What do you think of Dr Michael Mosley? I must admit I’m a bit of a fan-girl! I have read a few of his books, watched most of his TV shows, and listened to some of his podcasts. Most recently, I listened to the “Just one thing” podcast. The premise behind Just one thing is to do one small thing every day to improve your health.
Each episode (there are more than 30) is about 15 minutes long and is delivered with Michael’s characteristic humour. It’s entertaining and factual. Michael always provides the science behind his ideas. It is also available as a book.
In each episode, Michael recruits a volunteer to do the “experiment” for a full week. At the end of that time, they report back. I’m unsure if you would see a benefit or change after just one week.
The episode list.
- Go for a walk every morning within one hour of waking up.
- Eat bacteria. Eat fermented food such as yoghurt, fermented vegetables, kombucha.
- Have a cold shower (!) or at least have the last minute of your shower cold.
- Learn a new skill.
- Exercise intelligently. Michael gives examples of intelligent exercises such as push-ups and squats. These exercises make your whole body work giving more bang for your buck.
- Visit green spaces. Do stuff outdoors.
- Stand on one leg. Practise your balance.
- Take a breath and practise deep breathing exercises.
- Have a hot bath one hour before you go to bed. This will help signal bedtime and get your body ready for sleep.
- Count your blessings by practising gratitude. You may even like to have a gratitude diary.
- Get some sun; this will help boost your Vitamin D.
- Eat chocolate. Not any sort of chocolate but dark chocolate with more than 75% cocoa. Restrict it to 2 squares a day.
- Exercise less but more often. Rather than doing 1 x 30-minute block, do 3 x 10-minute blocks. The catch? You need to exercise at close to your maximum capacity.
- Change your mealtimes. There is evidence to show that restricting your eating and having a period of fasting of between 12 to 14 hours benefits your gut bugs. Michael talks about this much more in his Clever Guts book.
- Play video games.
- Get house plants – at least four to five per room.
- Drink water. It doesn’t need to be eight glasses, as recommended in some places. Simply drink one glass with each meal.
- Stand up – increase your standing by two hours per day.
- Think yourself stronger. Evidence shows that practising exercises in your brain will actually increase your muscle strength. The visualisation of movement activates your muscles in the same way as actually doing the task.
- Eat beetroot – Michael recommends at least three beetroots a day.
- Do eccentric exercises – slow down your squats, slow down your push ups. Make the up as hard as the down.
- Take a nap. No more than 20 to 30 minutes a day.
- Dance like nobody’s watching.
- Drink coffee but after food and not in the afternoon.
- Eat oily fish.
- Read. Novels, not nonfiction. Fiction will expand your imagination.
- Have an apple a day.
- Take a break.
That’s a long list of things to do every day! Nobody has time to do all that in one day! Keep in mind that Michael is suggesting JUST one thing.
Being an overachiever, I think you could easily combine many of those just-one-things to make a mega big thing!
For instance, you could do your early morning walk, outside in a green space and in the sun. BOOM tick off three things! If you’re really clever you could do your walk in the sun outside early in the morning while doing a walking meditation and breathing deeply. That’s five things on your list in one go!
I’m sure you could also sing and dance at the same time. Does dancing count as standing up? (tick) Could your dancing include eccentric exercises? Tick! Would dancing vigorously for 10 minutes count as one of your exercise slots? (you bet!)
A new challenge?
Michael’s list is long! I am going to challenge myself to do as many of these things as possible and if I see a positive difference – make them a habit. You know that I like time-based challenges. I’ve done a year without alcohol. A year of buy nothing new. Buying nothing new is more-or-less my default state now but I’m not perfect!
I am already doing some of these things.
- Standing and balancing: I have recently bought a standing desk. (Oops breaking the no new things rule!) Now I stand for most of my working day. I walk around while I’m talking on the phone rather than standing in one place and I balance on one leg.
- I take an early morning walk outside as often as possible. It’s not every day but most days.
- Restricted eating window. You may already have heard of intermittent fasting. For the last few years, I have been eating dinner very early for a grown-up. Sometimes as early as 5:00 PM and not eating breakfast before 8:00 AM. This gives me a 15-hour window of not eating. Sometimes it’s not possible, like when I’m travelling or with other people, but when at home it’s not hard to follow. At first, I thought I would be starving by 9:00 PM, and for the first week, I was! Now, I’m used to it. Sometimes I get to 10:00 AM and think, “Why am I hungry? Oh, that’s right, I haven’t had breakfast yet!” You adapt quickly.
Other things on the list will be more of a challenge. For one thing, I am definitely not going to do the beetroot one. Beetroots are rich in anthocyanin which have lots of health benefits. But three whole beetroots? Other foods, such as dark-coloured berries, and purple cabbage, also contain anthocyanin. Perhaps, it’s more palatable to add one beetroot but then include sauerkraut made from beetroot and purple cabbage. (Bingo! That also covers the eat bacteria one!!) Video games will be a non-starter as well!
Surprisingly, novel reading will be a challenge. I can’t remember the last time I read a novel. I do read, but for the last few years, it’s been nonfiction. (Thinks to self: does sitting down and reading equate to taking a rest?)
I am sure Michael did not intend to turn his Just One Thing idea into a “just do all the things list”, but it might be fun trying! I’d highly recommend listening to the podcast – Just One Thing. At the very least you’ll learn something new!