Foods can help us tame stress in several ways - boosting levels of our feel good hormones, reducing levels of our stress hormones and with some foods, just the act of CHEWING can help de-stress. This certainly isn’t a complete list; however, I included what I think are some ‘easy’ adds to a daily routine. Bonus: these foods also have tons of other health benefits and will make us feel awesome. Check them out.
DARK Chocolate (70% or more)
WHY: Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols and flavanols, which can improve mood and lower blood pressure. Sadly TWIX bars do not fall into this category.
HOW: Enjoy a couple of squares of quality dark chocolate each week to benefit from its mood-boosting properties.
WHY: Several types of seeds contain magnesium, which is known to heighten feelings of well-being, help stabilize emotions and fend off anxiety. Sounds good to me!
HOW: Snack on pumpkin or sunflower seeds; toss seeds on a salad or stir-fry, make your own hummus with tahini (sesame paste)
Oranges and Blueberries
WHY: Oranges and blueberries make the list for their vitamin C. Studies suggest vitamin C can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. In one study of people with high blood pressure, blood pressure and levels of cortisol (stress hormone) returned to normal more quickly when people took vitamin C before a stressful task.
HOW: Oranges, peel and eat, silly ;) Toss a handful of blueberries into oatmeal, a smoothie, your mouth!
Chamomile and/or lavender tea
WHY: Research shows that both of these flowers can calm nerves, reduce feelings of anxiety and promote sleep.
HOW: Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, so you can enjoy a cup any time you feel stressed - a great way to unwind before bed.
WHY: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, fish oil and flaxseeds, can prevent surges in stress hormones. Stress also depletes Omega-3s so they must be replenished. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline can also cause weight gain - another reason we want to shut those suckers down.
HOW: For a healthy supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat fish at least twice a week.
WHY: Almonds are chock-full of helpful vitamins: vitamin E to bolster the immune system and B vitamins, which may make you more resilient during bouts of stress or depression.
HOW: To get the benefits, snack on a quarter of a cup every day or so.
WHY: In addition to their nutrients and fiber filling power, their satisfying crunch and act of chewing can release a clenched jaw and ward of tension.
HOW: Crunch, crunch and crunch.
The math is pretty simple. In an average week, most of us spend:
The good news is that there are lots of ways you can incorporate movement into your busy day. Check out some of these ideas and incorporate what you can. Even little changes can add up to big benefits. If you have a favorite movement idea that isn’t listed, please let me know so I can add it to the list!
Get coworkers involved in making movement a priority in your day. If you work in the type of place where people are friendly and supportive (I hope you do!), getting your coworkers involved in some kind of movement initiative can be a great way for all of you to encourage each other to make your work environment a little healthier. Rally the troops!
Phone/Conference call time = walk time. An oldie but goody!
Drink water. A lot of it! Unless you have a super badder, you’ll have to get up frequently. To 'fill' up and 'empty' :) A double win!
The 30-minutes challenge. Set an alarm to alert you every 30 minutes. As soon as the alarm goes off, just get up 20 seconds or so. Maybe add a chest stretch or rotate those wrists for extra credit. Even just that brief period movement, and break from sitting, can have BIG changes for your metabolism and overall health.
Have any stairs? Use them! Skip the elevators and take the stairs any chance you get. This would be a great activity to add to one of your 20 second standups. Activate those glutes by really pushing through your heels as you walk up!
Feeling tired? The 3pm crash is real. Before you grab a cup of coffee, MOVE. Even better, take it outside for a quick breath of fresh air. Guaranteed to give you an energy boost, without the caffeine!
Meeting time = standing time (or walking time). Need help convincing your co-workers? Movement can also help increase concentration, focus, and productivity.
Take a message to a person every once in a while, instead of texting or emailing it.
Keep moving and stay FIT!
You’ll Release More Feel-Good Hormones
Checkout FIT Camp at Sabine Park Playground for all of these benefits - and more!
*We take it inside at UPBEAT Dance Center if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Please email me to find out more!
It's a great, easy, relatively quick way to fire up your metabolism and wake up.
Still not convinced? Here are four reasons to drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning.
I've heard from many clients that they 'don't like the taste of water.' I hear you, and as a trainer I always aim to be supportive and understanding. That said, drinking water is such an important habit, that I say, "Man up!" :) Or sure, flavor it with lemon, cucumber whatever. But in the morning just DRINK IT! I generally stand at the sink and chug my glass of water, often times with coffee cup in hand. Reward yourself with that cup of coffee, AFTER your H20, to make the habit stick!
1. Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water?page=2
1. Lose Body Fat – Studies found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories ALL DAY LONG. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. That really adds up!
2. Tone Up – Lifting weights and resistance exercises develop muscle tone and definition. Compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy (aka getting 'big'). Women don't gain size from strength training, but they can gain tone and definition.
3. Strong Bones – You Will decrease Your Risk Of Osteoporosis – Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) by 13 percent in six months. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be a women's best defense against osteoporosis.
4. Improve Your Athletic Performance - Over and over research concludes that strength training improves athletic ability in all but the very elite athletes. Runners and cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Skiers improve technique and reduce injury. Whatever sport you play, strength training has been shown to improve overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
5. Be Physically Stronger – If your maximum strength is increased, daily tasks and routine exercise will be easier and far less likely to cause injury. Research studies conclude that even moderate weight training can increase a woman's strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men.
6. Reduce Your Risk Of Injury, Back Pain & Arthritis – Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. A recent 12-year study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. Other studies have indicated that weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.
7. You Will Improve Your Attitude And Fight Depression – A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program, all important factors in fighting depression.
8. Boost Your Stamina - As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
9. You'll Be More Flexible – Over time, your flexibility can decrease by up to 50 percent. This makes it harder to squat down, bend over, and reach behind you. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, found that three full-body workouts a week for 16 weeks increased flexibility of the hips and shoulders, while improving sit-and-reach test scores by 11 percent. Not convinced that weight training doesn't leave you "muscle-bound?" Research shows that Olympic weightlifters rate only second to gymnasts in overall flexibility.
10. IT’S FUN!!! Check out a Tailored F.I.T. Class. In addition to quick cardio intervals, we always include strength training, for all of the reasons above!
What costs about $20 and has the therapeutic benefits similar to a massage? A foam roller! Personal trainers and physical therapists use foam rollers to help their clients/patients break up fibrous tissue and alleviate soreness. But you don’t need a specialist to help you do the foam roller exercises below. Check them out and email me if you have any questions!
General Guidelines for foam rolling (SMR - Self-myofascial release)
Try these exercises to help prevent injury and improve performance:
Front thigh roll (Quadriceps)
Lie face down with the foam roller under your right thigh. Put your forearms on the ground. Keep your left foot off the ground by stacking your feet on top of each other (toe of left foot on heel of right foot). Supporting your body weight with your forearms, roll up and down from the bottom of the hip to the top of your knee. Repeat on the other side.
Stabilize your body on top of the roller, gently rolling up and down across the front of the lower leg. Particular helpful for those suffering from shin splints.
Lie on your right side with the foam roller under your right gluteal area and your right leg extended straight out. Bend your left knee and rest your left foot behind your right. Place both hands on the floor for support. Roll your right gluteal muscles. Repeat on the other side.
Sit with the roller under your right thigh. Place the palms of your hands on the ground (fingers pointing toward your body). Keep your left foot off the ground by stacking your feet on top of each other (heel of left foot on toe of right foot). Supporting your body weight with your hands, roll up and down from the bottom of your hip bone to the top of your knees. Repeat on the other side.
Prop your body up on your arms/hands, being sure to support yourself with a shoulder joint that is closed and packed. Roll the extent of the calf, performing plantar and dorsi flexion in order to capitalize on the gastrocnemius and the soleus. It is common to get fatigued, especially your wrists, in this posture, so take breaks when necessary.
Where to get a foam roll
When choosing a foam roll, product density is important. If the foam is too soft, less than adequate tissue massage is applied. Generally black foam rollers are higher density, and more durable. White or blue rollers slightly softer. If starting with a black foam roller, keep the pressure light until your body is accustomed to rolling. I prefer a 6”x36” round roller for versatility and balance, but you may get a 6”x18” if space is a concern. Foam rollers can be found in sporting goods stores and online.
I am a personal trainer, health coach and fitness instructor. I want to educate and empower you so that you will be able to challenge yourself, safely and effectively, even when we are not working together. Check out these workouts and articles.