On the Hamster Wheel That Is Leading to Illness? Here Are Five Ways to Hop Onto a Wheel of Healing!

On the Hamster Wheel That Is Leading to Illness? Here Are Five Ways to Hop Onto a Wheel of Healing!

Ever get in your car to drive somewhere different than your normal work route, to only realize you are on your way to work? It is like we are just driving through the motions and not thinking. It is crazy that our body programs these daily habits into our day.

Other habits that we do without thinking:

  • brush teeth
  • wear seat belt
  • looking at our phone
  • now wearing a mask!

I think we can all say we had to adopt new habits during this time from zoom to the way we go about our day (anyone getting extra steps because you keep forgetting your mask as you approach the store?).

Some habits come paired with other habits like putting toothpaste on the tooth brush before you brush or not sleeping and having no energy to exercise.

A pair of unhealthy habits can lead to more unhealthy habits and before we know it, we are on a hamster wheel that is going so quick that we don’t know how we got on it or how we are going to get off. Next thing you know we create an illness, that honestly no one has time for.

Covid may be a factor in a hamster wheel of unhealthy habits, but the wheel was occurring well before Covid. Covid may have exposed some of these habits when we were on autopilot before. Exposing negative aspects of our life is VERY difficult, especially when it is exposed without us expecting it. One month we are on our normal routine like nothing will ever change and the next month everything changed (for most of us). Without realizing we are on this hamster wheel, will only lead us going quicker on the wheel to disease, so look to it being exposed as a benefit that saved your future!

The hamster wheel of going and going but not really getting anywhere for our bodies to heal themselves. Our bodies are meant to heal themselves, but you have to nourish it properly for it to do it’s job. We stop thinking about how habits and actions will affect our body because it is what we need to get by and become successful or to survive in life.

Becoming successful is a great goal and should be for all, but if you become successful to only have your body begin to crash, how can you even enjoy your success?

OR maybe this resonates with you:

You worked for years for a good retirement, but the way you treated your body during those years only lead to a retirement in the doctor’s offices instead of traveling and feeling energized.

READ THAT AGAIN!

You don’t need to stay on that hamster wheel forever!

Now I understand many diseases and illnesses are not preventable, none of us are invincible and any of us can get or have an illness. But, many of the top causes of death can be prevented:

Top 2 causes of death in 2016: (per the WHO)

  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Stroke

** note I am sure Covid will be high on the next list **

The 2 top diseases have preventable measures with healthy habits:

  • Ischemic heart disease: decreased blood flow and oxygen to the heart due to arteries becoming narrowed (for more info: American Heart Association)
    • Risk factors out of your control:
      • age
      • male gender
      • genetics
    • Risk factors in your control:
      • no smoking
      • keeping cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL) and Triglycerides within normal limits– get lab work done annually
        • 2 things to focus on:
          • Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, fish, olive oil, grass-fed butter, avocado oil
          • Increase fiber: whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, veggies
      • prevent high blood pressure (the higher your blood pressure, the more work you are putting on the heart)
      • Keep moving and staying active!
      • Over weight and obese– especially abdominal fat= increase in risk
      • Controlling blood sugars to prevent diabetes (it increases your risk)
      • Monitor stress levels and find ways to de-stress
      • Limit alcohol
  • Stroke: different types but I am just going to go over the basics (see NIH for more info): it occurs when the brain doesn’t receive blood, which prevents oxygen and nutrients from getting to the brain
    • Risk factors out of your control:
      • Age
      • Gender: men or women at older age or with preeclampsia during pregnancy
      • Race: African Americans, Alaska Native, American Indian, and Hispanic
      • Genetics
    • Risk factors in your control:
      • Prevent high blood pressure
      • Controlling blood sugars to prevent diabetes (it increases your risk)
      • Smoking
      • Air pollution
      • Monitor stress levels and find ways to de-stress
      • overweight or obese
      • keeping cholesterol levels within normal limits (see above)

Have hope because you don’t have to be stuck in that hamster wheel!

It is time to break out of the unhealthy hamster wheel and time for healing and nourishment! Here are 5 ways to hop onto a nourishing wheel where you will be much more energized and will feel much better!

Here Are Five Ways to Hop Onto a Wheel of Healing!

WATER

Living on caffeine and not enough H20? Constantly grabbing caffeine can be beneficial, but also causes side effects if that is the only thing you are consuming. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and the adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline to give you that rush. Do you think most of us really need more cortisol in your bodies? Here are just a few side effects from too much caffeine (every body’s sensitivity to caffeine is different) include:

  • increased blood pressure
  • over working adrenal glands
  • diuretic (makes you pee)
  • flushed skin
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn

Ask yourself if your caffeinated beverage is replacing your water intake? Since it is a diuretic and is replacing your water intake, you may be dehydrated. It is important for caffeine to not replace your daily water intake of 1/2 your body weight in ounces.

Wheel of unhealthy habits: Poor sleep, then needing caffeine to get through the day, and leading to high anxiety.

Challenge to get on the wheel of healing: Start small like replacing at least one of your caffeinated beverages with water. Or better yet, start your day with water before your cup of coffee.

Long term goal: 1/2 body weight in ounces of water with your body not craving caffeine to get through the day or in taking a small 12 oz or less of caffeine to get by.

Nourishing foods

It is an obvious one, especially coming from a dietitian, but it so easily taken over by diets. When we start looking, smelling, and actually tasting our food we are aware of what it does for our body. Example 1: “I had that fast food and had to eat it quickly before my next event.” Often times, you don’t realize the taste or what you actually consumed. Example 2: “I took 15 minute to sit down and eat lunch, I noticed that I was missing color on my plate.” Here you are becoming mindful and can identify areas that need improvement.

Eating balanced looks like a colorful plate filled with non-starchy veggies, fruit, healthy fats, lean protein, whole grains or starchy veggies.

These foods provide nutrients that will feed the brain, your muscles, hair, skin, nails, and your organs to work properly.

Examples of key nutrients:

  • Brain health: omega 3 FA, iron, zinc, vit D, B vitamins, vit K, vit E, thiamine (Vit b1), coQ10, magnesium
  • Gut health (where most of serotonin is produced to help regulate emotions, appetite, and sleep): pro- and pre-biotics, fiber, omega-3 FA, glutamine, zinc
  • Skin, hair, nails: iron, biotin, omega-3 FA, vit D, zinc, protein, selenium, calcium, vit A, B vitamins, vit E
  • Heart: potassium, folate, omega-3 FA, fiber, vit C and E, vit D, CoQ10, selenium
  • Muscles: protein, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vit D, B vitamins, Omega-3 FA
  • Bone and teeth: calcium, vit D, magnesium, vit K, omega 3-FA, protein
  • Immune system: zinc, vit C, vit D, selenium, vit A

Wheel of unhealthy habits: Poor nutrition, affects your gut, which also affect your mood, which can lead to no drive to workout, and the wheel continues. OR you aren’t getting the proper nutrients and can’t sleep, which than throws off your mood and exercise routine.

Challenge to get on the wheel of healing: Start small like adding more vegetables and fruits to your current meal plan. Start decreasing the processed, high sugar, alcohol, and poor quality foods.

Long term goal: Consume 80-90% foods that are nourishing the body and 10-20% of foods that nourish your mind (aka your fav treats!). Focus on food as healing and fueling versus just for pleasure.

Peaceful Mindset

How we handle the daily stressors of life can lead to healing or increased inflammation. Increased inflammation can cause many illnesses from heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune, GI diseases, to name a few.

When we start stressing we activate our nervous system, especially the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) leading to ‘fight or flight’. Our adrenal glands release epinephrine and cortisol to conquer that stress. Our respirations and heart beat increase, we put our digestion on pause to provide our extremities with more blood flow to ideally run and kill our next dinner (back in the day). Our bodies are great that it functions that way, but isn’t meant for long term.

Long term stress causes:

  • Anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • High blood pressure and more work for the heart leading to stroke, heart attack
  • Decreased or increased appetite (anyone else an emotional eater?)
  • Reproduction concerns for both men and women:
    • Men: affects testosterone levels and declines libido
    • Women: absent or irregular menstrual cycles, difficulty conceiving
  • Changes in the gut
    • Increase in IBS and IBD (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)
    • Gut bacteria changes
    • acid reflux
    • Increase or decrease digestion leading to diarrhea, constipation, or difficulty absorbing nutrients
  • Weakened immune system
  • Skin can show high cortisol levels from
    • accelerates the aging process
    • acne when the sebaceous glands produce more oil, leading to clogged pores, increased inflammation and bacteria
    • Eczema, psoriasis, rosacea

Wheel of unhealthy habits: Stressed leading to depression and no energy to exercise to feel better or eat healthy OR overwhelmed that you don’t get sleep and survive on caffeine and take out

Challenge to get on the wheel of healing: Start small by finding one small activity that can relax you from shrugging your shoulders and relaxing, 5 minute meditation or prayer, exercise, writing in a journal, taking a bubble bath, or focusing on breathing.

Long term goal: Creating boundaries to decrease the stressors in life or finding the thing that relaxes you and increasing the time to 30 minutes or more. For example: 20 min of walking daily and 10 minutes of prayer.

Get Moving!

There are so many things in our way of self-care, especially exercise. It is often seen as a chore for many and the last thing added to the to-do list. Now with the weather getting cold, our schedules getting busier, uncomfortable to be in the gym, child care not available, the excuses can go on forever. It is time for the quarantine couch potato to get moving!

Getting moving doesn’t have to include equipment and a gym. Since Covid many gyms and business have offered so many free ways to get moving. If you don’t like to do online, get the music or pod cast going and walk outside in nature, where you will get vitamin D. Getting out in nature and vit D will also help your mood!

Moving more than sitting will help:

  • Decrease inflammation
  • Protects the heart by lowering blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol
  • Builds muscles
  • Strengthens the bones
  • Decreases blood sugar
  • Release endorphins to help mood and increase energy

Wheel of unhealthy habits: To tired to exercise from the poor nutrition and lack of hydration.

Challenge to get on the wheel of healing: Start small by using the time you would be on socal media to walk instead. Add walking during lunch break or going for a 15 minute walk right when you get up or after work. Pack gym bag to go straight from work. Find a friend to join you.

finding one small activity that can relax you from shrugging your shoulders and relaxing, 5 minute meditation or prayer, exercise, writing in a journal, taking a bubble bath, or focusing on breathing.

Long term goal: Gets at least 30 minutes of movement in most days of the week. Finds an exercise routine you enjoy and look forward to doing.

Sleep

We have circadian Our bodies need rest for our brains. Our circadian rhythm We are now constantly looking at electronics which not only affects our eyes, but also over works our brain.

Poor sleep leads to:

  • Weakens immune system
  • Increases weight gain:
    • Reduces leptin (hormone that tells your brain you are full)
    • Increases ghrelin (hormone that tells you you are hungry)
  • Produces less melatonin (sleep hormone that helps our circadian rhythm)
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Heart disease

Wheel of unhealthy habits: Doesn’t eat the proper nutrition, so not able to get a good sleep. Not able to sleep, causing poor nutritional choices and need for constant caffeine, which makes you too tired to get physical activity so instead you are sedentary.

Challenge to get on the wheel of healing: Put the electronic down 1 hour before bed. Focus on getting your lunch or clothes ready for the next day or read kindle or book before bed. Try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

Long term goal: Gets more than 7 hrs of good quality sleep per night. Feels refreshed when wakes up and ready to take on healthy habits.


This may be overwhelming, thinking you need to accomplish each of these in order to get out of this hamster wheel of unhealthy habits that leads to illness– which is not true.

I encourage you to take 1 or 2 of the challenges to try this week and start to get on the healthier wheel of healing (and feeling better!).



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