Tag Archives: stress

Breathe. Go easy on yourself. Keep Moving.

Busy week! Have you had one too? A friend sent me this quote today. I thought I would share in case you needed the reminder to breathe, go easy on yourself and keep moving.

Be Well

Janet

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by | May 18, 2021 · 8:20 pm

Your weight is up! Now What?

Weight gain that has nothing to do with  calories

You get on the scale and UUGGHH!, Up five pounds!!! What? How?

Your mind quickly goes back in time to scan for possible slip ups. Could it have been that cookie? Was it that day I only took 2000 steps? Ugh, I’m so stupid! Why did I do that?!

Then your brain jumps to the future and formulates a plan. I’m going to eat only vegetables and protein today and get on that exercise bike for an hour, twice today. Time to get back on track!

But wait! Before you race off to burn more calories than you take in, stop for a minute and consider what else the scale might be telling you.

Remember the scale measures everything. It will never give you an accurate measure of your success with what you want from weight loss. It is a general guide, best used for a big picture look at if your body weight is trending upward or downward.

The day to day fluctuation in weight are more likely showing your levels of inflammation; the level of fluid in your body. This is still valuable information, but only if you can calm your brain long enough to consider what has been going on recently that could be causing inflammation.

  1. Pain: Are your muscles sore? Have you had an injury lately? Pain is inflammation. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a ‘good sore‘ from exercise. Soreness simply means you have made more work than your body can handle right now, and it is letting you know. There is no gain from pain caused by over-exercising. (except weight gain that is!).
  2. Sleep: Sleep is when your body heals and repairs and clears inflammation. If you are low on quality sleep your body is not getting enough time for this important task.
  3. Stress: Whether it is from external stressors, such as a family illness or busy time at work or internal stress like self-criticism and self-doubt, your body responds to real or potential threats by getting ready for a possible injury, and that raises inflammation
  4. Illness: You could be fighting off an illness or are you just recovering from one. Consider your energy level and other symptoms that may be telling you your immune system is working overtime.

Inflammation plays an essential role in healing and injury repair. It is there to keep your body safe and healthy. When it goes up, it is a sign your body needs more attention. Exercise is a great anti-inflammatory, in the right dose. Excessive exercise could actually make matters worse by giving your body more to recover from rather than helping it with healing and repair. Listen to your body to know how much is enough to reduce inflammation. Several short bouts of exercise at a light intensity spread out throughout your day, done in a way that lowers stress and helps you sleep can be a great tool for helping your body heal and repair.

When your weight is up, pause and consider all the possible reasons and then give your body what it needs to be healthy and well.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | February 16, 2021 · 6:50 pm

Strategies for staying healthy and well in the new normal

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Since March, most of the articles on Keep Moving Weekly have focused on strategies and resources for staying healthy and well in this new normal we have found ourselves in.   Let’s summarize what we have covered so far.

Lower stress and a strengthen your immune system

In this article we discussed how the stress we are under right now can lower your immune system.  Knowing you are doing all you can to keep your immune system strong is one strategy to lower stress right now.  We reviewed how exercise is the antidote to stress, as long as it is not stress producing.  This article provides strategies for using exercise to reduce stress.

Adapting exercise for the COVID-19 outbreak

In this article we reviewed how to adapt your mindset about exercise for the changes we all have had to make with the COVID-19 outbreak.

In this article we reviewed how to create a home exercise routine.

  • Click here to find tips for online cardiovascular exercise
  • Click here to find tips for online strength exercise

Healthy eating during the COVID-19 outbreak

In this article one of our dietitians shared a wealth of information about eating while in quarantine and with limited access to your usual foods.

In this article one of our medical providers gave many valuable tips for getting control of comfort eating in this time of greater stress.

Working well when working remotely

In this article we discussed how to set up your home workstation in a way that minimizes the strain and maximizes energy.

In this article you will find tips for using exercise to help your body recover from more hours in front of a screen.

Keeping healthy habits as life returns to a new normal

 If you found yourself with more time to develop healthy habits during the lock-down, you may be wondering if you can keep them when life ramps up again. This article provides strategies for keeping those exercise habits and this article provides science-based tips for staying motivated when life changes.

These Keep Moving Weekly articles will continue to share information relevant to our life now, as we continue to work and live in this new normal.  What questions do you have about exercise right now?  Post them in comments and I will put that topic on the list for articles in the future.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | July 28, 2020 · 3:06 pm

How to use exercise to stress less and stay safe in the new normal

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Since every aspect of our lives has been effected by the COVID-19 outbreak, it is an especially stressful time.  When you are in a stressful state, healing and repair are down-regulated. The more moments of the day you are in a stressed, anxious, or depressed state, the less your body can keep you safe, from not only COVID-19 but all the other threats to your health and well-being.   

The good news about that fact is the flip side.  When you are calm, both mentally and physically, your body can get back into a healing, repairing and protecting state. The more tools you have to shift out of stressed state and into a relaxed calm state,  the more chance you have of staying safe and well.

Exercise is something we know is important, but it is now one of our most essential tools for navigating this new normal while staying safe and well.  Why?  Because when you are stressed, your body is preparing for movement.   That means remedies to reduce stress that include movement are the ‘super-food’ of stress reduction.  Movement, that is not stress producing, gives your body and brain exactly what it needs in order to shift back into that magical calm state when you can truly ‘stay safe’.

Not all movement is going to reduce stress.  You could be moving but still adding on to your stress levels.  You could be moving and enjoying the activity, helping your body burn off that stress so it can get back to the state of calm.  

In order to supercharge your stress reduction, movement needs to be done in a way that does not add to stress.  This sounds obvious but it is where we often fall short of getting what we need most from exercise.   We make it so darn stressful to get enough exercise!

If there was ever a time we needed to make exercise less stressful, it is now!  There are several ways we can reduce the stress of exercising so it can supercharge our ability to stay safe and well right now:

Knowing you are doing enough: A few blogs ago we reviewed how much is enough exercise.  That feeling like you should be doing more is like a big weight on your mental to do list, leading to more stress.  Knowing you are doing enough frees up some much needed space in your list of things you ‘should’ do in day.

Knowing there is no gain in pain.   The term “no pain no gain” is often taken to mean that pain is a sign you are making progress from exercise.  What it really means is that pain is a side effect of pushing your body to do more than it is ready to do.  The saying is meant for athletes and military professionals who need to push their body to excel over the competition, to remind them pain is just part of the process.  It is not meant for those of us who want health benefits from exercising.  There is not one ounce of science behind the strongly held, and stress producing believe that pain is a sign of progress.  There is however loads of evidence that your brain is hardwired to avoid pain. Pain with exercise means your motivation is less likely to last.  Lose this idea that pain is necessary for exercise to ‘count’ and you will lose much of the stress of exercising.

Knowing how to keep it flexible:   I have spoken with many people lately who were happily moving along in a great exercise routine and then suddenly, the gym closed, schools closed, and their whole plan went up in smoke.  As frustrating as that is, the fact is life is full of changes.  Since exercise works best when it is consistent, using this time as an opportunity to think outside the box and create a flexible mindset about exercising is the way to reduce the stress of getting enough exercise.  Many of you have shared with me discoveries about home based cardio and strength programs you never thought you would do.  Others are using mini-workouts as ways to reduce the stress that builds up during a typical work day.  Getting creative with the way you use exercise is your best ally right now.

Take a moment to consider if exercise is adding to or reducing your stress right now.  Whether the guilt of not exercising is weighing you down or trying to get enough is adding to your stress levels, this is a great time to change course.  Start with these three steps to using exercise to reduce rather than add to stress and you are on your way to a new normal with more confidence you can stay safe and well.

Keep moving and be well,

Janet

 

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by | July 21, 2020 · 7:41 pm

Getting control over comfort eating

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (17)

Below is an article written by one of our medical providers, Dr. Elizabeth Benjevin.  During this COVID-19 outbreak, many people are turning to food for comfort, and this is adding to the stress of weight loss.  She offers advice for reducing comfort eating here.  Thank you Dr. Benjevin for sharing your timely insights.  

 Emotional and Comfort Eating

Emotional eating is very common. Many people find themselves turning to food in times when they feel anxious, depressed, bored or tired. Often, they will turn to foods that in the past they have associated with comfort, often sweet or high in refined carbohydrates, foods that may be associated with childhood and good times.

Part of stopping emotional eating is to identify when you are eating for hunger and when you are eating for emotional reasons. Some signs you are eating for comfort include: you get a sudden craving for a specific type of food (hunger usually gradually builds up and is usually satisfied by most foods), you’re not satisfied even though you are physically full, you feel the hunger mainly in your head and not in your stomach, you feel guilty or regretful after eating.

Getting control over emotional eating

Just being aware that you are eating because of emotions is probably the most important step that you can make to start getting control. What you do after that may be variable depending upon the circumstances. Sometimes simply paying attention to your feelings may be enough to cause it to gradually fade into the background. Sometimes, you will need to do more than that and having substitute activities that are enjoyable and soothing can be very helpful. Below is a list of some activities that people have found helpful. This is not meant to be complete, if you have one that has been helpful in the past but not listed, make note and try it out.

  • Physical Activity such as walking, running, dancing, stretching
  • Listening to music
  • Reading a good novel
  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Coloring in an adult coloring book
  • Playing solitaire or a game on your phone
  • Taking a walk in nature
  • Gardening
  • Playing with or petting your pet
  • Looking at favorite pictures of your pet or other animals
  • Woodworking
  • Taking a relaxing bath
  • Getting a massage or giving yourself a self-massage
  • Talking to or calling a close friend
  • Prayer/Meditation
  • Fishing
  • Writing/Journaling
  • Having a soothing cup of tea
  • De-cluttering your desk or other area
  • Drawing or doodling

Take a break from the news and social media – social media sometimes increases stress because you see everyone else’s “perfect life” and your life doesn’t seem to measure up. (Of course people don’t usually post the bad stuff)

Close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths – make the out breath about twice as long as the in breath; you may wish to imagine yourself in a calm relaxing place. Visualize all the little details.  If you like to be on the beach, then imagine the sand and the ocean, how the heat and the breeze feels on your skin, the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves. Take the time to soak it all in, and realize that this is available whenever you want.

If you find your stress becomes unmanageable or overwhelming, consider seeing a therapist , talk to your primary care provider or contact your mental health provider if you have one.

Take Care, Stay Safe and we’ll all get through this together. 

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by | April 1, 2020 · 5:18 pm