On a Scale from 1-10, How Stressed Out Do YOU Feel Right Now?
With everything going on around us, stress levels are understandably HIGH. And all of this added stress could be sabotaging your results if you’re not careful. I’m going to dive in and show you why, but I’m also going to give you a few of my favorite strategies to help you manage during these difficult times.
Some stress can be good for you. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable and can IMPROVE when under stress. For instance, during your workouts, you place stress on your body, and it gets stronger in response. Or when you work hard on mastering a new skill, which is another form of stress, your body and brain respond by getting better at it.
Here’s a quick review of what happens when you get stressed.
Let’s say you’re at work and your boss drops a huge last-minute project on your desk, and you only have a day to get it done. First – Awesome! They trust you! But second – Wow. How are you going to get it all done? Stress to the rescue! Your body immediately releases a bunch of hormones to help heighten your senses to either attack the problem or run away. This is fine once in a while, but if it becomes a constant issue (current pandemic), can lead to real problems.
Here’s why it matters. All those stress hormones – like cortisol and adrenaline – can cause a long list of issues in your body, including lowering your metabolism, if you have a lot of exposure to them.
First, thanks to the cortisol you can start to crave high fat, high sugar comfort foods. These fire up your brain’s “reward centers” giving you temporary relief from your stress and making it easy to slide into a pattern of overeating sugar and salty treats.
But get this! A study done a few years ago found that women who ate a high-fat meal after feeling stressed out the day before burned about 100 fewer calories the next day. Plus, they had higher insulin levels, which promotes fat storage, especially in areas that are the worst for your health, like your belly.
So … what can you do?
The most important thing you can do is to BE MINDFUL and listen to your body.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes you’ll just be living your life, working or going about your regular business, and all of a sudden you realize your shoulders are incredibly tight, and you wonder how long you’ve been walking around like that? Or that you’re breathing shallowly, which is another sign of stress?
Stress can sneak up on you over time, which is why it’s important to work STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES into your regular lifestyle! The amazing thing is that these techniques FEEL GOOD and leave you feeling recharged! Plus, they can help undo the negative effects stress can have on your metabolism.
This can be as simple as finding ways to work “alone” time into your day to recharge. This can even be listening to music you enjoy while you do the laundry or other household chores.
The key is to BE INTENTIONAL with this time and allow yourself to relax.
You also can experiment with breathing exercises or meditation. There are a ton of Smartphone apps for this and some fitness trackers also have a breathing feature. They do make a difference!
Another idea is cutting back on anything that causes you a lot of stress. For example, if you find that scrolling social media makes you feel uncomfortable, unfollow accounts that make you feel that way! The same thing goes with the news. If it makes you feel tense, stay informed, but don’t let yourself get swallowed up by the daily ups and downs in the media!
Finally, Let's get to the most important.... exercise, which can be a major stress buster. Exercising works in several different ways to help you feel better and rev your metabolism! When you’re physically active, your body releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that act as natural painkillers. Not only do these endorphins help cut stress, but they also help you sleep, which is another big stress buster. Plus, working out is GREAT for your metabolism, because all that physical activity helps you burn more calories.
That’s a quick rundown of how stress can impact your metabolism. Definitely worth the effort to work some stress management into your routine!
If you’d like to talk about your goals, send me a message and we will set up a time to chat!
Appropriate portion size is one of the main ingredients in having a balanced relationship with food. Over time, our portion sizes have grown exponentially, and so have our health issues as a nation. What used to be a typical portion size when eating out is now considered a kids meal -but with some practice, getting your portion sizes in check is simple and rewarding.
These tips don't restrict what you eat but help you stay mindful about how you're eating.
Serve yourself on smaller plates
One of the quickest ways to cut your portions down is to change your plating. I regularly use a salad plate as my main plate for meals -- and filling a salad plate is more along the lines of a healthy portion. This also tricks your eyes, since you're filling the whole smaller plate instead of using a large dinner plate and leaving an empty space.
Know which foods get more real estate on your plate
In addition to eating larger portions than we should in general, we're often allocating more space for the wrong things. Your vegetables or salad ideally will take up half your plate. Your protein of choice can allocate for a quarter of your plate, and any complex carbs can fill the other quarter.
While eating whole, fresh foods is always best, there are times when we use sauces, dressings, and pantry staples to prepare our meals. If you make a habit of reading the labels, you'll know how much is in each serving to avoid those serving-size traps. I like to stay mindful of this when using packaged items to supplement my meals.
Don't forget to stay mindful when you dine out
It's nice to get takeout sometimes or go out to dinner with people you adore. However, the meals you get in restaurants tend to be double the size or even more than a reasonable portion. You have a few options here. If you're ordering takeout for yourself, ask the restaurant to split the portion and enjoy the rest the next day. You can also split an entrée with someone else or order an appetizer and small salad as your meal. For me personally, I find that picking a delicious appetizer with a small side salad does the trick perfectly.
If you still feel hungry, make sure you're keeping your hydration in check. That's another reason why we tend to overeat. When you look for ways to keep portions to their true sizes and eat the right kinds of foods, you will start seeing the results you've been working towards.
Jennifer Castro is the owner of JAC Wellness Solutions. She is a Health Educator, Nutritionist, and Patient Advocate specializing in Women's Health & Vestibular Disorders. When she was diagnosed with an inner ear imbalance called Meniere's Disease, she knew she had no choice but to step up her game and become a detective for her own health. Coach Jenny is studying to become a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach while creating course content for health coaches and educators. She created an educational program for preschool teachers called Jump & Roll Fitness. The program provides lesson plans on how to create healthy habits for preschoolers. She also works as an Insurance Broker providing insurance solutions for small businesses, wellness, and medical practitioners. This blog is ALL about health, well-being, nutrition, lifestyle and kitchen hacks. She also tells stories of her own personal health journey. Coach Jenny loves to garden, spend time with her hubby, and loves to bake new recipes. She likes to put her own "healthy" spin on her and her hubby's favorite sweet treats.
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