1. Focus on Feeling Good:
Ask yourself how something will make you feel in the long run. For many of us with poor willpower, our question needs to be specific “How will I feel after I eat this Yorkie bar?” or “How will I feel after I go for a walk?” For those of you will good willpower, a reminder of how 15 minutes in the gym will increase your serotonin levels and how it will lift your mood for the rest of the day might be enough. I however need to have my questions specific to me.
2. Easy Breathing:
Five minutes of gentle easy breathing can keep you calm for the day. Lie down with your head supported and observe your breathing until it becomes slower naturally. Allow thoughts to come and go and relax for at least five minutes. This is a very calming exercise to do with small children, if you ask them to relax with you, ask them to breathe through their stomach and listen to your heart. Name it ‘cuddle time’ or whatever comes to mind, when you both get time to relax.
3. Protein with every meal:
A serving of protein with every meal is muscle building, energy giving and aids the loss of stored fat, satisfying the appetite and helps to keep the blood sugar stable for longer reducing the sugar craving. Choose from eggs, nuts, seeds, lean meats, poultry and fish.
4. Walk it off:
Walking as does any gentle exercise regulates stress hormones without generating more, as does more vigorous types of exercise. Running is known to increase the stress hormone levels. It also helps to relax tense muscles, and breath-holding and tension-holding in the jaw that causes stress.
5. Healthy Fats:
Include good fats with every meal for appetite satisfaction as well as keeping stress-related sweet cravings at bay. Great sources include avocado, almonds, nuts, seeds, olives, flaxseed, sesame which will help you to absorb their fat-soluble anti-oxidants.
6. Plenty of Vegetables:
Add two to three portions of vegetables to most meals, both cooked and raw for added nutrients and fibre. Eat sulphur rich vegetables such as watercress, garlic, onions, leeks and fennel as they aid the process of liver detoxification, important when you are under stress. The bitter taste of endive, radicchio, chicory or romaine lettuce in salads stimulates digestive juices when they hit the tongue, making them particularly good before a meal. Other bitter foods include grapefruit and olives – both perfect starters.
7. Natural Highs:
Minimise sugar in the diet. Sugar creates a surge of ‘beta-endorphins’ or natural opioids in the brain, but they also contribute to weight gain and repeated studies has shown that continuous stress increases cravings for it. We can make our own natural highs or beta-endorphins by laughing, dancing, exercising, listening to music and having sex.
8. Be Drink Aware:
Champagne or white wine contains less sugar than a pint of the red, which I love. If you are going for red wine, the deeper reds are more anti-oxidant rich, especially merlot. Also taking a dose of vitamin C the night before and the morning after can help your liver to detoxify quicker.
9. Easy on the cardio:
Hours on cardio fitness machines can lead to an increased stress hormone production, which can sabotage weight loss and increase stress levels in the body. Research has shown that short bouts of at least twenty minutes of more gentle exercise, can increase the body’s fat burning mechanism for up to eight hours after exercising.
10. Smart Coffee Breaks:
I love my coffee, and we all know that too much coffee is bad for us. Most importantly, though, coffee on an empty stomach exacerbates stress, and can lead to a false hunger and exhaustion by encouraging your body to increase the production of the stress hormone adrenalin. Coffee after breakfast will not have the same affect. Also remember that caffeine reduces the absorption of iron and calcium. Its diuretic effect can also cause loss of B vitamins, vitamin C and other minerals. Licorice and peppermint tea are great natural stimulants.
11. Take time for yourself:
It’s important to allow yourself time to do little things for yourself. Whether it’s making time to apply on some nice body cream after your shower and not always being in a rush, having a few minutes to read the Sunday newspapers or having a five minute sit down before clearing up after dinner. Treat yourself with care and consideration and others will appreciate that you are entitled to be treated with care and consideration.
12. Go offline:
You don’t always have to be available. With modern technology and communication it’s more difficult to be not available. If things get the better of you, go offline, turn off the phone and take five, twenty five or fifty five, whatever it takes to get you feeling able and ready to have that get up and go again.