We all have an inner belligerent teenager who resists, rebels, and feels misunderstood.

If you’re a coach, you might be familiar with scenarios where a client’s inner-teen surfaced.

Maybe it was when a client…

… trained even harder despite you cautioning them to take time to recover.

… complained of heartburn, but when you suggested an acid-taming meal plan, they responded by going on a three-night spicy wings bender.

said they wanted to get better sleep, but gave you a hundred reasons why they couldn’t put their phone away before 1 am.

Before you consider using reverse psychology (“Never stretch, and drink eight ounces of Sriracha before bed every night…”), what if we told you there’s a framework that can dissolve these kinds of coaching tensions?

One that will help you understand:

  • Why clients’ actions sometimes contradict their intentions
  • Why people often rebel against good advice 
  • How to help clients clarify the changes they’re actually willing to make, and talk themselves into action 
  • How to collaborate better with clients, getting them better results and making your job easier and more enjoyable

This framework exists!

It’s called Motivational Interviewing—and once you get it, your client results can be mind-blowing.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Developed by clinical psychologists William Miller, PhD, and Stephen Rollnick, PhD, Motivational Interviewing is a communication style that helps people:

✅ Explore goals

✅ Strengthen their own motivation and commitment

✅ Adopt new habits

✅ Quit unproductive habits

✅ Successfully change for the better

Motivational Interviewing: Benefits for the coach

Coaches who use Motivational Interviewing function kind of like tour guides for someone exploring a new country.

(In this case, that country is the Land of Fitness and Nutrition.)

Like a personal tour guide, you have expertise, insider’s knowledge, and ideas on the best things to do, but you don’t have a programmed route that you’ll force clients to stick to.

You might share some of your insights, but ultimately, your clients will decide where to go.

A good Motivational Interviewing coach will also be genuinely curious, respectful, and non-judgemental about a client’s preferences.

(“Oh, you’d rather spend the day picnicking on the Seine instead of visiting the Eiffel Tower? I totally get that.”)

You respect your client’s autonomy, and interact with them as an equal partner.

You often say, “What would you like to do next? I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear what you’re thinking first.”

As a result, even when they’re in foreign territory, clients end up feeling supported, but also free.

Motivational Interviewing: Benefits for the client

Motivational Interviewing works especially well when a person is:

  • Highly ambivalent, stuck between wanting to change, and wanting to stay the same (“I want to go to bed earlier, but I don’t want to give up my free time at night.”)
  • Not very confident about their ability to change (“I’ve never been athletic. I just don’t know if I’m the exercising ‘type.’”)
  • Uncertain about whether they even want to make a change (“Do I really want to eat more kale? Sounds gross.”)
  • Not convinced about the benefits of change (“Will meditating really lower my blood pressure?”)

Uhh.. that’s most clients, isn’t it?

Exactly.

How Motivational Interviewing works

The main purpose of Motivational Interviewing is to resolve ambivalence, or “stuckness” in a client.

This is achieved through empathy, rapport-building, and freedom to explore change options—including not changing at all.

Wait—not changing?!

When most coaches and practitioners hear this, they bristle. They feel it’s their job to help clients change and improve.

If a client isn’t progressing, many coaches will (naturally, understandably) try harder—convincing, encouraging, even lecturing a client about all the good, life-affirming reasons to change.

However…

“Helping harder” usually doesn’t work.

Sure, a few unicorn clients just need more prodding to make progress.

But many clients don’t respond to standard encouragement, rationalizing, and problem-solving. The harder you try to help them, the harder they push back, continuing their old habits.

Take this common coaching scenario:

A client comes to you because they want to eat healthier.

A former athlete, their weight has crept up because they replaced a busy training schedule with a desk job, and lots of snacking.

Their clothes no longer fit, and their doctor has warned them that they’re at high risk of developing prediabetes. They have two young kids, and their motivation is high to set a good example for them and be a healthy parent.

You’ve taught them about portions, protein, vegetables—all the nutrition basics.

And yet, a few sessions in, they haven’t changed a thing.

Of course, you ask them what’s up.

Client: I sit all day but feel so tired after work. I don’t have the energy to exercise; all I want to do when I get home is watch game highlights with a beer and some chips.

Coach: Okay, I can understand that. But your doctor told you it was important to start exercising, and stick to a better diet. She’s worried about your blood sugar, right?

Client: Yeah, I know. I just feel like work is so crazy right now, and I really need time to decompress after work. It’s all I have before the kids get home, and then the house is nuts until they go to bed.

Coach: Hmm, well maybe you could just put a stationary bike in front of the TV and have seltzer instead of beer?

Client: But that doesn’t feel relaxing to me. What I’m saying is that I really need some time when no one needs me to do anything, and I can just treat myself. I never get to do that.

Coach: I get that. But you said that long term, you want to be healthy for your kids. And the best way to do that is to take better care of yourself now.

Can you see where this is going?

The coach is trying to help by suggesting solutions, and reminding the client of the importance of their choices.

The coach has a sincere desire to correct course when they see the client getting off track. (In Motivational Interviewing, this is called “the righting reflex.”)

Paradoxically, this causes the client to take the opposing position, to defend themself. 

Sadly, the coach ends up feeling frustrated because they don’t feel like they’re doing a good job helping. (Which is what they were hired to do… right?)

Meanwhile, the client feels misunderstood, and further invested in justifying their current habits.

You know your client wants to adopt better habits—they told you in your first session together.

But they also seem pulled to maintain their current comforts.

So how do you get this client to change? (Without making yourself the enemy?)

Follow these five steps and experience the magic of Motivational Interviewing.

Motivational Interviewing skills: 5 steps to better client conversations

When a client is 100 percent ready, able, and willing to take action RIGHT NOW, you won’t need much help.

(Heck, you might never meet a client like that. Why would they hire a coach?)

Motivational Interviewing is most needed—and effective—when you sense friction in your client sessions. Your client is expressing uncertainty, not following through on their intentions, or straight up resisting what you offer.

When that happens (and it will), follow these steps.

Motivational Interviewing Skill #1: Recognize that ambivalence is normal

Ever make a big decision?

Get married? Buy a house? Change careers?

Do you remember how part of you felt excited for the change, but another part of you felt grief or anxiety over the loss of your single life, your old (cheap) apartment, or your unstimulating-but-regular-paycheck job?

It’s the same way when clients contemplate lifestyle changes.

Part of them wants to be the type of person who eats salads every day, and the other part still wants to have a carefree attitude towards food, and yes, add fries to that.

This internal conflict between wanting to change and wanting to stay the same is called ambivalence.

And it’s totally normal.

Most clients won’t know how to name this tension either, and they certainly won’t assume it’s normal. They’ll probably just say: “I want to do this thing. But I’m not doing it. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??”

Ambivalence is such a normal part of change that both coach and client should bake it into their expectations.

(To bring awareness to—and sometimes even resolve—ambivalence, this exercise can be magic: 4 Crazy Questions Worksheet)

However, ambivalence is also a place where people can get stuck.

Usually, being stuck means maintaining the “old” way. Meaning: Your client isn’t getting any healthier.

In order to help a client move through these natural feelings of ambivalence, don’t push harder.

Instead…

Motivational Interviewing Skill #2: Assess your client’s readiness for change

Change is rarely a single event: You’re one way, then you’re suddenly “changed.”

Change is a process with multiple stages. And during some of those stages, it won’t “look” like anything’s happening.

The idea that change is a multi-step process with distinct phases is called the Transtheoretical Model of Change.

Image of transtheoretical model of change shows 6 stages of change, arranged in a cycle. Although people may enter or exit at any phase, typically people enter in the precontemplation phase, then move to contemplation, then preparation, then action, then potentially relapse, then ideally enter a maintenance phase.

Clients can enter or exit at any stage of the above model.

However, assessing where your client is in that process can help you coach them better—a person will have different needs depending on which phase they’re in. It’ll also help you avoid getting ahead of them and inadvertently scaring them away from change.

The transtheoretical model of change: 6 stages

Table describes the transtheoretical model of change, which has 6 stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, then potentially relapse.

Most programs and coaches assume clients are in the “action” stage already.

For example, giving a client a meal plan or a workout program after your first session assumes they’re already in the action stage. Which isn’t always true.

By understanding and preparing for various stages of readiness, you’ll be able to connect with—and help—way more clients.

Motivational Interviewing Skill #3: Understand your client’s motivations

Whatever your client’s doing that’s holding them back from better health—staying up late, getting too wound up at work, or stress-eating expensive cheese—they have a good reason for doing it.  

To dig into that reason, Motivational Interviewing coaches use OARS:

Open questions

Affirmations

Reflections

Summarizing

OARS represents a set of communication skills that build understanding and trust between the client and the coach.

Let’s go into how (and when) to use those now.

Open Questions

Generally, an open question is one that prompts a client to think, and yields more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

Open questions give you insight into a client’s feelings, experience, and expectations.

Examples:

  • What brings you in today?
  • How are your current habits affecting you right now?
  • What do you hope for yourself in the future?

Open questions are a great way to start off a session, or to explore a certain topic at any point in the session.

Good open questions also help the client realize why change matters, and how it might be possible.

Affirmations

Affirming means accentuating a client’s strengths, efforts, and past successes as a way to build hope and optimism.

Your affirmations can help clients see themselves differently: Perhaps as someone who’s wise and worthy of respect—and most importantly, someone who’s capable of change.

Affirming should be genuine; If you’re truly listening and understanding your client’s side of the story, you will see their positive aspects, such as their resilience or their creativity, and it’ll feel natural to call it out.

Affirmations sound like this:

  • Wow, you’ve worked really hard on this issue! I really admire your persistence.
  • It sounds like even though things didn’t turn out as you planned, your intention was good.
  • I know you’re disappointed that you couldn’t practice your new habit perfectly, but I see huge progress from where you started.

Affirmations can be used to build momentum when a client is making progress, but they’re equally important when a client is feeling defeated and could use some help reframing themselves or their actions.

Reflections

Clients don’t always communicate perfectly: They try to describe an experience and don’t always convey their full meaning.

Sure, you could press them to be more clear or elaborate further, but that can make some clients just feel like they’re doing a bad job of communicating, or that you just don’t understand.

Reflections are a way of guessing at a client’s deeper meaning.

They help you confirm you’ve understood what the client is really saying, and also gives you the opportunity to build on what the client might be trying to get at, by weaving in some of your own insights.

When done properly, reflecting can help a client feel deeply cared for, understood, and also enhance their own understanding of themselves and their situation.

Here are some examples of reflections:

Client: I feel nervous.

Coach: You’re feeling uneasy, maybe because you’ve never talked about these things before.

Client: I feel like I failed.

Coach: You feel disappointed that you slipped up this week, and this makes you wonder if you can really change in the long run.

Client: I’m so happy I went to the gym this week!

Coach: You’re happy you went to the gym and you must be feeling so proud of yourself! You’re getting a taste for what’s possible!

Believe it or not, it actually doesn’t matter so much if you occasionally get a client’s meaning wrong. Just take a guess, and your client will correct you if you’re wrong.

Check it out:

Client: This meal plan kind of freaks me out!

Coach: All those macros and calories can be overwhelming!

Client: Oh, that’s not it at all. I’m pretty comfortable with macros. It’s just that I have two daughters, and I’m worried about the message I’m sending them if they see me weighing all my food.

In correcting you, your client helps you understand what they mean anyway.

Getting it wrong can feel awkward, but it’s better than staying quiet and assuming you understand a client’s full meaning when they say something.

(Note: The above are all examples of complex reflections. If all that interpreting sounds risky, then try a simple reflection, where you just repeat or slightly rephrase what a client said. Although basic, even this strategy can help a client feel like you’re listening, and offers them a chance to elaborate.)

Summarizing

Summarizing is just stringing together reflections—and sometimes affirmations—based on several things a client has told you.

Like reflections, summaries help you confirm whether you’ve heard and interpreted a story correctly.

They also give clients a chance to reflect on everything they’ve told you so far, and possibly to see their story in a different way. Sometimes when we hear someone else tell our story back to us, it gives us new insights.

Here’s an example:

“So, you came here today because you’re worried about your health. You often feel sore and tired, and that worries you because you have young kids who need you to be healthy for a long time. You’ve had trouble sticking to nutrition programs in the past, so you don’t feel super confident that you can do it now. However, you’ve also continued to care about your health, and try to find solutions, which shows me how resilient you are.”

At the end of your summary, you can ask, “Did I miss anything?” or “Do you want to add anything else?”

Use summaries when you:

✅ Wrap up a certain topic

✅ Shift from one phase of a client session to the next

✅ Reach the end of a session

With the whole picture freshly laid out, you and your client can better come up with the most appropriate next steps.

Motivational Interviewing Skill #4: Roll with any resistance that comes up

Resistance happens when the client appears to move away from change, and towards maintaining their old habits.

Resistance might sound like this:

“But I make all my meals at home! I don’t understand how my diet could be unhealthy!”

Or:

“I’m just not a gym person.”

Resistance isn’t about the client being “difficult.”

Resistance happens when the client feels some (normal) ambivalence about change, and the coach has moved too far ahead in the change process.

It’s often the coach who creates resistance. If a client’s pushing back, it means you’ve given them something to push against.

[Swallows jagged pill]

So when you experience resistance, you might ask yourself:

“What did I say to generate push-back?”

Maybe you—with totally good intentions—suggested the client change too much too fast. And they’re now feeling insecure, and overwhelmed.

This causes your client to dig in their heels, creating a feeling of friction if you continue to push forward.

A more effective way to deal with resistance is to step back, remind yourself that ambivalence and resistance are normal, and then use reflections to help understand and move through your client’s resistance.

Here’s what that might sound like:

Client: “I don’t see why my diet’s such a big problem.”

Coach: “You feel like you’re not really seeing the benefit of changing your eating habits.”

Client: “No. I mean, my doctor seems to think there’s a problem, but I don’t.”

Coach: “You’re not really sure your doctor is right about this.”

Client: “Well, I’m sure she knows something. She’s a doctor after all. I just don’t feel like I’m sick or anything.”

Coach: “Your doctor might know what they’re talking about, you just don’t feel you’ve experienced any negative consequences of your diet.”

Client: “Well, I guess I get heartburn a fair bit. And I don’t have the energy I used to.”

Coach: “Your heartburn’s bothering you, and it would be great to feel more energetic again.”

Client: “Yeah. Those things bug me a lot actually. Sigh. I guess I know if I eat better, I’ll probably feel better.”

Without trying to convince them of your position, you’ve just walked the client gently towards change.

Your client initially felt defensive and a little oppositional, but with some good reflections, they felt understood and free to explore their options.

Now, you’re in a much better position to ask the client if they’re okay with you sharing some things about how nutrition might improve their specific health issues.

And your client might actually feel ready to listen.

Motivational Interviewing Skill #5: Support your client’s ongoing ability to change

Many clients who come to you will have tried to change on their own—or even with the help of another practitioner—without success.

They might also be used to people telling them their habits are “bad” and pushing them to change.

In other words, many clients will come to you filled with self-doubt, mistrustful of their own instincts and wisdom.

This can negatively impact their long term progress.

Here’s what we know—from coaching over 100,000 clients—what does help people make meaningful and sustainable progress.

People are more successful when:

  • They find their own motivation to change. People are more persuaded by what they themselves say than what someone else tells them to do.
  • They see challenges as opportunities to get stronger, rather than give up. Affirmations that highlight a client’s efforts (rather than just results) can strengthen their belief in their ability to learn, grow, and adapt.
  • They’re self-compassionate. When a client works with a coach who accepts them as they are, sees the best in them, and believes in their potential, it’s transformative. Clients who internalize this compassion and positive regard are more likely to adopt healthier habits, and have better mental health outcomes.

By adopting the spirit of Motivational Interviewing in your coaching, you’ll naturally promote all of these outcomes in your clients.

(Read more about how to talk to clients in a collaborative, compassionate way: Effective coach talk: What to say to clients and why it matters)

Don’t expect your coaching to change all at once, though.

This was just a little sample of what Motivational Interviewing has to offer.

Even so, you might be feeling overwhelmed about everything we just covered.

Or maybe you’re super excited to put it into practice!

(Or maybe it’s both. Remember: Ambivalence is normal.)

Either way, know that Motivational Interviewing takes consistent practice on the part of the practitioner to really “get.”

Motivational Interviewing is a kind of language. And just like learning a new language, Motivational Interviewing takes time to master—and can feel REALLY awkward at first.

Just like you give your clients time and space to change, allow yourself to build your Motivational Interviewing proficiency over time.

(If you want to dig into it further, plus be mentored by one of our Super Coaches, check out the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Health Coaching Certification. Motivational Interviewing principles are built into our coaching methods—we call it “client-centered coaching.”)

When you get the hang of Motivational Interviewing, coaching will feel different.

Your clients will get better results because they feel more autonomous, respected, and appropriately supported. And that’s very rewarding to witness.

But you’ll also feel better: You’ll experience less frustration and conflict in client sessions, coaching will feel easier with less pressure to “produce results,” and you’ll feel more connected to the people you serve.

Motivational Interviewing is one of the most effective tools you can use to help your clients change for the better.

And it’ll change you too.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.


Miller WR, Rollnick S. Motivational Interviewing. Preparing people for change. 3rd edn. New York: The Guilford Press, 2013.


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The post Motivational Interviewing: The proven coaching method that helps people change—even when they’re feeling stuck appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“How’s your health?”

When most people hear that question, they immediately think about their blood work or maybe a nagging problem, like back pain or heartburn or migraines.

Others might focus on a fitness achievement:

“Just completed my third marathon this year. Never been healthier!”

Many people simply consider their weight or overall appearance:

[pinches stomach] “I’m still using the same belt hole I used in my twenties, so I must be healthy, right?”

What do these have in common?

They’re centered around a person’s physical health.

Which makes sense: It’s how we’ve been taught to think about our health since we were old enough to… think about our health.

But…

It doesn’t give you the full picture.

Not even close.

Good health is about way more than your LDL cholesterol, body composition, and fitness level.

Research shows it’s also about your mental and emotional well-being, feeling connected to others, and just enjoying life overall.1,2

And that’s just for starters.

That’s why we created a novel health assessment to help you gauge how you’re really doing.

To do this, it analyzes your health in six crucial dimensions—instead of just one.

But besides helping you better understand the state of your health, it also shows where you can make the biggest positive impact on your health right now.

Result: You can start taking action—today.

We call it the Deep Health Assessment.

Use it to discover comprehensive insights into your overall health and well-being that you can’t get anywhere else.

Get your Deep Health Assessment

To begin your assessment, simply click “Get Started” below.

Deep Health Assessment
How’s your health… REALLY? Let’s find out.

After completing your assessment, if you’re curious to learn more about Deep Health and how all the dimensions work together, keep reading.

What is deep health?

Deep Health is a state of thriving in ALL areas of your life—not just the physical.

We refer to these areas as “dimensions of Deep Health,” and there are six of them: physical, emotional, mental, social, environmental, and existential.

In the chart below, you can see what each dimension means. Notice how they all contribute equally to Deep Health.

If this is all looking pretty abstract, stick with us. We’ll show you how it works with some practical examples.

The best part: Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. 

And that can be life-changing.

(In fact, it’s designed to be life-changing.)

So let’s get started.

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Over 150,000 health & fitness professionals certified

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What makes Deep Health special?

Deep Health isn’t just something you want to achieve.

It’s also a lens you can look through to see where you’re at. (Thus, our Deep Health Assessment above.)

Think of it this way: If you’re only looking at one dimension of your health—such as the physical—you’re assessing your health through a very narrow lens.

But, if you’re looking at all six dimensions, you’re assessing your health through a much broader lens—some call this a “holistic” view—which gives you greater insights into your health.

Additionally, understanding Deep Health can help you better determine what actions will make the most positive impact on your life. 

When considering a new habit, people often think about how it’ll affect their physical health—but not necessarily how it might impact their social, emotional, or other dimensions of health.

When you know about Deep Health, you can use your insights to help you choose actions that have widespread positive effects—not just on physical health, but other dimensions of health too.

Bonus: When an action benefits multiple dimensions, you’re more likely to sustain it.

How Deep Health works

We all know: Physical health is super important.

To optimize that dimension of your health, you need good nutrition, regular exercise, and quality sleep.

Hardly anyone would argue with that. (We’d say “no one,” but have you ever been on Twitter?)

The problem: You aren’t a robot that’s programmed to do each of those perfectly.

In fact, your ability to eat, move, and sleep well—especially in a way that’s sustainable—depends on the other five dimensions of Deep Health. 

How does it work in everyday life?

Let’s map it out, using sleep as an example.

Imagine you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest.

To examine this problem through a Deep Health lens, you’d not only consider how your sleep problem affects your physical health, but also how it impacts your emotional, environmental, mental, social, and existential health.

To illustrate this, the map below shows the EFFECTS poor shuteye might have on each dimension of Deep Health.

But we’re not done yet.

Now look at your dimensions of Deep Health and consider how each might be CONTRIBUTING to your disrupted sleep.

For example, if you’re not getting along with your partner, that might be causing some tension in your relationship—and it’s hard to fall asleep next to someone when you’re worrying, ‘Are they mad at me?’

As a result, your social health is messing with your shuteye.

You could apply this thinking across all six dimensions of Deep Health.

(Which we did. See the updated map.)

Finally, look for relationships BETWEEN the dimensions of Deep Health. After all, these dimensions don’t exist in a vacuum; they all affect and influence each other.

For example, in the updated map…

  • Poor sleep is causing heightened work anxiety. The heightened work anxiety is causing late-night laptop work, which is then causing more poor sleep.
  • Late meals are also playing a role in the energy struggles.
  • The snapping at the partner is also a reason why the house is messy (because that person is feeling underappreciated and unwilling to clean).

As you can see…

The map can get pretty messy.

That’s okay.

It means there’s a lot of opportunity for improvement. But it might be that the easiest (and best) place to start, isn’t where you thought.

For instance, maybe the best route to getting a better night’s sleep begins with getting more organized at work and setting up some work/life boundaries, rather than trying to address sleep directly.

Understanding the way various aspects of life work together to create your complex human experience is where the real insights begin.

But let’s not leave you with this rather hopeless-looking mess.

You just saw how various aspects of health were affected by ONE issue (poor sleep).

Let’s see how various aspects of health can be affected by ONE solution.

The exponential power of a positive action

Sleep can be a tricky thing.

In most cases, it’s not like you can snap your fingers and just decide to sleep better.

But let’s use the insights we gained from our Deep Health mapping above, and see how we might positively impact sleep.

Work anxiety and poor boundaries around working hours might be making it hard to “turn off” and get quality sleep at night.

So, say you start with a simple intervention: Setting some boundaries around your evening. No work emails after 6:30 p.m., and nothing but chill activities (like reading or watching a light-hearted show) after 9 p.m.

Because you understand Deep Health, you also hypothesize that this new routine will benefit not just sleep (your physical health) but may also improve other dimensions of health.

For example, not working evenings means you might spend more quality time with your spouse—bumping up social health—or even get a chance to do some light tidying up before bed—bumping up environmental health.

And hey! After a couple weeks, this gradual wind-down ritual does start helping you fall asleep sooner and get better quality sleep overall.

Your sleep may not be perfect, but darn it, it’s better than it was before.

Let’s map what happens.

Okay, so the center is now a positive trait, thanks to your new evening routine.

And, as mentioned, you’re sleeping better.

Now, let’s look at the EFFECTS of this improvement on each dimension of Deep Health.

Next, ask yourself what factors might be CONTRIBUTING to the improvement.

What might be helping you—from each dimension of Deep Health—to maintain your bedtime routine and sleep better?

Lastly, look for relationships BETWEEN the elements on your map.

In this hypothetical well-rested person…

  • Better sleep is causing better focus and productivity during standard work hours. This frees up time outside of work, which helps you build up other aspects of your identity, and feel less defined by work.
  • Meal planning and more regular healthy, home-cooked meals are also helping daytime mood balance. (Because, less hanger.)
  • The energy you’ve gained from sleeping better is also helping you think in a bigger way about your life, and how you’d like to contribute to the world or your community in a meaningful way.

The map might look messy again.

But this time it’s a beautiful mess.

It’s now the map of a complex, yet elegant, harmonious, thriving life.

All the dimensions work together, building positive momentum and providing scaffolding for even more improvements.

Your health isn’t dependent on ONE single aspect, such as your physical health.

Therefore, improving your health shouldn’t be confined to working on ONE dimension—say, your body.

In reality, health is supported by a network of intersecting, interdependent factors.

And when that network is strong and working together, it creates a state of health that is richer, deeper, and more resilient than anything you’ve ever experienced.

If you haven’t already, try out your Deep Health Assessment below, and start building YOUR optimal health and well-being.

Deep Health Assessment
How’s your health… REALLY? Let’s find out.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. House, J. S., K. R. Landis, and D. Umberson. 1988. “Social Relationships and Health.” Science 241 (4865): 540–45.

2. Umberson, Debra, and Jennifer Karas Montez. 2010. “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51 Suppl (Suppl): S54–66.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post The Deep Health Assessment: How’s your health… REALLY? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Want to know your body fat percentage? This free body fat calculator estimates it instantly, using three scientifically validated formulas.

But that’s just for starters: Our body fat calculator does way more than spit out numbers.

In addition to getting your body fat percentage estimate, you’ll also receive a FREE report that’ll help you understand what your results REALLY mean—and what you should do next to reach your health and fitness goals.

Ready to see your body fat percentage and get your report?

Enter your details below. (Have questions? Find the answers below the body fat calculator.)

Body Fat Calculator

SEX

If intersex or transitioning, choose the biological sex description that best fits current hormonal status for interpreting body fat ranges.

YMCA FORMULA

Originally used by the YMCA. It uses waist circumference, body weight, and sex.

CUN BAE FORMULA

Developed at Navarra University in Spain. CUN BAE is an acronym for Clinica Universidad de Navarra (CUN) Body Adiposity Estimator (BAE). It uses body weight, height, age, and sex.

Standard
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Your Results

Your estimated body fat percentage

%

Body weight:


lb
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Fat mass:


lb
kg


Lean mass:


lb
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Not sure what to do with these numbers?

We’ve created a FREE report that analyzes your body fat results and shows you what to do next.

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Understand what your body fat level means for your health

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Adjust your nutrition and lifestyle to achieve your body fat goals

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Learn new strategies for making healthy changes that last

Your personalized report is on the way!

How to use this body fat calculator

Whether you’re checking your own body fat percentage or doing the calculations for a client, here’s the information you’ll need:

  • age
  • sex
  • height
  • weight
  • waist circumference
  • hip circumference
  • neck circumference

You’ll know the first few details off the top of your head. But what about your neck, waist, and hip circumference? Just grab a measuring tape and use the instructions below.

This graphic is titled “How to Take Your Measurements” and provides details on how to use a measuring tape to get your neck, waist, and hip circumferences . Here are the instructions: 1) Neck: Measure at the widest part of your neck; 2) Waist: Measure at the narrowest part of your waist (usually around your navel); 3) Measure at the widest part of your hips. Tip: To get an accurate measurement, the measuring tape should be snug, with no gaps between the tape and your skin—but not so tight it’s cutting into your skin.

Who’s this body fat calculator for?

This body fat percentage calculator is for anyone who is curious about how much body fat they have and doesn’t have access to a more advanced method.

It’s also useful for health, fitness, and nutrition coaches who want to estimate their clients’ body fat percentages for goal setting, intake evaluations, and tracking progress. (Learn more about our #1 rated nutrition coaching certification program here.)

How does this body fat percentage calculator work?

Our body fat calculator takes the inputs listed above and enters them into three scientifically validated body fat percentage formulas (those used for the Navy body fat percentage calculator, the YMCA body fat percentage calculator, and the CUN BAE body fat percentage calculator).

Obviously, this online body fat percentage calculator can’t measure your body fat directly—so it doesn’t give you an exact body fat readout.

But research shows each of these body fat calculator methods are around 95 percent accurate when working with large populations.

That means it’s going to be pretty close for most people, but for some—especially those who 1) are very lean and muscular (think: bodybuilders, football players, gymnasts) or 2) have very high levels of body fat—it’s going to be less accurate.

What this body fat calculator can do (and what it can’t do)

This body fat calculator estimates the percentage of your body weight that is fat mass.

Fat mass is exactly what you think it is: All the fat on your body.

The body fat calculator also estimates your lean mass. Simply put, lean mass is anything that isn’t fat mass—muscle, bone, organs, connective tissue, water, and even stuff inside your GI tract.

These numbers will give you an idea about your potential health risks.

Even with an accurate measurement, though, your level of body fat doesn’t define your health status.

For instance, it’s possible to be very healthy at a higher body fat percentage. Or very unhealthy at a lower body fat percentage. (Get your free, personalized report to learn more about how your body fat percentage affects your health risk.)

Do you have a healthy body fat percentage?

Using the body fat percentage chart below, you can see where your body fat falls in terms of general categories.

A body fat percentage chart showing low, normal, high, and very high body fat categories for different age groups, for both women and men. Here are how the body fat percentages break down by category. Women, Ages 20-39: Low = <21%; Normal = 21.0-32.9%; High = 33.0-38.9; Very High = ≥ 39. Women, Ages 40-59: Low = <23; Normal = 23.0-33.9; High = 34.0-39.9; Very High = ≥ 40. Women, Ages 60-79; Low = <24; Normal = 24.0-35.9; High = 36.0-41.9; Very High = ≥ 42. Men, Ages 20-39: Low = <8%; Normal = 8.0-19.9%; High = 20.0-24.9; Very High = ≥ 25. Men, Ages 40-59: Low = <11; Normal = 11.0-21.9; High = 22.0-27.9; Very High = ≥ 28. Men, Ages 60-79; Low = <13; Normal = 13.0-24.9; High = 25.0-29.9; Very High = ≥ 30.

This data is based on available research. If you’re an adult who falls outside these age ranges, it’s reasonable to use the body fat percentage category closest to your age. Also, the “Normal” category for body fat level is the label used by the scientists and guidelines we’ve cited, but it’s not our view that folks whose body fat falls below or above this range are “abnormal” or inherently unhealthy.

But remember: Your results won’t be 100 percent precise. They’re our best guess, based on the limitations of the measurement methods used here.

Additionally, the exact numbers aren’t what matter most.

The main benefit of this body fat percentage calculator is to help you assess where you currently are, compared to where you want to be. (If you’re interested in losing body fat, check out our free weight loss calculator.)

Recognize that this body fat percentage estimate doesn’t define you. It’s just one piece of the large puzzle that is your health—and which is influenced by many factors, including how you consistently eat, move, sleep, and deal with stress.

If you’d like to better understand what your grouping means, you’ll find that info—and more—in your FREE body fat percentage report. (Just put your details into the body fat percentage calculator.)

Body fat percentage: The bottom line

Most people don’t need to know their exact body fat percentage in order to make decisions about what comes next for them.

Because of that, the estimate from this body fat calculator will do the job nicely. (Plus, it’s fast, free, and user-friendly.)

Understanding which general body fat percentage range you’re in can help you:

  • Make informed decisions about your health
  • Decide what your body composition goals are (if any)
  • Provide a starting point for tracking your body fat percentage over time

Beyond that, here’s our best advice:

Your body fat percentage is just one indicator of your physical health.

And your physical health is just one factor that determines your overall health.

In fact, it’s not publicized enough: Your emotional health, mental health, social connections, environment, and sense of purpose in life all play vital roles in your total well-being.

So remember: If your goal is to thrive, perform, and live as well as you can, your body fat percentage is just a snapshot—not the whole picture album.

Resources

How accurate are body fat percentage calculators?

Reasonably accurate, generally speaking. But an online body fat calculator isn’t the MOST accurate way to determine your body fat percentage.

There are many different methods you can use to calculate body fat percentage.

Here are the most common body fat measurement methods, in order from most accurate to least accurate.

1. DEXA scan

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) involves using low-level X-ray beams to determine your fat-free mass, fat mass, and bone mineral density.

DEXA is the most accurate method of body fat measurement, but one downside is that it’s not readily available in every geographic area, and it can be relatively expensive compared to other methods.

2. Hydrostatic weighing

This method involves first being weighed, then being weighed again while submerged in water. Because fat is less dense than water, a person with more body fat will weigh less under water.

This is also a very accurate way to measure body fat percentage (it was the gold standard before DEXA), but it’s not commonly used outside of research settings. (It requires a deep hot tub-looking tank and, fun fact, an autopsy scale.)

3. Air-displacement plethysmography (Bod Pod)

A machine estimates body fat percentage in a way similar to hydrostatic weighing, only using air pressure instead of water.

This method is relatively accurate and more readily available (more and more gyms have them now), but is more expensive than the less accurate options below.

4. Skinfold measurements

A caliper is used to measure the thickness of the fat and skin in several areas of the body. Then, those numbers are plugged into a formula to determine body fat percentage.

The accuracy of this method depends on the skill level of the person taking the measurements. To track changes over time, it’s important that the same person does all the measurements.

Also, this method may not be accurate for those with very high levels of body fat.

5. Girth measurements

Body girth measurements (like the ones used in the body fat percentage calculator on this page) can be plugged into formulas with other information such as height, weight, age, and sex to estimate body fat percentage.

While it isn’t the most accurate approach, it is one of the easiest and doesn’t require special equipment (other than a measuring tape).

This method is especially useful to measure progress over time, as changes in girth can indicate changes in muscle mass and body fat.

6. Bioelectric impedance

Scales that measure body fat percentage use this method. Essentially, the scale sends an electric current through your body and measures the resistance.

Fat produces more resistance than muscle and water, which helps the scale estimate your body fat percentage.

The problem: This method can be sensitive to hydration status. (So your results could fluctuate even on the same day.)

7. Bodyweight alone

Changes in weight may reflect body fat loss or gain, but a scale won’t tell you whether weight gained or lost comes from muscle or fat.

What’s the deal with the three body fat formulas?

As mentioned earlier, this body fat calculator takes your inputs and enters them into three scientifically validated body fat percentage formulas:

  • The YMCA Body Fat Formula: Originally used by the YMCA. It uses waist circumference, body weight, and sex.
  • The Navy Body Fat Formula: Developed by the US Naval Health Research Center. It uses neck circumference and waist circumference for men, and neck circumference, waist circumference, and hip circumference for women.1
  • The CUN BAE Body Fat Formula: Developed at Navarra University in Spain. CUN BAE is an acronym for Clinica Universidad de Navarra (CUN) Body Adiposity Estimator (BAE). It uses body weight, height, age, and sex.2

We then average all three to give you a solid idea of where you stand. Each body fat percentage formula has its benefits and drawbacks, which is why we use all three to come up with a more realistic estimate.

“My body fat estimate doesn’t make sense!”

Okay, we’ve already noted that this body fat percentage calculator is just an estimate and that, depending on your specific body, may not accurately reflect your exact body fat percentage.

But let’s explore this a little more.

Say a million random people use the calculator. Odds are, 950,000 of them will find it provides a pretty believable estimate.

At the same time, it could be way off—or totally unbelievable—for 50,000 of those folks.

While 50,000 can seem like a lot of people, compared to 950,000, it’s pocket change.

Think of it this way: In the general population, there aren’t a lot of people— percentage-wise—built like an NFL linebacker.

You, however, might be.

Or you might fall on the other end of the body composition spectrum.

Formulas—like the ones in this body fat calculator—that have been developed to estimate body fat percentage from circumference measurements simply aren’t sensitive enough to account for all body types, particularly those that are furthest away from the average.

But… they’re the best formulas we’ve got based on scientific research.

Again, these numbers don’t define you. They’re just data you can use to measure changes over time.

Your age, sex, and ethnicity impact your results.

People vary widely in their body shapes and sizes. We’re all unique individuals.

In addition, several other factors influence your body fat percentage and body fat distribution, including:

➤ Age

As you age, you tend to lose lean mass and gain body fat. You also tend to accumulate more visceral fat.

➤ Sex

On average, males and females tend to have different levels of body fat. Plus, that fat is often distributed on their body differently, thanks largely to the effects of hormones.3,4,5,6

Males generally tend to gain fat more around the middle.

Females tend to gain fat more around their lower bellies, hips, and thighs as well as in breast tissue.

However, males whose bodies convert testosterone to estrogen more easily may also put on fat in breast tissue and around their hips and thighs, similar to a typically female pattern of fat distribution.

Males and females tend to differ in how much body fat is optimal for health, function, longevity, and performance.

In general, female bodies prefer higher ranges of body fat for overall health.

And, on average, males tend to have more lean mass across their lifespan than females.

What if I’m intersex or trans?

To date, there are no reliable calculations for people who are intersex or transgender. (This is due to a lack of scientific data in this area.)

Typically, the most accurate guess will come from using the body composition calculations that are closest to a person’s current hormonal profile.7,8

Supplemental hormones such as estrogen and testosterone will, over time, affect lean mass and body composition.

For example:

Trans men who have been supplementing testosterone for at least six months, and have had top surgery to eliminate breast tissue, may find the male body composition equation to be most accurate.

Trans women who have been supplementing estrogen for at least six months may find the female body composition equation to be most accurate.

➤ Ancestry/ethnicity

There may be meaningful differences between ethnic groups.9,10,11,12,13

This occurs both in terms of how accurately the body fat calculation’s estimate represents reality, and also for predicting health and disease risk.

For instance, people with some types of South and East Asian ancestry may have a higher risk of metabolic disease (such as cardiovascular or Type 2 diabetes) at a relatively lower level of body fat compared to someone of Western European descent.

And people from populations who typically have heavier and denser bodies—such as many indigenous South Pacific peoples—may be categorized as “obese” or in a higher-risk category, despite this body type not being associated with negative health effects for them.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Peterson DD. History of the U.S. Navy Body Composition program. Mil Med. 2015 Jan;180(1):91–6.

2. Gómez-Ambrosi J, Silva C, Catalán V, Rodríguez A, Galofré JC, Escalada J, et al. Clinical usefulness of a new equation for estimating body fat. Diabetes Care. 2012 Feb;35(2):383–8.

3. Kirchengast S. Gender Differences in Body Composition from Childhood to Old Age: An Evolutionary Point of View. J Life Sci R Dublin Soc. 2010 Jul 1;2(1):1–10.

4. Nauli AM, Matin S. Why Do Men Accumulate Abdominal Visceral Fat? Front Physiol. 2019 Dec 5;10:1486.

5. Schorr M, Dichtel LE, Gerweck AV, Valera RD, Torriani M, Miller KK, et al. Sex differences in body composition and association with cardiometabolic risk. Biol Sex Differ. 2018 Jun 27;9(1):28.

6. Wells JCK. Sexual dimorphism of body composition. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Sep;21(3):415–30.

7. Klaver M, de Blok CJM, Wiepjes CM, Nota NM, Dekker MJHJ, de Mutsert R, et al. Changes in regional body fat, lean body mass and body shape in trans persons using cross-sex hormonal therapy: results from a multicenter prospective study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2018 Feb;178(2):163–71.

8. Klaver M, Dekker MJHJ, de Mutsert R, Twisk JWR, den Heijer M. Cross-sex hormone therapy in transgender persons affects total body weight, body fat and lean body mass: a meta-analysis. Andrologia. 2017 Jun;49(5).

9. Deurenberg P, Deurenberg-Yap M. Differences in body-composition assumptions across ethnic groups: practical consequences. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2001 Sep;4(5):377–83.

10. Ortiz O, Russell M, Daley TL, Baumgartner RN, Waki M, Lichtman S, et al. Differences in skeletal muscle and bone mineral mass between black and white females and their relevance to estimates of body composition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jan;55(1):8–13.

11. Wagner DR, Heyward VH. Measures of body composition in blacks and whites: a comparative review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1392–402.

12. Jackson AS, Ellis KJ, McFarlin BK, Sailors MH, Bray MS. Cross-validation of generalised body composition equations with diverse young men and women: the Training Intervention and Genetics of Exercise Response (TIGER) Study. Br J Nutr. 2009 Mar;101(6):871–8.

13. Chumlea WC, Guo SS, Kuczmarski RJ, Flegal KM, Johnson CL, Heymsfield SB, et al. Body composition estimates from NHANES III bioelectrical impedance data. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Dec;26(12):1596–609.

The post Precision Nutrition’s Body Fat Calculator appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

It began in the 1980s with the heart-rate monitor.

For the first time, an individual could observe changes in a vital sign as they happened. And they could do it on their own, whenever or wherever they chose, for any reason that made sense to them.

Four decades later, we have rings, watches, scales, and phones that track, measure, and quantify almost every aspect of our fitness, nutrition, and metabolism.

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are the latest step along that path.

By attaching a CGM device to your upper arm, you can see how your blood sugar reacts to your meals.

That real-time feedback, ideally, can help you identify the foods that cause the largest spikes in your blood glucose—along with the crashes that can sometimes follow.

Making better food choices should help you minimize those peaks and valleys.

But does monitoring every rise and fall in blood glucose make sense for you or your clients?

Is there enough value to justify the expense?

We’ll answer those questions as thoroughly as we can, with the warning that research is far behind practice in some key areas.

But let’s start with a more basic question…

What are continuous glucose monitors?

Continuous glucose monitors were developed for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The devices typically attach to the upper arm via skin-piercing filaments. They’re kept in place with an adhesive that makes them look like a nicotine patch.

Continuous glucose monitors help people with diabetes identify swings in blood sugar before they cause problems. For those who depend on insulin, the CGM device can help their doctor modify the dose.

It was only a matter of time until people without diabetes began exploring the potential of CGMs to help them meet their goals.

An endurance athlete, for example, might want to know if continuous glucose monitors could help them maintain steady fuel levels.

Someone on a low-carb diet could use continuous glucose monitors to avoid any food that would interfere with ketosis.

And a health and fitness enthusiast—which, after all, includes most of us—might simply want to avoid the extreme glucose spikes that research has linked to a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and death from any cause.1, 2

What started with biohackers buying CGM devices on eBay soon became a growth industry.

Venture-capital firms are betting tens of millions of dollars that companies like Levels, January, and NutriSense will find an enthusiastic market for continuous glucose monitors among health-conscious people who don’t have diabetes.3

A spoonful of sugar

Your blood sugar level is usually described as milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).

A fasting glucose level below 100 mg/dL is considered normal and healthy. A higher level means you have either prediabetes (100 to 125) or full-blown type 2 diabetes (126 or higher).

But what does that mean? How much actual sugar are we talking about?

Four grams, enough to fill one teaspoon.4

That’s the normal amount of circulating glucose for someone who weighs 70 kg (154 pounds).

That teaspoon of sugar (yes, your body runs on the lyrics to a Mary Poppins song) is dispersed across 4.5 liters (1.2 gallons) of blood.

So when we talk about how much glucose enters your bloodstream in response to a meal, keep in mind that the amounts in question, in most cases, are just a fraction of a teaspoon more than your normal level.

4 reasons you might want to use a continuous glucose monitor

Reason #1: Blood sugar is a key indicator of metabolic health.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 35 million adults in the U.S. have type 2 diabetes.5

Another 96 million have prediabetes.

If those estimates are accurate, about 50 percent of U.S. adults either have diabetes or are well on their way.

Moreover, the people who have high blood sugar aren’t always who’d you predict.

“We can’t tell if someone’s going to have disrupted metabolic health just by looking at them,” says University of Washington neuroscientist Tommy Wood, MD, PhD, whose research on continuous glucose monitoring was invaluable in writing this article.

“Even in people who’re thought to be super-healthy, we often see impaired fasting glucose.”

For example, in one small study of non-elite endurance athletes, readings from continuous glucose monitors showed that four of the 10 participants had prediabetic blood sugar levels.6

Reason #2: Conventional measures of blood sugar don’t tell the whole story.

When diagnosing diabetes or prediabetes, doctors look at either fasting glucose or HbA1c, which shows average blood sugar levels over the previous three months.

Neither measure shows how high your blood sugar rises after a meal. We know that big increases in “postprandial glucose”—that is, your blood sugar levels after you eat—are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. So getting this data completes the blood sugar picture.7

(Scientists and physicians typically look at what happens to postprandial glucose levels for about two hours after a person eats, in order to fully understand how that person’s body responds to carbohydrates.)

In a 2018 study from a Stanford University research team, 25 percent of participants with healthy blood sugar levels nonetheless showed that pattern of extreme glucose variability—big post-meal spikes, followed by dramatic dips.8

Reason #3: You can’t predict how your blood sugar will respond to any particular food or meal.

Postprandial glucose varies from one person to the next.
An often-cited paper from an Israeli research team showed that two people can have completely different responses to the exact same food.9

Two graphs are shown, representing the post-meal blood sugar responses of two different people. Each graph has a blue line that indicates blood sugar levels for 2 hours after eating a cookie, and each has an orange line that indicates blood sugar levels for 2 hours after eating a banana. For one participant, blood sugar hardly budges after eating a cookie, while eating a banana causes blood sugar to rise significantly. For the other participant, blood sugar falls slightly after eating the banana, but the cookies cause a blood sugar spike. (Continuous glucose monitors can provide similar data.)

As you can see in this example from the study, one participant’s blood sugar quickly rose and fell after eating a banana, but didn’t do much of anything after eating cookies. Another participant had the opposite response to the same two foods. Their blood sugar spiked when they ate cookies, but fell slightly after eating a banana.

A 2020 study ranked the factors affecting an individual’s glucose response:10

A chart shows several factors that affect blood sugar response. From the top, the factors read (in order of how much they impact glucose response): Meal composition (15.4%), genetics (9.6%), meal context (7.7%), serum glycemic markers (6.7%), microbiome (6.0%), age (4.6%), serum lipid markers (4.1%), blood pressure (3.6%), anthropometry (2.4%), other serum markers (1.7%), FFQ [food frequency questionnaire, which helps measure the affect a person’s habitual diet] (0.6%), sex (0.4%). (Note: Continuous glucose monitors allow you to see how anything from an individual food to a full meal affects your blog sugar in real time.)

This table, adapted from the study, shows that—as you’d expect—meal composition (what you eat, and how much) will have the biggest impact on your glucose response. Meal context—when you eat, and what you do before and after—also matters. (FFQ stands for “food frequency questionnaire” and helps measure the effect of a person’s habitual diet.)

Reason #4: For some people, fitness tracking can improve adherence and motivation.

Continuous glucose monitors, like other health- and fitness-tracking devices, can be appealing and useful to some people in some circumstances.

Because they offer objective information, they can serve as a kick in the pants to someone who aspires to exercise more or eat better.

For example, a 2021 study from Colorado State researchers found that fitness trackers motivate inactive people to move more.11

But for some, the novelty effect quickly wears off.

In a study of long-term Fitbit users—men and women who’d used their device continuously for an average of 412 days—two distinct groups emerged:12

  • Those whose usage dropped precipitously after three months
  • Those whose usage remained steady for at least six months

Continuous glucose monitors, though, are different from fitness trackers in two important respects:

  • They’re attached to your body.
  • They’re designed to be used for short periods, usually two weeks. If you want to go longer, you have to replace the device with a new one.

Levels, for example, offers its members four weeks of continuous glucose monitoring, which costs $199 for two 14-day monitors or three 10-day monitors with Bluetooth capability. That’s in addition to the $199 annual membership fee.

“The primary goal is to see how food affects their health, and to close the loop between diet and lifestyle choices and how they feel,” says Lauren Kelley-Chew, MD, head of clinical product for Levels.

The open question: What does someone do with that information once they have it?

That brings us to the other side of the question of whether healthy people who don’t have diabetes should consider CGM devices.

4 reasons continuous glucose monitoring might not be a good idea for you

Reason #1: There’s no evidence that normal glucose fluctuations are dangerous.

“Blood sugar goes up and goes down,” says Spencer Nadolsky, DO, a board-certified obesity specialist.

That’s what it’s supposed to do.

But in some corners of the internet, some doctors, gurus, and influencers are telling people it’s not.

Dr. Nadolsky says he’s had patients whose CGM device data caused them unnecessary anguish.

“They were scared when they saw any blip on their continuous glucose monitor,” he says. “It’s actually to a point of pathology because they stress so much over normal glucose excursions.”

Even when glucose excursions go outside normal ranges—higher than 140 or lower than 70 mg/dL—they tend to be short, according to a 2019 study with participants of all ages who didn’t have diabetes.13

The median time in hyperglycemia (above 140 mg/dL) was just 2.4 percent. The median time in hypoglycemia (below 70 mg/dL) was even lower: 1.1 percent.

Reason #2: Continuous glucose monitoring feeds anti-carbohydrate narratives.

Carbohydrates are not inherently unhealthy.

Some are healthier than others, of course. In general, most of us would be better off if we ate fewer highly processed carbs and fewer foods with added sugar.

But that’s also true of foods loaded with highly processed fats.

The difference is that carbs will produce a larger increase in blood sugar than fats, creating the illusion that carbs are “bad” and fats are a good alternative.

Taken to extremes, someone might conclude that a piece of bacon is better for you than a piece of fruit.

Why does it matter if continuous glucose monitors feed into that demonization of carbs? Because …

Reason #3: How your blood sugar reacts depends, in part, on how you expect it to react.

That’s the conclusion of a 2020 study from a team of Harvard psychologists.14

The participants in the study, who had type 2 diabetes, were given a beverage that was labeled as either low sugar (zero grams) or high sugar (30 grams).

Those who thought they got the high-sugar drink had a much larger glucose response than the ones who thought their drink had no sugar at all.

In reality, everybody got the exact same drink, which had 15 grams of sugar.

As the authors write, “Subjective perceptions of sugar intake, even when incorrect, produce measurable biochemical changes.”

“The stress is probably worse for your health than the carbohydrate itself,” Dr. Wood says.

Which brings us to the final reason why it might not be a good idea to monitor your blood sugar if you don’t have diabetes or a high risk of developing it.

Reason #4: Too much focus on glucose levels can lead some people to disordered eating.

“There’s useful information to be had” from continuous glucose monitoring, Dr. Wood says. “But it can also create stress responses around food, particularly around carbohydrates.”

When the stress becomes disproportionate to the value of the information causing the stress, it can lead to some dark places.

“People who have a history of disordered eating or anxiety around diet or lifestyle choices should consider whether having this kind of data is the most helpful tool for them,” Dr. Kelley-Chew of Levels says.

Andy Galpin, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Cal State Fullerton, thinks this point applies not just to CGM devices, but to other types of tracking technology as well.

“My honest intuition is, there’s a lot of people who have a lot of problems when they start introducing tech to their health,” he says.

He mentions orthosomnia—a word researchers coined to describe people who become obsessed with achieving “perfect” sleep, based on data from their sleep tracker.15

So far, there’s little evidence that trackers are linked to better health outcomes.

Yes, some people who use fitness or nutrition trackers do lose weight or get more exercise. But it’s not yet clear if those changes lead to measurable improvements in their cardiovascular or metabolic health.16

Keep in mind, this is what we know (or don’t know) from published studies. Scientific research always lags behind what people do in practice. Some individuals will have years’ worth of personal data before researchers can show us if those results are typical over time and across populations.

Even then, each of us will interact with the technology in our own ways.

“Data can be freeing, divorcing choices from emotional labels, and giving you objective feedback to work with,” Dr. Kelley-Chew says.

“But if it’s not helpful, there are plenty of other steps one can take to work toward better health.”

How to decide if continuous glucose monitoring is right for you or your clients

Whether a continuous glucose monitor, or any technology, works for you will depend on your goals, mindset, and personality.

Here are three questions to help you make the best choice:

What do you hope to learn from a CGM device?

“If you did two weeks of continuous glucose monitoring, maybe you identify something you eat regularly that you thought was pretty good but caused a big spike in blood sugar,” Dr. Wood says.

“You’ll be like, ‘Okay, maybe I’ll eat less of that.’ That’s useful information to have.”

Dr. Galpin agrees.

“Some people will be excited about having the new information,” Dr. Galpin says. “It might be worth it to know something about their health, or to make sure they don’t have a problem with glucose.”

Both believe the person without diabetes who’s most attracted to the idea of continuous glucose monitoring will be the least likely to get anything out of it.

“They’re healthy, affluent, and have access to the best healthcare,” Dr. Wood says.

That describes the pro athletes Dr. Galpin works with one-on-one. But that doesn’t mean continuous glucose monitors are useless for him as a coach.

If an athlete is overly focused on their metabolism or their sensitivity to carbs, a CGM device can help rule those things out.

“Rather than finding, like, ‘Oh my God, carrots smash your blood sugar,’ it’s generally been, ‘Like I told you, you’re fine. It’s not your blood glucose,’” he says.

That frees up the client to focus on things that matter more to their performance and health. (BTW: Our Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification gives you the knowledge, tools, and skills to help people achieve the results they really want.)

How will you use the continuous glucose monitor information?

Experts who express skepticism about CGM devices for folks without diabetes have a consistent concern: that people will read way too much into the data from their continuous glucose monitor.

“Blood glucose is easy to measure and understand, so people focus on it, like the person looking for their keys under a lamppost,” says obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet, PhD, author of The Hungry Brain.

Looking at how specific foods affect your blood sugar doesn’t help you understand why you’re eating those foods in the first place.

For that, you need a much deeper understanding of how your eating behaviors are influenced by your environment, and how to modify them when you feel they’re affecting your health.

Sometimes the best strategy is simple acceptance.

For example, if you know a piece of cake will spike your blood sugar, and you also know you’re going to eat it anyway, “just enjoy the cake,” Dr. Wood says.

Dr. Kelley-Chew has a similar perspective.

“Eating a dessert and having a blood sugar spike is not going to ruin your metabolic health,” she says. “Your body knows how to deal with a surge of glucose.”

Is there another way to get equally useful information?

Back in 2017, Dr. Galpin coauthored a book called Unplugged, which cast doubt on the value of all the information we collect from fitness- and performance-tracking technologies.

The authors argued that the human body is not a weather report or baseball score. It’s too complex to be assessed by a single number or metric.

“I’m a proponent of people learning and understanding their body better,” Dr. Galpin says. But that doesn’t mean you need to jump on every new tracking technology.

“You’re going to find about the same answer with all of them,” he says.

The challenge today isn’t collecting answers. It’s finding a way to interpret and put them into context. Once you do, the information you glean from wearable tech provides becomes powerful.

That’s especially true of continuous glucose monitors.

“Obviously, if you have an apple and your blood glucose jumps to 250, that’s not good,” Dr. Galpin says.

“But what about 125? Is that cool? Or 130? Or 140? Like most things in this field, it’s all about context.”

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Gallwitz B. Implications of postprandial glucose and weight control in people with type 2 diabetes: understanding and implementing the International Diabetes Federation guidelines. Diabetes Care. 2009 Nov;32 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S322–5.

2. Blaak EE, Antoine JM, Benton D, Björck I, Bozzetto L, Brouns F, et al. Impact of postprandial glycaemia on health and prevention of disease. Obes Rev. 2012 Oct;13(10):923–84.

3. Wasserman DH. Four grams of glucose. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Jan;296(1):E11–21.

4. Shmerling RH. Is blood sugar monitoring without diabetes worthwhile? Harvard Health. 2021.

5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report. 2022.

6. Thomas F, Pretty CG, Desaive T, Chase JG. Blood Glucose Levels of Subelite Athletes During 6 Days of Free Living. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2016 Nov;10(6):1335–43.

7. Hanssen NMJ, Kraakman MJ, Flynn MC, Nagareddy PR, Schalkwijk CG, Murphy AJ. Postprandial Glucose Spikes, an Important Contributor to Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes? Front Cardiovasc Med. 2020 Sep 18;7:570553.

8. Hall H, Perelman D, Breschi A, Limcaoco P, Kellogg R, McLaughlin T, et al. Glucotypes reveal new patterns of glucose dysregulation. PLoS Biol. 2018 Jul;16(7):e2005143.

9. Zeevi D, Korem T, Zmora N, Israeli D, Rothschild D, Weinberger A, et al. Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell. 2015 Nov 19;163(5):1079–94.

10. Berry SE, Valdes AM, Drew DA, Asnicar F, Mazidi M, Wolf J, et al. Human postprandial responses to food and potential for precision nutrition. Nat Med. 2020 Jun;26(6):964–73.

11. Nuss K, Moore K, Nelson T, Li K. Effects of Motivational Interviewing and Wearable Fitness Trackers on Motivation and Physical Activity: A Systematic Review. Am J Health Promot. 2021 Feb;35(2):226–35.

12. Shin G, Feng Y, Jarrahi MH, Gafinowitz N. Beyond novelty effect: a mixed-methods exploration into the motivation for long-term activity tracker use. JAMIA Open. 2019 Apr;2(1):62–72.

13. Shah VN, DuBose SN, Li Z, Beck RW, Peters AL, Weinstock RS, et al. Continuous Glucose Monitoring Profiles in Healthy Nondiabetic Participants: A Multicenter Prospective Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Oct 1;104(10):4356–64.

14. Park C, Pagnini F, Langer E. Glucose metabolism responds to perceived sugar intake more than actual sugar intake. Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 24;10(1):15633.

15. Baron KG, Abbott S, Jao N, Manalo N, Mullen R. Orthosomnia: Are Some Patients Taking the Quantified Self Too Far? J Clin Sleep Med. 2017 Feb 15;13(2):351–4.

16. Jo A, Coronel BD, Coakes CE, Mainous AG 3rd. Is There a Benefit to Patients Using Wearable Devices Such as Fitbit or Health Apps on Mobiles? A Systematic Review. Am J Med. 2019 Dec;132(12):1394–400.e1.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post Should people without diabetes use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs)? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

New Year’s resolutions have become a bit of a joke.

Folks in the health and fitness industry get frustrated with clients desperate to shed holiday weight gain, only to ghost them in February.

Gym goers feel annoyed when their normal routine is interrupted by the January rush. (C’mon, line-ups for the squat rack?!)

And then there’s the media, reminding us every year that New Year’s resolutions are a one-way ticket to Failure Town.

But turns out, this isn’t necessarily true.

There’s something called the “fresh start effect,” and it’s real.

Research shows the fresh start effect can help clients:

  • Take a chance to try again at something they’ve nearly given up on
  • Renew their interest when they get bored
  • Move forward with more confidence and motivation than before

In this article, we’ll show you why the fresh start effect works. Plus, we’ll provide five simple methods you can use with your clients any time of year.

Why New Year’s resolutions can be helpful

Imagine a client comes to see you. They’re wearing a backpack.

They tell you they want to eat better. “For real this time,” they say.

You notice their shoulders look tired. Their backpack appears heavy. So you take a peek inside to see what they’re carrying.

Inside the backpack is your client’s history with this habit. It’s full of their perceived failures and disappointments, their guilt and shame, their stories about why they haven’t succeeded before.

As a coach, you have two options:

You can tell your client to “just keep going” or “try harder,” and carry that backpack with them.

Or, you can invite them to take the backpack off.

A fresh start allows us to let go of our baggage, and start anew.

“Fresh starts are powerful because they serve as a belief disruptor,” says Karin Nordin, PhD, Behavior Change Expert and PN Certified Coach. “They allow us to believe new things about ourselves, which is especially important if we’ve failed in the past.”

Here’s how it works:

Suppose you set a New Year’s resolution to start running.

In your mind, your “old self” (the one glued to the couch) expires December 31. Your new self (the one who runs!) begins January 1.

Because your brain distinguishes between these two selves, it’s much easier to believe that your “new self” will succeed.

That might sound silly: After all, you won’t actually magically transform the moment the ball drops on New Year’s Eve or a new calendar day dawns.

But human psychology is a funny thing, and this separation of self enables us to release ourselves from our past “failures,” and believe that a different way forward is possible.

That belief is critical for behavior change.

“When we believe we can get better at something, we develop self-efficacy,” says Dr. Nordin. “Self-efficacy leads to increased motivation, enabling us to tackle the challenges in front of us, which ultimately leads to behavior change.”

Do 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail?

You’ve probably seen the statistic. But what’s the real story behind it?

According to Dr. Nordin, it comes from a study that was published in 1988—nearly 30 years ago.

(Pretty old considering there’s a massive recent body of research on behavior change.)

What’s more:

  • The sample size was only 200 people. (Not nearly a large enough sample to TOTALLY change the consensus on resolutions.)
  • The participants were random people surveyed by phone (which isn’t the most reliable reporting method).
  • Thirty percent of the participants were resolving to quit smoking. (Since smoking has an addictive component, it might negatively skew results compared to a study on, say, resolving to exercise.)
  • The statistic of 20 percent success comes from a two-year followup. At the 6-month mark, participants’ success rate was closer to 40 percent.1

Meanwhile, more recent studies have suggested that resolutions can in fact be an effective tool in habit change.

For example, a 2002 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology compared people who made New Year’s resolutions with those who didn’t. The resolution-makers reported considerably higher rates of succeeding with their goal than non-resolvers: at six months, 46 percent of the resolvers were continuously successful compared to 4 percent of the non-resolvers.2

Obviously, setting resolutions is not a guarantee of success. But it could be worth trying regardless.

“If the odds of keeping your resolutions are roughly 40 percent—or even less—it might be worth giving it a shot,” says Dr. Nordin. “After all, if your odds of winning the lottery were 40 percent would you take that bet? I’m guessing you would.”

5 ways to make better New Year’s resolutions

Fresh start method #1: Pick a temporal landmark

Temporal landmarks are moments that stand out in time.3 “Monday” is a temporal landmark. So is your birthday, New Year’s, and the summer solstice, to name a few.

Think of temporal landmarks like milestones or touchpoints. They help us put our life—where we’ve come from, and where we’re going—into context.

Temporal landmarks might seem arbitrary, but they play a valuable role in change psychology.

“Your brain likes to distinguish between versions of yourself,” says Dr. Nordin.

“Temporal landmarks allow us to separate our two identities—our ‘old’ self and our ‘new’ self. When we separate these two identities, it can become easier to believe that change is possible.”

A wide body of research on temporal landmarks exists. Consider this example from a large 2021 study by University of Pennsylvania researcher and esteemed change expert Katy Milkman, PhD.

Participants were given the opportunity to choose between increasing their contributions to a savings plan immediately—or at a meaningful future date (for example, the recipient’s birthday, or the first day of spring).

Those who chose a meaningful “fresh start” date contributed more to their savings than participants who started saving right away (without a significant date).4

A few ways to use this technique with your clients:

▶ Give new clients a clearly defined start date.

Choose a concrete date and clearly communicate it to your client.

You can also share some advance messages to build anticipation, like, “Your first session is coming up! Change is about to start happening!”

▶ Align new programs, challenges, or initiatives with a special occasion.

It doesn’t even matter what it is: the first day of spring, World Health Day, or National Cinnamon Bun Day (yep, it’s a thing).

Pick a day that matches your launch date and let clients know what it is.

▶If clients slip up, help them begin again with a new start date.

“Fell off the wagon? No big deal. We’ll start fresh in your session on Tuesday next week. Mark it in your calendar as your ‘Clean Slate’ day.”

▶ Encourage clients to align goals with dates that are meaningful to them.

It doesn’t work for everyone, but if your clients get excited about birthdays, New Year’s resolutions, or other milestones—go with it.

Fresh start method #2: Do a “30-day trial”

Trying something new—especially within a contained time period, like 30 days—can give clients a fresh start anytime of the year.

As with temporal landmarks, a trial can make change feel possible, particularly since it has an expiration date. (It can feel a whole lot easier to do something for 30 days than, say, a lifetime.)

PN Master Coach Kate Solovieva, MA, likens this to “try before you buy.”

Like a “free trial,” this approach to habit change allows your client to try something new and see how it works for them, with no pressure to keep it.

Solovieva likes this method because the client doesn’t even have to stick with it in order to get value from the exercise. “You almost always improve, or at least learn something from the experiment,” she says.

A couple of examples:

▶ Example #1: Your client wants to eat less meat.

One option could be to try vegetarianism for 30 days. There’s no pressure to become a lifelong vegetarian; just treat the diet as an experiment and see what happens.

At the end of the 30 days, maybe the client’s certain that #veggielife is NOT for them.

But perhaps now they’ve learned how to cook beans, or discovered they actually enjoy tofu. Maybe meat is reintroduced as a regular feature, but they’ve still moved along the continuum towards eating less meat overall.

▶ Example #2: Your client wants to get more exercise.

Solovieva suggests doing a 30-day trial where they move their body in some way every single day. Make the baseline doable, such as a five-minute routine they can do at home, or a daily walk.

“Chances are, the person will be super impressed with themselves,” she says. “They go from thinking of themselves as someone who never moves to someone who exercises every day. That’s a big shift.”

Doing a habit, however small, for 30 days can provide a powerful boost in confidence. From there, you and your client can discuss how to build on the new baseline they’ve established.

(Another awesome 30-day challenge? Slow eating. Seriously.)

Fresh start method #3: Look back before looking forward

If your client needs a fresh start, particularly if they’ve fallen off the wagon, a simple reflective exercise can help.

When we look back on our past efforts, and reset our focus on what’s coming, we naturally draw a mental line in the sand, distinguishing between “past” and “future”—thus giving us the feeling of a fresh start.

To make use of this, try a simple exercise called “Looking Back, Looking Forward.”

This handy set of prompts, courtesy of Precision Nutrition Co-Founder Dr. John Berardi, invites clients to reflect on their past efforts, release any disappointments, and celebrate their accomplishments—and then, recast their focus on the future.

Use this exercise when your client needs a “clean slate.”

You can also make it a regular part of your coaching practice. Dr. Berardi recommends revisiting it with clients every few weeks.

To try it, take your client through the following questions. (Or, download this free PDF: Looking Back, Looking Forward)

Part 1: Look back

▶ Over the past weeks, what have you put the most effort into?

▶ What are you most proud of?

▶ What more would you have liked to accomplish?

▶ How will you celebrate your progress (in a healthy way)?

Part 2: Look forward

▶ What are you most looking forward to? (What goals, challenges, or projects are you excited about and ready to tackle?)

▶ What advantages do you think you have that’ll make progress more likely? (Consider what unique abilities or superpowers you possess that could help you out.)

▶ What things are likely to stand in your way? (Are there any obstacles you can anticipate in advance?)

▶ How can you prepare, right now, to make sure those things don’t get in your way?

(For more advanced coaching tools and techniques, check out our #1 rated Nutrition Coaching Certification.)

Fresh start method #4: Change up the environment

Quick: When you walk into your home, where do you put your keys?

Chances are, you put them in the same place you’ve been putting them since the day you moved in.

Our environment (the people, places, and things around us) plays an important role in habit formation, and habit change.5 When our environment stays the same, we’re less likely to change.

But mix things up, and something interesting happens.

“When we shift to a new environment, our habits are broken because they were tied to cues in our previous environment,” says Dr. Nordin. “If you want to feel like you’re making a fresh start, changing your environment intentionally in some way can initiate that effect.”

Some ideas to help your client mix up their environment to get a fresh start:

▶ Conduct a kitchen makeover.

Help your client go through their pantry and fridge.

Toss (or, if appropriate, donate) any foods that don’t support their goals. Then, assist them in re-stocking it with foods that do.

▶ Invite your client to do a social media audit or ‘detox.’

Social media can become an automatic habit that doesn’t always serve us.

This is especially true if your client struggles with self image or keeps getting distracted by the latest trends from influencers.

Encourage them to unfollow anything they find triggering or unhelpful, or take a break from social media altogether.

▶ Suggest a closet clean-out.

This may be especially useful if your client is having trouble moving on from a past (younger and possibly leaner) version of themselves.

Get rid of clothes that no longer fit or feel good, and make room for clothes that fit the “new you.”

▶ Set up an exercise space.

Simply putting out a yoga mat and a few exercise bands can make someone feel like they’re turning over a new leaf.

(Bonus: If that exercise equipment is visible and handy, you’re WAY more likely to use it.)

▶ Help them design a “mobile gym.”

We might not think of it as our “environment” but many people spend a lot of time in their cars.

If your client is a commuter, invite them to do a car clean-out—especially if they have to kick their way through a pile of fast food wrappers to find the gas pedal—or even turn their car into a “mobile gym” by stocking it with a gym bag, pair of sneakers, and some protein bars.

▶ Make any small environmental adjustment.

“Even just rearranging your furniture works,” says Dr. Nordin. Regardless of your client’s health goals, simply making their surroundings feel slightly new or different can trigger the fresh start effect.

(For more ideas on how to use your environment to support your goals, read: Train your environment and watch your habits follow)

Fresh start method #5: Choose a guiding word

“Many clients want a fresh start but struggle to explicitly define what that means,” says Solovieva.

“Maybe they want to be healthier, or feel better. I even had one client tell me they wanted to feel less hazy. What does that actually mean?”

In these cases, Solovieva recommends choosing a definitive word that provides more guidance, yet lots of flexibility.

This practice is popular at New Year’s.

Rather than making specific resolutions, some people choose a “Word of the Year.”

But you can do this any time of year, particularly if it represents a new phase of life—pregnancy, divorce, a move, or starting a new job.

Seasons work well, too: Your client might enjoy choosing a word for winter, or spring.

“You could choose a word to correspond with a client’s program,” says Solovieva.

“You might say, ‘We’ve committed to working together for the next three months. Why don’t we come up with a word that represents what you’d like this time to be about?’”

The word they choose can then act as a natural decision-making filter or North Star in your work together.

For example, if their word is “peace,” together you might strategize ways to make their eating habits, workouts, or environment more peaceful.

To help your client choose their word, Solovieva recommends asking them a few questions, such as:

  • What do you want this period of time to feel like?
  • Where do you want to put your focus?
  • What’s important to you in this coming year?
  • Which word would describe who you want to be this year?

A word can provide a sense of a fresh start because, much like resolutions, it gives us a feeling of a new identity, a new self, a new phase of life.

And, it allows us to change our behavior and take actions in favor of the change we’re trying to create.

But it also has the benefit of less rigidity. If your goal is to work out three times per week and you don’t do it, it’s easy to feel like a failure pretty quick.

On the other hand, if your word is “joy,” you could pretty easily find ways of moving joyfully regardless of whether or not you get to the gym on schedule.

Importantly, a guiding word (like any of these methods) can serve a purpose for a time and place.

But there’s no pressure to stick to it forever and ever.

With approximately 80,000 nouns in the English language, if your guiding word stops working for you, you can always pick a new one.

After all, that‘s the beauty of the fresh start.

No matter how many times we fall down, there’s always another chance to begin again.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Norcross, J. C., and D. J. Vangarelli. 1988. “The Resolution Solution: Longitudinal Examination of New Year’s Change Attempts.” Journal of Substance Abuse 1 (2): 127–34.

2. Norcross, John C., Marci S. Mrykalo, and Matthew D. Blagys. 2002. “Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Nonresolvers.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 58 (4): 397–405.

3. Dai, Hengchen, and Claire Li. 2019. “How Experiencing and Anticipating Temporal Landmarks Influence Motivation.” Current Opinion in Psychology 26 (April): 44–48.

4. Beshears, John, Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, and Shlomo Benartzi. 2021. “Using Fresh Starts to Nudge Increased Retirement Savings.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 167 (November): 72–87.

5. Koestner, Richard, Natasha Lekes, Theodore A. Powers, and Emanuel Chicoine. 2002. “Attaining Personal Goals: Self-Concordance plus Implementation Intentions Equals Success.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 83 (1): 231–44.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post Capture the “fresh start effect”: How New Year’s Resolutions can lead to real change. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

The irony is that it’s kind of stressful to find answers about stress.

There’s so much conflicting information out there.

But if you’re a health and fitness professional, your clients—maybe even your friends and loved ones too—will likely turn to YOU for counsel.

They’ll ask things like:

“Is stress REALLY toxic?”

“Do you think stress caused this belly fat I can’t lose?”

And:

“Are these red bumps from stress?”

(Why does everyone insist on showing you their rashes??)

You want to help, but coming up with the right answers can be hard, because:

The right answer depends.

It depends on WHO the asker is, WHAT their goals are, WHERE they’re starting from, and HOW MUCH they’re willing and able to change

The truth is, one-size-fits-all answers to stress-related questions don’t exist.

However, you can build a strong foundation of knowledge about stress that can help you answer these questions with more confidence and expertise.

In this article, we’ll try to give you some resources to do that.

If you want, read the following Q and As from top to bottom. Or, just jump to the ones that interest you the most:

Question #1. Is stress really bad for you?

Question #2. What are the signs of stress?

Question #3. Is stress making me gain / lose weight?

Question #4. How can I stop stress eating?

Question #5. How do I get rid of stress?

Question #6. How do I fit in stress-management strategies and self-care?

Question #7. Is there a diet that will help reduce stress?

Question #8. Is there any way to cool stress fast?

Question #1. Is stress BAD for you?

Yes and no. It’s all about the right amounts—for YOU.

The relationship between stress and health has gained a lot more attention and validity in the past 30 years.

As a result, you’ve likely learned to associate stress with all kinds of terrible things: heart attacks, hair loss, early death.

And while excessive, unrelenting stress definitely erodes health, let’s clear something up:

Not all stress is bad.

In fact, in order to thrive, we actually need some stress to feel juicy, purposeful, and alive.

Graph shows a reverse bell-curve where very low stress reduces performance, medium stress optimizes performance, and very high stress reduces performance

As the above chart shows, it’s all about finding a stress “sweet spot.”

Go too far in either extreme, and you’ll feel crummy.

How do you find your stress “sweet spot”?

Stress that’s long-lasting, relentless, and demoralizing is also the kind of stress that’s associated with depression and anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.1

If you’re dealing with those kinds of stressors, consider where you have control, and try to reduce—or even avoid—them when you can.

Also, ask for help. Sometimes having another person around to tackle a problem with you makes the difference between feeling like you’re drowning and feeling like you’ll make it to the shore.

On the flip side, when stress occurs in shorter bursts, and you feel like you have some control over it, as well as opportunities to recover in between, it can actually help you become stronger and more resilient over time.

This kind of stress tends to feel empowering: It helps build you up; not break you down.

One big complication…

What feels stressful is highly subjective.

Turns out, your perception of stress has a big impact on how stress feels—and what it does to your health.

If you believe stress is always terrible and should be avoided at all costs, you’ll be more likely to cling to your comfort zone, fear the future and what could happen, and steer clear of situations that could lead to growth.

(You’re also more likely to experience the negative health effects of stress, like high cortisol.2)

In a cruel self-fulfilling prophecy, stress actually does become more harmful.

However, if you believe stress can make you stronger, wiser, and more resilient, you’ll be more likely to proactively solve problems, seek out challenging experiences—and benefit from stress in your life.

Luckily, you have some control over your perception.

In the spirit of helping you shift your perspective, here are some examples of how some stress can actually enrich various aspects of life:

▶ Stress can strengthen relationships. Some conflict is actually crucial for healthy, secure relationships—it’s a pathway to better understand others. By working through things together, we grow together.

▶ Stress can make you smarter. Managed effectively, stress helps you focus your attention, plan for future challenges, and enhance memory and learning. Stressors might even feel like fun puzzles to solve.

▶ Stress can build muscles and endurance. This is probably the most obvious example, but most of us know that intermittent physical stress—say, from a workout—couped with appropriate recovery helps your body become stronger and more capable.

Choose to believe that stress has the capacity to benefit you. It can help you learn, grow, and live a bigger, more adventurous and meaningful life.

LEARN MORE:

Question #2. What are the signs of stress?

The signs and symptoms of stress depend a little on whether the stress is acute or chronic.

Acute stress (think: a car just swerved in front of you) generally causes your sympathetic nervous system to ramp up, which releases hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol.

With acute stress, you might notice:

  • Your heart beats a little faster
  • Your breathing gets deeper and quicker
  • You feel a burst of energy, alertness, giddiness, and/or focus
  • You might feel a little shaky or even nauseous, if the stress was intense

The stress response is built-in. You don’t have to think consciously about it; your body just responds automatically in this way to all stressors.

Luckily, the recovery response is also built-in. Once a threat recedes, your heart rate and breathing will return to normal, and you’ll feel calm again.

Two graphs compare acute stress versus chronic stress. In acute stress, stress coupled with deep recovery leads to better performance over time. In chronic stress, stress coupled with inadequate recovery leads to worse performance over time.

Chronic stress is when that sympathetic activation lasts for days, weeks, or months, without adequate opportunities for recovery.

Just like a rollercoaster, stress can feel energizing in short bouts—but like a nauseating nightmare if you can’t get off the ride. Not surprisingly, chronic stress is more likely to take a toll on your physical and mental health.

Signs of chronic stress include:

  • Excessive worrying or anxiety
  • Low mood or energy
  • Poor appetite, OR an increased desire to “stress eat”
  • Digestive problems like heartburn or constipation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unfocused or foggy thinking
  • Feeling isolated or irritable with others
  • Frequent colds, flus, or infections
  • Trouble recovering from workouts, or aches and pains in general
  • Low sex drive

While the stress response is normal and helpful for short-lived bouts of challenge and excitement, we’re not meant to live in a constant state of activation and threat.

Stress feels best when it’s broken up with periods of recovery.

READ MORE:

The difference between stress and anxiety

Everyone experiences stress.

Most people will also experience anxiety.

(At least to some degree, at some point.)

Anxiety often involves physical symptoms—tension, increased heart rate, sweating.

But the hallmark aspect of anxiety is a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread.

Although this feeling sometimes seems like it arises from nowhere, it’s usually caused—and perpetuated—by negative thoughts and ruminations like, “I’m never going to get through this” or “Everyone is going to judge me.”

(Overly negative or catastrophic thoughts are also called “cognitive distortions.” Read more about how to deal with them here: The thought tool that can lower your stress instantly)

Stress usually starts in response to an event or situation, and ends when that situation has resolved.

But with anxiety, the “threat” tends to persist even beyond the scope or duration of the event.

While stress can trigger helpful adaptations, anxiety tends not to be super productive. In excess, it can feel pretty debilitating.

The good news

Many stress management techniques are also effective at reducing anxiety.

Journaling, exercise, social connection, and relaxation exercises like breathwork or positive visualization can help with both stress and anxiety.

However, if anxiety is especially intense, long-lasting, or interferes with your quality of life, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional like a therapist or a family doctor.

If you’re a coach, remember that you’re not qualified to diagnose or treat clinical anxiety or depression. If your client struggles with either, the best way you can support them is to refer out to a medical professional who specializes in mental health.

(Trying to help clients with their mental health? Read this first: “I’m a coach, not a therapist!” 9 ways to help people change while staying within your scope)

Question #3. Is stress making me gain / lose weight?

Possibly.

But more likely, stress is affecting your behaviors. And eating behaviors definitely affect body composition.

Here’s how it works

When you’re stressed, your physiology changes—at least temporarily.

Your body’s acute stress response and the accompanying spike in adrenaline releases stored glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream so you have energy to deal with whatever challenge you’re facing.

This increase in blood sugar can reduce your appetite, making you push away your sandwich even if you haven’t eaten all day.

The stress response also dampens digestion.

Even when you do eat, food might feel like it’s just sitting in your gut not moving anywhere, or it might blast through you so fast that you’re afraid to stray too far from a washroom. Because digestion is compromised, you also may not adequately absorb your food.

It’s through both loss of appetite and loss of absorption that some people lose weight during periods of stress.

On the other hand, weight gain during periods of stress is just as common.

Especially when stress becomes chronic, the stress hormone cortisol increases. Cortisol can increase appetite, especially for carbohydrate- and calorie-rich foods.3 4

Most people find eating pleasurable and soothing, so turning to food during times of stress is a common (and understandable) coping mechanism. Of course, when this becomes a habit, excess calories over time can lead to weight gain.

If that’s something you struggle with, check out the next answer below.

READ MORE:

Question #4. How can I stop stress eating?

More than 60 percent of our new clients list emotional or stress eating as a major nutrition challenge. What’s more, over 50 percent say they also “get intense cravings” and “snack when not hungry.”

Graph shows results of a poll where participants were asked “What’s your biggest nutritional challenge. The most popular answer was “Emotional/stress eating.”

If you relate, it might be a relief to know you’re not alone. Of course, that’s little consolation when your hands are fumbling for crumbs at the bottom of a freshly opened bag of peanut butter pretzel bites.

But what if you realized this behavior occurs…

  • Every time your mom calls?
  • On Sunday nights, when you’re dreading the start of a new week?
  • Whenever you see, smell, or hear something that reminds you of your ex?

Emotional eating and intense cravings are typically part of a pattern of behavior that’s triggered by a specific experience—a thought, feeling, and/or situation.

If you can identify the trigger, you can disrupt the pattern of behavior and make different choices.

Use the “Break the chain” worksheet to help clients identify their emotional and stress eating triggers. Then, apply the step-by-step strategy at the end of it to create and strengthen alternative coping mechanisms.

READ MORE:

Question #5. How do I get rid of stress?

You’ll never entirely rid your life of stress.

Nor would you want to.

As we’ve mentioned, stress is a normal—even good—part of a full, meaningful life.

However, many of us end up with stress levels that feel overly disruptive or unhelpful.

Sometimes, that’s impossible to avoid. At some point, most people will face very difficult periods of unavoidable stress: illness, injuries, financial hardships, natural disasters, or a pandemic.

But often, you have some control. Maybe even more than you think.

At PN, we use an exercise called The Spheres of Control.

(If you want, fill out your own spheres of control using this free worksheet.)

Image shows three circles nested within each other. The biggest circle includes things over which you have no control, like the weather. The middle circle includes things over which you have some control, like your schedule. The smallest center circle includes things over which you have total control, like your mindset.

With the Spheres of Control exercise, you identify what areas you truly have power over and focus more on them.

This often not only helps people feel less overwhelmed and stressed, but also more effective, capable, and in control.

What about those areas you have zero control over?

By seeing the reality on paper (or a screen), you can give yourself permission to stop wasting precious energy trying to control the uncontrollable. And that in itself can help relieve stress and anxiety.

READ MORE:

Question #6. How do I fit in self-care?

Sometimes, adding more recovery can be just as effective as reducing stress.

When you recover, you regain, restore, or recuperate what you’ve lost. And you return to your baseline state of wellbeing, health, and performance.

Sounds great, except… what if you feel like you don’t have time to ADD anything else, even if it’s good for you?

A paradigm shift that might help

Instead of looking at stress management as an “on” or “off” switch—you’re either doing ALL the things or NOTHING—think of it more like a “dial.”

The image below shows what stress recovery might look like on a continuum, from devoting five minutes a day to something restorative, all the way to basically making it your job to be a Master of Chill.

(If you want to see how this concept applies to other habits—like those related to nutrition or fitness—check out this infographic: Never press “pause” on your health and fitness again)

Image shows a dial illustrating the range of actions you can do to reduce stress, starting from least effort, to most effort. A “1” represents 5 minutes of de-stressing, whereas a “10” represents filling most days with relaxing and restorative activities.

To apply this concept, start by identifying your baseline: Are your stress management practices currently at a 1 or 2? Or maybe even a 0?

If so, no judgment. This is just your starting point.

Think about what “a little better” might look like.

Even by one or two “notches.”

Might you add five minutes of journaling to your evening routine? Or a 10 minute walk to get some sun and fresh air in the morning? Consider what just a little better might look like, and start there.

For the extra frazzled, it might help to know that sometimes the BEST time to start a new habit is when you’re busiest.

If you can learn to fit stress management practices into your life when you’re swamped, it’ll feel like a breeze to keep them in there—or even build on them—when life settles down.

(And if life never settles down, at least you didn’t delay your self-care further waiting for the “perfect time.”)

READ MORE:

Question #7. Is there a diet that will help reduce stress?

All over the internet, you’ll find curative diets for stress and anxiety. They put food into neat little categories, and so long as you ONLY eat “do” foods—and judiciously eliminate “don’t” foods—your stress will go away.

If only feeling better were that simple.

Truth is, good mental health depends on many different nutrients from many different foods, as well as a set of fundamental nutrition principles, like:

  • Getting enough energy (calories) to cover your energy needs
  • Meeting macronutrient (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrient (vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients) needs
  • Drinking enough water
  • Eating at regular times, whatever that means for you
  • Consuming mostly minimally-processed foods (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, animal proteins, and dairy)
  • Eating slowly and mindfully
  • Enjoying your food, and the company you share it with

Consistently neglecting the above can add stress.

Prioritizing them—which doesn’t mean doing them perfectly—is probably the most effective nutrition strategy to reduce stress.

If that list looks overwhelming, just start from wherever you are right now, and simply aim to eat “a little better.”

Image shows a horizontal scale going from red (needs improvement) to green (doing awesome). If you are in the red, you may try aiming for orange or yellow, or just a little bit better, before you get to green.]

Choose one practice to work on from the above list, and in a couple of weeks, evaluate whether you’re ready to build on it.

Master the fundamentals, and you’ll see that they’re pretty effective on their own, no magic diet needed.

READ MORE:

Question #8. Is there a way to calm stress fast?

No matter what’s going on in your life, one of the most effective, accessible ways to cool stress FAST is simply to breathe.

Slow, deep breathing stimulates your vagus nerve (the main nerve of your “rest-and-digest” system), which can help relax your whole body.

In turn, this reduces not only your physiological response to stress but also your emotional response.

When you’re calmer and more relaxed, you make better decisions. You’re able to focus better. You feel more in control. And deliberate breathing techniques can help.

One breathing technique we like is called “Box breathing.” It breaks the breath cycle into four 4-second-long stages (like the four sides of a square).

Here’s how to do it

  1. Take a four-second inhale through your nose. But don’t just “breathe into your belly.” Try to pull the air into your chest and mid-back without letting your ribs flare out. (You’ll feel some tension in your abs.)
  2. Hold your inhale for four seconds.
  3. Exhale for four seconds. Imagine that you’re slowly blowing out a big sigh. Keep your body relaxed, but put a little tension into your abs so that you feel them pulling your ribs down and in, toward your spine.
  4. Hold your exhale for four seconds.

Repeat as many times as you’d like. (And feel better.)

READ MORE:

Stress is uncomfortable, but it also helps us grow.

If you’re stressed about answering your clients stress-related questions, think of it this way:

This is an opportunity to expand and deepen your knowledge and coaching skills.

(See? We’re applying a resilience-building mindset already!)

Being a coach who helps clients manage their stress involves, yes, knowing about stress.

But it also means being a fellow human who can relate to their struggles.

Alongside your clients, you can use your knowledge about stress and recovery to take on challenges, and grow into a better coach—and person—than you were before.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Mariotti, Agnese. 2015. “The Effects of Chronic Stress on Health: New Insights into the Molecular Mechanisms of Brain-Body Communication.” Future Science OA 1 (3): FSO23.
  2. Uphill, Mark A., Claire J. L. Rossato, Jon Swain, and Jamie O’Driscoll. 2019. “Challenge and Threat: A Critical Review of the Literature and an Alternative Conceptualization.” Frontiers in Psychology 10 (July): 1255.
  3. Chao, Ariana M., Ania M. Jastreboff, Marney A. White, Carlos M. Grilo, and Rajita Sinha. 2017. “Stress, Cortisol, and Other Appetite-Related Hormones: Prospective Prediction of 6-Month Changes in Food Cravings and Weight.” Obesity 25 (4): 713–20.
  4. Yau, Y. H. C., and M. N. Potenza. 2013. “Stress and Eating Behaviors.” Minerva Endocrinologica 38 (3): 255–67.

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

 

The post The top 8 most common stress-related questions, answered. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Reviewed by Jennifer Martin, PhD


Google hears about everyone’s sleep problems, at all hours of the night.

And chances are, if BILLIONS of people are wondering why they can’t sleep, why they keep waking up at night, what they can do to fall asleep faster, and how long they should be sleeping, your clients are wondering, too.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the sleep problems your clients are likely to struggle with the most, along with science-supported practices that can help.

In this article, we’ll try to give you some resources to do that.

If you want, read the following Q and As from top to bottom. Or, just jump to the ones that interest you the most:

Question #1. Why can’t I sleep?

Question #2. Why do I keep waking up at night?

Question #3. How much sleep do I need?

Question #4. Why do we sleep?

Question #5. What’s the best way to track sleep?

Let’s start with the top sleep question people type into Google—likely bleary-eyed, at 3 am…

Why can’t I sleep?

Technically, everyone can sleep. Stay awake long enough and sleep will absolutely find you. Our sleep drive is built into our biology.

So when someone types “why can’t I sleep?” into Google, what they’re really asking is:

“Why does it take so long for me to fall asleep?”

Usually, one of the following is going on, says Chris Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution and The Rested Child, and co-author of Precision Nutrition’s Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification.

Answer #1: You have anxiety over not being able to sleep.

Here’s a common scenario:

You go to bed at your usual time.

Twenty minutes go by. Then an hour. Blink. Blink. Still awake.

As you toss and turn, you think things like, “Ugh, again? WHY?! Tomorrow‘s going to be a disaster! I NEED to sleep… NOW!”

Naturally, those thoughts lead to anxiety, and trigger the release of brain chemicals that keep you alert and (gulp) awake.

To break this maddening cycle, address and reframe the underlying thoughts and emotions. You’ll likely discover you have some unhelpful and maybe even unrealistic beliefs about sleep.

Rather than berating yourself for not sleeping, consider gently reminding yourself that…

▶ You’ll fall asleep eventually. Like we said earlier, all humans have an innate drive and capacity for sleep.

▶ You’re likely getting more sleep than you realize. According to Dr. Winter, most people aren’t aware of their lightest sleep phases. They think they’ve spent most of the night awake when, in fact, they slept several hours.

▶ Occasional sleep loss is normal. Especially during times of excitement, anticipation, change, or stress. For most, this is a temporary phase. Trust that your sleep will recalibrate eventually.

(For more ideas on how to break free from sleep anxiety read: How to Sleep Better When Nothing Helps You Sleep Better)

Answer #2: You have an afternoon coffee habit.

Caffeine blocks the function of adenosine, a neurochemical that makes you sleepy.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up caffeine entirely.

Some people find that cutting back—say, having just one espresso shot instead of two—ameliorates their sleep issues.

Other clients have told us that they’re okay if they have caffeine before noon, but not after.

Answer #3: You sleep in.

It takes about 16 hours of wakefulness for enough adenosine to build up in your brain to nudge you into slumber.

So, waking up later means you probably won’t feel sleepy until later.

(In other words, do the math: Sleeping in until 10 am might mean that your brain isn’t ready to rest until about 2 am.)

It’s tempting to keep hitting snooze, especially if you slept crummy the night before, but do your best to get out of bed at a reasonable time, and you’ll set yourself up better for a reasonable bedtime.

Answer #4. You don’t get much sunlight, especially in the mornings.

Most organisms, including humans, have evolved to organize their physiological processes in response to light and dark.

Morning sunlight in particular seems to help set the body’s circadian rhythm, helping you feel tired when it gets dark in the evening.

Try to get 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight within two hours of waking up. (And yes, overcast days still count!)

Answer #5. You snuggle up to screens in the evening.

Melatonin increases sleep drive as night approaches, but it requires relative darkness to do its work.

Light from phones, tablets, televisions—also known as blue light—and even overhead incandescent lighting can disrupt this sleep-promoting hormone, making sleep elusive.

As the sun begins to lower, lower the lighting in your house too. If you can, limit screen time especially in the hour before bedtime.

5 evergreen strategies to improve sleep

Sleep hacks come and go, but these five principles of good sleep are nearly universally recommended by sleep experts and good sleepers alike:

1. Keep your sleep-wake schedule consistent. ​​

Wake at roughly the same time each day (including weekends) and hit the sack around the same time each evening.

2. Use a pre-sleep ritual.

About 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed, get into wind-down mode. Turn off screens. Dim the lights. Relax with a bath, stretching, or time with a book. By doing the same behaviors each evening, you’ll train your brain to know it’s bedtime.

3. Avoid high-fat, high-calorie evening meals.

Consume moderately sized meals no later than 3 hours before bedtime. Eat meals higher in carbohydrates and protein rather than high-fat meals, which can worsen sleep quality in some people.

4. Avoid energizing exercise in the evening.

Schedule weight lifting and intense cardio earlier in the day. Closer to bedtime, opt for calming, gentle movements like walking or slow yoga.

5. Keep your room dark.

If possible, make your bedroom as dark as possible or consider wearing a sleep mask. That way, you reduce interference from street lights or other lights in your environment, which can inhibit melatonin.

(For more science-based advice to get more rest, read: How to Sleep Better: Your 14-Day Plan for Better Rest)

Why can’t I sleep through the night?

Lots of people wake at night—and Dr. Winter wants to tell you it’s no big deal.

Here are a couple of scenarios that often distress people, but are actually totally normal:

▶ Early waking: You’re wide awake at 5 am, a full two hours before your alarm. Even though you think you should be sleeping longer, your brain might be fully recharged and ready to slay your day.

▶ Biphasic sleep: You sleep for several hours, then wake and feel alert for 45 minutes or so, and then go back to sleep for several more hours. If that’s you, drop any anxiety over your mid-night waking; just assume it’s normal, read for a little bit, then let yourself fall back asleep when you’re ready.

For both of the above situations, if you feel rested and alert during the day, there’s no true sleep problem, says Dr. Winter.

On the other hand, if it seems as if no amount of sleep will fix how tired you feel, consider whether any of the common offenders might be interfering with your ability to sleep through the night.

What Wakes People During the Night

If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep again after you’ve woken up in the middle of the night, it might help to prevent disruptions from happening in the first place.

Take a look at the following list of common nighttime troublemakers, and see where you have control modifying or avoiding them:

▶ Alcohol: Having a nightcap (or two) often helps people feel more relaxed—and maybe even fall asleep faster. But as alcohol metabolizes, your body experiences “rebound” arousal, causing a fitful sleep.1

▶ Caffeine: As mentioned, caffeine blocks the function of adenosine, a neurochemical that makes you sleepy. Try to avoid caffeine—not just coffee, but caffeinated soda, too—a minimum of six hours before bedtime.

▶ Intense evening exercise: A natural effect of intense exercise is an increase in cortisol, a hormone that makes us feel alert. Some people find that if they exercise vigorously too late in the evening, they still feel “pumped up” when it’s time to sleep.

▶ Sedentary lifestyle: Research shows that people who are chronically deprived of physical activity are more likely to struggle with insomnia.2 This can create a vicious cycle, because if you’ve slept poorly the night before, you might be inclined to stay in bed or on the couch the next day. Even if you’re tired, get your steps in. One study showed sleep quality was better in those who walked more.3

▶ Smoking cigarettes: Nicotine is a stimulant. So, much in the way that caffeine can jangle your nerves too close to bed, so can cigarettes (or vaping).

▶ Drinking liquids too close to bed: Have a recurring dream where you’re running around trying to find a bathroom, and every stall is locked? Avoid drinking liquids two to three hours before bed, and you’ll be less likely to be tormented in the middle of the night with a full bladder.

▶ Snoring spouse: Snoring isn’t grounds for divorce, but it’s definitely grounds for investing in a good pair of earplugs. Or maybe separate bedrooms. (And if your spouse sounds like a lawnmower, get them to ask their doc about it. Snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea.)

▶ Pets and children: Co-sleeping with pets or children sounds cozy, but if it’s disrupting your sleep, it might not be worth it. Set Rover up with a dog bed (maybe in a separate room). If kids keep coming into your bed at night, calmly walk them back to their room, and tuck them in. With consistency, most kids (and pets) learn to sleep on their own.

In addition to the above, talk to your doctor about your sleep. It might be worth getting screened for sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and other conditions that disturb sleep.

How much sleep do I need?

On average, most people need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

But that’s an average, not a good-health edict.

“There are people who require slightly more and slightly less sleep,” says Dr. Winter. Above- and below-average sleepers fall into three main categories:

▶ Natural short sleepers feel spunky and clear-headed with just six or seven hours of shuteye.

▶ Natural long sleepers need 10 or more hours in order to feel refreshed.

▶ Children, teenagers, and many young adults need more sleep for their developing bodies and brains.

Meanwhile, others sleep 14, 17, 24 or more hours with very little interruption—and still wake feeling tired.

“If you’re one of these people, it might be an indication that there is something wrong with your sleep quality, not necessarily the quantity,” Dr. Winter says.

For example, sleep disorders like sleep apnea can disrupt sleep, causing people to sleep more hours and still wake feeling unrefreshed. These disorders require medical treatment, so mention any concerns to your doctor.

(Read more: What Happens When You Sleep Too Much?)

Why do we sleep?

Researchers haven’t figured out exactly what sleep does, but there’s one thing they’re sure of:

Sleep is important.

Every physiological process, in some way, is regulated or influenced by sleep.

Getting enough good-quality sleep:

  • Improves your mood and your ability to manage your emotions
  • Makes you less impulsive (which helps you make better decisions)
  • Helps you learn and remember
  • Improves thinking, concentration, and attention
  • Keeps your brain healthy
  • Helps you regulate your appetite, plus preserve and repair valuable lean tissue like muscle and bone
  • Regulates blood sugar and lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides

What’s the best way to track sleep?

If you spend time reading Precision Nutrition’s content, you’ll see we’re funny about the word “best.”

That’s because the BEST advice for any one person depends on their sex, age, genetics, lifestyle, preferences, and an array of other factors.

This “no best” philosophy applies to diets, stress management techniques, exercise, and, yes, even sleep trackers.

Because there’s no one “best” way to track sleep, it’s better to simply present clients with options. Then, they can decide on the best approach—for them.

Below we’ve listed some of those options, starting with the least expensive.

Sleep tracking option #1: The sleep diary

For about a month, get your client to track:

  • What time they flipped off the lights at night
  • What time they got up in the morning
  • Whether they woke up in the middle of the night
  • If they napped during the day (and if so, for how long)

On top of that, get them to keep notes on how they feel during the day, especially during low-stress activities such as watching television or reading.

Do they feel alert? Or ready to snooze whenever they stop moving?

At the end of the month, look over the log together and see if you can spot any patterns. (For example, does a daytime nap seem to increase the likelihood of having a disrupted sleep at night? Or not?)

If a client generally feels spunky during the day, that’s a good sign they’re getting all the sleep they need.

On the other hand, if they’re nodding off during dinner, try prioritizing sleep until they’re getting seven to eight quality hours per night.

If your client is consistently struggling to fall or stay asleep—and they feel zombie-like during the day—encourage them to mention it to their doctor.

Sleep tracking option #2: Commercial sleep trackers

At-home devices aren’t always as precise as many manufacturers claim.

While technologies are improving significantly, and some devices and apps are better than others, many of them just aren’t very accurate when it comes to precisely monitoring specific stages of sleep.

They are, however, pretty good about telling you how long you slept. These trackers are especially helpful for…

▶ People struggling with insomnia

Most people aren’t aware of their lightest sleep phases. They think they’ve spent most of the night tossing when, in fact, they slept several hours.

As a result, these devices can often help folks with insomnia realize that they’re getting more sleep than they realize.

▶ Anyone who’s experimenting with a new sleep strategy

Whether you’re using a white noise machine or turning down your thermostat a few degrees, these devices can help you see whether the tactic actually led to improved sleep.

On the downside, monitoring can make some people more anxious or obsessive about their sleep… which means they get even worse sleep.

(Read more about tracking health metrics and anxiety: Are Fitness Trackers Worth It?)

Sleep tracking option #3: Sleep studies

Requested by a physician, a sleep study can help your doctor determine whether you have a health problem that’s interfering with sleep.

Home-based sleep studies are an accessible and relatively inexpensive way for physicians to test for sleep apnea, when breathing repeatedly stops and starts during the night.

To diagnose other health conditions, your physician may ask you to spend a night in a sleep lab.

How to help sleepless clients

As you might have learned from personal experience, if you tell clients about all of the horrible things that will happen if they don’t get more sleep, their sleep will likely get worse.

(Thanks, sleep anxiety.)

Another losing strategy: Pushing the same so-called magical sleep protocol on everyone.

Truth is, no ONE practice will help every single client.

That’s why, to truly benefit your clients, we recommend experimenting.

✅ Talk about a wide range of possible changes and how they might help

✅ Ask, “What are you willing to try?” Then pick 1-2 actions they’re ready, willing, and able to commit to for a period of time (two weeks is a good frame)

✅ Gather data over time. Then ask: Is this making your sleep better? Worse? The same?

Use what you learn from the above process to iterate. Eventually, your client will discover the set of practices that works best—for them.

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post The top questions people ask about sleep—and how to answer them appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

When your thoughts feel like a tornado, it’s hard to do stuff like plan healthy meals, or schedule gym time.

Never mind falling asleep at a decent hour the night before so you have the energy to actually DO these things.

Seems like an unlikely hero—but your phone might help.

Specifically, via stress management apps.

Stress management apps promise to help you manage your thoughts, regulate your emotions, and ease tension and restlessness from your body.

And in turn, better recovery from stress “fills up your tank,” making it easier for you to eat mindfully, find time to exercise, and feel like you have the capacity to take on new challenges.

A graphic showing how to keep your recovery tank full. The illustration shows a water tank with a tap pouring water in, and a tap on the tank itself that lets water out. The tap that fills the tank is recovery, which includes elements like: good nutrition, regular sleep, gentle movement, fulfilling activity, social connections, positive emotions, time in nature, and mindfulness. The tap that empties the tank is stress, which includes elements like poor nutrition, low energy intake, intense exercise, work stress, relationship stress, caregiving, financial stress, loneliness, negative emotions, environmental stress, alcohol and drug use, illness, and injury.

In the following article, we’ll discuss how apps for stress management and anxiety might help you do that. You’ll discover:

  • What stress apps are, and how they work
  • Who’s most likely to benefit from these apps
  • Which stress management apps are the best

If you want to better manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so you can create or sustain your health and fitness habits, keep reading.

First, what are stress management apps?

Stress management apps are programs on your phone that offer tools like guided meditation, guided breathwork, and mood tracking. These tools aim to reduce anxiety and stress, and improve mindfulness and wellbeing.

The cool thing is, apps for anxiety and stress can help you find relief in the moment, but also ongoing.

That’s because stress management is a skill.

So, the more you practice regulating your emotions—like calming yourself down with controlled breathing after a heated conversation with your boss—the more it begins to feel natural, and even automatic.

Because your phone is nearly always with you, stress apps can help you practice the skill of stress management wherever and whenever you need it.

Okay, but do apps for anxiety actually work?

The short answer: Yes. (For most people.)

A 2020 study in the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care reported that apps using behavior-change strategies (such as CBT), significantly helped with depression, anxiety, and stress.1

And, a 2021 meta-analysis in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that mindfulness apps in particular show promise in helping reduce perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and improve psychological well-being.2

However, there’s nothing special about using these tools through your phone.

Apps just help make these therapies more convenient, accessible, and user-friendly. (Often, they’re more affordable than traditional therapy, too.)

Marla Deibler, PsyD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, suggests that while apps can be part of your mental health toolkit, effective stress management should include a wide range of strategies.

Other strategies might include connecting to loved ones, getting out in nature, or talking to a mental health professional, such as a therapist, stress coach, or social worker.

Precision Nutrition Master Health Coach Kate Solovieva, MA, who holds her masters in Social and Personality Psychology, points out that for some, their phone is a source of stress. For these people, non-digital strategies, like the ones mentioned above, might be more effective.

Techniques that help with stress management

Stress and anxiety apps tend to focus on one or several of the most effective techniques for stress management and anxiety relief.

Here’s an overview of these approaches:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most effective and well-researched treatments for many mood issues, including anxiety and depression—but also plain old daily stress.3

“We all have moments where we unintentionally increase or maintain our own stress by thinking unhelpful thoughts. These thoughts are often unrealistic, inaccurate, or, to some extent, unreasonable,” Dr. Deibler says.

CBT helps you identify and rewrite these patterns of thinking, so you can feel better, and change your behavior in positive ways.

For example, you might have a thought like, “I don’t have time to work out today, but if I skip, all my progress will be lost.”

Under normal circumstances, this thought may cause you to feel defeated, and may even tempt you to give up your training goals altogether.

Using CBT, you learn to challenge this thought, realizing that it’s overly catastrophic. (Skipping one workout will not somehow turn all your hard-earned muscle to mush.)

While CBT is most effective when done with a clinician, most people can learn basic skills to help themselves have more awareness of their thought errors, and learn to respond to these thoughts more productively.

Mindfulness and acceptance

Research shows mindfulness can be highly effective in helping reduce the physiological stress response in people with generalized anxiety disorder.4

Mindfulness can help you observe uncomfortable emotions with healthy detachment—kind of like watching a wave in the ocean swell, and then ride out.

Anxiety may feel bad, but it isn’t inherently harmful—and it does pass, says Dr. Deibler. Learning to observe your experiences—even the unwanted ones—without judgment or resistance, can help you feel less overwhelmed, and move on faster.

Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the style of meditation most commonly found on stress apps.

This type of meditation usually involves sitting somewhere with your eyes closed, and simply observing your thoughts and feelings—your bodily sensations, sounds in your environment, or the chatter in your brain.

Whatever you notice, the idea is to try not to control it, judge it, or get overly identified with or emotionally wrapped up in it. (Yes, this is hard!)

This practice can help you to become more present—instead of overanalyzing the past or projecting into the future—as well as detach from stressful thoughts.

Not surprisingly, research shows that this type of meditation is effective at reducing anxiety.5 6

Breathwork

Taking deep, slow breaths helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure. This has a calming effect on your body, which can in turn cue your brain to calm down too, explains California-based Nathan Brandon, Psy.D., who specializes in online therapy.

Studies show breathwork—especially when the exhale is even with or longer than the inhale—is an effective intervention for reducing stress, increasing mindfulness, and reducing anxiety.7

(There are some great apps that can help you use your breath as a tool for stress management, but if you want a quick primer, we have a free guide too.)

Relaxation techniques

There are many activities that relax the body and mind—and different apps that cater to each. A few popular techniques:

  • Yoga (whether it’s fast-paced and sweaty, or slow and stretching-focused)
  • Tai Chi (an ancient self-defense technique that’s practiced as a gentle flow of standing postures)
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (a practice of tensing different muscle groups one-by-one, then releasing them)

“These activities work by focusing your attention on something other than your stressors and by helping your physical body to relax,” says Dr. Brandon.

Identifying triggers

“Figuring out the things that trigger your stress and learning how to deal with them in a healthy way can make a big difference in your overall stress levels,” Dr. Brandon says.

Both he and Coach Solovieva suggest identifying what causes your anxiety to flare up. Triggers can include people, places, or things—for example, alcohol, caffeine, too many hours at the office, poor sleep, or even certain relationships.

Once you identify the things that make your mood or behaviors go south, you have more control over them: you can figure out how to minimize your exposure to triggers, or just alter your perspective on them

Apps that track your mood or habits can illustrate these patterns more clearly.

What are the best stress management apps?

According to all three of our experts—and established research1—the most effective apps for anxiety or stress are ones that are based on evidence-based techniques, like those above.

However, if your stress or mood issues are persistent and/or severe, talk to your doctor or book an appointment with a licensed mental health professional.

With that in mind, here are seven of our top choices:

Headspace

Free 7-day trial, then $13/mo; iOS and Android

All of our experts recommended the leading meditation app, and it’s one of the few wellness and stress management apps with significant clinical research to support it.8

Headspace takes the practice of mindfulness meditation and makes it easy-peasy for beginners.

First, you complete a 10-day introductory course that holds your hand through how to meditate with videos and informative animations.

Then, you can access a huge library of guided meditations and exercises, with experts ranging from Buddhist monks to Olympic trainers.

The app leverages all sorts of meditation techniques, including visualizations, resting awareness, body scanning, and compassion, so it’s a great way to explore niches that might work well for you.

Waking Up

Free 7-day trial, then $14.99/mo; iOS and Android

Created by neuroscientist Sam Harris, Waking Up teaches you not only the basics of how to meditate, but also includes resources like mini-courses and podcast-style interviews on spiritual theories, philosophy, and psychology.

With the Waking Up app, you can do the daily 10-minute guided meditation, but you can also do shorter or longer specialized meditations, or listen to thought-provoking conversations on Stoicism, spiritual philosophy, sleep improvement, and even productivity—all from world-renowned teachers and scholars.

Liberate

Free 7-day trial, then $10/mo; iOS and Android

This meditation app is designed to be a helpful and safe space specifically for the Black community.

It features over 260 meditations plus additional talks from BIPOC teachers, covering general mindfulness as well as topics specific to microaggressions, internalized racism, ancestral healing, forgiveness, and more.

The meditations range from 5 to 25 minutes.

InsightTimer

Free; iOS and Android

InsightTimer gives you access to more than 90,000 meditations for free, including ambient sounds to help calm your mind and guided sessions from meditation teachers, psychologists, and celebrities like Russel Brand, Gisele Bündchen, and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Its thorough library can feel a bit overwhelming for beginners, but it categorizes its meditations, so you can easily find something to help you calm anxiety in the moment, focus on self-love or compassion, or fall asleep faster.

It also offers all styles of meditation, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) therapy, and breathing meditations.

Breathe+

Free for basic features; iOS and Android

Controlling your breath helps regulate your central nervous system, which is the on/off switch for anxiety. But simply sitting still and breathing can be surprisingly difficult.

Breathe+ uses a simple design to help you zero in on controlling your breath. You just input how long you want to practice breathwork for and how many counts you want for your inhale, hold, exhale, and hold. Hit start, and the app screen shows calming waves to mimic the rise, fall, and pauses of your breath.

We love the accessibility and simplicity of this visual-oriented app for in-the-moment calming, but if you prefer talk-guided breathwork, check out Othership or Breathwrk.

Tangerine

Free; iOS and Android

This habit- and mood-tracking app helps you stay accountable for the practices you know keep your anxiety levels down.

Displayed like a calendar, Tangerine allows you to input any habit, along with what time of day and how many times per week you like to complete it.

Each day, you check off the habits you completed, rate your mood on a simple smiley face scale, and add a few journal notes about what made your day good or bad.

It’s helpful on its own for accountability with healthy habits, but for an extra $5 per month, you can access insights and stats to see how your routine affected your mood, and to see trends.

Sanvello

$9/mo, iOS and Android

Sanvello combines many of the aforementioned science-backed therapies into one app. It:

  • Tracks your mood, exercise, and sleep every day
  • Offers expert-designed guided journeys based on things like mindfulness and CBT
  • Has a library of tools to help with specific, anxiety-inducing situations like public speaking or morning dread

Then, it offers a report to show correlations between your daily mood ratings and the activities you did—or didn’t—do.

Build yourself up, bit by bit.

While doing five minutes of box breathing will definitely help calm you down in the moment, substantial changes to your baseline levels of stress will only happen when you practice these tools regularly (likely daily).

Additionally, because apps are designed to be universally helpful—a kind of “one size fits all” approach—they work best for minor stress and anxiety.

However, many people benefit from deeper and more individualized support—particularly from another human. That’s why we created PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Certification. It gives you the tools, know-how, and skills needed to help yourself (and others) cope better with life’s many stressors, improve mental and emotional well-being, and gain the capacity to make meaningful health and fitness changes

But apps are a great, accessible place to start.

Even if you only have one minute a day, build in your stress management reps, just like you might build in reps at the squat rack.

Every time you practice being mindful, regulating your breathing, or moving your body in a way that relieves tension, you get stronger and more skilled at that practice.

Over time, you become more effective at managing stress. One day, you might even call yourself a mental health athlete.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Khademian, Fatemeh, Azam Aslani, and Peivand Bastani. 2020. “The Effects of Mobile Apps on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Overview of Systematic Reviews.” International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care 37 (December): e4.
  2. Gál, Éva, Simona Ștefan, and Ioana A. Cristea. 2021. “The Efficacy of Mindfulness Meditation Apps in Enhancing Users’ Well-Being and Mental Health Related Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Journal of Affective Disorders 279 (January): 131–42.
  3. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? (2017, July). American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral 
  4. Hoge, Elizabeth A., Eric Bui, Sophie A. Palitz, Noah R. Schwarz, Maryann E. Owens, Jennifer M. Johnston, Mark H. Pollack, and Naomi M. Simon. 2018. “The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Biological Acute Stress Responses in Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” Psychiatry Research 262 (April): 328–32.
  5. Lemay, Virginia, John Hoolahan, and Ashley Buchanan. 2019. “Impact of a Yoga and Meditation Intervention on Students’ Stress and Anxiety Levels.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 83 (5): 7001.
  6. Xiao Chaoqun, Mou Chunwei, and Zhou Xia. 2019. “Effect of mindfulness meditation training on anxiety, depression and sleep quality in perimenopausal women.” Nan fang yi ke da xue xue bao = Journal of Southern Medical University 39 (8): 998–1002.
  7. Wang, Shu-Chen, Wen-Yu Hu, Lloyd Lalande, Jung-Chen Chang, Shao-Yu Tsai, Shu-Chuan Chang, and Tzung-Kuen Wen. 2022. “Evaluation of Guided Respiration Mindfulness Therapy (GRMT) for Reducing Stress in Nurses.” Journal of Holistic Nursing: Official Journal of the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, May, 8980101221094973.
  8. Lau, Nancy, Alison O’Daffer, Susannah Colt, Joyce P. Yi-Frazier, Tonya M. Palermo, Elizabeth McCauley, and Abby R. Rosenberg. 2020. “Android and iPhone Mobile Apps for Psychosocial Wellness and Stress Management: Systematic Search in App Stores and Literature Review.” JMIR mHealth and uHealth 8 (5): e17798.

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post Can these stress apps transform your life for the better? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

You know what you should do for good health.

Get enough quality sleep most nights.

Cook nutritious, satisfying meals at home, most evenings.

Make time for sweating, meditating, time in nature—whatever helps you feel recharged and strong.

It’s just that DOING these things (consistently) isn’t so easy.

Just like your dog stubbornly lying in front of every doorway, life trips you up, derails your plans, scrambles your focus.

If you find yourself continually face-planting when attempting to start or sustain healthy habits, it might just be that you need more support.

Someone to give you strategies for overcoming obstacles, a little extra guidance, and maybe some accountability.

A wellness coach might give you the progress-boost you need.

Except… maybe you’ve never heard of wellness coaching.

(Or maybe you have, but it’s always sounded a little “woo-woo” to you. Get off me, crystals!)

In this article, we’ll explain what a wellness coach is, who might benefit from working with one, and how wellness coaching differs from nutrition coaching.

Lastly, we’ll tell you what accreditation to look for—whether you’re looking to work with a wellness coach, or looking to BE one.

What is a wellness coach, anyway?

Before we get to that, let’s get clear on the term “wellness.”

When you think of your health, you might consider your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other physical markers that your primary care doc would examine at a regular check up. You might also think of the quality of your sleep, diet, or exercise.

While “wellness” includes physical health, it’s more of a holistic concept that also captures mental, emotional, and spiritual / existential well-being.

Wheel-shaped graphic that shows the six dimensions of deep health: Social, Physical, Existential, Emotional, Mental, Environmental

(At PN, we refer to this as “Deep health.” Learn more here.)

A wellness coach (also sometimes called a “health and wellness” coach) helps people improve whatever aspect of well-being they’d like to focus on.

As you can imagine, that’s a pretty broad category.

To list a few examples, a wellness coach may help clients…

  • Change their body composition
  • Boost energy levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Move better and improve posture
  • Create healthy boundaries between work and home life
  • Reduce stress
  • Establish a mindfulness practice
  • Improve diet quality or even just a person’s relationship with food

What do wellness coaches do?

Wellness coaches come from all sorts of backgrounds: fitness, nutrition, mental health, education, and more.

Some work on healthcare teams alongside physicians, others work in gym settings or in community centers.

(And of course, these days, wellness coaches may work in-person with people in their city or town, or online with people halfway across the world.)

Many wellness coaches narrow their area of expertise, working with specific populations like young moms looking to carve out “me time”; college athletes wanting to improve their recovery routines; or seniors looking to boost their cardiovascular fitness.

Wellness coaches encourage clients to take charge of their own health.

Ideally, what connects wellness coaches is that they’ve received training in client-centered health education, behavior change science, and motivational strategies.

This means they know it’s not enough to just tell someone what to do. (Most people have enough knowledge; it’s the action part they struggle with.)

It also means they believe that YOU’RE the expert of your own life.

So, YOU get to decide—based on your own experiences, self-knowledge, personal values, and priorities—what habits you want to improve.

Because wellness coaches tend to value a client’s autonomy, they’re not going to “prescribe” a rigid meal plan or exercise routine—unless they have other qualifications to do so, and that’s what you ask for.

(To find out why meal plans tend to fail anyway, read: Why meal plans usually suck)

Is a wellness coach really worth the investment?

There’s so much information already available: From your couch, you can Google “best diet to lose weight” or “strategies to cope with stress,” and come up with lots of resources—for free!

However, combing through all that info can be overwhelming.

Also: As we’ve already mentioned, having knowledge doesn’t always translate to making changes.

Plus, the info you find—as good as some of it is—won’t necessarily apply to your life and the unique challenges you face.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re trying to gain muscle. You’ll learn from a quick Google search that you’ll need to do resistance training, maybe increase your protein and overall calorie consumption, plus build in recovery time between workouts so your muscles can repair themselves.

All of that’s helpful to know, but it’s no game plan.

A wellness coach, on the other hand, would consider your goal and then help support you to:

  • Develop life skills, like managing your time so you can fit in those extra sessions at the gym, and maybe extra sleep at night (because recovery!)
  • Create supportive habits, systems, and behaviors, like like learning how to build in food prep routines, so those high-protein meals are ready when you’re hungry
  • Explore the deeper meaning behind your goals, ensuring your new habits actually feel good and align with your personal values, which can help you sustain progress long term

…And many other things.

In short, if you have a goal, a wellness coach can help you create a map to get there. (Plus, they’ll be around to help you re-orient yourself should you ever go off-course.)

So, although there’s lots of (great) free advice out there, it’s not really providing value if you’re not using it. On the other hand, when you find someone who can actually help you change your day-to-day life for the better, it’s priceless.

The difference between a wellness coach and a nutrition coach

Here’s where it can get confusing:

Many health and wellness coaches also coach nutrition.

And, many nutrition coaches use a holistic framework when helping clients address their nutrition challenges.

(For example, in our L1 and L2 certifications, we have a strong focus on nutrition science, but we also teach our coaches tools they can use to improve their clients’ mental, emotional, social, and other aspects of health.)

But if we were to draw a line somewhere:

▶ A nutrition coach generally focuses on food and diet quality to support their client’s overall health, body composition, and/or performance goals.

▶ A wellness coach may do the above—depending on the type of education they’ve received—but they’ll also tend to work more globally by looking at other factors that influence their client’s well-being. (Think: exercise, sleep, social connections, work, and recreation.)

And just so you know, even though nutrition coaches and wellness coaches can have excellent knowledge around food and diet, neither of them are qualified to:

  • Practice medical nutrition therapy (MNT), a practice that uses nutrition, and sometimes targeted supplements, to treat disease
  • Develop and provide meal plans for medical conditions

Legally, only registered dieticians (RDs) can offer those services to others.

How to become a wellness coach

With better training and more awareness, the wellness coaching industry is becoming more recognized—and legitimized.

However, the field is still largely unregulated.

Nowadays—for better or worse—anybody can slap the “wellness coach”  title to their name without bumping into any legal issues.

That means, if you wanted to, you could decide to call yourself a wellness coach right now—without receiving any kind of training. 

You could set up a wellness coaching business and even charge clients for your services.

Yikes.

The good news:

There are ways to become an accredited wellness coach.

Plus, there are regulatory boards—like the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC)—that validate quality programs so you know you’re actually getting a good education.

Currently, there are over 100 approved wellness coaching programs and certifications approved by the NBHWC.

Before you go clicking on the first program you find, though, understand that each program is unique.

They all vary in:

  • Cost: The range is huge, with some programs costing around $1,200 USD, and others costing $25,000 USD.
  • Area of specialization: Programs can focus on anything from trauma prevention and recovery, women’s health, healthy aging, or have a more generalized approach.
  • Educational and/or professional requirements: Some programs require a bachelor’s degree, for example.
  • Program length: Again the range is wide; some programs can be completed in three months, while others take up to four years.

If you graduate from one of these approved programs, you qualify to apply for the National Board Certification Examination, offered in partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

If you pass this exam, you earn a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) credential—which is a fairly respected title in the field.

Benefits of having a wellness coach certification

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of different people on the internet calling themselves a “health and wellness coach,” so sometimes it’s difficult to figure out who’s legit.

Having a wellness coach certification from a program that has the NBC-HWC seal of approval—which graduates of Precision Nutrition’s Level 2 Master Health Coaching Certification are eligible to get—can set you apart.

Regardless, a certification can foster more trust among potential clients, and give you the confidence that you’ve learned the skills necessary to work with clients and the real-life struggles they face every day.

In other words, a certification supports you as a coach—giving you more knowledge, resources, credibility, and confidence—so you can better support your clients.

Ready to join the world’s top 1% of coaches?

If you’re ready to radically transform your business and your clients’ results, we’ve got some big news for you: 

On October 5th, we’re opening public registration for the nextcohort of the PN Master Health Coaching Certification, the industry’s most respected practice-based mentorship.

No other program in the world is like this. 

Because at PN, we’ve helped over 100,000 clients achieve lasting health transformations. We have a clear understanding of how sleep, mindfulness, stress, nutrition, and exercise are all connected. And now, we’re ready to share our hard-earned wisdom with you.

Through real-world coaching scenarios, hands-on assignments, and mentoring sessions with PN’s industry-leading Master Health Coaches, you’ll learn how to prioritize a client’s challenges, help them remove obstacles holding them back, and how to create unique, actionable coaching plans for every client, addressing their:

  • Sleep
  • Stress management
  • Mental health
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Recovery
  • Diet
  • Exercise

This mentorship program is where the world’s best coaches come to take the next steps in their careers.

At the end of your 20-week program, you’ll be a Master Health Coach—able to go beyond nutrition and fitness with your clients so they can feel like their best selves again. 

After joining, you’ll:

  • Help any client achieve sustainable change by leveraging behavior-change psychology.
  • Feel more confident in your skills than ever before by integrating proven methods used by the world’s top health and well-being coaches into your coaching practice.
  • Become an authority in the health and well-being space—with confidence. As you learn from PN’s industry-leading coaches and network with some of the sharpest minds in the industry, you’ll build the confidence to share your expertise with anyone, anytime.
  • Make more money and achieve financial freedom. Whether you decide to take on the full-time role of “health coach”, or you want to expand on your current work as a health and well-being professional, health coaching is a great way to help more people.

Registration for our next PN Master Health Coaching Certification kicks off on Wednesday, October 5th, 2022.

If you’re interested, or just want more information, you should strongly consider signing up for the free presale list below.

After joining the free Waitlist, you’ll save up to 44%, get exclusive perks, and early access.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the waitlist
  • Sign up 8 days before the general public. We only open the PN Master Health Coaching Certification a few times per year. Due to high demand, we expect it to sell out fast. But when you sign up for the waitlist, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 8 days before anyone else.
  • Get access to an exclusive bonus seminar with PN Co-founder Dr. John Berardi and PN CEO Timothy Jones: “Coaching After the Pandemic: How Health and Fitness Coaches Can Navigate the Industry in 2023 and Beyond.

The post What is a wellness coach? (And how can you make wellness coaching your career?) appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Reviewed by Jennifer Martin, PhD


Maybe you’ve seen the headlines about how oversleeping has been linked to a greater risk of disease and death. If you’re the kind of person who regularly clocks more than eight hours of slumber, these news stories have probably made you wonder, “Why do I sleep so much? And is it bad for me?”

In this story, sleep experts help you understand the latest science. You’ll find out what really happens when you oversleep, along with how it affects your health.

(Spoiler: Chances are, you have nothing to worry about.)

How much is too much sleep?

On average, most people need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. But that’s an average, not a good-health edict.

“As you start to move out in either direction, there are people who require slightly more and slightly less sleep,” says Chris Winter, MD, sleep specialist, author of The Sleep Solution and The Rested Child, and co-author of Precision Nutrition’s Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification.

Above (and below) average sleepers fall into three main categories.

1. People who need fewer than 7 hours of sleep

Referred to as Natural Short Sleepers, these genetically-gifted folks don’t need as much sleep as the average person.

Increased levels of a hormone called orexin allows them to feel spunky and clear-headed with just five to six hours of shuteye.

Here’s an important caveat, though. Plenty of people who get less than seven hours aren’t Natural Short Sleepers. Rather, they skimp on sleep for other reasons, ranging from revenge-bedtime procrastination to parenthood to an “always on” work ethic.

If you’re not genetically a Natural Short Sleeper, skimping on sleep likely means you’ll either…

▶ feel like garbage the next day

▶ won’t feel like garbage the next day—but only because you’re so used to the effects of sleep deprivation that you’ve no longer remember what it feels like to be well rested

In addition to the above, over time, your risk for heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes can go up as well.

(More about sleep and health further down in the story.)

2. People who need more than 9 hours of sleep

Due to their genetic makeup, Natural Long Sleepers usually need 10, 11, or 12 hours in order to feel refreshed. Their genetics also cause them to feel tired more quickly than other people.

Also in this longer-sleeping category: children, teenagers, and many young adults, all of whom need more sleep so their bodies can continue to develop, says Jennifer Martin, PhD, Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and also a co-author Precision Nutrition’s Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification.

Certain prescription medications can also increase sleep time, says Dr. Martin.

“Usually this effect is reversed when the person stops the medication, and in some cases, the sleepiness is reduced once the person gets used to the medication,” she says.

3. People who need 13+ hours of sleep

Some people sleep 14, 17, 24 or more hours with very little interruption, and they still wake feeling tired.

“If you find you are one of these people, it might be an indication that there is something wrong with your sleep quality, not necessarily the quantity,” Dr. Winter says. For example, sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia can disrupt sleep, causing people to wake feeling unrefreshed.

A variety of health conditions—including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and depression—can also lead to hypersomnia, which is the inability to stay awake. Narcolepsy, another hypersomnia condition, causes people to feel tired all the time, leading them to fall asleep at inappropriate and dangerous times, such as while on a date or driving a vehicle. These disorders require medical treatment.

If you suspect any of the above is true for you, it’s a great thing to mention to your doctor.

What happens when you sleep too much?

“For the average person, if they are sleeping, they probably need to be sleeping,” says Dr. Winter.

That’s because our bodies all have a sleep set point—referred to as “homeostasis.” Get too little sleep one night and your body will respond by craving more sleep the next. Alternatively, you may have noticed: If you collect more sleep than usual by sleeping in on a weekend, you’ll likely find yourself wide awake later that evening.

There are, however, some exceptions. More about those below.

(Find out: Would YOU make a great sleep coach?)

Does oversleeping harm your health?

Despite all of the scary headlines, it’s likely that long sleep itself poses little to no health problems. That’s because, in people who sleep more than most, it’s often the result of a chronic health problem, not the cause, finds research.1,2

Occasionally, the problem is bi-directional, meaning the health problem disturbs sleep, which worsens the health problem, which leads to worsened sleep, and the cycle continues.

These health problems include:

▶ Sleep disorders like sleep apnea (where breathing repeatedly stops during sleep) and narcolepsy (which is characterized by severe daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks)

▶ Diabetes

▶ Hypothyroidism

▶ Depression

▶ Chronic fatigue syndrome

▶ Heart disease

For the above conditions, it’s important to note that oversleeping doesn’t cause them. Rather, it’s a symptom of them.

For example, sleep apnea repeatedly wakes people, often for brief moments, during the night, which can lead to hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day) as well as a strong desire to stay in bed longer than eight hours or to take a nap during the afternoon.

“When medical problems disturb sleep, it takes a person a longer period of time to be sufficiently recovered,” says Dr. Martin.

If you regularly get more than 10 hours, and you feel energetic and clear headed during the day, that’s great! Enjoy your slumber without fear. You most likely have nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, if you spend your days craving a nap—tired, brain fogged, irritated, and decision fatigued—there may be an underlying issue worth exploring with your doctor.

(Learn more: Why people with insomnia swear by CBT-I.)

4 Sleep Habits That Improve Sleep Quality

If you’re interested in sleeping more restfully, consider forming any of the following sleep habits.

Create a sleep oasis. When your sleep environment makes you feel safe and cozy, it’s easier for your brain to relax, allowing you to sleep more deeply.

Block out light. Your circadian rhythm responds to changes in light. For most people, the darker the room, the better they sleep. If you can’t get your room as dark as needed, consider experimenting with a sleep mask that covers your eyes and blocks out light.

Adjust the temperature. In addition to light, your circadian rhythm also responds to changes in temperature, making you feel sleepy as your body cools down. Taking a hot bath or shower before bed can trick your body that it’s time to sleep as it’s cooling down. Another tactic: Set your thermostat so it reduces the ambient temperature by a couple degrees at night.

If hot flashes are keeping you awake, consider investing in cooling mattress pads or using a fan. (Read more: Menopause and sleep).

Consider sleeping alone. A snoring spouse or active pet can wake you repeatedly, causing you to need more sleep to feel rested.

(Read more: How to sleep better.)

Can sleeping too much make you tired?

Ever noticed that you feel more tired when you sleep in (say, on the weekends) than you do when you get up early?

There are two likely reasons for this phenomenon.

1. Oversleeping is often a response to undersleeping

Some people sleep 10+ hours on the weekends because they’re sleeping six or fewer hours during the week.

“One reason people feel tired after sleeping a lot is that they still haven’t paid back their sleep debts from prior nights,” says Dr. Martin. “If you are very sleep deprived, it takes several days to get back on track and ‘catch up.’”

2. Sleeping in can disrupt sleep-wake signaling.

If you usually wake at 6 am, sleeping in on the weekends will disrupt your brain’s ability to release the neurochemicals needed for that refreshed, ready-to-slay-the-world feeling.

“It’s really more about sleep timing than sleep amount,” explains Dr. Winter. “The brain’s timing cues are being disrupted.”

Among those timing cues:

✅ Overhead and outdoor light that sets your brain’s circadian clock

✅ The blaring noise of your alarm clock that triggers the release of cortisol and other alertness chemicals

✅ Conversations with housemates that nudge you to “wake up! think!”

✅ Caffeine

✅ Breakfast

✅ That feeling of being rushed as you race out the door

When you occasionally oversleep, you deprive your brain of some or all of those cues. Some of the wakeup signals might not take place at all. Others, like overhead lighting and caffeine, take place hours later than your brain is used to getting them.

End result: you feel tired.

How can you tell if you’re sleeping too much?  

Dr. Winter suggests you consider this question:

During the day, if you sit down to read a book or watch a show, do you feel a strong urge to nod off?

If the answer is yes, it’s an indication that you’re not getting enough restorative sleep at night, which may be a sign of a sleep disorder or sleep quality issue, he says.

On the other hand, if you’re clocking a lot of bedtime hours and feel energized during the day, 10+ hours could just be your natural sleep pattern.

“If you are a long sleeper and feel good, don’t worry about it,” says Dr. Martin. “Do your best to spend the amount of time in bed you need.”

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Léger D, Beck F, Richard J-B, Sauvet F, Faraut B. The risks of sleeping “too much”. Survey of a National Representative Sample of 24671 adults (INPES health barometer). PLoS One. 2014 Sep 16;9(9):e106950.
  2. Klerman EB, Barbato G, Czeisler CA, Wehr TA. Can People Sleep Too Much? Effects of Extended Sleep Opportunity on Sleep Duration and Timing. Front Physiol. 2021 Dec 22;12:792942.

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post The surprising science of oversleeping appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

When people experience more stress than they can handle, they usually struggle in many different areas of their lives.

Sleep gets disrupted. Relationships grow tense. Nutrition habits regress.

More alcohol and sweets tend to come into the picture. Exercise becomes a thing of the past.

The scale often goes up.

It’s not uncommon for stressed folks to complain, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get anything done? What happened to my willpower? Why am I so lazy?”

Thing is, they’re not lazy. They’re just suffering from toxic stress.

This is where stress management coaching—aka stress management training—can make a big difference.

Certified stress management coaches help people set priorities, learn relaxation skills, and reduce their overall stress load. End result: Clients feel better—and finally are able to uncover the energy and bandwidth needed to successfully tackle other wellness goals.

Maybe you’re thinking: I want to help people do that! If so, this article will guide you through everything you need to know about stress management coaching.

What is stress management training? What does a stress management coach do? How do you become a stress management coach?

It’s all here. Keep reading to find out.

++++

What is stress management?

Stress—from little daily irritations to big life changes—can build up over time. When stress overwhelms your ability to recover, it can…

▶ suppress your body’s immune responses

▶ mess with your GI tract

▶ increase the risk of heart disease

▶ up your risk of depression and anxiety

(Learn more: The effects of stress on the body.)

It also makes it harder to do other things that are good for you, like getting enough sleep and eating enough veggies.

Stress management training gives you a comprehensive toolkit that can help you and your clients break free from the chokehold of stress. By better managing stress, you can not only improve your health, but also become more productive and happier.

What is stress management coaching? What does a stress management coach do?

Stress management coaches help people understand, grow from, and ride out stress with more ease. Their stress management training allows them to help clients pull a variety of “health levers” needed to feel and perform better.

Stress management coaches lean into their deep understanding of physiology and psychology to help clients…

▶ build more resilience

▶ deal with the stress in a more positive way

▶ learn strategies and practices that help them gain more control of their lives

Stress management coaches assess each client as an individual, gather vital data to understand clients’ needs, track their progress, and identify and clarify their goals. They then work closely with clients to develop an action plan to reach those goals—and help them re-assess and re-adjust as needed.

(For a deeper dive into some of the techniques coaches use read: How to build resilience.)

Who do stress management coaches help?

Many people decide to become certified stress management coaches so they can make a bigger impact as nurses, registered dietitians, chiropractors, personal trainers, health coaches, group exercise instructors, or athletic coaches, among other helping professions.

Others get certified because they see a growing need, including the…

▶ Nearly half of parents who say their level of stress has increased in the past two years

▶ Three out of every five employees who, in an American Psychological Association survey,  reported lack of interest, motivation, and energy due to work related stress

▶ Countless people who are looking to break old patterns and habits that result from chronic stress

Stress management coaches can help people pinpoint what causes stress, as well as develop a personalized roadmap to deal with those stressors.

What’s the difference between a stress management coach and a licensed behavioral therapist?

Stress management coaches complement the help offered by licensed behavioral therapists, but they don’t replace it.

Licensed mental health professionals undergo more training and education than stress management coaches do. For example, psychiatrists must complete medical school and then go on to residency and specialty training. Psychologists and licensed social workers usually have Master’s level degrees and specialized clinical training.

That specialized clinical training qualifies psychiatrists and some psychologists to diagnose mental health conditions. It allows mental health counselors to use a range of therapeutic tools—such as dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoanalysis—that are out of scope for people without this specialized training.

While stress management coaches do spend a lot of time talking to clients about the stressors they face, they cannot diagnose people with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition. Nor can they prescribe medication. They can, however, help people put into practice what their mental health team suggests.

In this way, stress management coaches can work with someone’s mental health practitioner much as an orthopedist might work with a physical therapist.

Why do people need stress management coaches?

When it comes to improving their physical health, a lot of people focus on fitness and nutrition. Yet, in today’s high-stress world, fitness and nutrition aren’t always enough. To support fitness and nutrition habits—especially during major life upheavals—most people need solid stress management skills, as well as sleep and recovery tools.

Think of sleep, stress management, and recovery as the foundation that supports all other health habits.

The good news is that small changes can make a big difference.

(FREE guide: Learn how to relieve stress.)

Why do people become stress management coaches?

Most people who pursue a certification in stress management techniques are already working in or adjacent to the health and fitness industry. As a result, they’ve realized the importance of sleep, stress management, and recovery to everyone striving to lead a healthier life.  They want to go beyond the basics and get a pro-level understanding of these topics so they can better direct their efforts to help their clients reach their health and wellness goals.

By learning more about the art and science of stress management, certified stress management coaches can help their clients develop greater resilience.

How do I become a stress management coach? What credentials are required?

You can become a stress management coach by earning a certification from a program that includes both the science of stress as well as advanced coaching methods needed to help clients better manage it.

We’ll just come out and say it: We offer a comprehensive stress management coaching certification that we’re very proud of. (It’s called the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification. Go here to get on the waitlist).

That said, our certification is merely one of many. Whether you ultimately sign up with us or a different program, you want a certification that…

✅is rigorous

✅has earned the respect from others in the industry

✅puts clients at the center of all that they teach

You want a program that does more than just give you a certification. You want one that can help you confidently deliver results to your clients.


If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post How to become a certified stress management coach appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Feel like you have to hustle your butt off to get more clients?

These days, it can seem like being “just” a great coach isn’t enough of a sell.

Not only do you need to know your stuff and be a natural “people person,” but to market yourself properly, you’re also supposed to figure out a unique coaching niche, define your brand, keep up with research, and regularly post polished, compelling content—on whatever platform is trending at the moment.

Um… what?

No wonder so many coaches feel overwhelmed and confused about the whole marketing thing.

(Not to mention icky. You don’t want to have to promise abs in eight days just to get some eyes on your business!)

Fortunately, there IS a way to market yourself effectively—using YOUR strengths, YOUR message, and on YOUR schedule.

Take fitness and nutrition coach Tia Smith.

Tia’s a 38 year-old coach living in metropolitan Atlanta. By most standards, she’s extremely successful.

Tia Smith

She’s got:

✅ A full roster of loyal clients. In fact, her biggest challenge is scaling her business so she can make room for even more people.

✅ A highly engaged community. Her email newsletter has an open rate three times higher than industry standard.

✅ A clearly defined brand, voice, and niche clientele. She knows who she is, and more importantly, how to connect authentically with her clients. (No surprises: Her clients love her.)

✅ Zero stress about marketing. She works at a pace that’s do-able for her (with three kids, the 24/7 hustle culture was a hard no). She also doesn’t compare herself to other coaches or get distracted by all the stuff people say you “should” do.

Tia doesn’t consider herself an expert at marketing. 

She doesn’t coach celebrities or have a million followers on Instagram. And she definitely doesn’t pretend to be perfect.

According to Tia, “I’m just doing my best.”

And yet, her marketing “strategy” is working. 

In this article, we share five (non-slimy) marketing lessons from Tia that can also work for YOUR coaching business.

If you feel overwhelmed or uneasy about marketing, this advice is for you. 

Marketing Lesson #1: Design your product or service based on what people actually want.

Prior to launching her coaching business, Tia taught fitness classes for women.

Before and after class, the studio buzzed with conversation. The women loved to chat with Tia, sometimes even following her out to the parking lot to tell her about their lives.

“They told me about everything,” says Tia. “Not just about their workouts and nutrition, but also about their kids, pets, husbands, jobs, and most of all, how hard it was to come to class because of everything they had going on.”

Over time, Tia noticed a pattern.

“These women all struggle to make time for themselves, or to get to the gym. They have other obligations on their mind. That’s when it clicked: They’re just like me!”

In the pandemic, the studio where Tia taught closed. A painful experience, but also an opportunity:

Tia realized that her clients still relied on her. More than anything else, they needed someone to be in their corner.

As Tia says, “My clients need someone to say, ‘Girl you’ve got to make time for yourself, because if you don’t, the day will not make time for you.’

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tia | Your workout friend. (@tiavfitness)

And that’s how Tia’s coaching business was born. Her specialty? Helping women make time for themselves and live a healthier lifestyle.

(Don’t know your niche? Read about how one coach found hers—and how you can uncover yours too: 4 ways to find your niche as a nutrition coach)

The key takeaway

Many people (and businesses) come up with an idea for a product or service, then try to convince people they should buy it.

A more effective strategy is to work the other way around: Identify a need in the marketplace, and provide a solution. 

(Even if you’re an established coach, you can use this strategy to refine your offerings to better meet your clients’ needs.)

For example, since starting her coaching practice, Tia learned her clientele wanted more specific nutrition guidance than she was equipped to provide. So, she’s taking the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification, and creating some new services around this demand.

(Interested in becoming a nutrition coach—or adding nutrition to your existing coaching? Here’s everything you need to know: How to become a nutrition coach)

Try it: Ask these questions during your next client consult.

To gain intel about what your clients need from you, Tia’s suggestion is simple:

Ask.

Some of her go-to questions:

  • What’s a typical day like for you?
  • What are some competing commitments you have going on in your life?
  • How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?
  • How do you want to feel when you wake up?

Try to understand how your client currently feels, how they want to feel, and what’s standing in their way. 

Then, use that insight to develop services that people actually need—and want to buy.

Marketing lesson #2: Your “Don’t Do” list is just as important as your “To Do” list.

People love giving marketing advice:

“You’ve got to master the IG algorithm.” 

“Actually, TikTok is where to focus.” 

“Post workout videos on YouTube! People love that stuff!”

But for Tia, none of that advice felt quite right.

“I tried to do video,” she recalls. “But it was too much. I have three kids. One of them has unique needs. And I run a business. I don’t do hair and makeup every day. So recording a daily video? That just isn’t for me.”

Tia decided to get clear on what she would do—and what she wouldn’t.

So, she listed all her options on paper.

“I crossed off anything I didn’t want to do. Then I looked at what was left and picked the ones that spoke to me the most.”

For Tia, that was an email newsletter, and a podcast.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tia | Your workout friend. (@tiavfitness)

With a background in journalism and her facility for good conversation, these formats allow her to express her personality in a way that feels natural.

Plus, by focusing on just these two marketing mediums, she’s able to stay creative—and productive.

The key takeaway

There’s lots of noise out there. You’re bound to encounter all kinds of (often conflicting, not to mention unsolicited) marketing advice.

To make progress and avoid overwhelm, choose projects you’re totally committed to—and skip the ones you aren’t.

Try it: Write your “not gonna do” list

Grab a piece of paper.

Write down all the things you could do to market yourself.

Now, review the list. Cross off anything that gives you an ick-factor, plus anything you don’t have time or interest in.

What’s left? Circle the top 1-3 things that you want to commit to—for now.

(You can revisit this list at any time, but the immediate goal is to get focused and get started.)

Marketing Lesson #3: Commit to a realistic schedule—for YOU.

Pop quiz. How often should you post on social media?

  1. Once a week
  2. Once a day
  3. Several times a day

Surprise! It’s secret option D: Post at the pace works for you—whether it’s regularly, or not at all.

It’s easy to look at peers in the industry and think you’re not producing enough. But unless you’re trying to become a mega-influencer, you probably don’t need to post daily to engage or build your audience.

Tia focuses on content that works with her skills and her schedule.

Her rationale: “I figured if I took away the pressure of blogging daily or weekly, the creativity would naturally flow. I could take my love for writing and focus on making my newsletter better and better.”

Tia’s strategy worked. She has an engaged following, and the metrics to prove it: Her typical open rate is 60 percent. (For reference, the industry standard is about 20 percent.)

The key takeaway

Resist the pressure to “keep up” with whatever other people are doing.

Simple and manageable IS an option.

Says Tia, “Choose your pace. Create in a way that works for you, that won’t add to your stress.”

Try it: The weekly action list

If you want to make progress with your marketing projects, one option is to schedule the crap out of your day. Book time with yourself as you would an appointment, and don’t you dare break it.

That approach might work for some people. But what if you need more flexibility in your day?

Enter Tia’s strategy: The weekly to-do list. 

At the beginning of every week, she makes a list of all the marketing tasks she wants to accomplish.

Because it’s weekly, it’s less rigid and more agile. Says Tia, “I don’t hold myself to a certain day and time; I just chip away at projects throughout the week.”

Tia also suggests approaching your list with realism, and compassion (i.e. expect that you’ll often have more to do than you were able to get done).

Also, be sure to include self-care on your list. Include things you want to do for yourself on the list, whether that’s working out, or going for tacos with friends. That ensures some degree of work-life balance, and prevents burnout.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tia | Your workout friend. (@tiavfitness)

Marketing Lesson #4: Your imperfections are an asset, not a weakness.

Remember how Tia’s clients would follow her out to the parking lot just so they could continue the feel-good convos?

They didn’t follow her because they thought she was perfect or had all the answers to life’s mysteries.

They followed her because she is warm, caring, funny, down to earth, and (in Tia’s words) a little “rough around the edges.”

In other words, she’s Tia.

As humans, we relate to other humans: imperfect and messy, just like us. 

“Truly, no one has it figured out, which means I don’t have to come off like some all-knowing fitness and food guru-goddess,” says Tia.

“I can say to people, ‘Oh, I tried that recipe and girl, it burnt, it was a total fail.’ People relate to that. It also leaves me room for error, to be human.”

This might come as a relief if you’ve ever felt you’re somehow not perfect enough—or not fit enough—to be a coach.

But it can also be scary to be yourself. What if you get rejected?

That’s when Tia reminds herself:

“Some people will relate to me, some people will relate to somebody else. There’s a coach out there for everybody.”

The key takeaway

Coaches often feel that to be taken seriously or seen as professional, they have to project a nearly flawless image. This feeling of pressure can lead to mega imposter syndrome.

But many clients actually feel more comfortable working with a coach who’s relatable rather than aspirational.

Says Tia, “I’ve learned that when you present your most authentic version of yourself with just a little professional polish on it, people gravitate to you.”

 

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A post shared by Tia | Your workout friend. (@tiavfitness)

Try it: Find the commonalities

If you feel a bout of imposter syndrome coming on, try this exercise Tia uses before creating a podcast or newsletter or meeting with a new client:

  1. Imagine your typical audience member, client, or person you have in mind.
  2. Then, list out all the things you might have in common.

“I imagine the person I’m talking to. Then I say to myself:

Girl, you’ve got a significant other in your life, so do I. You have children, so do I. You have a job, so do I. Your parents get on your nerves cause they’re getting older and they don’t know how to work anything, so do I. You hate overpriced groceries at the grocery store, so do I.

I’m not that different from you.”

This exercise absolves Tia from feeling like she has to present herself as “better than.”

“I don’t try to pretend that I’ve unlocked some magic that gives me all of this fitness and food knowledge. I like eating Chipotle and Chinese takeout too. Not hiding that allows me to engage with people in a very human way.”

Marketing Lesson #5: Take a shot; it doesn’t have to be a slam dunk.

Starting any new endeavor can be intimidating.

But at a certain point, you have to take a shot.

“When I first started the podcast, I was like, ‘What if no one listens? What if this isn’t the right move? What if it’s not well received? What if no one cares?’”

And yet (eventually), Tia took the leap. How did she do it?

“I tell myself, everything doesn’t have to be a slam dunk. Not everyone is Steph Curry, right?”

You don’t have to be the MVP to serve your audience as best you can.

Also, keep your expectations in check:

It takes time to build an audience, whether it’s an online community, a podcast audience, or a steady roster of clients.

Just like in nutrition and fitness, results likely won’t be instantaneous. But steady progress pays off.

(You might be wondering, “Okay, but how much does it pay off?” Find out here: Health coach salaries: Here’s what you can expect to make in a year)

The key takeaway

In a world dominated by social media, we’re taught to think that success should be instant, that if we aren’t going viral we’re doing something wrong.

In reality, good things usually take time (and lots of iterating).

Allow yourself the grace to make mistakes, and keep at it.

Try it: Choose your metrics

How do you know if you’re making progress?

Track a few metrics that are important to YOU. 

Here are a few things Tia looks for:

  • Direct feedback. “When people tell me they like the newsletter and look forward to getting it, I know it’s working. I can tell they’re engaged from what they say.”
  • Email open rates. “To me, that is the cherry on top of the sundae. If I know people are opening it, that’s a good sign I’m providing something of value to them.”

 No matter what metrics you measure, a few tips:

  • Don’t worry about tracking things that don’t matter to your business. For example, Tia doesn’t sweat how many followers she has on social media, because she’s not trying to be a viral sensation. Like Tia, you might not need a giant following or a mailing list, just a dozen or two steady clients.
  • Focus on improvement rather than reaching specific numbers. Just like your client can’t control the number on the scale, but they can control their habits, you can’t control how many people subscribe to your content, but you can work on doing things a little bit better each day.
  • Be realistic. Communities and relationships take time to build. If you keep the long game in view and your expectations in check, you can build something meaningful and substantial over time.

“Once you remove the expectation that things are going to be instant” says Tia, “you open yourself up to all kinds of possibilities. That attitude not only feels better, it works better too.”

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post Get clients by being your authentic self: How one coach does it appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“Eat fewer processed foods.”

Nearly every health expert says it. (Sometimes so often that you’ve maybe tuned it out. Kind of like when they say, “Eat your greens.” Whatever, Mom.)

But have you ever wondered why?

Plus, what even counts as a processed food anyway?

In the following infographic, we cover everything you need to know about processed foods.

You’ll discover:

▶ What counts as “processed” (and and what doesn’t)—and how those foods affect your health

▶ The difference between four types of processed foods (whole foods, minimally-processed foods, moderately-processed foods, and highly-processed foods)

▶ Which processed foods benefit your health and well-being—as well ones that might harm it

▶ How to tell which whole and minimally-processed foods are worth the effort (and which likely aren’t)

Plus, you’ll get a three-step process that’ll help you boost your consumption of nutrient-packed foods—without feeling deprived or overwhelmed.

This isn’t about forcing yourself to eat foods you hate. Nor is it about finding 45 extra minutes that don’t exist in your day.

Rather, you’re about to discover a nutritional middle ground that can help you to transform your diet, one (manageable) action at a time.

Check out this infographic to learn more. (Or, download the file to refer to whenever you need it.)

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post Minimally-processed foods vs. highly-processed foods: What to know appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

It was 2008 when Dom Matteo stepped on the scale and saw the number 300.

That’s when he stopped weighing himself.

In 2009, Stephen Box decided, ‘I’m just going to be fat forever. Whatever.’

After diligently trying to lose fat for thirty years, Katey Caswell was still morbidly obese. She wondered, ‘Is anything ever going to work?’

This isn’t a story about three people who gave up.

Rather, it’s about three people who kept going—overcoming the nearly universal setbacks and challenges during major body transformations.

Not only did all three eventually lose 80-plus pounds apiece, but they also changed in other ways: Dom, Stephen, and Katey have all become certified health and nutrition coaches who now help others eat, move, and live better.

In this story, you’ll discover their top mindset strategies for persevering when fat loss feels impossible (or at least just very frustrating).

Caveat: Not every strategy will feel right for you. 

Our suggestion: Read this story through the lens of your personal experience. Try what feels like a good fit and set aside anything that doesn’t.

Dominic Matteo, PN2-MHC, has been a nutrition and health coach for 12 years. He mentors Precision Nutrition’s masterclass students. A former IT professional, he lost more than 100 pounds.
Katey Caswell, PN2-MHC, NBC-HWC, is an independent nutrition, health, and life coach who specializes in helping women reach their health and fitness goals. She lost more than 120 pounds. Learn more about her at KateyCaswell.com
Stephen Box, PN2-MHC, became a nutrition and strength coach during his journey to losing 80 pounds. In addition to serving as community engagement specialist for Precision Nutrition, he hosts the Unshakable Habits podcast as well as coaches clients. Learn more about him at UnshakableHabits.

1. Get to know the future you.

Before changing what you eat or how you move, consider this question:

What do you ACTUALLY want?

That thing you’re really after probably isn’t just a goal (for example, a smaller body), says Coach Stephen Box.

Likely, your goal just represents what you’re really after.

For example, you might associate being in a smaller body with more confidence, and being the type of person who takes on challenges and welcomes new experiences.

Spend time envisioning that whole person. (Not just the body.)

Take Coach Stephen. His vision took him back in time, to when he was athletic, energized, confident, and happy.

He wanted the leaner body he had back then, sure. But mostly, he wanted to return to that feeling of vitality.

For Coach Dom, the vision was about who he didn’t want to be.

He’d recently become a father, and a close friend had also died unexpectedly of a blood clot. Coach Dom wanted his son to grow up with his father in his life.

“I never wanted my son to see me in an unhealthy state,” he says.

These visions allowed Coaches Dom and Stephen to be more resolute as they made decisions like, “Should I skip my workout?” and “Should I supersize this?”

They asked themselves, “What would the future me decide?”

Now, more than a decade after losing over 100 pounds, Coach Dom still keeps a quote from Trevor Kashey, PhD, on his whiteboard:

“Having what you want is a side effect of being the person it takes to get it.”

How to envision the Future You

Imagine yourself a year or two into the future. You’re in the body you want.

  • What’s different about your life?
  • What are you doing that you can’t do now?
  • How do you feel?
  • What are you wearing?
  • Where are you working?
  • Who are your friends?
  • How do you spend your time?
  • What are other people saying about you?

Imagine every detail.

Capture that vision in words (such as a destination postcard), pictures (such as a vision board), or in a video or audio message.

As your fat loss journey unfolds, periodically ask yourself:

▶ What can I do today in order to become the person I want to be tomorrow? 

Maybe it’s eating breakfast instead of skipping it, drinking an extra glass of water, or taking two slow breaths before your first bite of dinner.

“Pick one thing that’ll make you feel like a success, everyday,” says Coach Katey. “Once you’ve done that thing, you’re good.”

▶ Has my vision shifted? 

You may find that your vision becomes your reality sooner than expected.

Long before you shed 50+ pounds, for example, you’ll likely experience more energy—and you’ll be able to do a lot of things that once seemed impossible.

When this happens, you have a couple options.

Some clients choose to re-envision their future selves. For example, if someone’s initial vision involved playing ball with their kids, their expanded vision might involve becoming an avid runner, hiker, or CrossFitter.

Others, however, realize that they’re already the person they want to be. They’re happy with that, even though they haven’t lost as much weight as they thought they would. That’s okay, too.

2. Focus more on actions—and less on outcomes.

It can take a year or two to lose 50+ pounds.

When your journey lasts that long, it can be difficult to keep your sights on the finish line, says Coach Dom.

By emphasizing your daily actions more than the final destination, however, you can break that months-long odyssey into several shorter, more attainable day trips like…

  • Going from zero to one veggie serving a day
  • Switching from large fries to medium
  • Walking 10 more minutes than last week

Another benefit: Your behavior is more within your control than your body size.

“By continually trying to take the best action possible, you increase the likelihood of the outcome you desire,” says Coach Dom.

To highlight your behavior successes, try the following.

Notice what small things you’re doing right.

“It’s so easy to focus on the negative,” says Coach Katey.

To stay confident and motivated, however, you want to shine a spotlight on what you’re doing well, she says. Chances are, you are changing more than you realize.

(BTW, our internal research shows: Doing a few things consistently is much more important than trying to do everything perfectly.)

Instead of beating yourself up for… Celebrate whenever you…
❌ Indulging in processed foods

❌ Hitting the drive-through on a busy day

❌ Skipping a workout

❌ Staying up late

❌ Eating mindlessly

❌ Having chips for dinner

❌ Emotionally spiraling after a triggering event

✅ Eat a whole food

✅ Plan a meal

✅ Move your body

✅ Prioritize sleep

✅ Tune into hunger and fullness

✅ Try a new veggie

✅ Manage stress

Downshift as needed.

Sometimes, you’ll feel as if you’re cruising on autopilot.

Other times, it might seem as if the entire world is here to sabotage your efforts to eat minimally-processed foods or hit the gym.

On top of that, some days you’ll feel super motivated. Other days you’ll crave ice cream for dinner and hours of quality time in your favorite recliner.

That’s why Coach Dom suggests you think of your effort like a dial. During easy stretches, you might keep the dial cranked, at a seven or higher.

During more challenging times, however, think about turning it down to something that feels more manageable.

“I decided to do the things that I deemed important to the best of my ability every single day,” says Coach Dom. “Some days, the best of my ability was maybe 50 percent. Other days it was 80 percent. But I did the best I could every day.”

By scaling your effort up and down based on what’s going on in your life, you’ll be able to go from an “all or nothing” mindset to an “always something” mindset, says Coach Dom.

The graphic below shows how you might dial physical activity up and down, based on life circumstances. You can customize each notch on the dial, based on your abilities and preferences. You can also create similar dials for nutrition, sleep, stress management, and any other behavior you’re trying to change.

Dial shows movement options from a scale of one to ten. For example, one suggests parking further away to walk more; five suggests doing three thirty minutes workouts a week, plus two twenty minute sessions of walking; and ten suggests doing intense daily military-style training.

Read more: Never Press Pause on Your Health and Fitness Again

3. Know what you’re not willing to live without.

There are going to be some foods and experiences that you don’t want to give up—as well as others that you’re just not willing to try.

That’s okay.

The good news:

YOU get to decide what changes you’re willing to make and maintain.

For example, at the beginning of his fat loss journey, Coach Stephen wasn’t willing to give up fast food.

He ate it every day, a couple times a day.

Because he loved it.

And it was convenient.

Rather than give it up, he set a very different challenge for himself:

Find a way to lose fat while still eating pizza, tacos, and burgers.

First, he downsized his meals—ordering fewer slices of pizza, fewer tacos, and smaller burgers and fries.

Eventually he made different choices altogether, such as getting baked potatoes instead of fries and grilled chicken sandwiches instead of burgers, as the graphic below shows.

Graphical depiction of several fast food options: Double cheeseburger (740 Calories), regular cheeseburger (520 Calories), grilled chicken sandwich (350 Calories), large fries (490 Calories), medium fries (320 Calories), baked potato with sour cream (310 Calories), baked potato without sour cream (270 Calories), 10 tacos (1800 Calories), 6 tacos (1000 Calories), chicken quesadilla with sour cream (540 Calories), chicken quesadilla plain (520 Calories).

“I lost the first 40 pounds that way,” Coach Stephen says.

Over time, Coach Stephen was willing to make bigger changes, like cooking some of his meals at home.

His fast food burger turned into one made from lower fat beef. The refined bun became a whole grain one.

And he stacked it with lots of veggies.

“Rather than aiming for the best choices, all you really need to do is continually make slightly better choices,” says Coach Stephen.

To do that, consider these questions:

  • What tiny changes are you okay trying?
  • What somewhat healthier foods are you willing to eat?
  • What portions are you willing to shrink, just a tad?

4. Expect to plateau.

When you eat less and lose weight, you burn fewer calories, thanks to an annoying phenomenon called “metabolic adaptation.”

(Read more: Can eating too little damage your metabolism?)

That means it can become increasingly difficult to lose each subsequent pound.

For some people, that means weight loss might slow—maybe even stall.

Be patient.

If you started your weight loss journey with a specific scale weight in mind, plateaus can feel like getting stuck in standstill traffic.

That frustration, however, generally comes from putting too much emphasis on the outcome, says Coach Dom.

“When I was losing weight, I kept telling myself that the outcome would arrive if I did the work,” says Coach Dom.

“Rather than hit a specific weight, I tried to show up and do my best each day for a year. By shifting my goal to something I could totally control, I negated the feelings that used to come up for me when my body didn’t behave as expected.”

Do some accounting.

Remember the Future Me vision we told you about above? A plateau is a great time to revisit it.

Are you still making choices that align with what the Future You needs? 

How consistently are you eating slowly until satisfied, exercising, and including whole foods? Has emotional or stress eating crept back into your life like an ex-lover? How about mindless calories?

Double down on skill building.

Coach Stephen hit several plateaus during his journey to losing 80 pounds.

Each time, he shifted his focus away from what was out of his control (the scale) to what was within his control: his behavior.

“I got really focused on making small improvements and improving my skills,” he says. “Even when the scale wasn’t moving, I felt like I was improving in those other areas and that kept me focused and motivated.”

Consider: What additional skills might you add or expand?

For example, if you’re walking consistently, maybe you add strength training to your exercise routine. Or perhaps you lean into eating slowly and mindfully, seeing if you can stop eating when you feel just satisfied, even if there’s food left on your plate.

Question the scale.

At some point, you may find you’ve embraced all of the skills you’re willing to embrace. Maybe you’re living your vision, too.

At the same time, maybe you haven’t reached the weight you initially thought you wanted.

Consider:

Is that scale weight really the right weight—for YOU?

After all, many people’s “goal weights” are, well, a little arbitrary. Perhaps the number just sounded good to you. Or it’s what you weighed during a time in your life when you felt good (but not necessarily because of your weight).

A scale number is just that—a number.

It’s not a measure of your worth as a person.

Rather than judging yourself by a number, focus on your daily actions. Are you still doing your best to make healthier choices, most of the time? If so, that’s something to feel GREAT about.

Take a moment to celebrate your leaner, stronger, healthier body—and how it’s changed your life.

What can you accomplish with this body that you couldn’t before?

Chances are, it’s a lot—and that just might be enough.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post How to lose 50, 75, 100+ pounds—from 3 health coaches who’ve done it themselves appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“I wish I was the kind of person that loves to exercise… I’m just not that guy.”

My friend Dave takes a sip from his perfectly poured pint, while explaining his reluctance to exercise.

“I’m the guy who’s really into beer,” he adds. “I have no interest in exercise. Beer is my thing. That’s who I am.”

Dave, like lots of people, knows exercise is something he “should” do. But it holds no appeal.

Going for a run—and actually enjoying it? Unfathomable to him. The gym? Forget it.

Coaches, doctors, and fitness enthusiasts love to espouse the benefits of physical activity: It makes you feel good! It’s rewarding! It’s necessary! 

Yet, like a triple hopped IPA, exercise can be an acquired taste. Some people love it at first sip, some learn to love it, and others just plain don’t like it.

And that’s okay.

Disliking exercise isn’t some kind of moral failure.

It doesn’t mean you’re broken or lazy—it’s just a personal preference.

Still, there’s no denying that exercise is good for the human body.

But how do you exercise when you don’t like it?

And if you’re a coach, how can you help clients with this challenge—without coming off like the fitness police?

We turned to our in-house PN Coaches, who collectively have decades of experience helping people move more (including plenty of folks who’d given up on exercise altogether).

In this article, they share five refreshing strategies—plus over a dozen how-to tips—that can help you (or your clients) stop fighting with exercise.

“Why don’t others appreciate exercise like I do?”

First, a few words to all the folks who are passionate about fitness.

When you love something, it’s hard to understand why others don’t.

But there are plenty of reasons why a person might find exercise unpleasant or undesirable. For instance…

  • Past experiences: If your fitness memories include being picked last for softball, hit in the face during dodgeball, or body-shamed in the gym, you might prefer to sit in the bleachers (or avoid sports altogether).
  • Pain: For some people, certain forms of movement hurt. They can exacerbate chronic pain, injuries, and existing health conditions.
  • Discomfort: Some dislike the feeling of movement, breathing hard, or getting sweaty. People in larger bodies or with disabilities may find exercise equipment or group classes simply aren’t built for them. On top of physical discomfort, this can trigger feelings of shame and being “out of place.”
  • Perception: When exercise is treated like a chore, punishment, or a test of physical limits (“unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going”) some folks may opt-out altogether.
  • Identity: Some people (like my beer drinking friend Dave) are turned off by fitness culture. They don’t want to be a “gym bro” or join a “spin cult”—their identity lies elsewhere.

 

Doesn’t exercise make people happy?

Physical activity can provide an endorphin rush, or “runner’s high.” (It’s also been shown to contribute to mental wellness.)

But that pleasurable dose of hormones isn’t as reliable as it’s made out to be.

“Individual reaction to exercise varies,” says Helen Kollias, PhD, science advisor at Precision Nutrition.

“Endorphin response can be tricky to measure, so there’s a lot we don’t know. But it’s possible that some people may produce more endorphins and/or be more sensitive to them. Genetic differences may play a role.”1

Dr. Kollias adds:

“The ‘runner’s high’ experience even varies day to day. One day a runner may experience an endorphin rush but nothing the next.”

Bottom line: Don’t assume your clients will experience a delicious endorphin rush simply by working harder. (But it’s a bonus if they do.)

Strategy #1: Stop trying to exercise.

Yes, you read that correctly.

“Stop trying” may sound like strange advice, but hear us out.

If exercise feels like an impossible, torturous task, the best approach might be to take it off the table completely.

A few reasons:

For one, the more you push against your own resistance (or your clients’), the more that resistance is likely to grow. Conversely, if you stop telling yourself you “should” exercise, you might discover you’re more likely to do it.

Two comic panels show two characters at a swimming pool. In the first panel, character one is attempting to push character two off the diving board, and character two is resisting hard. In the second panel, character one has decided to ease off and enjoy himself in the water. Meanwhile, character two decides he might like to try jumping into the water after all, since no one is pushing him.

Also: You don’t HAVE to exercise.

Yes, it’s good for you. But you’re in the driver’s seat in this life. And you get to choose how you spend your time and energy.

That said, if you want to explore movement in a pressure-free way, check out these tips.

▶ Try a “do nothing” experiment.

Here’s a weird idea: Limit your movement for a few days and see what happens.

“When a client tells me they don’t want to exercise, I say, ‘Great, don’t do it. In fact, don’t even move. Just lie in bed and do as little as possible,’” says PN Master Coach Kate Solovieva.

And what happens?

“Eventually most people are going to want to move in some way, of their own volition. They’ll say, ‘Wait a second, I actually want to move around a bit. I want to go for a walk’.”

This isn’t about tricking yourself into wanting to move; it’s about learning if and when movement does feel good for you. You might discover your body craves movement more than you realized.

▶ Focus on other ways to improve your health.

It can be easy to fixate on the thing (you think) you’re bad at.

But when you do that, you can miss other (potentially easier, less stressful) opportunities for improvement.

“If you absolutely cannot or will not move in any way, think of it like this: You still have plenty of other ways to improve your health,” says PN Coach and Holistic Nutritionist Sarah Maughan.

“You could put your time and energy into improving your sleep, your stress management, your nutrition, and so on. Exercise isn’t the only ingredient in a healthy life.”

Of all the health-improving options available to you, what’s most appealing? Make that your priority for now.

▶ Build your bucket list.

Rather than obsessing over how much you hate the gym, Solovieva suggests putting the focus on what you want to do.

“Sometimes, I’ll say: ‘Okay, let’s put exercise aside for a while. Instead, let’s talk bucket list. Tell me about the things you’re curious about, the things you want to try before you die’.”

The items on your bucket list might naturally inspire you to get moving (perhaps you want to be fit enough to cycle around Amsterdam or climb a volcano in Hawaii). Or not.

Regardless, the “bucket list” exercise can shift your focus towards what you want for yourself—which can be meaningful and energizing, no matter what you choose.

Brainstorm a bunch of things you want to try in your lifetime. Then consider: Which of these could you start working towards today?

Strategy #2: Aim for “movement” rather than “exercise.”

“People often assume they have to go straight into training for a marathon or lifting heavy weights,” says Solovieva. “But in order to get the benefit of movement, you don’t have to train. You can just move.”

And if you’re wondering how you’ll find big blocks of time to exercise—or even move?

“You don’t necessarily need to schedule time to exercise,” says Maughan. “Your movement could just be a pile of mini actions that add up over the day.”

Those “mini actions” could be anything: walking to the office water cooler for a drink; emptying the dishwasher or mowing the lawn; goofing around with your kids.

Scale shows how short bursts of physical activity can add up over the course of the day, even if those activities aren't typically thought of as exercise. In this example, walking to and from the bus stop, going for coffee with a coworker, pacing around during the office during a meeting, and vacuuming after work all add up to 43 minutes of physical activity.

Bonus: Research shows that when you treat exercise as fun or play (rather than work), you’ll be less prone to hedonic compensation—the phenomenon of loading up on treats post-workout, negating a calorie burn, if that’s what you’re after.2

Either way: Moving rather than exercising might feel more accessible—and have less baggage attached to it.

Want to get moving? Try these tips.

▶ Aim to slightly increase the ways you already move.

PN Coach Jeremy Fernandes points out that even if you hate movement, you might be doing more than you think.

“Unless you’re literally lying in bed all day, you’re probably getting some kind of movement. Just getting up in the morning, making breakfast, getting to work—all these things require movement, says Fernandes.

“So the real question is, How can you expand on the movement you’re already doing?”

For example—could you pace the bathroom while you brush your teeth? Circle the block after you take out the trash? Walk the dog for an extra few minutes? And so on.

▶ Lean into the “mostly inactive” things you enjoy.

“One client of mine wanted to move more, but movement wasn’t her thing,” says Solovieva. “Her passion was cooking. So we focused on that: I encouraged her to cook more, to check out new recipes, and so on.”

Here’s the interesting part:

“The more she got into cooking, the more she moved. Without trying, she naturally became more physically active by grocery shopping, chopping, picking up pots and pans, and moving around her kitchen.”

In time, Solovieva’s client grew more comfortable moving. (She even eventually graduated to some home workouts.)

Cooking isn’t your only option. Many hobbies involve movement, even if they aren’t seen as “fitness activities.” For example:

  • Love to read? Walk to the library or stroll around a bookstore.
  • Like to paint? Try painting on a larger canvas so you’re encouraged to stand and make some larger arm movements.
  • Shopping fanatic? Instead of shopping online, saunter through the mall or local shops.

And hey, if you’re a beer fan like my buddy Dave, maybe do a brewery tour, or walk to the beer store instead of driving.

▶ Embrace the “everything counts” philosophy.

Get this: Just thinking that your daily activities “count” towards your fitness goals can make a difference.

One study conducted out of Harvard University found that if we believe our daily activities (like housework or child care) count as exercise, the physiological benefit of those activities is enhanced.3

The placebo effect can be a legitimate way to increase physical fitness, without changing your daily routine.

So, think about your daily routines, and appreciate how the activities you do are already contributing to your health.

Strategy #3: Do Less.

To reap the benefits of movement, you might need less than you think.

According to the CDC Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should aim to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week (or 22 to 43 minutes a day).4

(Note: Time-crunched folks can also meet the guidelines by doing 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.)

But exercise isn’t all-or-nothing: Everything counts.

If the above recommendations sound overwhelming to you, try these tips.

▶ Break your goal into manageable pieces.

In her book, The Play Book: How to Get In the Habit of Good Health, coach and play expert Janet Omstead, PN2-MHC, suggests:

“If 22 minutes all at once feels like too much, just break up that 22 minutes into smaller chunks.”

For example, 22 minutes broken up over the course of the day could look like:

  • 5 minutes of movement 5 times
  • 8 mins of movement 3 times
  • 11 mins of movement 2 times

(Small but effective exercise “snacks” are also called “trigger workouts.” Read more about them here: The intermittent workout method that could transform the way you exercise)

▶ Start small and build slowly.

“You can also make 22 minutes the goal rather than the starting point,” says Omstead.

“You can even take a year, or longer to work up to 22 minutes. For example, if you start at 5 minutes per day and add 1 minute per day each month, at the end of a year you’d be at 17 minutes a day—and you’ll have built a regular daily habit, something many people never achieve.”

▶ Explore the continuum.

If exercise seems like an all-or-nothing kind of thing (you’re either training for an IronMan or in full-on couch potato mode), start thinking on a spectrum.

“I ask clients to imagine a continuum from 0 to 10,” says Solovieva. “If 10 is ‘I move all the time and do everything perfectly’ and 0 is ‘I don’t move at all and just lie on the couch till I kick the bucket’, what are some options in between?”

One way to think about this is to imagine movement as a dial or volume knob. If you were to turn your volume knob up a bit—say a 2/10 or a 3/10—what might that look like?

Dial shows movement options from a scale of one to ten. For example, one suggests parking further away to walk more; five suggests doing three thirty minutes workouts a week, plus two twenty minute sessions of walking; and ten suggests doing intense daily military-style training.

When you explore the continuum you might find a level of activity that feels doable for you.

(And hey—this “dial” method works for basically all of your health habits. Learn more: Never press “pause” on your health and fitness again. This free tool is your secret weapon)

Strategy #4: Try stuff.

If you do want to move more—and ideally, find something you like, if not love—there’s no getting around it:

You’ll have to give some things a try.

That maybe means doing some stuff you might not like. Fortunately, there are ways to make the experimentation process more fun (or at least, not awful).

Here are some ideas.

▶ Apply the 10 minute rule.

“Give yourself permission to try just 10 minutes of something. If you don’t like it, you can stop,” says PN Coach Pam Ruhland.

This low-pressure approach makes it easier to try new things: Get in the pool with your kids for just 10 minutes and see how it goes. Try 10 minutes of an online Zumba class or a yoga video on YouTube.

“Knowing you can quit can make it easier to get started—which is actually the hardest part,” says Ruhland.

▶ Return to things you used to like.

“How did you love to play when you were young? Start there,” says Omstead.

“Make a list of all the ways you loved to play and be active when you were a kid. Did you jump rope? Play soccer? Explore the forest? Chase the ice cream truck down the street?”

Pick something from your list and try it. Yes, it might be harder as an adult. (Where do kids get the energy to jump rope for hours?) But it might also rekindle your playfulness.

And don’t forget, you can always quit after 10 minutes.

▶ Create your “bingo card” of new activities.

Even if you think you hate ALL exercise, there are probably things you haven’t tried.

To experiment, Solovieva suggests creating a “bingo card” of new activities.

She explains: “On each square, put an activity you’d like to try: maybe yoga goes on one square, zumba, hiking, boxing, and so on.”

Then, for the next 30 or 60 days, aim to fill the bingo card by trying each activity.

“In the end, maybe you’ll still hate everything you tried,” says Solovieva. “But even if you don’t like the activities themselves, the process of experimenting can be weirdly fun.”

(If you like this idea, download our free PDF: Movement Bingo)

Strategy #5: Adjust your expectations.

Fitness culture has exploded. This can be a good thing when it encourages people to get active and try new things, but it can also be, well, intense.

These days, it seems you can’t just throw on some sweats and move your body; you have to go full BEAST MODE.

And it’s not enough to just get it done, you have to do something you LOVE [unicorn emoji, rainbow emoji, heart emoji].

Plus, your efforts should somehow result in six-pack abs no matter your age, gender, and lifestyle. #noexcuses

FACEPALM.

Let’s take the expectations down a notch, shall we?

Truth is, movement doesn’t require anything fancy, or have to yield some magical transformation overnight.

By adjusting your expectations around exercise, you can make the whole thing less of an ordeal… maybe even more fun.

Here’s what that can look like.

▶ Don’t worry about “loving it”—aim for “meh” instead.

Exercise advocates will tell you to “find something you love.” But for some of us, “love” is too strong of a word.

Case in point: One day, Fernandes asked a previously inactive client what she loved about her new workout routine.

Her answer surprised him.

“I don’t love any of this,” she said. “I don’t love walking. I don’t love going to the gym. What I do feel is a sense of contentment after I’ve done it.”

But you know what? That’s okay, says Fernandes.

“The good new is that you don’t have to love it. The goal is to find something tolerable that adds some value to your life.”

Think of it like brushing your teeth: “No one gets really excited about doing it, but you know it’s important for your health, and it feels good after you do it,” says Fernandes.

▶ Be nicer to yourself.

Years ago, a friend and I agreed we’d start working out.

Without intending to do so, we both took different approaches:

The night before, I’d write little notes of encouragement for myself to see first thing in the morning. Stuff like, “You are a badass.”

My friend, however, would wake up and say to herself: “Get up you lazy bum. That weight isn’t going to lose itself.”

Guess which one of us made it to our workout? (It was me.)

These results aren’t just anecdotal:

We interviewed a bunch of PN Certified coaches about what causes clients to quit, and they all agreed that “beating themselves up” was the #1 factor.

Research also shows that self-compassion—being kind and supportive to yourself—is positively associated with health-promoting behaviors like eating healthy, exercising, prioritizing sleep, and managing stress.5 6

(Want to give self-compassion go? Check out our Self-Compassion Quickie.)

It makes sense: Being a jerk to yourself pretty much guarantees you’re not going to have a good time, no matter what you’re doing.

So, watch your self-talk. Try to be kind and encouraging, and give yourself a gold star for your efforts, no matter how small.

Maybe even write a friendly note for yourself. Sounds cheesy, but it works.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Fuss, Johannes, Jörg Steinle, Laura Bindila, Matthias K. Auer, Hartmut Kirchherr, Beat Lutz, and Peter Gass. 2015. “A Runner’s High Depends on Cannabinoid Receptors in Mice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (42): 13105–8.
  2. Werle, Carolina O. C., Brian Wansink, and Collin R. Payne. 2015. “Is It Fun or Exercise? The Framing of Physical Activity Biases Subsequent Snacking.” Marketing Letters 26 (4): 691–702.
  3. Crum, Alia J., and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. “Mind-Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect.” Psychological Science 18 (2): 165–71.
  4. Piercy, Katrina L., Richard P. Troiano, Rachel M. Ballard, Susan A. Carlson, Janet E. Fulton, Deborah A. Galuska, Stephanie M. George, and Richard D. Olson. 2018. “The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 320 (19): 2020–28.
  5. Sirois, Fuschia M., Ryan Kitner, and Jameson K. Hirsch. 2015. “Self-Compassion, Affect, and Health-Promoting Behaviors.Health Psychology: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association 34 (6): 661–69.
  6. Dunne, Sara, David Sheffield, and Joseph Chilcot. 2018. “Brief Report: Self-Compassion, Physical Health and the Mediating Role of Health-Promoting Behaviours.” Journal of Health Psychology 23 (7): 993–99.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post How to exercise—when you don’t like to exercise appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Reviewed by Gabrielle Fundaro, PhD, CISSN, CHC


“I can’t go out tonight, I’m… busy.”

If you struggle with gut health problems, you know this line is often code for one—or all—of the following:

“I have to stay close to the bathroom.”

“I can’t wear real pants right now.”

“My farts might kill you.”

Digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, indigestion, and toilet troubles are common—and can be extremely disruptive (and not just to your social life).

But if you’re frequently plagued by these issues, all you really want to know is:

What will actually help my belly feel better??!

A lot, actually.

In the following story, you’ll discover:

  • How stress, exercise, and many other factors affect your gut health and microbiome
  • How to restore gut health after taking antibiotics
  • Whether you’re the kind of person who could benefit from extra fiber
  • If fermented foods live up to their hype
  • Which supplements might help symptoms like constipation, heartburn, and more, according to research

Most important, you’ll find five evidence-based, cost-effective ways to improve gut and microbiome health overall.

First, what the heck is the microbiome?

This community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and and their genetic material) lives on your skin, in your mouth, in your lungs, and throughout your digestive tract.

Researchers estimate that between 10–100 trillion microorganisms live in your GI tract alone.

Which means: Your body is basically a human-shaped pile of bacteria.

Your microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint.

The amount and proportions (aka. diversity) of bacteria and fungi will also change throughout your life, depending on a variety of influences, as the image below shows.

The gut microbiome, and a variety of factors that can influence it. For example: genetics, age, body composition, diet quality, stress, illness and medication history, exposure to animals, hygiene, etc.

Many of these critters are like barnacles on a whale. They hitch along for the ride at no cost to you.

Many others are beneficial, helping to keep your skin, gums, and GI tract healthy. These friendly gut bacteria help:

  • Produce small amounts of nutrients, like vitamins B and K
  • Ferment fiber and resistant starch which create short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that help regulate your immune system, appetite, and stress response1 2
  • Keep the system moving (a.k.a. pooping regularly) by bulking up stool and increasing gut motility
  • Regulate inflammation and the immune system

Though there’s still a lot researchers don’t know about the microbiome, they do know this:

Your gut bacteria play a major role in your health and wellbeing.

With that in mind, here are five practical, science-based strategies to support these beneficial, hard-working little friends—and in turn, promote good digestive function, and overall health.

How to support gut health

These strategies can help you improve bacterial diversity and digestive function, as well as reduce the risk of disease.

1. Chew your food.

When you slowly and thoroughly chew food, you break your meal down into smaller, more digestible bits. The smaller pieces also increase the amount of surface area for digestive enzymes to work on and aid chemical digestion.

On the other hand, when you eat quickly, you tend to gulp down big chunks of food—and likely lots of air—which can lead to indigestion and bloating. Plus, those enzymes have a harder time digesting larger pieces of food.

If possible, give yourself a little extra time at meals.

Pay attention to your food (at least intermittently), pause to breathe every once in a while, and put your teeth to work, aiming for the texture of applesauce before each gulp.

2. Include many different types of minimally-processed plant-based foods.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, starchy tubers, beans, and other minimally-processed plant foods do two handy things for your gut:

  1. They feed gut bacteria. When bacteria chows down on fiber, it multiplies and contributes to short-chain fatty acid production as well as bacterial diversity.
  2. They provide bacteria with helpful phytochemicals (like polyphenols) that can be transformed into antioxidant and antiinflammatory compounds.3 4

(Want help choosing minimally-processed foods? Check out: ‘What should I eat?!’ Our 3-step guide for choosing the best foods for your body)

Meanwhile, if you eat mostly highly-processed foods (and not a lot of minimally-processed foods) the diversity and activity of your microbiome reduces.5

In rat studies, this has been shown to skew the overall environment toward bacteria that may increase inflammation and disease risk, hunger and appetite, and vulnerability to the effects of stress, like mood or hormonal imbalances.6

(To be clear, we’re not suggesting you cut processed foods out altogether. In the context of a healthy diet, indulging might actually be good for you. See: How to eat junk food: A guide for conflicted humans.)

Are fermented foods good for the gut?

Kombucha. Natto. Sauerkraut. Kimchi. Yogurt.

About a decade ago, food and beverage products with “live bacterial cultures”—and claims to improve digestion—exploded onto the market.

(Of course, many of these foods have existed for centuries as food staples in certain cultures. As many Eastern Europeans will tell you: “Kvass is old news!”)

But do they work?

We’ll cut to the chase:

Only fermented dairy (specifically, kefir) is supported by high-quality evidence. Even then, its benefits seem to apply more to cardiometabolic health than to digestive health.7

A recent study that’s gotten a lot of buzz implies that a range of other fermented foods may increase microbiome diversity, but more research is needed to determine whether this is due to the ferments themselves or simply the inclusion of new minimally-processed foods.

So, while lacto-fermented veggies and sourdough are delicious and can contribute to a varied, nutrient-dense diet, there’s no guarantee (and no indisputable evidence, to date) they’ll improve your digestion or elimination.

3. Add a fiber supplement. (Maybe.)

This might come as a shock:

Not everyone benefits from more fiber.

[Flings cardboard-like high-fiber cereal into the fire]

If you consume a diet rich in minimally-processed foods, your diet is already naturally rich in fiber. And adding even more of the stuff may not move the digestive needle much, if at all.

On top of that, some people are sensitive to compounds called FODMAPs—which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—found in specific fiber-rich foods. When they eat these foods, they’ll experience gas, bloating, and loose stools.

The above caveats aside, there are a few scenarios where a fiber supplement can be a good idea:

▶ You struggle to eat minimally-processed foods.

This might be because you can’t readily access them, or because you can’t tolerate the taste.

Consider supplementing with a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Also, experiment with adding whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes for more fiber and an overall nutrition boost.

▶ You eat mostly minimally-processed foods, but you avoid carbs.

In other words, you mostly eat non-starchy vegetables, animal proteins, and healthy fats.

If your gut functions well, you likely don’t need to make any changes.

However, if your poops are infrequent, hard to pass, or very small, consider adding more soluble fiber, either through foods like beans, lentils, oats, or sweet potatoes (if you’re willing to alter your macro split), or through a supplement like psyllium powder.

(For TMI on exactly what an ideal poop should look like, check out: Are your eating and lifestyle habits REALLY working? Just ask your poo)

▶ Despite eating a full range of minimally-processed foods, you still struggle with constipation.

Although psyllium (a soluble fiber) might help with constipation, it can actually worsen other problems like diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Before adding it, talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner to rule out food allergies, intolerances, or other causes of digestive distress.

(An elimination diet can be a great way to assess if you’re reacting negatively to certain foods. Here’s a primer to get you started: Elimination diets: How and why to do them.)

Crash course: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

If you’re interested in changing your fiber intake (maybe because you’ve heard it might help a digestive issue) it can help to know the difference between the two types of fiber.

▶ Soluble fiber absorbs water. This creates a gel that softens stool. Soluble fiber also feeds beneficial gut bacteria.8

Foods like whole grains, beans, legumes, and psyllium are rich in soluble fiber.

▶ Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk or weight to stool, making it easier and often faster to pass. Because it helps improve bathroom regularity, insoluble fiber reduces the risk of GI symptoms9 and bowel diseases.10

Many non-starchy vegetables and wheat bran are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Note: If you’re currently eating a very low fiber diet and start incorporating more fiber—either through whole foods or supplements—sometimes there’s an adjustment period.

For a couple of weeks, you might notice extra gurgling, gas, and maybe changes in bowel activity. If it becomes too uncomfortable, scale back for a period of time. Reintroduce more moderately when you’re ready.

Eventually, most people adjust and find their appetite, digestion, and overall health greatly benefit from adequate fiber.

4. If you have to take antibiotics, add some good bacteria back in.

Antibiotics can be life-saving. And at some point, almost all of us will have to take them.

(Note: Only a doctor can decide when antibiotics are—or aren’t—appropriate.)

However, antibiotics are associated with less microbial diversity in the gut, as well as an increase of “bad” bacteria (think: C. difficile, Salmonella, and antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus).11

In healthy people, gut bacteria levels recover pretty well—but not perfectly—after taking antibiotics.

In one study, people recovered to close to their pre-antibiotic baseline within six weeks, but were still missing several strains of bacteria that had been present before the antibiotics six months later.12

In some cases, probiotics—supplemental beneficial bacteria—can help.

Especially in the case of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, supplements containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii seem to work well to prevent symptoms.13

Just bear in mind not everyone responds to specific probiotics in the same way.

Individual response depends on the bacteria you already have in your gut, plus whether the supplemental bacteria takes up residence in your GI tract or just passes through.

(To find out when probiotics are most useful, read: Do probiotics really work?)

5. Move.

Physical activity and cardiovascular fitness are associated with more microbial diversity and more short-chain fatty acids.14 15 16

(Recall: SCFAs do lots of good things for the body, from better immunity, to better tolerance to stress.)

Additionally, when you engage in mild-moderate exercise, you stimulate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system.

Not only does this have an overall relaxing effect on the body and mind, but it also encourages movement (peristalsis) in the digestive tract, aiding both digestion and elimination.

(In case you’re curious, pooping well-formed, easy-to-pass stools anywhere from three times a day to every other day is a sign of good elimination.)

Extra credit: Supplements that can help with indigestion, gas, and pooping.

Unfortunately, uncomfortable digestive symptoms sometimes still happen to people who do everything suggested in this article.

If you have mild indigestion, gas, or pooping problems—and can’t find any obvious culprits (or solutions)—supplements might be the extra nudge to get digestion and elimination back on track.

Here’s a list of common symptoms, and the supplements that can help:

Symptom Evidence-based supplement
Excessive gas / bloating Specific digestive enzymes17 18
Select enzymes can help if you get symptoms after eating certain foods, such as alpha-galactosidase for beans and legumes, or lactase for dairy.
Enteric-coated peppermint oil19
While peppermint oil can reduce pain, gas, and bloating, it can actually make acid reflux worse, if that’s a symptom you already experience.
Heartburn Ginger, tea or capsules20 21 22
Ginger also helps with nausea.
Constipation Magnesium citrate23 24
Magnesium is safe for long-term use, unlike most laxatives, which are habit-forming and aren’t good solutions for chronic constipation.
Diarrhea Electrolytes & fluids25
Usually a sign of an acute infection, diarrhea is the body’s way of clearing out unwanted pathogens. For that reason, it’s often best to let it run its course. To reduce dehydration associated with diarrhea, hydrate with water, sports drinks, or over-the-counter rehydration solutions.

If any of the above symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days, contact your doctor.

For most people, the basics can really help.

You might be tempted to skip the above advice with a harrumphing:

“Blah blah blah, I KNOW this already! Isn’t there some more innovative, cutting edge protocol I can try??”

(Well, maybe. You could look into fecal transplantation. We’ll wait here while you decide that actually, you’ll try the basic diet and lifestyle changes after all.)

As many of our coaches and clients have experienced:

The challenge isn’t knowing what to do. It’s actually doing it, consistently.

Our advice?

Lean into consistency rather than novelty.

As in, “How can I slow down a little more at meals, or be a little more intentional about my veggie consumption” instead of “What’s the next trendy substance or protocol that promises to supercharge my microbiome?”

And if you need some motivation:

Changes in microbiome profiles can happen even within 24 hours of switching up your diet.26

So, wherever you’re starting from, when you add some basic practices, your gut bacteria may benefit within a short period of time.

(Nearly) instant gratification!

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Dalile, Boushra, Bram Vervliet, Gabriela Bergonzelli, Kristin Verbeke, and Lukas Van Oudenhove. 2020. “Colon-Delivered Short-Chain Fatty Acids Attenuate the Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress in Healthy Men: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 45 (13): 2257–66.
  2. Wouw, Marcel van de, Marcus Boehme, Joshua M. Lyte, Niamh Wiley, Conall Strain, Orla O’Sullivan, Gerard Clarke, Catherine Stanton, Timothy G. Dinan, and John F. Cryan. 2018. “Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Microbial Metabolites That Alleviate Stress-Induced Brain-Gut Axis Alterations.” The Journal of Physiology 596 (20): 4923–44.
  3. Edwards, C. A., J. Havlik, W. Cong, W. Mullen, T. Preston, D. J. Morrison, and E. Combet. 2017. “Polyphenols and Health: Interactions between Fibre, Plant Polyphenols and the Gut Microbiota.” Nutrition Bulletin / BNF 42 (4): 356–60.
  4. Moco, Sofia, François-Pierre J. Martin, and Serge Rezzi. 2012. “Metabolomics View on Gut Microbiome Modulation by Polyphenol-Rich Foods.” Journal of Proteome Research 11 (10): 4781–90.
  5. Heiman, Mark L., and Frank L. Greenway. 2016. “A Healthy Gastrointestinal Microbiome Is Dependent on Dietary Diversity.” Molecular Metabolism 5 (5): 317–20.
  6. Zinöcker, Marit K., and Inge A. Lindseth. 2018. “The Western Diet-Microbiome-Host Interaction and Its Role in Metabolic Disease.” Nutrients 10 (3).
  7. Dimidi, Eirini, Selina Rose Cox, Megan Rossi, and Kevin Whelan. 2019. “Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease.” Nutrients 11 (8).
  8. Anderson, James W., Pat Baird, Richard H. Davis Jr, Stefanie Ferreri, Mary Knudtson, Ashraf Koraym, Valerie Waters, and Christine L. Williams. 2009. “Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber.” Nutrition Reviews 67 (4): 188–205.
  9. Lambeau, Kellen V., and Johnson W. McRorie Jr. 2017. “Fiber Supplements and Clinically Proven Health Benefits: How to Recognize and Recommend an Effective Fiber Therapy.” Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 29 (4): 216–23.
  10. Papandreou, Dimitrios, Zujaja Tul Noor, and Maitha Rashed. 2015. “The Role of Soluble, Insoluble Fibers and Their Bioactive Compounds in Cancer: A Mini Review.” Food and Nutrition Sciences 06 (01): 1–11.
  11. Dudek-Wicher, Ruth K., Adam Junka, and Marzenna Bartoszewicz. 2018. “The Influence of Antibiotics and Dietary Components on Gut Microbiota.Przeglad Gastroenterologiczny 13 (2): 85–92.
  12. Palleja, Albert, Kristian H. Mikkelsen, Sofia K. Forslund, Alireza Kashani, Kristine H. Allin, Trine Nielsen, Tue H. Hansen, et al. 2018. “Recovery of Gut Microbiota of Healthy Adults Following Antibiotic Exposure.” Nature Microbiology 3 (11): 1255–65.
  13. Blaabjerg, Sara, Daniel Maribo Artzi, and Rune Aabenhus. 2017. “Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland) 6 (4).
  14. Clarke, Siobhan F., Eileen F. Murphy, Orla O’Sullivan, Alice J. Lucey, Margaret Humphreys, Aileen Hogan, Paula Hayes, et al. 2014. “Exercise and Associated Dietary Extremes Impact on Gut Microbial Diversity.” Gut 63 (12): 1913–20.
  15. Mailing, Lucy J., Jacob M. Allen, Thomas W. Buford, Christopher J. Fields, and Jeffrey A. Woods. 2019. “Exercise and the Gut Microbiome: A Review of the Evidence, Potential Mechanisms, and Implications for Human Health.” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 47 (2): 75–85.
  16. Ortiz-Alvarez, Lourdes, Huiwen Xu, and Borja Martinez-Tellez. 2020. “Influence of Exercise on the Human Gut Microbiota of Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review.” Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology 11 (2): e00126.
  17. Quinten, Thomas, Jean-Michel Philippart, Thomas De Beer, Stefaan Vervarcke, and Mieke Van Den Driessche. 2014. “Can the Supplementation of a Digestive Enzyme Complex Offer a Solution for Common Digestive Problems?” Archives of Public Health = Archives Belges de Sante Publique 72 (1): 1–2.
  18. Majeed, Muhammed, Shaheen Majeed, Kalyanam Nagabhushanam, Sivakumar Arumugam, Anurag Pande, Mahesh Paschapur, and Furqan Ali. 2018. “Evaluation of the Safety and Efficacy of a Multienzyme Complex in Patients with Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Journal of Medicinal Food 21 (11): 1120–28.
  19. Alammar, N., L. Wang, B. Saberi, J. Nanavati, G. Holtmann, R. T. Shinohara, and G. E. Mullin. 2019. “The Impact of Peppermint Oil on the Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of the Pooled Clinical Data.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 19 (1): 21.
  20. Ebrahimzadeh Attari, Vahideh, Mohammad Hosein Somi, Mohammad Asghari Jafarabadi, Alireza Ostadrahimi, Seyed-Yaghob Moaddab, and Neda Lotfi. 2019. “The Gastro-Protective Effect of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) in Helicobacter Pylori Positive Functional Dyspepsia.” Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin 9 (2): 321–24.
  21. Hu, Ming-Luen, Christophan K. Rayner, Keng-Liang Wu, Seng-Kee Chuah, Wei-Chen Tai, Yeh-Pin Chou, Yi-Chun Chiu, King-Wah Chiu, and Tsung-Hui Hu. 2011. “Effect of Ginger on Gastric Motility and Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia.World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 17 (1): 105–10.
  22. Giacosa, Attilio, Davide Guido, Mario Grassi, Antonella Riva, Paolo Morazzoni, Ezio Bombardelli, Simone Perna, Milena A. Faliva, and Mariangela Rondanelli. 2015. “The Effect of Ginger (Zingiber Officinalis) and Artichoke (Cynara Cardunculus) Extract Supplementation on Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomised, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM 2015 (April): 915087.
  23. Mori, Sumire, Toshihiko Tomita, Kazuki Fujimura, Haruki Asano, Tomohiro Ogawa, Takahisa Yamasaki, Takashi Kondo, et al. 2019. “A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial on the Effect of Magnesium Oxide in Patients With Chronic Constipation.Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility 25 (4): 563–75.
  24. Dupont, Christophe, and Guillaume Hébert. 2020. “Magnesium Sulfate-Rich Natural Mineral Waters in the Treatment of Functional Constipation-A Review.Nutrients 12 (7).
  25. Rao, S. S. C., R. W. Summers, G. R. S. Rao, S. Ramana, U. Devi, B. Zimmerman, and B. C. V. Pratap. 2006. “Oral Rehydration for Viral Gastroenteritis in Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3 Solutions.JPEN. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 30 (5): 433–39.
  26. David, Lawrence A., Corinne F. Maurice, Rachel N. Carmody, David B. Gootenberg, Julie E. Button, Benjamin E. Wolfe, Alisha V. Ling, et al. 2014. “Diet Rapidly and Reproducibly Alters the Human Gut Microbiome.Nature 505 (7484): 559–63.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post How to improve your gut health: 5 research-backed strategies appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Reviewed by Gabrielle Fundaro, PhD, CISSN, CHC


“I can’t go out tonight, I’m… busy.”

If you struggle with gut health problems, you know this line is often code for one—or all—of the following:

“I have to stay close to the bathroom.”

“I can’t wear real pants right now.”

“My farts might kill you.”

Digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, indigestion, and toilet troubles are common—and can be extremely disruptive (and not just to your social life).

But if you’re frequently plagued by these issues, all you really want to know is:

What will actually help my belly feel better??!

A lot, actually.

In the following story, you’ll discover:

  • How stress, exercise, and many other factors affect your gut health and microbiome
  • How to restore gut health after taking antibiotics
  • Whether you’re the kind of person who could benefit from extra fiber
  • If fermented foods live up to their hype
  • Which supplements might help symptoms like constipation, heartburn, and more, according to research

Most important, you’ll find five evidence-based, cost-effective ways to improve gut and microbiome health overall.

First, what the heck is the microbiome?

This community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and and their genetic material) lives on your skin, in your mouth, in your lungs, and throughout your digestive tract.

Researchers estimate that between 10–100 trillion microorganisms live in your GI tract alone.

Which means: Your body is basically a human-shaped pile of bacteria.

Your microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint.

The amount and proportions (aka. diversity) of bacteria and fungi will also change throughout your life, depending on a variety of influences, as the image below shows.

The gut microbiome, and a variety of factors that can influence it. For example: genetics, age, body composition, diet quality, stress, illness and medication history, exposure to animals, hygiene, etc.

Many of these critters are like barnacles on a whale. They hitch along for the ride at no cost to you.

Many others are beneficial, helping to keep your skin, gums, and GI tract healthy. These friendly gut bacteria help:

  • Produce small amounts of nutrients, like vitamins B and K
  • Ferment fiber and resistant starch which create short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that help regulate your immune system, appetite, and stress response1 2
  • Keep the system moving (a.k.a. pooping regularly) by bulking up stool and increasing gut motility
  • Regulate inflammation and the immune system

Though there’s still a lot researchers don’t know about the microbiome, they do know this:

Your gut bacteria play a major role in your health and wellbeing.

With that in mind, here are five practical, science-based strategies to support these beneficial, hard-working little friends—and in turn, promote good digestive function, and overall health.

How to support gut health

These strategies can help you improve bacterial diversity and digestive function, as well as reduce the risk of disease.

1. Chew your food.

When you slowly and thoroughly chew food, you break your meal down into smaller, more digestible bits. The smaller pieces also increase the amount of surface area for digestive enzymes to work on and aid chemical digestion.

On the other hand, when you eat quickly, you tend to gulp down big chunks of food—and likely lots of air—which can lead to indigestion and bloating. Plus, those enzymes have a harder time digesting larger pieces of food.

If possible, give yourself a little extra time at meals.

Pay attention to your food (at least intermittently), pause to breathe every once in a while, and put your teeth to work, aiming for the texture of applesauce before each gulp.

2. Include many different types of minimally-processed plant-based foods.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, starchy tubers, beans, and other minimally-processed plant foods do two handy things for your gut:

  1. They feed gut bacteria. When bacteria chows down on fiber, it multiplies and contributes to short-chain fatty acid production as well as bacterial diversity.
  2. They provide bacteria with helpful phytochemicals (like polyphenols) that can be transformed into antioxidant and antiinflammatory compounds.3 4

(Want help choosing minimally-processed foods? Check out: ‘What should I eat?!’ Our 3-step guide for choosing the best foods for your body)

Meanwhile, if you eat mostly highly-processed foods (and not a lot of minimally-processed foods) the diversity and activity of your microbiome reduces.5

In rat studies, this has been shown to skew the overall environment toward bacteria that may increase inflammation and disease risk, hunger and appetite, and vulnerability to the effects of stress, like mood or hormonal imbalances.6

(To be clear, we’re not suggesting you cut processed foods out altogether. In the context of a healthy diet, indulging might actually be good for you. See: How to eat junk food: A guide for conflicted humans.)

Are fermented foods good for the gut?

Kombucha. Natto. Sauerkraut. Kimchi. Yogurt.

About a decade ago, food and beverage products with “live bacterial cultures”—and claims to improve digestion—exploded onto the market.

(Of course, many of these foods have existed for centuries as food staples in certain cultures. As many Eastern Europeans will tell you: “Kvass is old news!”)

But do they work?

We’ll cut to the chase:

Only fermented dairy (specifically, kefir) is supported by high-quality evidence. Even then, its benefits seem to apply more to cardiometabolic health than to digestive health.7

A recent study that’s gotten a lot of buzz implies that a range of other fermented foods may increase microbiome diversity, but more research is needed to determine whether this is due to the ferments themselves or simply the inclusion of new minimally-processed foods.

So, while lacto-fermented veggies and sourdough are delicious and can contribute to a varied, nutrient-dense diet, there’s no guarantee (and no indisputable evidence, to date) they’ll improve your digestion or elimination.

3. Add a fiber supplement. (Maybe.)

This might come as a shock:

Not everyone benefits from more fiber.

[Flings cardboard-like high-fiber cereal into the fire]

If you consume a diet rich in minimally-processed foods, your diet is already naturally rich in fiber. And adding even more of the stuff may not move the digestive needle much, if at all.

On top of that, some people are sensitive to compounds called FODMAPs—which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—found in specific fiber-rich foods. When they eat these foods, they’ll experience gas, bloating, and loose stools.

The above caveats aside, there are a few scenarios where a fiber supplement can be a good idea:

▶ You struggle to eat minimally-processed foods.

This might be because you can’t readily access them, or because you can’t tolerate the taste.

Consider supplementing with a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Also, experiment with adding whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes for more fiber and an overall nutrition boost.

▶ You eat mostly minimally-processed foods, but you avoid carbs.

In other words, you mostly eat non-starchy vegetables, animal proteins, and healthy fats.

If your gut functions well, you likely don’t need to make any changes.

However, if your poops are infrequent, hard to pass, or very small, consider adding more soluble fiber, either through foods like beans, lentils, oats, or sweet potatoes (if you’re willing to alter your macro split), or through a supplement like psyllium powder.

(For TMI on exactly what an ideal poop should look like, check out: Are your eating and lifestyle habits REALLY working? Just ask your poo)

▶ Despite eating a full range of minimally-processed foods, you still struggle with constipation.

Although psyllium (a soluble fiber) might help with constipation, it can actually worsen other problems like diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Before adding it, talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner to rule out food allergies, intolerances, or other causes of digestive distress.

(An elimination diet can be a great way to assess if you’re reacting negatively to certain foods. Here’s a primer to get you started: Elimination diets: How and why to do them.)

Crash course: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

If you’re interested in changing your fiber intake (maybe because you’ve heard it might help a digestive issue) it can help to know the difference between the two types of fiber.

▶ Soluble fiber absorbs water. This creates a gel that softens stool. Soluble fiber also feeds beneficial gut bacteria.8

Foods like whole grains, beans, legumes, and psyllium are rich in soluble fiber.

▶ Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk or weight to stool, making it easier and often faster to pass. Because it helps improve bathroom regularity, insoluble fiber reduces the risk of GI symptoms9 and bowel diseases.10

Many non-starchy vegetables and wheat bran are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Note: If you’re currently eating a very low fiber diet and start incorporating more fiber—either through whole foods or supplements—sometimes there’s an adjustment period.

For a couple of weeks, you might notice extra gurgling, gas, and maybe changes in bowel activity. If it becomes too uncomfortable, scale back for a period of time. Reintroduce more moderately when you’re ready.

Eventually, most people adjust and find their appetite, digestion, and overall health greatly benefit from adequate fiber.

4. If you have to take antibiotics, add some good bacteria back in.

Antibiotics can be life-saving. And at some point, almost all of us will have to take them.

(Note: Only a doctor can decide when antibiotics are—or aren’t—appropriate.)

However, antibiotics are associated with less microbial diversity in the gut, as well as an increase of “bad” bacteria (think: C. difficile, Salmonella, and antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus).11

In healthy people, gut bacteria levels recover pretty well—but not perfectly—after taking antibiotics.

In one study, people recovered to close to their pre-antibiotic baseline within six weeks, but were still missing several strains of bacteria that had been present before the antibiotics six months later.12

In some cases, probiotics—supplemental beneficial bacteria—can help.

Especially in the case of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, supplements containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii seem to work well to prevent symptoms.13

Just bear in mind not everyone responds to specific probiotics in the same way.

Individual response depends on the bacteria you already have in your gut, plus whether the supplemental bacteria takes up residence in your GI tract or just passes through.

(To find out when probiotics are most useful, read: Do probiotics really work?)

5. Move.

Physical activity and cardiovascular fitness are associated with more microbial diversity and more short-chain fatty acids.14 15 16

(Recall: SCFAs do lots of good things for the body, from better immunity, to better tolerance to stress.)

Additionally, when you engage in mild-moderate exercise, you stimulate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system.

Not only does this have an overall relaxing effect on the body and mind, but it also encourages movement (peristalsis) in the digestive tract, aiding both digestion and elimination.

(In case you’re curious, pooping well-formed, easy-to-pass stools anywhere from three times a day to every other day is a sign of good elimination.)

Extra credit: Supplements that can help with indigestion, gas, and pooping.

Unfortunately, uncomfortable digestive symptoms sometimes still happen to people who do everything suggested in this article.

If you have mild indigestion, gas, or pooping problems—and can’t find any obvious culprits (or solutions)—supplements might be the extra nudge to get digestion and elimination back on track.

Here’s a list of common symptoms, and the supplements that can help:

Symptom Evidence-based supplement
Excessive gas / bloating Specific digestive enzymes17 18
Select enzymes can help if you get symptoms after eating certain foods, such as alpha-galactosidase for beans and legumes, or lactase for dairy.

Enteric-coated peppermint oil19
While peppermint oil can reduce pain, gas, and bloating, it can actually make acid reflux worse, if that’s a symptom you already experience.
Heartburn Ginger, tea or capsules20 21 22
Ginger also helps with nausea.
Constipation Magnesium citrate23 24
Magnesium is safe for long-term use, unlike most laxatives, which are habit-forming and aren’t good solutions for chronic constipation.
Diarrhea Electrolytes & fluids25
Usually a sign of an acute infection, diarrhea is the body’s way of clearing out unwanted pathogens. For that reason, it’s often best to let it run its course. To reduce dehydration associated with diarrhea, hydrate with water, sports drinks, or over-the-counter rehydration solutions.

If any of the above symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days, contact your doctor.

For most people, the basics can really help.

You might be tempted to skip the above advice with a harrumphing:

“Blah blah blah, I KNOW this already! Isn’t there some more innovative, cutting edge protocol I can try??”

(Well, maybe. You could look into fecal transplantation. We’ll wait here while you decide that actually, you’ll try the basic diet and lifestyle changes after all.)

As many of our coaches and clients have experienced:

The challenge isn’t knowing what to do. It’s actually doing it, consistently.

Our advice?

Lean into consistency rather than novelty.

As in, “How can I slow down a little more at meals, or be a little more intentional about my veggie consumption” instead of “What’s the next trendy substance or protocol that promises to supercharge my microbiome?”

And if you need some motivation:

Changes in microbiome profiles can happen even within 24 hours of switching up your diet.26

So, wherever you’re starting from, when you add some basic practices, your gut bacteria may benefit within a short period of time.

(Nearly) instant gratification!

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Dalile, Boushra, Bram Vervliet, Gabriela Bergonzelli, Kristin Verbeke, and Lukas Van Oudenhove. 2020. “Colon-Delivered Short-Chain Fatty Acids Attenuate the Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress in Healthy Men: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 45 (13): 2257–66.
  2. Wouw, Marcel van de, Marcus Boehme, Joshua M. Lyte, Niamh Wiley, Conall Strain, Orla O’Sullivan, Gerard Clarke, Catherine Stanton, Timothy G. Dinan, and John F. Cryan. 2018. “Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Microbial Metabolites That Alleviate Stress-Induced Brain-Gut Axis Alterations.” The Journal of Physiology 596 (20): 4923–44.
  3. Edwards, C. A., J. Havlik, W. Cong, W. Mullen, T. Preston, D. J. Morrison, and E. Combet. 2017. “Polyphenols and Health: Interactions between Fibre, Plant Polyphenols and the Gut Microbiota.” Nutrition Bulletin / BNF 42 (4): 356–60.
  4. Moco, Sofia, François-Pierre J. Martin, and Serge Rezzi. 2012. “Metabolomics View on Gut Microbiome Modulation by Polyphenol-Rich Foods.” Journal of Proteome Research 11 (10): 4781–90.
  5. Heiman, Mark L., and Frank L. Greenway. 2016. “A Healthy Gastrointestinal Microbiome Is Dependent on Dietary Diversity.” Molecular Metabolism 5 (5): 317–20.
  6. Zinöcker, Marit K., and Inge A. Lindseth. 2018. “The Western Diet-Microbiome-Host Interaction and Its Role in Metabolic Disease.” Nutrients 10 (3).
  7. Dimidi, Eirini, Selina Rose Cox, Megan Rossi, and Kevin Whelan. 2019. “Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease.” Nutrients 11 (8).
  8. Anderson, James W., Pat Baird, Richard H. Davis Jr, Stefanie Ferreri, Mary Knudtson, Ashraf Koraym, Valerie Waters, and Christine L. Williams. 2009. “Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber.” Nutrition Reviews 67 (4): 188–205.
  9. Lambeau, Kellen V., and Johnson W. McRorie Jr. 2017. “Fiber Supplements and Clinically Proven Health Benefits: How to Recognize and Recommend an Effective Fiber Therapy.” Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 29 (4): 216–23.
  10. Papandreou, Dimitrios, Zujaja Tul Noor, and Maitha Rashed. 2015. “The Role of Soluble, Insoluble Fibers and Their Bioactive Compounds in Cancer: A Mini Review.” Food and Nutrition Sciences 06 (01): 1–11.
  11. Dudek-Wicher, Ruth K., Adam Junka, and Marzenna Bartoszewicz. 2018. “The Influence of Antibiotics and Dietary Components on Gut Microbiota.Przeglad Gastroenterologiczny 13 (2): 85–92.
  12. Palleja, Albert, Kristian H. Mikkelsen, Sofia K. Forslund, Alireza Kashani, Kristine H. Allin, Trine Nielsen, Tue H. Hansen, et al. 2018. “Recovery of Gut Microbiota of Healthy Adults Following Antibiotic Exposure.” Nature Microbiology 3 (11): 1255–65.
  13. Blaabjerg, Sara, Daniel Maribo Artzi, and Rune Aabenhus. 2017. “Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland) 6 (4).
  14. Clarke, Siobhan F., Eileen F. Murphy, Orla O’Sullivan, Alice J. Lucey, Margaret Humphreys, Aileen Hogan, Paula Hayes, et al. 2014. “Exercise and Associated Dietary Extremes Impact on Gut Microbial Diversity.” Gut 63 (12): 1913–20.
  15. Mailing, Lucy J., Jacob M. Allen, Thomas W. Buford, Christopher J. Fields, and Jeffrey A. Woods. 2019. “Exercise and the Gut Microbiome: A Review of the Evidence, Potential Mechanisms, and Implications for Human Health.” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 47 (2): 75–85.
  16. Ortiz-Alvarez, Lourdes, Huiwen Xu, and Borja Martinez-Tellez. 2020. “Influence of Exercise on the Human Gut Microbiota of Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review.” Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology 11 (2): e00126.
  17. Quinten, Thomas, Jean-Michel Philippart, Thomas De Beer, Stefaan Vervarcke, and Mieke Van Den Driessche. 2014. “Can the Supplementation of a Digestive Enzyme Complex Offer a Solution for Common Digestive Problems?” Archives of Public Health = Archives Belges de Sante Publique 72 (1): 1–2.
  18. Majeed, Muhammed, Shaheen Majeed, Kalyanam Nagabhushanam, Sivakumar Arumugam, Anurag Pande, Mahesh Paschapur, and Furqan Ali. 2018. “Evaluation of the Safety and Efficacy of a Multienzyme Complex in Patients with Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Journal of Medicinal Food 21 (11): 1120–28.
  19. Alammar, N., L. Wang, B. Saberi, J. Nanavati, G. Holtmann, R. T. Shinohara, and G. E. Mullin. 2019. “The Impact of Peppermint Oil on the Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of the Pooled Clinical Data.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 19 (1): 21.
  20. Ebrahimzadeh Attari, Vahideh, Mohammad Hosein Somi, Mohammad Asghari Jafarabadi, Alireza Ostadrahimi, Seyed-Yaghob Moaddab, and Neda Lotfi. 2019. “The Gastro-Protective Effect of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) in Helicobacter Pylori Positive Functional Dyspepsia.” Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin 9 (2): 321–24.
  21. Hu, Ming-Luen, Christophan K. Rayner, Keng-Liang Wu, Seng-Kee Chuah, Wei-Chen Tai, Yeh-Pin Chou, Yi-Chun Chiu, King-Wah Chiu, and Tsung-Hui Hu. 2011. “Effect of Ginger on Gastric Motility and Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia.World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 17 (1): 105–10.
  22. Giacosa, Attilio, Davide Guido, Mario Grassi, Antonella Riva, Paolo Morazzoni, Ezio Bombardelli, Simone Perna, Milena A. Faliva, and Mariangela Rondanelli. 2015. “The Effect of Ginger (Zingiber Officinalis) and Artichoke (Cynara Cardunculus) Extract Supplementation on Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomised, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM 2015 (April): 915087.
  23. Mori, Sumire, Toshihiko Tomita, Kazuki Fujimura, Haruki Asano, Tomohiro Ogawa, Takahisa Yamasaki, Takashi Kondo, et al. 2019. “A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial on the Effect of Magnesium Oxide in Patients With Chronic Constipation.Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility 25 (4): 563–75.
  24. Dupont, Christophe, and Guillaume Hébert. 2020. “Magnesium Sulfate-Rich Natural Mineral Waters in the Treatment of Functional Constipation-A Review.Nutrients 12 (7).
  25. Rao, S. S. C., R. W. Summers, G. R. S. Rao, S. Ramana, U. Devi, B. Zimmerman, and B. C. V. Pratap. 2006. “Oral Rehydration for Viral Gastroenteritis in Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3 Solutions.JPEN. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 30 (5): 433–39.
  26. David, Lawrence A., Corinne F. Maurice, Rachel N. Carmody, David B. Gootenberg, Julie E. Button, Benjamin E. Wolfe, Alisha V. Ling, et al. 2014. “Diet Rapidly and Reproducibly Alters the Human Gut Microbiome.Nature 505 (7484): 559–63.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We’ll show you how.

If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

The post How to improve your gut health—without expensive supplements appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

All over the internet, you’ll find magical-sounding solutions for anxiety, depression, brain fog, and fatigue.

Eat this ancient mushroom! Wear this crystal! Hang upside down!

If only feeling better were that simple.

Focusing on just one food or supplement is kind of like wearing a raincoat that only covers your left shoulder. 

It’s just not enough to help you weather life’s storms.

First, nutrition accounts for only part of the mental and emotional health picture.

Things like exercise, stress management, sleep, social support, and a sense of purpose are also crucial to feeling balanced, strong, and capable.

Second, mental and emotional well-being depends on many different nutrients from many different foods.

(That ONE ancient mushroom isn’t your nutritional panacea.)

In the below infographic, you’ll find ways to build a better mental and emotional health “raincoat”—one that’s durable (and full body).

If you’re a coach…

Remember your scope of practice: You can’t recommend specific foods, beverages, or supplements as a treatment for depression, anxiety, or any other medical condition. That’s what your client’s doctor is for.

Here’s what you CAN do….

  • Support clients as they put their doctor’s advice into practice
  • Listen with curiosity and compassion when clients tell you about their struggles
  • Let clients know about supplements that might help—and encourage them to discuss that information with their doctor
  • Recommend dietary patterns known for enhancing mental and emotional health

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer and apply the steps to create a diet that helps you think and feel better.

++++

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post Nutrition and mental health: What (and how) to eat appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

The text message read, “Sorry—I have to quit. Life is just so crazy right now.” 

Tony tossed his phone down and sighed.

Tony Arreola, PN2, SSR, has been coaching for nearly two decades. In that time, he’s racked up plenty of success stories, body transformations, and loyal clients. Yet, despite his years of experience and education, certain clients were slipping through the cracks.

They stopped trying, canceled their coaching, or just ghosted him altogether.

After some reflection, Tony realized the commonality among these clients.

Stress.

Underneath every polite “Sorry, I can’t…” message was an iceberg of overwhelm and exhaustion.

But once Tony addressed the root cause, something awesome happened:

His clients started showing up differently. They displayed more grit, grace, and gains—even when life went sideways.

We spoke to several other PN Certified Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaches who reported similar stories, and they’ve shared their insights with us.

Here are four strategies to determine if stress is holding clients back, and if so, how to help them persevere, and feel better.

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Solve your clients’ biggest problems.

Become one of the first coaches

to specialize in Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery.

When clients are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted, eating better and exercising more can be nearly impossible. To make progress, you first need to help people effectively manage stress, sleep better, and recover stronger.

The SSR Coaching Certification opens May 18.

<!– REGISTRATION

Registration open! Closes soon.

Become a Certified Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coach

Solve your clients’ biggest problems. Gain the confidence and credibility to coach SSR effectively.



–>

Strategy #1: Gauge clients’ stress levels early on.

“The people who quit never said they were too stressed out,” says Tony.

“They would say things like, ‘Oh, the kids are going back to school,’ or ‘We’re getting ready for this big thing coming up,’ or ‘My situation at work has changed.’”

But after becoming a PN Certified Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coach, Tony realized: “They’ve all been telling me the same thing. They’re stressed and overwhelmed and they don’t know how to cope.”

Jaylee Thomas, PN1, SSR, Pilates instructor, meditation teacher, and nutrition coach in Vancouver, British Columbia, mirrors the observation:

“Clients don’t say they can’t continue their coaching because they’re too stressed out. They just… stop. Stop checking in, stop doing the assignments I’ve given them, stop responding to messages.”

What does this tell us?

When it comes to addressing stress, don’t leave it up to your clients to ask for help. Take the lead.

Put it into action

▶ Include questions about stress in your intake.

Tony now asks all clients about their stress levels.

“When someone tells me they want to get in shape, I ask them two questions:

  • Question #1: What’s your current stress load?
  • Question #2: How do you manage your stress?”

This helps him understand what clients are dealing with, how much capacity they have for change, and how he can best help them.

(Want to help clients assess their readiness and ability to take on change? Get them to fill out the Change Capacity Assessment.)

Image of change capacity assessment document available for free download

▶ Help clients plan for inevitable stress.

A client might intend to hit the gym the moment they finish work, but what if their commute runs long? Or their kid has to come home early from school?

That’s where planning comes in.

“I help my clients plan ahead, because the ideal situation rarely happens, “ says Rob Klein, PN2, SSR, a health coach based in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

“I’ll say, ‘Okay, if things don’t go according to plan A, what’s plan B, plan C?’ Now we know if things don’t go perfectly, we’ve got an alternative.”

▶ Check in regularly about your client’s stress levels.

When you know where your clients’ stress levels are at, you can modify programming, and/or implement more recovery.

To do this, Tony monitors his client’s stress “temperature” as part of a weekly check-in.

“Along with questions about their sleep, movement, and nutrition, I’ll ask, ‘What’s your stress load for the week? Give me a number between 1 and 10.’”

Horizontal scale with very low stress at the far left, moderate stress in the middle, and very high stress at the far right.

Note: “Some clients get stressed out just by the word ‘stress,’” warns Jaylee. For them, you might phrase the question differently. Something like, “What’s going on in your life right now?” can invite your client to talk about challenges they might be facing.

If they’re hesitant, be patient.

“It can take time to build trust,” notes Shauna Hammer, PN1, SSR, a CrossFit and nutrition coach in Unity, Saskatchewan. “But if I offer continued positive support, show them that I’m here no matter what their life looks like, in time they open up a bit more.”

Strategy #2: Treat stress management as a habit like any other

Stress management is a skill.

And like all skills, it’s something you can get better at.

“When I ask new clients how they manage stress, many of them tell me, ‘No one can manage stress,’” says Tony. “But that’s not true.”

There are many techniques and tools you can use to help clients improve their stress management—starting with helping them understand it IS something they can improve.

Put it into action

▶ Aim for one percent better.

“Eventually stress management becomes second nature,” says Rob. “But we have to work at it, especially in the beginning.”

Tony recalls a client who’s been with him for three years:

“In the beginning, he was stressed to the max. Now he says to me, ‘My stress is still at a level 9 or 10, but I deal with it differently. I come home from work at a reasonable time, have a nice dinner with my wife, get a good night’s sleep, and move on to the next day.’”

“We did a lot of things to get to this point,” says Tony. “It doesn’t happen from just one method, but with many small practices over time.”

▶ Look for small ways to release the pressure.

“Stress is going to happen,” says Jaylee. “But we do have the power to release pressure from the valve throughout the day.”

The exact “pressure-releasing” practices can vary from person-to-person—but here are a few ideas:

  • Take a walk without your phone. (“Even walking one single block will start to relax your nervous system,” says Jaylee.)
  • Do a brain dump. (“Write down your thoughts on a piece of paper to get them out of your head, especially before bed,” says Rob.)
  • Focus on what you can control. (“Try a  ‘spheres of control,’ exercise,” suggests Tony.)
  • Do something fun. (“People think they’re being ‘good’ by being super focused on their eating or exercise, but they don’t realize that hyper-focusing is a form of stress. Life is short, so plan for some fun in your week,” says Rob.)

(Still feel like you’re “failing” at self-care? Read: Three self-care strategies that work—no bubble bath required)

▶ Breathe.

Breathing is a great place to start for clients of all levels. It’s easy, effective—and it doesn’t cost a thing.

If a client walks into the gym super stressed, Tony asks them to take a few deep breaths before getting started.

Inevitably, clients feel some relief. Tony tells them: “We’re not going to get rid of stress completely. But we can make it just a little better, bring a bit more calmness into your day.”

(Want our complete breathwork guide? Download it now at no cost.)

Image of breathwork guide document available for free download

Strategy #3: Help people be less of a jerk to themselves

We asked all the coaches interviewed for this article what their clients’ biggest stress point is.

Was it work? Relationships? Lack of sleep? The pandemic?

Nope.

Every one of them said “beating themselves up” was #1.

For many people, the biggest source of stress is… themselves.

“The number one factor in client success or failure is the story they tell themselves. If my clients beat themselves up, it’s going to be really difficult for them to change,” says Tony.

Shauna agrees. “Feeling bad about yourself just adds to your stress. If people have positive regard for themselves, they’re more likely to have the capacity for change, and to come back after a failure.”

Put it into action

▶ Relentlessly call out small wins and bright spots.

“When clients are struggling, they tend to be hard on themselves. I’m always on the lookout for small wins they might’ve missed,” says Shauna.

“For example, suppose a client emails me to say they’ve been too busy with their kids so they haven’t been able to check in, or get their food prep done, and they feel awful about it.

“I might say something like, ‘you’re so dedicated to your parenting. I really admire that about you, and the effort you’re making with your nutrition means you’re being a positive role model to your kids.’”

Rob adds: “If my clients feel like they’re failing, I ask them to pause and do a little reflection to see how far they’ve come.

“I might ask: What would your previous self be doing in this situation right now? What things have you improved since then? When they look back, they can usually identify signs of progress they might have missed.”

Of course, the trick is to do this without veering into toxic positivity. It pairs well with listening and empathizing, noted in Strategy #4.

(Tip: Use the Bright Spots Tracker to help clients record things that go well, so they have evidence of their success.)Image of bright spots tracker document available for free download

▶ Track other forms of progress (besides the scale).

“At the beginning of our work together, I have clients develop a list of things they want to pay attention to, besides weight loss,” says Jaylee. “It might be energy levels, mood, snappiness with people, and so on. Whatever is important to them.” 

If a client feels frustrated with a lack of progress, Jaylee has them review the list and notice changes.

“You can help your client take pride in things they might have otherwise overlooked. When we feel successful, we’re more likely to keep going.”

▶ Notice and name negative self-talk.

Changing your thoughts isn’t easy—especially if self-criticism feels like a grimy security blanket you just can’t quit. 

Sometimes, professional help is required. But coaches can still be advocates and role models for healthier self-talk. 

Jaylee recommends the notice-and-name approach:

“I tell my clients, you have to name it to tame it. If an overly critical or judgy thought pops up in your mind, just acknowledge it. You don’t have to change it, just pause. When you notice it, you can let it go and move on.”

Jaylee sees the results: “In time, my clients are less hard on themselves, or they’re hard on themselves for shorter amounts of time. And the less they beat themselves up, the more energy they have for other things.” 

(One of the best ways to disrupt negative self-talk? Self-compassion. Try a quickie here.)

Image of self-compassion quickie document available for free download

Strategy #4: Meet your clients where they’re at

In dark times, coaches can be a source of light and comfort—simply by showing up with empathy and understanding.

“I think what people need most is just to have someone in their corner,” says Tony. “I might be the only person who is really listening and empathizing with them in their lives.”

“I try to be very compassionate because it IS hard,” adds Jaylee. “People don’t have any extra bandwidth these days. They’re already so stretched. I don’t want to add to the stress.”

Put it into action

▶ Adjust habits to make them more doable in stressful times.

Many clients suffer from all-or-nothing thinking: If they can’t do their program perfectly, rather than scale things back—they quit.

Instead, coaches can help them learn to adjust their “life dials.”

(In the example below, the nutrition “dial” can be turned up or down according to a person’s capacity.)

Image of a dial representing degrees of nutrition habits ranging from 1 to 10. 1 represents nutrition habits that are very low effort, like replacing 1 meal with a less processed one. 5 represents nutrition habits that are moderate effort, like adding protein to each meal. 10 represents nutrition habits that are high effort, like having all meals prepped by a sports nutritionist and eating that food slowly mindfully.

Rob, who’s had multiple sclerosis for 23 years, is very familiar with scaling efforts up and down, depending on his symptoms. He shares that strategy with his clients:

“Imagine your effort on a scale from 1-10. Maybe you wanted to be working out at a level 8, 9, or 10 today but something happened and you’re only at a level 2. Fine—you’re doing something rather than nothing, and that’s always better.”

Tony adds that even when clients can only handle very simple tasks, they can still get results:

“I have one client who’s been so stressed out. I gave him just one habit to start with—drink more water. That’s it. It’s been four months, and he’s down 12 pounds.”

▶ Listen and empathize, without trying to solve.

Tony learned that sometimes, the best thing he can do is just be present.

“Before I took the PN Certification, I had a huge blind spot with this stuff. If clients were stressed, I basically would have said, ‘get over it.’ I see now that wasn’t very helpful.”

“These days, If a client is stressed out and needs to vent, I just sit in the fire with them,” he says. “I acknowledge what they’re going through. After a little while, their energy shifts and they’re ready to go forward.”

Sitting in the fire with a client is different than trying to put out the fire for them:

“I don’t try to solve their problems,” clarifies Tony. “I just listen and empathize. Nothing is going to get solved in our conversation, but they feel better because they’ve been heard.”

Sometimes, empathizing can involve letting your clients see your human side.

“I’m an open book with my clients,” says Rob. “I tell them about my MS. I explain that I can’t control my body and how it’s going to react and what it’s going to feel like on a given day.”

By sharing a bit of his own story, Rob’s clients know they’re not alone.

▶ Give people space if they need it.

Sometimes, people just need a break—and that’s okay too.

“I’ve had situations where something significant has happened to a client, a death in the family or a family emergency,” says Jaylee. “In those cases I try to give the person some space. I want to acknowledge their priorities have shifted. I let them know I’m here, but I don’t overdo it.”

Most importantly, Shauna remembers to keep clients in charge:

“I always think that the client needs to direct where they want to go and the amount of effort that they’re willing and able to put in. It’s my job to meet them where they’re at.”

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post The REAL reason clients quit, fail, or ghost you—and what to do about it appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

On Wednesday, May 18th, 2022 we’re opening registration for the PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification.

It’s the only certification in the world designed specifically for health and fitness professionals who want to solve the biggest problems blocking their clients’ progress.

(Want to beat the rush? If you sign up for the waitlist today, you’ll get access to early bird registration—up to 24 hours before anyone else—and save up to 30% off the public price.)

This is your chance to…

  • Learn from the world’s leading sleep, stress management, and recovery (SSR) experts
  • Gain the confidence, credibility, and tools to coach SSR effectively
  • Receive our popular Recover Stronger Guide instantly—so you can start helping clients today
  • Save up to 30%!

To learn more about the program, see the frequently asked questions (FAQ) below.

 

 

Q: What’s a sleep, stress management, and recovery coach?
A:

When clients feel stressed and exhausted, everything else feels harder.

If you’re already a health or nutrition coach, then you know this problem all too well. Tired and wired clients struggle with movement. Their cravings are ridiculously intense—and they feel too overwhelmed to even think about making dinner, not to mention hit the grocery store.

Week after week, they complain: “I know what I should be doing—and I want to do it. But I can’t seem to accomplish even the tiniest things. What’s wrong with me?”

Enter sleep, stress management, and recovery coaching (SSR, for short).

People with this certification are trained to help people overcome the stress and exhaustion that blocks them from changing their behavior, their health, and their lives.

This part might be obvious but we’ll say it anyway:

SSR coaches help clients improve sleep, manage stress, and improve their resilience and recovery. 

Perhaps not as obvious, SSR coaches also help people…

  • feel more energetic, in control, and capable of taking action.
  • overcome the invisible issues that are holding them back.
  • change their mindset about who they are and what they can do.
  • change their ability to make choices and try new things—as well as to fully experience the world around them.
  • take small simple everyday actions that yield big effects for their overall wellbeing

Whether you’re working with regular folks who are juggling daily stressors while struggling to see results, or elite athletes and top performers seeking that extra edge, this certification will equip you with the tools to help clients get better quality sleep, manage stressors that come their way, and recover more effectively.

Q: How will I benefit from this certification?
A:

Everyone knows that movement and nutrition are important.

Now, more and more people are accepting that sleep, stress management, and recovery are crucial, foundational pieces of the overall health puzzle.

Those people include:

✅ Fitness and nutrition professionals who know that stress and lack of sleep affects what their clients are able to do in the gym—and in the kitchen (not to mention whether their clients show up for their sessions at all)

✅ Doctors, nurses, and therapists who know that stress and sleep are among the top issues affecting their patients’ health and wellbeing

✅ Athletes and fitness enthusiasts who see sleep, stress management, and recovery as important turnkeys to improved performance

✅ Massage therapists who continually work to release stress from their clients’ soft tissues, only to see that stress re-knot their clients’ muscles within a week’s time

✅ Yoga teachers who understand the physical and mental challenge of dealing with life’s never-ending curveballs—and value the practice of finding balance over, and over, again

✅ Health, life, and business coaches whose clients can’t afford to decrease their productivity—but have a hard time making time to recover from the stress of their responsibilities

For all of those professions—and more—understanding a client’s hidden stressors, sleep problems, and recovery issues serves as the key that unlocks positive steps towards progress.

Not only that, but once you address these core roadblocks—everything else in your (and your client’s lives) becomes easier.

  • Your clients feel heard, seen, and supported—and refer their friends and family to the person that gets it.
  • Your clients progress faster and easier through nutrition, health, and fitness goals because they have fewer cravings, more energy, a growth mindset, and a step-by-step action plan for how to positively cope with new (inevitable) challenges.
  • You become a credible, respected resource who can manage anything clients throw your way with empathy, grace, and understanding.
  • You retain more clients because you’ve mastered the rare skill of giving clients what they need—without overloading them with high expectations and demanding routines that only add more stress to their overflowing plates. 

Most coaches aren’t well-versed in this topic because, until recently, there hasn’t been a cohesive training on it. That has left clients on their own to wade through surface-level advice like “stop using your smartphone before bedtime,” “avoid too much stress,” and “meditate for 20 minutes a day.”

Your clients need more than Google to make real progress.

They need YOU.

Becoming certified in SSR will help you build a framework and a language for helping clients move through those invisible issues that hold them back.

The skills you’ll learn in this certification will help you become the go-to coach who can confidently guide clients through underlying sleep, stress, and recovery issues—that many others don’t know what to do with—and in doing so, set the bar for what modern health coaching looks like in the 2020s.

Q: Why should I trust PN?
A:

Since we first introduced our revolutionary nutrition and lifestyle coaching approach nearly two decades ago, our certification programs have become the industry’s gold standard for coaches who want to help people eat better, get fitter, and live healthier lives.

Here are a few reasons why we’re the obvious choice:

  1. This is the industry’s first-ever comprehensive certification that gives coaches a reliable, repeatable process for helping their clients sleep better, recover more effectively, and become more resilient to stress. At the moment, you can’t gain these skills and tools anywhere else.
  2. We’ve gathered some of the world’s biggest experts in the physiology and psychology of sleep, stress, and mental performance, along with leading health and fitness coaches to contribute to this world-class program. Now you’ll know what the experts know, so you can get better results than ever.
  3. We’re the only certification company that actively coaches people every single day (100,000+ to date). We help them eat better, get fitter, sleep more, recover more effectively, and live healthier lives. We take all our learnings from coaching and put them into our certification programs. That means everything you’ll learn is based on hands-on results in the real world.
  4. We invented behavior-change coaching. Learning the science is important, but it only matters if you can actually help someone change. That’s what we began specializing in behavior change nearly two decades ago (long before anyone else). And it’s why we’re trusted by over 150,000 health and fitness professionals around the world.

Bottom line: If you want to learn the latest science of sleep, stress, and recovery—along with a proven process for coaching your clients to better results than ever—you’ve come to the right place.

Q: What will I be able to do once I get certified?
A:

By the time you finish the program, you’ll have a pro-level understanding of the science behind sleep, stress, and recovery—along with a reliable, repeatable step-by-step playbook for coaching your clients through it all.

When working with clients, you’ll be able to…

  • Fully assess their situation—What kind of stress load are they under? How’s their sleep? What’s standing in the way of their goals? What, if any, recovery practices do they already have in place?
  • Help them identify and articulate their goals—How can they limit some stressors while better managing others? How can they incorporate useful recovery practices into their daily life?
  • Develop an individualized sleep, stress management, and recovery plan that fits seamlessly with any existing nutrition and fitness habits they’re practicing. You’ll provide a roadmap they can easily follow—even on tough days.
  • Help them navigate the inevitable ups and downs of change—as you highlight bright spots and discover new opportunities.
  • Strategize, troubleshoot, and adjust their plan along the way—based on what’s working for them—as you help them achieve better results than ever before.

All of the above means better results for your clients, in all areas of their lives—from their health and fitness, to their relationships, career, mindset, emotions, and resilience.

And it means a stronger business for you, as you help clients achieve better, and deeper, results than ever before. You’ll develop deeper, more valuable relationships with your clients—which naturally leads to better retention and more referrals. And you’ll stand out from the competition like never before, because you’ll be able to help your clients in ways that 99% of other coaches simply can’t.

What certified SSR coaches CAN and CAN’T do

This probably won’t come as a surprise: This certification won’t allow you to put an MD, PhD, RD, RN, or CNRP after your name. As a result, once you are certified, you won’t be able to…

❌ diagnose people with sleep problems or stress disorders

❌ prescribe something to directly treat any medical condition or health concern—especially medications or supplements

❌ offer targeted advice that could reasonably be considered part of medical therapy, such as asking someone to “hold off on antidepressants until you try…”

❌ claim to “diagnose,” “treat,” “cure,” or “prescribe” as part of your practice

❌ claim to magically eliminate all human suffering with your wondrous coaching plans

The above aside, however, you’ll still be able to do a heck of a lot. You can still be a part of your clients’ support team and care community. In that role, you can…

✅ make general suggestions about healthy lifestyle practices in most jurisdictions

✅ share healthy lifestyle education using materials from a public or well- known entity such as the American Sleep Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and, of course, PN

✅ actively listen, and empathize with clients’ struggles

✅ help clients’ understand their own situation better, and potentially come up with their own solutions—thus inspiring and empowering them to take action on their own behalf

✅ provide accountability, structure, and support

✅ help clients advocate for themselves with their medical team—for instance, by helping them gather data about what they’re noticing, so the conversation with their health care providers can be as productive and informative as possible

✅ share reputable, evidence-based, and helpful resources for them to discuss with their medical team

✅ help clients implement the plan put forth by their medical team. For instance, medical guidelines can be hard for clients to do consistently in daily life—they may need help with skills like planning, preparation, prioritizing, and breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable segments. You can help with all of this.

✅ provide complementary, behavior-based coaching to help them develop fundamental nutrition, movement, and lifestyle skills and practices that support health care providers’ medical advice

Q: What will I learn?
A:

This first-of-its-kind certification program gives you the comprehensive science and the advanced coaching methods you need to guide your clients (and yourself) to improved sleep, effective recovery, and more resilience to stress.

This program digs into the physiology and psychology of how your body responds to stress, as well as how it naturally heals and grows. This cutting-edge understanding will help you coach for higher- and lower-level needs that the world—and your clients—really need right now.

The program is broken into 4 comprehensive units—all easily accessed online, from any device. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included.

Unit 1

This introductory unit sets up your coaching fundamentals. You’ll gain insight into…

  • what makes a great coach
  • how to set yourself up for the best learning experience
  • our deep approach to coaching that transforms lives, not just bodies
  • how to help people change—in a way that works for them
  • our proven framework for helping anyone achieve their goals

Unit 2

We’ll dig into big questions like: What is stress? What is recovery? And how do they relate to the 6 dimensions of “deep health?”

You’ll dive deep into…

  • physical stressors such as an illness or physical fatigue
  • mental or cognitive stressors like information overload
  • emotional stressors like grief and loss
  • social stress in your relationships
  • existential stress during a life transition
  • environmental stressors in your workplace

Unit 3

Here we’ll take a deeper look into the science of sleep. Plus we’ll look at the four key areas where we can focus our recovery efforts: Sleep, nutrition, movement, and stress management. You’ll discover:

  • how to track progress in improving recovery behaviors such as sleep
  • what nutrition habits can support recovery
  • what types of movement can help improve our long-term physical performance
  • which mental skills could help us manage and even embrace stressors, when we can’t reduce them
  • the complexity of sleep and its role in recovery

Unit 4

This unit brings everything together by showing you how to apply what you’ve learned—so you can create personalized sleep, stress management, and recovery plans for yourself and your clients.

You’ll climb into the driver’s seat, test things out, and experience the process in real time. Rather than more information, you’ll get experiments, activities, reflection questions, and challenges.

Each unit offers plenty of “learn by doing” opportunities, including case studies based on real-world clients, and simulated coaching conversations to hone your skills.

By the end of the program, you’ll know how to apply our reliable, repeatable 6-step process for helping yourself and others make sustainable changes to how they sleep, manage stress, and recover.

Q: How long does it take to get certified?
A:

This program is self-paced, so there’s no deadline. You can take as much or as little time as you like.

If you’d like some guidelines, however, the pace that seems to work best for most of our students is completing 1-2 chapters per week. That means:

  • Reading the chapter
  • Supplementing your learning with audio and video
  • Completing “learn by doing” activities that deepen your learning and put your new knowledge into practice
  • Taking the chapter exam (for most chapters), once you’re ready.

If you follow that structure, you can expect to spend about 2-3 hours per week on the certification materials. Since there are 30 total chapters, you’d earn your PN1-SSRC Certificate in about 4-6 months. Although you can move more quickly or slowly depending on your situation.

But here’s the best part: You don’t need to wait to get certified in order to start coaching your clients to better rest, recovery, and resilience. Since you’ll be learning and practicing from day one of the program, you’ll be in a perfect position to start helping your clients immediately.

Q: What are the exams like?
A:

There are 25 short exams with 10-15 questions each (280 questions in all). Questions are either multiple choice or true or false.

The exams are delivered online; they can be accessed whenever you’re ready. Also, each exam corresponds with the chapter you just studied, and completing the exam unlocks the next chapter.

For instance, if you read Chapter 2 of the program, watch/listen to the video and audio, and tackle the study guide questions, you’ll be ready to take the Chapter 2 exam. Once the Chapter 2 exam is completed, you’ll instantly see your results.

Q: What grade do I need to pass?
A:

At least 75%, which most students easily achieve or surpass.

By the end of the course, you’ll have completed 25 short, 10-15 question exams, for a total of 280 questions. Get at least 210 of the questions correct (75%) to earn your PN Level 1 Certified Coach credentials in SSRC. We’ll send your official certificate immediately after you pass.

Q: What if I fail?
A:

Your score for the course is cumulative. So if you do very poorly on a few exams, you can still  pass the course as long as you answer 210 out of 280 questions by the end of the course.

If you don’t earn 210 out of 280 points in the course, you can take a re-do exam at the end of the course.

Q: Is this certification eligible for CEUs?
A:

Yes! Here’s a breakdown of CEUs you can earn with Level 1 SSR Certification:

  • ACE: 4.0 CECs
  • ACSM: 40 CECs
  • AFAA: 15 CEUs
  • CrossFit: 20 CEUs
  • CIMSPA: 10 CPD points
  • CPTN: 14 CECs
  • EREPS: 10 hours
  • ISSA: 20 CECs
  • NASM: 1.9 CEUs
  • NBHWC: 15 CEs

Don’t see your certification organization listed? No problem. Many organizations accept our course for CEUs on a one-off basis.

To do that, you’ll just submit a summary of the course and a copy of your certificate to the organization for review once you’ve graduated.

Q: Will I get a textbook?
A:

While we’ve offered textbooks for some of our courses in the past, this certification is 100% digital to align with the way our students tell us they prefer to learn.

(BTW: We’re always open to hearing from our students about how we can improve our offers to help them learn best.)

The digital format also allows students to take their learning on-the-go, wherever they are.

However, to accommodate different types of learners, we’ve recently added:

  • A printable PDF package for all 70+ worksheets included in the course
  • Printable study guides, for people who prefer to reflect on their learning with pen and paper
  • Bookmarks for chapter activities (so you can always come back to the gems you found throughout the course)
  • Estimated time to completion—so you can budget your studying accordingly

If you’re a health and fitness pro…

Learning how to help clients manage stress and optimize sleep can massively change your clients’ results.

They’ll get “unstuck” and finally move forward—whether they want to eat better, move more, lose weight, or reclaim their health.

Plus, it’ll give you the confidence and credibility as a specialized coach who can solve the biggest problems blocking any clients’ progress.

The brand-new PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification will show you how.

The post FAQ: PN Level 1Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification: Frequently Asked Questions. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1