Mind(set) Over Matter

First Mile Care DPP Coach Bibilola Ladipo-Ajayi shares the importance of the right mindset to achieve health goals. She explains that we are all vulnerable and often succumb to unhealthy thought patterns, which can impact our ability to make the small, sustainable habit changes that result in a healthier lifestyle. Read more on Thrive Global >

10 Foods With Serving Sizes That Are Way Smaller Than You Thought

First Mile Care DPP Coach Jenny Fowler gives tips on serving sizes. She says that eating more than one serving of any given food on occasion isn’t something to worry about, as long as you’re doing it mindfully and considering your dietary needs.

“Let’s clarify that a serving is what is stated on the package, while a portion is how much you actually eat. It’s not bad to eat more than a serving, as long as you are aware that you are doing so.” Read more from HuffPost >

Mind(set) Over Matter

By Bibilola Ladipo-Ajayi, First Mile Care DPP Coach

The Cambridge dictionary defines the phrase “mind over matter” as “the power of the mind to control and influence the body and the physical world generally.” As part of the First Mile Care ongoing series on “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinars, I highlighted the impact that your mindset has on your ability to make the small behavioral changes that can reduce or reverse your prediabetes status over time.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) curriculum covers a variety of healthy practices such as healthy eating, meal planning, and fitness. It also highlights the importance of stress management and mindfulness. Having a “growth mindset” helps you achieve the goals you set for yourself in your DPP action plan and empowers you to keep making progress towards sustainable habit changes.

We are all vulnerable and often succumb to unhealthy thought patterns. It’s important to recognize which specific ones you are at risk for, because consistent negative thought patterns can lead to a destructive mindset. Some common unhealthy thought patterns include: all-or-nothing thinking; overgeneralization; disqualifying the positive and downplaying accomplishments; jumping to conclusions; and magnification or minimization of positive or negative traits. Others include labeling and mislabeling behaviors (which can become self-fulfilling prophecies); personalization (when everything is your fault or responsibility); and mental filters (when you focus on negative things and filter out positives).

Being of two mind(set)s

Your mindset has a big impact on your success in life — career, relationships, and health goals. Stanford University psychology professor Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D, is a leading researcher of mindset and its connection to motivation and success. In her best-selling 2007 book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, she explores the two main mindsets linked to human potential: fixed and growth mindsets.

She explains that a fixed mindset leads to a defeatist attitude focused on failure and making excuses for lack of success. A person with a fixed mindset believes that skills are innate, something we are born with, and as such, learning new skills is of no value and impossible. A person with a fixed mindset often avoids challenges and rejects any kind of feedback that may suggest there is room for improvement. They also compare themselves with other people, feel threatened by the success of others, and are less likely to celebrate or collaborate with people. This kind of static mindset keeps a person in a cycle of defeat, focused on reproducing only what they already know. The outcome is a life of barrenness and the inability to evolve or grow.

On the other hand, Dweck describes the growth mindset as one that focuses on developing skills through hard work and effort. Although people may be born with certain talents, skills can be acquired and refined. This mindset emphasizes the value of investing effort and therefore encourages feedback, because it is viewed as an opportunity to learn and improve. A person with a growth mindset embraces challenges and celebrates personal achievements and those of others. Failure and mistakes are not viewed as evidence of lack of intelligence, but instead as stepping-stones on a path to growth and the stretching of existing abilities.

Developing a growth mindset

One detrimental way that a negative mindset impacts living a healthy lifestyle is expressed when people feel stuck with regards to achieving their health goals. At certain stages in life, which could often be age-related, it is so easy to believe that nothing new or good can happen, especially if you have struggled with significant health challenges. You can become vulnerable to unhealthy thought patterns like “I’ll never lose weight now, so what’s the point of trying?” or “It’s too late to learn to play tennis/golf/swim/ski.” An accumulation of these unhealthy thoughts could translate into unhealthy behaviors and lead you farther away from achieving your health goals.

So how do you develop a growth mindset and take practical steps to achieve your health goals? I am glad you asked. These steps below (in no particular order) are worth a try.

  1. Renew your mind. A Google search on “brain plasticity” explains how scientific research proves that your brain is wired to grow and learn regardless of your age. Get curious about the world around you and study. It might motivate you to explore and discover new things!
  2. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections. Practice self-awareness which helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and growth areas. There is no need to criticize yourself for not being perfect; no one is perfect. Self-awareness is a gift that you can give to yourself and the people around you.
  3. View challenges as opportunities. Recognize that mistakes and failure can be an opportunity for improvement rather than a reflection on you as an imperfect or inadequate person. Use them wisely.
  4. Pick your tribe. It is important to surround yourself with like-minded people. Be intentional about who has access to your mind space. In addition, the books you read, the shows you watch (news, social media), and the music you listen to, all impact what kind of mindset you nurture, so choose wisely.
  5. Change your vocabulary. Use the words “I’m learning” to do something rather than “I’m failing.” Use “yet” more often, as in saying, “I haven’t done it yet” or “I haven’t been successful yet.”
  6. Value process over results. Try to focus more on the journey and all the discoveries you can make during the process, and not on the destination alone. This can also help you hone your skills in being more present.
  7. Be realistic about time and effort. You most likely will not master everything or achieve your goals all at once or immediately. Be patient with yourself and the process of learning or starting something new.
  8. Cultivate grit. Don’t get overwhelmed by aiming for perfection. Aim for continuous excellence and let your measure of success be that you are better than you were yesterday. You walked more steps today than yesterday, or tracked your meals for three days straight versus just two days.
  9. Make new goals. Set new goals or refine existing goals. When you accomplish one goal, push yourself to go higher and do better. Keep moving forward!
  10. Cultivate a sense of purpose. Desire to leave a legacy that influences others to achieve their goals as you achieve yours. Even without speaking, you are a person of influence to your coworkers, friends, and family, whether you believe it or not.
  11. Take ownership of your attitude. As you develop a growth mindset and recognize the life-changing benefits, be proud of it, celebrate it, and go on to Inspire others.

Listen to the recording of my presentation to learn more about how you can improve your mindset to help you on your road to a healthier (and more satisfactory) lifestyle.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!

What’s Triggering Your (Unhealthy) Behaviors?

First Mile Care DPP Coach Irazema Garcia shares how to identify your cues, routines, and rewards in order to make lasting habit changes. Adjusting your triggers can set you free of your negative behaviors. But first you have to figure out how your triggers are built. Learn more from Thrive Global >

What’s Triggering Your (Unhealthy) Behaviors?

By Irazema Garcia, First Mile Care DPP Coach

The National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) helps participants learn to make small, sustainable behavioral changes that, over time, will have positive health benefits and reduce or reverse their prediabetes status. As part of the DPP curriculum, First Mile Care offers an ongoing series of “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinars that cover a variety of healthy practices in not only eating and meal planning, but fitness, stress management, mindfulness, motivation, and behavioral triggers.

By triggers, I mean a stimulus, an activation point, a flashback, a reminder, or a reaction. A trigger gets the ball rolling towards taking an action which could have a positive or negative result. Unfortunately, triggers can sometimes get in the way of achieving goals you’ve set for yourself in your DPP action plan. So, if you can identify your triggers and understand them better — why you do what you do and when — you may be able to overcome the obstacles triggers create and keep making progress towards habit changes that are going to last not just months, but years.

Adjusting your triggers can set you free of your negative behaviors. But first you have to figure out how your triggers are built.

Trigger = Cue + Routine + Reward

A trigger has three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward:

  1. Cue: The spark that sets off an action. A cue can be an event (e.g., Thanksgiving, a birthday party); a place (e.g., a movie theater makes you want popcorn); a person (e.g. you and your best friend always have coffee together), or an emotion (e.g., you do X when you’re sad, lonely, tired, or angry).
  2. Routine: The action that you take as a result of the cue. For example, buying popcorn simply because you’re in the movie theater; drinking coffee because you are with your friend; pouring a glass of wine because you’re alone at home.
  3. Reward: The satisfaction that you get from that routine, whether it’s the feeling of nostalgia every time you eat movie popcorn, or the joy you get from meeting your friend. The reward is what you’re really searching for. As humans, we want that gratification.

Finding a substitute routine

A very common trigger is to eat when you’re bored because it gives you something to do — even though you may not be physically hungry. In this case the cue is boredom — it kicks off the behavior. The routine, or action, is to eat a snack. The true reward for eating is not the snack (because you’re not physically hungry) but that you are no longer bored (at least for the time that you’re eating). The act of eating relieves the boredom you are facing.

So, what can be done when boredom strikes?  One thing is to substitute the routine (eating) that stems from your cue (boredom) BUT will still give you the reward you seek (not being bored).  Switching out the normal routine with a new one that can reinforce your goals can help you achieve success.

For example, when you feel bored (the cue), you can try a new routine: go for a walk or read a book. Call a friend. Rearrange your closet or spice rack. The important thing is to establish a new action to substitute for the old one (eating). Your reward will still be that you’re no longer bored, because going for that walk (or reading that book, or calling that friend) is keeping you busy and thus, ending your boredom.

What your brain wants is the reward. The action isn’t as important.

Getting your reward

Oftentimes when you try to deal with a trigger, especially related to eating, you try to go cold-turkey and eliminate the routine. You deny yourself through sheer willpower. You feel the cue (boredom), but decide not to take any action. What ends up happening? You don’t receive the reward you were after.

“I am bored but I will not eat anything,” you vow. However, not eating anything is not a remedy for boredom. Your brain tries to figure out what the reward is in not eating, and most often cannot find one. As a result, you’re not satisfied. You’re still bored. And so what often happens is that you continue to seek that reward, and no matter how many times you tell yourself you will not eat, you end up eating (sometimes even more than you desire) in order to find that reward. That’s why it’s very challenging to eliminate a routine without finding an adequate substitute. For long-term success, you’ll need a new routine to substitute for the old one.

Watch my webinar below and think about what your triggers are, for both positive and negative behaviors. What new routines can you find for actions so you still get the rewards you desire?

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat The Same Foods Every Day

First Mile Care DPP Coach Jenny Fowler shares a shortcut for healthy eating: to make your plate as colorful as possible.

“For example, vitamin A can be found in orange foods such as butternut squash and carrots, while a good source of vitamin K is dark, leafy greens like kale,” explains Jenny Fowler, a nutrition consultant and Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coach with First Mile Care. “On the other hand, while grains have some variety of nutrient composition, they are all high in the B vitamins so you don’t need to pay as much attention to grain variety.” Read more from MSN >

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat The Same Foods Every Day

First Mile Care DPP Coach Jenny Fowler shares a shortcut for healthy eating: to make your plate as colorful as possible.

“For example, vitamin A can be found in orange foods such as butternut squash and carrots, while a good source of vitamin K is dark, leafy greens like kale,” explains Jenny Fowler, a nutrition consultant and Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coach with First Mile Care. “On the other hand, while grains have some variety of nutrient composition, they are all high in the B vitamins so you don’t need to pay as much attention to grain variety.” Read more from, Eat This, Not That! >

Making Home Workouts More Enjoyable and Successful

First Mile Care DPP Coach Sandra Huskey shares her ideas on making home workouts more enjoyable. When it comes to setting fitness goals, we need to be realistic and focus on one or two small goals. Learn more from Thrive Global >

Making Home Workouts More Enjoyable and Successful

By Sandra Huskey, First Mile Care, DPP Coach

A few weeks into the new year is the danger point for resolutions involving fitness. The glow of the holidays has passed and you’re back into your daily grind. Depending on where you live, you may be stuck indoors much of the time due to winter weather and/or restrictions around the ongoing pandemic. It’s easy to slip into the bad old habits.

When it comes to setting fitness goals, you need to be realistic. Focus on one or two small goals and work toward those so you are rewarded with success — and then set new goals! Other factors affecting success include finding appropriate exercises. “Appropriate” means not only exercises that work toward your goals, but that are modified to your current level of fitness. Keep it fresh by varying your workout routine every 6 to 8 weeks as you increase your level of fitness.

Help yourself to meet your fitness goals by setting aside regular time for them. Our lives revolve around schedules. We have schedules for work and for when we eat, when we meet friends for coffee, or drive our kids to events. Even if we’re working or attending classes from home, we’re still keeping to schedules for our Zoom book clubs and parent-teacher conferences. As a result, it’s easy to skip exercising as you’re just “too busy.” To make your in-home workout part of your routine, be sure to add it to your calendar so it becomes a priority. By making fitness a regular part of your scheduled activities, you will be more inclined to stick with it.

Plan on it!

Your workout can be the best part of your day if it’s something you’re prepared for. Know what you’re going to do by creating a workout or activity plan. Make sure to have any equipment you will be using all set and ready to easily grab to avoid looking for your equipment in the middle of your routine. Decide what your very first movement will be. Will it be breathing exercises, overhead arm stretches, or a brisk walk? By setting your plan into motion, you will be mentally prepared to move into your activity or exercise routine. Make sure to schedule this time for yourself, whether it means getting up early or sandwiching it into your workday. Visualize yourself getting dressed and ready, feeling energized and relaxed and listening to your favorite music. So once your shoes are on, your feet will be actively telling your brain that it’s “Go Time!”

Make it competitive

If you’re goal oriented or competitive, working out at home can still be a competition! Whether you’re competing against yourself or a virtual workout partner, you can create opportunities to win. Making your workouts competitive can be highly effective and enjoyable as you strive to set personal bests. Setting time goals (gradually increasing the timing of your planks or your walks), weight goals (increasing the weight of your dumbbells or resistance bands) or number goals (increasing the amount of repetitions or sets) can keep you motivated as you incrementally make fitness improvements.

Give yourself a reward

The most enjoyable part of competing is winning! When you reach a new fitness or activity goal, reward yourself. Set a realistic, achievable goal and then announce to yourself in advance what the prize will be. A new exercise outfit or even a new pair of colorful sport socks may just be the incentive you’re looking for. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted a massage but you haven’t been able to justify it. Set your goal high enough that the reward is worth the work.

Steady results

You can see visible results from an in-home exercise program using minimal equipment in as little as a few weeks. Within the first month, you should notice improvements in your mood. That’s because when you exert yourself through exercise, your brain produces lots of feel-good chemicals that enhance your feelings of happiness, energy, and confidence while also relieving stress and anxiety. In addition, you may also see improvements in your sleep. You can expect to see small physical changes in as little as three weeks; however, significant muscular changes develop more slowly, typically in six to eight weeks. In six months or longer, you should notice changes in blood pressure and body mass and inflammation.

Setting small goals and scheduling your personal in-home fitness routine will set you on the road to a lifestyle of fitness that benefits not only your physical body, but your mood and sleep as well.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!

Building Blocks for Creating a Healthy Life Balance in the New Year

By Kathy Gregory, First Mile Care, DPP Coach

The new year is traditionally a time for self-reflection. After a difficult year of adjusting to a “new normal,” it’s time for a re-set of ambitions and expectations for the year to come. “Leading a Balanced Life” is a session in the First Mile Care ongoing series of “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinars that provides guidance for improving your health and your overall life in the new year.

Achieving a healthy balance in life sometimes seems as likely as stumbling across a unicorn. Healthy balance usually means finding a satisfactory degree of success in the areas of your life that contribute to your overall well-being: health, physical activity, home cooking, home environment, relationships and social life, joy, spirituality, creativity, finances, career, education, etc.

If you rate your success in each of these areas, you’ll undoubtedly find some imbalances. It’s important to remember that success in these areas is measured by you and not by comparisons to other people. You get to decide what success feels like for you, which will be different than it is for other people.

Oftentimes, in the areas where you’re struggling, you may not be spending as much time and energy as you need to achieve success. How can you make space for these changes to create a better balance, and do you need help from others to do it?

Six building blocks for a healthier balance

In the area of health, there are six specific building blocks to consider when trying to achieve a better life balance. They are interconnected, so that when you make improvements to one, you’ll tend to see improvements elsewhere. Here are some questions to ask yourself to evaluate your health balance.

  • Nutrition: How healthy are your eating habits? How would you rate the quality and the variety of the foods that you eat? How often do you plan your meals, and how healthy is your meal prep?
  • Physical activity: Are you active or sedentary throughout your day? How often do you exercise each week, and do you do exercises that you enjoy? What obstacles are getting in your way for exercising? (The First Mile Care DPP program has a goal of 150 minutes of physical activity a week at a minimum.)
  • Sleep: What is the quantity and quality of your sleep? Do you have a sleep ritual that signifies when it’s time to wind down? How is your sleep environment? How often do you have a hard time falling back asleep? (Learn more about healthy sleep habits in this First Mile Care webinar.)
  • Stress: How would you rate your stress level? How is stress affecting your mental and physical health? What are your current coping mechanisms for managing stress? (If you’re experiencing more stress than a year ago … you’re very normal.)
  • Healthy mind and feelings: Do you have a positive attitude or do you struggle with negativity and discouragement? How would you describe your internal self-talk? Do you have some type of gratitude practice?
  • Empowerment and planning: Do you plan for success or do you just jump right in and hope for the best? Do you tend to use the resources available to you or go at new opportunities alone?

How success looks to you

A new year has begun. Choose one to three areas in your life in which you would like to see changes this year. Think about how changes in these areas could affect your overall health. Determine what empowerment and planning strategies need to be in place in order for you to succeed.

Creating an action plan is very helpful when it comes to setting goals for yourself in order to create lasting change. It’s also helpful to create definite space in your schedule as too often, if it’s not on your calendar, it may not happen. Sharing your goals with a friend or a family member can also be very beneficial in keeping you accountable towards your goals. Community support is one of the most powerful success motivators of the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program.

Please watch the webinar and work though my “Wheel of Life” self-assessment activity to help you determine how to create better balance in your life. And happy new year!

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!