All Entries For emotional health
Altering just a few of your daily habits can go a long way, protecting your noggin in the process. Even having just one more cup of coffee or one more hour of sleep can keep your mind sharp for years to come. Continue reading for advice from a nutrition researcher, an exercise expert and a scientist.
One study found that eating two or more ½-cup servings a week delayed the onset of Alzheimer's by 2½ years. Read More ›
"I'm fat because of Oreo cookies!" screamed the woman as she entered the weight-loss class I was coaching last week. In hand, she waved the press release from Connecticut College, which blared the warning, "Oreos are just as addictive as drugs!"
"I am addicted to certain foods, just like those rats were addicted to Oreo cookies," she continued on. "It's supposed to be worse than being addicted to cocaine. How am I ever going to be successful with my weight loss?" Read More ›
"When I get stressed out, I can polish off a dozen Munchkins in no time flat," admits Jennifer, 37, a New Jersey mom of four. Pressure is at its worst when her husband travels for business. The housework piles up, the kids want more attention, she's exhausted and suddenly the sweet stuff becomes irresistible. "I eat things I don't even like," she confesses. "That's how bad it gets."
When we use food to dull our anger, sadness or anxiety, most of us reach for calorie bombs loaded with sugar, carbs, fat and salt. Not only do they remind us of good times (think: birthday cake, movie theater popcorn) but they also stimulate our brain's reward system. At that very moment it feels so good. Then our bad mood returns—with a side of guilt. And over time you need to consume even bigger amounts of those junk foods to get the same pleasurable feeling, just like chasing a high with other addictions, says recent research. But there's a way to break the cycle. Read More ›
For Amy Scheibe, tolerating meltdowns didn't end after her son, Bo, graduated from toddlerhood. When he was 10 years old, he started having serious fits of screaming and sobbing that he wasn't good enough for his parents. After one particularly bad incident, she and Bo ended up cuddled on the couch, where he finally admitted that he missed the way things used to be. "You don't tickle me anymore," he said. Turns out Bo was simply going through a typical—but stressful—developmental hurdle: the desire to become more independent while still yearning for a little parental hand-holding.
In the years leading up to and during puberty, hormonal surges are a lot like biological fireworks, skyrocketing even little problems into big explosions. And your kid has no idea how to handle them. In fact, research suggests the region of the brain involved in planning, organizing and making decisions—all things that help us cope with stress—is still developing during puberty. That's why we shouldn't expect kids to always have the best judgment or react to pressure well. But they can learn the best way to address and manage it.
Check out these six common tween and teen stressors—submitted from real moms via e-mail and Facebook—and smart ways to overcome them. Read More ›
Do you have any exercises you really don't like to do when other people might see you?
In fact, at one time or another in my weight loss project, I've had a lot of them. When I was at my highest weight, it was swimming, or anything else that involved not wearing a shirt. Don't ask me why--it's not as though you couldn't tell how big I was when I was wearing a shirt.
When I took up stationary biking, I was always very careful, at first, to avoid the recumbent models and stick to the uprights. After catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror on a recumbent bike, I thought my body had the same basic shape as a Hershey's Kiss.
Even after I got down to my lowest weight, I hated to use an elliptical machine without wearing sweat pants. Whenever I built up to a good speed while wearing shorts, the loose skin on my legs started flapping so loud you could hear it on the other side of the gym.
I guess you could say that I had a pretty big problem with negative body-image, to put it mildly.
But things have gotten quite a bit better for me in this department, thankfully. These days, I rarely worry about how other people might see me enough to let that restrict my activity (otherwise, you'd never catch me riding my bike in compression shorts). Read More ›
I'm a married woman, but there's a guy I've been chasing after for months: the Sandman. I want him desperately some nights -- and then other evenings I push him away. It's completely my fault that he's turned his back on me in bed. Our always-too-short encounters are rarely satisfying because I'm constantly thinking about an errand I forgot to run or a form I need to fill out for my son's school. (Even Overstock.com and Candy Crush Saga come between us.) Yes, in terms of sleep time, I could -- and should -- do better.
And I'm not alone. More than 91 million women don't get the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night. Those missed zzz's can pack on pounds, steal your good looks, and make you just plain grouchy. That's why Family Circle went to its Facebook page in search of readers so heavy-eyed that they agreed to let sleep experts take a peek into their bedrooms to see what's really robbing them of 40 winks. Here they share what all moms should (and shouldn't) be doing for sounder sleep. Read More ›
Find yourself raising the white flag all too often when it comes to having your way? Whether you need more attention from your doctor or require approval from your boss to work from home, claiming victory could be easier than you think, says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You (Morgan James Publishing). "The trick is not confusing assertiveness, which is expressing yourself in a kind manner, with aggressiveness, which is expressing yourself but not respecting others," she explains. Get it right, and you'll receive your heart's desire. Get it wrong, and you not only hit a roadblock, but the tension can cause everything from depression and lack of productivity to weight gain, colds and fatigue. We asked doctors, 800-number managers and even restaurant pros to find out how you can become a satisfied customer in the game of life. As the motto goes, it's not what you say but how you say it. Read More ›
One of the goals of making a “lifestyle change” (as opposed to going on a diet) is to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating that feels normal, comfortable, usually enjoyable, and relatively easy to maintain over time.
No elaborate eating rules, no worries about “good” foods and “bad” foods, no guilt feelings or verbal self-abuse for breaking the rules, no getting obsessed with weigh-ins or calorie counting, no restricting your social life so you can avoid people/situations that might make you blow your diet. Just a little common sense, some basic nutritional knowledge, and a willingness to trust your body to make up for your occasional dietary “mistakes” and balance out your calorie and nutrient intake over time to match your needs.
According to this article, this desirable state is called “normal eating,” and it’s something all of us can achieve by simply eating when we’re hungry, eating the things we like, and stopping when we’re satisfied.
But just how realistic is this notion, especially for those of us who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight? Can things really be this simple?
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Everyone on the planet has one incredible thing in common. Every week, we are each given 168 hours to do what we please, to create and share our worlds, to make choices that decide our future, and to fill our hearts up with what makes them beat with excitement. What wakes us up in life and how we spend our time are one in the same.
The time I have today, teaching yoga and building a new business, is completely different than when I worked a 9-to-5 gig. My goals with practicing yoga and writing balance each day, as well as my love for CrossFit and Pilates. I like having a full plate at the beginning of each day and slowly clearing it as the day goes along. Except for on weekends, where I don’t do any "work" at all (only occasionally subbing for yoga classes).
My goal is to end each day with the satisfaction that it was well spent. I want to be able to sit back, enjoy a glass of red wine, and know that I contributed to something bigger than myself. Knowing this, over the past couple of years I have developed ways to utilize my time to its fullest. These five tips speak to me, and hopefully to you as well. Read More ›
I was born a perfectionist and it is something I have fought with for the better part of my life. I believe my need to be perfect has kept me from going out and truly embracing everything that life has to offer. I have often wondered why I expected more from myself than I would ever expect from my friends and family. For me, anything short of what I deemed was perfect was like a Scarlet Letter I wore for everyone else to see.
A few months ago I was watching an interesting documentary on the masterpiece painters. They told the tales of how it took some of the painters years and years of painting and repainting a particular portrait or landscape before they felt all was just right--and even then it may not have been right for them. What surprised me was the sheer beauty of their work and yet these great painters were, many times, never satisfied as they always saw the flaws in their own work when no one else could.
That is precisely what I found true with myself-- my need to be perfect was keeping me from ever accomplishing anything I wanted out of life. I would set the bar so high that the minute I fell flat on my face I did what so many others did and that was to give up. Giving up was so much easier than forgiving myself for not being perfect and moving on.
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For some of us, visualizing a goal is easy. For others, goal setting comes more naturally. Thomas Edison visualized the light bulb long before he succeeded in its invention.
Visualizing and goal setting are important steps to success, especially when it comes to weight loss. Preparing for a journey that lasts a lifetime also helps keep everything in perspective. Using available tools, reading articles, and connecting with others for support, keeps us going when we want to give up. Even with all this, the journey is still long, hard, and frustrating.
Sometimes all the resources and accountability in the world can't make up for one of the most important keys to success – commitment to your weight loss and health goals. You can have the vision, a plan, resource tools, and support but without heart-felt commitment to ignite the passion to go the distance, success may be fleeting.
Here is a scale to help you rate your commitment to reaching your weight loss and health goals.
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It is very easy to get frustrated when the scale isn’t moving. It doesn’t matter whether we have hit a plateau or are trying to deal with medical issues. Sometimes it feels like it isn’t worth the effort to keep making healthy lifestyle choices. Everyone tells us to stay motivated. Our friends, our co-workers, our relatives say to keep going, don’t quit. Sometimes, though, you ask, "Why? Why try my hardest when it ends in disappointment? Why go through something when it’s going to hurt? Why?"
Because it’s going to be different this time! Because you can’t accomplish anything if you give up! Disappointments and failures happen to everyone. The difference between those who reach their goals and those who don’t is staying motivated. If you’re motivated, you’ll keep going. If you keep going, eventually you’ll reach your goal. Need more motivation? Here are some motivational quotes shared by our members to help keep the fire burning inside you.
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Greetings to everyone. I'm thrilled to share this guest blog on DailySpark.com to share my wit and wisdom on all things healthy living. The SparkPeople community is a powerful and potent network of wonderful folks supporting one another as they strive to achieve mental and physical fitness through a healthier lifestyle. Kudos to all of you for doing your best to live the rich and rewarding life each of you so deserves.
This blog is all about the brand new science of food and addiction. As a physician and scientist and Pew Foundation scholar in nutrition and metabolism, I have devoted years to studying this issue and am thrilled to see that scientists around the globe continue to produce brilliant work to help people manage what is now emerging as a major problem in the field of weight management. Even the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, noted in a recent pronouncement that a new and significant cause of overweight and obesity is food addiction.
SparkPeople has done a masterful job of enlightening the community about this cutting-edge new science. I've been following the personal journeys of so many people who are struggling with cravings, binges and addictive urges for what we now call the hyperpalatables--sugary/fatty/salty/refined/processed food combinations.
Let's meet Samantha, one of my patients, who is featured in my book, The Hunger Fix, which described the new science in consumer-friendly terms.
The beast never went away, it was just hiding, waiting to strike. I was blindsided, and by the time I really consciously realized what was happening, it was too late. A clear consciousness of what was happening didn't emerge until real physical terror— I woke up choking, because stomach acid was running up my throat into my mouth from my anxiety. I had bought bags of candy, intending to make Christmas cookies for everyone, but suddenly I had to feed the beast. I hid candy in the freezer, the car, even wrapped in a sock strategically placed through- out the house. I felt ashamed, tricked, embarrassed, mortified, and angry. The anger fired me up and gave me strength to face the beast. I'm nauseous just admitting my darkest moments of addiction— my friends, family, and husband would be shocked to know! The Hunger Fix, pages 166-167
Thanks to the advent of specialized scans that allow researchers to peer into the brain, we've discovered what is now believed to be the basic mechanisms underlying all addictions. This is what is happening inside your brain:
- Your Reward Center is Hijacked: In any addictive state, we now know that the reward center in your brain undergoes organic changes. In the case of food, it's usually the hyperpalatables that cause most of the problems. Overexposure to them causes too much dopamine (the brain chemical that helps you feel reward and pleasure) to flow, overwhelming the brain. The brain can't handle this long term and a primal mechanism kicks in resulting in a decrease in the total number of dopamine receptors (the only way to feel reward is when dopamine bonds with its receptor). The bad news is that as a consequence of this downshift in receptors, your own perception of reward significantly decreases. One cupcake is not enough. 2, 3, 20 can't do it. There's no period to the end of that sugary/fatty/salty sentence. This is how the addictive cycle begins. If you have addiction genetics in your family line, this entire process is magnified. You do not have to have addiction genetics to become food addicted. You just need that overexposure from your living environment.
- Your Executive Center is Impaired: People with food addictions are constantly told "just use moderation for heaven's sake!". The problem is that the brain center that controls impulses (prefrontal cortex or PFC) is also where your willpower and discipline is housed. Scientists have discovered that in all addictions, the PFC is damaged and impaired. Try telling a food addict or an alcoholic in the middle of their respective binges to use moderation. This is not an excuse to stay out of control. It's just a scientific fact that is taken into consideration when a detox and recovery program are created.
I'm a perfectionist, and I don't like to trouble other people with my problems. As a result, I'm sometimes quite hard on myself. Recently, I found myself in quite a jam, and I had no choice but to call a friend for help. I braced myself for her reaction. Rather than judge me, she was gentle and kind.
Her generosity, compassion and kindness were a wake-up call to me. I was shocked--not by her behavior, but by my reaction. And I vowed to go easier on myself.
A few nights later, I was reading the Pema Chodron book "Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion." I seem to stumble upon Pema's teachings when I am most in need of guidance. That night I reread teaching #15, Not Causing Harm. This excerpt is what seemed prophetic:"It's a lifetime's journey to relate honestly to the immediacy of our experience and to respect ourselves not to judge it. As we become more wholehearted in this journey of gentle honesty, it comes as a shock to realize how much we've blinded ourselves to the ways in which we cause harm." (Emphasis mine.)
I read that passage several times, each time pausing to reflect on how I do this in my life. In an effort to be a more mindful person, I qualified and judged myself rather than employing gentle honesty.
Since then I've made a concerted effort to go easier on myself, to observe rather than judge my actions, and to treat myself the way my friend treated me, and the way I treat those I love: with gentle honesty.
As we prepare to celebrate the day that we traditionally express love to others, let us take the time to express our love for ourselves. After all, the relationship we have with ourselves is our most valuable yet the one to which many of us devote the least amount of effort.
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Brighten your spirits in no time flat with these easy tricks.
Reach for the sky
Get on your feet, look to the ceiling and stretch your arms straight up, spreading your fingers. "The simple act of standing prompts a boost in circulation, delivering oxygen- and energy-rich blood to your cells," explains psychotherapist Kimberly Willis, PhD, author of The Little Book of Diet Help: Expert Tips and Tapping Techniques to Stay Slim for Life. And smile as you hold the stretch: It will trigger the release of feel-good brain chemicals. Read More ›