomach where there is less nerve supply. If there is less nerve supply then you are less likely to feel tired and drowsy. Unlike if you eat a burger that tends to be processed lower in the stomach where there is a larger nerve supply. interesting stuff!

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3. Now here’s something I didn’t know! It’s in your best interest to eat lunch earlier rather than later. According to some research approximately 11.45am-12pm is an optimal time. The average person experiences a dip in energy levels around 1-1.30pm due to circadium rhythms otherwise known as your body clock. Now you’re less likely to notice this dip if you eat at the earlier time. Imagine that – eating at the same time your body may naturally take a bit of a dip….double whammy!!

4. This recommendation is one that many people would be familiar with as it’s been endorsed for quite some time. Eating slower releasing carbohydrates – such as many fruits instead of fast releasing carbohydrates such as white rice will help keep your blood sugar levels and therefore energy more stable. Keep in mind that when eating meals and snacks that combine carbohydrates with other foods the release rate of the carbohydrates will change. It’s more of an issue to be aware of when you are eating carbohydrates such as water melon in isolation. Keep in mind water melon, which tends to have a high GI (glycaemic index) is a very alkaline food, so if you combine it with some yoghurt which is a good source of protein ,then you have yourself a good snack that won’t give you a spike in blood sugar levels.

So if tiredness after meals is an issue, start by taking a look at what you eat, when you eat and the quantity.

Staying “Plugged in”while Exercising

Given that so many of us are so dependent on our technology  these days I thought it might be interesting to look at how it may impact our exercise performance. A recent study of people using their mobile phones to talk or text during an exercise session showed some concerning results. The risk of injury increased significantly, due to a reduction in postural stability leading to balance issues and participants in the study were less likely to workout at an intensity that was conducive to gaining optimum results. It turns out that using a mobile phone for anything other than listening to music is a distraction which really should probably come as no surprise to anyone. However that puts to rest the idea that we can multitask effectively even when we exercise. So it looks like if we’re going to take our mobile phones with us on our workout we need to only use it for listening to music. Alternatively it can be used to track progress using a fitness App. This is something that can ideally be done post workout  The idea is to avoid glancing down at the screen as this affects balance.  So it looks like a pre programmed playlist of songs is the go. If the phone rings, it may be best to let it go to message bank to avoid having a session compromised unless of course it’s an emergency. Or else there’s always the option of leaving the mobile phone at home to enjoy some time out “unplugged” to give yourself the best chance of completing an effective workout.

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Rebuilding -Goal Setting & Accountability

One of the goals I have set myself this year is to rebuild lung function. At the moment my lung function sits on 43% and when you consider that 85+ percent would be considered normal for my age group you can see I have a bit of work to do. When I was first diagnosed with lung disease 7 years ago my lung function was 72%. Frequent infections have certainly taken their toll. I don’t know how much lung function it is possible for me to regain, but I have an open mind and have hope in possibilities. I won’t be setting an end goal or a set time frame but hope to document my progress intermittently over the coming year. I’ll be experimenting with exercise and some mind techniques to see what I can achieve. I’ll be recording my lung function every 3 weeks with a peak flow device, and then will include my lung function results from my clinic visits that I have done approximately every 4-6 weeks. I’ve decided to start with some mind techniques initially. I’m lucky enough to have a life coach who is teaching me various mind techniques. About a month ago we started with a session to help clear an issue that could be holding me back in terms of lung health and then I was required to come up with some affirmations to help me go forward. I was required to write out the affirmations and send them to her everyday for a month. I also had to write the affirmations out on a card and carry them around with me and read them intermittently through the day. I routinely did 15  minutes of meditation most days as well.  I’m quite amazed at the progress I’ve made already. One of my first affirmations related to living and not just existing. You see for the past few months I was couch bound due to a heavy cold and I literally felt like my life had come to a stand still. I was  existing rather than living. Now I’m pleased to report I feel I am living again. Woohoo! I am really enjoying the accountability of working with a life coach and she provides me with so much encouragement. I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to learn from someone who has a true gift.

This month’s affirmation relates to having healthy lungs that function properly so it will be exciting to see how it goes. This will inevitably continue to be a part of my affirmations going forward. As I mentioned I’m going into this with an open mind and a belief that I will get results because I believe in the process. Here is a couple of the affirmations I have included for this month.

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My peak flow measurement which is the amount of air I can force out of my lungs in one all out effort is  310 litres/min. I will be recording the best of 3 test measurements each time I record my peak flow  The normal range for someone of my age and height is about 440 litres/min. My lung function was 43% when last measured in December 2016. I will be recording my FEV1% score which is a measure of how much air I can forcefully exhale in the first second of a breath. I will be exercising throughout the entire process, but at this stage won’t be making any changes to my current program that consists of 20 minutes of continuous cardiovascular exercise.  e.g. walking

Exercise Hacks to Motivate

I don’t know about you but I have neither a love or hate relationship with exercise. I’m somewhere in between. All I know is I usually feel better for doing it. I didn’t always feel this way. I once lived and breathed exercise. It was my career. I was an exercise scientist, spruiking the benefits of exercise to all my clients. I loved it and practised what I preached. I felt like it was my calling. Then seven years ago it all changed. I got diagnosed with a lung disease and exercise suddenly became a chore. The shoe was on the other foot. I began to understand some of the obstacles my clients used to talk about in regard to exercise because I was facing some of those same challenges myself. Exercise became a real effort, but I knew it was something I had to continue with because my health depended on it. I learnt how hard it can be to get back the exercise habit when you’ve had a break from it for a while. Dealing with regular chest infections meant I was often falling off the exercise wagon and having to find my way back step by step. You know what they say though, “through adversity comes some of the greatest lessons”. I totally agree with that. If I were to pick out one thing that has helped me the most it’s the realisation that I had to make exercise a “non negotiable” Much like brushing my hair or doing my teeth I treat exercise as something that I automatically do as part of my day. I remember shortly after I was diagnosed rebelling against doing what I should be doing. I went a day without exercise and it was an awful day. My energy levels were terrible and my lungs were so congested I coughed so much more than usual. From this moment onwards exercise was a no brainer.

Exercise is a part of my life. Don’t get me wrong I wake up most mornings and momentarily think I don’t feel like doing it, but I just get on with it. I can’t rely on motivation to get me through because that seems to fluctuate from day to day. So I find having a routine time of  the day to exercise helpful. If I can’t exercise at my usual time due to some other commitment then I build it into another part of the day. Today for instance I was all out of whack. I couldn’t exercise at my usual time of 9am so I decided to break my exercise routine into two blocks of 15 minutes instead of one block of 30. There is plenty of evidence to support smaller blocks of exercise anyway. In fact I saw an interesting study done on the benefits of 6 minutes per week. Here’s the link. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4319131.htm  It’s worth a look as it is considered quite a reputable study. However I will say I don’t believe there is one exercise plan to fit all. It’s about what works for you. I do however believe there are a number of key components that make up an ideal exercise program. These include flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance. My plan consists of a combination of walking or an indoor circuit, weights and stretching. If I have a break from exercise, usually caused by a flare up with my health I start small when I resume my plan. I may start with blocks of 5 minutes of exercise and build up from there, until I’m doing 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. I intermittently review what I’m doing so I don’t get bored and I don’t get stuck in an exercise plateau. Sometimes it’s about making one small change that can make all the difference. I’m a bit of a fan of interval training to build fitness. I still do some steady state training which is continuous e.g. walking for 20 minutes at a set pace but on some days I mix it up with some short bursts of high intensity exercise e.g. 1 minute and then recover for a minute before starting another interval. I find it rebuilds my fitness quicker than the continuous steady state training.

Finally, having some kind of accountability is a huge asset. I have a team of allied health professionals that I’m accountable to at least each month and let’s just say they leave no stone unturned when it comes to my health. Having someone to report into helps keep me on track.

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So if you’re starting out with exercise or finding it hard to regain the exercise habit I’d say the following.

 

  • Set up a plan that is realistic and adaptable
  • Try making exercise a non-negotiable
  • Set up some kind of accountability
  • Enjoyment is a bonus – as long as it’s sustainable you should be right!

Best wishes with maintaining the exercise habit. Just remember you are not alone. Everyone on the planet has to find some way to exercise.

My New Year’s Re-boot

Statistics show that not many people achieve their new years resolutions and it’s no secret I’m one of them. I not so bad at setting goals and I’m actually quite good at working toward them as I love the challenge of the process but I’m hopeless at setting out to achieve what I want to. I have a habit of not quite hitting the mark or achieving something I didn’t actually set out to which sometimes can be a bonus and other times not. So 2017 I’ve decided to try a different strategy. I’m going to declare what I don’t want to achieve .

  1. I don’t want my lung function to drop below 40%

How do I plan to avoid this? By exercising almost everyday and trying some wiz bang mind techniques

2. On a lighter note I’m not going to eat only one brand of chocolate. Instead I will rotate brands so I don’t get bored because for me chocolate is good medicine.

How do I plan to avoid this? Buying a different brand each week

Now let’s see how this goes. I plan to document my journey with my lung function on my blog so stay tuned!

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So if you decide to set yourself a new year’s resolution here’s a few tips, not from me but the experts:

  • Break it down into small achievable tasks.
  • If there’s more than one goal start with one thing at a time
  • Be realistic
  • Focus on the process
  • Write it down, post it where you can see it and share it with friends/family

Belief Really is a Powerful Thing….

For years I’d read about the power of the mind in healing but had never really experienced it first hand. I had tried a few things like visualisation and meditation but had never really put into practice consistently, not because I didn’t believe, but more because I was a bit lazy and didn’t do all that was required to see results. About a year ago I had what was thought to be a life threatening reaction to a medication I needed to treat a nasty super bug in my lungs. I was in hospital being desensitised to the medication, a 5 hour protocol that is supposed to help the body adjust to a medication by being exposed to incremental doses. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disaster for me and my body experienced severe reactions. I had to decide whether to pull the pin and suspend the protocol or continue. I chose to continue because at the time I had no other treatment options. It was a risk but thankfully I lived to tell the story. A few months after this traumatic experience I was reflecting on the whole episode and thought about the prospect of going through this again in the future. It was inevitable I would need this medication again because it was the only one available to treat this bug in my lung effectively. For some reason I can’t really explain I convinced myself that I would be fine if I were to go through it again. It was literally a moment in time when I decided I would be ok, I didn’t know how but I just felt I would be ok. This became my pattern of thinking. I started talking to my medical team about my wish to continue to be treated with this medication, but they were hesitant and warned me the reactions could get worse. They started to devise an alternative treatment while I continued to reassure them I would be ok. About two months ago after the alternative treatment plan hadn’t been successful my team decided to opt for another attempt at a desensitisation. I was so pleased to have another opportunity  to see if what I felt would happen actually would. Thankfully the team that were overseeing the desensitisation were different to last time, so they didn’t really know how bad my reactions could be and consequently were quite relaxed about the whole thing. I must admit I was a little nervous and momentarily questioned myself …could I be wrong? … but the overriding sense was one of optimism. As I took the first dose I waited in anxious anticipation for any sign of reaction. There was nothing, not one sign of a reaction, and so it continued until I got to the second last of five doses when I started to feel a mild tingling of my tongue and a sore throat. I didn’t panic because last time I’d felt this as soon as the first dose  had gone in my mouth. Thankfully the reaction was only momentarily and I continued on. Last time the reactions grew worse starting with tingling, numbness in the mouth and throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen lips, itchy skin, peeling of the lips, fever and joint pain. What a victory! I had survived and not only that I had only experienced the mildest of reactions. Now of course I can’t prove that this is all because of my mind set but I’m choosing to believe that it played a big part. It now makes me excited about the prospect of what else I may be able to do to improve my health using some mind techniques.

Follow this link to find out what I’ve been doing to continue to work on developing a healing mindset and the positive impact it is having on my health.  https://janeslightbulbmoments.com/2017/08/09/changing-your-story/

For a snapshot of my journey so far go to: https://www.facebook.com/janeslightbulbmoments/