Finding and Fixing the Holes in Your Wellness Plan By Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach®
Why is it that we may eat well, exercise and still struggle with our weight and health?
For many of us, making healthier food choices is a way of life. We read labels, we're mindful of our portions, we limit the amount of junk and processed foods we eat, we limit our alcohol intake and we make a concerted effort to eat "clean" and healthy.
Many of us also commit to a consistent fitness schedule where we're walking, running, doing classes, DVD's, yoga, or organized sports regularly. We put in the time and effort necessary to create a lean, toned and fit body.
So with this kind of effort, why aren't many of us looking, feeling and living our best?
While eating and exercise are huge steps in the right direction, they're only a piece of the wellness puzzle. The rest has to do with our lifestyle, our mindset and so much more. But, even with healthy eating and exercise there may be a few "holes" in your plan so let's look there first.
If your choices are healthy for the most part, it's worth taking a look at the "why" of your eating. Are you eating when your body is hungry or do you eat based on the time, the size of the plate or the event around you? There's a big difference between hunger and appetite and while the body thrives when eating because of hunger, the body can only store fat when eating because of appetite. Here's how to tell the difference.
Hunger is a physiological response to the body needing food. Your stomach may rumble, you may feel lightheaded and you want food quickly. Often, it doesn't really matter what you eat as long as you get something into your system quickly.
Appetite is much different. It's triggered by emotions, by something you've just seen, thought about or even by a delicious smell. With appetite, you feel an immediate urge to eat something and typically, it's something specific. Also, different textures are indicative of certain emotions when driven by appetite. For example, you may want something crunchy when you're angry and something smooth and creamy when you're sad. Responding to appetite vs. hunger is a recipe for weight gain because your body doesn't need the food. When that's the case, your body's only option is to convert it to fat and store it for you.
It's also helpful to see if you're eating mindlessly. With mindless eating, you're taking in much more than you need because you're distracted while eating. Are you eating while cooking, passing food to others, or taking in too much because you're reading or watching TV during a meal? We can take in thousands of excess calories through "mindless munching."
Emotional eating may also be a factor where we eat to soothe, calm, numb and relax from our problems our pain. It's a self-‐soothing technique where we self-‐medicate, using food as our drug of choice. Any of these food behaviors not only cause weight gain, but also can have us struggling with maintaining a healthy weight for years.
Just as we get bored with a fitness routine, if your body isn't challenged it gets bored too. Are you doing the same routine consistently and has it gotten easier over time? If so, it's time to shake things up and create some "muscle confusion." That could mean varying your pace or throwing in some intervals or bursts of intense plyometric movements to dramatically increase the intensity for a short period of time. It can also mean using weights, resistance bands, machines, trying an organized sport, a new fitness class, DVD or different route to run.
Many of us have also become consistent with our cardio routines but neglect to do anything to build muscle. Building muscle is critical to any fitness plan because it fires up our metabolism, gives us a fit, toned body as well as improving our quality of life by simply making every day tasks easier to perform.
With fitness, it's also important to look at the rest of your day. Sure you may be getting in that workout but are you sitting behind a desk for the rest of the day? While the workout may be great, it can't make up for a lack of movement once your workout it through.
Another piece of the wellness puzzle can be found with the amount of sleep you're getting each night. With adequate sleep we have more clarity, ability to focus, concentrate, and we have more energy to get us through the day. Without enough sleep, we'll look for energy through sugar and caffeine; the perfect recipe for weight gain. The empty calories coming from sugar gives us a temporary energy surge and inevitable crash, which leaves us craving more sugar to pick us up again. This short-‐lived fuel doesn't sustain or nurture our bodies but the calories add up quickly. Also, without enough sleep, certain hormones and chemicals don't have an opportunity to rebalance and replenish themselves. Unfortunately, these chemicals also promote fat storage and increased appetite.
We can be eating well and exercising but if we're living with chronic, unmanaged stress, we're suppressing our immune system as well as causing physical, mental and emotional wear and tear. For example, if you're under constant stress and you're an emotional eater, the stress you feel will trigger a binge. You also won't be interested in healthy meal planning, label reading and portion control because you're consumed by your stress. In addition, you may look for comfort foods, which are loaded in fat, sugar and calories.
When stress suppresses your immune system, we're not as able to fight off bacterial and viral invasion so we're more susceptible to illness. Under stress, we're also keeping our bodies tight which leads to muscle aches, pulls, tears, headaches and more.
Chronic stress also affects our digestive, nervous and even reproductive system. Digestive disturbances such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, Chrohn's disease and acid reflux can all be tied to stress.
Our relationships are either good or bad for our health. Supportive, loving, positive and nurturing relationships improve the immune system, flood our bodies with "feel good" hormones and chemicals while giving us a sense of connectedness. Negative, critical,
judgmental and pessimistic people suppress our immune systems, flood our bodies with stress hormones and discourage us from being, doing and having more.
Mindset is also a critical piece to the wellness puzzle. A lack of confidence, low self esteem, poor self image and a belief system that doesn't serve us will prevent us from living the life we want...no matter how well we eat and how much we exercise. If we feel worthy and deserving of love, health, wellness and success, then our thoughts, behaviors and actions will support those goals. If we feel unworthy of love, health, wellness and success, unfortunately our actions and behaviors will support those beliefs too.
True health is being healthy from the inside, out. It's not just a great body; it's a healthy body thriving because of a healthy lifestyle, a healthy mind and a healthy spirit.
Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach®, founder of www.TheMojoCoach.com is a leading health, fitness, wellness, lifestyle, self-‐improvement expert and THE secret behind some of the healthiest, most dynamic, energetic and successful people today. Sign up for your "10 FREE Strategies to Get You Lean, Sleek and Sculpted"! (These are complete programs and videos) and take the FREE "Mojo Lifestyle Assessment" to see how you score.
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