Dealing With Emotions in Times of Stress

Going through a breakup or any emotional trauma can be pretty tough. Having to deal with all of the emotions can leave you lost and confused. However, not dealing with all of the confusion, anger and sadness you may be feeling can lead to even bigger problems down the road, such as overeating or depression.

Seek comfort from friends and family

When you’re dealing with the emotional loss of a breakup, sometimes it’s hard to seek the help that you need. Maybe you feel embarrassed that things didn’t work out the way you thought they would, or maybe you don’t want to be a burden to the people you care about.

The truth is, if your friends and family knew how much you’re hurting, they’d want nothing more than to help you through this rough patch. These are the people who have known you the longest, which means they’re the best-equipped to keep you from falling into the depths of despair and self-doubt. They’ll be there to quickly point out all of your great strengths and the positive things you have going on in your life.

Write it down

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing everything with your friends and family, get a journal and start writing. Don’t worry about what to write, just pick it up whenever you start to get angry or upset, and pour out all those emotions on paper. This is a much better approach than keeping things locked inside or turning to junk food to drown your sadness.

Work it out

After taking a little bit of time to let yourself feel sad and be comforted by your friends and family, it’s time to focus on your well-being. One of the best things you can do is start working out on a regular basis.

Plenty of studies have proven that getting the heart pumping raises mood-boosting chemicals in our brains. The best part is it doesn’t really matter whether you were a workout junky before the breakup or if you don’t even own a decent pair of running shoes, just head to the gym and get moving.

You’ll probably be surprised at how much better you feel after just the first workout, and you just might find yourself hooked. This is also good news if you accidently indulged in a little too much ice cream that first week or so, as you’ll be able to work off any damage in no time.

Treat yourself

Once you’re feeling a bit more like yourself, or even better since you’ve been hitting the gym, reward yourself for making it through such a tough time. Maybe treat yourself to a new bag for the gym or splurge on finally getting those running shoes.

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Get Rid of Low Back Pain

Like most adults, you’ve probably dealt with low back pain from time to time. You’ve also probably done whatever you could to alleviate the pain and get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. Instead of waiting for it to happen again, take steps to prevent low back pain before it starts.

What is low back pain?

Low back pain is typically felt somewhere below the ribcage. It might occur suddenly in the form of a stabbing pain, or it can begin gradually as a dull achiness that radiates and worsens over time.

What causes it?

A sudden pain could be the result of an injury or illness and should be checked by a doctor. While pain that occurs gradually may have more to do with lifestyle choices, it should also be checked out.

How is it treated?

Depending on the cause, low back pain might heal on its own with a bit of rest. However, as this can mean missing work, family time and other activities, many people seek medications or alternative treatments so they can return to their daily routines.

What are the alternatives?

Some have success with chiropractic treatments, while others find therapeutic massage or physical therapy helpful. It may take a bit of trial and error to find what works for you, but it’s important to clear any alternative therapies with your health care practitioner.

Can I reduce my risk?

Assess your daily lifestyle to see what steps you can take to reduce your risk of low back pain.

Diet and exercise

Carrying more than a few extra pounds puts extra stress on your lower back and keeps you from using proper form when lifting or carrying something heavy. Losing the extra weight will eliminate the extra stress, and improving your overall fitness can make you less susceptible to injury.

Cleaning up your diet by limited processed foods and eating more meals cooked from scratch is a good place to start. Try to include mainly healthy, organic fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy oils.

With your doctor’s approval, start exercising regularly. Focusing on strengthening your core, which includes the buttocks, pelvis, abdomen and hips, can improve your posture and stability, and help to support your spine. Yoga may also be beneficial, as it strengthens and stretches specific muscles and improves flexibility.

Making work safer

While jobs that are very physical can sometime result in back injury, jobs that involve sitting for long periods might do the most damage over time.

Of course, if your job is physically demanding you need to practice proper form while bending and lifting, and be careful not to twist or reach while carrying heavy items.

If you’re seated throughout the day, get up and move about or even work standing up if possible. When you must sit, check your posture to be sure your spine is straight and both feet are positioned squarely on the floor.

You can’t carry it all

Busy lifestyles often mean gym bags, sports gear, laptop bags and lunch totes. A habit of slinging it all on one shoulder to keep one hand free throws your body out of balance and will almost certainly lead to low back pain at some point.

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Brain-boosting Benefits of Exercise

More and more people are realizing the importance of getting physical exercise on a regular basis. Weight loss, weight maintenance, overall health and longevity are some of the most common reasons people turn to exercise. This isn’t much of a surprise, as it is well known that staying active plays a considerable role in our mobility as we age. However, studies are now finding that regular exercise may also stimulate positive physical changes in our brains.

Keeping your brain healthy is often one of the top concerns for aging adults. However, while it’s never too late to start exercising, a regular fitness routine may have brain-boosting benefits for children and adults of all ages.

Memory

Regardless of age, we all have bouts of forgetfulness now and then. The good news is that recent studies have shown that physical exercise raises brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. BDNF is an important protein that stimulates brain function, especially in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Studies focused on BDNF have also shown that exercise can improve how quickly you process information, which can boost problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Concentration

Going to the gym before work might have more benefits than just getting your workout out of the way. A good cardio workout increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, and studies have shown that higher blood and oxygen levels have an immediate impact on raising our ability to focus. This is also a good reason why it’s important for children to get enough physical activity during and after school.

Depression

There is increasing evidence that exercise boosts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which can help alleviate depression symptoms. Researchers are now working with doctors to integrate exercise into their treatment plans, helping them determine the right amount of exercise to prescribe to patients with depressive disorders.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be diagnosed with depression to benefit from the effects of exercise. Everyone has a bad day now and then, and a dopamine-boosting workout may be all that’s needed to set things right again.

Stress-related illness

When we’re stressed our bodies produce cortisol, a hormone that when produced in excess has been linked to multiple health problems, including dementia. As studies have shown that regular exercise can greatly reduce stress and lower cortisol levels, it may also play a role in reducing the onset of dementia.

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Count Nutrients Instead of Calories

Today’s consumers want it all. They want to be physically fit with as little effort as possible, they want to eat healthy, organic foods that are sustainably produced, yet they want the convenience of prepackaged, processed foods and they want it all for a discount store price.

While these demands are on point with today’s trends, the chances of fulfilling all of them aren’t very realistic. Instead, consumers need to focus on the value of healthy living and the rest will fall into place.

Invest in your health

The good news is there is a growing understanding of the connection between being overweight and various health problems and diseases. However, we need to stop searching for the instant fix, as it takes time and effort to undo the damage caused by years of unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle.

Stop counting calories

To have a better chance at reaching our health and fitness goals, we may need to rethink how we view caloric intake. Consumers have long been taught that the easiest way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and exercise more. While there is some truth to that idea, the problem is that all calories are not created equal.

For example, studies have shown that it takes more energy to burn one calorie of carbs versus one calorie of fat, while it takes even more energy to burn one calorie of protein. This suggests that someone eating a high-protein diet would burn more calories than someone eating the same amount of calories on a diet of mainly carbs and fat.

Start counting nutritional value

Nutritional value is another factor we need to consider when making food choices. Salads are a good example of where many consumers’ good intentions go wrong.

Many people associate eating a salad with attempting to lose weight or eat healthy. While it’s true that some basic salad ingredients have very few calories, they may also have very little nutritional value. To make things worse, some salad eaters unknowingly turn their salads into caloric nightmares by adding ingredients such as fried croutons, heavy cream-based dressings and high-fat cheeses.

The cost of good nutrition

In today’s economy, everyone wants to cut costs wherever possible. However, just because something’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s a better value. For example, highly processed foods often use cheap ingredients combined with chemicals and other flavorings to make them taste good.

While these foods may be less expensive than buying fresh, organic foods, they lack nutritional value and often contain dangerous levels of sodium and sugar. Choosing fresh whole foods and cooking from scratch at home offers the best nutritional value for the money.

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Why is Obesity Still an Issue?

While society overwhelmingly associates success and beauty with being slim and physically fit, an alarming percentage of the population in the developed world is actually overweight or even obese.

The booming weight-loss industry and the staggering proportion of income consumers are willing to spend on the next “get fit fast” promise clearly indicate that no one wants to be obese.

On top of that, numerous studies have proven the direct connection between obesity and numerous heath issues, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many more. That alone should be enough to inspire people to make a change.

So why are we still fat?

It’s not as simple as eating fewer calories and exercising more, as there are various genetic, economic, social and cultural factors that could contribute to our propensity to gain or lose weight.

Genetics

Parents who are obese often have children who are obese, which could be due to a combination of economic, social, cultural and genetic factors. Some studies have identified gene variations that could influence tendencies to overeat or that impact metabolism.

Engineered junk foods

Highly processed foods have very little nutritional value, as they are typically produced using low-cost chemicals and refined ingredients. They are often less expensive than more nutritious whole foods, which appeals to the economics behind consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Marketing tactics

Food companies want you to buy their products, and many will go to great lengths to gain share of the consumer dollar. This includes advertising products with misleading claims that appeal to the social criteria of their target audience.

Misinformation

Being misinformed is another factor contributing to obesity, as there seems to be a lot of confusion over what we should or shouldn’t be eating. For example, previous recommendations to eat more carbohydrates than proteins, which contain fats, have probably added a few pounds to our scales. In addition, most people who restrict calories to lose weight often gain it all back plus a few extra pounds.

The biggest reason for this confusion is that not all calories are created equal, meaning that our bodies do not process all calories in the same manor. In fact, studies looking at protein, carbs and fats have shown that metabolizing one calorie of protein burns the most calories, while metabolizing fat burns the least and carbs fall somewhere in the middle.

What to do?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no one cause for obesity, and unfortunately, the same holds true for how we lose weight. What works for one person may not work for another, and we need to consider all of the various genetic, economic, social and cultural factors that come into play.

While there is truth in the fact that in order to lose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume, it’s important to remember that not all calories are created equal. Therefore, the focus should be on eating better (i.e., choosing whole foods over processed foods) and not necessarily on eating less.

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Strength Training Benefits for Seniors

As concern over the rise in health issues such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease continues to grow, the importance of getting regular exercise, including both aerobic and strength-training activities, is becoming more widely recognized. While this applies to adults of all ages, when it comes to senior citizens, strength-training may be especially beneficial.

Benefits of exercise for seniors

Regular exercise can help prevent many diseases and other health problems that seem to come with age, but strength training may be especially important for seniors. It can help improve balance and endurance, and may even help prevent bone and muscle loss that often occur as we age. This can make a huge difference in preserving quality of life and allowing you to accomplish day-to-day tasks without needing assistance from others.

How much exercise do you need?

How much exercise you actually need depends on a variety of factors, such as your age and current fitness level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults over the age of 65 who are basically fit and have no limiting health conditions need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, and they should also include various strength-training exercises at least two days per week.

Keep in mind that these numbers are weekly totals, and workout sessions should be broken into smaller segments of 10 minutes or more. This is also only meant to be a guideline for the minimum workout requirements for this age group, so anyone who is able to do more will likely see even greater health benefits. Just be sure to pace yourself and always stop if you’re feeling fatigued.

What exercises should you do?

Including moderate-intensity aerobic exercises in your daily routine can be as simple as taking a brisk walk or riding a stationary bike. Strength-training exercises should focus on the shoulders, arms, chest, back, legs, hips and abdomen. This type of exercise is often done with weights (e.g., bicep curls and shoulder raises) or using your body’s own resistance (e.g., squats and leg lifts).

While many beneficial exercises can be done right at home, if you’re not use to working out or aren’t sure what types of exercise you should do, it may be helpful to join a local gym that specializes in workout programs for seniors. Signing up for a class at a local senior center is another way to go. This would be a good option for anyone who would feel more motivated to work out with a group of people.

Before you start an exercise program

It’s important to remember that even if you haven’t been physically active lately, it’s never too late to start. However, be sure to start slowly and gradually increase your workouts as your ability allows. It’s also especially important for seniors to check in with their doctors before beginning any type of exercise program. It’s also a good idea to follow up to report any aches or pains that could indicate a possible injury, and to monitor your workout progress.

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Is MetCon for you?

As MetCon continues to gain popularity in the fitness industry, there are more and more highly advertised programs popping up on infomercials and in fitness magazines. However, the term itself actually refers to a type of workout designed to maximize the benefits of strength training and cardio workouts and not to any specific branded program.

The key to MetCon’s growing popularity is its promise to deliver fast results in less time than traditional workouts – something that resonates with almost every adult who is looking to get in shape.

What’s it all about?

MetCon is short for metabolic conditioning, which is a method of training that employs continuous repetition of high-intensity exercises with very short rests periods. Not only does this type of workout boost the amount of calories burned during each session it also boosts the amount of calories burned post workout. It’s the post-workout burn that speeds up the time it takes to start seeing results.

While there has been a recent increase in paid advertisements for high-intensity workouts that promise life-changing results, you don’t need to purchase a high-dollar, branded program to get in on the benefits of this fast-paced intense workout routine. The best results can be achieved by choosing simple exercises requiring multi-joint movements, as these allow you to work more than one muscle group at a time.

Who’s it really for?

Most of the highly advertised programs are geared toward athletes and other individuals who have already attained a certain level of fitness. While the commercials can be tempting, the workouts may be a bit over the top for the average person looking to get in shape.

However, you can still incorporate the MetCon concept into your own routine. To avoid injury or the desire to quit because the workout is too difficult, you’ll need to follow a program that’s more in line with your fitness level and desired goals.

Just getting started

Even if you’re new to working out, you can still enjoy the benefits of a calorie-torching MetCon workout. While the general idea is to perform various high-intensity moves at a fast pace for multiple reps, when you first start out, keep the exercises in your routine fairly simple and listen to your body if you start to feel fatigued. This is mainly to avoid poor form and reduce risk of injury, as your muscles will tire quickly due to the pace of the workout.

Basic exercises such as jumping rope or doing push-ups are good choices for beginners. Kettlebell swings, burpees and sprints are also good, as they are all easily learned and can be adapted depending on your level of fitness.

Once you’ve chosen a variety of exercises that target a good range of key muscles, decide on a time limit for your workout (usually between 10 to 20 minutes), and determine the number of reps you’ll do per exercise (this will be one set). Complete as many sets as you can within your time limit, but be sure to perform each exercise one after another with as much intensity as possible, and with only a short rest period between each set.

As your fitness improves, you can up the intensity of each exercise, attempting to complete more sets within your time limit and shortening the rest periods in between.

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Food Addiction and Healthy Living

What is Food Addiction?

Food addiction is a relentless craving for typically unhealthy foods. It has only recently been recognized as a real condition.  Processed foods made with refined flours and sugar are the most common culprits when it comes to food addiction.

Most people want to lead healthy lifestyles. But doing so isn’t always easy if you have a food addiction. People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less.  Needless to say, most people with food addiction struggle with obesity.

 

How can you become addicted to food?

The idea of food addiction was dismissed by many who thought it was impossible to become addicted to something our bodies need anyway.

However, recent studies have helped shed light on the fact that the types of foods associated with food addiction are the fat-filled, high salt, high sugar variety, which can directly impact parts of the brain associated with reward and pleasure.

The studies also show that this impact is basically the same as it would be for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Why it happens

Food addiction doesn’t seem to be more prevalent in men versus women, and it doesn’t seem to be impacted by a person’s size.

Instead, it’s more likely to develop in individuals that experienced some form of trauma during their childhood. However, this may not always be the case, as sometimes it can be triggered by factors such as hormonal imbalances and family situations that cause undue stress.

Can it be cured?

Just like addictions to other substances, there really is no cure for food addiction. However, also like other addictions, it is possible to recover from the effects of addiction by strict avoidance of the offending foods.

The road to health

Recovering from food addiction is not an easy process. In fact, in some ways it can be more difficult than drug or alcohol recovery. This is because the ingredients in the unhealthy products we crave are readily available and wind up in many of the foods we’d normally encounter throughout the course of our day.  And…..we can completely eliminate alcohol or drugs from our lives…….but we can’t eliminate food.

If you think you are addicted to food, here are some steps to help you begin to overcome it:

-Enlist the help of a therapist or psychiatrist trained in addiction

-Remove trigger foods from your home

-Practice meditation and stress management (a calm mind makes better decisions!)

-Enroll in a regular exercise program that provides coaching , accountability and nutrition guidance.

If you’re local to San Jose and want a supportive group to work out with, contact us about doing a 1-week free trial at a lifeSport Fitness boot camp!

Healing Foods in Your Kitchen

Increased awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is leading many people to increase their activity levels and reevaluate the foods they eat on a daily basis.

Many people are already enjoying the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle, as weight loss and better nutrition often lead to the disappearance of chronic illnesses and the need to take certain prescription medicines.

This is exciting news for anyone taking prescription medication on an ongoing basis. Particularly those that choose to adopt a healthy lifestyle, as they often feel conflicted when following up their home-cooked meals made from organic ingredients with a cocktail of prescription medication manufactured in a laboratory.

The success in reducing chronic conditions through good nutrition highlights the importance of carefully choosing what we put into our bodies and has opened our minds to the potential healing powers of food.

Eat to feel better

The term “comfort food” typically refers to a specific food chosen to lessen the impact of a bad day. While more recently the concept is associated with eating something that’s on the unhealthy side, the idea that foods can actually make us feel better holds true.

Alternative quick-fix remedies

Minor illnesses and ailments happen to everyone, but unfortunately we’ve grown accustomed to reaching for over-the-counter medications at the first signs of trouble.

Whether it’s an upset stomach, an annoying cough, or a minor ache or pain, you just might find an alternative quick-fix remedy in your kitchen.

Stomach trouble

Sometimes our stomachs can be extra sensitive to something we ate or to increases in stress. The next time if happens to you, try treating the minor pains or rumblings with tea made from peppermint oil, ginger or basil.

Calming your cough

Whether it’s caused by a cold or allergies, coughing can be very annoying. If a dry, irritating cough is keeping you up at night, try taking a teaspoon of honey in place of traditional cough medicine.

Pain stoppers

Turmeric is a popular spice used in curry dishes. But when consumed in soups or teas or applied directly to the skin, it also has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

As all of our nutritional needs must be met by the foods we eat, it isn’t all that surprising that many foods pack powerful healing qualities. To make the most of these qualities as you experiment with food-based remedies for treating minor ailments, be sure to choose only the highest quality organic ingredients when possible.

The Diet and Diabetes Dilemma

As the medical industry continues to make strides in the prevention and treatment of many diseases and conditions, it’s somewhat surprising that diabetes is still on the rise in the U.S. One of the most concerning aspects is that some forms of diabetes may actually be preventable and can often be attributed to the foods we eat.

While changing guidelines can make it difficult to know what foods we should or shouldn’t be eating, it’s important to stay informed as we continue to learn more about the importance of food and overall health.

What we don’t know can hurt us

Ongoing studies have prompted changes in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is published every five years. The changes are intended to improve our overall eating habits, limit the onset of diseases and support a healthy lifestyle.

However, most Americans only receive this information as it trickles down through advice from doctors or the latest health and fitness programs or magazines. This can cause confusion, as some of the information may be taken out of context.

All fats are not created equal

Whether or not we should eliminate fat from our diets is a good example of how data can be misinterpreted. There has been a lot of discussion on the importance of reducing fat intake to improve health, but many consumers are confused as to what this actually means.

There are fats that should definitely be eliminated from our diets, such as trans fats, which can raise cholesterol. There are also fats we should carefully consider, such as saturated fat. But there are also healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids, which can actually lower bad cholesterol and prevent clogged arteries.

For consumers that choose to oversimplify this concept by eliminating all fats, the concern is what foods they are eating instead.

More carbs isn’t the answer

Consumers seeking ways to reduce fat intake may unknowingly do more harm than good when it comes to increasing their risk of diabetes.

For example, cutting out high-fat processed meats is a good idea. But if those foods are being replaced by starchy breads and pastas made from refined white flours that have little nutritional value, you’re really only trading one problem for another.

A better option would be to substitute with more fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Balance is key

While genetics and other factors may play a role in the risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, a healthy diet may help reduce this risk. The key is to eat a balance of fresh, natural foods that are high in nutrients and to limit the intake of refined grains, trans fats and foods that contain added sugar.

It’s also important to check in with your doctor regularly, particularly if diabetes runs in your family, and to seek nutritional advice tailored to your personal situation.