6 Ways Exercise Can Improve Your Self Confidence
Learning to improve your self-confidence can help you to meet your goals and to find the success that you want in life. Having confidence helps you to take on challenges, to focus on your goals, and to take risks. Without strong self-esteem, you are more likely to take a passive approach to your life, to make excuses for not going after your goals, and to become apathetic about your future.
There are many ways to improve your self confidence, some of which are explored on this blog. Exercise, while known for its benefits for health and longevity, is another tool that can be used to help promote confidence.
Exercise can help you Improve Your Self-Confidence in a number of ways:
It Makes You Feel Better
When you feel better physically, you feel better mentally. You are better able to take on challenges. You feel more interested in exploring new places and meeting new people. You have the energy to overcome obstacles.
Exercise helps you to feel better physically and mentally, helping you to develop a positive attitude and the emotional stamina needed to take on personal goals.
It Makes You Look Better
When we aren’t happy with the way we look, we develop body image issues and low self-esteem. Therefore, when we aren’t happy with the way we look, we often aren’t happy with the people we are. Negative self-talk can become overwhelming, permeating our thoughts and influencing our actions.
Exercising helps us to build our self-esteem by improving the condition of our bodies. Even if you don’t lose a lot of weight while exercising, you are likely to strengthen and tone your body, making it more firm. Seeing these kinds of results can make you feel better about the way you look and bolster your self-confidence.
It Makes You Stronger
Physical strength can often give you mental strength. When you see what your body is capable of achieving, your self-confidence soars. Exercise shows you what is possible when you put effort into meeting your goals. Every day that you workout, your body grows stronger, giving you nearly immediate results for your hard work. When you are able to lift heavier weights, and achieve harder exercises without as much effort, you start get a feeling like you can do anything!
It Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment
Exercise is all about setting and achieving a series of goals. Maybe you start out hoping to walk for a half an hour every day. Then maybe you graduate to running a mile a day. Soon, you may be running several miles a week and lifting heavier weights. You may be losing weight, or improving your stamina, or developing greater endurance.
Exercise promotes a sense of accomplishment by helping you to meet small, successive goals. There is always opportunity to set your sights higher and to meet new goals. Each time you succeed, you get a sense of accomplishment and improve your self-confidence.
It Reduces Stress
Have you ever experienced the runner’s high? If you have, you understand the stress-busting properties that exercise has. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain like dopamine and endorphins, and it helps to regulate stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Regular exercise helps you to relieve stress and anxiety, helping you to relax and to focus better.
When you feel less stress, you feel better able to manage the challenges that you face every day. You feel calm and able to concentrate on the tasks that you need to accomplish. All of this helps you to feel more confident — knowing that you are not overwhelmed by stress and anxiety and are fully in charge of your own feelings and actions, guiding your own success.
It Makes You Smarter
Exercise feeds your brain. It helps to feed valuable oxygen and nutrients to your brain to improve cognitive functioning. Think about it: How do you feel after you exercise? Are you able to concentrate more, or do you feel groggy? Do you feel energized and alert, or do you feel sluggish? Of course, exercise makes you feel alert and focused, better able to understand and complete the task at hand.
Improved mental function and focus will help you to complete your goals more efficiently, thus helping to improve your self-confidence.
Exercise helps you to feel mentally and physically prepared for the challenges before you, so that you feel better prepared to achieve your goals. Knowing that you can take on the tasks that you set for yourself helps you to feel confident in any situation. Feeling good about the way you look and the physical achievements you have made only further enhances this self-confidence.
Do you exercise regularly? Do you feel that exercise helps you to improve your self confidence and the way you feel about yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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Many people undergo surgery of some kind during their lives. In 2007 alone, an estimated 45 million inpatient surgeries were performed in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whether you undergo a relatively simple procedure, such as dental surgery, or a more complex procedure, such as heart surgery, appropriate rest and a healthy diet can help your body heal properly. For best results, seek specified guidance from your doctor or dietitian.
Protein provides amino acids -- the building blocks of lean tissue. Post-surgery recovery requires amino acids to repair and rebuild your body, and those found in fish, egg whites and chicken can help your body heal faster. Many animal sources of protein also contain vitamin B12, which helps your body produce new blood cells. Protein-rich foods also enhance your body's ability to defend itself from infections and diseases that can hinder your recovery process and, since they have a mellowing impact on your blood sugar, promote maintained energy levels between meals. Additional sources of amino acids include turkey, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils.
Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in a variety of healthy foods that provides potent antioxidant, or disease-fighting, benefits. Vitamin C also helps protect your cells from toxic substances known as free radicals and is necessary for wound healing, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Incorporate a variety of vitamin C-rich foods, such as red bell peppers, citrus fruits and juices, berries, kiwi, mangos, papaya, cantaloupe, leafy greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and baked potatoes, regularly. Fortified cereals, smoothies and blended fruit juices are also rich sources of vitamin C
Carbohydrates provide glucose -- your body's primary energy source. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, also provide rich amounts of nutrients, which support your body's immune system, and fiber, which can help prevent or alleviate constipation while recovering from surgery. The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center recommends emphasizing complex carbohydrates over refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, which can dampen your energy levels and contribute to fatigue during the healing process. Examples of nutritious whole grain foods include 100 percent whole grain breads, long-grain brown rice, wild rice, barley soup, old fashioned oatmeal and air-popped popcorn.
Consuming iron-rich foods such as liver, clams and beef is important for optimizing your hemoglobin content and increasing your iron stores before your surgery to account for the blood loss during the procedure. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues, and this oxygen is essential for cellular metabolism and healing post-surgery. A study published in "Transfusion Medicine" showed that individuals who were given an iron supplement before surgery had a higher hemoglobin count one week after surgery than the group who did not take a supplement. However, check with your healthcare professional before adding an iron supplement to your pre-surgery diet.
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One of the biggest reasons why so many of us have a hard time
losing weight is simply because we are unaware of how much
we are actually eating.
Sure, you can be eating a super clean, healthy, diet, but if you
are unaware of your portion sizes, you will continue to struggle
with you weight loss efforts.
So how do you know what the correct portion sizes are?
The question has been asked and I have answered it in an
article I’ve written that tells you everything you need to know
about portion sizes.
As you go about your fat loss diet plan, one thing that you’ll really want to be taking into account is your portion sizes. While eating the right types of foods is going to be critical to your weight loss success, perfecting your food portion is also critical to your fat loss success.
Even if you eat too much of strictly healthy foods, you can still put on body fat, so keeping your serving sizes in check will ensure you reach your weight loss goals without a problem.
Let’s look at some of the key things that you should know if you want to perfect your portions.
When it comes to choosing your meat portions, women will want to opt for around 3 oz. per meal while men will want to go for 4-5 oz. instead. As men have more lean body weight to support, they will require more protein on a day to day basis.
As an easy reference guide, women should eat a serving about the same size as the palm of their hand (fingers not included), while men should add the fingers to the sizing guide.
Healthy grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal can be a good part of any diet for active individuals. These foods will supply you with the energy you need for intense exercise, but you do need to be careful not to eat too many of them or fat gain is highly likely.
To estimate your portion size for these foods, women should aim for half a cup, which is about the size of one cupped hand, while men should aim for one full cup, which would fit into two cupped hands.
Dietary fats are an important part of any healthy meal plan but at the same rate, are very high in calories so will also add up quickly. Since each gram contains nine calories while each gram of protein and carbs contains just four, you need to make sure you don’t overeat in this food variety.
A good rule of thumb is to use your thumb. Both men and women should aim to have about one thumb size worth of fat. Women should add this to most meals of the day and men should add it to every meal of the day as they require slightly more fat on a day to day basis.
Fruits provide a wealth of antioxidants to your diet and will also supply you with a good dose of vitamins and minerals as well. Plus, they add important fiber to your diet, which helps to keep you feeling full between meals.
To estimate your fruit serving size, one medium fruit, or about the size of a fist should be consumed.
Eat two to four servings of fruit per day depending on your calorie needs.
Finally, when it comes to vegetable portion sizes, the general rule to follow is anything goes. Vegetables, as long as they are prepared in healthy, low calorie methods are essentially freebees for your diet plan.
You can’t get too many vegetables on a daily basis, so feel free to add these to your plate as desired. The more, the better as these foods pack in a load of nutrients, are high in fiber, and won’t really add any additional calories to your day.
So there you have the quick and easy guide to perfecting your portion sizes. Make sure that you do think about your portions at each meal you eat and you’ll find you naturally take in the right amount of calories on a day to day basis.
Let me know what you learned from this article and what tips you’re going to start using in your fat loss plan by leaving me a comment in the box below.
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We all want to feel the burn when working out, but what about the shakes? I'm not talking about feeling dizzy from not eating enough or from coming up too fast after doing a forward bend. When your body is working really hard, either holding a challenging position or toward the end of a set, your muscles start to unintentionally quiver.
Kristina Marcussen, a doctor of physical therapy and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, says there is no reason to worry. "Shaking muscles is not dangerous! It's a different level of muscle twitch that usually indicates intense work that challenges the neuromuscular system," she says. "I see it as a good sign as muscles that are hard to target and are often neurologically weak tend to shake. Bring on the shake — you're activating your entire system!"
In essence, the shaking indicates that you're demanding more from your body than it's normally capable of doing. It's not a bad thing, but you can expect to be sore the next day since you're making tiny microscopic tears in your muscles. As the muscles repair themselves, you'll become stronger. So the more you work on those exercises that make you quiver, the stronger you'll get and the less you'll shake.
Just a reminder — you never want to push yourself too hard, so if you find that you're shaking from your first overhead press trying to lift 10 pounds, then you should drop down to a lighter weight.
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Calories and macros. Macros and calories.
These 2 items are synonymous when it comes to fat loss or muscle building by calculating up or down depending on your goals. Nowadays everyone seems to be obsessed with their calorie intake or "if it fits in your macros". While it's a good idea to have some basic knowledge on how your food is a measurement of energy and how it's utilized in your body or what food groups fall under which macronutrient category, the science and calculations behind the numbers are leading to more confusion, frustration, and misinformation as a whole.
Nutrition and the study of food and how it affects the body is a science in of itself and goes far beyond the manipulation of adding and subtracting for fat loss purposes. Before anyone should even consider calculating the breakdown of food or prescribing nutrition, consider this:
- First and foremost, having a solid foundation of how food works in the body and how it's metabolized is the first place to start before anyone starts to put together an eating strategy to support a particular activity. Understanding that everyone is different and has different needs (because no single type of diet fits all) is also key in helping formulate a responsible nutritional program.
- Food is required to fuel our daily activities but there are countless healing properties in food too. In contrast there are also many health problems that food can cause if it's manipulated enough (the facts and the studies on this are ongoing) and this type of food is readily available. Having the knowledge to navigate your way around food choices is vital information because not all food is created equal.
- Of course there are also supplements that should be taken to support the food you eat. Having an understanding of vitamins, minerals, and chemicals is also vital nutrition knowledge.
- Food is big business for countless of companies and have been in operations for more than a century. Through the years, food has been manipulated over and over with key nutrients replaced with chemical alternatives for bigger profit margins. What is in your food and food labelling can provide a detailed road map of your health so understanding what's in food is essential knowledge.
- Because food is part of our daily ritual, it is also deeply rooted in our culture and the time we spend with loved ones. Holidays and events are always just around the corner and food is always a big part of these gatherings so our social lives revolve around food more than most even realize. Understanding lifestyle is crucial in helping someone understand that food portions and food choices isn't always (and can never) be constant.
- There is also a psychology to food with countless of individuals suffering from eating disorders. Many of these eating disorders are kept in secrecy. Being able to identify these disorders requires thorough experience but being able to treat these disorders requires Professional Treatment and should not be undertaken by anyone (at all) without the proper designations or experience. A lack of understanding in this sensitive matter and providing uneducated advice can do irreversible damage to someone's already fragile state of mind with regards to body image and the way they look at food.
I've highlighted these points because there is so much thought and fail safes that need to be considered before "coaching" someone to their goals as it pertains to food. My protocol adjustments for my clients are number based but when a client asks me "how many calories should I be having?" or "what is my Macros breakdown for this meal?", I rarely give this information out individually because it's useless information. A coach should have your best interest in mind and will share information generally. By working with a coach, you should be walking away with a better understanding of, not only food, but of yourself too.
If anyone really wants a generic fat loss diet, I'm sure there are plenty of 12 week plans out there that do not take the individual into consideration and is considerably cheaper than working with a "so called Coach" with little to no legitimate nutritional knowledge or experience (i.e. have some chicken or tilapia, asparagus, and do lots and lots of cardio). Dieting is almost never perfect because there are countless of roadblocks, not only on a daily basis, but an hourly basis - ask anyone currently on a diet to confirm this.
If you're looking to find out more about calculating, I highly suggest starting at the beginning by going to school then getting some experience by working with clients. If you're looking to achieve a particular goal with your body, get your hands on a good program (or knowledgeable nutritionist/coach) that works for you as an individual keeping in mind that the work you put in should be something you'll be able to continue on into the future as a lifestyle - stop counting and start living. The science of food and fat loss is very interesting as a topic but learn it generally and not obsessively. If there's one thing that's a constant with fitness and nutrition is there are always points and counter points to theories so take all information in with a grain of a "mineral substance composed of sodium chloride" (i.e. salt) :)
By now, hopefully you understand why loosing your "water weight" is important at the beginning of any weight loss goal. Now that the stored glycogen is depleted, the real task of losing actual fat can begin. One of the reasons it is important to establish a regular routine for eating and exercise is that your body uses certain types of energy depending on what chemicals are being released from various parts of the body. To burn fat stored in your fat cells, your body needs to have the right biochemical signals triggering the on switch for fat burning.
When your blood stream is carrying a lot of glucose (sugar), it is prompting insulin release. When insulin is present, your body uses the sugar in your blood stream and also the glycogen (storage easily turned into sugars) in your liver and muscles as its primary energy source. Once the sugar and glycogen stores are all used up, the body slows the release of insulin. Your brain needs glucose as its only energy source (other cells can use amino acids and fatty acids directly), your need for energy is vital to your brain continuing to run your body. As you go on without adding more food to the system for a couple of hours, the body's need for energy triggers the release of glucagon, growth hormone, ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), epinephrine (adrenaline), and thyroid hormone. These chemicals act on a cells in the liver and muscle tissues, and also act directly on the fat cells to create the necessary energy. Lipolysis is the process of turning stored fats into energy. Glucagon, epinephrine, and growth hormone all work together in the fat cells to activate lipases which break down the stored fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
Some cells in the body can break down the fatty acids for direct energy use; others need to convert the glycerol and fatty acids to glucose for their energy source. This is a long process involving a number of different chemical and hormones automatically released by cells. The system can use either amino acids (protein building blocks from muscle) or glycerol and fatty acids (from stored fat break down). The process of breaking down fats into glucose (Gluconeogenesis) actually releases more energy than the process that breaks down glucose itself (glycolysis). While there is a high amount of glucose present in larger amounts, this biochemical pathway of gluconegenesis, which converts stored fats to energy, cannot be activated. Fresh and ready glucose acts as an off switch for fat burning, which is why it is important to have 3 to 4 hours between meals if you are aiming for fat loss.
This in NO WAY means you should overly restrict your intake of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Not taking in enough calories overall will trigger your body to plan for starvation, which will slow down your metabolism, which means your need for energy will decrease (you will feel more fatigued, you will be weaker, you will burn calories more slowly, and your body will be slower to release stored fats as its ancestral mechanisms to save you from starvation all kick in). Likewise, after glycogen stores are depleted in the first two weeks of a new eating and exercise regimen, there is no huge benefit to super reduced carbohydrate intake. Eating a balance of good carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are vital to the cycles needed by your body to effectively use both the energy from the food you eat AND the energy stored in your fat cells, meals should be space a minimum of 3 hours apart and a maximum of 6 hours to keep the body cycles working optimally. Eating around 1300-500 calories daily is a good target. If you are larger, your body has a higher baseline needing a higher target of 1600-1900 calories. Your baseline is the amount of calories your body needs to run all necessary processes. As the baseline only takes into account necessary processes, it essentially is what you need to maintain your body if you were always lying down and asleep. So if you eat at your baseline, anything you do, including being awake and walking around your house will trigger your body to use stored energy.
Without the cycle of fresh energy from food at least at baseline, followed by energy needing to be pulled from fat storage, the metabolism will slow down. It is why fad diets and crazy exercise programs fail. For your body to really lose fat from fat cells, you need to find the right balance. Eat regular meals with high quality whole foods, use your body, get enough rest (your body flushes stress chemicals from your body when you get appropriate sleep, those chemical actually interfere with energy break down and inhibit weight loss), and maintain a positive attitude, as it reduces the release of stress hormones.
Increasing your energy output is important for faster fat loss. A focused exercise time each day is good, as intensive exercise and/or weight lifting have been shown to increase your body's energy needs for one to two hours after you finish, this is the "afterburn effect". However, you can also increase your energy use(and thus fat breakdown) by doing simple things like "don't lay down when you can sit, don't sit when you can stand, don't stand when you can walk or pace", essentially move as much as your situation allows-pace while talking on the phone, stand or lean on the edge of a couch or desk while reading, look into getting a standing computer desk if your job requires you to be in front of a screen for large portions of the day . Every bit of "extra" movement you do contributes to your body's need for and use of energy.
So, in recap, to burn fat from fat cells, your body needs to: first use up glycogen stores with its associated water weight; then you need to eat regular meals with 3-4 hours between eating times (try to not go more than 6 waking hours without a meal) to allow for the cycle to switch from using the food you ate to using the stored fats; thirdly increase energy output either through exercise or just small changes to your habits to use your body more ; and fourth, get enough quality rest to flush stress hormones from your system. The body is an amazing thing, if you understand how it works, you can make the right choices to achieve your goals.
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Testosterone and Cortisol in balance are both part of a women's healthy hormonal system and sexual drive. These two hormones, along with estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid all are players in health, a women's hormonal system and sexual drive. It is the imbalance of these hormones that cause such havoc in the body. Most of the articles you read deal with estrogen and progesterone problems. There are not enough articles written dealing with testosterone and cortisol imbalances. These two hormones are just as important to overall hormonal health. Many women never even consider that their hormonal problems may be due in part to a deficiency of testosterone and elevated Cortisol levels. If your sex drive has decreased or gone completely, you need to look to your testosterone levels. Testosterone is considered the hormone of desire. One of the biggest complaints from women is their lack of sex drive. It also contributes to relationship problems as well.
Testosterone is produced in the woman's ovaries and also in the adrenal glands.Testosterone is used by the body to create muscle, skin, tendons, bones and other body tissue. It has a role in blood cell production, metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Testosterone deficiency symptoms include low sex drive, loss of muscle mass, lowed metabolic rate, weight gain, increased abdominal fat, weak bones, back pain, increase in cholesterol, insomnia, mood changes, depression, and fatigue. Fatigue is one of the top complaints with almost all women, no matter what the age. Even though fatigue is not usually caused by just one factor, low testosterone certainly may be a contributing factor.
Women produce only 1/10 of the testosterone that men produce and the levels begin to drop by the age of 30. By the time a woman reaches 45 years of age, the testosterone level has dropped by 50 per cent. Since a majority of women also have elevated Cortisol levels, this is another factor in lowered Testosterone levels.
What does Cortisol do in the body?
Cortisol is important to many body processes including proper glucose metabolism, immune function, regulation of blood pressure, regulation of glucose metabolism, and the proper release of insulin. It is also involved in the body's inflammatory response. It is a necessary hormone in a healthy hormonal system.
Cortisol is only a problem when it is either overproduced or underproduced.
Cortisol imbalances are due to chronic, prolonged high stress, diet, and lack of exercise. Other factors include inadequate sleep, Anorexia Nervosa, some combined oral contraceptive pills, commuting in traffic, caffeine, and lack of exercise.
How does stress affect the balance of Testosterone and Cortisol levels? What is The Testosterone / Cortisol connection in weight gain and low sex drive?
Prolonged, chronic stress not only increase cortisol levels but decrease testosterone levels. Both hormone imbalances cause you to gain weight and specifically in the stomach. The balance of these two hormones together in the body is extremely important. In many recent research studies it has been shown that an imbalance of these two hormones leads to insulin resistance or pre-diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, Increased bad cholesterol, suppressed thyroid function and impaired cognitive performance. Suppressed thyroid function and suppressed testosterone's levels both cause a low sexual drive as well.
How do you know which hormones are out of balance?
You need to have your hormone levels checked by a physician. There is no other way to know for sure without those tests. Since hormonal imbalances cause so many physical and mental problems, it is one of the most important panel of tests for a woman to have done. Thyroid hormone in itself affects every function of the body including the immune function, temperature, metabolism rate, hair and skin quality, and mental functions. Each hormone has affects both by itself and in harmony with the other hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. They are all part of the perfect circle of hormonal health.
How do you restore hormonal balance?
Diet is extremely important. Caffeine stimulates Cortisol production so its elimination is extremely important to hormonal balance. Eating a diet based on whole natural foods, fiber, whole fruits and vegetables will help your body and hormonal system to be healthy. You need to get rid of sugar, fast food, and junk foods. You need to eat less red meat and more fish, chicken, and turkey.
Exercise Reduces Stress: Exercise lowers elevated Cortisol levels and increases the production of Testosterone. Lifting weights, and endurance exercise are two that top the list.
Deep, restful sleep goes a long way to creating overall health, wellness, and hormonal balance.
Drink Water: Dehydration can cause hormonal imbalance. Most people do not drink enough pure, water. Coffee, soda, and ice tea may taste good but have negative effects on health, weight, and hormonal balance.
Stress Reduction and Attitude: It is not the stress that often is responsible for our stressed out physical and mental attitude but our individual reaction. Stress is ever present in today's life for most of us. We cannot control our fellow office workers, our family, friends, the traffic, or world events. Life is everyday becoming more unstable and unpredictable. There is no certainly about much in our life. The only thing we CAN control is our individual attitude and reaction to these stressful circumstances. We can control how we emotionally and mentally react at any given time. We have the ability to get angry or to let it go. We have the ability to let it ruin our whole day or just be a temporary irritation. We have the ability to let a co-worker's nasty remark set the stage for a bad day or we can resolve to have a good day despite that remark. Happiness should not be dependent on outside circumstances but is a choice we make as an individual. Even in the worst of circumstances, we can find joy, blessings, and peace. There are many ways to reduce stress but it needs to start from within.
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When you're battling adrenal fatigue, it is difficult to lose weight for several reasons. Not only are you exhausted and lack the physical energy to exercise the way that you used to, but those suffering with adrenal fatigue also crave sweets and salty food, as they use food to drive their pooped-out adrenal glands. The combination of being sedentary, having no energy and eating chips and cookies makes it seemingly impossible to lose weight, but there is hope, and it can be done without worsening your already delicate state of health, and without feeling famished.
Lifestyle Change One: Normalize Your Sleep Schedule
What does sleep have to do with weight loss? Substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite." The bottom line? Sleep more, and sleep at the right times. Your body's circadian rhythm, or biological clock, is on a set schedule of secreting exact amounts of hormones that control ALL of your bodily functions, at the same times each day. If you are staying up extra late, pushing past that "second wind", or not getting enough sleep, your entire circadian rhythm is thrown out of balance, and therefore your body's hormonal balance is, too. Did you know that circadian rhythm disorders can actually cause adrenal fatigue in the first place?
So, at what times should you be sleeping, and for how long in order to alleviate adrenal fatigue and optimize weight loss?
I strongly suggest being in bed and asleep by 10:30 pm daily. I also recommend sleeping until 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning if you are able to, "There is something magical about the restorative power of sleep between 7:00-9:00 in the morning for people with adrenal fatigue. Even when your night has been restless or your sleep fitful, catching those couple of hours of sleep between 7:00-9:00 am can be remarkably refreshing."
Lifestyle Change Two: Eat The Right Foods
Dieting is especially difficult for those with adrenal fatigue, since extreme carbohydrate and stimulant cravings caused by high cortisol levels (in early stage adrenal exhaustion) can lead to binge eating. Not only do high cortisol levels make you want to keep on snacking, but excess cortisol also contributes to storing more belly fat, which is known to be a bit harder to lose.
First of all, with and without adrenal fatigue, high-glycemic index foods such as sugary fruit juices, sweet foods and empty carbohydrates lead to weight gain because of the hormone insulin, which is released in larger amounts when sugar and high-carb foods are consumed. Insulin promotes the storage of fat. Steer clear of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fruit juices if you have adrenal fatigue, since they further tax the adrenal glands, and contribute to weight gain much more than any other foods it is essential to, "Combine fat, protein, and starchy carbohydrates (such as whole grains) at every meal and every snack." This is probably the hardest step of all, but it is the most important if you are aiming for both recovering your health and losing weight.
Eat healthy combinations of fat, protein and whole grain unrefined carbs, while staying within your body's caloric needs. 6-8 servings of vegetables per day are essential, and extra sodium, believe it or not, is acceptable for those with adrenal fatigue (if you don't have high blood pressure).
Remember that choosing foods that are closest to their natural state is best, too, since preservatives and artificial colors and flavors stress the adrenals.
Whatever you do, do not starve yourself. If you dramatically restrict calories and starve yourself, not only are you making your adrenal glands work harder (and keeping yourself sicker), but you are also setting yourself up for more weight gain, since your body will immediately store what food you finally decide to take in, and your hormonal activity will be further disrupted by low blood sugar levels. Do not take this route as it will only backfire and cause you more misery later on.
Lifestyle Change Three: Eat At the Right Times
Eating at the correct time of day is just as important as eating the right foods if you are aiming to help restore your adrenal gland function and lose weight.
I strongly suggests eating breakfast before 10:00 am, so that your blood sugar does not drop too low and further mess up your hormonal functions for the entire day. The rest of the recommended schedule is as follows:
- 11:00-11:30 am Lunch
- 2:00-3:00 pm Healthy snack
- 5:00-6:00 pm Evening meal
- Tiny snack before bedtime to avoid nighttime hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Lifestyle Change Four: Yes, You Can Exercise!
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, over-exercising can actually be detrimental for someone with adrenal fatigue, since weakness, lack of energy, and lack of stamina are main symptoms. Despite this, some exercise is actually good for you to increase blood flow, improve cell function, normalize hormone levels, and increase oxygen levels. If you can only do 5 minutes here and there or 5 minutes total per day that is fine. The key is to use exercise as a tool to help you relax, improve your glandular functions, and consequently, help you lose weight. It should not be stressful, and the only type of exercise that you should attempt is gentle, slower-paced, and non-competitive exercise. Stretching or just going on a pleasant and leisurely walk is a good place to start. Attitude is important. Never should you feel like a failure because you are unable to do the amount of exercise that others can do, and never should you become discouraged that you aren't losing massive amounts of weight quickly. Look forward to your daily exercise as "you time", and know that you are doing something good for your mind, body, and spirit. A good rule of thumb is to do only 50% of what you think you can do, so that you do not become even more fatigued and stressed. Slow down or stop completely if you have pain or discomfort of any kind, and always check with your doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine.
Realize first and foremost that you cannot lose weight without a healthy body, and a healthy mind. Once you normalize your sleeping and eating and make simple lifestyle changes that help you and your weak adrenals, the weight will come off in no time.
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“I don’t have time to cool-down” or “I’ll stretch later.” These common phrases are like nails on a chalk board to personal trainers and group fitness instructors around the country, yet are heard on a regular basis. With the perception of time being the most important determinant for an individual to remain diligent in their exercise routine, the cool-down is usually the first thing to go when time is of the essence. Although it may be easy to simply jump from the treadmill straight into the shower, or from the squat rack to the car, there are five very important reasons to think carefully before you pull the plug on your workout.
During exercise, the heart is pumping at an accelerated rate and the oxygenated blood has to be pumped from your heart and make it all the way through your lower extremities before working its way back to the heart (against gravity) to be re-oxygenated again. When the body goes from moving quickly or performing a lot of work during your last set to working less and moving slowly, the squeezing action provided by the working muscles is greatly diminished. When exercise is stopped abruptly, this can cause the blood to pool in the lower extremities and slow its return back to the heart and, subsequently, the brain. Another factor that adds to this dilemma is the one-way valves that are present within our vascular system. Veins, which are generally responsible for returning deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs, come equipped with one-way valves spaced throughout to prevent back flow. When the movement of blood slows within the vascular system, there is less pressure available to move the blood through these doorways, which causes the blood to become somewhat ‘trapped’ between these valves. All of this can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting. In fact, many fitness facility accidents occur in the locker rooms because of this blood pooling effect (especially with the elderly or those prone to cardiovascular issues). So, when you feel like jumping from your last sprint straight back into your street clothes, remember to take an extra few minutes to slow your roll, make sure your heart rate comes down slowly, and allow your body to become accustomed to the now diminished level of work. It might save you a trip to the emergency room.
DOMS occurs 24 to 48 hours after exercise due to microtears in the muscle fibers. This is a normal part of exercise and some soreness is to be expected, especially with resistance training or a new form of exercise. However, considerable amounts of DOMS is not comfortable and can be rather debilitating when trying to stay on a consistent exercise schedule. DOMS that hangs around for more than two to three days may also be a sign of overtraining or illness, or be a precursor to injury. Cooling down after your workout is a great way to help minimize the DOMS effect. A recent study conducted at California State University looked at the effect of recovery interventions of moderate- and low-intensity cycling, as well as seated rest after strength training. What they found was that when completed after the strength training bout, the moderate-intensity cycling cool-down showed a significant decrease in DOMS due to increased blood flow to the exercised muscles. So when your last reps are in the books, don’t forget to put your weights away and take a short spin on the closest bike; your quads will thank you in 24 to 48 hours.
Exercise is a great way to step away from the day’s stresses and take care of yourself. Not only are you taking care of your body when you exercise, but you’re also taking care of your mind by helping to release the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin, also known as endorphins. The cool-down is an important part of this process—when exercise is slowed and the body is allowed to gradually come back to a resting, balanced state (homeostasis), you will be able to take full advantage of the relaxed and euphoric effect that these neurochemicals have on your body. Taking a few moments to stretch, breath and reflect on your awesome workout will not only help you be on point when you enter back into your busy life, it will also leave you feeling refreshed and possibly ward off future diseases.
When you are finished with all your sets and reps or your final interval, your muscles are very warm and pliable (think of silly putty that you’ve been played with for a while), making static stretching a great addition to the cool-down to improve overall flexibility. When the muscles are stretched on a consistent basis, they become lengthened and, over time, will allow you to have more range of motion, warding off injuries that tend to plague the inflexible. This is also true for those who may not be of the competitive nature. Lower-back injuries are among the most common reasons for days missed at work and can be caused from tight hamstrings and/or tight hip flexors, which is why it is so important to give these areas some love after your workout. Two sets of 30-second static stretches will not only make your legs and back feel great, but you will also be more likely to catch yourself in a slippery situation and prevent a future injury.
After an intense bout of exercise there is accumulation of lactic acid within the system. It takes time for this byproduct of exercise to be ‘buffered’ out, so 10 minutes of light exercise along with stretching is a great way to begin clearing the lactic acid from the body. It also helps to ensure that your body will be ready for its next physical test.
With all this talk about a cool-down it is important to know what to include during this essential part of your workout routine. A cool-down should fill the last five to 15 minutes of your workout, and include static (held for 30 seconds or so) stretches of the muscle groups you just worked. For example, if you did squats and push-ups, you’ll want to stretch your glutes, quads, chest and triceps. You should also include a light form of cardiovascular exercise. If you just finished a spin class or a run, try walking for five to 10 minutes and then do your stretches. Your cool-down might also include the use of a foam roller to help alleviate those tender points along the muscles. So, while it might be just as easy to skip out early, remember that a 10-minute cool-down can be the difference between you and your fitness goals.
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How to deal with cravings?
Before talking about cravings, you must define yourself and your goals.
Do you want to be fit and healthy? Or are you looking for aesthetics alone?
Different goals require different approaches, keeping this in mind one of the reasons why you may have cravings may be caused by your diet or it may be a lack of minerals or just bad habits?
Maybe you are bored or feeling blue? Maybe you are in love?
Have you been following a strict diet for a long time?
Are your cravings associated to your emotional state?
Have you even noticed or even kept a track of the times and situations when you feel like giving into cravings? If you do or at least you remember the situations, you would notice that most of your cravings are associated to your feelings, this is due to our brain being predetermined by our past actions (This is going to be another post)
But what about when my diet is good and I still have cravings?
I could talk all day about this but I’m not going to bore you I’m going to talk about how I deal with my cravings from my situation and point of view.
When you follow a balanced healthy diet your cravings will be reduced (you will crave less) but your cravings don’t go 100% away. I don’t live on my own and I don’t expect my family and friends to eat what I eat all the time, I also don’t avoid relationships (friends) just because I need to avoid temptations. Fitness is a mental game and most of the battles are won through mental strength. Avoiding temptations and giving into cravings from an aesthetic point of view is more complicated than it seems. But in general life and a day to day basis there are few tricks I and you can use to condition our brains and avoid giving into it; at the end of the day we are just animals with instincts.
So here is a short list of the ones that come to my mind right now:
1) Drink plenty of water! One of the main reasons for cravings is actually dehydration.
2) Eat at a table! You are tempted to eat more and give into cravings when you are sat in front of the TV, have you ever noticed why snacks are so popular at the cinema?
3) Brush your teeth after each meal! By doing this you will send a message to your brain saying “meal is over”
4) Keep motivational stuff around the house! Keeping visual motivation around you will help you to remind yourself constantly of your goals.
5) Go out for a walk! Distract yourself, don’t allow yourself to get so bored without anything to do when you are facing a craving attack. Fresh air is always good to put things in perspective.
6) Avoid sugary and processed food! If you feel like something sweet, first make sure you have at hand a healthier option, e.g. a banana or some fruit salad. I find smoothies (without ice cream and cream of course) to be a great substitute and also very filling.
7) Write it down! During a craving attack make sure first you write down or talk to yourself about it, e.g. Why I want it? How it’s going to make me feel? Etc.
8) Avoid exposure! If for some reason you have milk chocolates, sweets, crisp etc at home, make sure they are not exposed to the eye, keep them in a draw or even better just don’t buy them, if it’s not in the house it would be less likely you give into it.
9) Eat in front of a mirror! most probably you are not going to eat it.
10) Don’t see it as an enemy or something that you SHOULDN’T! have you ever noticed that kids are more likely to do things they are not allowed to do? Once again it is your brain being predetermined by your past or your instincts ( like EVA), don’t say to yourself I SHOULDN’T, better say to yourself I can do it if I want to but DO I REALLY WANT TO?
If you are really craving something for a long time and you want to give into it, don’t be silly ONCE IN A BLUE MOON is not going to kill you but just make sure it is once in a while, until you feel strong enough to manage it the way you prefer (like the famous CHEAT MEAL).
I Hope these ideas are helpful to control and overcome some of those craving attacks.
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