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It's time to get smarter about wellness

I’ve been searching for the holy grail of mental and physical wellness for 30 years and I’ve finally found it. The science was there all along. I ran a 12-month experiment on my brain and body last year. I cancelled my gym membership, measured my gut bacteria and biological age, bought some tech devices, and began purely using a combination of proven biohacks and smart wellness habits (i.e. timed daylight exposure, music, simple breathwork, cold water, gratitude, intermittent fasting, blue light blocker glasses, slow motion strength moves etc). Frankly, the results were astounding. Now aged 50s, I’ve dropped to the weight I was in my 20s, my sleep/strength/focus/stress resilience/energy have been turbocharged and I’ve reversed my biological age. I’m going to tell you why this smart wellness approach produced such incredible results with such little effort.

But first, I’d like to highlight a fact that’s been staring us all in the face for years. Five decades of diet and fitness trends, and their billion dollar promotions, failed to produce healthy nations. It’s not a surprise. Even by the late 1990s, when I was deeply immersed in the Sport & Exercise Science field, it was abundantly clear that the diet and fitness approach was a rock solid business model, but not a route to lifelong good health. The science clearly shows the reason for that. As diet and fitness sector revenues continued to rise over the decades, so did average waistline size. Yet this same outdated, inefficient, advice is still being given today by leading health brands and organisations.

Let’s not dwell on the past. The evidence clearly shows us how to achieve lifelong wellness and it doesn’t require a gym membership or a ‘diet’. In fact, when testing biological age we’re actually witnessing the poorest results in those who focus their efforts on the fitness and diet approach. They have high inflammation and poor gut diversity. We’ve been urging people to get fit and stay fit, but we only actually need them to get well and stay well. In other words simply maintaining a relatively modest, but comprehensive, wellness baseline so they do not fall into illness. For decades we’ve been approaching this in a highly inefficient way using flawed methods. Both, mental and physical health suffered greatly as a result. It’s time to get a lot smarter about wellness. 

Here are a few of the small, effortless, smart wellness habits and actions that easily turbocharged my health:

# Smart Wellness Tip for Weight Loss in 5 Simple Steps 

Our mental wellness is significantly influenced by our nutritional habits and our weight. This is due to the gut-brain axis and our gut microbiome health. Carrying extra pounds is not “just part of ageing”. It’s the gradual result of poor eating and drinking habits and the cause of underlying inflammation that we now know leads to most of the chronic illnesses we suffer from today. Gaining just 1-pound per year leads to eventual obesity and is the crux of the nation’s health crisis. Here’s how I destroyed the stubborn inches around my waistline that had been creeping up over the years. Our weight is dictated by our consuming habits. Exercise cannot offset your eating routines. You have to target the root of the problem and fix your poor habits. Here’s how to easily do it.

Step 1 - Set up a weekly home delivery of fruits, vegetables and health essentials

This simple step dramatically reduced the number of times I entered the influential supermarket environment. Thereby, reducing the impulse purchases of unhealthy items and significantly increasing my fibre intake. Our ancient biology is designed based on natural foods. So, I did not include any processed foods on my weekly shopping list. I now only eat those types of foods when I eat at a restaurant.

Step 2 – Test your gut microbiome

The results of this simple poop sample test enabled me to discover I was actually eating the WRONG fruit and veg. Once I’d adjusted the contents of my weekly delivery, based on the bacteria in my gut, my health improved further.

Step 3 – Buy new plates

Our portion sizes are far too large and this results in gradual weight gain. Plates have grown significantly larger over recent decades. This has unwittingly increased average portion size. I threw out my fancy crockery and bought smaller plates.

Step 4 – Only eat within an 8 to 12 hour window

Our cells need time to complete their housekeeping jobs of repair and waste removal. They can only do this when they are not busily converting the food we’ve eaten. So, we need to have a long period during every 24-hours when we’re NOT eating (this is also known as a ‘fast’). To achieve this, I simply had breakfast later and ate dinner earlier. I lost a lot of stubborn inches from my waistline using this simple practice. I eat within an 8-hour window during weekdays and relax it to a 12-hour eating window on Fri/Sat/Sun. This technique is also known as time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting, but I don’t like the word ‘restricted’ because this practice doesn’t actually feel ‘restrictive’ at all. I eat lots of delicious things, but simply during a smaller daily timeframe than I used to.

Step 5 – I used music

When I did have to occasionally enter the supermarket environment, I made sure I always wore headphones/earphones. This shuts off a lot of influential environmental input, and creates a surprisingly effective ‘acoustic bubble’ that keeps you focused purely on the items on your shopping list, and less distracted by external cues. I also turned to music anytime I had food cravings during the day. These cravings tend to only last a few minutes but are often hard to ride out. The simple distraction of humming along to a song of the radio is enough to shift your brain away from thoughts of food until the craving passes.

For more smart wellness tips to easily supercharge stress control, sleep, focus, physical activity, and memory, visit Julia’s websites or buy her new book ‘Neuron: Smart Wellness Made Easy’.

 

Dr Julia Jones, PhD, MSc, MBA, MRSPH
Neuroscientist & Author of ‘The Music Diet’ & ‘Neuron: Smart Wellness Made Easy’
Founder of Neuron Smart Wellness employee wellness programme: www.neuronwellness.com
www.drjuliajones.com
Twitter & Instagram: @DrRockUK
Facebook: www.facebook.com/drjuliajones
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/juliajonesuk

View Julia’s recent This Can Happen webinar video here to learn more about the use of music as a biohack.

If you have underlying health concerns, or are unsure whether to make changes to your habits, always first consult with your GP.

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I left with renewed energy, practical solutions and confident with the knowledge that having a Wellbeing Strategy should happen, must happen, can happen! Looking forward to 2020 already!

Karen Greville-Woods, Office Manager, Withers & Rogers Group LLP