Jun 11, 2019

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Finding the Motivation to Change is Hard

You're in a situation where you know that there's some health changes you want to make, whether it's your diet or your activity level, drinking, smoking, something like that, but you just can't quite seem to make those changes and it can be hard. Nick Galli is a health coach and Assistant Professor of health, kinesiology, and recreation at the Department of Health at University of Utah. He also works with high-level athletes.

Nick Galli's Turning Point - The Athlete with Bad Cholesterol

Nick Galli had always considered himself a healthy person. He prioritized physical fitness, he diet seemed alright, he was a club athlete all through college. But in his 20's he went in for his physical. The results surprised him.

"I got the blood draw and my readings came back everything was way high. My cholesterol, my triglycerides, a lot of the bad stuff," Nick explains, "I think I went through a little bit of a denial at first. I thought, "No way." Because, you know, I'd always considered myself a pretty healthy, prioritized physical fitness. My diet wasn't great, but it was okay. So that would have been my turning point."

Nick first tried making some changes to his diet, but saw very little change in his blood work after six months. He worked with his doctor to find a solution.

"So then it was going on a small dose of a statin, which was really weird because I think I was still in my 20s. I'm like, "Well, this is crazy." Ten milligrams or something, which I still take. And it's only been in the last few years where I feel like I've really gotten a handle on the dietary part of things and my numbers, the last two times that I've had them checked have both been both times been in the normal range."

Sometimes improving your health isn't just lifestyle choices. Nick had always considered himself "the healthy one" but due to his genetics, diet and exercise wasn't enough. Sometimes, genetics can keep you from being at that optimal level.

Troy agrees, "I think that's the point. We can do everything we can, but genetics are a huge factor in so many of these things and sometimes you need to accept that and address it. And I think we all kind of have these wake-up calls. But like you said, it's a process and addressing it and reevaluating and reassessing"

Motivation is Different For Everyone

Nick Galli is a health coach, helping people make positive changes in their lives. When he's working with a client, he has a few strategies to help them become motivated, and stay motivated to improve their health.

"I think the first thing that's important to do is get a sense for what their life context is, because it's not a one-size-fits-all," says Nick, "Different approaches will work with different people or resonate with different people, depending on, for example, their living situation. Are they single? Are they in a relationship? Do they have children? Are they surrounded, as you mentioned by, you know, social support?"

"I also get a sense for how ready they are. And then figure out because for most people, making a big change immediately isn't going to work. They might make that change and then we get a short-term result, but it's not for the long haul. We've got to think about little things that maybe that person can be doing that don't feel like a lot of work but that can over time make a big difference."

How to Easily Get More Exercise and Stick With It

One of the most impactful things a person can do to improve their health is to be more active. But finding the motivation to exercise can be difficult. Nick explains why:/

"Exercise is a good one, because I think people have this picture, especially if they haven't done much of it, of exercise is a very rigid. I've got to go to the health club. I've got to go there three or five days a week and spend an hour there."

According to Nick, one of the best strategies is to change the perception of "exercise." Reframe exercise as "physical activity." Simple changes can lead to real results. Park further away so you walk farther in the parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go outside and work in the garden or play with your kids.

One size does not fit all when it comes to changing habits. When working with clients Nick works to help them find a personal strategy you can do on your own.

"I'll always say, you know, before the next time we meet, "Give this a shot." Or I'll ask them before we leave, "Okay, what's one thing you're going to try to do differently and pay attention to how that makes you feel?" We all hope that they make the change and they feel great. But also sort of warning them, "This might feel this might not feel good at first because it's out of your comfort zone and that's okay."

Give Change an Honest Chance

Changing your lifestyle habits can be hard. It brings you out of your comfort zone. You may slip up now and then. What's important is to commit to making the change and giving it an honest effort. Troy shares what he's heard:

"One thing I've heard that seems to work is just to try it for 30 days. It may be uncomfortable but it seems that that 30-day period is often the key to really try something, see if it's going to work to change the habit and then reassess at that point. Do you have a time frame where you tell people, "Hey, do it for this period of time, give it a chance, it may not be comfortable at first, but let's give it some time"?

"I definitely use that concept," says Nick, "I don't know that I've ever specifically used, you know, 30 days as a benchmark. That makes sense in a lot of ways. I'll often say for physical activity, "Even if you don't feel like doing it, commit to 10 minutes." Because we know that in as little as 10 minutes, you can get benefits. "If after 10 minutes you don't want to do it anymore, go home and sit on your couch." And usually, you know, people will. So I think it's kind of a momentum principle. It puts a finish line on it, and it's also very reinforcing when the person makes it to 30 days."

If it doesn't work for you after an honest effort, it's time to try something else. Giving yourself an out is important to staying motivated, but it's crucial you really try a strategy before moving on to the next. Scot shares his own unique approach to getting to the gym.

"I used to do that to the gym. I still do. Like, "I don't feel like going to the gym. All right, you just got to drive there. You got to go inside, you got to swipe your card and you got to do one exercise. And if you decide you want to go home at that point, go home." I've never once gone home at that point."

Basic Tips to Help Stick with Your Goals

Nick shares a few key tips you can try in your own life. Whether it be exercising more, drinking less, quitting smoking, improving your diet; the strategy is the same:

  • Don't make sudden or huge changes. Stick to small, easily attainable changes. The will add up.

  • Look at where you are, and go from there. Don't assume that you can go from being a couch potato to running a marathon. Take stock of your situation and make gradual improvements.

  • Get started today. Don't put off your lifestyle changes indefinitely. Commit to changing one small, easy thing this week.


Technology: Apple Watch's New AFib Sensor - Does it Work?

Apple has released a new sensor on it's Apple Watch that is meant to detect atrial fibrillation, or AFib, when worn. AFib is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can be a sign of blood clots, stroke, or even heart failure. A great thing for someone to know, right? But does it actually work?

Troy has experienced this first hand in the ER, "I'm seeing these people in the ER who come to me and say, 'Hey, my watch picked up this abnormal rhythm. What do I need to do about this?' They can show me on their watch what they're seeing. And then they say, 'I'm concerned about this. What do I do?'"

As an emergency doctor, he immediately starts treatment right?

"Usually not. There's this new study that just came out that looked at these watches and looked at how many people had AFib. I think the number was about 0.5% had episodes of AFib. But when they looked at those individuals and they did additional testing, where we can send people out on actual heart monitor, they found that about a third of those patients who came in saying, 'My watch picked up AFib,' only about a third of those actually had AFib. There were a whole lot of false positives."

So, the device detects Afib in less than 1% of people who wear it. And of that small percentage, two thirds of are false positives. What's a person to do if their watch goes off?

Troy is hesitant to make a firm suggestion, but he says to look for other symptoms other than just what your watch is telling you, including:

  • During the AFib event did you feel lightheaded or like you were going to pass out?
  • Did the AFib event last longer than 10 minutes?
  • Has the AFib been repeatedly happening for a few days?

If you're experiencing any of those symptoms, you should go to the ER.

Ultimately, the Apple Watch AFib sensor has the potential to catch a serious medical problem, but the technology is not yet perfect. If you Apple Watch reads an AFib event, be sure to look for duration, frequency, and other symptoms to determine if you need to go to the doctor.


Just Going to Leave This Here: Saving Dogs, Saving Babies

On this episode's Just Going to Leave This Here, Scot reveals he has very special blood he wants to donate and Troy can't get enough dogs. Here are some highlights:

Scot: Plus, also I have baby saving blood.

Troy: You do?

Scot: I've been told.

Troy: You have special blood.

Scot: I don't know what that means exactly. I guess I have a lack of some sort of a something in my blood that most people have in their blood that they're not able to use for young children that don't have fully developed immune systems.

Troy: So you are a rare specimen? [...] I love dogs. We are dog lovers, animal fosters. I think there's a lot of health benefit to having dogs. I just drove out to Vernal yesterday and transported from . . . there are some dogs from their shelter to our rescue group in the Heber area. There's so many great dogs out there. If you're looking for a dog, please adopt a shelter pet.

Scot: Absolutely healthy. We've adopted dogs, and as a result we would walk a half hour every day. It was something we never would do before. And I know there can be emotional and mental health benefits to pets as well. So that's great.

Troy: I agree. We'll find some article on this to talk about because, like I said, I feel strongly about it. And it's, I think, a fun topic to talk about.

Scot: Well, you save dogs. I save babies.


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