#218 - THE HEALTH HABIT, with Dr Amantha Imber

Hello dreamer!

You'll love this episode, as we delve into the transformative world of healthy habits with the amazing Dr. Amantha Imber.

It's not just another health talk; it's a no-nonsense insight into understanding the essence of habit formation and its profound impact on your well-being.

Join the conversation, as we explore three pivotal areas:

  1. The psychological aspects of habit formation,
  2. The significance of sleep in our daily lives, and
  3. The undeniable benefits of incorporating diverse plant-based foods into our diets.

Dr. Imber's unique perspective, combining behavioral psychology and practical health strategies, provides an enlightening viewpoint on how small habit changes will lead to significant life transformations.

If you've ever felt stuck in a cycle of unhealthy habits or struggled to maintain a consistent health routine, this episode is a must-listen. Giving you actionable tips and scientific insights that will help you improve your health effectively.

As always, I’d LOVE to hear what resonates with you from this episode – what word you choose - and what you plan to implement after listening in. So please share and let’s keep the conversation going in the Dream Life Podcast Facebook Group here.    

And do explore our new Habit Journal - which we've curated to help you develop habits that stick! 💛


Kristina 💛

Dream Life & kikki.K Founder

PS: The conversation was great validation of the power of our new Habit Journal and our new Wellness Journal to help guide you to optimal health. So do check them both out.




  • Join Kristina’s Plan Your Year January Coaching Program - 5 x 60 min productive weekly planning sessions led live by Kristina online in January. Get you focused, clear, inspired & ready for a great 2024. Learn more here.
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Full Transcript:

What would you do with your life if you knew you couldn't fail? If you had all the money, all the time, all the knowledge, all the resources that you needed, what would you do with your life if you simply knew that anything was possible for you? My name is Kristina Karlsson, founder of global Swedish design and inspiration brand Dream Life, and author of the book, Your Dream Life Starts Here.

And I. Love exploring these sorts of questions to inspire people like you to chase your own dream life. Whatever that means for you. Many years ago, I wrote down a dream on paper that would one day bring Swedish design to the world and create beautiful, inspiring and meaningful product that would bring sparks of joy into the everyday lives of millions.

Now that I have achieved that dream, I want to leverage everything I've learned to help you dream big and to create a global movement to inspire 101 million people to transform their lives and transform the world in return. Each episode we'll dive deep into the power of dreaming and share real insights and practical ideas that you can use immediately to build a dream life of your own.

Hi there, and welcome to another episode. Today I got another super inspiring guest and I'm extra excited because we are going to talk about one of my favorite topics. Habits. If you have been listening for a while to this podcast, you may know that we add or remove a habit every month in my habit club.

And it's been such an interesting and fun journey to try new habits. The reason for adding or removing habits is to make sure the habits we do have supports our dreams. and goals. And this year I am removing alcohol and sugar. And in January, I'm doing daily yoga. I'm a big believer in having healthy habits that gives us more energy.

So we are able to make our dreams and goals happen. And in today's conversation, it's all about health habits. My guest today is Dr. Amanda Imber and her new book, The Health Habit, is a science backed plan to transform. Your health, and if you are trapped in a cycle of unhealthy habits, you are not alone.

Organizational psychologist, Dr. Amantha Imber steps away from the one size fits all approach and brings together the specific psychological obstacles stopping you from achieving. Better health. In today's conversation and in the health habit, Amanda explores the cutting edge research into what we should eat, how to get fit and how to sleep better.

Amanda also shares how she overcome her own health battles, including sugar addiction and chronic insomnia, using her knowledge of behavioral psychology to hack her way to better and healthier habits. I am so excited to let you know that we will read Amantha's book, The Health Habit, in my book club Grow, in February 2024.

And even more exciting, she will come in on our last session and do a Q& A with us. I'm so excited about this. And it's such a great opportunity to get. Any of your questions answered. So if you have some habits, you know, is no longer serving you, and you want to change for good, join us in February to read and discuss this book.

And you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have to Amanda. directly. I will link to my book club in the show notes, or just head over to yourdreamlifestartshere. com. I am super excited about this conversation. So let's get started. And a

very warm welcome to my podcast. I am so excited to have you. Well, I'm very excited to be here. Yes, I, um, oh, there's so much we want to talk about, but before we actually dive in, I wanted to ask you, did you have a dream as a child? Something you wanted to do or become or have? I did. I had several dreams of what I wanted to become and They were generally creative pursuits.

I, for a while, I wanted to be a dress designer. So I learned how to sew and create clothes from patterns at quite a young age. So I did a lot of sewing in my younger years and teenage years. And I also wanted to become an actor and a writer. So. I actually wanted to go straight to drama college after leaving school, but my parents essentially bargained me out of that, um, so that career did not eventuate.

But I also did want to become a psychologist as well in my teenage years. So my mom is a clinical psychologist and I became an organizational psychologist, which I, which means that I work in the world of work and performance. Whereas. My mom works with people who, um, struggling through various mental health issues, different worlds.

But I always thought of it as like being a detective of the mind. That's how I described it. And that really appealed to me and, and fundamentally doing a job where I'd be helping. People in a really positive way. So they were my dreams and one of which came true . Yeah, absolutely. And um, congratulations on your new book.

I absolutely love it and I, I read a lot and, uh, it's kind of my, my highest value or one of my highest value, I should say, uh, up there with health and family is learning and personal growth. And, um, I just love finding books like your yours 'cause it's combined. all the things that I love, habits, health, and there's just so much information.

And it's so relevant because it's so difficult, I think, in today's world when we get so much information from so many different people. And I felt like you just install it in, in such a amazing way. So what made you want to write this book? Well, I just published TimeWise, which was my last book, which is all about productivity and using our time more wisely, and I felt a little bit of pressure to come up with the next book so I could pitch that to my publishers at Penguin, and nothing was really coming to me, like there was some good news.

easy ideas and books that would have been easy to write, but they weren't really grabbing me. And then I started to try to go, okay, well, like, what am I really passionate about? And health, physical health and mental health as, as well have always been like my absolute number one priority, particularly physical health.

Like I'll always diarize time for exercise and working out. And I'm always running some kind of health experiment or doing some sort of biohacking thing, but I always thought, well, that's just something I do. As a hobby, like in my personal life, and I read so much and I, and I listened to a lot of things about health.

And so I'd never really thought, Oh, it's the topic for, um, a book, but then, you know, one day I was thinking like, there are so many health books out there. Right. And I feel like every month I'll, I'll go to the bookstore and there'll be some new kind of diet fad health book and people will buy it and they'll try using it.

But. They'll fail and then the next month they'll be back at the bookstore buying the next kind of faddish health book. And I thought, you know, it's really interesting because so many people try to change their health behavior, but they fail. And in the meantime, there's this whole other section of the bookstore that I love, which is about behavior change and habit change.

And, you know, often around the psychology of habit change. And I love those books as well. And I thought, why have those two categories of books never met? Because that seems like the missing link. There's all this health information, but no one has really mastered how to make those habits stick. And that's why health books keep selling really well.

And I thought, what if those books could essentially have a book baby? So we know what are the most impactful research backed methods for improving our health in terms of sleeping better, moving better and eating better. But then how do we make those new health habits stick? And so that was the idea for the book and I pitched it to Penguin and they said, that sounds awesome.

Please write it very, very quickly so that we can. Yeah, which is absolutely a perfect timing and for us in, so we don't know each other very well. We recently just met and, um, I have a habit club and it was based on my own love for trying new things. I'm, I'm very similar to you, not knowing you very well, but, um, what I'm reading, I love trying new things.

I love biohacking. I love, I love experimenting and I also love a challenge. I love, uh, working out what I can do that is quite hard, especially mentally hard. So for me, that's like running and things like that. That wasn't really naturally something that I loved. So I used to grab all my friends to go into like a Facebook group and, um, and not everyone, um, understandable, but as much as I did.

Uh, so then I was like, so in the end it was like, You know, me, and maybe a couple of others left in the group. Must be other people like me. So I started a habit club and, um, I read in your book too, that there's a lot of studies on how long it takes to change a habit. And of course that's very different depending on what the habit is and where you're starting from, et cetera.

But I guess the, the average is like 66 days. And we're going to talk about what I, what I loved about what you wrote about. But, um, I then started a habit club for people who actually wanted to be in it. And, uh, first we did 66 days, but we now changed it to, to kind of do 30 days because a new one every month, because I find that sometimes there are habits that I'm like, actually, that's not really for me.

So I like trying new things and I'm talking lots of different things. So, so for December, I did a habit with no complaining and, uh, actually the interesting, yeah. And, and, you know, it's funny. I'm not a complainer, but there are certain things that I complain about all the time. And I just really wanted to remove that.

And the first five days I've failed every day. And my kids, they're like, you're not doing very well, mom. So I like, I think on day two or three, I actually wrote, we have a family chat and I'm like, I wrote things that will really help me. And there's only really two things that I complain about this when other people running late in terms of if someone running late and doesn't affect me, I don't complain.

But if the kids are running late and I had to drive them or whatever, then I always complain about that. And another thing that I complained about is mess. I don't really, I don't love looking for things. I don't think any mother loves looking for their kids school shoes. Uh, but anyway, it was just such an interesting.

thing. So what I wanted to get to was, I love how you talked about different studies for different length of time to, to change a habit, but I love what you wrote in the book about you feel better within seven days. And I love for you to talk about that. Absolutely. And gosh, I feel like with your habit club, I'm just the, I just feel like a kindred spirit.

I'm like, how did I not know about this or you or like your health geekiness? We're going to spend a lot of time together in 2024 for our walks, I think. I think so. I think so. And please can I join the habit club, Kristina? Absolutely you can. Um, uh, so look, the way I think about experimentation in my own life is that I think.

I can do anything for seven days. And like, yes, the research shows that on average, it takes about two months to cement a habit. But I mean, it can be a lot less than that for some habits and it can be a lot longer than that for other habits. So seven days, I can do anything for seven days. And when I'm, Trying some new experiment, like a health experiment.

I know I can do it for seven days every day. And when I was writing the health habit, I recruited a few hundred people who were subscribers to my newsletter, who were keen to be guinea pigs. And they each picked a health habit from the book and they did it daily for seven days. And we did some pre and post measures and it turned out.

That seven days was enough for these health habits to have a really big impact, like in terms of how well people were sleeping and how much energy they had during the day and just, you know, generally feeling happier. So while it might take longer for it to become a permanent, um, habit in your life. It certainly doesn't take more than a week to feel the difference.

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I think that's such a good way of, for anyone listening to kind of just start with seven days and see if they feel better and hopefully then have the encouragement. And, um, there's so much to talk about, but let's talk about sleep because, um, So I had a child who didn't really sleep until she was five and that was a real, that was a real challenge.

So, um, I don't know when, but it was like, I, I was really tired cause I was also running a big business and it was, it was really taking the toll on me. And then I thought something's got to change. And I was, um, always been interested in health. So I decided to focus on sleep because I thought if I can get sleep, then everything, everything will be okay.

will fall to fall into place. And it did because I really worked that. What do I need to do? And we're going to, you're going to share all your wisdom around this. But what I did was I decided to stop drinking and I did a complete detox. And then because of that, I slept. Better. And because I slept better, I had that morning ritual.

I'm a, I'm a real morning person. I'd love to hear yours later on. And, uh, I love that I just got that space. And I think especially as, as moms or parents, we need that space to kind of feel, have that kind of mental. Time for ourselves to think and, uh, if we have a good start of the day, I feel like we can cope with so much better.

And because I slept better, I didn't drink as much caffeine or coffee. And then because I didn't drink as much, I didn't really need that wine in the night at night. And also because I exercise, I got up early and exercise, it all kind of fell into place. So I think. I know that you encourage everyone in the book to start with whatever feels relevant for them.

But I think maybe we can start talking about sleep and then we'll talk about the other two pillars as well. That sounds good. I mean, I think that sleep is so fundamental, like if, if you're not sleeping well, everything else feels a lot harder in life. Yes. That was one, how you really started your health journey.

So can you maybe share that? Yeah. So I, for most of my. Twenties and a lot of my thirties, I had really bad insomnia and I don't think I realized it at the time. Like, I remember this moment, I'm a Melbourne girl, but I was, I was living in Sydney for a fair chunk of my twenties and I used to have to drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to get to work every morning.

And I remember one morning I was stuck in traffic on the bridge. It was about 8 a. m. And I just remember having this thought because I'd always like, I just. felt like I was perpetually tired, which, you know, when, when you're young and you're in your twenties, it's like, it shouldn't be that way. And it occurred to me when I was sitting in my car at AM feeling just exhausted and thinking, how am I actually going to get through the whole day?

Busy work day. I thought, I wonder if there are some people that don't actually feel tired all the time. And I thought, of course there are, of course there must be people like that. And then I thought. That might actually be the majority of people. I might actually be in the minority here, that I am in my twenties, great health, but just feeling perpetually tired.

And so I thought, I think I need to do something about this. So I found a sleep doctor in Sydney and had a chat to, to this man. And he said, well, what we need to do is, is we need to essentially rule out. Any physiological sleep disorders that might be going on. And so I went in for my first of, I think, two overnight sleep tests that I've had.

And if you've never had an overnight sleep test, you either go to a hospital for it. Or in this case, the doctor had. a particular sleep lab set up, um, alongside his office and there's a bed and you're expected to sleep in it. But you've also got about 40 different electrodes stuck to various parts of your body, including.

All over your head and hair. So trying to sleep when you already have sleep problems, uh, doing one of these overnight observed tests. So, and also someone's watching you sleep. Um, so there is a camera on you so that people can observe you sleep. So, you know, not ideal conditions. Uh, and I remember both times I've done it and I thought.

I don't even know if I slept, but apparently I slept for about four or five hours and then they run an analysis and they can rule out certain things like sleep apnea for example is a very common reason why people might be having trouble sleeping and there are various other things. They ruled all of that out.

So there was nothing physiologically wrong. Which meant that it was psychological. And sadly there's no magic pill that can fix that. So I then, um, went on and like basically learned all about sleep hygiene and all the different strategies that there are to improve your sleep. And, and I mean, since then that was many years ago there, there have been, you know, a lot of, um, other pieces of research that have come out that have given other strategies, but the most effective thing that I did that was also probably the hardest strategy that I've applied to improve my sleep.

was actually restricting the time that I was in bed, which is still one of the most common strategies sleep doctors will use for people like me, where it's a psychological, as opposed to a physiological problem going on, which, which I think is the case for, you know, I would imagine many listeners, like if, you know, if you're listening and you're feeling tired and maybe it's not your bedtime, so perhaps you shouldn't be feeling tired.

You know, I think statistically speaking. There's a, there's a good chance that it will be something psychological in terms of fixing your sleep. So basically what the sleep doctor did is he said, tell me how long you're spending in bed and tell me how much of that time you estimate that you're spending asleep.

And at the time I was spending like up to nine or 10 hours in bed every night, because my thinking was the longer I am putting myself in bed. Surely that means the more sleep that theoretically I'm able to catch. And then when I estimated how much of that time I was actually asleep, I said, look, it's probably at a guess, maybe six hours.

So we said, okay, what we're going to do is we're going to only let you be in bed for six hours a night. So basically. Pick your wake up time, and I think I picked 6am, which meant that I had to stay up until midnight. Which for someone that was getting into bed at 9 or 10pm at that point in time, just felt absolutely hideous.

And so I did it. What that does to your brain is by the time you get into bed, you are not stressing about whether or not you will have a good night's sleep. You are so insanely tired that by the time your head hits the pillow, You are so happy to be in bed and you generally fall asleep pretty quickly.

And that's what happened to me. And so once I had trained myself to essentially associate my bed with sleep and sleeping well, I was able to gradually lengthen out that six hour window until it was about, um, around about seven and a half to eight hours. Um, and it's by far the most effective thing that I've done to improve my sleep.

And there is a chapter about that in the health habit. It's, it's one of several strategies. It's definitely the hardest to apply. Uh, but for me, that was, that was a game changer. I haven't actually done that. I'm going to actually try that cause I'm not the best sleeper. One thing that I've realized that really affects me.

So I've got an aura ring that really helped me since I, since I started measured my sleep. I understand so much. Um, I'll absolutely love that one because it just really helped me also. because when we, we don't feel like we're sleeping well, even if we do sleep well, we don't always know. And especially if you wake up and feel a bit groggy, you'd be like, did I really sleep?

Or, you know, and I'll wake up, you know, a few times with you in the books, it's, you know, normal. It's been such a game changer for me, but I haven't tried that strategy. One of the things that has, and you talk about this in the book as well, and I love for you to, to talk a little bit about this is. the importance of not eating too late.

And, um, so for me, that makes a massive, alcohol and eating, um, late, when I say late, like even massive difference in my quality of sleep, if I eat and have alcohol. Yeah. Cause I interviewed. A bunch of different professors in different fields in, you know, anything from, from nutrition to sleep to, um, exercise, physiology, exercise, science, um, to research for the book, because what I wanted to do with the health habit is understand what are like the most impactful, but underutilized strategies that we can do to improve, um, the way we move and the way we eat, because there's sort of like, you know, there's a lot of stuff out there.

There's also a lot of myths out there around health, but I wanted to find things that were hopefully strategies that people hadn't tried before. Um, you know, certainly when it comes to, uh, how late we eat, what I found is that, um, most of the professors that I Particularly in, in nutrition and sleep said, you know, ideally you want about a three hour window between, you know, the last time you eat for the day.

And when you go to sleep, like our bodies weren't designed to be digesting large chunks of food while we sleep, our digestive system wants to take a rest quite frankly, like the rest of us. So. That is definitely ideal. Yeah. And how about alcohol? Yeah, alcohol. And I mean, look, I don't know if you've done experiments with your aura ring.

And I, I am not a big drinker. I pretty much, mostly for health reasons, just cut out all alcohol from my life a few years ago. Um, so I haven't done an experiment with the aura. But I know that most people that do find that even having a couple of glasses of wine, um, in the evening will Impact your sleep.

So what typically happens, though, is that it affects the quality of your sleep. So even though, you know, you might sleep straight through, um, it's the quality that's getting improved. So, um, impacted. So you're almost definitely not going to wake feeling as refreshed the next day because the quality of your sleep has been impacted.

Even though you might go, Oh yeah, but I slept through, it was a normal night's sleep. Um, if there was alcohol in your system, it probably wasn't a normal night's sleep. Yeah, absolutely. And it's also with my, uh, aura ring. I, um, Measure my heart rate and it makes a massive difference. So I had three and a half years, no alcohol.

And then last year, 2023, I did drink a little bit. So that's been very interesting to see. And, um, and this year I'm back no alcohol, just cause I just feel so much better and, um, this year I'm going to. 10X my business and I want to be super focused and health is very much part of that because if I know, if I feel amazing, I'll be able to do much more.

And that's what I encourage everyone to think about, um, who's listening. And I think this is so perfect at this time of the year to start with this kind of podcast, because I think when we want to create our dream life, which is what I want to inspire everyone to do. Health is so important. Couldn't agree more.

I just think if you don't have your health, you're just no good to anyone or anything. Yeah, absolutely. So let's talk about movement in your book. And I love how you call it movement versus exercise and your explanation around that. And I have to say, I was so inspired about your weights, lifting weights, because that's one thing that I don't love as much.

I love, like, I walk, I can walk. All day. I absolutely love walking and I, I train myself to run, but I don't love weights. And let's talk about how you got into that, because you, you do that, um, even on your holidays now, which was great to hear. I do, I do. So back in school, I was that person that was. Very uncoordinated, very unfit, you know, couldn't catch a ball to, to save myself came last in every running race and was, was the one that was left standing, you know, like when you're picking a sports team and the kids are in charge and they're, you know, going one by one.

And, and I was pretty much the last one in the lineup to be picked. So that, that is pretty much how my life started with my sporting prowess. And because of that message that I got in school, I really internalized that. And I thought. Okay. I'm just not a sporty fit person. I was always a bit of a nerd. I, you know, did really well academically at school.

And so I just kind of built this self identity that. I was this kind of, like, nerdy, smart kid that was just pretty useless with anything to do with my body. And then, look, during, you know, after school, during my twenties, I, I joined some gyms, I, you know, did, like, some group fitness classes, I did some, like, synchronized boxing and stepping and Les Mills classes, and those sorts of things.

But the thing is, I only did them, um, for purely superficial. Aesthetic reasons, because I thought that that would make me look better and as a woman and, you know, like as many women do, you know, certainly like in, um, you know, my teens and my twenties and my thirties as well, like body image was, um, sadly a huge motivator for trying to, you know, incorporate movement into my life.

But, you know, I never really thought about the health benefits, which sounds kind of, kind of crazy. But then a few years ago, I was kind of like looking for. Like, what would my next health thing be? I decided to, you know, learn more about the benefits of different types of exercise. And I was on Google late one night and I thought, I'd really like to get stronger.

Because I feel like I've, I've never had like, you know, any kind of consistent weight training or resistant training routine. I'd done a little bits of it at the gym and I found this group, this business that was located in America, in Utah of all places. They were a group that were dedicated to female fitness and specifically female weight training.

So, you know, they had all sorts of clientele from people that were pregnant through to professional female bodybuilders, but it was all about female strength. And I thought that sounds really cool. And they had virtual trainers and I got paired up with the most wonderful woman, Sammy, who. Essentially wrote me weight training programs.

I would videotape myself doing weights at my local gym and I would send them over to Sammy for feedback on my technique. And I worked with Sammy for about three years, including during the time when COVID hit. And I set up a gym in the corner of my garage so I could continue the weight training and gradually through that process.

And, and, and since then. I trained with local trainers, I, for the first time in my life began to identify someone as someone who was really strong and really fit and I'm 46 years old now and. I've never been stronger. I've never been able to lift more than I can now, and I find that quite remarkable because I'm so much stronger and so much more fit than I, when I was younger, and I feel really proud of that.

Oh, you should. Absolutely. It's amazing. I was so inspired. Um, so for anyone who, It's like me. You don't love weight training. I don't know why. And maybe it's the, we have a home gym, so there's absolutely no excuses in terms of doing it. But I just, I think it's one thing for me is that I just love nature.

Like I just love being out and I know that I can just bring the weights outside. So I'm more interested in perhaps not the knowledge, but you know, how can we kind of get started? Because I think that's always. The hardest part, and especially if you don't love it as much as perhaps you, um, you had a similar experience.

Absolutely. I think what's really important with weight training is that it can seem really intimidating. It can feel like you actually have to go to a gym, which can be very intimidating places and also, um, quite stinky as well. And the noise and the lights and it's just like there's nothing for you. Oh my gosh, it's like whoever designed most gyms where it's like, well, let's have fluorescent downlighting and mirrors everywhere.

So we make you look as unattractive as possible while you are working out. It's like they were not thinking about motivation. Um, when they designed those gyms, um, it can be very, very easy. And what's really good is if you're starting from a base of zero, like if you are someone that has never done weight training or certainly doesn't have a regular weight training routine, You can get pretty significant results by doing very little.

So, in terms of the minimal effective dose, if you like, all you need to start by doing is essentially three exercises. There's more detail about this in the health habit, but essentially what it comes down to is doing a movement that is a pushing movement. So like a pushup, for example, and if you're, um, starting from scratch, doing a pushup against the wall, where you've kind of got your hands at shoulder height against the wall and pushing yourself away from the wall, and then kind of going back down towards it, doing one set of that, which might be, you know, repeating that movement five to 10 times or wherever it's starting to feel difficult, then doing a set of a pulling movement.

So the pushing movement is all about your chest. So sort of the front of your upper body, then doing a pulling movement, which is all about activating your. back muscles. So the back of your upper body. Um, so that might be like bending over and doing a rowing movement where you might have some weights in your hands, but you don't actually need dumbbells.

You could just load up a couple of shopping bags and sort of pull them towards you. So like your Your hands are kind of ending up by the side of your body. Your elbows are going back and repeating that movement a few times until it, until it starts to get difficult. And then doing some sort of lower body movement, which involves what a trainer would call like a hip hinge movement, where essentially you're bending at the hips, but also you're bending at the knees.

So. The easiest kind of exercise here is a squat, just a body weight squat where you squat down and then you push yourself back up again. And again, just doing one set of those until you're feeling like it's getting a bit hard and you don't have too many more reps or repetitions left in the tank. And if you just did that, if you just did three sets and make sure you warm up first and then do a little bit of a cool down afterwards, what research has shown is that you will actually start to see results just from doing.

those three types of movements, even just once a week. Um, eventually you'll start to plateau and you might start to plateau quite quickly if you're, um, you know, you're sort of naturally a bit stronger than the average person. And then it's about either adding more sets in. So you might, for example, do two sets of each of those movements, or you might do a couple of sessions a week where you're doing those movements maybe, um, on, on two days per week.

And you can build up from there, but you will absolutely see results from putting in, you know, sort of quite a short training period. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That's absolutely part of my routine this year. So I'm excited about getting into it. And, and I also know that being a person, which is a little bit all or nothing, I will love it.

So let's talk about walking. Because, um, I've been, I've been studying, um, longevity, uh, for quite a while now, and, um, walking is a big part of longevity, so I'd love for you to, to share that with our listeners. Well, I think when people think about walking, most people would probably go, well, I know I should work, walk, and I should do 10, 000 steps a day.

And that's like, certainly what a lot of my friends, Aim to do 10, 000 steps a day, but actually there is no science that 10, 000 steps a day is the ideal amount of walking to do. And also 10, 000 steps can feel like quite a lot. It can feel quite unachievable, particularly if you're someone, um, That, uh, you know, that maybe works from home or that just doesn't move a lot, like has a fairly sedentary kind of job.

So when researchers have actually looked at the data and looked at how many steps of people doing per day, and then looked at death rates, um, which sounds, you know, quite sad, but a lot of these health studies are looking at what are the things that lead to. A premature death or increased mortality rates, if you like, what they found is that the magic number in terms of where mortality rates start to plateau.

So where the sort of, you know, the health benefits start to wear away is at about 7, 500. So 7, 500 steps a day, not 10, 000 is actually where you're going to reap the biggest health benefits. So yes, walking more is great, but try for a minimum. Doing 7, 500 steps per day as your goal, because that's where you'll start to get the best health benefits rather than beating yourself up if you don't hit 10, 000.

Yeah. Yeah. That's um, I have a thing where I don't really want to go to bed unless I've done so seven and a half, but for me, because I love, love it so much, it's very much part of my routine. It's quite easy for me to do because it's just. like something that I really crave, especially in the morning.

Cause I feel like I need that light. I need that. I just need that space in the morning. So, so can you share some of your tactics in terms of walking? Cause you, you talk about a few things in the book for me. It's definitely, um, I rarely. Really sit down for a phone call ever, ever, because I just feel like that's such, I just can't do it.

I always be like, okay, I need to make three phone calls. I'm just going to put my ear earphones in and move. I just can't even imagine sitting down and just, unless you need to take notes, of course, and it's, um, it's a Zoom where you need to see people. But if I don't have to do that, I always walk and talk.

Yes, I would say that would be my biggest thing. And I actually started this habit during the lockdowns, during COVID. So I was in, I think you were in Melbourne too during the lockdowns. Yes, the lockdown capital of the world. And because, I mean, we were allowed out of the house for an hour a day, but really, I mean.

Like most of us were just inside and, and far less active than we were. And so for me, I, I did think about how can I naturally build more movement into my day. And so I started a habit where I had a rule whenever I was on the phone and that could be on the phone to a client or a teammate with my work at Inventium or catching up with a friend.

And there were lots of phone calls with friends. I just had a rule that I had to walk. And so typically I'd just do laps of my house, like laps of the living room, um, small laps, but you know, I'd be walking at a bit of a pace and I've kept that habit to this day. And what I find, um, Mondays are typically the day where I will have the most number of phone meetings.

I'm often doing a lot of check ins with my, my team at Inventium on Monday, and I will. Without even deliberately going for an outside walk or going to the gym or, you know, doing sort of deliberate cardiovascular activity, if you like, I would easily clock up 10, 000 steps a day just through my phone meetings.

Um, so I found that that's a real game changer. I mean, like, you know, for a lot of people, they don't have the luxury of having lots of meetings where they can be on the move, but even just catch ups with friends on the phone. It's like it's programmed into my brain. You don't sit down. If you're on the phone, you get up and move.

I'm the same. Yeah, absolutely. I absolutely love that. And another thing, since I've been reading the glucose revolution, we did that in my book club Grow this year, which is amazing to see how many people Change their habits. And, um, so one thing that I tend to do, not perfectly, but I like to just go for, you know, 10, 15 minute walk after eating, because I know that that's really good.

And then I try to kind of combine my being on the phone and after lunch. So all along after breakfast or whatever, whatever I do. And I also love now to go for a walk. We got a COVID dog and, um, it was never really part of my dream life to have a dog. I love it. Absolutely love her. Uh, but it was, um, so now, uh, especially during this time of the year, it's, um, it's nice to go for a family walk after dinner.

So it's a really good to combine the combine all the things, but I would love for you to talk a little bit about glucose and let's move on to nutrition because I think that's played such a big role. And I, I never been a sugar person until I stopped drinking alcohol. Cause then I had cravings for things that.

I've never had before. Very interesting. And, uh, so I wasn't really interested in, like, I never had the sugar, but I know you, you had a big, uh, sugar craving and you took it to the extreme and then completely changed. I'd love for you to share that. Yeah, I have spent. A lot of my life being a massive sugar addict.

I used to crave it all afternoon in the evening. Like, yes, I ate a lot of sugar. And what happened is that when, when I was pregnant with my daughter, Frankie, 10 years ago, our office was in the city. I'd catch the train home and. At the train station, there was this shop that was called sugar station or something like that.

And all it sold were mixed lollies. And every night on the way home from work, I would fill up a bag of mixed lollies and eat them on the way home, along with other sugary treats throughout the day. And. I remember when, when Frankie was born, she was about three months old at the time. And I was, you know, pretty sleep deprived as, as most mums are in that newborn phase.

And when you sleep deprived, you tend to crave more sugar. And I just put Frankie to bed and I was in the kitchen and I was like, I need something sweet. I need some chocolate or something. And I looked in the fridge and I there's like, there's nothing in the fridge that is sweet. And then I went to the pantry and I'm looking for.

like leftover chocolate or biscuits or something. And it was like literally nothing. And then like the, the craving was just not going away. And I saw this Tupperware container and it had raw sugar in it. And I thought, okay, that's, it's just going to have to be the raw sugar. I'm going to have to have some raw sugar.

So I took it out and I got a teaspoon and I, and I started spooning raw sugar into my mouth and going. It's like, it's not quite hitting the spot, but it will do. And then my husband at the time, he's now my ex husband, but not for that reason. Um, is he saw me and he's like, what are you doing? And I kind of, I saw him through my eyes and I thought, what am I doing indeed?

It's like sugar. Felt like it was controlling me and I thought I need to stop. This is not good for me in many, many ways. And that was pretty much the last day that, um, sugar and, you know, processed foods containing sugar were part of my daily diet. So it was, it was a huge change. And yeah, that was, um, that was nearly 10 years ago that I quit.

I'm not like. Super extreme occasionally, you know, I'll have various things that are sweet and I still have things like fruit and I don't really care too much if there's, you know, bits of sugar and sauces and stuff like that. But what mattered to me is that I kicked that addiction. I didn't want to feel like chocolate and other things were.

Controlling me. Yeah, absolutely. So how did you go then from that extreme to kind of overnight? And I think that's sometimes what happens with, you know, someone drinks too much and then they stop or they overeat and they just feel awful. And so something triggers, but what was it for you that were able to go from that?

You know, really addiction to absolutely nothing. Yeah, look, it's a great question. And I'm, we're certainly not built with like more willpower than the rest of us. And I think, you know, this is really where and why I wrote the second part of the health habit, which is all around, you know, once you've made the decision to adopt a certain health habit, like how do you actually make that stick?

Because Transcribed That's the hardest part. And so for me, it was a combination of several strategies that I write about, but one that I found very powerful and I still use to this day is about the power of the word don't. And so to give some context, You know, when we're trying to change a habit, there can be different reasons or different barriers that are making it hard for us versus making it hard for, say, our best friend or our partner to change the very same habit.

So in the book, I talk about four habit hijackers. So things that are really common that are getting in the way of making a change. So the four types of barriers are motivational, where you feel like you have to do something, but you don't really want to do it. Relational, where like the social norms or the people in your life are making it a bit of a challenge to do things differently.

Environmental reasons or barriers where the physical environment that you're in is making change hard. Like maybe your pantry is full of chocolate, for example, which would make. quitting sugar very hard and then cognitive barriers where you're just feeling absolutely exhausted and when you're feeling exhausted or burnt out or tired it's really hard to adopt a new habit.

And at the time cognitive barriers were definitely the big thing for me because I was just so sleep deprived as a new mum. And so, One of the strategies to transform your habits that I write about in terms of overcoming those cognitive hijackers is the power of don't. So there was some really interesting research that was done by Professor Vanessa Patrick, and she was looking at the impact of self talk and the words that we use on our ability to create change.

And she taught people one of two strategies when they were trying to create a change in terms of adopting healthier habits. She said to one group, you know, when you're presented with some sort of temptation, tell yourself, I can't have that thing. Like, I can't have that chocolate bar. And then she taught another group, a very similar strategy, but she just changed two letters.

She said, when you're presented with a temptation, say to yourself, I don't eat that, or I don't eat chocolate, for example. And then in this experiment, the crux of it actually happened when participants were leaving the lab and they were presented with the choice on their way out. They could either have a healthy muesli bar or they could have a chocolate bar.

And what the research found is that those that were taught, I don't as a strategy, I don't eat chocolate were 50 percent more likely to choose the healthy option. And so for me, when it came to quitting sugar, I started to use the, I don't strategy and I started to genuinely believe. And the reason why I don't works is because it sounds like it's about us.

It sounds like this is our self identity. I'm not someone that has sugar. I am not someone that has dessert. I don't do dessert. I don't do chocolate. And by constantly repeating that to myself, particularly when I was presented with a tempting chocolate bar or the opportunity to have dessert when I was out for dinner, I would just say I just don't do that until it became genuinely a part of who I am.

I am. And that was one of the key strategies I used. Mm. I love that because it's funny because I don't do dessert. I've never been a dessert person and you know, it doesn't mean that I never eat it, but it's not something, while a friend of mine, that's the first thing she looks at, the dessert menu. And I'm like, that doesn't even, yeah, it's just funny.

And I'll have these things, I just don't do it. But it's been very interesting to see when you take something out that, you know, wine definitely gives you that, uh, heat of, um, dopamine or. Whatever it is that gets us to, um, feel that amazingness, uh, similar to sugar and whatever you do that makes you feel good.

So super interesting. So, um, for anyone listening, um, there's so many strategies in the book, so you have to read them all to see what works for you. So I, we could talk about your book for. hours and hours. And, uh, it's just been so incredibly inspiring. I just, before we shift, I just want to ask a couple of more questions.

But one, one thing I think that is so easy for all of us to do is to add more veggies. So you have, I think you said the power of 30. And it was funny when I, when I was reading your book, I used to have a thing with the kids when they were small, much easier when they were small, cause they were much more influential, a bit older now and make their own decision.

But I do think that they have them. have it within them because I now often hear, Oh, can we just have lots of veggies tonight? And especially if they've been away and been eating not so good. But I used to say to the kids that they had to eat 15 fruit or vegetables a day. And, um, just because we do eat a lot of veggies and fruit, we just, It's just who I am and automatically that's who your family becomes like that.

But I remember Axel, when he was little, he would go out and get herbs in the end of the day to just have them in there. So you've made it much easier for our listeners by 30 plants. So talk about that before we move on to the final questions. Yeah. So this, this comes from some research from Professor Tim Spector, uh, over in the UK and what he found, and this is really about what is ideal for gut health is finding ways to incorporate 30 different types of plant foods into our weekly diets.

They found that that number is associated with a much healthier gut microbiome, which is responsible for so many things in terms of just us feeling good on a day to day level and also longer term health. impact as well. And so like 30 can sound quite overwhelming. And I was, I felt quite overwhelmed when I was looking at that, but it is all plant food.

So it's not like you have to have 30 different vegetables and plant food is quite broad. So it could be fruit, could be vegetables. It could be herbs and they could be fresh herbs or dry herbs. It could be nuts and seeds. So, I mean. A couple of quick hacks is a vegetable soup where you just chuck a whole lot of random, you know, vegetables and herbs and spices in.

You can easily get up to 10 or more in a great soup. And likewise, homemade muesli bars are quite good as well. If you're just like putting in a bunch of Seeds and nuts, you know, which is all plant food. You can easily create a pretty cool muesli bar. That's that's, you know, five to 10 varieties of plant food.

So it sounds like a lot, but what I recommend to readers is doing a bit of a stock take on, you know, where are you now count the, the number of different varieties of plant food that you're having in a typical week, and then set yourself a goal to incorporate four or five more. Every week and, and very soon you'll easily hit 30, which your gut will love you for.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's, it's simple thing for me, um, because I love soups and I love, um, lentils and things. So this one is very easy for me. When I, when I read that part, I just. I started writing. I'm like, yeah, I'll do that easily. But because I always look for things for variety, because I often, I think most of us are very much like we do the same thing.

And so I started to plant herbs. So, so in my soups now I just go out and I just take a few of the different herbs, which then will give me more variety, which I think is a really easy thing for, even for people who are living in apartments without balconies, you can have herbs in the fridge or on the bench.

That's it. Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. Love it. So, I'd love to know if you have a morning ritual that incorporates some of your healthy habits. Interestingly, I don't have a consistent morning ritual. Okay. And it also depends on whether I've got my daughter with me, so, um, so I have my daughter Frankie with me half the time, and so those mornings are quite different.

What I do try to do, the consistent thing though, is that. If it's a weight training day. So I do weight training four times a week. I always do that first thing in the morning. And if I'm not doing that, I'll typically try to do some form of movement. It might be taking the dog out for a walk with my partner.

It might be getting on the exercise bike. It might be going for a jog. So that's sort of the one thing that tends to stay consistent. Um, there's certainly research to suggest that if you do exercise in the morning, it actually sets you up for more energy and resilience during the day. Otherwise, I tend to sort of be at my computer by about eight o'clock.

My brain is programmed to work better in, in the morning. That's sort of how it naturally is. So I do not have some sort of whiz bang morning routine, which a lot of people expect me to, because I write so much about productivity and, and, you know, various sorts of like biohacking and stuff, but that is all it consists of.

Fantastic. Well, it's good to, it's good to hear. I always ask this because the question I actually get most asked during when I do workshops, et cetera, is my morning ritual, which is for me, very consistent in terms of what I do. And I think I started it when the kids were little. Cause I just felt like I needed that space.

And I think it's the hardest time to create a morning ritual because it's very unexpected when you have young kids. But then on the other hand, I feel like that's the most needed. So I started very, very small and now like, I love my morning so much that it's become kind of really something I look forward to so much that it's so easy now to, for me to go to bed early because I love my morning so much.

I would love to ask you if you have a favorite book or a nonfiction book, maybe one that had a big impact on your life or one that you just loved. So there are two that come to mind and it's a hard question because there are so many and I know I'll immediately regret my answer and I'll be like, Oh, I should have mentioned that book in this book.

One book that I love that I read several years ago that I've recommended so many times and gifted so many times is The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan He. I love that. It made me really rethink a lot of things, like in terms of the experience at Inventium, um, which is a behavior change consultancy. The, so the experience that we provide to the team and also to clients, it's basically, you know, about the power of creating memorable moments and that these are things that we can construct and craft as opposed to.

You know, just be at the mercy of how life works. And I also think about that as a parent as well. And in my relationship, how, how can I deliberately create memorable moments? So I loved that book. It had such a fundamental impact on how I think. And then a more recent one that I read about a year ago, uh, was called Storyworthy by Matthew Dix.

And it is the best book I've read on how to tell stories. And I think that, I mean, storytelling is such a. a big part of what both of us do, Christina, um, you know, which is having an influence and impact on other people. So that would be my two picks. Love that. I haven't actually read the power of moments, but I'm a big, big moment created.

Like I love that. Like we have some traditions in there with the kids that, that I now see that means a lot to them that you don't really think even simple things like I do a Halloween breakfast every year. And it's so simple. It's almost like. But they look forward to it so much. And it's, it's such an interesting way of looking at your day.

Like, cause you can do that in such a simple way. Like it always amazes me how much, especially my daughter who loves, loves it so much. And I'm like, it's so simple. It's all the simple things that we love in life, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. Oh, this has been so inspiring. The last question I have for you, knowing what you know now, which is a lot, uh, what kind of advice would you have for yourself, say when you were in your late teens, early twenties?

Gosh, that's a hard one. You know, I spent so much of my adult life just doubting myself and not feeling like, you know, I was good enough or could do the things that I wanted to do. I think just saying to myself, you've got this. You've got it would have been a very helpful message to receive. Absolutely.

Oh, what a beautiful way of ending this incredibly inspiring podcast. I absolutely loved it and I know we're going to, we're going to talk about everything in more details on our walks together. And uh, I just wanted to say a massive thank you for writing this book because I think this will be such a helpful book for so many people and also for taking the time to come on my podcast and talk about it.

Thank you so much for having me, Christina, and I look forward to catching up for a walk very soon. Yes, me too. Thank you so much. Wow. I am so excited and inspired to implement Amanda's tips, and I hope you are too. Please join my book club Grow and we can read and discuss and implement this together. I can't wait.

Just head over to dreamlifestartshere. com or there is a link in the show notes. I would love to know what you thought about this episode and also what you got out of it and perhaps what you will implement in your own life based on this conversation. Please share in your Dream Life Facebook group. I will link to it in the show notes as well.

As always, I'll be back on Monday with a new quote to inspire you on Monday morning. I'll see you then.

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