Understanding your Body Clock and the Power of Rhythm
Do you remember your parents advocating the importance of your body clock, just as their parents did for them? The advice was always “go to bed at the same time, have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time”. These days the theme I hear is more along the lines of “grab a quick snack at the same time, feel tired and moody at the same time, feel a lack of mental clarity at the same time”. Our parents and our parents’ parents may have not had the scientific studies to reference, but they were absolutely on to something. People thrive on rhythm, merely survive with moderate amounts of it and decline quickly when it’s non existent.
The Body and Its “Second Brain”
Your biological clock is a real thing. Your body can unconsciously learn the exact time of day that you eat, if you do it consistently enough. Just before the clock approaches that regular eating time, your body will start to secrete digestive enzymes to get the digestive tract prepped and ready to start doing its thing. It will release your hunger hormones before you’ve even had the chance to look at the clock and know it’s lunchtime. Your stomach has its own nervous system which is often referred to as “the second brain”. It communicates with the actual brain to tell it that it’s food time. It will learn when you tend to workout and get your pre-game headspace on. Your brain can manipulate its release of neurotransmitters which communicate with your hormone production and start getting you amped up for the session as soon as the minute timer hits. And if you listen to your favourite song at that same time every evening, and it always makes you feel great, eventually you could get the sensation on the dot, before you’ve even put the song on. Clever right!
Disturbing the Body’s Rhythm
The body’s ability to learn is infinite, even if its ability to express is finite. And so far, this all has positive connotations, but that isn’t the world we all live in. What happens when we disrupt these timings? Generally, not that much. If we do things consistently enough, we will ingrain these patterns and they become second nature. But automatic overdrive can happen.
Let’s say you usually have lunch at midday, maybe go for a stroll after, or just sit and talk until it hits half past, or one o’clock if you’re lucky. But then, one day, just before lunch, you receive an email that throws you off guard. Actually, let’s say it makes your blood boil! You’re already not a fan of this person and now you feel they’ve really tried to rain on your parade. This, as I’m sure many of you will know, is stress. And stress really disrupts our autopilot body clock. Your main brain tells your stomach brain “listen up, I’m taking over and it’s time to stop thinking about food! We’ve got bigger problems at hand. Let’s increase that heart rate, yeah a little bit more, that’s it…get it really pumping. Hey adrenals, get a load of this, you’ll love it!”. Somehow, it gets to 7.00pm. You skipped lunch because you weren’t hungry. You’re on the train home stuffing a share packet of Skittles and maybe a blueberry, wait…chocolate muffin.
This ‘stress overload, skip lunch and eat Skittles’ pattern continues to happen for a while, maybe three weeks. You’re suddenly not feeling so great around the waist and your daily energy is starting to fluctuate way more than ever. You know the Skittles habit isn’t helping. But for some reason, everyday on the same train home, you’re absolutely craving the sweet little shells of happiness. Why? Because your body has come to know what time it is and it’s now your daily rhythm. Even if you recognise it’s not doing you any good, your internal systems don’t know any better.
Awareness is Key
Let’s raise some awareness of what we do with our bodies everyday, especially if we’re trying to break potentially unhelpful or unhealthy habits. Honouring our daily rhythm goes a really long way and is a crucial aspect for everyone who’s looking to improve their overall health and vitality, physical and mental performance, mood, daily energy, sleep and more. Now we can’t change that stress inducing email coming in. But we may be able to change how we react to that email. Let’s start by definitely not letting it ruin your lunch!
Let us Help you Make Changes
Here at LiftOff, we coach individuals by understanding their daily rhythms and we teach people to honour them. We encourage people to make small sustainable changes that eventually become second nature. Because that’s what it takes if you want life long change. Whether that’s in the gym, in the kitchen, around the waist or between the ears. Contact us if you would like to know more.