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Archive for the "stress management" Category

Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss

Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by julie

Is Stress Making You Fat?

Cultivating a Healthy Relationship Between You and Food

Part B

Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss

mindset

Have you heard the saying: “we are what we think”? Well it is just as true when it comes to our health, weight and our relationship with food.

Emotions are often a result of beliefs and it is strong emotions that trigger stress hormones like cortisol that we have already spoken so much about.

Beliefs are thoughts accepted as being true facts (e.g.: eating is my only way of coping with loneliness and sadness). They lead our behaviours in an automatic manner – they are the autopilot in our brain, held at a subconscious level.

Beliefs are determined by external stimuli, by experiences, events or situations we encounter (e.g.: being constantly neglected and feeling better only when eating).

In other words:

             situations lead to thoughts and beliefs

             thoughts and beliefs lead to emotional responses

             emotions lead to behaviours

             behaviours lead to habits and

             habits lead to visible results

Habits are behaviours which have been done so regularly that get to be performed without thinking, without requiring active attention

Now the really good news here is that this line of natural progress from our thinking to our eating habits and weight is totally controlled by us! Yes, totally! 

What result do you want?

Are you getting it? If not then follow the arrows above to find out where you blockage is

The real cause of your weight gain is your mindset. But, what does Mindset actually mean?

Mindset:

    * Is a fixed mental attitude

    * Is an inclination to do something in a habitual manner

    * Is formed as a result of experience, education and to some point personality

    * It Includes thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions and habits

    * It incorporates your beliefs about yourself and how you interact with your world

    * It determines how you will interpret and respond to situations and this response is automatic

What does this mean for you?

Your current weight is the result of your mindset.  If you are eating on autopilot and not happy with the results then the key is to turn off the autopilot and become super aware of what you are thinking and doing

The great news is that self defeating or self sabotaging beliefs can not only be learnt – they can be changed. If you really want to achieve a weight loss mindset but much more importantly a mindset of health and energy, then change your beliefs

KEY POINT

Let me say something here that I believe is very important for your success: always work from a focus of strength and positivity rather than weakness and negativity. I know it is “popular” to talk in terms of weight loss but you are really not doing yourself any favours here.  For the best results, choose a healthy, energetic mindset over a weight loss mindset.  The former will last you for a life time, the latter will last until you have dropped the weight

Ways to Cultivate a Healthy, Stress Free Relationship with Food

Food is a source of not only sustenance and nutrition but also it is a source of great pleasure. These two things definitely need to be part of the equation for a healthy relationship with food. What we are aiming for is to not use food for things it was not intended for, for example, comfort, stress reduction, to hide behind or medicate our pain

Here are some ways to help cultivate a healthy and stress free relationship with food:

             Build a strong support network where you can be comforted, supported and listened to when you have a problem rather than resorting to food. Of course, you can gain support in a number of different ways, for example, face to face, online, over the phone, with friends, a support group, or a professional

             Choose exercise to alleviate tension rather than food. Make the exercise preventative by exercising regularly on most days. The best exercise for cultivating positive chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins is cardiovascular so a 30 to 40 minute walk each day is a great start. This form of exercise also helps to regulate that nasty fat producing cortisol and hopefully will help you sleep better.

             Practice regular meditation and relaxation – a time where you are in the moment, focused on yourself and tuned out to the stress and problems in your life. Get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well when you’re stressed, that may have an impact on your weight loss efforts, too. (Research has shown there may be a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain.) Practicing relaxation before bed can help with a restful night’s sleep

             Keep a food diary. Tracking what you eat and how you feel about what you eat is an amazing tool for changing bad habits into good habits. You spend so much time on everything else – why wouldn’t you give a little bit of your time each day to developing a healthy relationship and habits with food. Remember, raising self awareness is one of the most powerful things you can do

             Monitor your reactions to stress. Maybe an honest look at your stress reactions will show you that you are overreacting to some situations. Try to put things into perspective – are they really that bad? Learn to let go of what will not have any importance to you in a few months time. If the situation is important then sit down and work out a written strategy to deal with it

             Recognize the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension. Your diary will help you with this but then it is important to use a better coping technique than food

             Have a routine with food. Learn to control food and when and what you eat rather than it controlling you. Who really is the boss here?

             Believe it or not, the first function of food is not pleasure. It is energy and nutrition to keep our amazing systems functioning on optimum. By all means enjoy food but when you are able to ask yourself, “Will this food nourish and energize my body?” maybe you will find it easier to say no to food that is actually destroying your miraculous system

One last point I want to make here is that food affects our mental health as well as our physical health.  The wrong foods or excess amounts can bring us depression, low motivation, instability, lack of focus etc.  In other words, the wrong foods can themselves cause stress. Nutritious foods can bring us joy, energy, clarity, hope, passion and excitement. If you are having mental health issues as well as physical health issues, seriously consider a healthy lifestyle

Julie Spain

 If you would like further help in changing your mindset once and for all or a copy of my ebook “Change Your Habits: Change Your Life”, simply send me an email at julie@sigmamindset.com or ph 0430186415.

Julie Spain is the Owner of Sigma Mindset and a Life and Leadership Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker to Executives, Professionals and Business Owners.  Julie specializes in strategic mindset coaching that: Makes a Difference and Makes It Quick

 

 

Is Stress Making You Fat? Cultivating a Healthy Relationship Between You and Food

Posted on July 29th, 2013 by julie

Part A:

How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image15995331

We are all aware of the relationships that we have with other people in our lives, but how aware are you of the relationships going on within yourself. We are made up of mind, body and spirit and each of these parts are connected and have a relationship with each other. If this relationship is not balanced and healthy, weight gain and ill health can be the result.

When it comes to our weight, all of the above are important considerations.  Part B of this article will focus on the psychological – how we think and feel.  Part A will help us to understand how everything we think and feel is transferred into hormones and chemicals and these have a direct affect on us physiologically

So, let’s first ask the question:

Is Stress Making You Fat?

8-things-making-you-fat-08-sl

Most people admit that when they’re under stress, healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain. Whether eating to fill an emotional need or grabbing fast food simply because there’s no time to prepare something healthy, a stressed-out lifestyle is rarely a healthy one. But weight gain when under stress, according to some researchers, may also be at least partly due to the body’s system of hormonal checks and balances, which can actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out

There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. When we’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies, leading to the release of various hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.  The hypothalamus directs the adrenal glands to secret these very important hormones

Cortisol has been termed the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy (for when we are threatened), stimulates insulin release, increases blood pressure, suppresses the immune system (this is essential for the flight and fight response) and increases blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite

Adrenaline is vital to increase your alertness and energy levels during times of threat. Cortisol works to also increase energy by increasing the production of glucose from protein

Cortisol, however, has another purpose. After stress, adrenaline tends to dissipate but cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. Now here is the clincher- one of the ways cortisol works to get our system back into balance is to increase our appetite so we can replace the carbohydrate and fat that we should have used if under a fight and flight situation

Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Stanford University states, if stress and cortisol levels stay high, so will insulin levels. This continual stress leads to a constant state of excess cortisol production, which stimulates glucose production. This excess glucose then typically is converted into fat, ending up as stored fat.

Cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat to be deposited on the abdominal area. This is sometimes called “toxic fat” since abdominal fat is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes.

Ok, I know that is a lot of science but I think it is essential to understand the biochemistry of stress and how this is thought to contribute to weight gain.

It is important to remember that the production of adrenaline and cortisol are essential to the stress response and hence to our survival. The issue for us today is that the modern stress response has more to do with overload and busyness than with running from a lion. This means that we do not utilize these hormones in the way they were intended and yes, stress can make us sick and possibly fat.

So How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

I often tell my clients that self awareness is the first key to resolving your problems. As you read these points, take note of which ones are relevant to you. Meditate and/or journal on them.

Cortisol Cravings

Among other things, high levels of cortisol can create cravings for salty and sweet foods. In previous centuries, this enabled people to bulk up on foods that would sustain them during times when food is scarce; however, in modern times and industrialized nations, when food is rarely scarce, this really is necessary and can cause excess weight gain

Social Eating

Socializing is about having fun and of course this means eating and drinking. When upset we often seek out friends and go and have a drink or some comfort food to help us feel better. Have you noticed how friends love to feed you when you are upset?

Nervous Energy

When stressed or anxious, many people want to fidget with their mouths. Sometimes this leads to nail biting or teeth grinding, and often it leads to eating when not hungry. Many people, out of nervousness or boredom, just munch on comfort food to give their mouths something to do.  This is also very similar to many smokers

Childhood Habits

Many of us have comforting childhood memories that revolve around food. Food was used to celebrate, feel better, be rewarded and even to punish. As adults, when we find ourselves in similar positions we often revert back to how this was handled as a child.  What are some childhood food habits that you think are not working for you as an adult?

Avoiding  Emotions

Another reason that many people eat is to quiet uncomfortable emotions. People who are uncomfortable with confrontation may deal with frustrations in their marriage with a piece of cake, for example, rather than with open communication. Food can take the focus off of anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, and a host of other emotions we’d sometimes rather not feel, and is often used for this purpose. Just watch a romance movie and see how the heroine always turns to a bucket of ice cream. I call it using food to medicate our pain

Slows Down Our Metabolism

Besides all the things we discussed above about cortisol, it can also slow down your metabolism and when you combine this with stress stimulating your appetite you have a double whammy for weight gain

Pleasure Cravings

When under stress, people do not usually reach for a nice healthy salad. We tend to crave foods that are fatty, salty or sugary (maybe even all of them). These are what we would call comfort foods

Blood Sugar

Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia.  Hyperglycemia is our body’s way of telling us we need to put some food into our system to increase our energy supply. Of course this may not really be true just confused messages from your blood sugar levels caused by stress

Fat Storage

Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.

Too Busy to Exercise

With all the demands on your schedule, exercise may be one of the last things on your to-do list. If so, you’re not alone. We live a more sedentary lifestyle than we have in past generations, yet our minds seem to be racing from everything we have to do. Unfortunately, from sitting in traffic, clocking hours at our desks, and plopping in front of the TV in exhaustion at the end of the day, exercise often goes by the wayside.

Stay tuned for Part B of this article: “Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss”

 Julie Spain

If you would like further help in changing your mindset once and for all or a copy of my ebook “Change Your Habits: Change Your Life”, simply send me an email at julie@sigmamindset.com

Julie Spain is the Owner of Sigma Mindset and a Life and Leadership Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker to Executives, Professionals and Business Owners.  Julie specializes in strategic mindset coaching that: Makes a Difference and Makes It Quick