Using a structure or framework for healthy living can be really useful. But often it turns into a "set of rules". Rules that make you feel deprived and hard to follow.
In this week's episode you'll learn:
Wednesday 29th September at 9.15 am Eastern Time
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Hello and welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena Kerek, I hope that you are feeling amazing today.
I'm super excited about the Healthy You Healthy Family Group Program. I'm going to be sharing a few wins with that and I'm also hoping that you can't hear the banging in the background because my life at the moment is just building work. It's not our building work, it is our neighbor’s building work. I will be quite glad when I move back to my own house which is in 11.5 weeks.
I am so excited about having so many wins.
Katie has started water aerobics and she is going to go twice a week, Jessica has owned the “I'm worthy investment”.
Kara has had some golden learning opportunities and if you don't know what golden learning opportunities are, they are, when life doesn't go quite according to plan, what can I learn from it?
Angela has been listening to that voice that says, “I'm feeling full” and she's been working on emotional wellness.
Lia is going to be playing tennis this weekend, which is her light-me-up exercise that she hasn't done for ages.
Also, I have to read out what Lia said in our group. She said, “YEY!, I’m feeling super positive after my onboarding session with Dr O yesterday. I came away with so much useful advice that I could implement immediately. I feel like a new woman.”
Congratulations Lia and congratulations to everybody who is turning up and doing the work and transforming themselves to the healthiest, amazing them in a way that is easy and fun.
If you're interested in joining right now, I still have scholarship places and they will be available until the end of September. At the beginning of October, I'm going to be putting the price up. The scholarship is not free, but it is a reduced price.
If you're interested in finding out more then contact me at [email protected] and we have to have a chat and make sure that this is a good fit for you.
What I want to talk about in today’s episode is limits and forbidding yourself to eat things and how you can have a structure to your life.
This came about because somebody in the group said, “I really like to have structure, I like to have a list of what I'm eating and what I'm not eating, and that works really well for me.”
If you know that something works well for you, then go with it. If you know that's the way you work, then that is self-awareness, and run with it. Now, that doesn't work for everyone and that's perfectly fine. It's about finding what works for you.
But this idea of having structure brings up this idea of limits and how we can structure our lives in such a way that we're not forbidding ourselves and making it really difficult for ourselves to eat something.
As parents, we want to teach our children internal limits, what does that look like? It looks like when our children go to a birthday party or a social event where they are offered food, instead of eating four or five slices of cake they learn to say no after one or two slices. That just becomes their default. They don't need their mom standing over them saying, “Hey, you have eaten too much, stop now.”
They get to a place where naturally they say, “Okay, I'm going to stop now.” And as adults, we also need to work on that limit.
However, it can be really useful to have a structure in place and give ourselves internal limits. For me, I limit myself to eating healthy foods. That could be lots of fruit and vegetables, lentils and legumes. In my life, I don’t have all those treats available for me to eat. That doesn't mean I don't ever eat them. That means that my structure, my framework is I eat healthy foods.
I create some internal limits for myself. For example, I don't drink alcohol after 7:00 PM and this is a choice that I have made because I know that alcohol affects everybody’s sleep, but I really noticed that it affects my sleep.
A lot of people say, well I sleep really well after I've had alcohol, but the answer is you may sleep well, but you don't get a good quality of sleep and I know that the next day I feel tired and have sandy eyes. I just don't enjoy that feeling.
The good thing about having these limits and frameworks is that they help make decisions. If you can make decisions in advance, it's much easier to make healthy choices. Our brain actually really likes decisions that are made in advance.
For example, I eat the same breakfast every single day. I eat porridge with fruit, nuts, and seeds. Now the fruit varies from season to season from what's available, but essentially I don't have to think about my breakfast. I don't get up in the morning and think “Shall I have porridge or shall I have toast or shall I have something else?”
It’s easy for the breakfast to be healthy because that decision has been made ahead of time. We’re much more likely to make healthy decisions once we've taken that decision away from that emotional time.
Another example, you get home from work, you're tired, you're stressed, you're exhausted. Now you have to make dinner and you have no idea what to make and all these things go through your brain and really what you want is the easiest option, which isn't necessarily the healthiest option.
If you have made a decision ahead of time, you’ve already prepared it, you just start doing it. There's no decision to be made because you have already decided in advance that you are going to prepare a healthy dinner.
Someone said in our last coaching session that the problem they have is they set these internal limits but they don’t stick to them. How to deal with that?
The big question then is, are you permitting yourself to eat that food?
If you are somebody who after dinner is eating lots of sweets and treats, are you permitting yourself to eat that food? The answer is probably no.
You’re having this internal struggle because part of your brain is going, “I'm going to eat this food, I'm entitled to eat this food, I want to eat this food, I'm going to eat it.” And the other part of your brain is going, “It's not good for you. It's bad, don't eat it.”
Where you want to get to is “I give myself permission to eat that food, but I choose not to.” Now, that doesn't mean to say that you always have to choose not to. Sometimes you can choose to eat that food, but where you want to be is in a place where you fully understand what choice you are making. If you take a step back, you're making a bigger choice. You're making a choice to feel healthy and to feel amazing. You are choosing not to eat that candy because you know that that isn't helping you get to where you want to get to. On the other hand, if you do eat the candy, you are choosing to feel tired. To continue to be overweight to not have lots of energy.
When you're in that situation, which of those two are you choosing? It feels like you're choosing to eat something or no but really you're making a bigger choice.
Give yourself permission to eat it. It's not forbidden. It's not like you never have to eat it, but you choose whether to or not and you may choose that on a daily basis.
Another thing I would say is you don't have to turn it off immediately. There are gradients and you can see that 28 days out of 30 is better than 30 out of 30. So it's just this idea of having a framework that works for you in a way that isn't saying this food is forbidden.
I told you that I am feeling amazing today and I want to explain why. On the same subject of limits and my limit of alcohol, I don't drink heaps and heaps of alcohol, they say I tend to limit myself to beer perhaps on Friday or Saturday at five or six.
If you knew me back when I was a medical student or a young doctor, you would not recognize me because medical students are the worst people for drinking lots and lots at university. Our university motto was “Work hard, play hard” and we did play hard and that meant drinking lots of alcohol, getting up early in the morning, going to work. Being healthy did not even cross my mind when I was a medical student or even as a younger doctor.
As I say, I have this limit that I don't drink after 7:00, but sometimes I choose to ignore that limit and drink after 7:00. Right now I have my father-in-law staying near us for a couple of weeks, which is amazing because we haven't seen my father-in-law and his wife for a couple of years because of coronavirus. It's lovely to be able to get back in contact with them and they kindly invited us out for dinner.
Last week we went out for dinner and I broke my limit. I had a beer and then we shared a bottle of wine between the four of us and then we shared another bottle of wine. What is it with alcohol? You have one glass, then another glass, and another glass instead of just one glass.
Now, part of that is habit. Part of that is being in a social situation. Part of that is alcohol is an inhibitor, so it decreases our level of control and we feel less inhibited. You're more likely to make that choice of, “Let's just go with the moment, let's just have another glass of wine.” Last week I drank that much and felt tired and horrible with that kind of stingy eye thing that I get and really just thought why do I do this? Why do I do this to myself?
I've been in this situation before, particularly in social situations where I kind of don't really want to drink, but somehow I go along with it and find myself drinking and I'm sure I'm not alone with this. I'm sure that a lot of people can relate to this social idea of I need to have a glass of wine in this particular situation.
This week, my father-in-law kindly invited us to another restaurant and this was a Michelin Star restaurant. It’s a treat for us to go into any restaurant but this is like a level up.
So here's me thinking, “Okay, we're going to this restaurant, what am I going to do? I don't want to feel tired and groggy the next day, I don't want to feel that feeling in my body.” I really enjoy it when I wake up feeling on top of the world and thinking, “Yep, I'm gonna bound out of bed and grasp the day with everything I've got.”
And at times, I am cycling along and thinking, ‘Hey, I feel amazing today because I didn't drink any alcohol last night.’ It's a good thing to remind yourself when you've got that conversation going in your head. To remind yourself of the positives of something you're not doing.
This is the kind of thought that goes through my brain when I drink alcohol. It's because I want a special drink. I don't really want to drink. I don't like sweet drinks, I don't want to drink coca-cola or fizzy drinks because they just basically put loads of sugar in those drinks. And so I end up drinking a beer at that time because it's more special and I feel that my choices are limited. Quite often when I have the beer, and to be perfectly honest, I don't enjoy it as much as I think I'm going to enjoy it.
Most people enjoy the feeling that alcohol gives you. That feeling of being relaxed and that social inhibition is gone. So yes, there is that positive that you get with alcohol now. I was thinking, okay, so what am I going to do?
We decided that I was going to drive. If I drive, I cannot drink anything because I get a bit scared of that. I know other people can drink a glass of beer and drive, but I don't like doing that. My mother-in-law has problems with mobility, so the reason to drive was to pick her up and take her to the restaurant because it was too far for her to walk.
I could potentially have a beer because I would be able to metabolize that and then drive because we're going to be at the restaurant for a couple of hours. I could do that or I could just go with no alcohol in which case, what am I going to drink? Where's my special drink going to come from?
I mulled this over and when I got to the restaurant I asked them what they have that's non-alcoholic. And of course, they came up with all of these drinks like water, coca-cola, all of those things. The other thing I see people do quite often is cocktails, so cocktails without alcohol in them, but again, they're full of sugar and I didn't want them. And then this lady said, “Oh we have a non-alcoholic gin and tonic.”
I used to drink gin and tonic back in my drinking days. But at the moment I'm kind of scared of gin and tonic because it's such strong alcohol but it is delicious. So a non-alcoholic gin and tonic sounded appealing. I'm like, okay, I'm going to give this non-alcoholic gin and tonic ago, and let's see how that goes now.
It was absolutely delicious. I asked her what it was, she said it was Tanquary 00. I had no idea what Tanquary was. My husband said that's Amy Winehouse's drink. That's what she used to drink. She sings about it in one of her songs. Apparently, Tanquary is like the world's biggest gin. It was delicious. I really recommend trying it and trying the non-alcoholic versions of things. Now I have tried non-alcoholic beer and it always just tastes chemical and horrible to me.
I had non-alcoholic gin, water, and then some fizzy water. We have a drink here called Vichy Catalan which has got minerals in it. And it's got quite a sort of bicarb taste which I enjoy. But that leaves me having a social situation without that social inhibition, that relaxing feeling of alcohol. Actually, I found that perfectly okay.
There is one thing and it's tiredness levels. I normally go to bed at 10:30 and I feel myself beginning to get tired and I think what alcohol does is it just masks that, it gives you a little bit of energy so that you don't feel tired.
We had a beautiful meal but we ate very late. So much, much later than I would and I did wake up in the night feeling thirsty. Clearly not as a result of alcohol but it did disturb my sleep and I did wake up, we went to bed an hour later than I normally would.
I woke up this morning feeling tired. I didn't jump out of bed doing my seven-minute workout. My children all told me I was lazy, so thanks. I've got a team behind me who help me keep going, but I didn't do it and I didn't go cycling this morning because it was raining. Normally I cycle the kids to school, but today it was chucking down, we had to go in the car. Right now I feel much better not having done any exercise, feeling a little bit full still from the meal that I had yesterday, but much better than I would have if I had drunk any alcohol.
For that, I am super grateful and I'm proud of myself for going through that experience.
Ideally going out for lunch would be great. If I could do that big meal at lunchtime, that would be perfect because that gives my body a bit of time to digest the food.
I would probably then skip dinner as well because I wouldn't need all of that in the evening. So eating right before bedtime is not great.
It's not possible for me to do that right now because I normally eat at five or six o'clock in the evening and restaurants here don't open till 8:30. If you're in a big city, perhaps you can do that. If you're eating time is normally six o'clock, perhaps there is somewhere open at six o'clock and you can eat earlier.
Try and stick to your routine as much as possible. I think for me the reason I felt tired was just that it was late.
My message to you is to try it, give it a go and see how it goes. Think about your own internal limits and how you stick to them and if you're not sticking to your internal limits, why aren't you sticking to them.
If you are interested in joining the Healthy You, Healthy Family group program to create the healthiest version of you in a way that is easy and fun and having the support that you need then get in contact and we will chat.
I will see you next week. Have a fabulous week.