Have you ever taken a moment to think about your bad habits? Or maybe someone has pointed them out to you? Have you told yourself a thousand times “I should quit that or stop doing this?” Most people can answer yes to the above questions, me included. No one is perfect or can be “perfect” all the time.
Now, take a moment and think about that one thing you really want to change. Whether it is to quit smoking once and for all or maybe you need to cut back on the sugar and give up candy or that daily Mountain Dew. Maybe it’s not something related to your physical health – maybe you need to stop being so hard on yourself, give yourself more acceptance and grace, maybe you need to stop saying “no” and try new things. Whatever the case may be I want you to think about your surroundings. Do they enable your current situation? What can you change in your environment that might help?
It’s important to understand the presence of a situation causes the behaviors! For example if you are trying to eat healthy but there are donuts on the counter you are setting yourself up to fail! Proximity effects the extent to which you engage in a specific behavior. Both visibility and convenience matter! So this means we need to fix our bad environments to help us change our negative behaviors and thus meet our goals. Think about how you can promote healthy environments – leave yourself notes or reminders, keep a journal of your progress, surround yourself with people who want similar things as you.
So now that you understand situational support let’s talk about actually breaking those habits. So you have a goal in mind – make sure it’s specific and attainable. Visualize yourself succeeding – think about the goal, see it, see the obstacles and know how you will overcome them. Knowing you obstacles is crucial in completing your goals. By knowing potential things that could and will get in the way you can create a plan for how you will overcome. This is called implementation intention – a strategy in the form of an “if then” plan that can lead to better goal attainment. For example, IF I’m trying to quit smoking and a friend starts smoking around me, THEN I can excuse myself to the restroom or another place away from that environment. Another example could be IF I’m trying to cut out pop and I stop at a gas station (where I’m known to purchase a fountain pop or two), THEN I will pay for my gas at the pump and not go inside.
By creating these plans and using this method we can break habits, create new habits, and change our behaviors and routines. We all want to do better, be better, but we all need tools to help us get there. Stay positive and commit these tools to memory. And remember, YOU are worth it, and you CAN do it!
The Side-Effects and Solutions of Poor Posture
In this modern world, we are seeing more and more jobs where the majority an employee’s work is done on the computer. Even people who don’t have a desk job might find themselves spending a lot of time at home looking like these figures to the right. You might have heard the term “tech neck” already.
Posture is more important to overall health than we may give it credit for. A couple years ago I noticed I was having some intense neck and back pain, as well as wrist pain. After some research and talks with my doctor, I learned it was 100% related to my posture at work, and that bad posture can even contribute to a lot of other bad side effects. Staring at screens is still a relatively new thing for humans, and we aren’t exactly built for it.
So even if you don’t have an office job, this can also be applied to you for whatever you do that could involve long term bad posture as well, such as sitting at home watching TV, playing on a computer, playing video games, or scrolling on your phone.
Some side effects of doing all that with bad posture include bad posture include:
BACK, NECK, AND SHOULDER PAIN
Bad posture can cause tension and pain in your neck, upper back, lower back, and shoulders.
The long-term impact of poor posture can cause your spine and other bones to shift their position. Your skeletal system starts coming into contact with your surrounding nerves, “pinching” them. The “pinched” nerves can lead to back and neck pain, and in other parts of your body. It’s a can vary from very annoying to sometimes debilitating pain.
When if you perform most of your everyday activities with bad body mechanics or are stressed or injured in any way, you could end up with spinal misalignment and muscle spasm. Bad posture can distort these natural curves of your spine, affecting your whole body and causing an array of issues.
By sitting with poor posture all day, you’re keeping your body from obtaining the necessary circulation it requires. Poor posture can also make you vulnerable to varicose veins. Crossing your legs can especially exacerbate this.
IMPAIRED LUNG FUNCTION
When you are slouching in in, you aren’t taking deep breath. When your lungs aren’t functioning as they should be, your brain, heart and other vital organs won’t get the oxygen they need.
This could lead to shortness of breath, poor cognitive function and even heart and vascular disease. It can also even affect your mood and energy level. You might notice you are a lot more motivated and relaxed when you are able to take deep breaths rather than short shallow ones.
When you slouch, you compress your abdominal organs, including your digestive tract. Doing this can over time, negatively impact your metabolism and your ability to process foods properly
HEADACHE AND JAW PAIN
When you have poor posture, you might spend a great deal of time leaning forward, possilby on your hand, making it more likely you’ll clench your jaw. By clenching your jaw, you’re causing your facial muscles to tighten, resulting in jaw pain and headaches.
TOO MUCH SITTING
A common problem we see now days with both tech at home and at work is too much sitting. I think we’ve all found ourselves at work composing a long assignment, or in a Pinterest or Facebook scroll, only to look up and realize several hours have passed and we haven’t moved.
Too much sitting alone can cause it’s own host of problems. Just a few of them include:
- High blood pressure,
- Heart disease,
- High cholesterol,
- Even cancer
- There is a reason they call sitting the new smoking.
To help avoid these bad side effects, start adopting proper computer posture.
- The positioning of the computer should be such that the eyes are directly on the screen and you need not tilt your head up or down to maintain contact with the screen. Try putting a couple books under your monitor if you have to.
- The next important thing is that the level of seat should be set at a level where your eyes can reach the screen of the computer as well as your hands comfortably access the keyboard almost parallel to the floor.
- Feet should be in contact with the floor at all times. They should preferably be kept flat on the floor. The feet should not be kept hanging as it put stress on the lower back causing stress and eventually pain.
Other tips to avoid bad tech side effects:
- Whether at work or at home on your devices, take a break from sitting every 30-60 minutes. Even a quick walk around the desk can help. Take a walk to the water cooler.
- Stand while talking on the phone or watching television.
- Do some stretching exercise throughout the day.
- Try to get a cordless desk phone that can let you do this at work if you can. You can get a lot of steps while on the phone.
- If you work at a desk, try a adjustable standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter. There are certain places where this can be considered a work purchase. That may or may not apply to you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Get more walking done outside the office.
- Try walking to work if you can.
- Park further away at the store.
- Take the dogs for more walk.
- Eat and walk at lunch.
- Use the stairs.
You’ve heard the tips before, so the real trick is to just try to be mindful on days you are sitting a lot and implement them.
Fitness From Home
As I am writing this blog it is day 30 of the Michigan stay at home order. People talk about the new normal- I hope not…but it is what it is. If you have not already done so, it is time to consider a home strength training program. It has been my experience that unless you have a home gym already, it is awkward if not difficult to strength train at home. However, you can do a program that will at least allow you to maintain your current level.
My first suggestion is take advantage of one of the number of organizations offering paid or free online workouts. Don’t forget there is a home exercise program on the PPW site. If you’re not into structured classes like that, be creative. Follow these principles and use what you have around the house to design your own program:
• Work the total body
• Work both sides of the joint (push/pull)
• 8-12 reps with a resistance that fatigues the muscle to a 6 or 7 on a scale of 10
• 2-3 days a week
One last suggestion, any cardio should be done outside!! We need to get out and get fresh air. Be respectfully of “social Distancing” but get outside. Stay Healthy
Crazy About Cardio!
When it comes to exercise, I’ve always been a crazy cardio lady! Anything that involves running or high intensity work, you can count me in! I’ve been a runner for most of my life. I’ve completed several 5k’s and even all the way up to a double marathon. But hey, I’m married to an ultra-runner so what once seemed like many miles doesn’t anymore. To be completely honest, I run for the fun/health of it now! And because I like to eat! It’s a social thing for me usually, but when I run alone (more often now with social distancing) it’s more on the therapeutic side.
With the current health pandemic, now really is a perfect time to get outside and start walking/running/biking or any cardio activity you think you might enjoy!
Since this month we focus on cardio, let’s think about the benefits. Aerobic exercise helps reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke, increases bone density, increases lung capacity, increases energy, decreases stress while increasing quality sleep, and helps burn fat and calories.
Have you ever “woken up on the wrong side of the bed?” Basically just felt irritated and grumpy?! That was usually me before I started running most mornings. It truly is THE best way to start my day! Don’t discount what cardio can do for your mental health as well. It’s just as important, if not more, for mental reasons as physical.
Getting outside and getting fresh air and sunshine…those two things alone can help boost mental and physical health. When you add in some aerobic exercise it can double those benefits. Think about boosting your Vitamin D levels, decreasing depression, increasing gratitude and appreciation, breaking through the boredom (especially now) and experiencing greater levels of happiness. What we usually think will make us happier statistically doesn’t. Similarly, what we think is difficult and don’t want to do (exercise), usually rises our levels of happiness. So get out there and get your run on! I’ll be right here cheering you on!