Individualized Nutrition, Pharmacy and Healthy Living

Stress Management & Lifestyle

  • Stress is a Heavy Topic: The Link Between Stress and Weight Gain

    by Debi Silber, The Mojo Coach | September 23, 2015

    stressUnderstanding the Causes of Stress and Our Reactions

    Stress can contribute to aging, weight gain, illness and disease. In other words, stress makes us sick, fat, old and exhausted.

    Have you noticed, for instance, a connection between feeling extra stressed and gaining a few pounds, especially around the midsection? That’s because there’s a link between stress and weight gain.

    By understanding when you’re prone to stressing and what to do about it, you will not only feel healthier, but also a little lighter on your toes.

    When you’re stressed, it’s unlikely that you want to devote any extra effort or energy to reading labels, pre-planning healthy meals or snacks, or making healthier food choices. When consumed with stress, you want relief and don’t want to think about the extra work involved in creating healthy habits. It seems too big a task and you don’t have the energy to take on anything additional because you already feel overextended and overwhelmed.

    Comfort Food

    Many people who are stressed reach for comfort foods. They’re called comfort foods for a reason. It’s not just the food we’re reaching for: we’re looking for that feeling we had when those foods were served to us long ago. For example, if you had a bad day and your mom or dad thought you’d feel better by taking you out for ice cream, as an adult you may now associate that ice cream with those warm feelings of comfort and support.

    When you’re under stress, you’re looking for a surge of neurotransmitters, a flow of brain chemicals, specifically because of the feelings they provide. You’re looking for serotonin and dopamine. These are powerful chemicals that give us a sense of peace and calm, as well as trigger the reward and pleasure centers of our brain. There’s no wonder you’re looking for foods that would give a release of these chemicals so you can feel those pleasant feelings when under stress.

    Emotional Eating

    For emotional eaters, stress provides the perfect reason for a binge. When you eat emotionally, you’re eating to soothe, calm, numb or relax from your problems or pain. You’re self-medicating, and food is simply your drug of choice. You’re stuffing yourself to stuff the feelings. It’s a short-term solution to make you temporarily feel better, squelch your feelings and keep them down. It’s a way you’re looking to protect yourself, feel better and find relief. While others may look toward numbing themselves with alcohol, drugs, TV or reckless behavior, emotional eaters have found that food offers some readily available, temporary relief.

    Under normal circumstances, food goes into the body and gets digested. Some of it goes to the liver to be converted to glycogen and is stored in the muscles during a process called gluconeogenesis. Food becomes fuel to energize us and keep us healthy. When you’re stressed, however, the same food goes through a different process. Instead of getting digested properly, the stress hormone cortisol rages through your system and drives fat storage, especially to your middle.

    That’s why you may have noticed some belly fat that seems so unusual for you, or stubborn belly fat that just won’t seem to budge. As if that weren’t bad enough, that belly fat is also the most dangerous because it’s surrounding your vital organs.

    Identifying Stressors

    So now that you know how that stubborn weight got there, what can you do? The first step is to identify your stressors.

    What ignites the stress response in you? Is it something within your control? Is it because you took on too much or let your boundaries get crossed, or did you put yourself in a difficult situation?

    Once you’ve identified what’s behind your stress, it’s time to find a way to manage it. If it’s within your control, it’s certainly best to cut out the stressor, or at the very least minimize it as best you can.

    If it’s not within your control, the only thing you can do is find a healthier way to manage it. That could mean finding a healthier outlet for your stress through exercise, meditation, journal writing or carving out time to relax.

    It also could mean learning to say no to preserve your time and sanity, or it could mean making the effort to spend some time doing something that brings you joy. Most importantly, it means finding a way for you to turn off the raging stress response that contributes to aging, weight gain, illness and disease.

    Photo from here, with thanks.

  • Stress and Weight Gain

    by Debi Silber, The Mojo Coach | September 1, 2015

    If you've noticed that you have put on a few pounds recently, particularly in your midsection, it could be due to chronic stress. Stress and weight gain can be linked. Find out why…

  • Tracking Your Fitness – At Home or When You Travel

    by Debi Silber, The Mojo Coach | June 30, 2015

    fitness-tracker-walkingMore than 1.4 billion dollars have been invested in fitness wearables since 2009. It’s become a huge and growing trend for individuals, as well as companies hoping to promote greater wellness in the workplace. For example, to promote wellness, Ikea gave all 14,000 of its U.S. employees, from executives to part-time cashiers, an UP fitness wristband from Jawbone. And while the corporate market is huge, the biggest market is still individuals who are on the lookout for the wearable that best suits their individual tastes, budget, needs and preferences.

    Looking to find the perfect fitness tracker to track your steps, routes, swim laps, sleep, and so much more? Better yet, ready to stay on track with your fitness goals while you travel? Here are some of the most popular, the most accurate, the most techy, and the most futuristic devices for tracking your fitness.

    We'll start with Fitbit, because in all of the research I’ve done, the Fitbit tends to rate very well. From least to most expensive, here are a few options to consider, with prices included: Read more

  • 4 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Health

    by Paula Gallagher | June 16, 2015

    bicycle-familySome of the top causes of death amongst Americans are related to lifestyle. The good news is that the risk of heart disease, cancer, respiratory illness and stroke can all be reduced with lifestyle changes.

    Research suggests that the United States spends well over $7,000 per person per year on healthcare, more than twice the average of many other countries. Yet, the average life expectancy in the United States is far below many other nations that spend less on healthcare each year.

    Here are four lifestyle changes to improve your health and help prevent disease.

    1. Stop smoking. Tobacco use is the single most avoidable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Although we all know the detrimental effects that smoking has on our bodies, one in five Americans still smokes. The health benefits of quitting smoking are numerous, and many are experienced rapidly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, heart attack risk begins to drop and lung function begins to improve. Read more

  • Take Care of the Caregiver - How to Maintain Your Health and Sanity

    by Debi Silber, The Mojo Coach | May 18, 2015

    caregiverRecently, I was asked to comment on: “How to take care of the caregiver?” Are you caring for others? Finding yourself exhausted and overwhelmed? If so, this is for you.

    How do you remember to take care of yourself when you’re a caregiver?
    If we’re spent, depleted and exhausted, we don’t have much to give. As a caregiver, it’s crucial to take care of ourselves so we have the energy, focus and patience to deal with others within our care and reach. If possible, it’s best to plan our our self-care plan because “if we fail to plan, then plan to fail.” That may mean getting in a quick workout early in the day, planning out healthy meals and snacks so we have what we need vs. being at the mercy of whatever is available, and writing down what we need to do for ourselves on a daily basis as an appointment, if necessary. Just as we respect our other appointments, if we schedule time for “an appointment with ourselves,” it’s more likely it’ll get done. Read more

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