Health Psychology : Heather Hausenblaus
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Guest: Heather Hausenblas
Release Date: 2/13/2023
Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.
Steve Washuta: Welcome to Trulyfit. Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I’m your host, Steve Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit and author of Fitness Business 101. On today’s episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Heather housing blast. She is a Ph.D. in health, psychology, and kinesiology. She’s a researcher professor, keynote speaker, and CEO of wellness discovery labs.
Throughout her career she has studied, I guess you would say the crossover between the psychological and the physical. How exercise improves our mood, why people do or don’t exercise, and other key behaviors that make us healthier not. Today we discuss why education isn’t enough to keep people healthy. The benefits of journaling how social connections are tied to health and so much more.
You can find everything about Heather at wellness discovery labs.com. With no further ado. here’s Heather and Heather, thank you so much for joining the Trulyfit podcast. why don’t you give my listeners and audience a little background on who you are and what it is that you do in the health and fitness community?
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, thanks. First of all, thank you so much for having me excited to be here. I really enjoy listening to your podcast. And kind of the short version is I have a PhD in health, psychology and kinesiology. And over the course, of course of my career. I’ve really studied the basically the psychological effects of our health behaviors a large part how exercise. You know, improves or affects our mood, why people don’t exercise, how we can get them to exercise more can they become, you know, excessive exercise exercise too much.
Heather Hausenblas: And also take a look at other behaviors that really play a key role in what makes us healthy or not, for example, you know, sleep, you know, in our stress in our diet, and how they’re all related. And I study kind of the science behind that. And over the course of my career. As a researcher and a professor have spent a lot of time trying to to tease out you know, why it’s so difficult for us to be healthy and what we can do you know, regarding our health behaviors,
Steve Washuta: before we get into those specifics, let’s talk a little bit more about you. How did you fall into that? I know typically people will, you choose a path and an educational path. But eventually, you have to. you know. there’s a crossroad somewhere where you decide to go one route rather than the other What led you down this path?
Heather Hausenblas: You know, it’s interesting, I was always really active and athletic and played a lot of sports as a kid and just love psychology. So as an undergraduate, that was my degree, it was in psychology. And near the end of it, I knew in my undergrad I wanted to do, I wanted to do more. And it was really good the cusp of kind of the. I’m going to date myself now but kind of the aerobics you know, the the fitness boom.
Heather Hausenblas: And as that was occurring, it was really we were having really for the first time, this pandemic of people not moving enough. And we were finally beginning to see that this is really, really bad for our health. And we’re on the cusp kind of of the obesity epidemic. So it really got me interested in understand trying to understand why something that is so good for us.
Heather Hausenblas: Why do most people not do it. So from a standpoint of the physiology. it was really, really clear that moving. you know, an exercise is one of the best things we can do for overall health. But people just knowledge is not enough, right? Just knowing that something is good for you isn’t gonna change people’s behavior. And that’s where the psychology comes into play. And that’s what fascinated me to, to really to try to understand kind of the human behavior. Behind this and why people aren’t doing something that is so good for them.
Heather Hausenblas: So then, you know, to continue to study it, it’s really a specialized field. And when I got into it, it was a really young field. And I was lucky to be able to get into a Ph. D program where I could focus on you know, what we call that this point. You know, the psychology of exercise or exercise psychology. And then we would branch began to branch out and other behaviors. So that’s really, you know, how I came into it.
Heather Hausenblas: And I just love the love the science of it. I’ve always been someone who’s been fascinated with with human behavior. And watching people and trying to understand why people do certain things or don’t do don’t do other things. So one of the things that kind of drove me is I wanted to know what the science actually says. You know, says about the stuff just not your intuition, you know about it?
Steve Washuta: Sure. And I think it’s really good on you, though, to be working more in the general population sense. When I hear about the mixture between, let’s say, sports and psychology and these sorts of things. I always think about how athletes get that 1% better, right?
That’s what you think about like, oh, there’s a sports psychologist, or there’s somebody who’s looking about psychology and fitness and health. and they want to get people that 1% better, but, you know, the elites, but how do you get the general population to actually care about themselves and start to form those habits.
And I know you’re right about that. Let’s just dive right into that talk about why everybody knows I need to be healthier. I need to eat this. I need to do this and everyone now and 2023 is starting to go down that journey of starting healthier habits How do we do that so that they stick?
Heather Hausenblas: Right If I knew, you know, the one thing that could get people to stick to something, you know, I would be extremely rich and and our challenge is is you know, we’re people and people are are complex. we’re creatures of habit, but unfortunately we often have the wrong On habits, and we don’t set ourselves up for success.
Heather Hausenblas: And we try just to do too much all at once I think about now we’re we’re kind of hitting about the middle of January. So I would venture a guess that many people that are listening probably set new year’s resolutions. And the question is how many you know. have really have really stuck to them. oftentimes, we just try to do too much at all at once. And it’s oftentimes it’s just small little habit changes. That if you stick to for a couple of months, then it will actually become that habit.
Heather Hausenblas: And then you can add something else on to what I tell people, you know, if you want to, and you know, one of the common, you know, New Year’s resolutions, people say, I want to lose weight, you know, I want to exercise, you know, I want to exercise more, and I want to eat healthy, those are kind of the the top three, and somebody will come in and then try to just completely change their entire diet.
Heather Hausenblas: And it’s just not, it’s just not realistic for people to really be for a long term sticking to a really strict diet often tell people, why don’t you add something healthy to your diet as opposed to taking something away, because then you will not begin to feel, you know, feel deprived?
Steve Washuta: Yeah, that addition, by subtraction, or subtraction by addition, seems to be something that a lot of really good. Let’s say registered dieticians and nutritionists say you start to add the healthy food in and then you’re not going to be as full so then you’re less likely to eat that unhealthy food. And I could you know that I give my clients the same advice.
Don’t go zero to 60, you wouldn’t do that in any other area of your life. If you weren’t saving money. You wouldn’t start with saying I’m gonna take my entire paycheck and put it to my savings account. No, you’d say 5% and save 10%. And then you’d work up and then start to save more. So that’s that is a great point.
Now you talk a lot about journaling, I can tell you that I don’t journal I’ve heard from a very successful people. It’s an important part of their day, how do you start the process of journaling? How does one sit down you just buy a journal and start writing. Is there at least a little bit of a methodology and how one does this,
Heather Hausenblas: you know what, and that’s really I think the beauties of journaling is there’s no one set way to do it. You need to pick what’s going to work for you for some people that may be actually using their you know, using their, you know, their cell phone and actually, you know, journaling and typing on their there’s many different apps that people can get, but you want to get something that’s going to help you and pick what you want to focus on.
Heather Hausenblas: Sometimes he will try to be extremely broad. And there’s many different types of journaling. Sometimes it’s just what we call like the free free writing where you’re just open up. You know, a journal, and you’ll literally just start to write your thoughts and your feelings down. And the chart is pretty clear just actually doing that is therapeutic and has has health benefits.
Heather Hausenblas: But there’s a lot of journals out there that we call are guided or prompted journals, and you could you know, go and buy many of these and they will focus on different different kinds of health aspects that people want to want to focus on. So for example, there’s there’s food journaling. where, and you can google and find a food journal where you actually will track very simply what you’ve eaten, let’s say for breakfast, lunch, dinner, your snacks, how you’ve, you know, how you felt about it.
Heather Hausenblas: And the sole fact of just doing that and just tracking what you’re eating tends to lead to weight loss, there’s been some fascinating studies showing that if that’s the only thing that people do, and they don’t even think that they’re changing what they’re eating, the fact of them, you know, cognitively writing down what they’re what they’re eating actually then creates us awareness and leads to leads to behavior change.
Heather Hausenblas: So there’s food journaling, what’s really, really popular right now is gratitude journaling. And, you know, expressing you know, gratitude for a couple things every day. And that’s as simple as waking up in the morning and writing down three things or one thing that you’re that you’re thankful for. You could do it in the morning, you could do it at lunch, the evening, whatever you want.
Heather Hausenblas: But we do know that the that the kind of this process of expressing gratitude actually improves people’s behavior, and actually makes them healthier and more productive over the course of the day. If I think for people is really taking a look. at what are their health goals. Maybe they want to improve their sleep. So they want to begin to maybe track their you know. Track their sleep, when they go to bed, what is their nighttime routine? How many times do they wake up in the morning. Then over time. They can begin to see a pattern and say. Well, if I drink, you know, coffee at 4pm, then that’s going to throw off my nighttime sleep.
Heather Hausenblas: So there’s many you know, there’s many different things you can you know, journal about your your exercise. So it’s really picking something that you that you want to focus on and begin to do it. And what I encourage people to do to set themselves up for success is try to pick a specific time during the day. That you’re going to be able to go in to be able to do it where you have a couple of minutes. maybe it’s first thing in the morning, maybe it’s right before you right before you go to bed and many people will say well, how long do I need to do this before it becomes a habit.
Heather Hausenblas: And the science has shown that it’s around around around two months time if you’re to do it consistently, then it will become a habit but there’s big variability because everybody we’re all different and unique. So it can range from anywhere. For some people, if they do it consistently in journal for about 15 days, it becomes a habit. Other people it takes over 250 days.
Heather Hausenblas: So the point is you really want to stick to it and People say, Well, I forgot a day or forgot two days to do it, I might as well forget it and not start until next January 1, I tell people know, if you miss a day or two or three, that’s fine, you want to just pick back up. When you when you left off. try to set yourself up for success and pick something small that you want to journal about.
Steve Washuta: There’s so many great points that I want to come back to sort of the adherence factor. And how you talked about, you should make sure that you’re journaling in the way that’s best for you. If you’re doing something that feels like a task. You’re likely to let it go and not do it anymore, right.
So by the fact that you make the journaling process somewhat fun or easier for you or likeable. You’re more likely to adhere, you’re more and then if you’re more likely to adhere. you’re more likely to be consistent, if more likely than consistent, you’re more likely to pick up that habit. So you don’t want to be the person who says. Okay, I’m going to make this a task, I hate this. But I’m going to do this, find a way in which journaling is fun for you.
And then also, to go back to what you said before. We have an amnesia, natural remedies are for lack of a better term. And we forget what we ate just like we forget what we spent. So you know, a financial planner will tell you the same thing as like a registered dietitian. Unless you write down your food. you’re gonna think, Oh, this is what I eat on Monday.
But there’s probably one or two things that you forgot about. So that’s another really good reason to write things down just so that we can’t really lie to ourselves. And we have an accurate depiction of what we’ve been eating or exercising what we’ve been doing.
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, it’s an excellent point. And we tend to underestimate how much we actually we actually eat. So it’s really important. You know, when you start this. food drilling process to try to be as accurate, you know, accurate as possible. If you do it right, after you eat a meal. It is gonna be a lot better than if you wait till the next day to try to remember. What you ate the what you ate the day before.
Steve Washuta: Journaling seems to be something that is instilled in us when we’re really young. I don’t know a person who hasn’t journaled at some point between the ages of like, six and 10. and then it just falls off. I don’t know exactly why that is where maybe we’re busy or becomes like the not cool thing to do. But do you think that kids should just start journaling. The parents should kind of push it and just let them continue their journaling process throughout life?
Heather Hausenblas: I think that’s a great point. And I think it’s a great activity that parents can do with their, with their kids. It only takes a couple of minutes, you know, a couple minutes a day to do it. And they can both journal. And it’s difficult, you know, as your kids get older, I have. You know, my oldest who’s now 21, a couple years ago, I wanted him to keep track of what he was eating, because he, he has Crohn’s disease.
Heather Hausenblas: And of course, he wasn’t going to do it, there was no way so I did it for him. So as a parent, I was tracking everything that he was eating so that I could begin to see kind of signs and symptoms of. You know, if he ate something, what what would then what would then happen, but you know, what we do as kids sticks with us. So, you know, with parents out there that are listening. if you can get your kids to start doing this as a healthy habit, when they’re young, it’ll probably track with them because our health behaviors track.
Heather Hausenblas: So what I mean by that is if, if you’re, you know, in, in preschool, or elementary school, and you’re playing sports, and you’re exercising, that’s probably going to stick with you into high school, and then also into adult into adulthood. So as parents, what we want to do is ingrain as many healthy behaviors as we can. you know, with our kids, knowing that it’s going to stick with them.
Heather Hausenblas: And one of the best things for parents is that they’re positive role models, because we do know, for example, that parents who eat healthy, their kids are more likely to eat healthy parents who exercise their kids are more likely to exercise, same thing with journaling, as well. So it’s kind of being that positive role model. So if you’re a parent out there, you think, Oh, I really don’t want to do it. Well think about it, that you’re helping your kids out as well. And teaching them some lifelong, hopefully, some lifelong health skills.
Steve Washuta: Speaking about parenting, I am a relatively new parent of my daughter’s 18 months, graduations. Something that happens to new parents is it’s really difficult to keep your social connections, they kind of change over time, whether you’re waiting to maybe be friends with the parents of the kids that your daughter or son is going to be friends with,
Whether it is that you have friends that maybe don’t have kids so that your lifestyles are different. but you start to lose those social connections. I know you wrote about the importance of happiness interconnected. And I’m sure there’s a causation not just a correlation with social connections and why they’re important. Can you unpack that a little bit?
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, we tend to think you know, of a being healthy coming down to like, what we eat, how much we sleep, you know, and how much we move. But one of the most important things for overall health are what we call our social connections.
Heather Hausenblas: So people, your close, let’s say your close family and friends, but it also can be acquaintances that you that you meet during the day, like let’s say, it’s the person who who makes your coffee every day, you know, the Starbucks or a colleague that maybe you see passing, passing through the hall and we’re social beings, and we need to be socially connected.
Heather Hausenblas: It’s really clear that people who feel lonely and feel socially isolated, it’s one of the worst things for their overall health. So to put it into perspective. an interesting study kind of equated finding that being socially isolated and lonely had the same health effect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So if that can kind of put didn’t put it in perspective. And some studies have found that people report that they’re socially isolated. and lonely tend to live are upwards of eight years less than somebody than someone who is not.
Heather Hausenblas: So it’s one of these things in our life, like our social relationships change over time, right? When we’re kids, it’s easy. We’re in school, and we’ve got our friends. And as we get older, it becomes different, right? Maybe it’s your work friends. Maybe you’re hanging out with your kids. but you’re in a tough time right with, with a toddler.
Heather Hausenblas: And it takes an extreme, you know, an extreme amount of time. And what often will happen is that your, your kids, you know, their friends, parents, then become your friends. Because that’s who you end up, you end up hanging out with and kind of knowing that, you know. your friend groups change over time, but knowing how important it is to how important it is to foster them and know that they play an important role in our overall health.
Steve Washuta: I think there’s a lot of young people now, who think that too many social connections sort of drains their battery. for lack of a better term. right, they have a certain amount of bandwidth that they can give out. And if they have too much going on. they have too many friends, they have too many parents have to go visit these people. they have to do this, but it sort of exhausting.
Steve Washuta: But I guess what they don’t think about sort of. Maybe like a cognitive dissonance thing is they’re like. Yeah, I really want to just be home doing nothing watching TV doing this. It sort of sets a downward spiral where you continue to find reasons to not go out to not do things. And then you find yourself depressed and do that. So like, do you think it’s just a, like. A sign of the times, because we have so much more TV and Netflix and all these things active. That people are just less likely to build the social connections? Well, I think
Heather Hausenblas: we have this, you know, false belief that, you know, TV, and social media automatically equals social connections. And we do know that the more time that somebody spends on on social media. you know, that the less healthy they are. and the more socially isolated they are, not to say that it doesn’t play a role in it’s not, you know, it’s not important, but it’s not the end all be all for for overall health.
Heather Hausenblas: And not everybody is this extreme extrovert life of the party. And that is that is a okay, you know, to be socially connected doesn’t mean that you need to go to. you know, you know, a bar and stay out there, you know, until two in the morning and talk to everybody that you see, you can be socially connected with just one with just one close, you know, with one close person, and maybe that’s talking to them on the phone or seeing them, you know, seeing them a couple times, couple times a week. So people need to do what is going to, you know, what is going to work for for them.
Heather Hausenblas: But to know that even like these casual connections, and just saying hi to someone, if you’re out, like, let’s say walking, you know, walking your dog and stuff, those are social connections as well, we are social beings, and we do need them, but know kind of what what people’s limits, you know, limits are as well as well for them, and to try to be around people that are going to foster positive positive things for you.
Heather Hausenblas: For example, we know that if your three or four closest friends are overweight, and unhealthy, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to be going to be as well. So take a look at your close social circle. Take a look at what you know what your goals are, and say,
Heather Hausenblas: Because oftentimes, we’ll hang around people that are very similar to us or what we aspire to. And that’s really, you know, really important. So our social connections play such a huge role on our not only our overall longevity. but also our immediate health at that point in time.
Steve Washuta: There are even applications out there. Now I know, for young moms who have trouble finding friends. I think it’s called peanut, where they can sort of match each other. It’s almost like a dating app, but like a friendship app. And that’s how far we’ve gone from just being able to. You know, go to the local grocery store and start conversation with people.
And now we have to use applications in order to do that. And I think it is going to be a really big problem moving forward. So I’m glad there’s people like you who are taking this head on and saying. Listen, this is really important part of our health that we’re overlooking. And if we continue to overlook this. There might be bigger issues moving forward in the next 10 or 15 years.
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, I I really do agree we spend, you know, I think, you know, we love our phones, for example. And I know I do this as well, if I’m standing in line for something, the first thing I do is I pull up my phone. And you know, I don’t know scroll through social media, or check my email or write texts, as opposed to talking to the person, you know, beside me in line, which is what I would have done, you know, five, five years ago.
Heather Hausenblas: So as much as we you know, love our phones, we do need to put them away and make time for social connections. I think about yesterday I was I was lecturing at the university. And as the students are coming in. the first thing they do, they find their seat, they sit down, they pull out their phone, and they don’t talk to anybody beside them.
Heather Hausenblas: And I asked them at the beginning of the lecture, I said. How many of you guys know anybody in the class and none of them knew anybody but yet they’re all in the same major because nobody takes the time to introduce themselves and you know. and talk and I said, you know, you’re we’re gonna put our phones away for you know, you can put them away for the next hour and 15 minutes, and we’re going to actually interact With with one another. And you can kind of see like the oh my gosh, this is really what we’re going to be doing. But it’s really it’s it’s important, you know, it’s important for us to do that.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, think about all the social skills I learned as a young kid having to, let’s say. Walk down the street, knock on the door of a friend open the door. And it’s the parent not to say. Hey, Mrs. Johnson, can Mikey come out to play right or even call them on their landline and say. By the way if you do this, if no one’s watching this right now I have my pinkie to my mouth.
And my other two my ear. Kids don’t even know what this is anymore. They do this, because they don’t understand that a phone used to look like this. But you know, you just have to call the house line. And if the sister the oldest sister picked up, but the father picked up. you’d have to present yourself, like, you know, like you were a friend of the family and talk to the father first and then asked to talk to to your friend, they don’t have to do that anymore, right. They’re just instant messaging online.
They’re avoiding a lot of those social interactions. And I think there will be a day of reckoning for lack of a better term. And I hope that the people find a way around this. I think the research coming out things like you’re talking about is probably going to ignite. A spark under parents like myself to say. You know what, we need to change how our kid interacts. Because we don’t want them falling down a spiral path of not only unhappiness but unhealthiness.
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, I agree, you bring up some excellent points, some of the things I challenge people to do, when you’re having dinner, put your phone away, don’t even have it on the table. Even if it’s turned upside down, or you can’t see it. There’s nothing positive even with the mere presence of having your phone is going to be negative, especially at mealtimes.
Heather Hausenblas: So I challenge people put your phones away during a meal or has to be 1010 minutes long, and actually have conversations. you know, with people around the table in particular. you know, your your kids and your, your family members. And it’ll make a huge difference in you know. How much first of all, you enjoy the meal, and then just just connecting with people.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, and you have a, I don’t know, a 5050 chance of whatever you’re opening up not being a happy message. I was just on vacation, just got back from vacation from Miami, and my wife happened to open up a message. She’s a she’s a physician. And it was a message that she didn’t want to see. But it was her fault.
She was on vacation, nobody needed her. She didn’t need to open up that message. But then that, you know, could potentially ruin the next few hours of your vacation. So you know, if you want to be present in the moment. which is a part of happiness. not thinking about the future, not always thinking about the past, but being present in the moment. Looking at your phone is not a great way.
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, you bring up an excellent point about being present, you know, the science is pretty clear, that we tend not to and we are the happiest when we’re present in the moment at the time, right? And not thinking about what happened in the past or what what’s in the future. So people can try to make an effort to focus on on what you’re doing at that time. Even if you’re stuck in traffic, if you’re focusing just on you know. that time point and not thinking about something in the future, you tend to be happier.
Steve Washuta: Are we happy? Because we’re healthy? Or are we healthy? Because we’re happy? What comes first?
Heather Hausenblas: That Oh, my gosh, that’s that’s an interesting and tough question to answer. And it’s interesting, right? Because they’re certainly there certainly are they certainly are related, right? healthier, people tend to be happier, happier, people tend to be healthier. But the question is what comes first, it’s really difficult, honestly, from a science perspective to tease them. But they’re, they’re very much right. They’re very much related.
Heather Hausenblas: So we do know, for example, people that tend to be regular exercisers, let’s say eat healthy and get, you know, get a good night’s sleep, are also going to report obviously, that they’re there, they’re happier that they’re more productive, that they’re in a better mood during the day that they’re less stressed. So all of these things are so related all of our behaviors.
Heather Hausenblas: So think about it at night, if you can get a good night’s sleep, the next day, pretty much guaranteed, you’re going to be in a worse mood, you’re not going to be as as productive, you’re not going to eat as well. So it’s all cut. It’s all related and kind of this vicious, you know. Vicious cycle, but I think for people to realize that, okay. I know I can get a good night’s sleep.
Heather Hausenblas: So I’m going to have to, you know, bring on my A game today to make sure that you know, I try to eat as healthy as possible, you know, be productive, maybe take that nap, you know, and do those types of things that you need to set yourself up for success and know that you’re probably going to you might be that day that you probably would be more quick to yell at your kids. Right and just know, you know, just do that coming into it and kind of being prepared for it.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. I think people also have a really bad sense of their I guess you would call it their baseline level. Or whatever their baseline is they think they’re at their operating. I’d say 90 or 100% because they only know what they know Right? I’ve been sleeping six and a half hours a night drinking the 300 milligrams of caffeine in the morning. And I think that is my normal because they’re not doing the right things.
They’re not eating healthy. They’re not sleeping nine hours they’re not having a little bit less caffeine in the morning. So they only know what they know for you know. I hate I sort of don’t like that phrase. But you know it is what it is. You only know what you know, but it is the truth. They only know what they know. And it’s for me a hard part isn’t I’m sure a lot of personal trainers. People in health and fitness industry is convincing the clients you can feel better.
You think you think you’re at optimal levels here, but you’re not at optimal levels. So we have to kind of. you have to understand that we were going to get this engine running faster and more more efficient. If you just take a step back, build a healthy habit slow and do the right things.
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, exactly. Excellent point.
Steve Washuta: So tell me a little bit more, I want to go back to journaling. Because I’m really intrigued about this, this process here. I’ve never journaled before your recommend your recommendation for me if I want to start journaling tomorrow. And I tell you in advance that I am somebody who has no problem. actually answering questions, I don’t just need to do free thought I can answer some questions.
What are some of the things that are outside of food? I don’t have an issue with food right? Outside of food? How do I just help myself become a calmer, better person? What are the questions I would ask myself in these journals,
Heather Hausenblas: yeah, you know, what, what I would probably recommend is to keep what we call like a gratitude or thanks, journal, and you can literally just take out a piece of paper or any type of like, you know, journal like this, or it could be a guided journal that says, that’s a gratitude journal. And typically what they’ll state is like list one, one or three, you know, 123, things that you’re grateful for.
Heather Hausenblas: And it can be as simple as you know, your, your morning cup of coffee, you know, by yourself, or you know, watching the sunrise or that you’ve got a good night’s sleep, or that you’re going to you know, you’re thankful for you know, the sunny day, or your friends or whatever, whatever it may be. And it honestly, it seems so simplistic to do that.
Heather Hausenblas: And it is really it is, but the health benefits of it tend to be quite, you know, quite impressive. And that only takes a few minutes each each day to do so I would almost start with with that, because it’s very simple. very easy to do kind of pick a time during the day when you can, when you can do it. maybe it’s while you’re you know, you’re waiting for your morning cup of coffee to get ready, and you’ve got a couple of minutes.
Heather Hausenblas: And that’s when you do it and you kind of begin to get into get into that habit. And believe it or not, it kind of resets your day. it kind of puts you in that positive, you know. mind frame when you’re thinking about things that you’re grateful for, as opposed to, you know, things that are stressing you out, or all the bad things, you know, that potentially did happen or could happen.
Heather Hausenblas: Another one that for people who experience a lot of stress, I say, you know, I read your worries away. So when you wake up in the morning, write out what you’re stressed about. And a couple of like little bullet points about what you can do to prepare for it. The whole fact of doing that will put you in a better mind frame. And get you better prepared for that.
Heather Hausenblas: And then at the end of the day, kind of you know, reflect on how stressed was I really, let’s say you have a big presentation that you have to do. And then think back on what you did to help it out. Because we live in an environment where we’re, we’re constantly stressed about different things.
Heather Hausenblas: And that’s okay, because stress plays an important role in our overall health. But too much stress is not it’s not good. So we need to prepare ourselves for the stress that we’re going to experience in the day as well.
Steve Washuta: That’s great information. And people do tend to sort of repress and push down all of the anxiety instead of addressing it upfront. And by writing it down, you have no choice but to see it on the paper. kind of read it, let it get into your brain and say, Let me deal with this year now because I’m going to have to run into this in two hours or two days.
Heather Hausenblas: Right. And I you know, when we’re talking about journaling, and I did say you know, you can use your you know. Your phone or your your device, we do know that the sole fact of like the old fashioned paper and pencil process of writing down is actually better for you than then typing or using, you know, using your using your phone.
Heather Hausenblas: And there’s a few reasons why but it provides deeper processing for us. And, you know, we really think through what we’re going to write more than if we’re typing it out. So I do encourage people to go back to the old fashioned way of using. You know, a pen and paper if they can for journaling.
Steve Washuta: So you do research, it’s part of what you do, is there a particular research fact that you were just blown away. whether it’s happiness, specifically, whether it has to do with journaling. or social connections, any research fact that you thought wow, I couldn’t believe this,
Heather Hausenblas: you know, it’s interesting, you know, over the course of my career, I started out really focusing on on exercise and how we needed to exercise and it needed to be you know, vigorous, we really needed to get our heart rate up to see you know, all these types of positive benefits on you know, on our mood and in our sleep and over the last about 15 years and we really think kind of this that this shift that yes, movement is really important and exercise is really important.
Heather Hausenblas: But our light activities that we do during the day and even the simple fact of standing are important health behaviors. So what I mean by that is most people don’t enjoy going to the you know. going to the gym and they they don’t do it they don’t like vigorous physical activity and then they feel like a failure because they haven’t been able to do this.
Heather Hausenblas: And when I tell people is you know, the things that we do throughout the day, you know, the walking is extremely important, the light, you know, light activity and standing have significant health benefits for us. And one of the things What struck me most was was fidgeting. these small movements that that some of us do more than others tends to be looked at as it as a negative behavior.
Heather Hausenblas: Like maybe it’s associated, for example, with not paying attention, or with being with being bored and something that we shouldn’t do because we should be sitting crisscross applesauce and being really, really still, but there’s a fascinating kind of research and it’s scattered among many different disciplines. So it’s hard to kind of pull it all together showing that fidgeting is actually a health behavior.
Heather Hausenblas: There was one really interesting study, it was a longitudinal study that found that people who were classified as high frigerators actually ended up living longer than people who were not and there was actually fidgeting people will burn significant amounts of calories during the day. It can help people you know, focus and, and pay attention as well.
Heather Hausenblas: And it’s in it’s a type of movements. So I think we villainize fidgeting and fidgeting. I do really believe is an important type of, you know, an important type of movement that we do that can have a lot of a lot of health benefits associated with it.
Steve Washuta: I also think, to go back to your first point. we conflate health and vanity I talked about this a lot. So people say I don’t like to go to the gym. Well, you know, a lot of the gym stuff could be purely vanity based. People say, I don’t look good, I don’t feel good.
That doesn’t mean you’re not healthy, right? If we check your, your your lipid panels, and your liver enzymes, and all in all the lab stats. you might be healthier than the guy who goes to the gym every single day, but he has big biceps, so you assume that he’s healthier.
So I think, you know, that’s sort of what I post is not to conflate health and vanity necessarily. You can go on walks every single day and eat healthy. and be healthier than the guy who’s lifting every day, but also not taking care of his body and the other ways,
Heather Hausenblas: right, and you bring up such a good point, right? We’re such a visual society, we take a look at someone and almost instantly. When we do this, whether it’s conscious or conscious level, you know, size them up to determine, you know, what we think about them.
And their you know, and their overall overall health and we tend to, to feel. you know, if you ask people, what’s the ideal physique for men, people will say, it’s extremely, you know, extremely lean, and almost hyper muscular.
Heather Hausenblas: And for women, it’s a lean and toned physique. And, you know, for somebody. For example, to have the six pack, six pack abs does that does not necessarily equate with with being healthy. It means that you’re extremely lean, potentially, maybe to, you know. to lean to get to that to get to get to that point.
Heather Hausenblas: So I think people really need to take a look at what their you know, overall long term, you know, long term health goals are is it to be healthy in the long term, or to have this like, really, oftentimes an unrealistic, you know, physique in the present,
Steve Washuta: sure to bring it sort of full circle to tie this happiness stuff together. You know, you there’s only so much bandwidth that one has. So if you’re that person is working on your six pack, that means you’re putting a lot of effort in to get there.
So do you have those social connections? Are you sleeping? Are you journaling? Are you meditating? Probably not. Right, it’s very, really difficult unless you’re maybe have a single very rich male or female on your own.
But if you if you if you have kids, if you have family, if you have other obligations, it’s it’s really difficult to have everything right. You have to you have to put a few eggs in all the baskets to make sure that you’re happy.
And I think that’s, that’s something that people don’t really think about.
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, you bring up an excellent point, you know, with whatever we’re going to spend our time on. And, you know, everyone says, you know, I’m so busy, I just don’t have the time for certain things. And when I tell people this will combine together, right, so we need to be connected with people. So why not, you know, meet your friends, instead of going for coffee? Why don’t you go for a walk with them.
Heather Hausenblas: And I do this, you know what I used to be in the office a lot, I would actually keep a pair of running shoes underneath my desk. And when somebody would come in and want to meet with me, whether it was a student or a colleague, I’d be like, well, let’s go for a walk, you know, we live in Florida, the campus is beautiful.
And let’s walk in, I would just put on my running shoes.
Heather Hausenblas: And honestly, the sole fact of doing that the meetings tend to be shorter, which is good from from that time standpoint. But then not only that. But I was getting outside and getting a little bit of little bit of activity as well. So I tell people, you know. Try to combine them and be creative because most people say. Well, I just don’t have time for boom, boom, or boom. And I’m like, Well, you know what, let’s, let’s combine things together. And then you’ll begin to realize that you do have the time.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, where there’s a will. There is a way you can have it stacked like you said. If you’re having your coffee in the morning, and you usually just stare into space. Well, if you want to learn how to speak Spanish. Have your coffee in the morning and, you know, download an app and learn how to speak Spanish.
If you’re a mom who works full time. And you have a kid and you come home at the end of the day. And you’re like I want to spend more time with my kid but I also want to work out. Well put your kid in the stroller with the kids facing you and go on a really fast stroller walk and interact with your child. As you’re as you’re on the stroller.
There are ways to do it if you really want to get creative. But sometimes you have to hire a professional. Or read or talk to somebody like Heather in order to know what is there because. You know, some people are just naive.
They don’t know. It’s not that they’re trying to avoid these things. They really just don’t know how to do them.
Heather Hausenblas: Right, right. And it’s having those Converse Patience and you know, listening to podcasts like what you have, because you’ve got. you know, incredible amount of information with the experts that you bring on. And it’s so helpful, you know, you know, and I mean. I do this all the time I listen to podcasts when I’m out, for example, walking, walking our dog.
Heather Hausenblas: And then this way, I feel like I’m doing two things at once and I’m learning something or I’ll even put my earbuds in and call somebody when I’m out. You know, out walking as well. If you can’t physically connect with the person. then why not call them and as opposed to sitting on your couch. Go for a walk while you’re talking to them on your phone.
Steve Washuta: Heather, this has been fantastic information. Can you give my audience and listeners some insights into where they can find you personally. Whether that is through social media, a website reach out to you directly with questions. Hi, are you any of the above?
Heather Hausenblas: Yeah, please do I’m on LinkedIn and Instagram and Facebook right now as well. You can go to my website and contact me there and email me and my website is wellness discovery. labs.com
Steve Washuta: Hello, thank you so much for joining the Trulyfit podcast. Thank you.
Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.
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