Category: Stress

Emotions

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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

PTSD, Depression, and Good Nutrition

Like many veterans following our military careers, I had a difficult time integrating back into civilian life. I never felt like I fit in with people who had not lived the same life as I had been living. For many of us, the transition from being a high speed, low drag member of the armed forces to being just another dull cog in the wheel of life is an overwhelming anti-climatic end to the the lives we had truly excelled in. Going from a life fueled by adrenaline to one fueled by morning coffee, donuts and alcohol causes you to feel as if a heavy anchor has been connected to your ass, and you begin to not even care anymore. The more you quit caring, the more isolated you begin to feel, and this can be despite the fact you still have your family and friends surrounding you. Still, in your mind, they cannot relate to who and what you are now days compared to who you were when you were still in uniform. You see people professing to care about veterans and veterans issues, yet do not feel as if they give a damn about connecting with you as a veteran, and still you think you just don’t give a damn.

Chronic insomnia set in for me a few decades ago, and I suffered in silence.

Nightmares came in the middle of most nights, yet I suffered in silence.

The only one who knew about them was my dear wife Loraine who had to deal with my terrified screams during the night until my trucking co-driver began hearing me scream out too after I had retired to our trucks sleeper berth.

The details of my story are somewhat irrelevant as everyone can have different triggers for PTSD and Depression. Any time you get into details, people will tell you to just shrug that shit off, because they have been through worse than you. These statements may be true, or they may not be. The one saying this to you might be quietly suffering too, and like I was, just too damn ashamed to ever admit it to anyone, including those we have served with.

I finally let go of my pride and sought out help from my local VA where I underwent group therapy and individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I also allowed myself to begin a couple of prescription medications, one to help settle my constantly racing mind and to lower my state of constant hyper-vigilance.  I was diagnosed as having severe PTSD coupled with a major depressive disorder, you cannot just shake this shit off your shoe as some would like to think. Too many with this mentality become the part of the national tragedy and statistic of being one of the 22 Veterans per day on average who take their own lives.

Healthy Nutrition for a Healthy Mind!

Let’s be real now, if you are sincere about doing something beneficial for yourself, then you have to be all in.

If you believe that therapy alone should be enough to fix your mind, you are wrong.

If you believe that medications alone are going to be your cure, you are wrong.

If you believe that you can continue an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle of eating like shit, living a sedentary lifestyle of drinking and possibly doing dope too, you are wrong!

 If you go to therapy and follow that with a trip to your tavern to wash down your psychotropics, you are wasting your time and that of those trying to help you. If you want to fix your mental status then by God, you have to be proactive in your overall health and not just depend on others to be the ones who fix you. And you can do this by beginning with adopting healthy nutritional habits which will bring you great benefit overall.

Too few among us ever consider nutrition for a healthier and fitter brain despite the fact that the brain is the most important organ in the human body. If you fuel your car with bad fuel it runs like crap, the same is true of your brain.  And, the most critical nutrient you can fuel  yourself with for a healthy mind is glucose. Our brains use glucose as its primary source of fuel, more so than other tissues in the body. Glucose is the preferred source of fuel for the brain in any state except for starvation, when it is forced to burn fat for fuel.

And what is the healthiest source of glucose?

Your healthiest choice for complex carbohydrates are found in unprocessed foods that come from plants. When you eat these types of foods, your body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose.  Bear in mind, the closer a carbohydrate is to its natural form, the better. So that means a wide variety of veggies and fruit and beans and nuts and seeds and whole grain products and skip the damn added sugars.

For optimal brain function, appetite and mood regulation the brain doesn’t just need a good supply of glucose, it requires a steady and balanced supply. Without enough glucose, the brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters is hampered and that can lead to mood swings, which is why people often get very irritable when they are hungry. Conversely, rapid spikes of glucose to the brain also lead to mood swings. When we suffer from PTSD and or depression, the last thing we want or need in our lives is irritability and moods swings. Eating healthy is a major component to my mental health and wellness as my blood sugar and hormones are always in balance. This is because I am proactive in maintaining my wellness!

Foods that contain fiber, or complex carbohydrates,  stabilize blood sugar which helps to balance your mood. When your blood sugar spikes and drops, your mood is going to do the same. However, if keep your blood sugar balanced by having meals spaced fairly evenly, and eating every three to four hours, choosing unrefined carbs and balancing those meals with protein and fat which help delay the absorption of the glucose into the bloodstream, then you can more efficiently keep your blood sugar on an even keel for both mood stability and appetite control.

Bleached grains and refined sugar contribute to blood sugar spikes and drops because for all practical purposes much of the digestion has already occurred during their manufacturing.  When you eat this garbage, all that is left for your body to do is the final breakdown where the glucose is too rapidly absorbed and your blood sugar spikes quickly. When this occurs in your body, you will find  yourself once off on that roller coaster pattern with the blood sugar, your mood will soon follow into the dark abyss.

As we have written quite extensively about here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness, healthy nutrition also helps to balance inflammation, which is also linked to depression. Our wondrous brains are such active organs, there is glucose and a lot of oxygen flowing within. Our brains are a hard working tissue and just like any other tissue in the body, the brain can be potentially inflamed. Inflammation in the body in itself is actually a good thing as it is what helps our body to defend itself from injury and illness, but we also need to keep this inflammation in a healthy  balance . This becomes almost impossible when you factor in western diets lean heavily towards foods that are pro-inflammatory. To create a balance, you can shift towards more anti-inflammatory foods, such as omega 3-rich fish three times a week, flax seed, sour cherries and berries, apples, pear, pomegranate, use extra-virgin olive oil for salads and cooking and anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, curry, cinnamon,  and eat probiotics, which are found in yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut, as well as supplements.

Again, this requires you to be proactive about your health and mental wellbeing!

You are the one who puts the foods you consume into your body, no one else is feeding you.

Healthy nutrition is that which is rich in wholesome, natural and varied foods combined with regular exercise and good rest that leads to a fitter body and mind. It’s all about enjoying life more fully with a clear and energized mind.

A Parting Thought

 Often, well intentioned family and friends will try and coax a loved one in having a slice of birthday cake, or other sweet treat on special occasions. 

If this would be you, please stop it.

It is not that your loved one or friend is being anti-social, it could be that momentary enjoyment that comes from that sugary concoction might be all it takes to ruin the rest of their day.

Coping with Stress

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OVERLOAD!!!

No matter how stressed we think that we might have been in times past, I do believe that we are more stressed now. As a child, I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. That was stressful. Although the events that led up to one eventful day when even the children were aware that the world might come to sudden end, this time of plague, pestilence and discontent is worse. It just won’t stop. Add the duration of this nightmare to the every day stress of simply living and it can overload every nerve. We teach to create your life. In times like these, regardless of the world that you have created for yourself, you can still be affected by the events in the world. Events in our personal lives that can overload us in every way from emotional to financial add to the burden of the pandemic and it’s just too much for some people to handle. Depression, anxiety and even suicide rates are increasing and we all know someone who has crashed or even died. Self-care is more important than ever. Stress management is critical to our survival.

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Fight or Flight

Both sudden, unexpected stress and ongoing stress activate the fight or flight response. We are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol that spike our blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. When this becomes our normal, we are in trouble. The effects of constant bombardment of these intense hormones is destructive to every system of our bodies. If we have a stress reaction and we are able to dissipate the hormones and move on, we’re usually unharmed but in recent days, this is not the case. Every day, the news sounds worse. Notice that I said “sounds”. That is key. Perception is everything. Our perception is key to our response to stress.

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Wisdom of the Ages

You have all heard the old adage, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” This is a good description of your perception of stress. I love David’s perception of the glass. He says , “Some people forget that they can always refill the damn glass.” That is being proactive. Regardless of your perception of the glass, if you realize that you are in control, and take action to create the reality that you need, then the original state of the glass is irrelevant. While we cannot change the events of the World, we can control our world. There are tragic events in all of our lives that make us feel like we have no control, but even in the worst situations, we do. The key is to do all that you can to navigate those times. Knowing you have done everything that you can do to change a tragic event gives you some peace in the midst of the storm. It removes the feeling of helplessness. You are not a victim of circumstances riding the waves of the storm with tattered sails. You are the Captain of your destiny. You have chosen your path to the destination. It will be the best path, dictated by you and not the damn storm. Eat well, work out, wash your hands and be brave. Never cower. You’re stronger than that. There are over 20 different chemical reactions that occur every time you breath. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We don’t die easily. Take control of your life.

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By the Grace of God, these majestic buildings survived direct hits from three F4 tornadoes with minimal damage. They were built by man. How much more are you, being built by God, able to withstand the storms of life? You can make it. Be as strong and healthy as possible.

1-Take control of your nutrition. Cut out added sugars and excess refined carbohydrates. We do not advocate the keto diet. We do advocate eating moderate amounts of complex carbs from whole foods. Beans, apples, potatoes (both white and sweet) and oats are a few of the foods that are staples in our personal nutrition plans.

2-Stay well hydrated. Thirst is incredibly stressful. Water is our first essential element for life. Read David’s article, How Much Water Do I Need for some good information concerning hydration.

3-Make sure to get adequate amounts of protein. Read Davids article, Protein Supplements for guidelines concerning protein.

4-Exercise with your doctor’s permission. Seriously, see your doctor and ask about exercise. Do whatever he suggests. Just do something. Exercise reduces stress exponentially.

5-Sleep

6-“Make Your World Small.” (David Yochim) Get rid of the clutter of people and stuff that drags you down. Throw out all negativity. If some of that negative input comes from people that you must interact with, set the rules. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated by negativism.

7-Interact with your pet. That’s just a no-brainer. Nothing except exercise will destress you any more than this.

8-Handle your finances. Even if you are financially stressed, take control. Work your job well. Cut out superfluous expenses that do not improve your life. Why would you spend money that you don’t have on products that are going shorten your life and make you feel bad until you die? Use some common sense. See a banker for counseling. They are happy to assist you and may offer ingenious solutions to assist you through a rough patch. You don’t have to be wealthy to get their help. Just ask. They will treat your money like theirs and help you manage it to your best advantage.

9-Stand up for yourself! Regardless of your lifestyle, as long as you are not hurting anyone, defend yourself! Always be ready to give an answer but unless it affects your livelihood, don’t feel like you have to answer to anyone. Again, be the Captain of your ship and take control. Never apologize for who you are.

10-Get help if you need it. There is no shame in psychiatric counseling.

11-All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… Have some fun. Life’s short.

12-Think highly of yourself. Frequently stress comes from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem will make us do stupid things that can take over our lives. The opinions of strangers and dysfunctional acquaintances do not matter. You alone know your true worth. Work hard at being the best that you can be and yo won’t need the praise of the World. The freedom of the confidence that is not dependent on the number of likes you get on social media is powerful. Always remember, most of those people tapping those buttons spend most of their lives sitting, staring at their phones.

13-Laugh, it does a body good.

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Stress and The Carb Addict

It should be common knowledge and come as no surprise that stress causes significant damage to our health and wellbeing. No matter how much we might try to avoid stress in our lives, it can weasle it’s way back in like a camel getting his nose under  the side of a tent. This small, seemingly innocuous act will lead to much larger, more serious, and less desirable consequences down the line. If a camel is allowed to get its nose inside of a tent, it will be impossible to prevent the rest of it from entering. Stress can be that camel if you allow it.

For many of us, we may never be able to completely eliminate our stress, but we can take action to make the effort to mitigate how much we allow it to affect us. Learning how to mitigate the effect of stress is even more critical to those of us who are “Carb Addicted”. Stress hormones raise our insulin levels which makes most people turn to food when they are experiencing stressful situations. Carb addicts appear to be particularly sensitive to this response which is why learning stress reduction techniques are so critical to their health and well being.

Of course, the ideal life would eliminate having stress altogether, but how realistic is that? Life would be just dandy if it was all puppy dogs and rainbows. The problem is, puppies mess on the floor and rainbows fade away. Being as we cannot eliminate all the sources of stress in our lives, it is important to deal with it without compromising other areas of our lives.

Recognize stress when you see and feel it!

Learn to recognize when and how your body is responding to stress. It is easy for many of us to have stress build up to dangerous levels before we even recognize what is happening. As one who suffers from PTSD, I almost always felt like a hot, over pressurized pressure cooker waiting to explode. I can feel as if I am about to burst apart at the seams. When this happens, we can find ourselves retreating from the situation, or escalating it further which can make us feel guilty, or angry later on, or maybe a bit of both emotions. This places us under even more stress which can lead those of us who are carb addicted to eating away our emotions.

If you can learn to recognize  your body’s early response to stress, you will enable yourself to have much more control over it.  When you learn to exercise control over your stress, you will avoid the insulin releasing power that results in stress eating an entire pizza and a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. You will find that it becomes easier to not reach for calorically dense, nutritionally poor foods full of simple sugars. To be honest though, you might be surprised at how much cutting added sugars completely out of your life can lower your stress. Carb addiction is little different than nicotine addiction in that your body craves that which is causing those stressful cravings in the first place.

Learn to trust in yourself!

Some keys I learned in my own therapy for my Post Traumatic Stress DIsorder is to become sensitive to my body’s stress response. Rather than accommodating, or pushing through negative thoughts and  feelings as they begin to build, we are better off when we learn to stop the process before it has fully bloomed. and focus on just what it is that is making us so uncomfortable. Is that tightness you are feeling in the back of your neck  coming from being tired, or is it stress from seemingly impossible demands being placed on your life? Do you feel sick to your stomach over unfinished business with family or friends?

Is there really a good reason to crave eating carb heavy foods?

Are you hungry, or just trying to make yourself feel better?

Nursing emotions with food only serves to make you more miserable over time, and we all know this whether we want to admit it or not.

Learn to take the time to listen and learn about your body. Think about your stressful events backwards; if you lose your cool, stomp out of a room, or even quietly retreat, attempt to recapture what you were thinking or feeling before the emotional build up. Think about those thoughts or feelings, write them down if necessary, but do not place a judgment on yourself. Remain neutral in your feelings, and consider how you might react differently next time this situation arises. Remember that sometimes our stress or anger is entirely justified, however, what truly matters is what we do with this anger.

Who does it help by letting it control us?

Taking the time to learn how to move past stress and anger is critical to our own well being. This is not impossible, but it will take effort on your part. You have to choose to take charge of your emotions instead of letting them dictate your day for you..

When you find yourself under stress, you have three choices to make; you can avoid escalation, limit the duration, or you can decide exactly how you are going to let it impact you.

Avoiding escalation can alleviate back and forth emotions that keep you stressed. Know that by avoiding escalation, it does not mean that you have to hold your feelings in, but you can choose to not engage in a useless mental battle, especially with another individual. Pick and choose your battles, decide if this hill is worth dying for or not. If you ever find yourself trying to wrestle a pig, you only find yourself getting dirty while the pig enjoys it.

By limiting the duration of a stressful experience, you are taking charge of the moment. There is victory in taking charge whether you are going to get your way or not. When you understand that real victory in any stressful moment involves taking care of your body and health, you can then find yourself being able to calmly and effectively free yourself from the situation at hand.

Learn to set firm boundaries with others when they might want to argue with you. You might find the other individual is completely caught up in their own emotions, but this does not mean you have to get caught up in your own too.  Stick to your guns and separate yourself until tempers have cooled on both sides. You make the choice whether you are going to remain engaged or not. You will find the more you do this for yourself, the easier it becomes.

Removing the impact of stress.

Removing the impact of stress might require removing yourself physically or mentally from a situation. Sometimes this is difficult if not impossible altogether, but there are methods to remove the impact of stress on our body and mind. For some people a hot bath or shower might be enough, but for many of us, we can find relief through vigorous exercise which is just as important for our minds as it is for our hearts. Regular exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you.

The vast mental benefits of regular, vigorous exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over.

Behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of mastery and control, of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor and energy will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline of regular exercise will also help you achieve other important lifestyle goals.

If you fail to plan for your own de-stressing choices, your body will eventually push you into less productive alternatives.

Treat yourself as your own honored guest.

Take the time and energy to treat yourself well and you will find that your body will display the positive results!

Caregivers Read This

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The stress of caregiving induces intense feelings of being overwhelmed, loneliness, isolation and a feeling  of being deserted  by others. The stress may manifest by sleeping too much or too little, gaining or losing weight, chronic exhaustion, losing interest in things that you normally enjoy and getting easily irritated or angered or feeling worried or sad. You may have headaches or body aches often.

While some may argue that these symptoms are within your control, that they are perception based, there are diagnosable, measurable health problems that accompany caregiving. Depression  and anxiety are common among caregivers and they can contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke. Caregivers frequently have weaker immune systems which may manifest by longer recovery times from colds or the flu. The longer the flu hangs onto you, the more likely  you are to develop complications. An estimated 80,000 people died from flu and it’s complications in 2017. A weakened immune sysytem can be deadly. Obesity is common among caregivers and obesity increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes as well as many other health problems. Without a doubt, caregivers are at a greater risk for developing short-term memory problems and problems  with focus. This can lead to a multitude of woes including accidents.

Take care to take care of yourself when you find yourself being a caregiver. Take full advantage  of any classes or home health care offered by hospitals or government agencies and lighten your load. There are sometimes adult daycare facilities that can give you a much needed break.

Make a list of ways that others can help you and if someone offers help, be quick to give them an assignment. There are support groups for almost all illnesses, that offer caregiver assistance. Find those groups and get involved to reap any benefits that they may have to offer.

Get organized. Chaos is stress-inducing. Make lists and set up a daily routine. Make sure to include time for yourself to take care of you in your scheduling. Do the things that you once enjoyed. Plan your meals and get enough sleep. Work out with your doctor’s permission. A good workout does wonders for stress. When you visit your doctor make sure to tell him that you are a caregiver and about any problems that  you  are  having. You might consider taking advantage of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which, if you are eligible, ensures that you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave of absence to care for relatives.

I strongly encourage you to give up added sugars and other simple carbohydrates. A little sugar makes you crave more sugar and all those empty calories will pack on the pounds and take your appetite away for healthy, whole foods which are your best source of good nutrition.

As always, we encourage  you to make  your  world  small. Cut out negative people and events that rob your time and make you feel bad. Surround yourself with positivity and focus on the things that make your life better. I frequently  say that “Lifting (weights) is my life.” That’s true. Choose what you love. Do it and do it to the best of your ability. Learn it. Live it. It will give you a much needed mental break. If someone or something makes you feel bad, don’t go around them. Why would you? Life’s too short for drama. If the person that you’re caregiving works against your best efforts to help them, let it be. There’s an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, and that’s true. After you have done all you can, if you see the patient working against himself, don’t stress over it. It’s his choice. You have done your part. Don’t be a martyr by stressing yourself into a heart attack trying to force someone to be healthy that is bound and determined to do otherwise.

I am a caregiver to an adult with autism and have been a caregiver to my elderly grandmother who is gone now. Although Maw Maw was a wonderfully selfless person for most of her life, when she became dependent on others, that changed. She made every effort to commandeer my time, including having me cancel my own doctor’s appointments. I had a few then because it was before I came to David’s Way and was able to lose fat and come off of all medications. Don’t let your loved ones do this to you. Stand up for yourself and tend to your needs first. You can’t help them if you’re dead. During that time, my weight soared and my blood pressure spiraled out of control. After coming to David’s Way, I realized exactly where I had gone wrong. I did not caregive myself first. I was an avid swimmer at the beginning of that time with her and I had abandoned the pool. My misery knew no end until I made up my mind to regain what was fast becoming my lost health. Now, I work three jobs, take no medications, pursue extreme health and fitness with a fury and make no apologies for taking care of myself. People all around me are dropping dead and developing serious health problems while I carry on with life as usual. I use the most powerful tool in the world to be fit and healthy, the choices that I make every day.

I challenge you to do the same and pursue health with a passion.