There is a direct correlation between your ability to lose weight and your stress level. We all have a certain level of stress in our lives but it is how we manage that stress that affects our health and happiness and even our weight.
So many of us joke about our sugar addiction but it is not a laughing matter. Sugar addiction is a very real thing and detrimental to our physical and emotional health. It is reported that it is the most common addiction in present day history. More common than marijuana and coffee. According to the American Health Association, the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day and, even more shocking, the average child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. That converts to more than 135 pounds of sugar per year per person!
What Makes Sugar Addictive:
- Even though we want to stop consuming it, we have a compulsive need to do so.
- Sugar, like other addictive drugs, requires more and more of the same substance to cause the same feelings.
- It affects neurotransmitters in the brain in the same way that street drugs such as cocaine.
- If the substance is removed, the person has withdrawal symptoms. In the case of sugar, those symptoms may be headache, nausea, insomnia, moodiness, nervousness, anxiety, as well as other symptoms.
Are Food Intolerances Making You Fat?
When you were a kid you could eat anything and not gain an ounce. Now that you are an adult, the weight does not come off quite as easily. You eat the same. You are the same person on the outside but your insides are not the same. Why is that?
Let’s Talk Bugs…
Before we get in to that, let’s talk about bugs. The over 500 different types of bugs, also known as bacteria, that live in your digestive system. Before you start thinking that you need to do something to get rid of the over 3 pounds of bacteria, realize that they are supposed to be there. They help with digestion; they aid in breaking down your food; they create vitamins that you need to function optimally and, maybe most importantly, they are part of your intestinal immune system that keeps the bad stuff out of your body and breaks down the stuff that you need into teeny, tiny molecules that are used in various chemical reactions throughout your body. These different bacteria are in a combination that is unique to each individual. New research shows that the appendix, once thought to be a useless little appendage, actually stores the information for the right ratio of bacteria in our guts.
When my son, Joshua, was 8 years old we discovered that he was lactose intolerant. As it turns out, he had been lactose intolerant probably since birth but we didn’t recognize the signs. He had chronic ear infections as an infant and toddler that led to prescription on top of prescription of antibiotics that destroyed his gut flora which led to more food intolerances. (More on that later.) He had trouble sleeping through the night as a toddler and wouldn’t settle down until he had a glass of milk. He alternated between being constipated and having diarrhea. When he was in elementary school, he would come home from school and drink two and sometimes even three glasses of milk. Joshua and I later learned that our bodies frequently crave the things that are not necessarily healthy for us to consume. It was severe nightly stomach cramps that finally made us realize that there was something truly wrong. After a year and a half of visits to a pediatric gastroenterologist that we discovered through the guidance of a health coach that Joshua, and I, were lactose intolerant.
It was many years later that I learned that over 2/3rd of the general population is lactose intolerant and many of those people are unaware of it. Dairy products may make them lethargic and sleep, bloated, give them gas, cause aches and pains, give them headaches or migraines and cause other symptoms. Lactose intolerance can also cause moodiness and difficulty concentrating.
Joshua also discovered, through trial and error, that school lunches are not an option to someone who has a gluten or dairy allergy or sensitivity.
Have you ever been to the doctor and been told that “everything is fine” but you don’t feel “fine.” Perhaps your blood pressure is slightly elevated or there is some blood work that is creeping into an unhealthy range but is still normal. You may have had symptoms for quite some time – headaches, achy joints, stiff knees when you get up from sitting, blurry vision, congestion. You know what I am talking about. Those annoying symptoms that you cover with a pill and continue on.
Those symptoms, my friends, should NOT be ignored.
Everyone has a summer bucket list – go on a picnic, go to the beach, finally hit that new rollercoaster, finish that trashy novel that you’ve been meaning to read. But as summer comes to a close, it’s time to start getting serious about your health, your career, your relationships, and your spirituality. Fall is a great time to sit down and think about what goals you may have. Break them down into S.M.A.R.T. goals and then work on accomplishing them. After all, how will you know you have accomplished your goals if you haven’t identified them?
Now setting goals like this is NOT the same thing as your “honey-do” list. This is not things like get your laundry done or vacuum your house. Those are chores. Goals are your dreams and aspirations. For example, one of my goals is to bring lunch to work 4 out of 5 days a week at a minimum for one month. This will allow me to be healthier by not buying food that is unhealthy for me such as fried foods or foods that come in a package, it will allow me to know that I am purchasing the highest quality food that I can afford and I will be able to buy higher quality food because it will cost less than eating lunch at work every day. In addition, I’ll probably be able to save some money, too!
Let’s get out a piece of paper and do this with me…
What is a S.M.A.R.T Goal?
As you have probably guessed, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym. It stands for:
Specific – Be as specific as possible about your goal. Envision what it will feel like when you accomplish this goal. Write this down on your piece of paper. For example, in my goal I was specific about how I would eat healthier by avoiding less than optimal choices for my body and save money. I may make that goal even more specific by putting down that I will put an extra $50 dollars a week into my savings account. Think how happy my body and my savings account will be!
Measurable – If your goal is not measurable, how do you know you’ve reached it? Maybe your goal is to exercise 5 out of 7 days a week. You could set your goal of running 30 miles per week. In my goal, it’s measurable and I’ve attained it when I bring my lunch 4 out of 5 days a week.
Attainable – If you are not realistic about your goal, you set yourself up for frustration and failure. When your goals are attainable, you have a sense of accomplishment and it makes it even easier to tackle the next goal. Do stretch yourself. Do NOT over extend yourself.
Relevant – Is this goal relevant to your life? Since I work outside of the home, bringing lunch to work is part of my life. If one of your goals is to run a 5K, then setting a goal of running 5 out of 7 days a week would be relevant to you. Are you overweight or lack energy? Then losing 10 lbs in a month is not only relevant but think about how great you will feel and how much healthier you will be when you accomplish that.
Timely – Set a time frame on your goal so that it does not continue to be out of reach. In this example, my time frame is one month. When I have achieved this goal within one month, I will do something special to reward myself. For example, I may use the money I save to have an overnight camping trip with my family or buy a novel I’ve been wanting to read and put the rest in my savings account. Knowing that my goal has a time frame AND a reward at the end inspires me to work hard toward accomplishing it.
What are some goals that you would like to achieve and how are you going to reach them?
Kimberly Ferstler talks about how leaving her stress-filled life in New York City and becoming a farmer changed her life and her health. She shares with us the difference between organic and low spray and how you can give farming a try to see if it is something you would like to explore for yourself:
I am very excited to be hosting Angi Thompson, Independent Director with the Pampered Chef, on my television show, New Beginnings to Health. Angi will be sharing with us an incredibly tasty recipe that is a win-win-win situation. It is friendly on the financial budget since it costs under $3 per serving to make, friendly to the time budget since it takes less than 30 minutes to make, and is much healthier than going through a drive-in. In addition, if you have food allergies or intolerances, it is very easy to adjust for various situations which we discuss.
You can see the show here:
The recipe is also very easy to adjust for dietary needs:
“Cleansing” and “detoxing” are hot right now. Unfortunately, many people that are going that route are looking for a quick fix to lose a few pounds and are not exploring a detox as a way to change the way they eat and their health. When done properly, cleansing or detoxing acts as an elimination diet and is the gold standard to learn what foods do not work for your individual body. However, our bodies are detoxing every day. It is the kidney, liver, colon, lungs and even skin’s job to remove toxins from our bodies. When our systems are working optimally, waste is eliminated from our bodies and not stored as fat or causing us problems such as fatigue, headaches, foggy brain, achy joints, autoimmune disease or mood disorders. Try implementing one of these ideas at a time and building up to doing all of them to get lasting changes.
Start every day with a glass of water with a ½ lemon squeezed into it. Even though lemon is acidic, the body digests it into an alkaline ash. Our bodies function more effectively in an alkaline state and this is a great way to start hydrating right away and get the digestive juices flowing.
Get Plenty of Rest
Turn off the t.v. (or any other screens) at least one hour before bed and do not read anything that might cause you stress. This is your time to unwind and prepare for sleep. Go for a walk. Practice some light yoga. Meditate. Give your worries over to a journal. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate and when you soak in an Epsom salt bath you absorb magnesium through your skin. Magnesium is a common deficiency. It leads to restless leg syndrome, muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, heart palpitations and constipation.
Practice going to bed at such a time that you can get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body and true healing doesn’t start until you’ve been asleep for about 5 hours, so it’s important to prioritize it.
Eat Whole Foods
Eat whole, real foods provided by nature. Food manufacturers create foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt and low in nutrients. Then our bodies have to work to remove those toxins but we are not giving our bodies the tools it needs to do that. Stick to foods high in nutrients. Especially important are the green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables which provide the liver with the nutrients it needs to do it’s job.
Breathe! Such a simple thing yet one that a good friend reminds me to do on a regular basis. Why? Focusing on breathing resets our stress hormones. When our stress hormones are activated everything slows down – our digestive system stops working effectively, our elimination system slows down and is not efficient, and our bodies are given a signal to store food as energy which equals an increase in our fat cells, i.e. weight. By doing this simple breathing exercise, we reset our cortisol and get our bodies working again Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 8, and release for 7. Repeat 4-6 times at least twice a day.
Move Your Body
Notice I didn’t say “exercise.” Going to the gym and working up a sweat with a bunch of other people is not everyone’s idea of a good time and if you don’t love it, you won’t do it. Find ways to make use of your body every day. Use a basket at the grocery store instead of a cart. Take the stairs instead of an elevator Get off the bus a stop earlier than you need to. Play with your kids. Pay attention to opportunities to add movement into your days.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger and people typically under consume water. There are many reasons to consume plenty of clean, pure, unadulterated water but for the sake of this topic, water is required to allow the toxins to leave our cells and be excreted in our urine and stool. If you are not taking in enough water, our body does not detoxify well. The results are headaches, muscle fatigue, constipation and other problems.
These are some very easy tips that are sustainable and help our bodies to detox every day – not just when we decide we need a strict diet.
Which tip are you going to implement first?
Do you need guidance and support to get started on detoxing daily? Sign up for my 28-Day Jumpstart to Weightloss starting September 4th under “Services.”
Most of us are familiar with the way we feel after a sleepless night. We tend to be grouchy, less than our happy selves and perhaps make food choices that we do not normally make. When the occasional sleepless night becomes more frequent or we have problems either getting to sleep or staying asleep, we develop more serious health problems than being less than tolerant of others.
Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated that chronic sleep deprivation leads to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a decrease in mortality. How can missing out on some sleep do all that? It all centers around hormones, those biochemicals that control so much of what goes on in our body. While we sleep, our bodies secrete hormones that control appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. Poor sleep leads to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, and also an increase in the release of insulin following a meal. It is insulin’s job to escort glucose into our storage or fat cells. When there is more insulin than sugars that need storing, our brains signal us to eat more.
Our bodies also use the time during sleep for muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and to release growth hormone. Also, studies have been done that show that when we sleep our brains are processing information. So, while it may be okay to cram for a test, getting your sleep before that test is just as important to help your brain assimilate the information. Teenagers require between 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. So you are not being the mean, horrible parent they claim you are when you set an early bedtime for them and hold them to it. You are helping them learn and setting a good path for their health and their education.
Sleep is so important but with today’s modern technology more and more people suffer from sleep issues. We no longer go to sleep when it’s dark out and wake up when the sun comes up. Thanks to the television and computer, we have things that occupy our attention, alter our sleep hormones, and cause us stress at all hours of the day and night. When we expose ourselves to stressful things at night – a disturbing t.v. show, upsetting email, or a book with a disturbing topic, we increase the level of cortisol in our bodies which is a stress hormone. An increase in cortisol also decreases our level of melatonin which is the hormone that promotes sleep. To get back into the rhythm of a healthy sleep pattern, practice good sleep hygiene:
- Turn off all screens a minimum of one hour before bed. This includes the t.v., (I promise you, you won’t miss anything!), the computer, e-reader, and phone.
- Do something calming to get ready for bed.
- Light a candle, meditate, read something light not something that will disturb you, take a bath, go for a walk, practice some gentle yoga. This is your time. Do something you enjoy that relaxes you.
- Make sure your bedroom is at a good temperature for sleeping. Do not keep it too hot or too cold.
- Use room darkening shades and a sound machine to block noise if necessary.
Good sleep is important. It is the body’s time to heal and rejuvenate. If practicing good sleep hygiene for a week does not help with your sleep issues, contact me and we will explore other options for you.
What are some things that you do to help calm and relax you before bed?