Weight loss and well-being apps – do they help?

As Christmas shopping deadlines get closer, devices and apps that track food intake, exercise frequency and duration, as well as sleep cycles and stress, will be advertised as an important aid to living a healthier lifestyle. But is it a wise investment – can tech help us achieve our health and well -being goals?

Those of us who already have such devices are probably putting them away until the new year when the country seems to go on a loose weight/get fitter/ feel better/fit in those jeans resolution. And others may be trying on their new watches and wrist bands, and scanning their newly downloaded apps for advice and data clues to help them power into the new year.

But will it help?

Apps and devices are of course, easier to use than a paper and pencil record of food intake or exercise, but they also require discipline and motivation and a liking for being organised and and a willingness to be totally honest with yourself. Apps that track exercise are on the whole easy to use as well, but are irrelevant if the individual wearing the activity tracking device is nit actually moving or has left the thing at home when they hit the gym. Suggestions on changing behavior to reduce emotional overeating or decrease portion size are sensible and may work, if followed. Users can benefit from these Apps because they are able to improve the nutritional quality of what is eaten, or motivate exercise because the App gives instant praise when physical activity occurs. But are Apps able to motivate the disinterested or discouraged dieter? Are there Apps that entice users who stop tracking food consumption or refuse to exercise to begin again? Are there Apps that really understand why we eat too much? Maybe the next generation of such devices will accomplish this. Or maybe not.

We asked our practitioner ambassadors for their views.

Adam Mufti Physiotherapist commented :

Apps can be an excellent way to keep yourself motivated and keep yourself on track with exercise. Apps which incorporate programmes such as the couch to 5K can help pacing, build endurance and get people into running while keeping achievable goals.
Other apps can show you good technique for exercises in the gym, and others, such as strava, can be a great social platform to share activities with friends and family and keep you motivated.

Susan Burry Dietitian comments:

Dietary apps can be helpful for some people in the short term, they can help people know if they are eating the correct macronutrients and portion sizes. dietitians can help with this process by giving guidance on how to meet the clients targets. But important not to use in the long term, just enough to get you on track!

And finally Catherine Steele Psychologist added to the summaries:

Diet and wellbeing apps are a great way to track your progress against set goals and the notifications can be really helpful in keeping us motivated. But.. they do need to be carefully managed to make sure they are supporting us not creating more pressure!

For example the need to regularly enter data such as food and drink can become another task on top of our already unnamable to list so think about how you can best make it work for you. Be careful not to check in too often and become don’t obsessed with the device. If you miss a day or two of tracking it will be ok!

The Scientific Relationship Between Menopause and Pain

This interesting article from  Psychology  Today  highlighting  just why  perimenopause and menopause  can bring increased pain.

“For women, the continual variation of hormonal levels through puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and pre-and post-menopause contribute to this discrepancy in pain between the sexes. For instance, prior to puberty, there are no significant differences in the development of painful conditions between boys and girls. Afterward, the differences are dramatic, with women two to six times more likely to develop chronic pain conditions, such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. There are also differences in pain levels and frequency after menopause.

The Menopausal Transition and Pain

Pain intensity tends to increase when estrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are high, as they tend to be during the second half of the menstrual cycle, possibly because there are more naturally occurring “feel good” chemicals in the brain when estrogen levels are high. You can imagine the evolutionary benefit of this: estrogen levels are highest during pregnancy and childbirth, thus providing some natural pain relief. Indeed, during pregnancy, when levels remain high and steady, studies indicate many pain conditions improve and pain sensitivity is lower.

Surprisingly, there is little research on the effects of the pre-menopause transition, called perimenopause, and menopause on pain severity and frequency. But we are beginning to learn.

The Different in Pain Before and After Menopause

One study of 101 women seen in a menopause clinic in Italy, all of whom had some form of chronic pain (headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, back, or abdominal pain), found that about 18 percent said their pain started after menopause; about 17 percent said it stopped after menopause; the rest said their pain that had begun prior to menopause continued after the transition. As might be expected with age, arthritic pain started or got worse after menopause in half the women.

Back Pain as it Relates to Menopause

Indeed, musculoskeletal pain, such as arthritis and back pain, have some connection to hormonal levels, with evidence showing that estrogen can affect the cartilage and fluid around the joints. This could explain why women tend to have more severe knee arthritis after menopause than men of a similar age. An analysis of seven studies also found a much greater prevalence of back pain during the perimenopausal period than either before or after menopause.

The Menopauses Effect on Pain

Another interesting finding is that women with high-intensity, high-frequency pain reported that their pain improved or remained stable after menopause, while those with low-intensity and less extended pain said it got worse. The authors of this study concluded that “menopause can act as a determinant in the evolution of painful conditions.” Translation: your pain may get better or worse after menopause, depending on its cause and severity. “

An interesting read showing that the menopause is a complex  transition that is sadly under researched.

We asked three of our expert practitioners for their  views on this issue and how a holistic approach to pain management can help.

Catherine Steele – Psychologist commented:

“We know that pain is connected to inflammation in the body. As a psychologist I work with clients on the mind body connection and we know that how we feel emotionally has a huge impact on how we experience pain. For example when we are stressed or anxious pain is experienced more acutely. Hormones also have an impact on how we feel and they impact our emotions so it can become a bit of a circle.
From a holistic perspective working with our emotions and focusing on relaxation techniques can reduce pain significantly. The menopause is a big event in a woman’s life and shouldn’t be underestimated, it represents a transition around our fertility and there are some big emotions tied into it that need to be acknowledged and talked through.”

Susan Burry

Susan Burry – Registered Dietitian added:

“Changing your lifestyle and nutrition can help when your estrogen levels start changing to reduce the symptoms, keep bone density and reduce the risk of heart disease. Aim to have 2-3 portions of calcium-rich foods per day along with your Vitamin D supplement in the winter months. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake to manage hot flushes. Try more plant-based proteins such as nuts, peas, and lentils along with those brightly coloured fruits and veggies.”

Adam Mufti – Physiotherapist, concluded

“Menopause is indeed a complex transition and issues such as musculoskeletal and bone health can often become more apparent as both bone and muscle become porous and weak in response to the complex hormonal changes.
The most important thing in these cases is to remain active and employ a strength training programme. Numerous studies show this to be very effective at treating the pain of arthritis, improving bone and muscle health and also some evidence is now emerging that weight training can reverse early arthritic changes.
Physiotherapy can help guide you finding activity and exercise you enjoy, modify activities that are painful so that you can continue to do the things that you enjoy for longer.”

How to stay fit when you have type 1 diabetes

The team at isoshealth enjoyed reading this useful article in the telegraph a few months ago.  It very much reminded us of the need to get tailored bespoke advice  on fitness and well-being.

We are very happy to share the  advice given but with the caveat that we are all different .  Broad trends and advice can be useful but its much more reassuring to have a one to one consultation with a  physiotherapist or dietitian  who understands your unique circumstances.

Carbohydrate intake during exercise

“If you are exercising intensely or over an extended period of time you’re likely to need extra carbohydrate during exercise. Less carbohydrate is required the longer it was since your last insulin injection.”

After you exercise

“Be aware the around eight to 12 hours after you exercise, your blood glucose level could drop too low. This is because your adrenalin levels drop and your muscles and liver will start to take up extra glucose to replace their stores. You will need to take this into account when estimating your insulin dose prior to, or immediately after, exercise.

“Checking your blood glucose before and then every few hours after exercise, and recording what exercise you do and food you’re eating, will make it easier to see trends and assist you and your healthcare team to develop good ways of managing it.

“If you exercise in the late evening after dinner, it may increase the risk of a hypo overnight, often around 2-3am. To reducing the risk of this, you might need to take less evening insulin or eat a low GI snack before bed.

“In general, if your insulin levels during exercise were sufficient, your blood glucose should be back down to your pre-exercise level within three to six hours, without additional insulin.”

isoshealth and Mumsnet

I am delighted to share that @mumsnet and @isoshealth are now working together to make affordable health and wellbeing guidance, for real life, available from qualified practitioners, via online video sessions.

It is widely understood and evidenced that the three main influences on our health are what we eat, our physical activity and how we manage our thoughts and emotions. @isoshealth is a place where, working with experts online over video, you can successfully manage these influences. Work with one practitioner or all three as a team, to achieve a happier, healthier diet, body and mind.

“When we began this journey, building @isoshealth, we knew that we wanted to offer a more effective solution that the wellbeing quick fixes targeted at mums across the UK. Kim Page – isoshealth Founder and CEO. “During our trials, the feedback from @mumsnet users confirmed the amazing difference it makes, in a 30min session, to speak to an expert you can trust and get the personalised advice and answers that actually work in real life. It’s fantastic to be joining forces with @mumsnet, to put trusted dietitians. physiotherapists and psychologists within easy and convenient reach of mums across the UK.”

My Journey

My Journey

From the outside, a lot of people seem to think that being an Entrepreneur is a fantastic position to be in, being able to focus on something you love, being in control. One thing you quickly begin to compromise is your health. You do get to ‘fill up the tank’ being on a mission, it is energising and a huge privilege, that energy can be misleading….

I needed help. Honest answers that would work, so that I could go back to building a business with the passion and power that I felt.

Firstly, I took a hard look at what was wrong. No routine was a big clue! and my working life meant that my food was mostly being prepared by other people, sound familiar? I bought lovely new Gym gear, but it was still in the cupboard, and a few aches and pains had left me worrying if the Gym was safe….. should I be pushing past the neck/shoulder pain or should I let them recover? And so your sleep is affected, your skin, your hair… These are tiny changes that had added up to being 2 stone overweight and having no confidence in the right course of action. It’s a maze, and I’m fed up of quick/fake fixes that I really know never work. But what else do you do?

It was time to pay attention and get a check-up, form someone I could trust, and not just an App, no matter how clever that Algorithm is, it doesn’t know my life, A mum of 2 young men who are on my mind every day, building a start-up and getting married…..

I organised a video session with the Physio first, because that was where the pain was. Physio online, was a revelation. Even after 1 30-minute session, a chat about my sleep and some sound advice on a new pillow with some exercises had an immediate effect. Next was the Dietitian, I knew there was a lot here to talk about, and didn’t know where to start – But I was skilfully led through a series of q’s that laid out a quick action plan to nail what was important and possible to change, within my lifestyle. I lost 9kg over about 4 months, and going through my first ‘bump’ in the road, I am the most confident I have ever been I can correct any bad habits creeping in.

Speaking to a Psychologist was what has made me the happiest, by far. I have actions and plans from the other two that make sure I am can be in control over my wellbeing, but talking about my life situation, I can feel the joy and confidence every day.

I speak to lots of people that haven’t had a therapeutic consultation before, an appointment that wasn’t just 10 minutes long and just ends in a prescription. I’ll share some more over the next few posts, and if you have a question that you don’t want to leave to the next Celebrity diet book, give us a shout, we’d be happy to answer them.

Kim Page isoshealth Founder

Digital healthcare pioneers 87% and isoshealth combine forces

87 Percent and isoshealth are partnering together so that employees can keep track of their mental health but also take positive steps towards improving it by connecting with the expert practitioners on isoshealth’s platform.
87% deliver a new and unique approach to managing and improving mental wellbeing in the workplace. They believe that only through measuring a company’s mental wellbeing on a regular basis can they help organisations address one of the key challenges of our time: How to support the mental wellbeing of their people. In so doing maximise the benefit to the individual and the company.
Positive mental wellbeing is increasingly seen as the key to leading a productive and happy life. 87% have created a friendly, safe and completely private environment, where employees can measure, understand and improve mental wellbeing. This allows them to explore, without judgment, and see their strengths, and weaknesses, along with valuable content and helpful solutions all approved by the psychology team at 87%. A range of tools hints and tips are available to help this process within the app.
There are of course points where more than hints and tips are needed where the employee needs deeper help. This is where isoshealth comes into its own offering one to one video consultations with registered practitioners as an extension of the 87% app.
Andrew Bibby, 87% CEO commented, “The offering that isoshealth provides was the perfect solution for our mental wellbeing platform. 87% empowers people through measurement, allowing individuals to choose their own path to achieving and maintaining positive mental wellbeing. Isoshealth is critical for many in achieving this goal.”
Kim Page isoshealth founder and CEO added “our vision is all about connecting real people who have wellbeing and health issues with the expert practitioners who can help them. Our partnership with 87% are putting mental wellbeing in the work place front and centre of the agenda and isoshealth able to add the human conversation where necessary.”
isoshealth’s unique secure platform connects those seeking help to deal with wellness and health issues with registered practitioners who are waiting to help them. Practitioners all have an average of 10 years experience and include Psychologists, CBT Therapists, Dietitians and Physiotherapists.

Employers wanting to find out more about how the 87% app can help their business can find out more and contact 87% via their web site. https://www.87percent.co.uk/