Can health apps plug the motivation gap?

Whether we like it or not, health apps are becoming the norm. Not only are they being used all over the world for everything from sports performance tracking, diet and nutrition, meditation, weight loss and speaking to Practitioners. Apps now not only are for personal use and gain but are endorsed by the NHS with 40 of them being listed as useful.

Health apps and Mhealth solutions meet us where we already are – our phones and devices. There’s no need to change how we already live our lives apps integrate into our every day and synch up with wearables too. In this way, it is easy to make their use routine just like checking our emails or scrolling through social media might be.

But what about that first step? Good healthy habits are the goal, but how can apps really tap into our psyche and motivate us?

One type of health app that’s looked to do just that are those that play on the human need for reward. Making a change to our health or lifestyle, no matter how big or small can be tough. “Motivation has always been a key stumbling block when it comes to keeping fit and healthy. Health apps aim to bring a goals-based approach to the problem giving us unprecedented access to data about ourselves. This data helps us feel good about achieving new personal bests and seeing improvements over time.”, says founder and creator of fit-count Marc Asher.

But for some this type of data can be overwhelming or have no real meaning to people, especially in the beginning when progress might be slow. This stops them from having true ‘intrinsic’ motivation – pursuing changes because it makes them feel good because they enjoy it or get a mental benefit. And this is what Marc cleverly played on, “Combine data with a rewards-based approach such as financial incentives to do exercise that an app such as fit-count provides, and you have a powerful tool to make a positive lasting change to your lifestyle.”. fit-count effectively pushes people through the initially tough stage by giving a form of extrinsic motivation – offers and discounts in reward for steps and other activities.

In this way, you can really see the potential of health apps, not only fitting into our everyday lives but challenging our everyday habits. We’re proud to be represented on fit-count, with offers from us being unlocked at different stages of steps. They are soon to release their Android version and are already live on iOS. So, if you’ve got an iPhone, make sure you download fit-count today to get access to offers from us and plenty of other great businesses and brands.

The power of three: why mind, body and nutrition all matter

 

When we want to make a change to our health, it’s easy to have tunnel vision. Adopting a quick-fix weight loss diet, embarking on a fitness programme or doing a meditation programme, of course, have effects and even benefits. But when it comes to health, we have to consider that our mind, body and nutrition all work in sync. All sounds a bit much, right? We agree. That’s why we created isoshealth – a place you can get help with all three aspects of your health from Practitioners that really know their stuff. So, let’s go back to how we know that focusing on all three works.

In clinic

MDT or ‘multidisciplinary teams’ are common in the NHS. A key place where they’re found is in obesity treatment, working with patients in a community setting to transform their lifestyles. Together they address all aspects of obesity, managing the challenges that come along with weight loss and recovery. This structure has proven to be very successful in not only reducing weight but creating a lasting lifestyle change for patients.

In sport

Our Olympic athletes, of course, follow a very disciplined lifestyle – working tirelessly to improve their performance. But surrounding each of them is a team of experts all working with them to optimise their mind, body and nutrition. A winning mindset is needed for results, the right food to fuel and, of course, training are all essential to success.

In the celebrity world

All too often we see celebrities drop several sizes in a matter of months or even weeks. Perhaps it might be to publicise a new work out DVD or tell their transformation story in a weekly glossy. One thing they seem to always leave out is the team behind them. There’s no doubt they put the work in. But by their side, a team of nutritionists, personal trainers, mental coaches and even doctors paved their path to great health. It was not just through their workouts or reported ‘tips’ given in a double page spread, but the knowledge and expertise of a team who completely personalised their plan for them.

In real life

Finding it hard to relate? We will all know someone or perhaps be someone that wants to lose weight. In the weight loss world, we’re told a diet and perhaps an exercise plan will work. Eat less move more. It’s not a lie. It works but it doesn’t stop so many people from falling off the wagon. Often, our relationship with food is emotional – we feel attached to it, scared of it, comforted by it, guilty about it or do not understand it. And this is where working on your mental wellbeing comes in. With so much emotion around food and exercise, there needs to be time to work on your thoughts and feelings towards the whole journey. Crafting a good relationship with food and self-belief is essential to making lasting change.

We truly believe that everyone should have access to a team of three Practitioners, whenever and wherever they need them. Why not see if it’s for you with a free online appointment today?

Let’s hear about Hayley: a busy single mum who empowered her health

Being a busy single mum, marketing account manager and copywriter, Hayley certainly has a lot on her plate. And, just like so many of us, she is also mindful of keeping her mind, body and nutrition in check – an added pressure that can be difficult to juggle.  With an emotional relationship with food and limited free time to try or sustain new types of exercise, Hayley was plateauing. So, to try and push through Hayley wanted to try something different, “learning new habits and getting advice in terms of other healthy changes I could make to improve my lifestyle.”

Journey

 

Hayley already had a firm grip on what is needed for weight loss – following Weight Watchers, keeping active with walking and hiking. What’s more, she’d also tapped into the benefits of sleep and water consumption, discovering the vital role they play.   

However, she still felt there were areas she could improve upon and would really benefit from expert guidance in all three areas. Tying together the psychological with her emotional connection to food and motivation levels when it came to exercise. Looking at these two key issues for her from a mental perspective was something she’d never considered or tried before, “I knew I had to work on my motivation, trying to make better food choices and not being cross with myself when I didn’t”.   

Learnings

 

Hayley worked her way through all her sessions, spending time with experts in mind, body and nutrition. “All of the professionals were approachable and were easy to talk to. They all followed up with the relevant information and asked for updates from our original conversation too. Also, they were aware of my sessions with each other which helped in terms of me working out how to fit the different pieces of advice together.”  

 

Her work with the practitioners confirmed the fact that her diet and fitness levels were generally good, but she still gained some great guidance. “It became clear as I was moving through the process that my diet and fitness levels were essentially good, but I still picked up some useful hints and tips on other things I could try in terms of exercise and readdressing my relationship with food.”  

Destination

 

With her experts on hand, Hayley knew she could trust the guidance she’d received, “The professionals were friendly and knowledgeable. I felt buoyed by the information and advice I had been given and I was looking forward to putting things in to practice and to start to make positive steps towards a better version of myself.” For her, being able to have the conversations whenever and wherever she wanted really made a difference “It was really good to be able to fit this in around my life and to be able to access the teams from home was really convenient.I really appreciated the fact I could do this from home, some of the conversations we had were very private, so it was nice to have them from a place I felt safe.” Hayley continues her path to a healthier lifestyle, continuing to work on the areas highlighted in her sessions.   

 

 

 

Post-natal tips from the power of three: mind, body and nutrition 

Whether it’s your first time being a new mum, or you’ve experienced it before, it can always be challenging. A new bundle of joy and happiness comes into your life, however, with it comes a huge shift in life as you know it.

As a new mum there’s pressure to snap back into shape, be a great parent and still maintain working and a relationship or marriage. We’re bombarded with information on how to ‘keep the plates spinning’ and be ‘the best mum’. But, with all of this at play, this leaves very little or no time to focus on readjusting to this huge change in your life both mentally and physically.

So, we asked three of our top experts at isoshealth for their tips for new mums – encompassing mind body and nutrition to really take care of yourself.

“Ditch the diet” – Ruth Kander, Dietitian

Embarking on a new diet plan not only takes up extra energy and money but most crucially time. Revamping your cupboards with new foods, ridding of all ‘bad foods’ and learning a new way to eat puts extra pressure on new mums that is simply not necessary. Ruth put’s success down to preparation, “Being a parent means you might have little time to yourself, let alone to cook. The key is preparation and tricks to save time.” Here’s how Ruth advises you can really make the most of your time when cooking and key ways to stay on track.

1) Meal plan so you know exactly what you need. Scope out your dinners and breakfasts first. Stick to one or two breakfast options you can alternate throughout the week. Bircher muesli or a simple banana bread are great options. Your dinners double up for the next day. Simply make double and send off your partner and kids with yummy stews, soups and leftovers – way better than soggy sandwiches!

2) Online shop to resist the urge for a bargain. This way you can avoid busy shopping with your kids in tow but also, you’ll only get what’s on your list.

3) Batch cook when you can. If you’re making one meal, simply double up on the recipe to save for later. A healthy root vegetable tagine with sweet potatoes, parsnips and celeriac is a great option. Add honey, cinnamon, cumin, garlic and turmeric for flavour. Finish with diced dried apricots and sultanas for sweetness and toasted almond flakes for texture. You can even save a little before adding any spice and puree or serve whole for your little one.

4) Share cooking and meal planning. Get your other-half, a friend or family to help. Feeding a family is a full-on job in itself!

“Fit in fitness” – Stephen Parkus, Physiotherapist

Having time to just relax can be a squeeze when you’re a new mum. That’s why Physio Stephen suggests engaging in some classic multitasking to help your body ease into motherhood. If fitness isn’t your thing, we’re not talking ‘baby yoga’ or sprints with the pram, more little bits of movement you can fit into your day. So here are his key areas of focus for new mums.

1. Pelvic floor weakness after pregnancy and delivery is very common, so it’s good to start pelvic floor squeezes, as advised by your midwife or physio. You can fit them in while sitting feeding or standing and washing up or even waiting for the kettle to boil!

2. Have a good feeding pillow to help with posture and reduce upper thoracic/back pain. Bring the baby up to you, rather than leaning over them. This can also be helped by a feeding chair which encourages a good posture.

3. When you’re ready to return to fitness, you can fit it in during spare moments of your day. Body weight squats, marching on the spot and rising on your tiptoes are all great exercises to get the blood pumping whenever you have a spare minute. You can also perform these exercises while holding your baby, as gentle body movement is soothing and helps baby get to sleep.

“Don’t compare yourself to others” – Tania Foad, CBT Therapist

Being a new mum regardless of whether it’s your first of sixth poses a challenge to the mind. It fundamentally will change life as you know it which can be unnerving for some mothers. What’s more post-natal depression is a commonly experienced condition leading to mothers feeling inadequate and unsuccessful as a new parent. Tania has worked with several mothers at different stages of their lives and so understands the complexities being a mother can bring. Her three pointers below reach out to any mums having a hard time or that are anxious at what is to come.

1. Don’t compare yourself to other mums or parents. This is more difficult now more than ever with social media but even the school run can be a place where comparison runs rife. Be confident in yourself and your parenting abilities – no two parents are the same and neither should they be!

2. Get socialising. Having a baby can be isolating at times but this is something you can manage. Reach out to your partner, family or friends if you are feeling lonely or simply need some ‘me time’. It’s not selfish but an important part of being a happy and healthy parent.

3. Ask for Help. Post-natal depression is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses I come across. Post-natal depression is very common in both Mothers and Fathers. It is not a sign the parent is not doing a good job. Remember that help is out there all you need to do is ask for it – it is not a bad reflection on your parenting but a sign of strength and self-awareness. In my experience recovery from most cases of post-natal depression is achievable with the right support.

We hope you’ve found the views and expertise of one of our teams helpful. Focusing on our whole selves is so important when going through such a profound experience and having an expert’s words guide you can make the process a little smoother. If you’d like to try a free session with one of our experts, click here to book your session.

Meet Zoe: a super-busy businesswoman who finally found some time for her health

 

Running a business, planning a wedding and keeping up with all that life throws at you leaves very little time to focus on your health. Enter Zoe, the superwoman who was juggling just that. After years spent in the corporate world, she made a career 360, starting her own business and working from home. And with this, she saw a huge change in her lifestyle – no more 9-5 and no more routine. 

Zoe had never had an issue with her weight but found that her change of lifestyle made a difference – if only slight – gaining 5kg over a couple of years. Granted, she knew age was not on her side but being newly engaged her wedding was looming. And, with this came pressure on herself to tone up for the big day. “I wanted to gain back control of my weight and lifestyle – become healthier, and stronger”.  

Journey

Zoe already knew what she had to do – move more and eat a little better. Like many of us, she made her first steps in January, joining a gym to commit to working out. But, unlike many of us who do commit to a membership in January, Zoe consistently trained 4-5 times a week.  

Meanwhile, she also did research on how to clean up her diet. Using MyFitnessPal to track her calorie and macronutrients she made positive changes whilst not feeling restricted to a particular diet. All in all, she was making the right steps, but not seeing the results she wanted. “isoshealth offered the unique proposition of giving me bespoke advice – I wanted confirmation of what I was doing or more detailed and relevant information for me specifically.”  

Learnings

And so her journey with isoshealth began. “I got on well with all of the experts – they were all enthusiastic and very intelligent. Each offered a unique perspective which was highly beneficial with their work complementing one another.” 

“One of the first and most clear things that working with the team made me realise is that my goals weren’t quite right – it made me reassess what I really wanted”. Once they were all on the same track, sessions progressed with each building on the last. 

Losing weight becomes more difficult with age – and therefore it’s not always a goal which can always be achievable. Zoe’s mind turned towards a much more realistic and sustainable goal to get ‘fitter’. This way, her mind wasn’t stuck on the scale but more on how she felt physically and mentally.  

Once her goals were in check it was a case of working on the small changes that could make a huge difference. First up was her nutrition. Working with her Dietitian, Zoe found that she wasn’t really aware of portion sizes. She was eating the right foods but not in the right amounts. Her Dietitian gave her some quick and easy ways to keep check of her portion sizes to make sure every one of her meals was balanced.  

Doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 4-5 times a week is stressful on the body – something Zoe wasn’t tuning into. But with HIIT you have to be at your best to really make the most of the quickfire rounds of cardio. Her Physio was able to give her a specific stretching routine and key exercises to help her in her troubled areas.  

“My Psychologist really understood my lifestyle and the areas I needed to work on. Together we worked to sort out my sleep and open up my understanding of my body and mind”. 

Destination  

Zoe made the recommended changes and started to see a difference: not necessarily on the scales but to her lifestyle and mindset. “I needed assurance that I was on the right path but needed to optimise some elements – we do have access to information now, but not in a way which directly benefits individuals. isoshealth gave me exactly the guidance I needed from experts I grew to know and trust.” 

Want to start your own health journey? Why not start with a free session with a Dietitian, Physiotherapist, Psychologist or CBT Therapist. Start your journey today and claim your free session here. 

 

Understanding online consultations: how they work and what to expect 

Accessibility, privacy, feeling comfortable. These are just some of the issues which stop so many of us from getting the help we need. With video technology ever improving, online consultations are now becoming a new way to overcome these challenges. No need to travel, taken in the comfort and privacy of your own home, workplace or wherever is convenient.  

Now being integrated into GP practices and fast becoming a key way of communication for a whole range of different practitioners you really can have a clinic at your fingertips.  

They work like Facetime or a Skype – effectively mimicking an in-person one-to-one session. And, at isoshealth you also receive notes and can watch your session back whenever you like.

What can I expect from an online consultation? 

Your session will run just like a face to face consultation – starting with finding out why you’re there, what your challenges are and what goal you’re hoping to achieve.

Of course, there are differences in how some of our Practitioners work. Take Physiotherapists, for example, they cannot physically touch you or give your direct treatment over video consultation. What our Practitioners do deliver is personalised guidance and support you can usually only experience in clinic. Susan Burry one of our key dietitians explains, “I provide personalised guidance to all of my clients. Online consultations are the right way forward to achieving your goals; it’s there whenever and wherever they want it”. You won’t be expected to prepare anything, apart from a quick questionnaire which will get your session off to the best start possible.  

But how can they help me?  

Everyone starts their journey with health at different points. You might have been told that you need to make a big lifestyle change, have a feeling something is not quite right and have no idea where to start or simply want to better your health from an already strong foundation.  

Online consultations allow you to truly customise your support, so whatever your starting point they can intersect and boost your further towards your goal. But how does that look when it comes to the rest of your journey?  

  • Online consultations mean you have access to a range of professionals with different specialisms: you’re no longer restricted by geography to find the exact expert you need.  
  • Taking the first step and visiting a professional can be really daunting, with online consultations the potential stress can be reduced – you’re in control and in a place you feel comfortable.  
  • You can book the sessions to suit the level of support you need:  more intensive if you’re on a deadline or are have progress plateau, weekly check-ins to keep you on track or as and when you need them to answer questions and give you confidence, you’re on the right path.  
  • Get the benefits without having to compromise on time or travelling – your clinic is truly in your hands.  

So, hopefully, online consultations don’t seem so scary or impersonal now? They give you the power to truly exceed your potential and work with some of the best experts in the process. Ready to give them a try yourself? Book in for a free session today. 

 

Finished Veganuary? Let’s talk about the physical effects of a vegan diet

Veganism – it’s not only been on the rise in the public but it’s something which has now been embraced by brands, restaurants and pubs alike. From Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls to Alpro’s nut milks’ and Whetherspoon’s vegan breakfast, it’s fair to say a vegan diet is now ‘mainstream’.

This year saw the highest numbers of the public signing up for Veganuary – over 250,000 people, and that’s just the number of those who physically signed up with the official campaign. Since the launch of the campaign in 2014, we’ve seen an insurmountable amount of growth in the vegan foods and product sector, becoming widely available and a very profitable market to start a business within.

Social media, arguably, has been a huge part of this growth, with many influencers not only documenting their vegan journey but also becoming fierce advocates for the movement. It’s been a place to share the positive sides of veganism – the recipes, ways to make small changes and benefits to your body and the world. However, it’s also been a platform where ‘non-vegans’ are potentially shamed for their choices. This has been seen, ironically, in the reaction to several self-branded vegan influencers having to step away from the lifestyle for health reasons. Their decisions have been met with hate and isolation from a movement they helped to grow – a real shame.

And so this brings us to the most contentious of issues; health and veganism. Aside from the anecdotal evidence from those who have turned vegan, the BDA has affirmed that a well-planned vegan diet can “support healthy living in people of all ages” in an official document signed by its CEO. This has been echoed across the professional community, with most agreeing more fruit and vegetables on our plates is never a bad thing – but it is not a lifestyle which should be entered into without any consideration.

Of course, the voice of Dietitians is vital in this conversation, but we rarely consider other individuals which also encounter those following a vegan lifestyle. We spoke to Stephen Parkus, a Registered Physiotherapist about his views on veganism.

“There are a very large number of potential issues. Ultimately, it is important to have a balanced diet, with all necessary nutrients in balance. This requires some education and planning. A vegan needs to put more effort into this, as they have far fewer choices available in their diet.”

He went on to discuss some of the key nutrients which he finds those following a vegan lifestyle might need to consider in terms of supplementation or in their food sources. So what do you need to look out for to keep your body, mobility and movement in check?

  • Watch out for a lack of protein as this may lead to increased likelihood of injuries like pulled muscles or ligaments, or delayed healing from these injuries, as well as a loss of muscle in general.
  • Long-term low levels of calcium, which so many of us just see as being sourced from dairy, may lead to early osteoporosis. This can increase the risk of broken bones. However it is not something that is just from dairy; soy products, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, brussel sprouts and kale), almonds and even mustard are great sources.
  • A lack of vitamin C may lead to an increased risk of coughs & colds, and therefore reduced activity due to illness as well as reducing the absorption of iron. To combat this broccoli, red peppers and of course the classic oranges are great sources.
  • For women,  menstruation naturally decreases your iron levels and can lead to fatigue. Eating more iron-rich foods around this time, such as green leafy vegetables, beans or lentils, along with a source of vitamin C for absorption will help combat this. Also, it may be useful to minimise calcium-rich foods at this time, which reduce iron absorption.

From a Physiotherapists perspective, it is about having an optimal body that can keep moving and support a healthy active lifestyle. The scaremongering of nutrient deficiencies often stems from people not really looking at what they need. Something that Stephen has also seen “Some people may be supplementing because they think they need to, but if they already have a balanced diet, they may be wasting money. This means they may be overconsuming certain nutrients, leading to weight gain and other problems which ultimately make it harder to get moving. For example, excess protein can lead to dehydration and calcium loss associated with osteoporosis.”

And so, the verdict from both Physiotherapists and Dietitians is to find a diet that really works for you. Regardless of whether you’re vegan or not, we all need a healthy and balanced diet to keep our bodies ready to move and well enough to exercise. Finding what truly works for YOU and that benefits YOUR health is the only thing that truly matters from a professional perspective.

Interested in speaking to a professional to start your journey on what works for you? Have a different conversation about your health with a free session with a Registered Dietitian, Physiotherapist or Dietitian https://isoshealth.com/.

 

 

Hints and tips – get the knowledge

Danny Donachie (BSc) Physiotherapist and isoshealth Advisory Board Chair thinks that knowledge is power when it comes to losing weight.

 

Top tip for losing weight is to find the best research that hasn’t been biased by the researchers or the organisations funding the research. Get the facts and your pathway to weight loss will be effortless and effective. The myths of fad diets will not see your goals attained and you have to make sure you find an expert with the best and most validated knowledge. When you have this knowledge, use it.

Hints and Tips – Identify the “why”

Mariette Abrahams (BSc, MBA) Dietician and isoshealth advisory board member reveals her number one tip for effective lasting weight loss.

 

Identify your “why” for wanting to lose weight. That one thing can help you to stay motivated and make it through the harder times. Weight loss is a journey and you may learn new things about yourself that you did not know or were aware of. Therefore identify your “why”, write it down, remind your self daily and stick with it, because once you have found your why, you will not only feel great, you will also have the mental strength and clarity to tackle other goals.

Hints and Tips – Mindset

We asked isoshealth Advisory Board member Dr Bijal Chheda-Varma  what her top tip is for any one wanting to lose weight.

Explore what mindsets make it difficult for you to prioritise your self and body? Challenge these mindsets if they are unhealthy and distorted. This mindset shift along with behaviour change will sustain your recovery in the long term.