Ever feel like you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to be doing and still not feeling or seeing the results? You’ve filtered through all of the ‘How to’ blog posts and picked out some of the best tips to be losing weight, gaining energy and feeling great…but nada.
Here’s a few important, yet often overlooked, factors to asses in your daily life that just might make the difference for you.
Never underestimate how your daily stresses are affecting your life. Way way back in the day, when stressful situations would arise, our stress response (fight or flight) would act accordingly to help us prepare and deal with the situation at hand. Heart rate and breathing rate increases, cortisol is released & all non-essential bodily functions will be on hold…so you can prepare for battle, of course. The release of cortisol signals for extra glucose to be released from liver stores and sent into the blood stream, while also suppressing insulin, immune function and constricting blood vessels. Once the ‘threat’ is over, things are meant to balance out. However, in today’s high stress world, our ‘threats’ are more common and can last much longer, creating chronic stress issues and chronically elevated cortisol. This can lead to insulin resistance, fat deposits, reduced libido, mental fog, trouble losing weight, headaches, hormone imbalances and hypothyroidism to name a few. Gaining control over your daily stressors is essential not only for weight loss, but for overall health and longevity.
Stress Busting Tips:
Whether you’re full on stressed out or just feeling a bit uptight, deep breathing can be your biggest saviour. Diaphragmatic or belly breathing is one of the best known ways to activate your PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) which will promote relaxation-slowing the heart rate, breathing rate and bringing calmness to the entire body. Find a quite, still place to sit and focus on your breath. That’s it, nothing fancy. Notice the in’s and out’s and the rise and fall of your chest/abdomen. Try keeping your attention solely on your breathing. Let your random, distracted thoughts come, then quickly let them go and get back to your breath. Start with just 5 minutes a day and build from there.
Adaptogens are non toxic herbs that help your body’s ability to deal with mental and physical stress. They help you to ‘adapt’ and bring your body back to a state of better balance. Some of the top adaptogens to help you combat stress are Holy Basil (also called tulsi), Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Astragalus, and medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps, reishi and chaga.
Exercise can help you deal with the effects of stress by lowering cortisol levels and giving you that burst of endorphins you need post exercise to help boost your mood, putting you in that feel-good state. Exercise can be very meditative as well, helping to get your mind off any mental stressors. Pick an exercise you feel comfortable with and will stick with. Walking, running, yoga, resistance training etc… Get into a routine where you fit in your stress-busting fitness everyday to help you live a more stress free life.
Sleep is your body’s time to rebuild and repair. It’s your most essential time to balance out and restore from the stressors of the day. Not making sleep a priority can start to take a toll on you, no matter how much you think you don’t need it. Recall that stress creates increased cortisol (sometimes called the ageing hormone) levels which can have a negative impact on your sleep, another reason to start addressing your daily stress. Insufficient sleep can affect your hunger hormones causing you to over eat and have cravings-not great for your weight loss efforts. Not enough sleep can also prompt you to take in more caffeine than normal which can again increase stress and cortisol. This same stress can lead to poor sleep again the next night. Isn’t it all so nicely linked!?
Get to Sleep Earlier
Going to bed earlier if you’re a night owl (past midnight) is a great place to start. Although this may be tough at first, each day knock off 10-15 minutes to your bed time to allow for more pre-midnight snoozing. Going to bed past midnight can deprive you of the restorative functions that deep, non-REM sleep gives you, possibly leaving you feeling less rested & more anxious/stressed if this is a regular pattern.
Dark & Undistracted
The darker the better! Get dark window coverings and turn off all annoying electronic lights that are in your room. Light will prevent the release of melatonin, the hormone that naturally promotes sleep. Same goes for TV and other electronics right before bed (or worse, in bed)…they gotta go for a more restful sleep!
3) LOW CALORIE FOODS
Sadly, it’s still a trend to be eating low calorie snacks and foods that are void of nutrients in hopes of losing weight – that’s right, the Rice Cake is still having it’s 15 minutes of fame. By trying to keep calories low, we are also reducing the intake of vital nutrition that helps our body function properly. It is the essential nutrients in the food that supports healthy cells, healthy digestion, weight loss, healthy immune system, sleep, hormones, mental focus etc… We are missing out on all of this by trying to keep our calorie count to a minimum. Try switching to focus on how much nutrition you can get from each meal, not on how many calories it provides. Get creative in how you can add a variety of leafy greens, herbs, spices, and other veggies and nutrient dense foods into your daily meals. If you’ve had a few days of poor eating, supercharge the next day with lots of the good stuff instead of cutting back and fitting in two workouts! This one shift alone could create a landslide effect to your overall health. Focus on nutrition not calories.