We are excited to feature Cathy Richards on our blog! Cathy will be leading some great workshops coming up at our “Nest” location on Bank St. in Ottawa. Keep on reading to learn some wonderful tips and tricks from Cathy!
A new year always seems fresh with possibilities! As a registered dietitian, I am accustomed to the influx of eager and motivated clients that January often brings. This year has personal meaning for me: January 2017 means that I am nearing the end of my 3rd (and final) maternity leave, and I am ready for some healthy changes. Anyone with children can relate to the challenges of maintaining healthy habits while being exhausted and negotiating daily life with 3 young children. So I’ve decided to be gentle with myself and use the same approach that I
encourage my clients to use.
– Assess where you are now and make small changes to get closer to where you want to be.
– Take one day at a time and restart each day fresh.
Keeping this in mind I’ve decided to focus on my top 5 health habits for the first 90 days of 2017.
These daily health habits include sleep, hydration, mindful eating, movement and practicing gratitude. Some of these I already do pretty well, but my goal is to practice these health habits consistently for the next 90 days and then to reassess and build on them or incorporate new ideas.
Studies show that sleep is an extremely important determinant of health. What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a lower life expectancy. During sleep, our bodies secrete hormones that affect appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. Is there an ideal number of hours per night? Research shows that sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night can have a negative effect on our Body Mass Index (an indicator of obesity or underweight). As a mom to 3 young children, my sleep is often less than ideal. So what can I do to improve my sleep? For the next 90 days I will go to bed by 9pm without any screens ( https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/ ) and allow myself time to rest (even if I haven’t completed all of the never ending household tasks!)
I do pretty well with hydration, although I must admit that lately it’s been more coffee than I’d like to admit. I find that I do much better with hydration while I’m at the office and consistently working in a single space for the day instead of chasing 3 kids around! A tip I often give my clients is to place a glass in a spot that they’ll normally walk by in their home as an “out of place” reminder, so to speak. With children, placing extra glasses around the house may not be the best plan for me, so instead I’ll commit to filling my 32 oz water bottle each morning and refilling it by 2pm daily. Since I know that I am forgetful and often multitasking, I’ll place an extra hairband on the bottle as a visual cue (and remove it once I refill my bottle).
In the 6 week “Healthy Lifestyles” program that I lead with patients at the clinic where I practice, we’ve been discussing mindful eating since our program started in 2008. There seems to be a lot more research around mindfulness available now, and there’s definitely a trend to practice more mindfulness. In our clinic’s program, we use a hunger and fullness scale to help participants identify if they are hungry or satisfied. It’s a simple tool to help us stop and listen to our bodies’ internal cues. I found a great tool using “eat- mojis” ( http://www.foodinsight.org/mindful-eating-chart-hunger-scale ) . For the next 90 days I will use the hunger and fullness scale before eating at meals or snacks. This will increase my mindfulness practice around meals.
4. Move daily.
Anyone with small kids knows that it can be very difficult to schedule time for your own exercise. I’d love to say that I will attend a weekly bootcamp session but with work commitments and regular life I know that this would be difficult. I’m a big believer in doing things well and being efficient with my time so that’s why I’m excited to start a 15 min/day at home exercise routine. By Monday January 9th I will subscribe to an online program ( http://15minuteworkoutclub.com/ ) that I can realisitically fit within my schedule.
Along with mindfulness; gratitude seems to be another “buzz” word lately. I took some time to review the proven benefits of practicing gratitude. Research shows that people who practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion & kindness and even have stronger immune systems! That alone was enough to sell me on making it a daily practice! To learn more about the science of gratitude, check out this roundup of evidence: ( http://www.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude/ ). This reference also has lot of great ideas on ways to practice gratitude: you can make a gratitude jar, write a gratitude letter to someone or keep a gratitude journal. In our family, we already share the favourite part of our day at the dinnertable, so I plan to add my expression of gratitude to that and also post daily on my Facebook business page ( https://www.facebook.com/cathyrichardsAIC/ ) for the next 90 days.
Why not join me in being healthier? Let’s do this together and start the year off right with these healthy habits. We can keep each other accountable! Follow me Facebook or join me for one of my upcoming workshops:
Healthy Happy Hours – 3 part series and/or Eating for Good Digestion