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Wedding Brain and Clean Eats

1 Jul

So glad this Monday is wrapping up! I’m not feeling too hot today. Tired, headache, neck and jaw pain- NOT a good way to start the week. I blame it on the fact that over the course of the weekend I went from a lazy bride with zero wedding plans to this:

Wedding brain

Just when I thought my life/brain was at full capacity, I managed to squeeze another category into it. We visited our first venue on Friday, hammered out a first draft guest list on Saturday, and developed a line-item budget on Sunday. I’m learning that wedding planning is like everything else in life- as complicated or as simple as you choose to make it. You can plan a three ring circus OR you can plan a little party- it’s all up to you.I love this article from A Practical Wedding titled “Your Wedding is Not a Show”. It puts things into perspective for me. Since JWD and I are on a very tight budget, perspective is crucial. Let’s be real, despite the upswing in planning I am still a “lazy bride”. There is no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that I will lose sleep over centerpieces and aisle runners 🙂 Looking forward to sharing my wedding planning simplifications as the planning ensues (and would love to hear your tips if you have any!).

In other news, after a weekend of traveling, brunching, and lunching, I was very much looking forward to getting back into my normal food routine today.

An unseasonably chilly morning spurred an oatmeal craving.

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Old-fashioned oats, soy milk, blueberries, walnuts, peanut butter, unsweetened coconut, stevia, and cinnamon.

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Lunch was leftover shrimp salad with leftover crumbled roasted tempeh (can you tell leftovers are my go-to lunch??) rounded out with salt & vinegar Popchips, grapes, and a sparkling water. LOVING Seagram’s Key Lime right now!

Afternoon snack before yoga was a too-ugly-to-be-photographed green smoothie with Sunwarrior. Greens + cocoa powder make for a very unappetizing color. It was delicious though!

The theme in my yoga class tonight was “listening to your body”. It was exactly what I needed and made me feel SO much better, but still exhausted and ready for an early bedtime. 

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After yoga, JWD whipped up a yummy dinner of smashed pinto beans and sautéed veggies and sweet potatoes. Time to close my eyes and hope I feel better tomorrow- it’s going to be a jam-packed day!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Is Stress Making You Fat?

28 Jan

The word “stress” is a daily part of my exchanges. It seems I am either telling someone about my own stress or listening to clients, friends, and family members talk about theirs. We are a chronically stressed out society. We work late, worry much, and push our health and well-being to the bottom of our very long to-do lists.

This is no good because it turns out chronic stress is bad news. It wreaks havoc on our bodies. One of the biggest bummers about chronic stress is a nasty little hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is one of our “fight or flight” hormones. It is released during stressful situations to prepare the body to fight or flee. Since today’s stressful situations are more likely to be a meeting with your boss or an overdue bill and not a run-in with a mountain lion, cortisol release doesn’t always serve us well. Cortisol is all fine and good when stress is low and it is operating normally. But when stress is chronic, cortisol is elevated constantly which leaves your body totally outta whack.

A few of the harmful effects of chronically elevated cortisol:

  • Encourages fat to accumulate in your tummy area
  • Spikes hunger and cravings for high-calorie foods
  • Causes digestive problems
  • Weakens the immune system
  • Leads to whole body inflammation (inflamm = diseases)
  • Disrupts sleep and causes chronic fatigue and depression symptoms

In short, our crazy stressed out lives are making us fat, sick, and unhealthy! Since life’s stressors, whatever yours may be, probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, we need to do a few things alleviate our bodies from the destruction of stress.

Two Steps to Stress Less:

  • Master stress management

    • This can mean different things to different people, so find what works for you. I’ll give you a few research-supported stress management ideas: deep breathing is the easiest way to lower the stress response in your body. Take a few minutes during particularly stressful parts of your day to take deep inhales and exhales. Trust me, it works! Exercise is also a proven stress management tactic, as well as meditation and yoga. Find what helps you keep your cool and do it!
  • Anti-inflammatory nutrition

    • That’s right, food can help you stress less! Like I said, chronic stress creates overall inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to a host of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and digestive diseases. By swapping pro-inflammatory foods for anti-inflammatory foods, you can help your body beat stress.
    • Pro-inflammatory (stressful) Foods:
      • low fiber carbohydrates (think “simple sugar” processed foods)
      • saturated fat
      • trans fat
      • caffeine
      • alcohol
    • Anti-inflammatory (calming) Foods:
      • high fiber carbohydrates (whole grains)
      • whole plant foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans)
      • omega-3 fats (walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, salmon)

So what the heck should you do? Here’s how I manage my stress…

Yoga and deep breathing

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Try it: close your eyes and inhale to the count of 4, hold for a sec, then exhale to the count of 6 and hold for a sec. Do this 5 times for instant stress relief!

This is where I transport myself when I breathe deep 🙂

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And gobs of anti-inflamm grub

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Don’t let stress hold you back from being the healthiest you you can be! I’m going to state the obvious, but it must be said: you only get ONE body to live in, so take care of it for goodness sake!

Now go take 5 deep breaths, eat some walnuts, put a couple cucumber slices over your eyes, and relax. It just might save your life 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

Intentions for a New Year

8 Jan

Hello again, friends and Happy New Year!

My long absence can only be explained by severe stress and off-the-charts demands on my time. It’s been a wild ride.

I can’t believe we just wrapped up the first week of 2012! The idea of “New Year Resolutions” is a bit cliche for my taste and the success rate of such resolutions is not very promising. Rather than lofty resolutions, I want to set intentions for the new year to give it some direction and clarify what I want out of this phase of my life. I have spent the first week of the new year reflecting on 2011 and looking forward to what I want out of 2012 and finally, 8 days in, I’m ready to set some intentions. I’ve also been doing tons of yoga to end the old year and start the new which really impacted my goals.

Intentions for 2012:

1. Give to others what I want in return.

This one was inspired by Jen’s New Year post. If I want love, I will give love. If I want kindness, I will give kindness. If I want acceptance, I will give acceptance.

2. Practice loving, kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance with myself.

This one is all about self-love. In yoga, we talk about chakras- points of the body responsible for the reception and transmission of energies. The Heart Chakra is located at the center of the chest and is the center for love, understanding, limitless compassion, empathy and forgiveness. This goal includes stopping the self-guilt, negative self-talk, and taking care of my body with whole foods and exercise.

3. Live with intention.

One of the biggest changes I want to make this year is to practice being present and making every minute intentional. I am such a multi-tasker and while sometimes this is a good thing (and the only way for me to function in my crazy life), it doesn’t always serve me well. This year I want to set intentions for every day, every moment. When I rest, I rest. When I work, I work. This also includes achieving my career goals, fitness goals, engaging in my relationships, and blogging more!

4. Live at my edge, continue to find a new edge, and get rid of the baby elephant syndrome.

In yoga, I find my edge in every pose, breathe into it, push a little further, and find a new edge. This is also a good strategy for life. I want to push my edge a little more and find new potential.

One of my yoga teachers told us a story about baby elephant syndrome that really resonated with me:

An adult elephant can easily uproot huge trees with its trunk; it can knock down a house without much trouble. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain every night. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries with all its might to break the rope. But it isn’t yet strong enough to do so.

Realizing its efforts are of no use, it finally gives up and stops struggling. After the baby elephant tries and fails many times, it will never try again for the rest of its life.

Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make the slightest attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities based on the limitations of the past- Baby Elephant Syndrome.

Sometimes we let our past experiences and beliefs get in our way. Let go of your baby elephant syndrome! You are capable of so much more than you think! Discover your full potential!

5. Continue to find peace and calmness in the chaos.

This one will be the most difficult for me. My stress response is unreal. Stress is good for my productivity, but terrible for my well-being. I have too darn much I want to accomplish in my life, so I’ve accepted that I will always be living in chaos. Therefore, I must learn to find peace- or I might self-destruct 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

Rest {n}:

20 Sep

Straight outta Webster’s…

Rest (n):

  1. a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
  2. freedom from activity or labor
  3. peace of mind or spirit
  4. a rhythmic silence in music
  5. something used for support

-at rest: free of anxieties

Basic need or luxury? Metabolically, a basic need. In day-to-day life, sadly, a luxury.

For me, the act of rest is both. I need it- my mind, my body, my soul- to function at an efficient stratum. However, in the whirlwind that is my current existence (and probably yours too), rest is a rare luxury I am surprised to stumble upon. Did you know France has almost double the amount of paid vacation days per year than the U.S.? The French don’t get fat and they value rest. I’m booking a one-way ticket.

Like planes, trains, and automobiles, the body can only run on empty for so long. At some point, we must refuel_recharge_renourish.

When you stumble upon an opportunity for rest, it must be seized. And taken full advantage of. Sometimes we blink and let that window for rest slip away. Zoning out to Season 25 of American Idol (obviously not a fan of mindless television), obsessing over to-do lists, worrying about tomorrow.

Resting doesn’t just refer to the physical act of lying down and closing your eyes. Rest is about slowing the cadence. Being present. And turning your gaze inward. As the above definition variations say, it’s about allowing yourself freedom and peace. It’s about supporting yourself. And in a perfect world, rest would be a rhythmic silence- a repetitive piece of our overall rhythm.

This year of my life is shaping up to be a meticulously scheduled rhythm- a pattern that is repeated with slight variations every two weeks. And I think rest must be a steady part of that rhythm, for survival’s sake. I just wrapped up two weeks of studying diabetes, and after a weekend of much-needed rest, I’m heading off to an unconventional bakery where I will be for the next two weeks. Good things to come, my friends.

How I rest:

lavender bath salt, French music, yoga, reading.

Steaming veggies, boiling beans, stirring pots of ancient grains on a rainy Sunday; preparing for the week ahead.

Running in the rain.

I strive to someday be this skilled at the act of rest.

How do you rest?

Thanks for reading 🙂

{Van Gogh’s Noon: Rest From Work}

Stress-Less

24 May

Hello out there! Anyone there? Remember me?

I have been absent from Running on Sunshine for far too long. I felt like a piece of my soul was missing! The truth is, I’ve been stressed to the max. Nothing sucks away your creative motivation and energy quite like stress.

My own family as well as a very dear friend’s family have been going through some very difficult situations. The worry and stress that I feel from this compounded with wrapping up my undergraduate career really did a number on me. Maybe this is all TMI, but I felt it would be unauthentic to come onto Running on Sunshine and pretend that life is perfect. If there is one thing I strive to be for all of you, it is authentic. No, I am not running on sunshine 100% of the time and that is perfectly okay.

Stress impacts my eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise habits, and motivation levels. Sometimes I get so worked up that it makes me feel physically sick, making my appetite disappear. Sometimes I seek comfort in unhealthy foods. Sometimes I lose all desire to go for a run even though I know it will make me feel better. Sometimes I lie awake all night long, only to struggle to keep my eyes open all day long. These are all normal reactions to stress! When these things happen, we tend to beat ourselves up. “What is wrong with me? I haven’t exercised in a week!” “Ugh, why can’t I get motivated!” “I’ve already eaten terrible all week, so what’s the point of starting fresh tomorrow?” Sound familiar?

Instead of beating ourselves up, we should be taking extra care of ourselves. If I don’t have the energy for an intense workout, I take a relaxing walk with JWD or stretch/practice yoga instead. If I don’t have an appetite, I nourish myself with a smoothie. If I find myself turning to food for comfort, I recognize why I’m doing it and try to talk it out instead. If I don’t have the motivation to write a blog post, I give myself a little break. Stress wreaks emotional, mental, and physical havoc on your body. Be kind to yourself.

One thing that signals my stress level is my skin. My skin is very acne-prone. When my body is stressed, my skin doesn’t hide it! I graduated from college this past weekend (woohoo!!), and after the whirlwind settled I treated my skin to a little DIY facial. It worked wonders!

Stress-Less DIY Face Mask

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Mix together all three ingredients until a chocolatey-colored paste forms. Spread onto skin and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, scrubbing in small circles. The nutmeg crumbs act as a gentle exfoliant! Instead of drying with a towel, let your face air-dry.

Now that I’ve wrapped up a very busy chapter of my life, I have a couple months to take a breath before the next crazy chapter begins. I plan to use this breathing period to dive head first into Running on Sunshine. I love hearing all of your positive feedback and it motivates me to continue growing the blog into something even better! So please throw your suggestions my way! What do you want to read about? What do you want my next videos to be about? I’m all ears!

If you haven’t “Liked” the Running on Sunshine Facebook page, do it now! I am starting to post quick and easy health tidbits.

It feels so good to be back.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

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