With nearly 4 million people in the UK being diagnosed with diabetes we get bombarded with masses of information about sugar, blood sugar and the glycemic index. So let’s take a moment to clarify what exactly is the Glycemic index and the Glycemic load.
Glycemic this and glycemic that. Does it matter?
You’ll notice that they both begin with “glycemic.” That’s one tip that they have to do with sugars and carbs. Not only how much sugar is in foods, but more importantly, how it affects your blood sugar levels.
In general, diets that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and high in glycemic load (GL), tend to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
FACT: Starches like those in potatoes and grains are digested into sugar; this is because starch is just a bunch of different types of sugars linked together. Digestive enzymes break those bonds so that the more complex sugars become “simple sugars”, the most basic type. Those sugars affect your body the same way that eating sugary foods do.
Glycemic Index (“how fast”)
The most common of the two terms we’re going to talk about is “glycemic index” (GI).
As the name suggests, it “indexes” (or compares) the effect that different foods have on your blood sugar level. Then each food is given a score from 0 (no effect on blood sugar) to 100 (big effect on blood sugar). Foods that cause a fast increase in blood sugar have a high GI. That is because the sugar in them is quickly processed by your digestive system and absorbed into your blood causing a “spike” in your blood sugar.
So, you can probably guess that pure glucose is given a GI rating of 100. On the other hand, chickpeas are right down there at a GI of 10.
Regarding GI: low is anything under 55; moderate is 56-69, and 70+ is considered a high GI food.
Remember, this is a measure of how fast a carbohydrate containing food is digested and raises your blood sugar. It’s not a measure of the sugar content of the food.
How quickly the carbohydrates in food affect your blood sugar level depend on other components of the food. Things like fibre and protein can slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, and this can make even a high-sugar food, low on the GI scale.
The key takeaway here is that lower GI foods are better at keeping your blood sugar levels stable because they don’t increase your blood sugar level as fast.
FACT: Can you guess which food has a GI of higher than 100? (Think of something super-starchy) White potatoes! They have a GI of 111. This doesn’t mean don’t eat white potatoes but certainly watch portion sizes and make sure you’re having some protein and fibre with the potatoes.
Glycemic Load (“how much”)
The glycemic load is different.
Glycemic load (GL) doesn’t measure how quickly your blood sugar “spikes”, but how high that spike is. Basically, how much the food increases your blood sugar.
GL depends on two things. First, how much sugar is in the food. Second, how much of the food is typically eaten. You may have foods with a high sugar content that is eaten in very small quantities.
Low GL would be 0-10, moderate GL would be 10-20, and high GL would 20+.
Example of GL and GI
So, let’s compare average (120 g) servings of bananas and oranges:
|Food||GI||Serving size (g)||GL per serving|
Excerpt from: Harvard Health Publications, Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods
As you can see, the banana and orange have almost the same glycemic index; this means they both raise your blood sugar in about the same amount of time.
But the average banana raises the blood sugar twice as high (11) as the orange does (5). So, it contains more overall sugar than the same amount (120 g) of orange.
Of course, this is all relative. A GL of 11 is not high at all. Please keep eating whole fruits. 🙂
What does this all mean for your health?
Certain people need to be aware of the effects that foods have on their blood sugar. People who have diabetes or pre-diabetes conditions like insulin resistance need to be aware of the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods they are eating regularly.
The GI and GL are just two factors to consider when it comes to blood sugar. Some high GI foods are pretty good for you but if you want to reduce the impact on your blood sugar, have them with a high-fibre or high-protein food.
If you have blood sugar imbalances or diabetes, you should probably be aware of the GI and GL of your food.
If you are at risk of diabetes or heart disease, you might try swapping out some higher GI/GL foods and replacing with lower GI/GL foods.
Chakalaka is a South African vegetable relish that may have originated in the townships of Johannesburg when Mozambican mine workers coming off shift cooked tinned produce with chili to produce a spicy relish. This dish is a quick, mid-week meal for those days when it just seems there’s no time to eat healthy… there always is!
What you need:
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2/3 cup (150g) risotto rice
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp. chilli flakes
1 ¼ cup (300ml) vegetable stock
1 carrot, grated
1 red pepper, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cup (175g) sweetcorn
What to do:
Heat the oil in a large deep pan and sauté the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft.
Add the risotto rice, thyme and curry powder and stir fry briefly. Next add the grated ginger and chilli, season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour in the hot stock, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer under cover for approx. 20 minutes, checking periodically. If the liquid is absorbed before the end of cooking, add some more water.
Next add the grated carrot, red pepper, chopped tomatoes and sweetcorn, mix well, cover and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
This blog post will discuss stress and can apply at any time of the year but the last couple of weeks, which are supposed to be full of merriment and time with friends, family and loved ones, can be particularly stressful.Continue reading
We all know that vegetables are good for us right? And lots of us know that cruciferous vegetables are really, really good for us!
For those who aren’t sure what vegetables count as cruciferous, they include broccoli, rocket, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cabbage.
Along with a host of vitamins and minerals, cruciferous vegetables provide us with a component called sulforaphane which is showing signs of being a promising anti-cancer agent. In addition, sulforaphane may also help protect your brain and your eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation, help manage type 2 diabetes and was recently found to successfully help treat autism.
Sulforaphane forms when raw broccoli (or other cruciferous veg) is chopped or chewed. Then a sulforaphane precursor mixes with an enzyme called myrosinase and produces the sulforaphane. The trouble is that this enzyme is inactivated by cooking! However, both the precursor and the sulforaphane, once it’s been created, are resistant to heat.
Obviously, you could eat all your cruciferous veggies raw or in smoothies and then the veg will sit in your gut while the chemical reaction takes place but seriously, who wants a brussels sprout smoothie?
Another option would be to chop your broccoli (or brussels sprouts, kale, collards, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetable) and then wait forty minutes, at which point you can cook it as much as you want. By then, the sulforaphane has already been made, so the enzyme is no longer needed to achieve maximum benefit. It’s already done its job.
And what if you’re using frozen cruciferous veg? Well this has been blanched so sorry, but frozen cruciferous veg lack the ability to form sulforaphane, again though, there’s a simple answer. Remember, the precursor is resistant to heat so the frozen veg is still packed with this, it’s just missing the enzyme it needs. We just need a way to add that back in.
Mustard is a cruciferous veg too and mustard seeds contain the necessary enzyme, sprinkle a pinch of ground mustard on your cooked broccoli and this significantly increases sulforaphane formation, woohoo!
So if you don’t have 40 minutes to spare between chopping and cooking, or if you’re using frozen greens just sprinkle your veg with mustard powder before you eat them. All it takes is a pinch.
Daikon radishes, regular radishes, horseradish, and wasabi are all cruciferous vegetables and potentially have the same effect.
Inflammation. This topic seems to be absolutely everywhere these days. Who in the health and wellness field is NOT talking about the infamous inflammation?
Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).
Inflammation has been linked to autoimmune diseases, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Diet can play an important role in both reducing and increasing inflammation so here’s a quick run-down of some of the best foods that reduce inflammation for you to consume.
Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries
Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite of yours?
Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fibre, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).
Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol” are found in these small and delicious fruits.
In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.
Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.
Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours. Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.
Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)
Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: “trans” fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: “omega-3s), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.
The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.
Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea
Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.
EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
Drinking steeped green tea is great, but why not try matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea. (BTW – it comes in powdered form so is easy to add to smoothies!)
Anti-inflammatory Food #5 – Turmeric
Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?
Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.
This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.
Try and take it with a sprinkling of black pepper to help with absorption.
Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate
Slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.
Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuro-inflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.
Make sure you avoid the sugary chocolate bars. You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!
There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious foods that reduce inflammation you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.
You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”
This month’s member feature focuses on someone who’s a fairly recent addition to the Inspire Fitness family, Jill Maton. Jill’s only been with us since February 2019 but has managed to make dramatic changes to her health in that short space of time.
Jill heard about us because we’re reaching out to the diabetic community to let them know about our Metabolic Fit programme which has been designed specifically for Type diabetics.
We’re very keen to work with this group because we know exercise can make a huge difference to the management of the disease and we believe that every fitness centre has an obligation to do the best they can to help prevent or minimise the effects of Type 2 diabetes on both the individual and our health service. What Jill has managed is fantastic and we hope her results will help spur others on to make a change.
Q. How long have you been a member at Inspire and what were your initial reasons for joining?
I joined Inspire Fitness in February 2019 a couple of months after Ruth had attended a diabetic support group meeting where she talked to interested group members about the benefits of strength training for diabetics. She shared with us research done by Leipzig University which had carried out a study on the subject which had led to many benefits for a majority the of participants. Many of them found their glucose levels fell to such an extent that they either came off medication completely or reduced it.
Q. Did you have any concerns or worries about joining a gym and if so, how did they workout at Inspire?
I had considered joining a gym for some time but was put off by stereotypical ideas of it being full of young, lycra-clad people who would make me feel very inadequate! However, nothing could be further from the truth as I found that people of all ages, shapes and ability used Inspire. You can exercise at whatever level you feel comfortable at, helped by a group of very good coaches. It turned out to be a very friendly, welcoming place.
Q. You were recently diagnosed with Diabetes, what did it feel like to be told that you had the disease?
When I was diagnosed with diabetes Type 2 in May 2018 following a routine blood test for another condition my initial reaction was one of surprise. It had come out of the blue and was not something I had anticipated
Q. Were your GP and the medical team supportive and helpful following your diagnosis?
My GP and medical staff gave me some very helpful booklets on the condition. However, I do feel at times that Type 2’s are stigmatised as being at fault for being overweight, eating a poor diet and being inactive. I resented this I was not overweight, ate a good diet and considered myself to be reasonably active.
Q. Has coming to Inspire Fitness helped you manage your diabetes?
I have been delighted with my decision to join the gym as my glucose readings have dropped by a considerable amount to the extent that my doctor is no longer asking me to go on medication. I have to say that the day the diabetic nurse gave me the information that my blood glucose levels had dropped below the necessary levels, I walked around for the rest of the day with a big smile on my face!
Q. What would you say to anyone else who has recently been diagnosed?
To anyone recently diagnosed with diabetes, I would say that you can take control of your diabetes through diet and exercise. Of course, it may not keep everyone off medication but you will definitely feel better for it.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Finally I should like to give my heartfelt thanks to Ruth and her team of coaches for their help. It seems that nothing is too much trouble for them and I now really look forward to my visits.
We’re absolutely delighted with Jill’s results and hope she remains a member for a very long time to come.
Phytic Acid, The Mineral Reducer – Just another scare story?
As we get older our digestions changes and we don’t always manage to get enough of essential nutrients so it’s particularly important to be aware of anything that makes it even harder.
Have you ever heard of phytic acid?
Have you ever been told that you should soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains and legumes otherwise the phytic acid can prevent your body from absorbing some of the minerals in your food?
Not even sure what phytic acid is? That’s ok, many people have never heard of it but read on and you’ll soon know all about it.
Phytic acid is naturally present in most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes; it is the plant’s storage form of the mineral phosphorus and is used as energy when the plant starts to grow.
The highest levels of phytic acid are found in rice bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, and walnuts.
Phytic acid and minerals
The reason that it’s often referred to as an anti-nutrient is because it binds to the minerals iron, zinc, and calcium, preventing them from being fully absorbed when eaten. This is why it’s known as a “mineral reducer.”
But, Phytic acid’s effects only apply to mineral-containing foods in the current meal. Once digested, there is no mineral reduction on any future meals and there is no impact to the minerals your body has already absorbed.
Phytic acid’s health benefits
And it isn’t all bad – Phytic acid has some health benefits too.
It can act as an antioxidant. It can also help reduce your risk of kidney stones, heart disease, and even some cancers.
Because it loves minerals (which are metals), phytic acid in your gut can also bind to any heavy metals (the metals we don’t want too much of) that may have hitched a ride with your food.
How to reduce phytic acid
As you can see, phytic acid isn’t something to be too concerned about, unless your main foods at most meals are nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Because many of these are nutritious foods, you probably don’t want to cut them out of your diet.
Considering both the good and bad properties of phytic acid you may want to increase your mineral intake if you’re consuming a lot of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Alternatively, here are two popular methods to naturally reduce phytic acid:
Why do soaking and sprouting help reduce phytic acid in certain foods?
It’s because being wet is a “sign” to leave their dormant (dry) state and start a new life. Enzymes activated during soaking and sprouting deactivate phytic acid to use its energy and stored minerals for the plant as it begins to grow.
Phytic acid has a bad rap as a mineral reducer. It’s found in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Yes, it most definitely prevents absorption of critical minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, if they’re in your gut at the same time. Phytic acid in food can become a health concern if you are deficient in these minerals, or if your diet is largely based on nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
But, if you eat a varied diet, then phytic acid shouldn’t be as much of a concern. In fact, phytic acid does have some health benefits.
If you want to reduce it in your food, you can soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
Our new member feature posts are designed to acknowledge members who are particularly aspirational. We know that every single one of our members are special for a myriad of reasons but occasionally certain members come to our attention for doing something particular that we’d like to applaud them for. These posts are meant to be a high five for something awesome as well as a nudge to everyone else to take a deep breath and barge through whatever might be holding you back right now.
We’ve chosen Michaela Bright to be the subject of our first member feature. Michaela has been a member for the past 3 years and is a well-known and loved member of the Inspire family. Following the recent blow of being made redundant Michaela took the bold step of retraining to be a Sports Massage Therapist which it turns out is something she’s incredibly good at! Michaela is proof that if you have a dream you should go for it.
Quite a few of our other members have been to Michaela for therapy and we’ve heard nothing but great things about her skills, manner and effectiveness.
So, here’s a little more about Micheala, her experience with Inspire and what drove her to retrain as a manual therapist.
Q. You were already someone who took care of your health with regular yoga sessions so why did you join Inspire Fitness in the first place?
I decided to joint Inspire with my daughter Lauren so that we could do something fun together to boost our fitness levels and to help her get back into fitness after having my grandson. We didn’t want to join a traditional gym as they can be slightly intimidating and as Inspire was ladies only we thought the atmosphere would be more friendly.
Q. How have you found your fitness has changed since joining?
I have always been fairly flexible from over 15 years of Yoga, but I actually think that the strength training has improved yoga practice in all areas due to increased stamina.
Although not my original reason for joining the gym, my weight has dropped by just over a stone and I now have much better muscle definition.
Last year I had the confidence to wear a bikini again on holiday and my strength was noticeably improved on a recent kayaking challenge that I took part in.
Q. As someone who now has extensive knowledge of how the body should work what do you like most about the eGym circuit?
I like the ability to adjust the machinery especially when I have overworked certain areas, the machines are very easy to use, and the circuit gives me a good basic and allows me to add my own exercises to boost working the individual muscle groups or to add some cardio.
The changes in the programmes every 6 sessions doesn’t allow the muscle memory to become complacent and therefore helps maximise every workout session.
Q.Recently, following a redundancy, you decided to train as a sports massage therapist, what attracted you to do this?
I had time to sit back and think what I wanted to do when I grew up! ? The things I enjoyed were Yoga, the gym and the regular massages that I got. I felt that as I was nearly 50 a PT maybe wasn’t for me, and I could never aspire to be as good a Yoga teacher as my instructor Naomi Seager so I decided to retrain as a Sports Massage Therapist, the idea was then encouraged by the instructors at the gym and by my friend Sam Bramley who owns Active Potential Therapy.
Q. How did you find the training?
First I had to encourage my brain to learn something that wasn’t maths based.
Day one we had to name 3 muscles / bones in the body……. I knew 3!!
5 months later, after over 60 hours of classroom study, 2 practical videoed assessments, 2 exams and 28 case studies later I passed levels 4 & 5.
Q. What do you enjoy about being a sports massage therapist?
I enjoy making people feel better when they leave than when they arrived, and I get to talk (to them or at them) which is another hobby of mine!
Q. Are sports massages just for people who run a lot or play regular sports?
Definitely not, in the past weeks I have had more gardening back injuries than anything else.
Generally, I see a range of people from those who are very active to those who could do with being more active.
Massage can help with many things from stress and headaches to enhancing performance and improving range of movement. (see my poster in the gym for details of the many benefits of massage)
Q. How could a sports massage help someone who considers themselves quite sedentary?
Massage is great for improving circulation, decreasing inflammation, improving digestion and many more effects of being sedentary. 70% of my regular clients have desk bound jobs and a maintenance shoulder and back massage can really help reduce the stresses held in these areas.
Q. Where do you work and how can someone get in touch if they want to try a massage with you?
Please email email@example.com or message me on 0790 000 8688 alternatively grab me in the gym
Most people know that blood sugar levels have a direct impact on their health and wellness and that uncontrolled blood sugar can conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?
But probably a lot of people know that without really understanding what blood sugar actually is or how to prevent excessive highs and lows.
Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But why have sugar in your blood? Well, you need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.
The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.
This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat foods with carbohydrates (i.e. sugars or starches) then your digestive system break these down into sugars which are then absorbed into the blood stream for transportation around the body. Your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues to be used for energy.
Why is it important to keep blood sugar stable?
Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood.
When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycemia.”
When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycemia. Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to “insulin resistance.”
Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high.
Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes.
So, let’s look at how you can optimize your food and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable.
Food for stable blood sugar
The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.
Eating more fibre is helpful too. Fibre helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level. fibre is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods often removes most of the fibre). Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fibre intake.
FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar so add it to drinks, sprinkle it on porridge, yoghurt or fruit.
Lifestyle for stable blood sugar
Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood. Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood.
But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn’t you?
Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress you’re under and manage it more effectively. Simple tips are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle, restorative movement like swimming or yoga.
Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.
Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant). Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.
There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, and eating more fibre, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).
You know you do it. We all do it.
We’ve all got them – shoulds! I should exercise more. I should do some stretching. I should stop eating crisps and cake. I should be nicer to my husband/child/parent. I should drink less wine. I should get up earlier. These are just mine! 🤣🤣
What do you tell yourself you should be doing?
We need to stop. They don’t do us any favours, in fact, they’re not good for us at all.
Yes, it’s useful to realise that you’ve got more potential than you’re actually using and that life and health can often be improved if we’re willing to make some changes but deciding to make a positive change and constantly telling yourself you should but doing nothing about it are two very different things.
You know your brain and body listen to your internal chatter, don’t you? So constantly telling yourself you SHOULD be doing something that you’re not is constantly telling yourself you’re not quite good enough as you are. On top of that, each time you tell yourself and then don’t do something about it there’s a little part of you that loses trust in yourself. You gradually lose the belief that you’re capable of making change. Even though you haven’t even tried and failed, you’ve failed to try and your brain and body noticed even if you didn’t.
Take a moment and try out this little exercise. Think of one of your shoulds, for instance, “I should start stretching.” It’s a great idea but really think about why you think you need to. How does that thought make you feel? A little deflated? Fed up because you’ve been thinking it for ages and still not done it? Shoulds drain energy and don’t bring anything positive to the party.
Now, try something a little different. With the same SHOULD, imagine that you are doing it. Imagine a way of fitting it into your day. What does that look like? And how does it make you feel?
It’s a totally different energy isn’t it?
So now you need a way of changing your shoulds to action and luckily there’s a step by step process for doing that.
First of all, go back to thinking about your should and why you think it’s necessary, then take it a step further and tell yourself why that reason is important to you. For instance:
“I should start stretching.”
Why? – “Because I’m stiff and achey a lot of the time”
Why is not being stiff and achey important to you? – “Because I see my parents with limited mobility and I don’t want to be like that plus I struggle to get on the floor to play with my grandkids”
So now you’ve got a solid, emotional reason for taking action.
Let’s take it a step further and think about whether it’s realistic and possible to do the thing you’re think you should. Are you physically able to? Can you find the time in your day? If you’re thinking you should run 5k every day and you’ve got children to look after and a full time job plus you’ve never run before it’s unlikely that you’re going to manage it however good your “why” is but you could downsize it to something that is more manageable such as a 10 minute walk after dinner every evening with a plan to increase the time or add a jog when you can.
And when you’re doing this bit of the exercise be honest about what’s an excuse and what is a legitimate reason for not being able to do it right now. You’ll know if you’re telling yourself you’re too busy but really you just don’t want to. Perhaps you need to just forget about that “should” right now and find something that resonates a bit more with you.
At this stage you might even find out that it’s not your “should” in the first place. Perhaps someone else has convinced you that you should be doing something. In this case you might be able to just move on and stop beating yourself up about it.
What the next step?
Working out what it looks like when you’re actually doing it. Perhaps you can’t manage a 20 minute stretch routine every morning before getting the kids off to school and getting to work yourself but could you manage one stretch before bed and another in the morning before you get in the shower?
Downsize your SHOULD until it’s doable and then take action. That means actually start doing it. A tiny action that you’re doing is much more powerful than the perfect programme that never gets done. Your brain and body will notice, not just that you’re doing something good but that you’re a person who takes action so next time you decide on a change in behaviour, you’ll be even more likely to succeed.