Category: Stress

Genetics and Habits in Obesity

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Cause or Curse?

I first heard the phrase, “Generational Curse” about 20 years ago and had absolutely no idea about what it was supposed to be. Turns out that there were people around me who believed that bad traits passed from one generation to another by some mystical means other than just genetics.

What “Genetics” Will We Pass Down?

True, there are some tendencies that are familial. There are also some outright inherited maladies, but they are few and far between. Almost all of the negative health and life issues that we have are a direct result of the choices that we make, not genetics, and certainly not some mystical, spiritual curse. Believing this falsehood is simply an excuse to fail at achieving your goals. Believing this is an excuse to abandon all effort to be responsible for the health choices that you make. Mom became diabetic at age 40? If that’s the case, it’s 90-95% that Mom’s choices that caused it. (1) Make different choices.

I had an Aunt who died a terrible death from throat cancer. I loved her. She was my favorite Aunt. She smoked, a lot, and never quit. Do her children have a similar risk? Possibly, they also smoke and the genetics are secondary compared to that decision. Habits are sometimes “familial”. That is not the same as “genetic”. Bad habits that are passed down can cause death and disease. That does not mean that you are doomed to have those diseases. You can choose to avoid the bad habits that cause them.

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What Have You Learned?

There is a state of mind called “Learned Helplessness” that is believed to occur when someone is exposed to traumatic events that they cannot control. Over time, the individual “learns” that he cannot control events around himself and simply doesn’t try. Feeling that we can’t control traumatic events leads to loss of motivation to the extent that even when we are presented with the opportunity to change the course of our lives, we may not take advantage of the opportunity.

This “loser” state of mind cripples the individual in decision making because he feels that his decisions won’t make a difference. Feeling helpless in the face of trauma and unable, or unwilling, to change the course of action by deciding to take control, leads to depression in most people with learned helplessness. This is a deadly personality trait when we are faced with decisions concerning our health. Learned Helplessness is perpetuated in many families as an excuse for bad behavior. I have seen it in relatives and the families of friends.

Decisions, Genetics and Choice

In the original experiments on this topic, it was discovered that dogs who did not try to avoid negative stimuli had not, however, learned helplessness. They had not learned control. (3) The difference is profound. In order to “learn” helplessness, or the lack of control, we must first decide to take control and then be unable to do so. If an individual is afraid of failure simply because that’s all they have ever seen or been exposed to, then they have not made a decision to break that consecutive chain of failure, dysfunction and sickness that may have existed in their family for generations. They have not learned helplessness, they simply have not learned control.

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The Habits of Lovely Ladies

I remember when I actually believed that “skinny” girls were just genetically gifted. Never mind that my Mother, who was 5’7″ and about 110 pounds, ate very little and almost never sat down. For some strange reason, I ignored the obvious. Truth be known, it was easier to believe that she had great genes, that were somehow vastly different from mine, than to see the truth of the matter. While I would binge on brownies at every chance, she might eat one, maybe not even one. While I preferred the life of a sloth, she was a busy bee.

I have mentioned “Janice” a few times. She was a lovely girl, close to my age in my 20’s who had a rock star body. I assumed she had great genetics. While I struggled to fit into a size 12 or 14, Janice was a lithe size 5 or 7. Guess what. I finally ask her what she ate. She showed me a tray of freshly cut vegetables in her fridge and she told me that she ate those veggies all the time and seldom got hungry between meals. I was at her house for meals. They were healthy meals of grilled lean meats and veggies, fruit for dessert and no munchies at the parties unless you wanted the fresh veggies. She did not deviate and was not swayed by the negative comments of those around her concerning her diet. She was in control. So was my Mom.

Both Janice and my Mom had obese Mothers. They had made a conscious choice to take control, to do better than their upbringing. Genetics be damned.

What would your life be like if you decide, right now, to take control over the things that you have refused to exercise control over until this moment in time? Would you be different tomorrow? What about this time next year? Would you still eat the same things, smoke, drink alcohol and hang out with the same people? Remember, if someone doesn’t encourage you to be healthy, they are not your friend and do not have your best interest at heart. I challenge you. Exercise your ability to create your life and take control today.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

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It’s Not My Fault, It’s Genetics

(1) https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-causes

(2) medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325355.php

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4920136/

Emotional Eating

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To fix a problem, we must first understand the problem. This is a true statement for all that we encounter in life. And one problem that is quite prevalent with those of us who have ever had a weight problem is that of emotional eating.

According to the American Psychological Association:

  1. Many adults report engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors as a result of stress and say that these behaviors can lead to undesirable consequences, such as feeling sluggish or lazy and feeling bad about their bodies.
  2. Thirty-eight percent of adults say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress. Half of these adults (49 percent) report engaging in these behaviors weekly or more.
  3. Thirty-three percent of adults who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say they do so because it helps distract them from stress.
  4. Twenty-seven percent of adults say they eat to manage stress and 34 percent of those who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say this behavior is a habit.
  5. After having overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods, half of adults (49 percent) report feeling disappointed in themselves, 46 percent report feeling bad about their bodies and more than one-third (36 percent) say they feel sluggish or lazy. After skipping meals due to stress, 24 percent say they feel sluggish or lazy and 22 percent report being irritable. (1)

Do you find yourself racing to the pantry when you’re feeling down or otherwise upset?

Finding comfort in food is common, and it’s part of a practice called emotional eating. Quite often, our strongest food cravings hit when we are feeling at our weakest points emotionally. Emotional eating can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. When we eat to soothe our emotions, this action often leads to eating high-calorie, sweet and fatty foods. Emotional eating is how we often attempt to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts. The downside to emotional eating is that while it might make us feel better in the moment, the harm it causes far outweighs a momentary benefit. It is not rocket science to conclude that overeating causes  us to become overweight or obese, therefore increasing our risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Obesity is a major contributor to preventive death in the U.S. and greatly raises our morbidity risks associated with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, stroke, respiratory problems and various cancers.

Can you distinguish between physical and emotional hunger?

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I know from personal experience just how difficult it is to overcome emotional eating. While it is not an easy thing to do, it is far from impossible. I know how eating to pass the moment has only left me more stressed and depressed than before I sat down and began stuffing unhealthy food choices down my throat. I have experienced feeling like a junkie looking for the next fix while scrounging through the refrigerator or pantry looking for sugary and fatty foods. I also know for certain this can be overcome, but it takes full commitment of self in order to do so. It requires a change in thinking and lifestyle. It requires a change in your relationship with food when you have this problem. You can still enjoy food, but it needs to be viewed as a fuel for your body and physical health rather than a short term fix for your stress or emotions. If you are prone to emotional eating, then you must make a permanent change to your lifestyle for you will eventually fall back into this rut. It happens every day, and the evidence is clearly visible if you follow any weight loss forums for any length of time. I have read and studied many of them, and this is the common thread in them all.

But, what can we do?

Find other ways to cope with stress!

Discovering another way to deal with negative emotions is often the first step toward overcoming emotional eating. This could mean writing in a journal, reading a book, or finding a few minutes to otherwise relax and decompress from the day. It takes time to shift your mindset from reaching for food to engaging in other forms of stress relief, so experiment with a variety of activities to find what works for you.

Some people find relief in getting regular exercise. A walk or jog around the block or a quick round of calisthenics may help in particularly emotional moments.

  • Exercise helps chronic depression by increasing serotonin (which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (which helps neurons to grow).
  • Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.
  • Exercise increases your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
  • Exercise helps by getting your sleep patterns back to normal. We know getting enough sleep can protect the brain from damage.
  • Exercise gives you a focused activity that can help you feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Exercise limits the effect of stress on your brain.

It is helpful to keep a detailed log of what you eat and when and why you eat. This can help you identify triggers that lead to emotional eating. When we log what we eat, it is a form of accountability to ourselves and it allows us to reframe the question in our mind if we are really hungry or are we going to eat out of boredom or emotional reasons.

Successful and long term weight management require that you ensure that you get enough healthy nutrients to fuel your body. Yes, it can be difficult to distinguish between true and emotional hunger, but if you eat only foods that bring nutritional value to your body throughout the day, it will be easier to still manage your weight.

Acknowledge Behaviors

Practice becoming more aware of your emotional triggers for eating. The next time you pick up a “comfort food,” stop and ask yourself why you’re reaching for it.

Feeling sad, anxious, or lonely?  Identify your feelings, then pause and reflect on the action you usually take (such as reaching for a sweet treat).

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’ve tried addressing your cravings on your own without success, you may want to talk to your doctor. Sometimes, cravings for certain foods can be a sign of an underlying health condition. For example, you might crave certain foods if you are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. Medications can stimulate appetite or cause blood sugar problems, including drugs used to treat depression and bipolar disorder. Other prescription and over-the-counter medications can affect your appetite as well.  Once your doctor is on board, you’ll be able to work together on developing strategies for coping with cravings and their cause.

(1)https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/eating#:~:text=Twenty%2Dseven%20percent%20of%20adults,this%20behavior%20is%20a%20habit.

 

Color My World With Sound

 

If you are one of our regular readers, you likely already know I love to get out in the great outdoors and hike. Hiking is great exercise that is as wonderful for improving our mental outlook as it is for conditioning our bodies. Today, I hiked a trail that I hit pretty often on the weekends, however, today’s experience was entirely brand new to me. It was as if I had never been on this particular trail before. And in a larger sense than I ever could have realized, I had never been there fully until today. Today I had full hearing which I have not had for over thirty years now. My hearing has been damaged from my years in the military working around aircraft on flight lines and on the decks of aircraft carriers, and from years of extensive fire arms training. We might add a little blame on too loud rock and roll as well.

In case you are wondering what hearing has to do with weight loss/management and overall physical fitness, it has tons to do with these issues as hearing is an integral component of wellness. At David’s Way. we address weight loss/management from a holistic approach where the individual as a whole is considered. We never have, nor will we ever, only concentrate on calories in verses calories burned in assisting others with their weight management journey’s. Your entire well being needs to be brought into balance as a part of weight loss. Now, I have found a missing piece to my puzzle that was larger than I had ever dreamed.

Recently, I visited the VA to address a few issues and to get back into the system. I decided to get a full physical work up to include eyes and my hearing which I knew from my military past was damaged. I had no idea that my hearing was as bad as it is, and was quite stunned to learn that I qualified for hearing aids. I thought my hearing was good enough and that my lovely wife just needed to learn to speak up when she was speaking to me. I was wrong.

Monday of this week, I was fitted for new hearing aids. ReSound LiNX Quattro to be exact. My God, these hearing aids are wonderful. The first thing I became aware of hearing was the ticking of a clock on the wall as the audiologist fine tuned them to my needs. Then I could hear the sound of air rushing through the vent in the ceiling and the sound of feet on the floor as people were walking in the hall outside of her office. It was amazing the sounds that were coming to life for me. These particular hearing aids also have an app along with different settings for normal use, a focused noise cancelling setting for conversations with a lot of back ground noise, a setting for music, and lastly, one for the great outdoors which I came to fully appreciate today on my hike.

Color my world with sound!

I have been playing around with the different settings on my hearing aids, but had not really done much with the outdoor setting until this morning. I got into my truck and drove over to Weston Bend for my hike while jamming on a little classic rock with my hearing aids set to the music setting. It’s nice to fully hear the tunes without having to crank the radio too loudly anymore. Once I got to the trail head, I donned my camel back full of drinking water and then switched my hearing aids to the outdoors setting where my mind was blown away with all the old familiar sounds of nature I had not heard in several years. My hearing has been poor long enough that I had totally forgotten how noisy the great outdoors can be.

Color my world with the sounds of nature. As I walked along the meandering trail, up and down hills and such, the woods came completely alive for me. I could hear gravel crunching underneath my shoes. I could hear the songs of several species of birds just a singing and tweeting away. The sounds of summer locusts was almost deafening, I could not remember the last time I heard them be so loud. I could hear Wood Peckers pecking away at trees along with the soothing sounds of water emanating from the babbling brook down at the southeast side of the trail. As many times as I have hiked this trail, even when the waters in the creek has been high and fast moving, I have never heard it there before.

As I hiked the trail, even the trees were coming to life. I could hear a gentle breeze rustling the leaves and the creaking of tree limbs as they swayed in the breeze. I kept hearing one odd noise in particular that I soon realized was the sound of acorns and other seed pods falling from the trees and landing on the ground all around me.

Millions of little frogs call these woods home. I see them all the time, jumping out of my way, clearing my path as I hike down the trail. Today, I could actually hear the sounds as they leapt into the shrubbery and weeds which line the trail. I have to even admit, I enjoyed hearing the sounds of mosquitos buzzing by me along with a few flies and bumble bee’s.

It was a beautiful day.

I cannot believe how much of life I have missed through silence alone.

Even though my hearing was not entirely gone, my world was much grayer over the last thirty some odd years until I had my hearing restored.

As I have said, at David’s Way, we believe treating the individual as a whole is integral to healthy weight loss/management and towards over all wellness. There are many singular paths that can be followed to lose pounds on the scale, but we believe in exploring all the paths we encounter toward our well being. Maintaining a physically fit and health body requires also having a healthy mind and spirit. It is not a one or the other choice, both of these sides in our wellness have to be addressed. To be at our optimum level, we have to fine tune our lives each and every day. If we are physically active or sedentary for a day, we have to adjust our food intake accordingly. If we want to progress in strength training, we sometimes need to only add one or two pounds at a time to our barbell to keep making forward progress. Sometimes, we even need to remove a few pounds from what we might normally workout with in order to keep progressing. We have to address areas in our lives that cause us stress and fix them. Even when the stresses are small, they require fixing. Sometimes, we might have areas of our lives where we are lacking and do not know it. Yet, when we fine tune those areas too, the quality of our lives improve. Live your life to your fullest, never settle for mediocrity.. Learn to fix enough of the small stressors in your life and the big ones will take care of themselves.

If you or a loved one have an issue with hearing, get yourself checked out. Even if you believe that hearing aids might be cost prohibitive for you, there are programs out there to assist the needy in these regards if only you reach out to them.

Fine tune your existence.

Color my world with sound.

Twelve Ways to Have a Better Holiday

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1-Do your version of the Holidays, not your Mom’s or your best friend’s. If people around you go over and above what seems like the realm of sanity, you don’t have to do that. Years ago I quit buying gifts for people if I only see them once a year or don’t know their name. Those relatives who have a different friend, wife, husband or significant other annually got crossed off my list because I never knew who was going to be at the event. Make your world small.

2-It’s one or two days, seriously. It’s not three months. Do whatever preparation you’re going to do whenever you like but when you have prepared, stop! Don’t let those one or two days take over your life and the lives of everyone around you for a quarter of the year. The letdown that comes after prepping for three months is almost unbearable. The extra stress of continually trying to upgrade your holiday can lead to binge eating. Stay in control of this Season.

3-Commit to good nutrition. Again, it’s one or two days, why on Earth do people start eating green cookies in October? Please, don’t lie to yourself that it doesn’t matter because it’s “The Holidays”. Empty calories are just as empty during a celebration. Sugar in your body and all that accompanies that sugar, including the extra pounds, will make you feel bad. Just say “NO!” to empty calories. Along with abstaining from the obvious nutrition bombs, make sure to get the good stuff! Load up on lean protein, veggies and complex carbs in moderation. You will be full and satisfied with energy to spare and won’t be as likely to go for the desserts.

4-Take the time to work out in whatever way that your doctor advises. The stress of the holidays causes us to secrete more cortisol which is a stimulant that is intended for “fight or flight”. Exercise can help balance this out of control response. Exercise resets our minds. You can get grounded and centered even in the most stressful times with a good workout.

5-Try to keep regular hours. Sometimes as the big day approaches, we will push harder to do “More!” and lose sleep. This sets us up for disaster. When the day gets here we’re tired and wired. Keep it small and enjoy the festivities more.

6-Get some morning light. It’s been associated with improving mood and helping set natural circadian rhythms.

7-Avoid stress triggers. We all have limitations on what we tolerate without feeling adverse effects. Sometimes during the holidays we feel pressured to stretch those limits. It can be financial, social or simply being pressured to be involved. Our time is a precious commodity and holiday celebrations can rob us of valuable workout time without anything positive to show for it. If certain family members or activities make you miserable, don’t be involved with them. Use any time off work to improve your life, not wreck it.

8-Let go of the past. This time of year is such an emotional time for so many people based on their childhood memories. You are not a child anymore. Whether those memories are good ones that you try to unsuccessfully recreate without success every year or terrible, painful memories that make you wince at the very thought of the holidays, just let it go. I wanted to see a White Christmas my entire life because I live in the South where snow is rare. I had waited my entire life for this event and on Christmas Eve,when I was 50 years old, snow was magically floating down, covering the country landscape where I lived. Old barns and country lanes were turning into photo ops galore. It was just perfect, beautiful. About the time that I was gazing out the window, mesmerized by what seemed like a Christmas miracle, all Hell exploded right behind me. Two family members engaged verbally in a fifteen minute shouting contest. This was instigated by a 53 year old adult and directed at a special needs individual who simply didn’t know how to respond. Needless to say, it destroyed everything that I had waited so long to see in a moment. I have removed that individual from my life and the lesson that I learned was invaluable. Don’t give those one or two days that much power over you. It will snow again.

9-Spread the love. So often family members fight to the death about where they will spend the day and what time. Stop it. Spread your festivities out over two days and go one place one day and the other place the second day. Arguing and pouting does not make for a fun party or good times. Be realistic. You can’t be in two places at once. Start now and work this out for less stress as the holidays approach.

10-Wear dress clothes to eat. Yep, dress clothes, not sweat pants that stretch to accommodate the buffet. You will have a natural reminder that you have eaten enough when your waistband gets tight. No unbuttoning allowed. You will eat more and not even realize it if your waistband stretches to accommodate the extra food.

11-Eat well before you go to the event. Have protein and fiber. Be well hydrated. Protein, fiber and fluids will satisfy you and make you feel full for hours so you will be less likely to binge.

12-Submerge yourself into self-care rituals. This is not the time to skimp on personal care. Do your nails, hair and skin care. Gentlemen, this goes for you also. Sleep. Take time to do the things that relax and refresh you whether it’s convenient or not. It will be rewarding as you face the day refreshed and looking good.

With a little planning and determination you can emerge from the Winter holidays with your sanity and your weight management program intact. Start now and have Happy Holidays! Spring is waiting on the other side. Be ready.

Emotions

                                                              Photo by Lombe K Photography from Pexels

In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

—Colossians 2:3 NLT

We all have emotions, but we must learn to manage them. Emotions can be positive or negative. They can make us feel wonderful or awful. They are a central part of being human, and that is fine. Unfortunately, most people do what they feel like doing, say what they feel like saying, buy what they feel like buying, and eat what they feel like eating. And that is not fine, because feelings are not wisdom.

Feelings are fickle; they change frequently and without notification. Since feelings are unreliable, we must not direct our lives according to how we feel. You can be aware of your feelings and acknowledge their legitimacy without necessarily acting on them. God has given us wisdom, and we should walk in it, not our emotions.

Healthy emotions are very important. They help us recognize how we truly feel and what we value. Good emotional health is vital for a good life. But a good life also means being able to manage our emotions and not be managed by them.

Hit Goal Weight, Now What?

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I hit my gym tonight and during the course of getting in a kick ass workout, I engaged in conversation with a friend who is fairly new to weight training. We discussed how strength training becomes a part of a healthy lifestyle and how despite the fact she is becoming strong and knows most all the mechanics behind her lifting, she has not yet reached that point where the lifestyle of lifting has fully enveloped her, how she is almost there, but not quite fully in the groove of the routine being a part of her being. There comes a point where all that comes with being a serious strength trainer just falls into place. Obviously, the newbie questions will all but disappear, but it is more than that. It is where the mechanics of lifting, nutrition and rest all fall into thier respective places with no wrenches getting jammed into the cogs. The gears rotate smoothly with perfect timing in order for the lifting lifestyle to all fall into place naturally.

How’s this relate to weight maintenance?

In the world of weight loss, the issue of losing weight and then maintaining after you have reached goal is similar to getting in the groove of weight training in that weight management has to become an integral part of a well oiled lifestyle. You have to understand the mechanics of weight management by learning not to just control your appetite and recognizing your trigger foods, but also you owe it yourself and the efforts you expended in reaching your goal weight to have a better understanding of the human body and nutrition. If you are an emotional or stress eater, you owe it to yourself to learn to control those emotions and stress, otherwise you will regain your weight. You have to get your mind wrapped around a lifetime commitment to maintenance and be prepared to leave the struggle of losing behind.

I know there are many who do great work at losing their body fat, their motivation flies high, and then they hit goal and fall on their face, lost, not knowing what their next step is supposed to be. Next thing you know, they have gained back that 10, 20, 30 or 60 pounds they lost. The world is full of yo- yo dieters, and I have read over the years that an individual may actually be healthier to remain obese over losing weight and then regaining that weight over and over. According to Health News NPR those who yo-yo diet double their chance of heart attack, stroke or death when there are already issues with the heart. As in strength training where an intelligent new lifter learns all they can about techniques, nutrition, rest and routines, a person who sets out on a weight loss regimen needs to learn all the ins and outs of the what’s and whys behind their actions. This is critical in being able to maintain your weight after reaching goal and in not compromising your health. When you begin a journey to lose weight, you need to be intelligent and set forth a long term goal with many short term goals in how to get there. Those long term goals need to be solid and with sound reasoning. As in serious strength training, you owe it to yourself to ensure your plan is well thought out and makes perfect sense to carry you for the rest of your life. You want to avoid a strength training plan where you are going to do a dozen variations of curls in order to one day be able to stand on a Bosu ball with barbell on your back and then squatting. Yeah, there are uninformed people blindly doing this in gyms across the country under instruction from their trainers, don’t be that individual. Not with weights, not with your weight loss.

Be Realistic!

Yes, be realistic on creating a lifestyle of healthy eating which begins before you ever get to goal. Be sure to consume a well rounded diet where you receive all the nutrients required for a healthy body. Do not fall for the fad diets and think for a second that you can use a fad in order to lose weight and then be able to keep it off. Avoid the prepackaged meals they sell on television such as NutriSystem, Slim4Less etc… Learn to cook wholesome and nutritious meals where you get a sufficient variety of all your macronutrients. Educate yourself in how to ensure that you consume all the proper proteins in order to supply your body with all the amino acids required for your body to build it’s own proteins. With a decent amount of understanding your bodies nutritional needs you can avoid loss of lean muscle and physical problems which come from malnutrition. Yes my friends, even with the abundance of food we enjoy in western nations, we still have a lot of folks suffering malnutrition. You bet, you can be obese and suffering malnutrition as a result of not eating a well balanced diet. You can bet, that if you eat more sugary high fat foods than healthy, you are likely suffering from some degree of malnutrition.

Enjoy Your Exercise!

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If you are healthy enough to have a consistent exercise regimen, then by all means, make you sure you pick an exercise that you will enjoy and can be done year round. It will serve you no purpose to begin a routine that can not be a healthy part of your lifestyle. For instance, Mixed Martial Arts might be fun in the early stages where you might begin learning basic grappling skills, and then you find that all the fun disappeared the first time you got punched in the nose or slammed to the mat by your sparring partner. This may be at the extreme in making a point, but I hope you get the point in picking a routine where you can do it about anytime consistently and will always enjoy it and the health benefits going forward.

Take It Slow!

If you are obese, the odds are that you did not get that way over night. Therefore do not place an unneeded stress on yourself in trying to lose the body fat in a matter of a couple of weeks or months. A rapid weight loss is not reasonable or healthy and will only cause you possible health issues, lots of loose skin and a lack of adaption to the new you before reaching goal weight. Make your weight loss journey and maintenance a lifestyle over something you just do in order to look better. Make this about being healthy over being skinny.

Your body will want to go back to being heavy even if you take your weight loss slow and easy, but the longer you take to lose your weight, the less will impact you. Once you achieve your goal weight, do not think you are done, At this time, reevaluate where you are and decide if you are at a healthy weight and body fat percentage. Body fat being the larger issue as you can actually be light in weight, yet be skinny fat. Skinny fat is where your body is slender and does not weigh a lot, but it is also very soft from an abundance of body fat and too little lean muscle mass.

In summary, educate yourself in nutrition and in the most efficient way to meet your body fat/weight goals. Have a realistic plan going forward after reaching goal. Make your weight loss journey and then maintenance a lifestyle of healthy living instead of a temporary state of just trying to make a goal. Believe in yourself, trust in yourself, and do right for yourself. With planning and forethought, your stressing will not be as intense and your chances of permanent success will only be greater.

God bless, and thank you for reading. From the bottom of my heart, we truly appreciate each and everyone who takes the time to follow my blog. Brenda and I are both honored and humbled by the tremendous support we receive at David’s Way. We promise to continue to bring you quality content as quality will always be of more import than quantity.

We have created a weight loss/fitness support group on Face Book. Join and engage with supportive people who have the same or similar goals as yourself. We are a safe group where there are no judgments. We a place where you can share your victories and your set backs, either way, we can all learn from each other through shared experiences.

Living a Grateful Life

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What does it mean to live a grateful life, and how does it apply to health and wellness? A grateful life is quite simple yet takes a bit of effort on some days. Hell, maybe even most days. I make it a point, every day of my life, to find something beautiful to enjoy. Even on days when I might feel as if life has kicked me in the nuts, I still try to find something positive to enjoy. Yeah, I’m that guy who is happy in the mornings even before having that first sip from a hot cup of joe. By God, I am not going to let any fool rain on my parade without consequences to them. Every day, I am grateful for everything good in my life as I know from life experience it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye. Life is short, and there are no guarantees that you will make it to the end of the day without meeting your maker, or having your life drastically altered as a result of an accident or unexpected diagnosis of a terminal illness. I live my life every day with chronic sciatic pain from a bad spinal injury. The pain is now just a part of my life which I have learned to live with. I take no pain medications for it. As much as it sucks to live with chronic pain, it keeps me reminded of what happened to my spine, and the impact that horrible injury had on my life. So, as sick as it sounds, I am even grateful for this pain. It keeps me humble. Even while having a great deal of pride, I also maintain a degree of humility in order to never forget my blessings in life can be taken away.

Living a life of gratefulness requires more effort than living a life of gloom and doom. Hell, gloom and doom requires no effort at all. And as in all of life’s endeavors that require little to no effort, the reward is minuscule to non-existent. Much like being a low skilled worker where any monkey can do the job, the pay is never going to be sufficient. If you want more pay, you have to work for it.

Too many folks seem to not understand that by making it point to live a positive life, your well being is going to be improved. Living a grateful life with a positive mental outlook will bring rewards in small and large ways. It will help you to be the best you can be and therefore your health and wellness is going to be greater than the poor bastard who seems to have black clouds and gargoyles over his presence. A positive mental outlook will heal your soul even when the chips may be down. Who in life is happier? The glass half empty individual or the glass half full individual? The contents of the glass may be equal, but one person is grateful for what they have instead of pissed about what they do not have. Who has the better quality of life? The pissed off guy, or the happy guy? Who also enjoys a better quality of life? The person addicted to sugar who is always stressing about their weight? Or the person who has totally kicked sugar who lives a full life and is physically fit and able to do anything they want? Here is a bit of reality, by living life with a positive purpose, you can avoid a lot of health impairing stress. Living with the doldrums and eating your stress will only add more stress to your life. Feeding that body fat which is hollering for you to shovel shit down your gullet in order to calm the way you feel is counterproductive. Your body fat does not give a care in the world about your feelings. If you feed that monster, you will never be the best you that you can be. It takes personal discipline and will power to do what is right for your health and well being. It takes a positive mental outlook to beat the craving monster down. Working on that personal discipline makes it stronger in time just as working a muscle with a barbell. Living that grateful life helps immensely in developing that personal discipline.

Today, I was quite grateful to get out and enjoy the great outdoors on my Harley Davidson. A day on the scoot lifted my spirits and this will carry me through until I meet my wife at the gym later this evening to knock out some cardio training with her.

Self Medicating Our Souls

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Of course we eat certain foods as a delicious treat to reward ourselves, but it is also common knowledge that we eat these same foods as a medication to soothe our mental well being. We encounter stress at work, and we temper it with a couple doughnuts brought in by a coworker.  Our ornery kids not only drive us crazy, they also drive us to the pantry for something to nibble on in the moment, maybe a few cookies can take your mind off the chaos of little ones screaming about the house.  After a long stressful day, it is oh so easy to sit down in front of our televisions while eating an entire pint of our favorite ice cream to reward ourselves for getting through another tough day. The problem though, soothing our souls through food is the equivalent of placing a Band-Aid on an axe wound. It does not work in the long run and we are often worse off when we do not change our ways. It is fact, many of us who have, or have had weight problems, also have emotional issues that run deep. Reaching for junk foods to ease our troubled minds can be just as harmful as burying our pain in drugs or alcohol. It is a fact, people often eat themselves to death over the course of several years.

Self Esteem

For many people, being overweight is a result of self esteem issues. As odd as it may sound to some, there are indeed people who suffer from weight issues who feel as if they do not deserve to be thin. We know this through personal experience, interaction with clients, and through research and study of good people on weight loss programs. Many people, men and women, lack the self esteem required to control their weight. Women are known to also place the needs of others over their own needs, especially the needs of their spouse, their children and grandchildren.

Self esteem often comes from two forces; when we overcome obstacles and when we accomplish goals. When it comes to weight management, think of what happens to your mind when you cannot overcome the obstacle of an open package of cookies, or when you cannot accomplish your goal of reaching a certain weight in an arbitrary amount of time that you have set for yourself. These “failures” often result in a rapid lowering of our self esteem. Many people will often project that they no longer care, but deep inside, they are still horribly troubled individuals no matter how they appear on the outside. This is why we believe in keeping life as simple as possible and lay out a program that is not full of strict standards except for excluding sugar and simple carbs from your lifestyle. People often fail at diet and exercise regimens simply because they can get too caught up in minutiae that is really not helpful to living a healthy life. There can be too many rules to follow, which quite often only leads to failure at the program which keeps people in a constant state of yoyo dieting coupled with a never increasing drop in self esteem each time they fail at some convoluted diet.

There is no doubt in my mind, this all sounds familiar to many of your reading this. Of all the actions in life we take, eating is one we should be able to control, but it is obvious from the obesity epidemic that controlled eating is quickly becoming a thing of the past. We have a problem in that food brings us a temporary sense of joy, but this temporary fix is about like fixing the leaking foundation of your home with spackling compound. It looks good in the moment, but the first time it rains, the water will soon find its way to trickle back though the crack in your foundations wall. Could this be a part of a cycle for you?

Do you long for something deeper in life?

When you cannot find it, do you eat in order to feel better?

Do you feel lousy when you gain weight?

Do you feel that you do not deserve to be at a healthy weight because you can’t keep weight off?

Has your self esteem ever suffered from not overcoming obstacles or accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself?

And then you self medicated with food…

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People use food as a cover up for their emotions, they can be terrified at the  thought of actually getting to a healthy weight. It is one of the reasons we have seen people do exceptionally well at losing weight, only to regain it when they have become close to reaching their goals. It is a simple fact that being fat gives people an excuse to fail, an excuse to be depressed, and an excuse to chow down on a large chunk of cake where no one can see what they are doing. I know this from personal experience, when I left my military career, I felt as if I had lost my identity. This coupled with my PTSD is how I found myself more than once sitting on my kitchen floor eating canned frosting from a can with a spoon. I have been there my friends, I write from not only my Nutritional Consultant certification, but from living the life of one who has self medicated with food. This cycle can be kicked when you set your mind to that of being sick and tired of being sick and tired of how you are living out your days. You need to drop this psychological baggage off at your local landfill, it is unnecessary weight that only serves to further pull you down. When you understand that you may use food as a painkiller as a solution to your daily problems, it becomes easier to actually fix your life with this knowledge.

To fix any problem, you must first actually understand it.

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Reduce Your Allostatic (STRESS) Load

The allostatic load is defined as the cost of chronic exposure to elevated or fluctuating endocrine or neural responses resulting from chronic or repeated challenges that the individual experiences as stressful. There is a difference between being stressed and being stressed out. Stress is a necessary function of survival while repeated negative stress increases the allostatic load to the breaking point. This negative over-loading is a major contributor to fat deposition, changes in brain structure, atherosclerotic plaques, left ventricular hypertrophy of the heart, glycosated hemoglobin, sustained hyperglycemia, high cholesterol with low high-density lipoprotein, increased oxidative stress, elevated proinflammatory markers and chronic pain and fatigue. (1) We need to learn how to adapt to the demands of everyday life in a way that will reduce this killer.

Eat a Healthy Diet

We always tell you to avoid added sugars and other refined carbs. They cause inflammation in your body and insulin fluctuations that increase cortisol production. Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone that is so good at turning on your stress levels that it sometimes enables people to perform super-human feats. The little ole’ lady that lifts the car off of the accident victim is pumped full of cortisol. Avoid foods that tend to increase this powerful glucocorticoid. Choose a variety of whole foods that include complex carbohydrates and lean protein. The healthy fats found in olive oil, avocados nuts, seeds and fatty fish will satisfy your hunger and decrease inflammation which is a huge physical stress and the beginning of almost all disease.

Get Some Exercise

The benefits of a good workout, with your doctor’s permission, are almost too many to list. Good aerobic activity can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, help increase the good cholesterol in your body, lower your total cholesterol, help you manage your weight and improve your blood pressure. Only you and your doctor can find the type of exercise that is best for you. While we are heavy strength trainers, we are well aware that this type of exercise is not for everyone. Sometimes gentler exercise is better to reduce cortisol levels. You might like yoga, tai chi or qigong that directly improve stress levels through breathing techniques. Walking, low-intensity cycling and swimming are good mid-level aerobic activities that many people can enjoy.

Choose Optimism

Coming from the Deep South, highly religious, super critical background that I do, optimism was actually discouraged in the culture where I lived. There was pressure to “measure up” for appearances. Everything about me was critiqued to a near psychotic level. Almost everyone in that culture is constantly struggling with a negative outlook on life. I never accepted this. I really just want to have fun and enjoy life so I never fit into that culture. The old question about whether the glass is half full or half empty is the eternal test of optimism and the answer is David’s answer, “It doesn’t matter, refill the glass.” which leads right into another method for reducing your allostatic load.

Control Your Life

Feeling in control of your life is one of the greatest stress reduction tools that there is. Even though the glass isn’t full, knowing that you have the ability to refill it is satisfying and soothing. When I set out to remodel my life at 62, people thought that I was crazy. I was living in a situation that would make a saint cuss and probably stroke out. When I tell you to “Create Your Life.” I am not telling you to do anything that I have not done. The stress that I was living in when my home was destroyed by tornadoes was deadly and that night I changed everything. When life hands you lemons, make sugar-free lemonade. When you are in control, you are not at the mercy of every whim of society or an individual. Believing that you can affect the course of your destiny is empowering and calming. Helplessness is a health disaster. While working to effect change in your life can be hard, it’s necessary to reduce your stress. People who live large and in charge are free from the oppression that individuals and societies attempt to hurl at us. At the very least, you can ALWAYS control your reaction to insult, stress and trauma.

 

 

(1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/allostatic-load