It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so let’s talk about body image! I think it’s safe to say everyone struggles with the way they look, or feel about themselves, at some point in their lifetime. There are the dreaded middle and high school years, ravaged by puberty, social cliques, and the final years of bending to parental expectations. Then the stressful, roller coaster ride of college, filled with pressure to lay the foundation of adult life on three hours of sleep. Adulthood comes next, with magazines, TV shows, and social media providing a constant reminder someone out there is doing it better, faster, and skinnier or stronger than you are. Comparisons are present in every stage of life and are often a trigger to feelings of “not good enough.” How do we work through that, and why should we try to heal the relationship we have with ourselves?
Let’s start with some introspection:
When did you feel the best about yourself? What was your lifestyle like in terms of nutrition, exercise, relationships, sleep, and stress level?
On the flip side, when did you feel the worst about yourself? What was your lifestyle like in terms of nutrition, exercise, relationships, sleep, and stress level?
What are some things that triggered your positive and negative views of yourself?
When was the last time you communicated with someone about those positive or negative triggers?
Appearance assumptions combined with stressful triggers can lead to a negative body image. This often leads to a state of distress. Some behaviors associated with a state of distress and negative body image are:
Preoccupation or obsession with appearance
Comparison or envy of other’s appearance
Regular negative thoughts or disparaging comments about yourself
Assurance-seeking tendencies or actions
Negative assumptions about how others see you
Withdrawn behavior or avoidance; protecting yourself from peer judgement
While these behaviors are intended to reduce distress and hide your perceived flaws as a way to protect yourself from being judged by others, they may actually increase long term distress. These behaviors may fuel negative body image and/or appearance assumptions, which in turn may push you deeper into disordered eating, body dysmorphia, depressive states or anxiety.
Do you find yourself in this vicious cycle when you face one of your triggers?
Let’s move into some helpful coping strategies and self-talk cues that may help you.
Adjust appearance expectations. Challenge yourself by building new vision of how you see yourself, both long and short term. Release rigid or absolute values, like certain weight or aesthetic desires, and find ways to embrace, or even highlight, your one-of-a-kind qualities.
Utilize breath awareness and meditation to alleviate attention or assurance seeking actions. Work to be in the present moment. Embrace non-judgmental thoughts of yourself. In short, try giving yourself grace and space to be more unique.
Acknowledge assurance seeking behaviors and work to find other solutions.
Talk through your negative assumptions about how others may or may not “see” you, be it in a journal or with a trusted source. How effective are your predictions and assumptions to begin with?
Make intentional space in your week, or day, to work on positive self-talk. Journal, meditate, or openly discuss qualities you enjoy about yourself, or are working to improve.
Moving forward, it may be helpful to write down some warning signs, along with a coping strategy or phrase to avoid cyclical, negative self-talk or disruptive body imagery.
Instead of: “I hate how I feel after eating poorly. Work is so stressful, I don’t have any energy to take care of myself.”
Try: “I know I have to work overtime this week, which often triggers unhealthy eating and negative thoughts about myself. I deserve to fuel my body well, so I’ll plan to pick up some pre-prepped health foods to keep me going. I will try to limit social media/screen time to get ample sleep, and try to get in a short but effective workout so I feel confident and energetic.”
Instead of: “I wish I looked like so and so. He/She has it so easy, I’ll never look or feel as confident as them because I’m not as talented. I should just give up.”
Try: “I’m inspired by my peers, but acknowledge my path is different and unique. I need different training stimulus and nutrition/fueling to fit where I’m currently at. I am willing to improve my health and fitness on my terms so that I stick with it long-term.”
Be aware of problem situations that may be a trigger, and work to find productive, healthy solutions. Keep a personal mantra or encouraging phrase in your mind to help you. Arm yourself with a plan, because your best self is worth fighting for!
Controversial topic, I know! Carbohydrates have long been the “enemy” to people who associate themselves as healthy. I, too, used to encourage clients to focus on protein and healthy fats to lose weight and limit carbohydrates. Protein and fat play important roles in metabolism and recovery, don’t get me wrong. My mission (today at least) is to decriminalize carbohydrates and help show you how balancing carbs, fats, and proteins in harmony will help you feel and move your best!
I felt lead to discuss this after watching a recent episode of Down to Earth with Zac Efron (swoon). If you have a chance, give Episode 4 a watch. The episode is filmed in Sardinia where there is a notably high population of centenarians (people living over 100). Why does this matter? Doctors studying the envious longevity of the Sardinian people noted they have a diet high in carbohydrates and lower in protein. The healthy senior citizens walked rigorously, drank wine, ate foods grown, harvested and cooked by the community, and lived low stress lives. Sounds great, right?
While living on an Italian hillside sipping wine and eating pasta isn’t realistic for 99% of us, I think we can learn something from this community. It proves carbohydrates aren’t bad. In fact, they’re clearly associated with living long lives. We can also assume how foods are prepared is important. Taking the time to prepare food with love and intention, ideally growing what we can ourselves, is a healthy practice. Harvesting is great exercise (my dad is a farmer, so I can speak to this from years spent in our family garden and corn fields!) and food preparation is mentally stimulating as well. Cooking and eating nutritious carbohydrates should not be taboo!
As a competitive athlete, I rely on carbohydrates for fuel and recovery. If you’re not a competitive athlete, you still need fuel to survive. Metabolism is a word that gets thrown around a lot by fitness guru’s and coaches. To put it simply, your body needs calories to operate even when you’re at rest. There’s important stuff happening inside of you that requires energy, even when you’re sitting down and reading a book. That being said, the more fit and active you are the more fuel your body needs, even at rest. In short, everyone needs different amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fats based on their genetics and activity level.
To review, here’s what your needs and why:
Carbohydrates: provide and store energy for your cells, sparing protein and fat for other uses
Protein: grow and maintain tissue, provide structure for cells, regulate PH, acts as a messenger aiding in communication between cells, important for chemical functions
Fat: provide energy, support cell growth, aids in protecting vital organs and keeping them warm!
I choose different ratios based on my activity level that day. Example: on days I’m very busy and active, I eat a lot of healthy carbohydrates like fruit, brown rice, and organic or rice pasta to keep my energy up during the day. In the evening, I focus on lean protein, fibrous vegetables and fats once my activity is done. On days my activity level is low, say a recovery day where I sit a lot and write these great blogs, I eat more protein, fiber, and fat throughout the day and fewer carbohydrates in general. I also NEVER train without fuel.
Perhaps this leaves you thinking: what are some healthy sources of carbohydrates and ways to prepare them? I’m happy to provide some suggestions! Ultimately, you need to eat things you enjoy and taste good. Life is just too short. The good news is there are MILLIONS of healthy, tasty, balanced foods that provide all the key nutrients I just outlined. While the purpose of this blog is to get America comfortable with carbs again, I’m not encouraging you binge on Wonder Bread and Little Debbie products. Instead, I hope you look into what healthy combinations of foods and food groups that you enjoy, including carbohydrates. As a free resource, most of the recipes I post on my website include carbs, fats, and protein because I enjoy the way I feel when I eat all three.
Here are my favorite go-to combinations:
Apples and cheese or nut butter
Banana with raw nuts or nut butter
Brown rice with avocado
Oatmeal with an egg, avocado and feta OR almond milk, blueberries & honey
Quinoa with fresh fruit, almond or oat milk and a drizzle of honey
Rice or organic pasta with sautéed vegetables and roasted or grilled chicken
Homemade banana or zucchini bread with nut butter
Granola with fruit and oat or almond milk, OR yogurt
The takeaway is this: Carbohydrates are not bad. We should fuel wisely with wholesome, intentionally prepared foods. We should choose foods based on our taste and activity level while having the intuition to adjust. All things in moderation.
Becca’s Favorite Homemade Bread
A simple and delicious way to reduce plastic packaging while investing in producing the foods you eat. Kids may enjoy helping knead the dough as part of a fun kitchen experiment!
*Whole wheat flour can be used in place of flour, too!
2 cups warm water (should be warm to the touch, not boiling)
½ cup sugar (I use white sugar but plan to try with brown raw sugar soon!)
1 ½ T. active dry yeast
½ – 1 T. salt (I like Himalayan salt, and prefer more salt)
5-6 cups flour
In a medium mixing bowl, combine water with sugar until dissolved. Add yeast and stir continuously for about 5 minutes. The mixture should look combined and froth a little. Add salt and stir for another minute. Add flour one cup at a time. (I usually add about five cups, and then beginning lightly kneading, adding pinches of flour as a go until the dough isn’t sticky to the touch). Knead for 7-8 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place. I usually Once the dough is double in size, punch down (the fun part!) and divide into two greased 9 x 5 loaf pans. Let the dough rise again for about 30 minutes. Be patient, the bread will turn out at about the height you put it in at! Bake at 350* for about 25 minutes, or until a cooking thermometer reads 190-200*. Brush with butter, let cool, and slice with a serrated knife. E N J O Y!
We eat out for convenience, the experience, and to eat great tasting food. With COVID-19 rearing its ugly head, it may be awhile before we get our traditional restaurant experience. That shouldn’t stop you from being creative in the kitchen! I’ve recreated some classic favorites for you to make at home, along with tips and tricks to create a positive dining experience. Eating out at home is cheaper, healthier, and often times more memorable!
Each themed night will require a few special ingredients, so be sure to check the special grocery list I’ve included when doing your weekly shopping.
1. Bar Food
2. Wine Night
Easy apps to pair with wine
Simple Salad w/ homemade vinaigrette
4. Surf N Turf
Steak & Shrimp
1. Bar Food
Grilling the wings instead of deep frying saves a ton of calories and mess! While the nachos and poppers may still pack some delicious calories in, using the best quality ingredients and portion control is your advantage for cooking at home! Use the best quality ingredients you feel comfortable buying at the store (quality cheese vs. pasteurized American or nacho cheese sauce for example).
For the poppers:
8-10 large jalapenos
1 brick Cream cheese
3 eggs, beaten with 1 T. water
1 ½ cups Dried Bread crumbs, OR 1 cup flour seasoned with salt/pepper for dredging
Serving suggestions: Ranch, carrot and celery slices, additional salsa and/or hot sauce.
The first step in getting this meal to the table quickly and efficiently is to prepare the wings. Preheat your oven to 375, or smoker/grill if you have one (preferred method) Arrange you wings on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a sauce pan or large microwavable bowl. Combine with 1-2 cups Franks Hot Sauce. Tip: If you like your wings spicy, use less butter and more hot sauce. If you prefer mild, use more butter and less hot sauce. Regardless of your ratios, I promise you can’t mess them up! Brush the seasoned wings with the sauce. Whatever you have leftover can be used to baste the wings at the 10 minute mark. If grilling or smoking, baste when you turn them once, about 10-15 minutes in. Baste once more once finished grilling or baking. Can serve with additional Franks sauce (do not use the sauce you basted the wings in, its likely touched raw chicken!)
While the wings are grilling, prepare the nachos. Layer a sheet of tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Top with cheese and onions. If you’re serving a bigger group, add another layer of chips and cheese. Bake at 375* until cheese is melted. Top with salsa, and any additional toppings. Serve with more salsa if desired. Once you throw the nachos into the oven, check the wings!
While nachos are baking, and wings are grilling, fry up the poppers! Heat a deep frying pan filled with olive or vegetable oil. There should be no “dry” spots, so be liberal with the oil! Set the heat to medium high. Cut each pepper in half. Remove seeds. Use a knife to fill each half with a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese. Dip into egg/water mixture and roll in bread crumbs or seasoned flour. Place in oil. Fry until golden brown, turning once. I use tongs to careful turn the poppers so the filling stays in! When cooked, transfer to a plate with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Serve nachos on baking sheet you cooked them on OR transfer to a fun platter, drizzled with your choice of yummy toppings. Serve poppers on a plate with ranch to dip in if desired. Arrange wings on a platter with bonus sauce, sliced carrot and/or celery sticks, and ranch, if desired! Serve outdoors on the patio with appetizer plates or enjoy as a buffet while enjoy a sports game, re run, or movie!
2. Wine Night
A romantic meal on the patio is minutes away! . Get creative! Try different cheeses, wines, crackers, meats, and fruits each time you make this! Enjoy your favorite wine house playlist to complete the ambiance
1 lb brick white cheese (I prefer Gouda or Havarti)
1lb brick yellow cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
1 large cluster of grapes (you won’t need an entire pound)
2 red apples (I like jazz, pink lady, Honeycrisp, and/or fuji)
1 jar olives (can be stuffed, as fancy /non fancy as you prefer)
1 package crackers (can be gluten free if desired, just be sure to choose something sturdy!)
To prepare: Slice cheeses into several small slices. Rinse grapes. Core and slice apples thinly. Drain olives. Arrange cheese, fruit, olives, and antipasto meat on a large wooden cutting board. Place crackers in a decorative dish next to board. Serve with your favorite red or white wine and small appetizer plates. For a decorative touch, you may consider leaving part of the brick of cheese unsliced and placing on board with a cheese knife.
Other wine-friendly appetizers:
Slice 20 Medjool dates in half, removing pit. Fill with room temperature goat cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dash of paprika. Drizzle with honey.
Easy Skillet Quesadilla:
Heat a skillet on medium heat. Place one large flour tortilla (burrito sized) directly into pan. Sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on half of the tortilla. Add chopped cooked chicken, salsa, chopped peppers/onions if desired, or just keep cheese only! Fold the unfilled half of tortilla over filling and gently turn, cooking another minute or two. Both sides should be golden brown.
Serve with salsa.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:
Melt a 4 oz bar of Bakers Semi Sweet or Dark Chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30-60 seconds until smooth. Rinse strawberries and pat dry, leaving stems on. Dip the small end in the melted chocolate and place on wax paper. Chill for at 10-20 minutes before plating on a decorative dish and serving with your favorite red wine!
3. Gourmet Italian
Delicious, decadent, and simple!
2 cups spinach, stems removed
2 cups arugula
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T. balsamic vinegar, or balsamic vinegar reduction (my preference)
½ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Place spinach and arugula in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper together (start with 1 tsp of each if you’re unsure.) Taste after whisking and add more salt, pepper, vinegar or oil depending on your preference. Drizzle slowly over greens (you may have leftover dressing). Toss to coat, serve with pasta.
1 lb package pasta
8 slices bacon, cut in half
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (+ ¼ for topping, if desired)
3 eggs+1 egg yolk , whisked lightly
Directions: Start by cooking bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Place on paper towels to drain. Cook garlic on medium heat in bacon fat until fragrant and light brown. Remove from heat and pour garlic and pan drippings into a medium sized bowl.
Next, cook pasta (ideally thin spaghetti, but I’ve used all types of noodles) in a large pot of water. Add a dash of salt. Shoot for al dente texture. Reserve 1 cup of the water when draining pasta. Place pasta in a large bowl.
Add cheese and whisked eggs to garlic. Temper the mixture with ½ cup of pasta water. Add to cooked pasta and toss to coat. Crumble bacon and add to mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add more of the reserved pasta water if needed to thin the mixture. Top with additional shredded parmesan cheese if desired. Serve immediately with Simple Salad and wine!
4.Surf N Turf with Corn on the Barbie
Who says you can’t have a beach style theme on your back patio? This simple meal comes together quickly, and will be FAR cheaper at home than if you were to order out! Just be sure to get the corn, steak and shrimp when you hit the grocery store, as those are less frequently bought items. Enjoy out on the patio with a beer, glass of wine, or summer cocktail (find cocktail ideas on my website in Becca’s Kitchen tab)
2 cups cooked quinoa, pasta, or rice (you can use leftovers or start by preparing as your first step)
2 T. olive oil
McCormick’s Steak seasoning
1 lb frozen shrimp, thawed
2 T. olive oil
1 T. garlic salt
2-4 tsp. pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
4 ears corn
1 stick of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat grill or smoker to 400.*Place steaks on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season both sides of steak with McCormick’s as heavily or lightly as desired. Place on grill, along with corn, in husk. Flip steaks and corn after 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté shrimp in a large pan with oil on medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir frequently to cook evenly. Once shrimp is no longer pink, remove from heat and pour the lemon juice over shrimp. Steak and corn should just be getting done!
Check steak with a sharp knife to check done-ness. Remove corn from husks.
If using leftover rice, quinoa, or pasta, place 1 cup on a plate and reheat, or if prepared first it should be cool. Place 1 cup on each plate. Soften butter in an appropriate microwave safe serving container and heat for :15-:20 seconds. Plate steak, shrimp and corn over rice. Serve with softened butter, salt and pepper.
I hope these options will help enhance your dining-at-home experience! Cheers!
The trick in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is consistency. The first step is outlined in my last blog, Go-To Grocery List, which includes a checklist shopping guide to use when heading out for your weekly grocery trip. The second step is using those foods to make delicious, healthy meals! I’m going to keep it simple and provide you with a meal prep guide that will save you time and effort during busy weekdays. Even if you’re working from home, prepping foods will help eliminate the “grazing and gaining” trend!
After you’ve successfully braved the masses at your local Costco or grocery store, follow the steps listed. I usually encourage my athletes and clients to do this on separate days to avoid feeling overwhelmed, but the choice is yours! I usually allow 60-90 minutes for grocery shopping and 60-90 minutes for meal prepping.
*If you have small children, add 1-2 hours on to that guesstimate 😉
1. Make your carbs ahead of time (30-60 minutes)
This is the best one because it’s EASY! Throw 2-3 cups of rice/quinoa into a rice cooker with the prescribed water amount and have it ready to pull out for a quick side dish. You can also boil a large pot of pasta instead for the same purpose. Tip: stir in a drizzle of olive oil and mix before storing.
If you’re on a sweet potato kick, now is the time to can slice the potatoes thinly and bake for an hour @ 375. Drizzle with oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder or taco seasoning. Start here as this step takes the longest.
2. Slice and dice veggies. (10-15 minutes)
Dice/ Chop onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, etc. for MAIN DISHES
Slice carrots and peppers for healthy SNACKS
Place diced/chopped veggies in a large container to streamline dinner prep
Place sliced carrots and peppers in individual serving containers or snack bags for grab n go convenience.
I like to knock this out right after starting the carbohydrates; it’s the most tedious.
3. Prepare your proteins (20-25 minutes)
Marinate your chicken, fish, pork, beef, etc. If you’re grilling or baking your meat, that’s as far as you need to go. When it’s time for dinner, all you have to do is pull the marinated meat out of the freezer.
I usually prepare 1-2 lbs. of turkey taco meat as a staple fridge item. You may prefer to do tuna or chicken salad, or beef tacos, or prepare a large container of tofu. Whatever your preference, I strongly recommend a mainstay item that you can build a meal around. Turkey taco meat can make a healthy salad, wrap, or rice bowl into a meal in 5-10 minutes. I prepare and store in a Ziploc container every week. Just throw ground turkey in a pan with taco seasonings and some water.
Rinse, slice/chop if needed, label and freeze any protein you won’t cook in the next 3-5 days. This eliminates waste, and the pressure associated with “needing to cook something before it goes bad.” Plus, it’s easy to grab a bag of sliced frozen chicken out of the freezer, thaw, and throw it into a pan to begin cooking.
Hard boiled eggs are a lifesaver for those who don’t get enough protein! Place a dozen eggs in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, boil 5-8 minutes, then turn off. Leave the eggs till they cool, then rinse with cold water. Shell, and place into containers or baggies for a high protein snack, or breakfast! I usually do this as my taco meat is cooking.
4. Smoothies & Shakes (10-15 minutes)
Throw some smoothies in the fridge for an easy, healthy post workout snack or breakfast to go! Follow my Easy Recovery Smoothie recipe, or just throw fruit, almond milk, and protein powder into the blender and puree. Store in fridge or freezer.
If you’re a protein and milk/water only type, place scoop protein powder in shaker cups or baggies. Now, all you have to do is add liquid and shake. Brainless!
In a perfect world, your carbohydrates are done cooking as your proteins are finishing up so you can place everything in containers and store. I finish it all up with the smoothies or shakes before wiping down the kitchen. It may take a bit of fine-tuning your first try, so don’t hesitate to take notes on what you liked and what you want to different the following week to save time. It has to work for YOU. If you find a rhythm that works, you’ll be more motivated to stick with it each week. There’s room for variety, so have some fun being creative week to week. If you come up with any fun ideas or hacks, please share!
Lifestyle management is a daily challenge. One slip, two slips, three slips…and a bad habit is formed with consequences that can be ten-fold. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness about lifestyle choices, without any bullsh*t. I’m here to speak truth, and offer a way out. If you need some life changes, this article will help get you on the right track. Let’s get right down to it.
Main Causes of Obesity (from a trainer’s perspective) :
Stress – 1 out of 75 adults experience panic disorders (National Institute of Mental Health)
Lack of sleep – 1/3 of American adults report getting less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep/night (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Poor nutrition – The nationwide count for fast food restaurants has doubled since 1970!
Common sense, right? The prior are three key ingredients to the Obesity Recipe and, quite frankly, get swept under the rug too much. While it may seem easy to “fix” stress, sleep, and nutrition, it’s actually the three topics I’m constantly stuck on with most clients. American lifestyle is high-paced, competitive, and busy. Is that an excuse? No. It is, however, an explanation – a piece to everyone’s individual puzzle.
Let’s look at stress, the causes and consequences, and address how to manage your lifestyle with proper sleep and nutrition to battle the bulge.
Stress – the start of it all.
To name a few of many causes:
– Work – 80% of Americans reported feeling stressed at work, while almost 50% cited they need help managing stress. (American Institute of Stress) Changing careers, pressure to perform and hit deadlines, receiving promotions, and/or working split or night shifts are more specific examples of work related stress
– Fitness Routines – while it’s often a positive stressor, it’s still stress on the body. Training for a specific race, meet, and / or weight loss goals are examples of stressors. Even more specifically, high intensity and specific overload sessions are examples of things that can cause stress.
– Family- whether its chasing kids or helping a family member with an addiction or ailment, family can be stressful!
– Future of our country- surprisingly (or maybe not…) this ranked as one of the highest causes of stress in 2017. Some fear the national leader, while others are more stressed about how that specifically translates to things like Medicare. Long story short, Americans are the most concerned and stressed they have EVER been about this topic. (statistically)
Any of these relate to you? If so, keep reading..
Consequences of short and long – term stress levels
*This is the main takeaway, so if you’re skimming, slow down here.
When we experience immediate stress, our body releases several hormones (you may recognize one in particular known as cortisol). After the removal of a short bout of stress, say a workout, or traffic jam, or busy day at work, some hormones dissipate, some stick around to make sure energy is restored. Here’s where insulin comes in. Elevating blood glucose (aka eating sugar) lowers some of these hormone levels. As we give into sugar cravings more, our bodies adapt. Soon, we need more sugar to relieve these elevated hormones, and after an extended level of stress (unsustainable amounts of high intensity exercises or prolonged lack of sleep, for example), elevated levels of said hormones hinder thyroid-stimulating hormones, the important ones that account for metabolizing 60-75% of our daily calorie expenditure) which in turn reduces quantities of hormones needed to regulate metabolism. Before we know it, we’re insulin-resistant with high levels of fat in our core. (NASM) Slippery slopes…
Stress is a part of life. It always has been, it always will be. The reason why we’re more overweight is partly due to chronic stress from busy lifestyles, and the obnoxious amounts of readily available fast food and sugar. You’re allowed to be stressed! However, your reaction to stress has consequences. Do you want them to be positive (balanced diet and exercise) or negative (sugar cravings, insulin-resistance, weight gain)? *Note: discipline required to read further.
Balance you life. Take 5 minutes at the beginning, middle, and/or end of your day to think about the positive aspects of your life. If you can’t fill 5 minutes with positivity, it’s time to make some drastic changes. If you’re one step ahead saying change is stressful, you bet your a** it is, but if short-term stress leads to relief of chronic stress well, that’s a trade I’d take any day.
Incorporate aerobic activity. If all you’re doing is blowing off steam with ground and pound workouts, or avoiding exercise altogether, think about redirecting your time. If you’re not exercising, start with 30 minute walks 3 x’s a week. If you’re already exercising, step back and look at your approach. Do you need some aerobic activity to help reduce those stress hormones? Try doing 2 moderate workouts to 1 high intensity or anaerobic workouts. If you’re training for a specific, competitive event, be sure to include a recovery week every 2-4 weeks.
SLEEP. Everyone is different, but the majority of us need 7-8 hours of sleep. This means exercising and eating at an appropriate time. Sometimes that means skipping an early workout if sleep quality was poor, while sometimes this means working out early to ensure a timely dinner and bedtime. Lastly, this means lights off and devices away by a certain time. If that’s too much to ask, reassess your priorities.
Feed yourself. Under-fueling is an epidemic, in my dramatic opinion. Too many people work hard at demanding job, stress their bodies in training, and (in a futile attempt to lose weight) restrict calories. If give your body less than it needs to function, you only increase those naughty hormones I discussed. The result is fatigue, not weight loss. That’s depressing! If you’re unsure of what you need to ensure a healthy metabolism, consult a fitness professional. Nutrition is not a cookie-cutter plan. It takes time to find the right caloric intake for optimal performance and / or weight loss.
Proper Nutrition. The minute you pull into McDonald’s after a stressful day at work after a poor night’s sleep is the minute you agree to the negative chain of events we discussed. To be clear: treats and rewards are part of a balanced routine, while stress-responses eating is an addictive habit. If you get promoted and celebrate with a milk shake, awesome! If you’re traveling for work, sleep-deprived, and react with a milk shake, not awesome. Set yourself up for success by grocery shopping for 1 hour, and meal prepping for 2 hours. That’s three hours of time on a day you’ve set aside each week to be successful during a busy week. If that’s still not possible, use an online food service to deliver healthy meals in stressful weeks. If you travel, plan your trip ahead to find walkable distance stores and be strong at company dinners. Skip the alcohol, bulk the vegetables. I could make this bullet a separate post, as this barely touches on ways to have proper nutrition. If you still have questions, feel free to reach out to me personally on this matter.
Routine vs. Ritual: I’ve found most people to be creatures of habit. We prefer to have our schedule “normal.” For example: Breakfast at 7. Workout at 8. Shower and head to work at 9, so on and so forth. Bland, but seems to work…or does it? If you look at your schedule and find yourself going through your daily routine effortlessly, then it’s time to ramp it up a little. Rituals are meaningful tasks that specifically lead us closer to our goal. It’s the mentality behind the actions that make an impact. It’s quite possible your routine is holding you back from reaching your potential, merely by lulling you into mediocrity. Look at your day to day and find ways to insert rituals into your routine that will make you just 10% better.
That’s it for today, folks! Feel free to email me personally if clarification or personal advice is needed on any of the topics touched on today.