One Year On

It has been one year since starting The Healthy Nurse Project.

You know how the news channels do an end of year review; people that died, bad news, good news. I’m going to review all my thoughts that died this past year as a result of my reading, thinking, and learning. Next, I’ll list the thoughts I wish had died but probably won’t die till I die. Finally, there are the new thoughts I want to keep that make my living better.

Thoughts that died:

  • The government knows about nutrition
  • Animal fat is bad
  • I have to eat breakfast
  • Skipping meals is bad for me
  • It’s hard to eat healthy
  • My memory is accurate

Thoughts persisting in my head that I wish would die:

  • Fasting is hard
  • I can eat whatever I want
  • I have earned a food reward
  • I can’t do this
  • I’ll start over tomorrow
  • These potato chips are the healthy version
  • Food keeps me from being bored

Thoughts valuable to me I want to keep thinking:

  • My perspective is real to me and no one else
  • Food is my medicine
  • Eating healthy is my lifestyle
  • Animals, nature, and people are the best anti-depressants

Do your own end of year review. I was surprised at the consistent thoughts that are inside my head, both good and bad. I will work on the helpful ones this coming year. Happy 2020 to all!

 

 

 

Autophagy for All

Autophagy is Greek for “to eat one self”.

No, not a form of cannibalism.

A form of cellular rejuvenation where old components are digested.

Housekeeping for our cells.

Autophagy is turned on during fasting, like overnight while you are sleeping. Longer fasting extends autophagy.

While the study of autophagy in humans is fairly recent (the 1960’s) it holds promise in the understanding of disease progression.

Autophagy is a counterbalance to the aging process.

Normal cells have evolved to survive autophagy whereas cancer cells are unable to adapt to this style of housekeeping.

In a recent study, it was shown that postmenopausal women over 50 reduced their risk of breast cancer if they lost weight. Adipose tissue produces estrogen which feeds certain types of breast cancers so losing fat can only help.  Perhaps reducing caloric intake or fasting boosts autophagy and cleans out cancerous cells before they take root.

In my own example I lost 20 pounds since my breast cancer 10 years ago. It has been work to keep it off. So far so good with my checkups the past 10 years considering I was given a 20% chance of recurrent cancer within 5 years.

Interestingly enough, 10 years ago I was given no information that my diet or weight could affect my chances of remaining cancer free. I have lived long enough to remind my doctors that my diet and lifestyle changes did make a difference. I hope they are passing on this import self-care information to their current patients.

So here’s to autophagy! Lose a little weight and maybe live longer:)

 

Two Week Challenge

Cognitive biases are my crack cocaine, I can’t stop wanting to learn more.

This week it’s about survivorship bias. This bias has our mind focusing on people, ideas, and situations that succeeded while forgetting to consider all the ones that failed.

By not looking at failures, which are THE majority, we miss most of what life has to teach us.

Example. 95% of businesses fail. That sounds bad so our brain focuses on learning how the 5% made it. Our “social” brain consisting of the media, entertainment industries, and authors put the 5% on a pedestal to view ad nauseam. Who doesn’t like a get rich quick, feel good idea?

I want to know more about the 95% who failed. Did the successes experience any of this failure? If so, what did they learn and how did it help them succeed?

The diet industry sells its products with the success stories of a few people. If you follow up with those people a few years later they have failed to keep their weight off permanently. Why?

Successes are what we want to see. Successes are what marketing departments want us to see. But I don’t want to focus on the smallest portion of the story, I want to consider the failures that are most of life.

As I consider those at work who have successfully lost weight I see a common thread – they did it meal in meal out, day after day, over time. They chose the long term goal of losing weight over the immediate gratification of eating what their toddler brain wanted in the moment.

Those of us that failed to lose weight? Our story is different. We failed because we did not:

This list of our failures becomes our list for success.

Survivorship bias helps us filter information and accept what comes to mind so we can act. Let’s give our brain a current, timely positive example to act upon.

I have a two week challenge for everyone to get your brain to the point where it has a positive personal example to believe.

Do all the things listed above for two weeks. That’s it.

A FREE 2-week diet plan!

I have linked each point to a previous blog article. Good luck and may the delayed gratification be with you!

 

 

Strengthening Our DG Muscle Around Holiday Food

What’s a DG muscle?

It exists solely in our minds.

It works to delay gratification.

As in putting off a reward or pleasure.

I am real good at putting off spending money on clothes or shoes. That is because it has never been an interest or desire of mine. So delaying buying new clothes or accessories is not the way to strengthen my DG muscle.

But food is another matter entirely! I love buying and making food.

If I buy or eat food when I am not hungry I am rewarding myself IMMEDIATELY.

If I don’t eat till my planned meal time despite wanting the food EVERY minute up until that planned meal time I am using my DG muscle to delay my reward.

It is 100% my choice to delay my reward. When I use my DG muscle I do not pass off my food choices to other people or circumstances.

Remember, our toddler brain will blame other people and situations to make us feel better about not following our plan. The DG muscle is an opposing muscle to this toddler brain thinking!

I have practiced strengthening my delayed gratification muscle over the past year by increasing my intermittent fasting window. Because the DG muscle in my head was pretty flabby I did this in increments.

First I skipped breakfast a few days a week; then every day.

Next I added a skipped lunch a few days a week on work days.

Then I added a skipped dinner a few days a week. This placed me in a longer fasting window of 36 to 42 hours one to three times a week.

I plan to stay busy on fasting days. But I still think about food a lot. Even though my DG muscle around food is stronger I still have to purposefully flex it when my primitive toddler brain WANTS THE FOOD NOW JUST BECAUSE I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!!!

This holiday season there will be loads of unhealthy food in the lounge brought by vendors, doctors, and each of us. Lots of opportunity for us to exercise our DG muscles!

No one is making us eat this stuff.

Plan what you really want to eat and  WHEN you want to eat it.

 

Dealing with Holiday Sugar

Sugar is THE fuel for our body.

Our neurophysiology evolved to favor foods containing sugar.

Our physiology evolved to digest and store sugar efficiently.

So what is going on when we first see, smell, or even just start thinking about a  sugary treat?

Think about a doughnut. Your favorite kind. It’s soft and warm and fills your mouth with creamy sweetness. Are you salivating yet?

Because we have the ability to build memories, we can quickly attain the full doughnut experience in our mind’s eye. Our brain deploys dopamine to give this memory the “feeling” of pleasure in our body. This experience is a REWARD for us. It happens fast because our brain has learned to love rewards. Thinking like this will drive us to GO GET THE REWARD, the doughnut.

But did you know we can also use our thinking to DECREASE the amount of dopamine deployed when anticipating a reward? If we want to lose weight the time to practice doing this is in the face of an unexpected reward. When our primitive brain habits will ambush us to eat that doughnut magically appearing in the lounge or joining in with a co-worker ordering out for hoagies and chips.

How? By strengthening the power of our dopamine negative prediction error signals. If we interrupt doughnut thoughts with non-doughnut thoughts the brain will release less dopamine. Less dopamine means a weaker urge to go get the doughnut reward.

When the doughnut (or other food) thought pops into your head try immediately following that thought with one like:

  • Dropping that doughnut on a public bathroom floor
  • Imagining 10 stink bugs flying out of the box
  • Realizing your dog licked every single doughnut
  • Thinking about the non-handwashing teenager in the doughnut shop
  • Remembering how sleepy and de-energized you will feel in 30 minutes
  • Visualizing your gut groaning because it now has to deal with crap food
  • Watching the inflammation bloom like a red fire in your joints
  • Reminding yourself of your goal to lose a pound this week

Next thing to do is remove yourself physically from the stimulus. Nope, you can’t have the doughnut. Not if you want to lose weight. With practice this gets easier.

With enough practice, the antecedent cue driving your behavior will be one YOU choose! This holiday month I’m throwing stink bugs on all the things I do not need to eat:)

I feel reassured that our brain has a built in function allowing us a choice to not feel like an eating robot around triggering sweet and savory foods. In today’s world the function of a low dopamine output response to a cue is buried by our modern food lifestyle. But it is in there. Let’s pull it out of the back of our mind closet and set it on the table right in front of us. Putting it to work for our benefit again.