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Triangle Theory: Nutrition, Sleep, and Movement

Lesson 9 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

Triangle Theory: Nutrition, Sleep, and Movement

Lesson 9 from: FAST CLASS: The Power of Happiness

Vanessa Van Edwards

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Lesson Info

9. Triangle Theory: Nutrition, Sleep, and Movement

Lesson Info

Triangle Theory: Nutrition, Sleep, and Movement

So today is an interesting day for me. And I will tell you that this was not a week in the beta version of this course, when I launched "The Power of Happiness" a year ago, this was a bonus, it was just like a little extra PDF. I didn't really do a long video on it. And I was like, you know I don't know, like, I'm not a wellness expert so I wont to talk about wellness, but it's so integral to our happiness. And a lot of our beta students asked me for more, they were like, "you had this little bonus section" "But like, you talked about sleep" "I would love to know your sleep hacks" "You talked about eating, what are your eating hacks?" 'Cause, you know I'm a hacker, so like, I always, I have hacks for every area of my life, not just interpersonal skills. And so I was like, okay, in this version, I'm gonna make it a whole day. And that is exactly what we did. So we're gonna be talking about balanced health, happy bodies. And this is really about funk prevention, because so much of our ph...

ysical well being has to do with our chemistry and our chemicals. But first, before we do that, since we're talking about the body, I want to do a little warm up. So, at home, I want you to pull out a blank piece of paper or there's a section especially for you in your workbook on pillar number nine, it says "Do your warm up exercise here" So I want you to look at that little blank space. And I want you to take a deep breath, everyone, (exhales) Take a deep breath. I'm gonna give you 30 seconds and since we're talking about the body, I would like you to draw a self portrait. So I would like you to draw your body, little self portraits in this area, you're gonna have 30 seconds, so you can't overthink it, I'm gonna do it with you. Are you ready? At home you too, let's go. Here's the problem, is when we're talking about happiness. Whenever you're focusing on just the emotional or the psychological effects of happiness, it's like you're leaving half of the power on the table, we have to talk about physical wellness, as well as happiness. And this is the metaphor that someone gave me when I was a teenager. I was in health class and we had all these speakers come into our health class and talk about different things, fitness and nutrition. And the health class I don't know about you but it was pretty boring in high school, you know, you kind of, it was like a snooze class, it was an easy A, you'd go in and like bring in your math homework or I would go into random math homework and like do my math homework on the side. So this one speaker came in and she said, "if you were given only one car for your entire life" Like imagine you were given a one car at 17 years old. And they say this is your the only car that you're gonna have your entire life. You would treat that car so well, right? You would make sure it was clean, you would make sure no one ate in your car, you would get it serviced and tuned up all the time. And she said this is your body, right. Your body is the car that drives your mind. You're only given one for your entire life. Why do we treat it so badly? Right, If you're only given one, I would treat a car that I got once way better than I treat my own body. That was the thinking at this time. So this is how I think about my body now. It's sort of like my only car, so I try to get it serviced a lot. I try to give it the best quality gasoline, I make sure to rub my headlights. (audience laughing) What else do you do when you take care of a car? You know, wax it, yeah, yeah, that's accurate, that's a good metaphor. So I try to take care of my body. That that metaphor was rough, you don't have to edit that out, you can keep it in. Okay. (audience laughing) My bad joke, see I don't mind that those stay in. So lemme just specifically talk about some of the chemicals behind each thing. So, when Serotonin dysfunctions, when Serotonin gets into a car accident, typically, that makes you have less willpower and motivation. So there's times when you get back and you're like, I just don't feel like doing anything. That actually might be chemical, that might be serotonin that's out of whack. They found that when norepinephrine dysfunctions or gets in a car accident. That's when you have difficulty concentrating. So you sit down at work and you have so much to do and you're like, God, I just cannot get through this to do list, and you're like, why? And you get really angry at yourself. That actually might be something that's totally chemical. When you have less Dopamine, this is when you have less enjoyment and you have trouble breaking bad habits. So they think that Dopamine is a huge part of addiction, food addiction, coffee addictions, smoking addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction. So when we feel less enjoyment, that can actually affect breaking bad habits or creating bad habits later. When you have less GABA, that's anxiety, that's very, very tied to your anxiety, that feeling of generalized anxiousness. Have you ever had that when you wake up and you're just like, I am so anxious, but I cannot figure out why. That could be a chemical. Melatonin, when it dysfunctions, you have trouble sleeping, and then when you have less endorphins, this is when you have a harder time dealing with pain. So you tend to get more headaches, more backaches, more migraines. Right so, we recognize these things as a bad week, but sometimes they make us feel completely out of control. So my goal today is to tell you that it's not just you, right. There's way more happening, it's not always logic. We like to be really logical, you know, I'm in a bad mood, why? Right and then when we don't have a reason and that makes us feel frustrated. But there's a lot happening chemically that's going on. So an example of this, is let's say that you get a bad email, which means you have to work extra hours, right. A client's really angry or you have a project that's late. So you have to work extra hours, that means you miss your workout that day. So that's a little bit off. Then you order takeout, 'cause you're like, "I don't have time to cook, I'm just gonna order takeout" They have a big, big heavy meal of food that you're not used to eating. Then you kinda sleep badly 'cause like, the food feels a little bit weird in your stomach, it takes away your energy. Then you become delayed on even more deadlines, 'cause the next morning you're like, comatose, you're like, uuurgh I need lots of coffee, I can't function, I can't concentrate, I have a headache, my back hurts. Which makes you snap at your partner, which makes you dread the day, right. That's how some of these cycles start. What I wanna talk about today is how can we stop that cycle from happening? So maybe you get right here, and then we don't let the rest happen. We don't let that downward spiral continue. Does this sound familiar to anyone? 'Cause, when I read this book, it felt like he was speaking right to me. Okay, I'm glad I'm not the only one 'cause when I read this, I was just like, I was like highlighting, I was like painting, you know like I was like painting every single chapter. So unhealthy equals unhappy equals unsuccessful. This is not just about happiness, this is also about our success. We know that unhappy workers take 15 extra sick days per year. Interestingly, Coors Brewing, when they put $1, every $1 spent into corporate fitness came back in $6 and 15 cents in profits. So we know that investing both time, energy and money into our health comes out in other ways. Yes, emotionally but also with our success. Full disclaimer. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a trainer. I am not a health coach. I am just a busy person who tries to keep healthy. So the hacks that I'm gonna present to you today, they are not from the perspective of a nutrition coach. It's just the hacks that I do to try to stop those downward spirals from happening, by the way, I am in full support of getting yourself one of those. Today is just meant to get you thinking. That's it. I'm gonna give you some tricks. I'm gonna give you some ideas. And hopefully, maybe there's something in there where you can be like, you know what, I really wanna focus on this. So if you can get yourself a nutritionist, a trainer, a health coach, do it, I love it. But today, I'm gonna give you some tricks just to get you started on it. So I, my theory on wellness and I've never taught this before is what I call the Triangle Theory. This is the, I believe wellness comes from a balance between three things, nutrition, sleep and movement. So, because I'm very busy, I work 12 to 15 hour days, typically, I try to work only five days a week, but it's hard. I have to come up with hacks, ways to stay in shape where I don't diet and I don't diet. Ways that I can feel good in my body and sleep really well and still have really high quality work. This is exactly what I do, this is my plan. The way I think about my health is sort of like a triangle. So a triangle is this really cool shape that it balances from all sides, right. When you drop a triangle, it can fall on any side, I feel like your health is the same way. You have these three things that support you. And as long as one of them is really solid, usually you're okay. So when I'm going through stressful times, I try to make sure that I have no more than two out of whack. Ideally, I have all three in harmony, but it's okay, if I don't. Really I'm always making sure that at least one is really solid. 'Cause I know that if I have one I have something to balance on. So, when you drop a triangle, right, sometimes that means that you are really focused on nutrition and on the top, sleep and movement, maybe have some things you're working on but my nutrition is solid. Another week, maybe it falls down. And that week, my sleep is really good. Maybe I move a little bit less, maybe I don't eat perfectly. My sleep is good, I'm getting eight or nine hours. One week later, my triangle falls and that week it's all about movement, I have really good workouts, I get to exercise my body a lot, maybe a little less sleep, maybe get a little less nutrition. That's how I balance. Here's what I do for each area. Here's how it stops the triangle. So I have a bad email and I have to work extra hours, that happens. I miss my workout. I know that I have one side of my triangle that's like a little unbalanced. So I make sure that I have a bunch of really healthy freezer meals. So instead of ordering takeout, I go into my freezer to get those meals 'cause I know that one side of my triangles out, that will typically make it so that I don't sleep as badly. I don't get as delayed, I don't snap. Right, so it's kind of a shifting I don't know, I've never taught this before, 'cause that kinda makes sense. I'm always trying to focus on one. Oh, so another one would be like, okay, I have a bad email, I have to work extra hours. I still get my workout in but I decided to take out, right I'm like okay, I can't get a workout in but at least I can order out and that doesn't affect my sleep as much 'cause at least I got a good workout in. So here are the three different areas, my hacks for each area. So let's start with movement. A couple things that I do to keep that exercise and shape. One, is I do exercise pairing, so I briefly mentioned this and then Now-How day, is I make sure that all of my favorite shows, I only watch when I'm either on the elliptical, on a rowing machine or on a treadmill. The way this works, why it works so well is because A, I look forward to my workout, because I know that I have one more episode of "Orange is the New Black" to watch, right. And I stay on way longer by the way, like instead of just doing 30 minutes, I'm like, gotta get to the end of this 45 minute episode, 'cause I really wanna watch "Orange is the New Black" So it helps me look forward to it more, it helps me do it a little bit longer. And it cuts out my TV time, right 'cause I'm not, otherwise I'm just laying in bed watching TV. Second, I actually tried to incorporate my Sangha activities with movement. So I mentioned hiking as kind of a celebration that I do or rock climbing. So I have friends that I go rock climbing with, I have friends that I do Tango class with, I have friends that I do Zumba class with, I have friends that I do hiking with and like they know that I'm always trying to exercise pair with them. So I have this beautiful feeling of belonging with my hiking partners, rock climbing partners, Tango partners, so that I'm, when I'm seeing friends, we are often moving. Very rarely do I see a friend and just go to coffee, or just go to dinner. Typically we will walk or workout together before or after we get together. And then that's great 'cause they're usually just as into it as I am. I also do walking lunches and walking breakfasts as well. Last one is so, one of my mastery areas is High Open. So I sign up for as many new workout classes as I possibly can. There's a really cool thing called ClassPass, which allows you to pay sort of a one set fee and you can go to as many classes as you want. I try to do this as much as possible. So I feel like I'm exercising one of my skills by trying different kinds of exercises. The other thing that I wanted to add here, which I think really helped my back and my neck since I worked at a computer for so many days, is I invested in a really, really good standing desk, totally, totally changed my life like totally got rid of my back pains. Now I'm standing for usually four or five hours a day and I sit and stand, sit and stand. It's one of those ones that has settings. So I invested in like the nice one, had to save up for it because, then I just press a button, it goes to my seated, press a button and goes to my standing, that really helped. I also use balance boards sometimes when I'm on calls, when I'm listening to webinars, I'm doing balance boards, if you ever hear that in the background when you're on a call with me. And I also have a tumble ball in my office that I'll sit on too. So even in my work I've incorporated movement in small ways that has really helped. I also love this, the five foods you should never eat by Neghar Fonoonni, fitness coach. One, food you don't enjoy. I totally agree, right? Just because someone says that cilantro is really good for you does not mean that it tastes good in my mouth. Like I have that gene that makes it tastes like soap, so I never eat that. Food that makes you feel sick. I, when I first started my health and I actually was about 75 pounds heavier when I was growing up, so when I lost a lot of weight, the way that I did that was actually sat down with a food catalog and paid attention to what every food made me feel like, Did it make me break out? Did it make me feel bad in my stomach? Did it make me feel tired? When I cut out all those foods, I lost a lot of weight. So I was eating food that didn't make me feel good and I don't even realize it. So if you think that's you, I highly recommend doing a food log and tracking how it makes you feel. Three, food that you feel guilty about. So this was the big one for me. When I thought about, bread doesn't make me feel the greatest. And so that's why I was like, oh, like, I don't know if I can eat this or not, but I didn't want to take it away because I really enjoy it. So saying that I'm going to make my own bread from scratch. I'm gonna use the best quality ingredients. I'm gonna get a guy who grinds whole wheat flour for me to do it. Made it so that I don't feel guilty about it anymore. And also makes me feel better 'cause I know exactly what went in it. Four, food that you just can't stop eating. So I think there's a difference between eating for hungry and eating out of habit or getting out of addiction. So anything that pop and you just can't stop, anything that is that, I usually don't, don't even put my mouth 'cause I know that it's an addiction, not actually that I enjoy. And lastly, this is the one that I follow the most, food that isn't really food. Food that I don't know exactly the steps, more than two steps removed. Is your nutrition in balance? Is this something that you think that you have kind of imbalance, more greens on this one, interesting. Okay. So, on the 21 day challenge, I actually wrote a post on the science of eating and with a couple of my hacks and that was one of our most viral posts. I couldn't believe it, I was like, of course, I write, you know 500 posts about human behavior and like the one on the Science of Eating gets like 40,000 shares. So we have a post on the Science of Eating where I've explained some of the science behind why we eat, how we eat and our cravings. So if you wanna read that, you can, it's in our virtual toolbox as well as the Science of Sleep, some of the chemicals that go into sleep. The last one I wanna add here, and I don't have this as a side of my triangle, but I do think that's something that I keep in mind and that's the idea of mindfulness and we know the science of mindfulness. So, a couple things that I do, little hacks that I use. If I'm having trouble sleeping, I typically will do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. If you want, we can all try this together. So this is the best way to fall asleep at night without any help. So typically what you do, I'll explain it first and we'll do it together. So this is when you take an in breath for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and then out for eight seconds. Do that three or four or five times, usually almost always gets you to sleep. You're ready? So let's do in for, I'm going to count for you so I'm not gonna do it while you do it. So in for four, ready? One, two, three, four and hold it for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one and then slow out for eight seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. So that exercise is what I do most nights especially if I'm having trouble sleeping. That exercise is also great if I am having a really anxiety provoking day. What I'm asking myself constantly on a day to day basis is typically how am I doing? How's my movement, how's my sleep? How's my nutrition? When I asked you to raise your questions, am I getting enough sleep? Is my nutrition in balance? Am I moving enough? I ask myself those three questions a couple of times during the day. That is what dictates where I'm gonna put my energy that day. It's more into cooking something or working out or ending work a little early so I can get an extra hour of sleep. That's how I typically keep everything in check. The other good thing is you can use your entire workbook to fill in your happy and healthy review. For example, every different activity that we've done in some way is tied to your health or can be tied your health for example, and I have a bunch of prompts for you in your workbook for this. Now-How, how can I enjoy my health right now? That's the Tetris block, right. If you're searching for good things in your health, you're already in that on mindset. Examples with your chart of happiness, more cooking, more gardening, more walking the dogs, more yoga. Are any of those in your chart of happiness? With mastery, what is the skill I have that improves my health? So do you have a skill that could somehow be tied to one of those three triangle areas? Example, do you wanna follow athletes Instagrams, right. Is that something that inspires you? Can you try new activities? Do you wanna get out in the sun if you're an outdoorsy person, right? What are the things you can add to that mastery area? Three, play, playing with healthy ideas. What could I do to be healthier? Maybe one of your happy experiments could be with a health idea, right. Going and trying aromatherapy would be the perfect kind of happy, happiness experiment. So examples, new classes, new recipes, gamifying your health, right. I know someone who, one of our previous students uses this zombie running app. You know it's like an app and like it has like zombie noises in your ear while you're running. Like you play your music and then it puts zombie noises over your music to get you to run faster. So like that was the one that she like loves. So she was talking about that. Four control, what could I do to maximize for my health? So what are things in my life that create me to eat better, workout more and sleep better? And what are the downward spirals? So sometimes I've noticed that when I'm with certain friends, I eat really bad. I don't know what it is about them, It's on a downward spiral but it can trigger a downward spiral. Right, you eat something bad and then you don't feel great, you sleep in, you miss your bedtime, all those things. So I have found ways to make sure that we are doing non food activities together. Right, we'll typically go to tea, we'll typically go out walking, we go to the dog park, those kinds of things. So, removing obstacles and inserting obstacles, putting steps in front of your bad habits. Wow. Biggest question here is how can I savor more? Right, how can I savor the feeling of that, my sleep palace or this amazing meal that I'm having, this cake I baked from scratch. Ever tried to make croissants from scratch? You will appreciate them much more than a croissant you buy at a bakery. Examples, the slow eating movement. I know people who swear by it. I have not particularly read that book but I've heard it's really good. Drinking, dining with friends, laughing lunch learning lunch, right, so, I usually do a learning lunch with Ted Talks but on some days I try laughing lunches 'cause they aid digestion. Number six, G-spots. So, how is your health a gift in itself, right? We have to be so grateful for the health that we do have, right. That is one thing that in your Gratitude Totem, hopefully health is one, always one of the things that you mentioned to yourself that you are grateful for. Using your Cause Champion as health, like maybe it's something where you're outside or you're using movement, maybe something where you're, you're helping people with their nutrition, right. How can you integrate the two? With your Sangha, who are your health partners? Who in your life helps you eat better, and workout more? And who in your life doesn't? No bad or good, just good to know who those people are. How can you get some more support? Workout partners, a food group health pledge, I run a Spanish vegetarian cooking club. Spanish vegetarian cooking club, so long where there's seven people that in my life who like to cook vegetarian, who like to eat vegetarian, who like to cook it, who speak Spanish. So we get together and the rule is you can only speak Spanish and we spend four or five hours practicing our Spanish and cooking vegetarian food. It doesn't have to be Spanish vegetarian food, it could just be any kind of vegetarian food. Amazing that I found seven people who were willing to do that with me. You'd be surprised when you ask, the world gives. Lucky Jack, what are your health expectations? So I want you to think do you expect yourself to run a four minute mile? Or do you expect yourself to have health problems? Like what are your expectations around that? Almost always, if I say to myself, oh, I'm probably gonna sleep terrible tonight. I'm almost always gonna sleep terrible tonight. So thinking about how you're setting yourself up for good and bad sleep, good and bad nutrition, or good and bad movement. Tracking progress really helps with this. If you feel like sometimes you get in your own way or there's any self sabotage going on. I really recommend food logs and sleep logs. Testing your assumptions and learning about your health. This is where I really recommend getting a coach or getting a helper, right, 'cause sometimes you need someone else to give you that honest truth.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Desktop Backgrounds
Best Future Selves
Citation List
Happiness Audit
Happiness Benefits
Happiness Means Forgiveness
Happiness Scripts
Happiness Structure
Happy Calendar
Happy Reading List
K10 Test For Distress
Partner In Joy
Power of Happiness Workbook
The 4 Motivators
The Giving Warmup
Virtual Toolbox