How are your daily routines affecting your gut symptoms?
In this episode of the Love Your Gut Podcast, I talk about creating successful routines, how having set routines helps your gut health, giving our body space and time, habit stacking, water vs coffee in the mornings, using movement for full-body health, and incorporating diet into our routines
Topics Covered in This Episode:
- [02:46] Why routines matter.
- [06:00] Night-time routine.
- [12:32] Morning routine.
- [15:22] Spend time in the bathroom.
- [23:31] Water and salt in the morning.
- [24:39] 10-minute walks.
- [25:49] Gratitude.
- [26:28] Balanced breakfasts.
- [27:52] Sitting on the toilet.
- [28:43] Episode recap.
If this episode has been helpful, hit me up on Instagram, and tell me about your experience!
- Episode 10, with Leah.
- Moon breathing for bowel movements.
- A combination of protein, fat, fiber, and color in breakfasts.
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- “It’s impossible to be successful at a morning routine if you can’t wake up in the morning.”
- “Sometimes, people don’t have bowel movements in the morning because they don’t give themselves enough time.”
- “It’s the consistency that matters.”
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Dr. Heather Finley
Dr. Heather Finley 00:02
Sometimes people just simply don’t have bowel movements in the morning because they don’t give themselves enough time. And that sounds very obvious. But this is often a huge lightbulb moment for so many of our clients, they rush through the morning, and then they get to 2pm. And they’re wondering why they’re so bloated and they feel uncomfortable. And it’s because they haven’t had a chance to breathe since they were rushing out the door.
Dr. Heather Finley 00:26
Hey, welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found my own relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting to the bottom of my own gut issues, so I could help women just like you transform theirs. Now I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformational changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your guts. So it loves you back right here on this podcast.
Dr. Heather Finley 01:13
Hello, hello, and welcome back to the next episode of the love your cup Podcast. Today, I’m excited to talk to you about routines for gut health. This is often something that when our clients start in our program, they kind of scoff at to be honest. And this is something that I used to scoff at as well thinking there’s no way a routine is going to help these severe digestive issues that I have. So before you turn the episode off, give it a chance, I promise routines are critical for your digestive health. And I’m gonna talk about some of the science behind why that is, and how you can simply incorporate habits.
Dr. Heather Finley 01:57
I often think sometimes people get overwhelmed by just even the word routine, because they think it means it’s going to take forever, or it’s going to be this long, arduous process that’s boring. And that distracts them from all the other things that they have going on. I know so many of you listening are busy moms, you are working professionals, nurses, etc, you have busy lives. So you don’t have time for a six hour morning routine, like you see your favorite influencers post on Instagram, that’s not what this is, we’re going to talk about some simple routines that you can incorporate, regardless of how busy you are, to actually give you more time back, because you won’t be suffering with digestive issues anymore.
Dr. Heather Finley 02:45
So to start it off, I just want to talk about why routines matter. And one of the reasons that routines matter is because they actually help our body, remember. So if you’re a mom, and you’ve had a newborn, you probably got your newborn in a routine, you gave them a bath, you gave them a bottle, maybe you read a book, and then you put them in their bed. And you did that same thing every single night to help promote optimal sleep. I know, I have a four and a half year old and a one year old. And just recently kind of went through this newborn stage with my son and kind of all that came flooding back to me as a reminder from when we went through that with my daughter, but just the importance of good sleep hygiene to promote better sleep for babies and better sleep for parents. But this is kind of where that starts. We are wired for routine. And it doesn’t have to be rigid. I’m not saying that it needs to be this militant thing. But the reason that routines work is because they help the mind to pick up patterns, and they help your mind to know what’s coming next. So in the case of this newborn sleep routine, you’re thinking, the baby’s thinking or knowing okay, I’m taking a bath, I’m about to get a bottle and oh, it’s kind of dark, and they’re singing me a lullaby and I hope it’s time for sleep.
Dr. Heather Finley 04:15
So that’s what our body does with our digestive health as well. It likes routines, it doesn’t like inconsistency. We could probably have a whole episode on meal routines as well. But just for the sake of time and for this episodes purposes, we’re going to talk about just routines in general. One of the first places that we typically have our clients start is either with a morning routine or an evening routine. So I like to classify it kind of into two sections. So if you are a morning person and you enjoy waking up early and you pop out of bed in the morning with all the energy in the world, you can start with a morning routine. If you are dragging out of bed in the morning snoozing your alarm, feeling sluggish, tired, not a morning person, you need to start with an evening routine. Reason being is it is impossible to be successful at a morning routine if you can’t wake up in the morning.
Dr. Heather Finley 05:17
So a lot of times our morning routine actually starts with our evening routine, we have to be able to set ourselves up for good sleep, and going to bed earlier, so that we can then be successful at a morning routine. Because you’re probably listening to this, if you’re in that second category thinking I can barely make it to work on time, or I can barely get my kids to school on time, there’s absolutely no way I have time to add anything else to my morning. I know our mornings tend to be kind of chaotic, trying to get everybody ready, and everybody to various schools and things. So I feel you. And that’s why the focus here is simple. So we’re gonna start with nighttime routine, because a lot of people fall into this category.
Dr. Heather Finley 06:04
Your body needs adequate rest. And as I said, if you can’t wake up in the morning, you won’t be successful, or you’re unlikely to be successful at a morning routine, solely just because you’re tired. And it is very hard to get out of bed. If you are tired, unless you have a deadline or something that’s blasting you out of bed getting you to move quickly. You will also feel like you are unsuccessful if you try to implement a morning routine. And you can’t do it because you’re so tired. So that’s why I want you to start with an evening routine. So it doesn’t need to be complicated. But we want to try to promote optimal sleep. And an evening routine for gut health could look like maybe you turn your TV or your computer off two hours before you go to bed. If you can’t do that, because you are working or you have a deadline or something, I hear you, I am guilty of this as well. But try to put your blue sky blue light glasses on. That’s something that I do if I know that I have to do work after my kids go to bed. So ideally, your blue light glasses would be on if you are in front of screens. But the most ideal situation is that you aren’t in front of screens, maybe you are reading a book, maybe you are doing some gentle yoga, whatever it is to help you wind down. But ideally, you turn off the blue lights, before you go to bed. Maybe you’re drinking a cup of your favorite calming tea or something I’ve recently loved is Moonmilk. So it’s some adaptogenic herbs mixed with your milk of choice that help with calm and relaxation. So something that kind of promotes the memory of Oh, when I drink this, then I go to bed. So pick a beverage pick a scent, something that helps you to associate that sense with going to sleep. Maybe you have a skincare routine that you do. A lot of our clients really enjoy something called the I love you massage, which I’ll talk about a little bit more in a second.
Dr. Heather Finley 08:20
And then maybe you say your prayers, read a book, whatever it is, and you go to bed. It does not have to be complicated. But I want to point out a couple things here that can help really move the needle for you.
Dr. Heather Finley 08:33
Number one is if you’re turning off your blue lights, you will have better melatonin production, which will help you to have deeper, more restful sleep. When you can have deeper, more restful sleep, you will see improvements in your digestion because your body will be actually resting and digesting. When you’re sleeping. You will also see improvements in your stress hormones, which also improves your digestion because you need to balance your stress in order to have healthy digestion. You will also see improvements in your blood sugar regulation. This is something if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been wearing a continuous glucose monitor for the last probably two months now. And I shared about it the other day and I got so many questions about it. And I’m solely just doing this as like a self experiment and it’s been very, very insightful. I noticed when I sleep eight hours my blood sugar is so much better the next day, I could eat the same breakfast on day and day b and if I slept six hours one day and eight hours the next day, the effects are completely different. So just kind of side note there but your blood sugar balance will be better, which also improves your digestion. If you are on a blood sugar rollercoaster all day long. This is affecting your stress hormones and when your body is secreting excess stress hormone. It is not digesting because it’s worried about running away from a tiger. So melatonin production, just putting on the blue light blockers could have all of those effects, which affect so many things related to your digestive health. Another thing I mentioned, the hot beverage, hot beverages or warm beverages can also help your digestive health. If you are drinking ginger tea, or you’re drinking peppermint tea, or fennel, tea, those are some of our favorites specifically for digestive health. Those not only just the hot also the herbs in them can help improve your digestive health. So you’re kind of creating that pattern of I’m having this hot beverage and then I go to bed, but you’re also getting the benefits of the warm beverage, helping your digestion as well as potentially the herbs that are in it. The next thing that I mentioned was potentially doing some of the I love you massage. Or you could do some gentle yoga. When you do the I love you massage, which I will have linked in this episode. It’s a very simple easy massage, I talk about it all the time. But it can help move things along. If you’re struggling with constipation, the I love you massage is a secret weapon that you want to have in your toolkit. And if you do this before bed, just get some coconut oil or whatever kind of lotion you want, and do the massage before bed. It will help your body to move things along as you’re sleeping so that you can set yourself up to potentially have a better bowel movement in the morning.
Dr. Heather Finley 11:35
Our clients are always amazed at how well this actually works for them. The digestive yoga could have similar effects. If you’re doing digestive yoga, maybe you found one on YouTube that you really like I know Yoga with Tim has some Yoga with Adriene. There’s lots of different options on YouTube, but 510 minutes, it doesn’t have to be long. This can help stimulate the muscles of the digestive tract and help you to then have a better bowel movement in the morning.
Dr. Heather Finley 12:01
So you’re hopefully understanding kind of where I’m going with this. But you you’re basically setting yourself up to have a more successful morning when you focus on your evening routine. If you already have the evening routine now that you go to bed early, you sleep really deeply. You don’t have any trouble with sleep, but you’re still having bloating, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, etc.
Dr. Heather Finley 12:26
In the morning, then you could slowly add in a morning routine. And the same thing is true about the morning routine as it is about the evening routine. We’re starting to create these neural pathways and these patterns that your body remembers. So it starts to know, okay, I wake up, I drink my hot tea, or I drink my water with salt, which if you’re curious why I’m saying that I have other episodes on that. I think it’s episode three or four that I did with Lea on minerals, you can go listen to that episode, but you start your day off with some kind of non caffeinated beverage. And maybe you do the olevia massage again and go on a 10 minute walk and all of a sudden you find yourself ready to have a bowel movement. Sometimes just implementing these really simple things like a slow walk or a gentle yoga, or some kind of movement is enough to stimulate the bowels. There are some clients of ours that really do need to eat a meal in order to get the urge to go to the bathroom, that is totally fine. There’s nothing wrong. That’s called the gastric colic reflux. So maybe your routine is centered around waking up drinking your water or your beverage, making breakfast early and eating it. But giving yourself time before you rush out the door to take your kids to school or to go to work so that you can have a bowel movement. Sometimes people just simply don’t have bowel movements in the morning because they don’t give themselves enough time. And that sounds very obvious. But this is often a huge lightbulb moment for so many of our clients. They rush through the morning, and then they get to 2pm. And they’re wondering why they’re so bloated and they feel uncomfortable. And it’s because they haven’t had a chance to breathe since they were rushing out the door. So although this may require you to wake up 15 minutes earlier, this could literally be game changing in your day, because what would happen if you could have a bowel movement in the morning, you weren’t bloated, and miserable and having stomach pain by 2pm and you had energy and you weren’t thinking about your stomach. You could actually focus on the task at hand at work or at home. So the extra 10 to 15 minutes really could benefit you.
Dr. Heather Finley 14:48
Hey there, I know you’re absolutely loving this episode on gut health. But I have to interrupt to ask you a favor. If you haven’t enjoyed the love your gut podcast the best way You can support us by leaving a rating and review on your favorite podcast platform. Your ratings and reviews help us reach so many more people and spread the word about the importance of gut health. So go on over, hit a five star rating and leave a review, letting others know how much you love the show and what your favorite episode was. I truly appreciate your support and can’t wait to bring you more gut loving content.
Dr. Heather Finley 15:24
But one thing that we really recommend, as a part of this morning routine that a lot of our clients incorporate and find really helpful is actually just spending time in the bathroom. And what I mean by that is, go and sit on the toilet, and try to get your body in the habit of this is when I go to the bathroom, we often recommend a squatty potty or something that’s going to elevate your knees above your hips for proper positioning. But it might not happen immediately. Maybe you slowly implement this morning routine of getting up and drinking your water and eating your breakfast and doing a short digestive yoga, or I love you massage or whatever it is, and you’re sitting on the toilet and nothing is happening. That’s okay, it’s going to take time for your body to get used to this. But it’s the consistency with anything digestive health related, it’s the consistency that matters. So you can stack habits on top of that, and maybe you instead of scrolling your phone, you do something called mu breathing. I’ll also link that in this podcast episode. Show Notes as well. But it’s a specific type of breathing that you can do that helps relax the pelvic floor. So you’re doing the move breathing, if you’ve ever been in labor, it’s pretty similar to the type of breathing they recommend when you’re in labor, that low kind of humming breathing. So you’re doing your move breathing, and you’re basically encouraging your body now is a time to have a bowel movement. But just to kind of bring this point home if you’re super rushed in the morning. And if you have tons going on, why would your body have a bowel movement, it’s not safe, it’s not safe to have the time to go have a bowel movement, you need space for that. And especially if you have digestive issues, it probably takes longer than other people. So you need to create time in your schedule to make that a possibility. And over time, it will take less time. And you’ll find a routine that works for you. But you have to actually give your body space and time to be able to do that. So I want to just kind of recap some of this and just give you some ideas as well.
Dr. Heather Finley 17:36
And I’ll tell you a story about one of our clients. So Emily, our past client, she was a busy mom, she used to rush out the door every single morning without taking any time for herself. Raise your hand, if you can relate to that. She would often skip breakfast because she was so busy, she’d grab coffee on the go. And then she was kind of relying on snacks to get through the day. So as a result, she was super bloated, constipated, she had heartburn. And really the bigger issue here wasn’t even that it was that she just felt sluggish and unproductive all day. And so we started working together to create a simple morning routine that could fit into her super busy schedule. And we just focused on really easy habits. If you’ve been around for a while, you know, I’m a huge fan of James clear. He wrote the book atomic habits, and he talks about habit stacking. So essentially, he talks about one habit at a time stacking them on top of each other so that you start associating these things with each other. So for example, like maybe the habit stack that you have is when you sit on the toilet, you do the moo moo breathing or when you brush your teeth, then you gargle to stimulate your vagus nerve after or when you take a shower you gargle in there. So you’re basically taking something that you already do, and adding a new habit with that thing, so that you start associating those things Tibet together. An example that he uses is flossing. So when you brush your teeth, you floss, you start doing those things together. So we started one habit at a time slowly focusing on how she could do this and make it possible even though she was already so rushed in the morning. And she was a little skeptical, not gonna lie. But these super simple changes made such a huge difference in her gut health and just her overall well being because she felt better. She didn’t feel sluggish. She actually was eating breakfast. So she had energy throughout the day. She was having a bowel movement. So she wasn’t experiencing the stomach pain that she typically was previous to this. So I want to walk you through the slow changes that we made for her that hopefully you can start to incorporate. The first thing that we started off with was water. So she her alarm would go off and she actually had a reminder in her phone that went off like five minutes after she woke up saying drink your water. And so she worked On, probably for a week or so getting really good at waking up and drinking water first first thing, then when she felt really confident and that she set her alarm 10 minutes earlier, and she woke up, she drink her water and she went on a 10 minute walk. She had a treadmill in her house, if her husband was home, she would go and walk outside if it was nice, but she started doing her 10 minute walk. Once she got really good at that, she wanted to start gratitude journaling. The reason that she wanted to start doing this is because she really wanted to set an intention for the day, she felt like she was just letting her life pass her by versus really being truly, truly present in it. And gratitude was one of those things that she felt like would be very beneficial. So she would either like record gratitude voice notes on her phone and just send them to herself while she was walking. Or if she had the time. She had a gratitude journal that she would use and write her gratitude down. The next thing that we did is we worked on okay, what can you eat for breakfast that doesn’t take a ton of time, but would give you some fuel and keep you energized throughout the day and also help you to have a have a bowel movement in the morning. So she really came to love chia pudding. I also love chia pudding. If you’ve read my book, there’s, I think four chia pudding recipes in there. So we made a little variation of that one, added some protein powder to it to make it a full complete meal, she would add nuts on top, she would get creative with the flavors. And the reason that she was very successful with that is because the chia pudding didn’t require a pot or a pan, or even a microwave. She made it the night before, which again, worked on the the evening routine. And she was able to eat the chia pudding while she was getting her kids ready, and they were eating breakfast and they could all kind of do it together. Then she would take her kids to school, and she would go to work. And she worked from home, she’d come home, and she tried to have a bowel movement. There wasn’t enough time in the morning for her to feel like she could do this before leaving that she could be successful. So we just said, Okay, let’s try to make it work after you drop your kids off, and you get back home ready for the day. So this is what works for her, you need to do what works for you. And this really helped it took a while for her body to really get in this routine. But after a week or so she was consistently in addition to all the other changes that we were making, you know, in her diet and her lifestyle, you know, based on her test results, etc. This was making such a huge difference, her body was starting to get cued to actually have a bowel movement. So super successful. She felt a lot better throughout the day, because she felt like she had checked that off of her list and really was able to have it stack from there. So we didn’t make all of those changes at once. And they really helped over time. So I hope that this helps you just kind of understand a little bit about her routine. And you know how it made a difference in her life. She was skeptical, as I said, but now she’s a huge believer in a morning routine and why it can be beneficial. Just to kind of point out some key pieces here. I mentioned the water being really beneficial in the morning. And I mentioned the salt peace as well. We often recommend our clients to start their day with a glass of water, because you’ve been sleeping overnight, and you wake up dehydrated. And one of the biggest things that people do is they drink coffee first thing in the morning, and don’t get me wrong, I love coffee, but we need water, it helps to soften our stool. And so especially if you’re constipated, and even if you have diarrhea, your water and your hydration is very critical. Because we need water to soften the stool. So it’s not super hard and difficult to pass. And so it can also stimulate bowel movements. So part of the adding the water is also stimulating the gut and saying hey, it’s time to move things along. So it will help to push waste and stool throughout your body. If you’re adding salt, this actually helps your cells to absorb the water. And especially if you have constipation, you need to pull water to your colon and it can help with that as well. The point of the 10 minute walk is that not only does movement stimulate the gut, but getting out in the sun, if possible will help to optimize your circadian rhythm.
Dr. Heather Finley 24:49
So I talked about earlier when I was talking about the evening routine how important melatonin is and you can optimize your circadian rhythm and your Eve The melatonin production by getting morning sunlight exposure. So if you were able to step outside for 10 minutes in the morning, you can help to optimize your circadian rhythm, which will help calm your nervous system which is important for digestive health. It plays an active role in digestion, and it will help to increase blood flow to your system. So the walk really serves multiple purposes as well. It’s getting vitamin D, optimizing your circadian rhythm, increasing blood flow to your gut movement of the intestines, reducing stress by just getting some fresh air. And it also promotes bile flow. So especially if you are going to eat breakfast after the movement will stimulate bile flow to help you to digest fats, and have better gallbladder contraction as well.
Dr. Heather Finley 25:49
I mentioned about the gratitude journaling and how gratitude was really important to Emily. But gratitude can actually specifically have an impact on your gut health, because it’s shown in research to reduce stress. And when you reduce your stress, it improves your digestion. So all this although this is an indirect cause, this can really be beneficial. And it takes no time at all to do this. So whether you say your gratitudes out loud, or whether you write them down, this can be really beneficial.
Dr. Heather Finley 26:26
And then the last thing that I want to touch on are actually two last things is eating a balanced breakfast and sitting on the toilet. Like why why that’s helpful. We recommend eating breakfast I often get asked about intermittent fasting. And that’s a whole episode for another time. But especially for our clients with digestive issues, you need to eat breakfast. This helps to set your blood sugar for the day. Especially if you’re drinking coffee in the morning. We don’t recommend coffee on an empty stomach. We recommend it with breakfast to support your adrenals and your blood sugar. But the combination of protein fat fiber and color is our method that we teach our clients. This helps to one increase your fiber intake, which helps you to have better bowel movements. It will also help you to balance your blood sugar for multiple hours having energy through the morning and so that you don’t crash at 2pm that will also stimulate a bowel movement, like I mentioned, and help relieve constipation. And it also helps with your circadian rhythm as well. This basically tells your body Hey, I am awake and so digestion can turn back on. And so the breakfast yes is helping you to meet your nutritional needs, but it is doing so many other things in addition to that.
Dr. Heather Finley 27:51
Okay, and then lastly, I want to talk a bit more about sitting on the toilet. I am sure many of you heard me say that earlier. And we’re like, okay, that’s weird. I’m not doing that. But it is very helpful, because it helps you to relax your pelvic floor muscles. Sometimes it is hard for people to get the urge to go to the bathroom if they are not in that position, which is why I recommended the Squatty Potty. When you sit on the toilet, it actually changes the angle of your rectum, which can help promote bowel movements and alleviate constipation. If your knees are above your hips, which is where the Squatty Potty comes in. It also provides privacy and comfort. And for those of you that have kids and have busy lives, it can also just give you a second to breathe and be by yourself which can reduce stress and promote relaxation. So there’s that as well. Just to kind of summarize this and give you some action steps. I want you to think about one tiny habit that you can use to improve your day and your symptoms. And if you struggle with the mornings, I want you to start with an evening routine. That even is going to help you wrap up your evening 15 minutes earlier so that you can feel a little bit more rested in the morning and have a better chance of waking up when your alarm goes off. And once you master your evening routine, then move on to your morning routine and start implementing one by one some of the things that I discussed in here. So that’s all I have for you today. I would love for you to DM me over on Instagram, tell me what you are implementing and how it’s helping you so that I can hold you accountable and hear how it’s working. The other thing that I wanted to mention is that we just launched a new program and if you weren’t on the waitlist and you didn’t get an email about it we will be emailing about this program but we launched it today the day that I am recording this episode, so it’s March 23. This episode isn’t coming out Until next Tuesday. So we already have so many of you enrolling in this program. And I am so so excited. So if you are at all interested and want more information, feel free to DM me on Instagram. And be sure to check your email on the 30th. We will be emailing more information about this program and a way for you to work with our team for about 75% less than less than the cost of our one to one program. So if that sounds interesting at all, to feel free to shoot me a message and I’m happy to chat, but I hope that this episode was helpful, and I hope that you have some insights on how you can improve your morning routine to also improve your bowel movements. Shoot me a DM over on Instagram. I always love hearing from all of you and until the next episode of the podcast. Love your guts so it will love you back.
Dr. Heather Finley 28:29
As always, please note that this episode or anything discussed on this podcast is not a substitution for medical advice and you should always consult your health practitioner before trying anything new.
Dr. Heather Finley 28:41
Thanks so much for tuning in to today’s episode of the love your gut podcast. I have a new quiz that I’m so excited for you to take it is called which popular song describes your gut health issues. So if you’re ready to find out if you’re a slow down by Lenin seller or Don’t Stop Believing by journey in the world of gut health, it’s time to head over to Dr.Heatherfinley.co/quiz to take this new quiz and find out if your gut is rockin and rollin or more of a slow jam. And until next time, remember to love your gut so it will love you back