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.”

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?

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.

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.