Beat Stress, Beat Belly Fat


If you haven’t heard, stress is a huge enabler of weight gain, and specifically to the abdominal area. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is a hormone that is secreted into the bloodstream in response to stress. The higher the stress level, the higher the secretion of cortisol, and the higher the secretion, the more prone your body is to storing fat…right in the belly.

Don’t let yourself be a victim to stress-related weight gain. Although it’s much easier to reach for the remote control and lounge around while chomping on high calorie and high fat foods, try to make the better decision – like hitting the gym, going for a walk, and eating the healthier, belly-fat fighting snacks, like fruit and yogurt, and other foods high in fiber. Not getting enough sleep also contributes to high-stress levels, which will cause your cortisol levels to be higher, so don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep.

 

 

Accept Yourself, Ignore Others

I spent a lot of yesterday watching the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case. My heart goes out to Tyler’s family and friends who had to suffer his loss and think about the pain and torment Tyler felt before he committed suicide. Tyler must have felt extremely ridiculed and distressed in order to commit suicide after his roommate invaded his privacy.  What really makes me sad, though, is that he let such a small group of people affect his fate. While he felt embarrassed and mocked by his peers, he must not have thought about the fact that his peers are such a miniscule percentage of this world’s population. If only he thought about the thousands of people outside of his small world that would have accepted him for who he was and known that the majority of people condemn Ravi, instead, for being a cruel, ignorant and closed-minded bully. I am sure Tyler was too ashamed to seek help from his parents or request to be moved to a new university, but he could have. He could have gone to a new place that accepts him and knows about the video and looks down on Ravi instead of him.

It’s a good reminder to all of us that the tiny group of people we know is only a small group of the billions of other people in this world. Why do we let ourselves get influenced by these people? Don’t compare yourself with the ones around you and don’t let them shape the image you have of yourself. Accept yourself for who you are, be proud of the person you are and strive to be your best, everyone else should accept you as you are. There is so much more out there, and there is so much diversity in this world, so much culture, so much understanding. If you have found yourself in an unaccepting environment, move on, move forward and be proud of the person you are. 

Take care of You

A while ago, I wrote a post about pampering yourself, as it is a key to stress relief.  Well, I just recently pampered myself for the first time since having a baby, and wow did I feel good!! It felt like a whole new experience to get my nails done and go to the mall just to stroll! No changing diapers, no feeding, no rocking a baby to sleep, I was all by myself, enjoyed a long mani-pedi with a small back massage and it really did change my entire mindset! I went from feeling so stressed and tired to being super relieved and really happy :). Pampering myself has become a new priority, because I learned that going almost 3 months without any self-care really caused my sanity to spiral out of control! Whatever it is that is keeping you from taking care of yourself, drop it now and put yourself first.  Find a friend, spouse, parent, or a babysitter to take care of your kid(s), or set a goal to treat yourself to something after a big assignment, or leave work early if you are guilty of over-working yourself! Just take an hour (or five) to spend on yourself, and do whatever it is that you really miss.

I know a lot of people who have let stress take over their lives. Some people are affected physically by it, and you can tell by their deteriorating health that they are not taking care of themselves, and others are affected mentally by it, which is scary since it is not as obvious to the people around you.  Whether you let stress affect you physically or mentally (or both), you need to learn to stop and take a time out. I learned a lot just from taking a personal break, and I hope you can find time to do the same.

Don’t Eat to Procrastinate

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I know I am not the only one who eats to procrastinate, right? I am working from home right now, taking care of my baby, trying to set up the small things in my new house and writing thank you cards – I kind of have so much to do, I could forget that I’m hungry, but that doesn’t happen to me.  On days like today, I don’t give myself the chance to feel hungry! It’s like the more things I need to get done, the more often I find myself in my pantry instead of in front of my laptop or at my desk or anywhere else I should be. Maybe I should add “eat” to my list of things to do so that I won’t do it! 🙂

Any of you out there guilty of the same thing, take it from me before you open your fridge or pantry, or do whatever it is that you do to procrastinate. You just feel worse after it! I now have to work later and the day feels as if it’s almost done and I have accomplished nothing except for eating a nice variety of foods! Just go ahead and get your work done, you will be a lot happier by night time when you don’t have a longer list running through your mind. Start with the small things and then work towards the bigger ones. Once you get into work mode, you will feel much more productive, and you will get a lot more accomplished. I’ll try to start now, but looks like I need a better start to tomorrow!

Natural Energy Boosters

Well, so much for my “fitness week” blog posts! I successfully gave you only one fitness tip the entire week (I hope you all got to try out a spinning class)! Unfortunately (or maybe I should say fortunately?), the only excuse I have for you is laziness – pure laziness. I just have not had the energy lately to write when I’m at home, and I’m too busy at work to try on my lunch break.

So, today’s stress relief advice is to introduce natural sources of energy to your diet. We all get low on energy, and many of us make the mistake of loading up on sugars or “bad for you” snacks to get a short-term boost. I happened to come across an article on WebMD about how food is linked to one’s energy and mood. If you want to read the details of how food can affect your energy, click here to read the full article. I will let you know which foods to make sure you add to your diet 😉

1)      “Smart Carbs” – carbs are not our enemy as many may think, whole grains like whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice are good for you! They are also sources of fiber, which stabilizes your energy flow (other sources of fiber include beans, fruits and veggies)

2)      Cashews, Almonds and Hazelnuts – magnesium-rich foods, and Brazil nuts – a source of selenium to boost your mood

3)      Lean Meats – good sources of protein keep you alert and focused

4)      Omega 3 and Folate – both can be found in leafy greens, and Omega 3 can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, both can counter depression

5)      Water – water should be your best friend throughout the day, keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day will fight fatigue. Also, you may be thinking you are hungry when, in reality, you are dehydrated and thirsty.

6)      Caffeine – the article also makes mention of caffeine, which I will not elaborate on (even though I am a big fan of coffee, I do not depend on it for energy), but caffeine includes tea, coffee and chocolate, which all have their great benefits

7)      Breakast – you can visit “Start your morning off Right” for more on this  

Load up on your healthy grains, fruits, veggies and healthy proteins – keep your diet balanced and you’re sure to have an energy boost. I will try my best to keep my diet in check so I can throw my lethargy out the window and continue blogging! 🙂

Don’t dwell on It

Yesterday, I heard some news that really got me angry. Imagine waiting 6 months for something (that really should have happened 6 months ago) and one day after you are finally told “hey, you get to have it!” they take it away and tell you TWO more months! Well, I don’t know what happened to me yesterday, but I must be really taking my own advice, because I remained so calm!  I simply swallowed the bad news, realizing there is absolutely nothing I can do to control it, and I moved on. Of course I complained, of course I expressed anger, but I did not dwell on it. I have never found myself handling a situation like this so well, and I must say I’m really proud of myself.

So, the best part is that today I found out they made a mistake!! It’ back, and no more waiting necessary.  I do not know how that happened, but I don’t doubt my positive attitude had something to do with it.  Moral of the story? Be patient, be calm, and don’t dwell on the bad stuff.  Things will happen the way they are supposed to, and when we know there is nothing we can do about it, there is no point in obsessing over it. Enjoy your weekend!

The Power of Chocolate

I don’t know about you, but chocolate has a special power over me. A power that brings a nice, satisfactory smile to my face. For those of you who don’t like chocolate, I’m sorry (and I’m kind of envious), but for those of you who do love it, like me, then I think you may know where I’m coming from! If you need a nice, genuine smile, go get a piece of chocolate. I usually don’t crave sweets until the afternoon, but I was craving a piece this morning and after I took a bite, I found a huge smile on my face…that’s when I realized I had to write my post on it, today. What a simple and great stress relief! Thinking and writing about it, now, makes me smile and remember the women in my life that love chocolate so much – from my mom who hides it in every drawer in the house to eat a piece as she walks by, to my grandma who has tried every single dark chocolate made in this world, to my aunt who craves white chocolate on a daily basis and my sister, who you can always woo with a dark chocolate and mint bar.

And for all you chocolate lovers out there, I’m sure you’ve heard the good news that a piece of chocolate actually can be good for you! Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has antioxidants in it (to learn more about antioxidants, visit this post).  Furthermore, dark chocolate is said to be a heart-healthy food.  A small piece of dark chocolate a day is keeps your heart beating and can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels – who would have thought? As mysterious as this sounds, it’s true! And the best part about it is that it is also said to stimulate endorphins and act as an anti-depressant (now this, I have no doubt about!). 

I also love thatthe See’s Candy chocolate boxes say “A Happy Habit.”  So go enjoy a piece of chocolate so you can de-stress and keep smiling :).

Retail Therapy

Research shows that one’s mood affects the way he or she will spend their money.  More specifically, when you are feeling unhappy, you are likely to spend more money on things that satisfy your shopping urges, hence the term “retail therapy.”  Well, my personal “research” proves that it works! 🙂

Sometimes, we just deserve it, so why not?! If a nice little shopping spree is what you need to relieve some of your stress this weekend, then by all means, go for it.  Now, it’s not going to be okay to break the bank and end up feeing worse because of the money that was spent, but it’s okay to buy something that will make you feel good – a pair of shoes, a blouse, an outfit…whatever it may be! 

All I know is that it’s summer time, and I’ve been itching for something new.  The best part is that it’s Memorial Day Weekend, which means – Sales! Enjoy!

Take a Break!

I apologize for disappearing for an entire week of blogging, and I thank those of you dedicated readers who did come back looking for a stress relief tip for the day! I guess I just needed a break! Not that I actual need a break from writing or letting out all of my thoughts, but, sometimes, life just gets in the way!

So, it reminded me that it’s a good idea to just take a step back every now and then. We can’t do it all – no matter how hard we push ourselves. I think we would find a lot more energy to finish certain tasks (at home and at work) if we remind ourselves that it’s okay if we don’t finish everything on the to-do list and if we force some things to just wait.  Whether you are a mother who feels like a chauffeur, an involved community activist/philanthropist, working two jobs or working and studying, a dedicated friend, or employee or spouse, etc., I have no doubt you are stressed. While many have turned into superman/woman, they have also turned into stress-balls. 

Sometimes a break is just what we are looking for to give us time to think, time to relax and time to rejuvenate. In my opinion, it is probably one of the best ways to beat stress.  Our minds can recharge to be more creative and our bodies can recharge to be more energetic.  So to all of you out there, just take a break and allow yourself to relax, just once!

Music Therapy

This morning I woke up like most mornings – wishing it was Friday and not ready to face all the work on my desk. But, when I turned on my car, one of my favorite songs was playing on the radio – so it put the biggest smile on my face.  All of a sudden, I was in the best mood.  Not that the music got me excited about work, but it did start my morning off with some good and positive energy.

The power of music amazes me.  It has a way of changing your state of mind, which makes music a very effective stress reliever.  It’s as if the lyrics and/or the tune just put you in a different state of mind.  Many people go to music for stress relief, but there is even research on “music therapy” as having many health benefits and easing pain, tension, and sleeplessness.  Who would have thought that just listening to music could be so beneficial?! 

I am not big on the latest bands and artists, but I can appreciate a good song when I hear one, and I can definitely dance to a good beat when one is playing! And, I’m sure we are all guilty of playing a song on repeat a million times, because we just can’t get enough of it.  Next time you feel a bit of stress, put on a good playlist or play a song on repeat…whatever it takes to ease your mind and put you in a better mood.  “If music is the medicine of the soul, let it play on.” (Unknown Playwright)

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