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…. and what you can do to prevent it from knocking your fitness goals off-track!
Yesterday when I spoke about importance of scheduling when you are going to eat meals or snacks, I said I would give you the information on WHY it’s so vital. I went to a workshop about food, nutrition, and mental health, and the knowledge I gained is so important for reaching your health and fitness goals. Even small changes make a big difference. In reading this, notice the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia, why you may be overeating when you get home, the benefits of eating often, and how it connects with my last post.
A person eating a western diet comprised of foods such as processed meats pizza chips, hamburgers, meat pies, white bread, sugar, flavored milk drinks, and soda is 50% more likely to have depression. (Jacka, 2010)
However, a person with a dietary pattern made up of vegetables, fruits, beef, lamb, fish, and whole-grain foods (traditional diet), was associated with a lower likelihood of depressive and anxiety disorders. (Jacka, 2010)
Infrequent meals (causes hypoglycemia)
Diet low in protein (if you have a meal without protein, you are more likely to feel hungry again sooner, blood sugar will drop sooner)
Diet high in refined carbohydrates
Diet low in omega 3 fatty acids
Lack of exercise
Lack of sleep
Artificial stimulation (caffeine, video games, internet)
What Can We Do?
Benefits of Eating Often
Prevents macro- and micro-nutrient deficiencies, which contribute to anxiety and depression.
Prevents hypoglycemia, which contributes to anxiety and anger.
Lowers levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which contribute to the flight or fight response.
** how often??
ALWAYS eat breakfast, and add protein to your breakfast. This will help your blood sugar remain stable and you will be less hungry sooner. Eat meals/snacks every 3 hours.
Hypoglycemia & Executive Functioning
What is hypoglycemia?
– Mild Signs
Increased heart rate
– Moderate Signs
What causes hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) level falls too low. Most hypoglycemia occurs when you haven’t eaten (when you’re in a fasting state). During digestion, your body breaks down food and creates molecules such as glucose, the main energy source for your body. Glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream after you eat, but it can’t enter the cells of most of your tissues without the help of insulin — a hormone secreted by your pancreas. When the level of glucose in your blood rises, it signals cells in your pancreas to release insulin. The insulin unlocks your cells so that glucose can enter and provide the fuel your cells need to function properly. If you are not producing glucose to fuel your cells, the effects of hypoglycemia occur.
How does it affect my mood?
Decreases emotional regulation
Decreases ability to cope with stress
Increases impulsive behavior
…. and how do these four things connect?… by causing emotional eating, stress eating, overeating, and then negative self-talk. That’s why it’s so important to eat often. People who eat more meals throughout the day not only way less, but feel less stressed, anxious, and depressed. So, eat more! Yes, I said eat more! I don’t mean go out and eat McDonald’s an extra 3 times a day, but spread out your meals and keep healthy snacks on hand, just in case you feel that blood sugar drop. Your workouts will be better because you have more energy, you’ll work out more often, find less excuses, and see results!
Most days when I get to work, the first thing I do is make a to-do list. I’m sure the vast majority of you do the same. The first pitfall is putting too much on your to-do list….. What is at the top of your priority list? Focus on five things that day, and one of them needs to be exercise. You can’t accomplish a list of 20 things, or you’ll fee like you’ve accomplished nothing. Been there, done that! If it can wait, let it wait. Ok, that’s my rant about to-do lists. Trust me, I love them, live by them, but sometimes they get the best of me! I’m just passing on some things I’ve learned about the to-do list dangers over the years. (I know some of you are laughing because I truly do put too much on my plate most of the time. Everyone has something to work on, and that’s mine 🙂 No one’s perfect!)
Making a weekly schedule is so important when it comes to integrating exercise and proper nutrition into your lifestyle. What is the most convenient time to exercise for you? And don’t say “never,” find a half hour in your day to start with. Say, the most convenient time for you to workout is at 6:30am. Well, block off 6:30-7:00am each day on your calendar for your workout time, for the “you” time you deserve. If your time is at 7:00-7:30pm, then block that off, and so on and so forth. Make that time non-negotiable. It’s set in stone. If someone asks you to do something during that time, look at your calendar and say “Oh, you know, I already have something scheduled at that time” and coordinate another time.
The same goes for eating, and eating nutritiously. I can’t say enough about easy ways to portion out food and pack lunches. For example, marinate and cook up a package of all-natural white meat chicken, slice it up, put it in a container with veggies (like Steamfresh) and voilà! Lunch is ready to go. The same goes for breakfast. Everyone can grab a protein bar or a yogurt and a 100 calorie pack of almonds. Each little change makes you see that it’s really not that hard to prepare for the day! Also, make a schedule for when you need to eat, and if you have to, set an alarm. If you’re like me, sometimes you get so caught up in what you’re doing you forget to eat until your body is yelling at you!
Schedule meals and snacks about 2-3 hours apart, and make sure you fuel your body at the time you have set. When you’re blood sugar drops, it causes confusion, irritability, anxiety, weakness, and many other things. Don’t let that happen. By making a schedule, you’ll avoid this dangerous eating pitfall. In my next post, I’ll talk about the important of eating often, what to eat, when to eat it, and how foods affect our mood and mental health. Each day, just like a to-do list, write out what foods you’ll eat at what time, and make those just as non-negotiable as your workout schedule. It will get easier and easier and in time, will become habit. Remember, take small steps towards this goal, and don’t try to completely uproot your life. Trust me, the pressure and anxiety it causes will eventually wear you down and you’ll go right back to old habits. If you need some templates for scheduling meals/snacks or workouts, let me know and I’d be more than happy to share those with you! I’m here to help you succeed!
Make sure you read my post about nutrition, because it has so much valuable info about the importance of eating breakfast, why you need protein at breakfast, how much protein you should be eating throughout the day, etc. It will give you some tools to put in your arsenal as you venture along on this journey.
Even I have to remind myself about what it means to be resilient. Resiliency is something you learn, not something you were born with. So, I really have to focus on embodying this attitude just like everyone else. If I can believe in it through everything I’ve been through, I have no doubt that anyone can. I made this and have it on my wall at home. Make one of your own and look at it everyday. Be strong. Have faith. Learn to be resilient.
When we put your fears aside, we make room for love to come into our hearts. Love gives us memories to cherish and strength to get through hard times. Love isn’t about you. Love is a gift that is meant to be shared. Love deeply, without fear, for love is one of life’s greatest treasures. Don’t take it for granted.
The first factor that contributes to the “no time” excuse is aiming too high. What I mean is that people often set unrealistic weight loss goals or attempt a rigorous exercise regiment when they haven’t worked out for months or maybe even years. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard the quote: “shoot for the moon and if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” However, in this case, say you shoot for the moon (the moon being your fitness and weight loss goals), and don’t reach it. Based on human behavior and thinking, you’re going to land right back on earth where you started (gain the weight right back, return to living a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition) and add guilt and self-doubt on top of it. This is known as an “all-or-nothing” negative thinking distortion, meaning, you view a situation in two ways: win or fail. There is no in-between or positive reinforcement of small successes. It’s go big or go home. I’m about to challenge that distortion, because this is not the Super Bowl, this is life.
Should you set high expectations of yourself? Yes. Should you create goals that pretty much set you up for failure? Absolutely not. You are completely capable of reaching your goals! The key is to create specific, realistic, measurable, and attainable goals within a set period of time (aka SMART goals). I’ll call those unattainable, unrealistic goals the “aim-too-high’ goals, or ATH goals. Let’s look at the difference between the two, as well as the thinking patterns commonly associated with both outcomes.
Susie Q is a 38 year-old female who weighs 165 pounds. Her height is 5’3” and she generally leads a sedentary lifestyle. She hasn’t stuck to a consistent exercise or healthy eating regimen since her early 20’s.
ATH goal: Susie says she wants to run 5 miles 5 days a week and do strength training for an hour 2 days a week. She wants to lose 20 pounds in two weeks because she’s going on vacation. She states that she will eat only fruits and vegetables in order to reach her goal.
That’s a very ambitious (and nearly impossible) goal! The likelihood of losing 20 pounds in two weeks is extremely low, unless she runs ten miles a day and doesn’t eat. That’s impractical and dangerous. (and don’t even THINK about doing it) Why isn’t this goal going to lead her towards success? For one, people typically can’t go from a sedentary lifestyle to one of rigorous physical activity. It takes a toll on your body. That’s a tough regimen, even for people who exercise regularly. To lose a pound, you must have a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories. That can’t happen in a day. If Susie cut out 500 calories per day from her diet, including calories burned from exercise, she’d lose one pound per week (7 x 500= 3,500). Thus, she has set her goal of losing that amount of weight way out of the realm of reality.
SMART goal: Susie will start to become physically active again by walking 3 times a week for 30 minutes and doing light strength training 1-2 times per week for 30 minutes. Susie will, over the course of one month, lose 1-2 (2 is ambitious) pounds per week, totaling about 4-6 pounds. Susie will incorporate at least one fruit or vegetable into every meal and choose low-fat dairy options daily. Susie will keep track of her workouts through weekly checklists and her food through a food journal. Each week she will weigh-in and if she has lost more than 0.5 pounds, will reward herself by going to see a movie, buying some new nail polish, or going to get her hair done. Each success should be positively rewarded.
Now, this goal is specific, can be measured using workout checklists and a food journal, is attainable and realistic (physiologically, psychologically, can easily be woven into her day, and healthy eating is slowly incorporated instead of making huge diet changes), and time-oriented (weekly and monthly). When Susie sees small successes, she also needs to be reminded that reaching those little goals really add up to a huge change. It may take longer than she had hoped, but she has a much better chance of truly changing her lifestyle. Have patience and be kind to yourself. Be resilient. You can get through and do anything. I know because I’ve been there. Don’t think of a setback as defeat; see it as your chance to make a comeback.
*** If you need help making SMART goals, just send me a message (here or Facebook) or an email. This is my passion, and I here to help others, not myself. There is no judgment, just teaching and learning. Set yourself up for victory, because you deserve to live the life you want. ***
It’s been so cold lately that I feel like I’m living in Antarctica, not Cleveland, OH. I was watching a really interesting news story on CNN yesterday, and I have some good news and some bad news. Bad new first? OK. Well, unfortunately, they declared a state of emergency yesterday for Ohio, New Jersey, and Delaware because of the frigid temperatures. Even better? It won’t be lifted until SATURDAY. Looks like we’ll have to bundle-up like Ralphie’s brother in the movie “A Christmas Story” to avoid getting frostbite. Not a good look. Just make sure you don’t fall into the snow; or you won’t be getting up. (comedic pause…) I let my dog out this morning and, as unbelievable as this is, by the time I reached for the door handle to let her back in, the inside handle was completely frosted over. Yes, the inside handle. Now that’s cold. Where is all this talk about global warming coming from?
Thankfully, there’s more good news than bad news, so I thought I’d go out on a positive note. As CNN reported, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine revealed that people actually burn more fat in the cold. How is this possible when you feel like you can barely move? Well, researchers discovered that exposure to low temperatures can help activate “brown fat,” which produces heat and burns calories. Your muscles need to work harder to keep your body warm, creating a thermogenic reaction. Notice how you unconsciously tense your muscles and shiver in the cold. Those muscles are working to heat up your body. Crazy, right? Keep in mind, these researchers are not suggesting that cold weather can be used for dieting purposes, but while you’re miserable in the freezing cold weather, at least you know you’re activating those brown fat cells!
An article on Fitday.com stated that running in low temperatures can increase your energy levels and boost your mood. Of course, if it’s too cold, stay inside. The benefits of running in low temperatures doesn’t outweigh the cost of getting frostbite. I also thought it was interesting that the cold can help runners recover more quickly. A study done by the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance said that the best and most efficient recovery aid was actually cryotherapy, which exposes your body to temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Not my cup of tea, but hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it I guess! Finally, exposure to cold weather (and I’m not talking about going out and doing one of those Polar Plunges), helps fight joint pain by reducing swelling and inflammation. The cold weather seems to create a big ice pack for your whole body! S0, next time you’re battling the winter freeze, think about some of the benefits it provides, and maybe the cold won’t seem quite AS bad.