The Powerful Truth About Stress and Thought

The Reality…
In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress and stress management being one of the three components of the Optimal Health Triad I advocate.  (If you missed it, click here to read Ten Tips to Manage Stress.)  One of the tips offered to reduce stress was to examine and clean up your thoughts about your life circumstance and stressors.
The Challenge…
To reiterate, if you fail to manage your stress, your mind and body may experience some undesirable side effects, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, premature aging, mood disorders, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.  Stress is also linked to poor dietary choices and hormonal imbalance that keep you overweight.  It can be very challenging to manage your thoughts about your life circumstances and the things that cause you stress, but managing those thoughts is the key to managing the stress and reducing its impact on the body.
The Solution…
So, how do you clean up your thoughts?  Thoughts seem to happen automatically, so it may feel impossible to change them, but it is possible.  And changing your thoughts is key to everything from managing your stress to getting the results you want in any area of your life. 
I learned a neat trick called modeling when I did my coaching certification with the Life Coach School.  The idea behind modeling is that all of us operate under “unintentional models” which reflect what we are “unintentionally” doing in our lives that are leading us to the undesirable results are currently getting.  The acronym for the model is CTFAR, and the acronym translates as follows: C = Circumstances, T= Thoughts, F = Feelings, A= Actions, and R = Results.  Under the model, any circumstances you encounter in life are simply neutral facts that are neither good nor bad, at least until we think a thought about those neutral facts.  Our thoughts about life circumstances cause us to feel a certain way, and the feelings we feel lead us to take a certain action.  Ultimately, the actions we take give us our results.  For example, if something we consider stressful occurs during our day triggers our conditioned thought that “when I am stressed, I eat everything in sight”, you may feel, for example, weak or disappointed in yourself.  And when you feel weak or disappointed in yourself, you may take the action of making yourself feel better by indulging in food.  The result you will get when you try to make yourself feel better with food is that you gain weight, or at the very least, you don’t lose weight.  
Above was an example of an “unintentional model”, and we want to replace the unintentional models we are currently operating under with “intentional models” that will lead us to our “intended” & desired results.  Using the above example of stress, if something we would ordinarily consider stressful occurs during our day, we can be conscious about it and decide in advance to think a more productive thought about it, such as “stress creates an opportunity for me to treat myself with extra care.”  Instead of generating a feeling of weakness or disappointment, your new thought may make you feel nurtured or strong, and those feelings can lead you to renewed dedication to your weight loss goals, which will ultimately result in losing weight versus gaining weight. 
If you are not achieving the results you desire, you must examine the results you are getting and track them back up to the thoughts you are thinking that are leading you to the undesirable result.  It always starts with a thought!  If stress and stress eating are interfering with your weight loss, try cleaning up your thoughts about your stress and life circumstances, which are actually neutral versus good or bad.
Thanks Brooke Castillo and the Life Coach School for developing such a powerful tool for change!
The Invitation….
I would love your feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below!     

 

To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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How to Avoid Stress Eating in the Midst of Your Stressful Day


The Reality…
In a recent blog, I wrote about the prevalence of stress in today’s world, and offered 10 tips to manage stress.  (If you missed it, click here to read Ten Tips to Manage Stress.)  The reality is that if we do not learn to effectively manage our stress, we may instead find ourselves managing a whole host of other undesirables. To reiterate, the failure to manage stress can result in anxiety, depression, insomnia, premature aging, mood disorders, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.  On top of all those serious health concerns, failure to manage stress can also result in weight gain, and over time, obesity, stemming from poor food choices made while under stress.  I am referring to what is commonly called “stress eating” and nothing can take a woman off track with weight loss faster than a high stress day and the stress eating that somehow gets her through it.   
The Challenge…
The challenge, of course, is that those urges to stress eat strike when we are at a particularly vulnerable point emotionally.  Those of us who stress eat seek solace in “comfort foods”, which are typically packed full of sugar, flour and calories.  Those comfort foods provide an extra dose of dopamine to make us feel better, at least temporarily, which is one of the reasons we crave them.  Dopamine is known as the “feel-good hormone” because it provides feelings of euphoria and bliss.  No matter how much better your body may feel after eating “comfort food”, the body will still be at risk for the undesirables referenced above, and you certainly won’t be any closer to the your weight loss goals, especially if your stress eating occurs with any regularity.  In addition to the ten tips provided in the prior blog, which are more of a proactive and overall approach to stress management, below are some techniques you can use “in the moment” to avoid stress eating in the midst of your stressful day. 
The Solution…
If you are in the habit of experiencing stressful days because of your job or relationships, then it makes sense to plan in advance for a healthy interruption that you will implement when stress arises.  I encourage you to have at least five healthy interruption techniques at the ready.  Below I offer a few ideas to get you started, but ultimately you will want to develop techniques that are meaningful to your particular circumstances.  Tell yourself in advance that the stress may be coming, and if it does, you are prepared and will employ one of your techniques before you resort to stress eating.  Nine times out of ten your stress will dissipate without the need for food, and your body and brain will eventually become conditioned to the fact that food is no longer your answer to stress relief:
    1.  Have a safe space designated within your office or home (wherever you find yourself encountering stress, to the extent practical) where you can go light a candle or incense, close the blinds or drapes, and exercise some deep inhalations and exhalations.  Even five minutes of respite can bring about a shift in your stress level and allow you to push the reset button simply with space and breath, and not food.
     2.   Another option to deep inhalations and exhalations in your safe space would be to listen to a quick guided meditation. 

3   3.  Grab a bottle of water and go for a quick walk outside.  The water will help your body to feel as if it is being satiated, the walk will get your body moving and your blood flowing, and the fresh air will prompt you to breathe.  The whole experience will give you a fresh perspective.  

     4.  Have an understanding with a friend or family member that you will each provide each other with support in stressful times where either of you might otherwise feel tempted to stress eat.  Place a time limit on the phone call.  Even five minutes on the phone with a friend who understands what you are trying to accomplish with weight loss and the stressors of your life can quickly bring you back into perspective while allowing the food urge to pass unsatisfied.

The Invitation….

To get started on a deeper dive into stress management and permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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How to Reduce Stress and Lose Weight with a Regular Yoga Practice

The Reality…
In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress being one of the three components of the Weight Loss Triangle I advocate.  Yoga is a great option for stress management and achieving your weight loss goals.  I personally have been doing yoga for more than two decades.  I initially turned to yoga as a refuge from the daily stress I experienced as a practicing lawyer and single parent.  As I started to practice yoga regularly, I experienced considerable improvement in many areas of my life, including feeling less stressed, being better able to manage stressful life circumstances, and weight loss.  When I let life get in the way of my regular yoga practice, I can feel myself shift back to moodiness and losing my cool more easily.  I can also feel the aches and stiffness in my body return.
Several years into my regular practice I decided to become a certified yoga teacher to deepen my knowledge of and commitment to yoga.  Through the certification process I learned that there was a lot more to yoga than the asanas, or physical postures, I had been practicing in yoga class. Deepening that knowledge and understanding of yoga and yogic philosophy has served invaluable in defining the direction and evolution of my life from practicing lawyer to certified life and weight coach.
The Challenge…
If you’re trying to lose weight and living a high stress lifestyle, not only should you be paying attention to the food and drink you consume and the frequency and intensity of your exercise, but you should also be mindful of managing your stress.  Stress produces the hormone cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”), and can most definitely interfere with your ability to lose weight.  Yoga is not only a form of stress relief but also a form of exercise, so you get two benefits for the price of one with yoga.
The Solution… 
Yoga can have numerous positive effects on your mental and physical well-being.   As your practice deepens, you will find your mind wanders less and less, and you are more easily in the present moment rather than allowing your mind to wander to past injustices or future anticipation. If you are fully in the present moment you enjoy a drastic reduction in stress because stress always lies in the thoughts about past or future, and never in the now.  The sequence of asanas is intended to balance the body, with a focus on breath.  Taking deep breaths, while in a yoga pose or otherwise, has the ability to calm and improve our mental and emotional state.  Studies have shown that yoga reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), which reduces stress and allows for better sleep, which lessons the occurrences of stress eating and weight gain.  In addition to the mental and stress management benefits, the asanas develop strength in your musculature and a help you develop a leaner physique.  I strongly recommend you adopt a regular yoga practice to fully enjoy all the benefits to mind and body that yoga offers. 
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

Spending Time in Nature – A Big Sigh of Stress Relief

The Reality…
In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress being one of the three components of the Weight Loss Triangle I advocate.  One of those tips, a personal favorite of mine, was to spend time in nature.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a little more at peace just looking at the picture above.  I imagine myself sitting just where the woman in the picture is seated.  She must feel the pleasure of rest after exerting herself to reach where she is seated and now enjoying the beauty of nature.  I imagine how much more incredible it would be to witness that view in person.  I imagine the sounds of nature she must be hearing.  I can’t see any birds in the picture, but perhaps they are there, and chirping away with a variety of beautiful sounds.  Or maybe there is complete stillness and silence, equally as beautiful and even more peaceful.  I imagine the smell of the fresh air and the outdoors and nature.  I imagine how the air must feel filling up her lungs.  I imagine the feel of the sun beating down upon her skin.  Perhaps there is a nice breeze that causes her hair to lay to the left side of her back and neck.  Ahhhh.
The Challenge…
If you’re trying to lose weight and living a high stress lifestyle, not only should you be paying attention to the food and drink you consume and the frequency and intensity of your exercise, but you should also be mindful of managing your stress.  Stress produces the hormone cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”), and can most definitely interfere with your ability to lose weight.  Spending time in nature is a great way to relieve stress, and I personally indulge is this form of stress relief every single day.
The Solution… 
Nature offers a delight for each of our senses, and it is no wonder that spending time in nature can help relieve stress and elevate mood.  Each morning when I walk in nature at a local park, I tune into each of my senses to not only be fully present in that moment but also to fully detach from the things that cause stress in my life.  I notice the trees and wildlife and body of water I see.  I smell the mossy smells of the lake and the flowers and the air.  I listen to the crickets and the birds.  I feel the breeze against my skin and the moistness of the morning air.  It’s my single favorite practice for reducing stress and spending time alone with myself in preparation for the day ahead, and I highly recommend it.
Aside from potentially boosting your activity level and getting your body in motion, spending time in nature by taking a walk in a park, garden, beach or amongst many trees is great for your mental well-being and feeling of happiness.  
Have you heard of “forest bathing”?  I had not.  “Forest bathing”, also known as Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, is the practice of simply being in the forest or wooded area, and it is said to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” and it was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
According to http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/, among the scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku are:
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep
Maybe you’re not close to a forest or heavily wooded area to regularly indulge “forest bathing,” but any time you can be outside in nature and away from your electronics, traffic and the other noisy demands of your lifestyle, take full advantage and breathe in nature’s big sigh of stress relief.
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Ten Tips to Manage Stress

The Reality…
Stress hits us from many different directions in today’s world.  And some of our sources of stress are delivered to us non-stop via the Internet.  According to a recent study, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media.  It’s no wonder we are more stressed than ever before.  
Aside from what’s going on “out there” that we read about online and otherwise, we have our own personal stressors.  Work-related stress is a major source of personal stress.  A recent Forbes article reported the following survey results for workplace trends in 2019:
  • 76% of respondents said workplace stress “had a negative impact on their personal relationships”
  • 66% have lost sleep due to work-related stress
  • 16% have quit jobs because stress became too overwhelming.
Add additional personal stressors such as relationship conflict and money challenges to the mix, and it’s no wonder so many people are suffering.  According to the Global Organization for Stress, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in month prior to the survey and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.
Sadly, we don’t even need to see the statistics, watch the news or go online to know stress is on the rise.  We feel it in our own bodies.  In fact, stress may be one of the primary reasons we find ourselves living in an overweight body, and maybe even trying to medicate against health challenges such as high blood pressure. 
The Challenge…
If you allow stress to go unchecked, your mind and body may experience some undesirable side effects, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, premature aging, mood disorders, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.  Stress can also lend itself to poor dietary choices, which contribute to unhealthy weight gain and obesity.
How do you cope with your stress?  Do you do anything proactive to manage it?  Or do you give it free reign to lessen the quality of your life and your health?  Does stress impact your relationships?  Does stress keep you up at night?  Have you wanted to your quit your job because you found it too stressful?  Can you look in the mirror and see it on your face?
The Solution…
The truth is that if you don’t manage stress, it will manage you.  And it will seriously impact the quality of your life, your health, and your efforts at weight loss.  Below are ten tips to reduce your level of stress.  Each one will be explored in more detail in upcoming blogs because I consider stress management to be key to maintaining a healthy body, and a happy life.  I recommend you incorporate some sort of stress relief into each day to counter balance the inevitability of stressful situations that will present themselves in your life.  A mindful daily practice of stress management will help avoid the accumulation of stress in your mind and body, which can lead you to chronic stress and put you at risk for significant health problems.  Try some of these and see which ones work for you.
  1. Meditation
  2. Yoga
  3. Exercise 
  4. Spend time in nature
  5. Plan your week in advance
  6. Work on improving your organization skills
  7.  Learn to say NO to too many commitments
  8. Optimize your sleeping environment for a good night’s sleep
  9. Examine how you spend your time and incorporate more life balance
  10. Examine, and work on, your thoughts about your life circumstance and stressors
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into stress management and permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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