Weighing It All Up: Is Technology Supporting Or Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals?

31 January 2023 |
Episode 2 |
01:04:46

Episode summary

Are you on a mission to lose weight and shape up? In this episode, I explore the three areas you need to focus on to hit your weight loss goals and how you can use technology to support your efforts instead of stalling your progress. I also share recommendations for apps and devices to help you track your progress, manage your diet, increase your physical activity, and get a better night’s sleep.

 

Episode notes

In this episode, I talk about:

  • Why a healthy diet, exercise and sleep are essential for losing weight
  • The importance of establishing a baseline, being clear about your weight loss goals, and tools to help you measure and track your progress
  • Why fad diets are thriving in the digital age but they never lead to long-term weight loss
  • Using apps to track your diet and why you also need to record how your food makes you feel
  • Avoiding the misinformation spread by self-styled fitness gurus online and who you should be talking to instead
  • 3 tips to help you navigate the temptations of technology and stick to a balanced, sustainable diet
  • The importance of moving your body and how living a sedentary lifestyle in the digital age can impact your physical health
  • How social media encourages fad exercise programmes, diet supplements that make false promises, illegal access to prescription medicines, and filters that affect your perception of fitness
  • Using smartphones and smart watches to measure your progress without succumbing to digital distractions
  • How scheduling workouts can make you more likely to exercise when your willpower is running low
  • Why the gym isn’t for everyone and how to use technology to find a workout that you love
  • What happens when you sleep and why not getting enough sleep may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts
  • Why using your digital devices before bedtime is a bad idea and sleeping with your smartphone is even worse
  • Tips and tools to help you minimise your exposure to harmful blue light and get a better night’s sleep

Resources and tools mentioned:

Podcasts

Books

Devices

Apps

Websites

 

Episode transcript

Expand to read a transcript of this episode

[00:00:34] Hey guys, welcome back to The Digital Diet Podcast. I hope you’re doing really well. I hope you’re having a good day and, as we close out January, I hope that it’s been a really good start to 2023 for you.

[00:00:47] Today is actually my birthday. Well, not when I’m recording this, but by the time it goes out, it will be. The 31st January for me means I will probably be out somewhere, eating all the foods, drinking all the drinks, and enjoying time with my closest friends and family. But for lots of people, the 31st January usually means one of two things.

[00:01:12] Firstly, if you’re in the UK, then the 31st January is the last day to submit and pay your taxes to HMRC for the previous year. So, if you need to do it, and you still haven’t done it, take this as your final warning. Go and do it now so you don’t get fined. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

[00:01:31] Secondly, for lots of people, it means that it’s the last day of either dry January, where you don’t drink for the whole month after all the excesses of the holiday season, or Veganuary, where you go vegan for the whole month, which could be for heaps of reasons, from climate issues and preventing animal cruelty to simply just wanting to eat more plant-based foods.

[00:01:53] But essentially, the 31st January usually marks the end of a period of restriction on your eating and drinking habits. Now for me, as I’ve said, it’s my birthday, so it’s almost always meant a reset or a do-over on my goals for the year. I’m another year older, hopefully a little bit wiser, and so it always feels like a good time to reflect on what I’ve done and where I want to be in my life, and to try and refocus on the goals that I set at the start of the year.

[00:02:23] Now, if you’ve already listened to Episode 1 of the podcast, then you’ll know that we’re going to be talking about New Year’s resolutions and goals for the next couple of episodes. In the last episode, we talked about willpower and dopamine, and how your smartphone might accidentally be sabotaging your efforts to stay on track with your goals. So if you haven’t already had a listen, then I definitely recommend that you check it out.

[00:02:47] But today I wanted to do a deeper dive into one of the most popular goals and some of the ways that technology might be able to support you, as well as exploring how it might actually be hurting your progress. And that goal is losing weight. Whether it’s shedding a few extra pounds to fit into your favourite dress again, or going for a wholesale body makeover, losing weight is a very common New Year’s resolution.

[00:03:11] Now, I need to be very clear on a couple of things before we get into it, because this can be somewhat of a loaded topic. So, first of all, I am not here to tell anybody what size or shape that they should or shouldn’t be. That’s not any of my business and I don’t believe that our weight defines our worth as individuals or even really defines our identities. I’m only talking about this because it’s simply a fact that losing weight or adopting a healthier lifestyle is a very common goal. And there are lots of ways that technology can impact your chances of success.

[00:03:46] Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I’m not an expert in weight loss management. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a dietitian, I’m not a nutritionist, I’ve never been a personal trainer, any of those things. I’m a digital wellness coach. So, while I’m going to be sharing my understanding of what the scientific evidence shows, and my own experiences, please don’t take anything that I say as specific health advice for you and your personal situation, because that’s not what it is.

[00:04:16] And thirdly, any products, services, apps, any of those things that I mention are my own thoughts and my own experiences. I’m not an official ambassador. I’m not being paid to promote them. These are just from my own personal thoughts, experiences, and sometimes from the research.

[00:04:35] Okay, so, boring legal disclaimer stuff out of the way, let’s go on with the show. There are three categories, if you like, that I want to focus on today. And those are 1) diet, 2) exercise, and 3) sleep. And we’re also going to be talking a lot about the importance of tracking and measurement, which is where I’d like to start today.

[00:04:56] I’m a really big believer in measurement when it comes to any goal or project. It probably stems from all my years working in client services. But I think it’s really important to first of all have a baseline, so that you know where you are now. And that can be really scary because you might not like the number that you see when you step on the scale, even if you already have a feeling or a sense that you’re not necessarily within a healthy weight range just by the way that your body feels and it looks. But it’s important to face up to that reality if you’re going to have any chance of changing it.

[00:05:29] Second of all, it’s important to have a goal so you know where you want to go and what you’re trying to achieve. That goal will look different for different people, but it will help you to set realistic time frames. If you’d like to lose two stone, it’s not going to happen in a week. And knowing this up front can really help you manage your own expectations about your weight loss journey.

[00:05:51] And thirdly, it’s important to measure your progress. In part because, when you have a longer term goal like a specific weight, it can be really motivating to view your progress in smaller increments. But also because if you don’t measure yourself along the way, then you’re missing opportunities to really understand what’s working well and what’s not working. So that you can course correct and increase your chances of hitting your goal in the time frame that you’ve determined.

[00:06:16] Now, technology can help you with this. I recently got a new toy which I would thoroughly recommend. It’s the RENPHO Digital Body Fat Scale, which I will link in the show notes. Now, you’re probably thinking that it’s not that revolutionary, because these types of scales have been around for a while, but when I tell you I’m a late investor, I’m a bit late to the party.

[00:06:36] I’ve had analogue bathroom scales for as long as I can remember and, to be honest, I never really trusted their accuracy. And when the dial was kind of between the different markers, I’d always lie to myself and say it was on the lower number just to make myself feel better. And you can’t really do that with digital scales, they give you much more accuracy. And this scale in particular, also helps measure other things like your body fat, water composition, muscle mass, bone mass, a whole heap of other things come up whenever I weigh myself.

[00:07:05] And I’m sure it’s not as accurate as having these things measured with more expensive equipment in a clinic, but it definitely gives you a good enough indicator of where your body is at. RENPHO has their own app and the scale is linked to it via Bluetooth. So the scale sends everything it records straight to the app, and then within the app you have a couple of different ways to view your measurements, including some really handy line graphs.

[00:07:29] Now, when the lines are moving in the right direction, it’s super motivating. But when they start moving in the wrong direction, or they start stalling, it’s been a really good opportunity for me to assess what’s happening and course correct. You may have heard that muscle weighs more than fat, so it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that any weight gain or stalling weight loss is just for that reason.

[00:07:50] But the measurements don’t lie, so there’s no shying away from the reality here. And also, when you look at the breakdown, you can see how you fare compared to a set of averages. So maybe you’ll see if you’ve got heavier bones than the average person, for example, which may also contribute to the composition of your body and your overall weight.

[00:08:10] For me, using the app, I have seen what happens when I have a string of days where I eat really badly. Or I’ve seen what happens when I’m sick and not able to walk or work out as much as I normally do. And that understanding has been really helpful in making adjustments in the case of my food choices or just giving myself a bit of grace when I’m sick.

[00:08:32] So, let’s assume that you’ve got a baseline. And you’ve got a goal. And take a look at the first of our three categories, which is diet. I’d like to think that it goes without saying that healthy, balanced, sustainable diets are better than fad diets. With fad diets, there seems to be a new one every single week and they become popularised on social media and on the internet blogs. And especially at this time of year, the news headlines are always touting whatever the latest celebrity diet is.

[00:09:04] All of these fad diets always promise incredible results. They show you before and after body transformation photos that make you think, “oh my gosh, I can’t believe that this is even possible!” They show you video testimonials where people tell you that they tried everything else, and this was the one and only thing that worked. It can all seem rather convincing when you add it all together.

[00:09:25] Now, anybody is susceptible to this. I myself have tried Atkins, I’ve tried the South Beach Diet, I’ve tried the Dukan Diet, I’ve tried 5:2, I’ve tried keto, I’ve tried a juice diet, but losing weight is still on my New Year’s resolutions list. So, I’m not really sure what that tells you about the success of all those diets.

[00:09:46] But I think the main reason that I ended up going for them, and I think it’s the same for a lot of people, stems from wanting to have results but wanting to have them quickly. And as I said in Episode 1, a balanced and sustainable diet is much more likely to be successful over the long term than something like a crash or a fad diet.

[00:10:03] In fact, the research consistently shows that most people who drop a ton of weight end up putting it all back on and then some when they return to eating as they previously did. I think there are two things going on here. Because psychologically, if the only thing that’s motivating you to stick with a restrictive diet is weight loss and then you hit your goal weight, you kind of lose your source of motivation.

[00:10:25] And many of these diets have different phases, and you do each phase for a certain number of days or weeks or until you hit a certain target, and so those restrictions feel manageable because they’re temporary. But when you hit your goal weight, you kind of think that you can ease up on all those restrictions and go back to eating how you did before, which ultimately leads you back to the same place that you were in before, if not worse.

[00:10:45] And physiologically, your body is taking note of all of these erratic, disordered eating, and it remembers it really, really well. So when you start feeding yourself again, your body is like, “hell yes, real food! I better stock up on this in case she tries to pull this stunt again.” And so you start gaining weight, and it’s really stubborn, and it’s often tougher to lose.

[00:11:06] So if we’re not in favour of fad diets, what does a healthy, sustainable and balanced diet actually look like, and how do you get one? As I said at the start, I’m not an expert, and this isn’t advice on specific food groups or whatever. But I will say this: first of all, I think you need to ask yourself if you know what your current diet looks like, because most people don’t actually know.

[00:11:29] Obviously, you’re going to have an inkling of whether it’s largely healthy or unhealthy by the food choices that you make. So, if you’re constantly eating junk food and sugary snacks or drinks rather than loading up on fruits and vegetables, conventional wisdom tells you that that’s largely unhealthy.

[00:11:46] But most people don’t track what they’re actually putting on their plate and how much of it they’re putting there with any degree of accuracy. So they don’t actually have any idea whether they’re over- or under-eating each day and what the nutritional breakdown of the foods that they eat is. And that’s only one half of the story because you should also be paying attention to how your diet makes your body feel.

[00:12:07] Do you constantly feel hungry or thirsty? Or do you feel sluggish every afternoon after eating a lunch that puts you in a food coma? Do you get frequent headaches or ever feel lightheaded or weak? Do you feel bloated or find yourself making more trips to the bathroom than usual? Your body will often tell you exactly what you need to know, but you have to be willing to listen.

[00:12:32] And the only way that you can make connections between what you eat and how your body reacts is by tracking both. Because you could be hitting your calorie goals and still be having all sorts of problems because your diet is deficient in certain nutrients. Or you have food intolerances, or allergies, or hormonal imbalances. Or maybe your diet is just making you plain old miserable and so you’re reaching for comfort food.

[00:12:54] There could be so many things. So, in my humble opinion, you need to pay just as much attention to body and mood as you do to the specifics of what’s on your plate. Now, there are many apps and trackers out there, both digital ones and analogue ones, so as always, you need to find the one that works best for you.

[00:13:12] Personally, I’m a fan of the MyFitnessPal app, which I will link in the show notes. I’ve been using it for quite a while after it was recommended to me by my cousin. And there is, of course, a paid tier and heaps of features from meal plans and exercises to many other things. But I just have the basic free account and I just use the app to track my food and my water intake, and record how my body feels.

[00:13:37] Being on the basic free account does mean that there are loads of annoying adverts and fairly frequent in-app pop ups trying to push me to subscribe to the premium version. But I put up with them for one simple reason: I love the barcode scanning feature. You can literally scan the barcodes of your food packets, put in the quantity that you’re serving yourself, and it instantly gives you the calorie count and a breakdown of the macronutrients, so carbs, protein, and fats.

[00:14:04] You can set your goals up front, so as you record your food intake throughout the day, you can see how you’re tracking and potentially adjust what you’re eating to stay on track for the day or for the week. And it also lets you plug in all the ingredients for your favourite recipes and home cooked meals, so you only have to do it once, and then the next time you just add the meal and then the quantity of the portion that you ate. And hey presto, it’s worked out what the calorie count was and what the breakdown of the macronutrients was.

[00:14:30] And if that wasn’t enough, it also has all the food from a lot of the popular retail food chains. You can find all their meals in there, so there’s really no excuse for not recording what you ate on that cheeky trip to Nando’s at the weekend. And this is really not an exaggeration, but let me tell you that there have been more than a few revelations that have led to me adjusting what and how I eat based on what I’ve been tracking in that app.

[00:14:52] It’s helped me to realise that I wasn’t eating nearly enough on some of those diets. My calorie intake was way lower than what my body needed to perform its basic functions. And it’s also helped me to realise that some of the foods that I thought were healthy choices were not necessarily as healthy as I thought.

[00:15:06] And a prime example of that would be me eating chicken thighs like they were going out of fashion, thinking that I was getting a really, really high protein fix. Only to discover that they’re actually really high in fat, and I was meant to be eating chicken breasts, and that would have been the smarter, more protein-filled, and less fatty choice.

[00:15:24] So apps like these can really help you on your quest to a healthier diet and allow you to track the impact of your changes in real time. And I can’t overstate the importance of having actual data rather than guesstimating, because you might be getting it wrong. Let my chicken debacle be a cautionary tale for you.

[00:15:40] Secondly, do yourself a favour and talk to your doctor, or a dietitian, or a nutritionist, and don’t just rely on what you read online. If you’re really serious about losing weight and embracing a healthier diet, now is not the time to start playing Dr. Google. There are lots of articles and sites online which are written by trained and licensed professionals, but there are just as many written by people who have pseudo qualifications that they got from doing an online course.

[00:16:07] People who’ve got no idea what they’re doing, but just know how to market and sell their programmes and diet products really, really well. And people who have tried one thing, one time, and it worked for them and so they think they’re an expert, and they think that it’s going to work for everybody.

[00:16:20] And in this regard the internet is particularly dangerous. It’s like the wild west out there. Anybody can knock together a website, create a social media profile, or start posting videos and calling themselves an “expert.” And most of us are in such a rush and just looking for results that we take what we read and what we see at face value, and we don’t do our due diligence to check what that person’s credentials are.

[00:16:43] And the search and the social algorithms make the situation worse. Because as soon as you start googling for diet advice or you watch a couple of videos from someone who dropped two dress sizes in two weeks, suddenly your social media feeds and the websites that you regularly look at become filled with sponsored posts or ads and content from suggested accounts that the platform thinks you might like.

[00:17:04] And it’s not just from the individuals and companies that you actually looked at, but it’s also from their competitors because now you’re the subject of both targeted and retargeting ad campaigns. Now, not to sound too negative, but best case scenario, you follow someone’s advice and you don’t lose any weight, or maybe you even gain a little bit.

[00:17:23] But some of these people and brands are complete cowboys and, in my opinion, the platforms are not regulated to the extent that they should be when it comes to this type of content. So in some cases, you can do yourself real harm if you’re not careful about what you read and whose advice you choose to follow.

[00:17:38] Since your body is unique, you really need to understand what healthy eating means in the context of your own skin, and learn what foods you personally need to fuel yourself the right way, which is something that all those people can’t possibly know and why the advice they give is really, really generic.

[00:17:53] And the opposite happens when you speak to a dietitian or a nutritionist. They’ll ask you a bunch of questions, maybe run some blood or food allergy tests, and usually ask you to keep a food diary to track what you’re eating before they start making recommendations. So, by tracking it already, you’re giving yourself a head start.

[00:18:11] You’re giving them a baseline to work from and as much context as possible, so that they can work with you to figure out what’s going on in your own body and figure out what you need. Now, let’s assume that you have a balanced and sustainable meal plan worked out. How do you make sure you stick to it and choose the right foods to eat?

[00:18:28] We talked in the last episode about why relying on willpower might not be the wisest strategy, and how one of the things that you can do to maximise your willpower is to minimise temptations in your environment. And this is really where technology comes into play.

[00:18:42] My three biggest tips are, number one, delete the takeaway apps. So, that means Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Just Eat, Domino’s, whatever else you have, delete them straight away. When you’re tired and when you’re hungry, they make it way too easy to tap a few buttons and get food delivered to your door super quickly, especially unhealthy fast food. And if you’ve been using these apps with any degree of regularity, then your brain is going to default straight to this route when you’re exhausted at the end of the day and not in the mood to cook yourself a healthy meal.

[00:19:14] If you’ve got notifications turned on, then they’re also going to keep tempting you with offers. Free delivery with a checkout code. Two for one pizza on Tuesdays. A free dessert when you spend over £15. And all of this just keeps putting bad food choices at the forefront of your mind. And in the case of some of the offers, it even encourages you to order and eat more than you probably otherwise would.

[00:19:37] It’s usually not enough to just resolve not to order a takeaway. Trust me, I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. When you delete these apps, not only are you removing them from your environment, but if you do decide to use one, you have to go through the whole process of downloading it again, and logging into your account.

[00:19:54] And let’s be honest, a lot of us have trouble remembering what emails and passwords we used when we signed up in the first place. So after about three attempts, we probably just give up. So deleting the apps makes them a harder and less attractive option because they require much more energy to use. And now, that’s not the shortcut that your brain is looking for, so you’re much less likely to end up ordering takeaway. And, you know what? It will probably save you some money too.

[00:20:19] My second tip is to embrace online supermarket shopping or meal delivery services. I don’t know about you, but without fail, every time I go into a supermarket, I end up coming out with a bunch of stuff that wasn’t on my list and that I didn’t actually need.

[00:20:33] It doesn’t matter how strict I try to be, at some point during my visit, I will walk past something that starts screaming my name and it ends up in the trolley. And it’s not always bad stuff, but I have been known to linger in the bakery aisle and walk out with enough doughnuts to feed a family of four for a week, so it’s definitely a real problem.

[00:20:51] Temptation is everywhere in a supermarket. Not just on the shelves, but even in the air with that amazing smell that you find in the bakery aisle. So if you’re someone that goes into the store, especially on an empty stomach, you’re asking an awful lot of your willpower.

[00:21:05] Since the pandemic, most major supermarket chains now offer online ordering. You can search for foods directly and pop them in your virtual basket, or you can browse different categories to find what you’re looking for. You can make grocery lists and then simply hit the order button, or even repeat a previous order at the touch of a button.

[00:21:23] And the pagination of all the search results, and the way these websites are laid out, means that you’re not going to see absolutely everything that is available in the same way that you do when you walk up and down the aisles of a supermarket store.

[00:21:34] So, not only does this get you out of walking the aisles of temptation, but it helps to make sure that the foods stocked in your fridge and in your cupboards are only those that are on your list, and which support your healthy and balanced diet. Which means that in a moment of weakness, you won’t be able to reach for that big bag of cheese puffs that you impulse bought at the checkout counter, because it just won’t be there.

[00:21:54] And it’s kind of the same concept with meal delivery services. Whether you opt for one that sends the whole meal assembled and only requires you to heat it up, or one that sends you the ingredients in the correct portions so that you can chef up the meal yourself, all of the thinking has already been done up front.

[00:22:10] You’ve already decided which meals you want and you’ve seen the nutritional breakdown, so it’s a much smaller cognitive task for your brain. And these services can be a great option if you’re following a specific style of eating, because you can specify that you want either vegan meals, or you need to eat gluten free. You can do it all up front, so you just follow the instructions, and it’s usually just as quick as if you’d ordered a takeaway, but obviously a lot healthier.

[00:22:34] The last tip, tip number three, is to selectively mute or unfollow the food and restaurant accounts that you follow on social media. And you’ll notice that I said selectively. Much to the detriment of my waistline, I am a massive foodie. I love food, I love trying out new recipes, I love going out to eat and trying new restaurants, so it makes total sense that lots of the accounts that I follow, on Instagram in particular, are food-related. And I know I’m not the only one that does this.

[00:23:02] Now, this is great for discovery and inspiration, but it’s not so great for trying to maintain a healthy diet because not all of those accounts are focused on healthy food. So every time I open up Instagram, most of what I get hit with is pictures of mouth-watering food that should really be an occasional treat rather than a daily staple.

[00:23:20] And that just makes me want to eat and make bad food choices, even if I’m not actually going to any of those restaurants. Now, I’ll be real and say that I don’t want to give that up completely. As I said, I’m a foodie, so this content is interesting and it’s relevant to me, and I know lots of you are the same.

[00:23:37] So, my hack is to selectively mute these unhealthy accounts to stop their content from showing up in my feed or in my stories. That way, I can still really easily find them when I want to and take a look at what they have to offer, but it’s not smacking me upside the head and making me hungry every time I open up the app.

[00:23:54] And the impact of this is enhanced by the algorithm. If you stop consuming so much food content, the algorithm will eventually determine that it’s not one of your main interests, and not the thing that’s likely to get you to stay on the app for the longest time. Which is, of course, what it wants, because that’s how these platforms make money.

[00:24:11] And it will also start to serve you less of the food content that you didn’t ask for in the first place. So you’ll get fewer ads, fewer sponsored posts or suggested accounts, and less food content in your explore tab. Now, if you’re willing to be more cutthroat than I am, you can simply go ahead and unfollow the accounts.

[00:24:29] There are plenty of ways to keep up-to-date with many of these brands and businesses that don’t involve social media. So, for example, you can join their mailing list and you’ll still receive notifications about special offers or new menu items. And that’s often a lot less visual than social media feeds and so, in my opinion, it can have a much less catastrophic effect on your diet.

[00:24:49] But, as I said, I know a lot of people are foodies, myself included, and so the idea of just unfollowing these accounts seems a bit blasphemous. Don’t worry, I totally get it. And as I’m always stressing to my clients, a digital diet is very personal. There is no one-size-fits-all, and you have to do what works for you. So, no judgement from me if you don’t want to unfollow these accounts.

[00:25:11] Okay, moving on to the second category, which is exercise. You need to move your body. Period. Living in the digital age is having tons of effects on your body, which I will dig deeper into in a future episode of the podcast. But common sense tells you that if you’re spending all day hunched over your laptop or being sedentary that it’s not a good thing.

[00:25:32] The research shows that one of the things that this sedentary lifestyle can lead to is weight gain and, in more extreme cases, obesity. And we all know that this can lead to health problems like diabetes, and increase your risk of other health problems like heart and circulatory diseases. Plus, the physical strains and injuries that some people get from working at a computer, so back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury.

[00:25:59] All of those things can make it harder for you to do physical activity because of the pain and discomfort that you’re feeling. So then you end up in this vicious cycle where you’re in pain, so you don’t move your body, but then you don’t move your body, so you get all these other ailments. It’s not a pretty state of affairs.

[00:26:14] There are also other problems that technology has inadvertently introduced or made worse, and I like to call these the four Fs. The first F is fad exercise programmes. So something like Shaun T’s Insanity programme, which is a 60-day, high intensity aerobic exercise programme where you work out six days a week.

[00:26:33] A few years back, my dad did it and he lost a ton of weight. I tried it, I couldn’t even get past the initial fit test, and at that moment I decided it wasn’t for me. While my dad is still in pretty good shape, let’s just say that he’s not still doing that workout because it’s literally insanity. No-one can do that level of cardio sustainably.

[00:26:52] So, much like the diet fads, once you complete the programme, it’s very easy to rebound and slip back into old habits. So you’re better off going for something more long term that you actually like because, while people enjoy the results of these programmes, a lot of the time they don’t enjoy the process and the workouts themselves.

[00:27:10] Now technology is obviously not directly responsible for these kinds of workout, but it is responsible for allowing them to be marketed to more and more people, and making it normal for you to see before and after pictures of people who had bellies down to their knees but now have six-pack abs.

[00:27:25] Before smartphones, people took photos with actual cameras. And if you go back even further, you had to take the film to be developed before you got to see pictures printed out in real life and hold them in your hands. Now, let’s face it, not many of us would want the guy at Snappy Snaps to be thumbing through semi-naked pictures of all of our chubby bits. So we just didn’t do it, and if we did, then we probably kept the photos to ourselves because sharing them wouldn’t be a two-click process.

[00:27:53] It would involve scanning them in or downloading them to our computer, and then uploading to a social media site. But now that we’ve got smartphones and we can take selfies, the internet is inundated with these pictures, and they’re very, very convincing. And I’m really happy for people and their transformational success, but I’d really love to know how many of those people have maintained their results, let’s say, a year on.

[00:28:16] Because I’m willing to bet money that they wouldn’t be quite so forthcoming with sharing those mirror selfies. But by then it’s too late, because someone, somewhere has seen their initial results and thought, “That’s what I want. That’s what I want to look like and that’s what this programme will give to me.” And then a new customer is made.

[00:28:33] The second F is false promises. It doesn’t matter whether it’s supplements that promise to dissolve your fat or boost your metabolism, or teas that make you instantly slimmer overnight because they make you burn fat while you sleep. The internet is full of false promises and social media makes it easy to share them. If it was that easy, everyone would be taking these crazy supplements and pills. In fact, doctors will be prescribing them to curb the obesity epidemic that we’re experiencing around the world. And the fact that they’re not should tell you something.

[00:29:04] The trouble is, we all want to believe that the answer to all our weight loss struggles can be found in some magic bullet pill. And the manufacturers of these products know this, and their marketing plays into it. Particularly when they leverage the reach of influencers who have helped products to spread like wildfire.

[00:29:21] Now, we’d like to think that all influencers have some degree of moral compass, but many of them have never tried the products that they’re pushing. They only need to promote it to get paid, they don’t even have to show the results that they themselves experienced. Which is just as well, because the majority of these products have no scientific basis whatsoever. The claims that they make cannot be validated. So, I really urge you to check the claims and the evidence very carefully, and you’ll more than likely be able to save yourself some money. Because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

[00:29:52] The very closely related third F is free access to products that shouldn’t really be in your hands without a medical prescription. And as someone who’s worked in the healthcare industry since I was 16 years old, in some way, shape, or form, I find this absolutely terrifying.

[00:30:09] There are prescription drugs that have been developed to help people with diabetes or obesity lose weight because it presents a very real and very serious risk to their health. And I have had no less than four of these products advertised to me on Instagram in the last three months, all under different brand names, with messaging that specifically focuses on the fact that I can get these products without a prescription.

[00:30:33] Now, this is problematic for many reasons, but mostly it’s extremely dangerous. There’s a reason why these are prescription drugs that need to be prescribed and administered and monitored under the care of a physician. They can have very real side effects, and I’m not convinced that these are being communicated with quite as much enthusiasm as the results, because these products are being marketed in a very consumer sort of way.

[00:30:58] So, if you see one of these ads, please, please, please, do not buy into the hype and report the ad, or better still, report the account, because there are people that are going to be falling for this and making themselves really, really ill.

[00:31:11] The final F is filters. We all know that social media doesn’t equal real life, but that doesn’t stop us from believing that it does when we’re caught in the moment. In real life, people don’t look like they do on social media. There are literal filters to make yourself look skinnier or make your bum look more toned, and none of it is real. And exercise doesn’t look like how it’s presented either. People’s routines aren’t always as consistent as they make them out to be. So no, everyone is not doing 5am spin classes, five days a week on the regular.

[00:31:43] And I, for one, have always wondered how people can be working out so hard if they’re busy taking and posting so many selfies from the gym. But maybe that’s just me. When I work out, I look crappy and I look sweaty, so I don’t really understand full faces of makeup and perfectly curled hair in matching athleisure. That’s not the reason that I work out.

[00:32:02] But I also think that this aesthetic, if you like, is misleading for the average person and it can put you off working out by making you feel like you don’t belong in a class or in the gym, because you go there and you want to feel better about yourself, not worse.

[00:32:16] But the reality is that most gyms and studios don’t look the way that people present them. There are people of all shapes and sizes, there are people wearing all sorts of things, and for every person that’s bench pressing scary looking weights, there’s someone who’s taking a slow stroll on the treadmill or lifting two kilogram dumbbells with two hands.

[00:32:34] So this very filtered and curated view of what we look like in the gym, and what the gym and studio environment look like and the types of people that go there, is actually not helping people who want to go to these places and feel comfortable. So in the face of all of these things, how can you make technology work for your exercise regime?

[00:32:56] And I have three main suggestions: measurement, scheduling, and finding a way to move that works for you. We talked about ongoing measurement at the start of the podcast, and that’s where devices can be really helpful. The health apps that come natively on iPhones and Android phones can already track most of the basic activity that you do. So, your daily step count, for example. And you can link those apps to other devices or other apps to automatically record other activity that you do.

[00:33:24] Now, smartwatches are one such device. They can measure the calories that you burn during exercise. They can measure your heart rate to see if you’re working out intensively enough to burn fat. And some of them are even waterproof, so you can continue to wear them when you’re swimming and it will still track your activity.

[00:33:41] I personally have a much older Fitbit model that I stopped using when it stopped charging properly, so it’s actually on my list to get fixed. But one of the things that I really liked about Fitbit was the gamification of the experience, so being able to compete against my friends and colleagues with my daily step count. And feeling challenged and motivated to take the stairs, or get off the train a stop earlier and walk a little bit more in order to kind of hit my goals, but also to rank higher when compared to my peers.

[00:34:11] I also liked all the little nudges that the Fitbit would give me to say, “hey, you know, you’ve been sat down for a little while and you need to move a little, why not take a walk?” or, “you’re not that far off your goal for the day, only a hundred more steps to go.” And my favourite was the little celebratory confetti that appeared on the screen whenever I hit my step goal for the day. So it really heightened my awareness of how much I was moving on a day-to-day basis, and I would recommend getting some kind of fitness tracker.

[00:34:40] I’m less of a fan, for obvious reasons, of the communications features that have been introduced with later models and come natively on other smartwatches like the Apple Watch, or the Android-based smartwatches like a Samsung Gear. So, I always urge caution here if you are thinking about getting one of these devices and don’t already own one.

[00:35:03] Because my advice is always to go as basic as you can get away with, depending on the features that you need. Because what you want to avoid is getting one of these devices for your fitness, only to be distracted at all other times by the constant notifications and calls that the devices allow you to receive.

[00:35:20] And the newer devices and newer models of the devices now have all the bells and whistles of a smartphone presented to you on a beautiful full colour screen. My original Fitbit has a tiny little black and white screen, I think it’s, I don’t know what the type is, I think it’s like an LED? LCD screen? LED screen.

[00:35:37] But it literally just lets you flick between the various measurements and you can turn off the notifications for emails and messages. You can’t actually read them, it just tells you that you’ve got a message. All of the other features are controlled from within the app. So I really encourage you to pick the most basic fitness watch that you can find, which handily will also save you money.

[00:35:57] And if you already have one of the all singing, all dancing models, then I really suggest that you consider turning off the communications features to minimise the digital distractions in your life. So, that’s measurement and tracking. Let’s talk about scheduling really quickly.

[00:36:13] A lot of people say that they don’t have time to exercise, but that’s often not true. You make time for what’s important to you, and we waste a lot of time on digital distractions because they’ve been purposely designed to get you to spend your time on them. We’ll talk about the specific ways that they do this in a future episode of the podcast, but for now just know that many people are wasting precious hours surfing the internet, scrolling through social media, binge-watching Netflix.

[00:36:39] If you look at your screen time, you’ll probably see that you’re spending hours on certain apps every day that you didn’t even realise you were doing. So, imagine if you took just one of those hours and used it for exercise instead. You definitely have the time. And the best way I know to make this happen is to schedule that time into your calendar when you’re planning out your week. The same way that you do with other meetings and appointments.

[00:37:03] This can either be a recurring appointment, or single appointments that work with your schedule, or the timetable of any classes you’ve signed up to if you’re doing them. Just make sure that you block out time for exercise in your diary. And then you don’t have to spend time figuring out when you’re going to work out, because you’ve already factored it into your week and blocked out the time. Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll see the time blocks whenever you open up your calendar, and that acts as a very strong visual cue, making it much more likely that you will work out. It’s a really small hack, but it works wonders.

[00:37:38] Okay, so let’s talk about finding a way to move that works for you. The most obvious go-to choice for people deciding to start regular exercise is the gym, and at this time of year, gym offers are everywhere. I’ve had gym offers coming through my front door. I see them when I walk past the chalkboards that they have outside. I’ve had some come through on email. There are ads following me around on social media. And at this point I’ve probably had a membership at every major gym chain in the UK at some time or other.

[00:38:11] I have a small confession to make: I quit the gym last year because I realised that I genuinely didn’t enjoy it. And let me tell you that I really gave it everything I could, I was so set up for success. I used to go to a place called NXT Phase, and the gym is local to me, it’s very close by.

[00:38:29] It’s run by a friend of mine who has the biggest energy, he’s always there just hyping people up. Shout out to Terry, he’s a brilliant, brilliant trainer. It’s a boutique gym, so it’s not massively overcrowded. It’s brand new, it only opened during the pandemic. There’s a really great range of equipment and classes. The pricing’s competitive. All of that was stacked in my favour, and I still didn’t go.

[00:38:53] Now, if the gym is for you, then great, have at it. And if you’re in the North West London area, then definitely check out NXT Phase, I’ll link it in the show notes. Terry will give you a massive welcome. But I really want to stress that the gym isn’t the only way to exercise, and you shouldn’t feel pressured into joining the gym by all of these January offers, or salesy tactics from the staff, or from seeing people on Instagram who are doing these crazy workouts and have these insane bodies.

[00:39:21] Because if it’s not for you, once you’re in and you run out of the willpower to go, you just end up sinking money into a black hole, and gyms almost always make it difficult and complicated to terminate your contract. So if the gym isn’t the answer for you, what can you do instead? And, again, technology is here to help you out.

[00:39:42] There are loads of free workouts on YouTube, and you can pretty much find whatever you need and want without having to join a gym or sign up for expensive classes, as long as the workout doesn’t involve specialist equipment. Although you can, of course, buy this for home use, depending on what it is. And you may have to hunt around a bit to find a trainer whose style and length of workout you like, but it can be done.

[00:40:05] Some personal favourites of mine, which I’ll link in the show notes, are Joe Wicks’ workouts, so The Body Coach does a lot of HIIT workouts. And I also love Sarah Beth’s yoga, which I do every morning for about 15 minutes. While obviously you don’t have the psychological effects of group exercise, or a personal trainer barking at you to keep pushing you, if you can be disciplined, then it can be really effective. And you don’t even have to leave your house, which is great if you’re someone who finds fitting exercise into your schedule a challenge.

[00:40:35] Similarly, certain fitfluencers, as they’re now known, offer free workouts directly from their social media profiles, where they go live and you can work out alongside them in real time. And this can be particularly good if you struggle to commit to working out and often find yourself putting it off, because the lives usually happen at a set time each week, which allows you to build a routine that’s much easier to stick to because habits require less cognitive processing.

[00:41:02] There are also tons of apps to help guide your workouts. Many of them are freemium, so you can access some content for free and then pay to access more if you like what you see. And this can be a great way to road test an app before committing to it. There’s often a free trial, so maybe 14 days or so, but to be honest the subscription cost for these apps pales in comparison to the cost of joining a gym or a studio membership for classes.

[00:41:29] In the past, I’ve used the SWEAT app from very popular Aussie trainer Kayla Itsines. I’ve also had a Les Mills subscription because I really liked their workouts when I used to belong to a Virgin Active gym many moons ago. I’ve also used the completely free Nike Run Club app when I used to run outdoors.

[00:41:46] Now, strictly speaking, an app is obviously not necessary for you to jog or run. You just get up and you do it. But what I really liked about the Nike Run Club was that it was tracking my route. And I could set goals of either a certain distance or a certain amount of time that I wanted to run for. And it would let me know how I was doing periodically, and give me motivation to keep going.

[00:42:08] I didn’t make use of this feature, but you can also link it to social media. So it posts when you start your run, and people can cheer you on by liking or commenting on the post. And then the app reads it back to you or lets you know that someone is cheering you on and supporting you. So it will just come through your headphones as you’re running.

[00:42:26] And I think that that can be really cool if you’re someone that thrives off the energy of being cheered on by your friends or by your family. And there are definitely more and more services and apps that are starting to make use of these kind of features. Gamification and tapping into the psychology of group exercise or personal training from home has been massive in recent years.

[00:42:47] You only have to look at the, well, now defunct, but the Xbox Kinect won a Guinness World Record for being the fastest selling consumer electronics device. So that’s a device that works with an Xbox to allow you to do workouts with various fitness games. The Peloton bike has been really successful, bringing the spinning studio into your home, but also allowing you to tap into group workouts at specific times.

[00:43:12] And there’s also been a rise in workout mirrors that have your very own personal trainer, basically, and you can see them when you look into this mirror as well as seeing your form as you’re working out to make sure that you’re doing all the moves correctly.

[00:43:25] Now, if these devices work for you, then go for it. Be careful that you’re not simply jumping on the bandwagon and thinking that these devices will magically convert you into a workout fanatic, because, for many of us, the novelty eventually wears off, and all that you’ve then lost is money instead of weight.

[00:43:43] I’ve personally been much better at resisting in recent years, but I will confess that somewhere collecting dust in one of my living room cupboards is a Nintendo Wii, a Wii Fit board, and a ton of fitness games that I haven’t played in over ten years.

[00:43:57] It cost me a lot of money at the height of the hype, and I was really excited to play Wii Sports in particular. So playing tennis, and skiing, and bowling I think they had as well. But now I’m not using it, and it’s not really worth much, and as I said it’s just sitting in the cupboard collecting dust. So really think about whether these devices are really worth the investment for you and how likely you are to be motivated to use them in, let’s say, a year’s time.

[00:44:24] A better option, I think, if you’re not sure what it is that you like to do, is to experiment. Take different classes and see what you enjoy because I guarantee there is something for everyone. This month I’ve actually been using the ClassPass app which gives you a one month free trial, and allows you to access so many different styles of workout at various gyms and studios, at different times of the day.

[00:44:47] So it’s much less restrictive than joining a specific gym or a specific studio and having to do all your workouts there. ClassPass has been really helpful for helping me get back into reformer pilates and finding studios and teachers whose styles work for me. It’s something that I used to do, but the place where I used to go that was near my house closed down, and so I just kind of never went back to doing it. But I did really love it and now I’ve rediscovered that passion.

[00:45:14] And ClassPass has also allowed me to try out newer activities. So I’ve done aerial yoga and I’ve done salsa, which I’m now doing two hours of every week directly with the dance academy that I tried a class out with through ClassPass. So, use it as a way to discover activities that you might like and find studios or gyms that offer those activities with teachers that you might like too.

[00:45:37] I’ll link the app in the show notes in case you’re interested to try it out, but even then you can simply go on Meetup or Eventbrite and find groups and activities that you think you might like and try them out. I firmly believe that there is something for everyone and the key to a sustainable exercise routine is really just to find something that you like doing. Then it won’t feel like so much of a chore, it will become something that you actually look forward to.

[00:46:01] Okay, so our final category is sleep. You might be thinking that this is a bit of a weird one, but hear me out because it’s absolutely critical. We will definitely be talking about sleep in much more detail in a future episode because it’s one of my favourite topics. I find it really interesting, and it’s hugely impacted by our technology consumption. But for today, let’s stay focused on losing weight.

[00:46:25] In the last episode, we talked about how your cognitive battery that powers your willpower gets recharged by sleep. And there are actually lots of repair and refuelling processes that happen when you’re sleeping, which is why getting a good night of rest is so very important. So firstly, sleep is going to help you to keep your willpower high, and help you resist the temptation of unhealthy food or maintain the motivation to go to the gym.

[00:46:51] But I also learned some really interesting stuff from a fascinating guy called Dr. Matt Walker, who is a professor of neuroscience. I heard him speak on an episode of Joe Wicks’ podcast, which I’ll link in the show notes, and he has a book, which is on my reading list for this year, which I’ll link to, but he calls himself the Sleep Diplomat.

[00:47:11] He is really invested in all things sleep. He said that sleep is really critical for weight loss because you’ll lose more lean muscle mass and your body will hold on to fat if you’re sleep deprived, even if you’re dieting. So it’s kind of essential to have a good diet and to have exercise, but sleep is really equally important.

[00:47:34] He explains partially why that is by talking about two really important hormones called leptin and ghrelin. Basically, you eat more when you’re sleep deprived. Leptin is an appetite suppressant, so when everything is working the right way, it helps you to maintain a healthy weight by balancing the amount of food you eat with how much fat you have.

[00:47:56] Really high leptin levels tells your brain that your fat cells are full, which makes you feel less hungry, so it’s all to do with saiety. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is to do with hunger. It’s the hormone that makes you feel hungry. So when you don’t get enough sleep, leptin, I think he said, goes down by 18% and ghrelin goes up by 28%.

[00:48:17] So, suddenly you’re not feeling full on the same amount of food that you normally eat and, not even that, you’re feeling hungry. So, you start to eat more, and he estimates that this leads to eating between 280 to 400 extra calories per day, which is wild. Imagine doing all that work, you’re eating well, you’re moving your body, only for it to be sabotaged by not sleeping properly.

[00:48:44] Now, you’re probably wondering where technology comes into this, and it’s pretty simple really. Due to the number of digital distractions that they provide, devices and all of the apps and the software that we find on them drains our cognitive battery, which affects our ability to control our impulses and our willpower, as you know, it impairs our ability to make good decisions, and that means that we get really bad at putting our devices away or resisting the urge to answer calls or read messages, when we’re supposed to be sleeping.

[00:49:14] However, the researchers actually found that anxiety, or probably more accurately FOMO, so fear of missing out, is a bigger cause of interference with our sleep. Because most smartphone users experience a kind of separation anxiety if they’re not in close proximity to their phones and they’re not connected 24/7.

[00:49:34] So this leads to them using the device a lot more during the day and increases the likelihood that they’ll sleep with the phone nearby. And that then results in them waking up to check phones more often at night, or to answer calls or messages, and disturbing sleep in the process. All the things that you scroll through your phone for are keeping your brain active and not really allowing you to get into a restful state that’s conducive to sleep.

[00:50:00] Now, the other problem is that smartphone users are also more likely to use all kinds of devices right up until bedtime. But the blue wavelength of light that comes from all of these LED-based devices, so phones, tablets, computers, e-readers, has a couple of different effects.

[00:50:18] First of all, it increases the release of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and it makes you much more alert, which therefore means you’re likely to delay your bedtime. It also inhibits completely or reduces the production of melatonin, which is another hormone that’s needed for you to fall asleep. It can cause what’s known as delayed melatonin onset, where your melatonin doesn’t kick in and make you start to feel sleepy and therefore go to sleep.

[00:50:45] And finally, blue light also disrupts what’s known as your circadian rhythms, which is your body’s sort of natural clock, if you like, to do with the times that you wake and the times you sleep, and when you eat and when you feel hungry. And part of your circadian rhythms has to do with the different phases of sleep.

[00:51:02] There is a phase of sleep called REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep. And the blue light from these devices either reduces or delays the REM sleep that you have. And REM sleep is a really critical phase of sleep for all of these refuelling and repairing processes. So when you reduce or delay REM sleep, your body doesn’t get a chance to repair itself while you’re sleeping and then you feel less rested when you wake up.

[00:51:27] So, how do you fight all of this? It’s again a case of routines and habits, and setting your environment up to minimise temptations and distractions. Number one, stop using your digital devices one hour before bedtime. Not only will this mean not having to wrestle with your willpower at the exact moment when you’re supposed to be falling asleep. So no more, “oh, I’ll just scroll for ten more minutes” moments. But it will also stop your exposure to blue light earlier, so that your melatonin has a chance to kick in and help you start to feel sleepy around about the time that you should be going to sleep.

[00:52:03] Now, this can be tough for some people because they’re so used to being on some sort of device for all waking hours. So my suggestion is to create a new bedtime routine so that you have something else to do and something to look forward to, which will eventually become a habit. It will eventually rewire your neural pathways and then you will default to it when it gets to the evening.

[00:52:25] And that routine can have anything in it, as long as it doesn’t include more devices. So you could read a book, obviously the kind that you hold in your hands, not one on an e-reader or a Kindle. You can do some gentle stretches or bedtime yoga. You could take a bath. Depending on where you live and what time you’d like to sleep, you could go for a little walk.

[00:52:46] You can do something creative, like drawing or colouring. Or even some of the low cognitive energy tasks that we talked about in the previous episode, to help you prepare yourself for the following day. So, making your to do list, on paper, obviously, preparing your lunch, or breakfast, or packing your bag. Anything that’s slow and relaxing is usually a good shout.

[00:53:08] The second thing you can do is to keep connected devices outside of your bedroom. Bed really needs to become a place of sleep, and you need to train your brain to re-learn this association. Which means no phones, no laptops, no tablets, even Kindles and other e-readers. You don’t want any devices that might have you reaching for them, either because you’re having trouble falling asleep, or because they keep lighting up or pinging from notifications every three seconds.

[00:53:37] Now, there are three common objections I hear to this suggestion, and I’m going to deal with each of them in turn. The first objection I get, usually, is that people are using their phone as an alarm clock, or they need it in case of an emergency because most people don’t have landline phones anymore.

[00:53:54] But this is kind of a false objection, because you can leave your phone just outside of the room, and it will still be within earshot, it just won’t be within reach, which is kind of the important thing here. And if that still doesn’t reassure you, you can always go old school and get an alarm clock or get a handset for a landline phone.

[00:54:13] I personally haven’t had to resort to reconnecting the landline, but I have got a Lumie alarm clock, which I love. I’ll link it in the show notes, but it has sleep and waking functions that basically mimic the sunset and sunrise so that light gradually fades at night and gradually brightens in the morning.

[00:54:31] Darkness is a trigger for melatonin release, so this gradual fading of the light encourages you to release melatonin and therefore fall asleep. And the slow increase in light in the mornings brings you out of sleep and into wakefulness in a much more natural way than just hearing the blaring and jarring sound of an alarm.

[00:54:49] The second objection I usually hear is that people like to listen to podcasts or audiobooks before bed, or they have apps like Calm or Headspace which are specifically designed to help you meditate and fall asleep. And for this, you need your phone.

[00:55:05] Now, I’m a big podcast fan, and I find that audiobooks send me straight to sleep at night, actually. No exaggeration, I’ve had Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters, and a book called How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg on rotation for years as audiobooks, and I’ve never finished one of them. I always just drift right off to sleep.

[00:55:30] I’ve also used the bedtime stories feature on Headspace before to great effect, and I know others have too when they have had trouble sleeping. So, in and of itself, I actually don’t think audio stimulation is a bad thing for helping you to get a good night’s rest. It has certainly worked for me in the past. And if it’s working for you too, and it’s doing its job of making you sleep, then far be it for me to tell you to stop doing it.

[00:55:53] There’s really only a problem if you’re telling yourself that this is why you need your phone in your room at night, but you’re not really using it in this way. And what I mean by that, is if you’re playing the audiobook, or podcast, or sleep story, but simultaneously scrolling through TikTok under the covers, then I got news for you, friend. It’s no bueno.

[00:56:13] Now, if this sounds like you, then you have two choices. Either find another time to listen to your audiobooks and podcasts so that you can keep your phone outside of your bedroom and reduce the temptation to look at it. So listen to these things when you’re going for a walk, or if you’re commuting, or you’re doing the dishes, whatever works for your schedule.

[00:56:33] Or, you still keep the phone outside of the bedroom, but you stream the audio to a Bluetooth speaker that’s inside of your room. Many people have got these already for holidays, but if you want to buy one, then you don’t have to go all out and buy the latest surround sound offering from Bose. Especially as, with any luck, you won’t be listening for all that long, you’ll be falling asleep.

[00:56:53] So, my advice here is just pick up a cheap Bluetooth speaker from Amazon or even in supermarkets, Primark, department stores, electrical stores. It doesn’t need to be something that’s crazy fancy where you can tweak the treble and the bass and have surround sound or anything like that. Just a simple Bluetooth speaker will do.

[00:57:13] And if you’re sharing your bed with a partner and worried about keeping them up or annoying them with the noise, I also recently discovered that you can get under pillow speakers which will do the exact same thing. They transmit the sound through the fibres in your pillow with virtually no sound leakage, so you can be sure that you’re not going to disturb the person that you’re sharing your bed with.

[00:57:33] A lot of the more popular ones that have been around for a while are actually wired and the cables are only about 2 metres long. So in most cases, and depending on where your bed is positioned, that won’t be long enough to reach outside of the room. But, there are a growing number of Bluetooth ones too, so there are no excuses here.

[00:57:53] The final objection I hear is a little trickier to navigate, but it’s not impossible. I haven’t had a TV in my bedroom for about five years, which is a very deliberate and very conscious choice. But I know for some people, watching TV before bed is a rite of passage, and me suggesting that you kick the TV out of your bedroom might be going a step too far.

[00:58:15] Now, having the TV in your room is not ever going to be something that I will advocate for, because all of the science suggests that it’s bad for your sleep. But I did promise to keep it real, so if you have to have a TV in your room, then here are my suggestions to minimise its effects on your sleep.

[00:58:32] Number one, use the sleep timer function. It’s all too easy to enjoy a late night Netflix binge, especially when every episode of a show is written to end on a cliffhanger that leaves you dying to know what’s going to happen next, and you know you don’t have to wait a week to find out, you can just roll on to the next episode.

[00:58:49] But obviously this won’t help you to sleep, so I recommend using the sleep timer function on your TV so that the TV turns off automatically after 30 minutes or an hour. Just long enough to watch one episode, depending on the show that you like to binge watch. Now, it’s not that you can’t fire the TV back up and continue watching, but you’ve just made it that little bit more difficult and reminded yourself that it’s time for you to go to sleep.

[00:59:15] The second suggestion is to adjust your TV settings to reduce the blue light. Turning down the brightness settings via your TV menu can actually reduce the amount of blue light that comes out of the screen. And when you’re watching in the dark, which many people are when they’re watching in bed late at night, the TV doesn’t need to be as bright as it does in the daytime in order for it to be visible.

[00:59:36] And so if you reduce the backlight by around 20-50%, it can have a really big impact. And if you’re really lucky and you have one of the newer models of TV, then you should also check to see if there’s a specific blue light reducing setting, because many manufacturers have started to include this now that they’re aware of the dangerous effects of blue light and rising consumer consciousness of these harmful effects. If you have a blue light setting, it will usually be in the same menu that has the brightness and contrast options. But if it’s not there, don’t worry. Simply reducing the brightness will help.

[01:00:12] The next option is to get a blue light blocking TV screen protector. These protectors have a special coating that filters out blue light while you’re watching, they just sit over the front of your TV. And they will run you at around £50, if not more. And I’ve heard that they do tend to mess slightly with the appearance of other colours and make everything appear a little bit more red. But your brain will start to compensate for this, and I personally think it’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things when you consider what you would be gaining by blocking out the blue light and having better quality sleep at night time.

[01:00:47] Similarly, you could also try a blue light filtering box, like the driftTV, which I will link in the show notes. This little set top box device filters the signal from other external media devices that are connected to your TV. So, think Apple TV, or if you’ve got an Amazon Fire Stick, or the Roku device. And it filters out the blue light so that the light that reaches your TV doesn’t have it in anymore.

[01:01:14] Now, devices like the driftTV are on the pricier side. They currently retail around the £150 mark at the time of recording. But if you are someone that watches TV through these external media devices with any degree of regularity, then they can be a really valuable purchase.

[01:01:32] You can control how much blue light to filter, and just as with the screen protector, that will impact the overall colour of your picture. But, the advantage here is that you can schedule this filter to work at different times of the day. So, if you like to watch TV in bed in the mornings, or on a lazy Sunday, you can have a normal picture during those times.

[01:01:53] And finally, you could try wearing blue light filtering glasses. So, yes, these are a thing. Just like the screen protector, you can buy glasses both with and without prescription that reduce the amount of blue light that gets through. And, as an added bonus, you can even use them during the day when you’re using your phone or if you have a job that has you staring at a computer screen all day long.

[01:02:14] And this is a much cheaper option than either the screen protector or the driftTV box, if you don’t require a prescription, because it comes in at around £10-20 depending on the style that you want and the brand that you buy. I will link a very basic pair in the show notes, if you are interested. But this can be a really good and affordable option when compared to the screen protector or the driftTV box.

[01:02:39] So, there you have it. If you want to maximise your weight loss and give yourself the best chance of maintaining a healthier lifestyle, then remember to prioritise your diet, exercise or movement, and your sleep. And if you’re struggling with any of them, then be sure to take a look at the technology in your life to make sure it’s supporting your goal and not sabotaging it.

[01:03:00] That’s it for today’s episode. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed it and you’ve found these tips really useful. You can find show notes for the episode over on my website at thedigitaldietcoach.com/002 and you will find links to all of the different devices and apps that I mentioned throughout the show there too.

[01:03:23] And as always, if you do decide to try out any of these adjustments or apps, or buy any of the devices that I’ve mentioned, then I’d love to hear how you got on. Have they helped you to stay on track with eating better? Have they got you moving your body more? Or have they helped you to get a better night’s sleep?

[01:03:41] You can either leave a comment on your social media platform of choice, and you can find all of my handles to tag me on the show notes page. Or you can email me directly at podcast@thedigitaldietcoach.com and I promise that I will reply. I know that you’re really busy and your time is valuable so, as always, thanks for choosing to spend a little bit of your day with me and I’ll see you next time.

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Marisha Pink

Meet Marisha

Marisha Pink is a Certified Digital Wellness Coach who is on a mission to empower women everywhere to live life more intentionally in an age of digital distractions. She helps women create healthier digital habits that better balance the technology in their lives, so that they can take back control of their time, reclaim their happiness, and live their best lives offline.

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