As January comes to a close, how would you evaluate this first month of 2017? Were you, like so many others, working to improve your health by losing weight and changing your food habits? How is that going? Don’t beat yourself up. Let’s regroup and simplify.
I have written frequently about food choices and I’m not going to rehash that subject here. What I do want to emphasize is what I call eating hygiene – as simple as HOW you eat. Do you actually pause for a meal, rather than eat on the run? Do you chew mindfully – noticing more than just the initial taste of your food? And how many times do you actually chew? Chewing is the only voluntary action in the digestive process. Give yourself time and chew your food. Your stomach will thank you.
Sleep – those wonderful nightly zzzz’s – are highly under-rated! In our “energizer bunny” culture, we practically gloat over the length of our active hours and the lack of shut-eye … and our bodies pay the price. Have you noticed brain fog, loss of coordination, and difficulty making decisions? Could lack of sleep be contributing to your difficulty in choosing the right foods to fuel your body? Head to bed!
What is it that makes the earth unique among all the planets in our solar system? Oxygen and water. All forms of life are dependent on these vital resources – including YOU. We tend to breathe at shallow levels, especially when stressed, which deprives our brains and extremities of needed oxygen, and raises your cortisol level. And what types of liquid do you normally drink? Is it pure water or has it been infused with cream, sugar, leaves, coffee grounds, or any number of ingredients you can’t pronounce? Only water truly hydrates your body, and countless functions are dependent on stable hydration. Drink water and breathe deeply!
Chronic stress eclipses all your efforts to eat well, hydrate, sleep and breathe. Stress works against you from the outside and the inside – keeping you distracted, eating whatever foods you find within reach to give your taste buds a treat and fill your stomach, breathing shallowly, drinking sugary drinks and tossing and turning in your bed.
Not only does stress interfere with these important aspects of wellness, but inside the cortisol that your body excretes to protect itself can dominate the hormone soup that controls your body’s functions. Cortisol can thwart the proper conversion of thyroid hormones that influence your metabolism. Sustained stress can also increase levels of insulin, prompting your body to store more fat, and can hijack the building blocks of testosterone and estrogen to make more cortisol, leaving you out of balance in those areas. All of this works against your plans to lose weight.
As your favorite cartoon character would say, “ARGH!!!” What can you do?
Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Drink a full glass of real water at a steady pace.
Don’t get bogged down in your current circumstances, but instead consider what your goal is related to your health. Do you know what steps you can take to get there? Could you use some support along the way? As a Functional Medicine Health Coach, I can help you evaluate your current situation and identify the steps to take to move you toward wellness.
Meanwhile, choose one change to make. Keep it simple. You – and your future – are worth it!