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How to Workout to Decrease Stress

How to Workout to Decrease Stress

The luxury of being a woman. No seriously, it is! We just have to realize it.

 

Not sure about you but right now the world is crazy, we have been in a worldwide pandemic, the world has all but shut down, we have been stuck in our homes for days, wearing masks when in public, become the cleanest people ever, and the government is basically paying us to stay home.

 

Have you been stressed at all lately as a result?? I would be pressed to say yes more than likely…

You see, the effects of stress are major. From increased health risks, to weight gain, to hormonal imbalances, relationship problems, work problems, mental health…. The list can go on.

 

 

 

Are you at all aware that working out can actually help reduce those effects?

Well it can, when done correctly. In our society today though we have to approach working out a little differently, especially us ladies of child bearing age (basically anyone who has gotten a period to when we reach menopause). This is because during that time our bodies are functioning off a 28ish day cycle. NOT a 24 hour one like society wants us to be functioning on. If you need a little refresher check out this post for more on that – 28 days vs 24 hours. For now I am just focusing on women and how to workout to combat stress, OH and lose weight. 

 

 

 

 

 

Heres the deal –

If you have read anything on our cycle and health you would find out it is broken into four phases. Each one essentially has a different focus and deals with different hormone levels rising and falling. The hormones we want to think about are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. 

When they are balanced (meaning going up and down at the right times and the right amounts among the 28 days) we can workout to really support them and our metabolism to get more bang for your buck if you will. We can burn fat better, sleep better, and keep stress lower.

If those hormones are imbalanced we need to workout to support them, or we will just wreck more havoc on our metabolism and health overall.

For the First half of your cycle: (Follicular and Ovulatory)

Hormones are on the rise. You tend to have more energy and in turn actually favors fat loss. Your metabolism is slower and blood sugar should lean more towards the stable side. This means you can do harder stuff. You can focus on more intense strength training, and cardio. Even if you are imbalanced it is ok to do these things – just listen to your body. If it is telling you to stop do it – dont keep pushing. 

A general rule of thumb is to just stick to 30 minute intense workouts. Your body tends to burn through the first round of glucose in your blood for energy in about that time.

When we do what we are supposed to do, our body will recover and thrive off of it. When it is happy that means less internal stress.

In the Second half of your cycle: (Luteal and Menstrual)

 

Your hormones will start to decrease if you do not conceive. This means you want to really start slowing it down before you hit your period. Your metabolism is up so you can consume more dense foods for energy and nutrients, but as your metabolism increases and hormone levels fall so does the stress on your body internally. Cortisol tends to rise during your luteal phase. More stress from extreme workouts can push you into an imbalance.

 

This is why you should really prioritize rest during your period and right before it. This does not mean you cannot workout or do anything, just skip the intense sessions and definitely follow the 30 minute rule. Imbalance means stress internally – internal stress means more issues with metabolism over time, which mean less weight and fat loss.

 

Why no intensity all the time??

 

When you keep pushing you are getting into a more stressed state physically, when this happens you stimulate the release of cortisol which can potentially harm you if your body is already chronically stressed or have an imbalance. The cortisol is released to help you convert fat into energy after you burn through carbs. When this happens if you are in an imbalanced or chronically stressed state you can end up storing fat as your body thinks it needs to for later or start taxing out your adrenals. Both lead to problems down the road.

 

A great way to start figuring out when to do what is by figuring out where you are in your cycle. If you are unsure then start with the moon phases, wonky I know but it holds true and is how I had to start after coming off birth control. 

Listen to your body, rest when you need to rest. And workout hard when you feel like you can. 

 

There are great ways to learn how to do this. A great place to start is with my cycle syncing workout phase guide. You can download it below.

If you are looking to really get started with correcting your flow if you will and want a more personalized approach lets set up a time to chat! Inquire below.

Set up a time to chat!

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Top 5 Tips to Keep Stress Down During the Holidays

Top 5 Tips to Keep Stress Down During the Holidays

The holidays can be some of the most stress filled times of the year. But is all the stress necessary? Do you consider that we are probably the ones putting stress on ourselves…..? And if we are putting it on ourselves then we can probably adapt some habits to change that.

(Please do not take that statement as discrediting some of the hard stuff or memories that can make it hard after losing a loved one or loneliness among other things, but I am referring to the stress that comes from over committing, being a say yes to everything person, worrying about others too much vs ourselves, etc.)

Ps….If you are unfamiliar with what stress does to your body check out some of my previous blogs :

Stress and how it impacts your entire life and Stress and weight gain.

To sum them up quickly – stress is not good for us.

Sress

Whether it is external or internal. Whether we bring it on ourselves from work or allowing expectations to get to us, to over thinking, to what we eat or drink or surround ourselves with (our environment and lifestyle). All of these things can lead to stress on our body, that in turn can lead to illness through inflammation.

So why would we want to add other types of stress to our potentially already maxed state? It is a time we should be celebrating. Again please don’t mis-read that, as I know some people truly do have a hard time due to lost loved ones or other past instances or even loneliness. However, there are ways we can help ourselves feel better during this time regardless of circumstance. Below are a few of my top ways to do just that.

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Stress Down During the Holidays:

1- Get to sleep around the same time most nights of the week if not all of them. 

bed sleep

  • Sleep is imperative to our health. More and more studies are becoming available to show this. If we lack the deep sleep our body needs to restore itself then we are waking up in a stressed state. Our days are beginning with a body that is already overwhelmed this then can escalate throughout the day. You can read more about sleep and stress here.
2 – Don’t over commit yourself
  • Most of us are guilty of this at some point in our lives. We do not want to let people down. Depending upon what stage you are in it may be a time when you feel you REALLY need to show up and impress certain people….. but does that really matter? Sometimes it might, but others we could be doing ourselves more harm than good. We say yes to everything then we give half of our self to these events if not less instead of  choosing a few important ones and giving our all to them. 
  • Destress solution – Figure out which ones matter most and say yes to those. If they involve people you rarely see or add no value to your current life then feel no need to say yes.
3- Get moving atleast 4 days a week for 30 minutes or more.

  • This is MAJOR. Exercise and/or decent movement (meaning getting slightly uncomfortable for 30 or so minutes ) can raise endorphins and serotonin levels which in turn makes us happier. Which makes us feel more accomplished and confident. When we feel this way we tend to make smarter choices aka not over committing.
  • Destress Solution- Think of how many hours are in a week. If you tell me you can’t find 2 out of all 168 then you may need to take a step back from everything you are doing and reevaluate. This will only help YOU and in turn benefit others.
4- Start your day with a smoothie vs a heavy breakfast.

Smoothie

  • Why is this important?? Well for starters I want you to think of energy. Your digestive system uses ALOT of energy. When we eat a heavy meal we tend to get tired after…. the reason?? Our digestive system! If it is using up so much of our energy to work and then we need that energy and have not done anything to restore it then here we go again adding a stress to our body. If you are already stressed then you don’t want to add to it!
  • Destress Solution –  Buy a vegan protein powder or one that is all natural and not Whey (aka dairy that can cause distress on the digestive system) add some frozen fruit and veggies and a healthy fat like almond butter or coconut oil, blend and drink. Smoothies are already a liquid so theyre easy to digest.) (Say hello to being more productive!
5- HYDRATE

Lemon Water

  • This should go without saying. Being dehydrated only zaps your energy, your focus, your ability to get things done and on top of that messes with metabolism and immune function. All of this can make you more susceptible to illness. 
  • Destress Solution – Drink up! Start your day with water (room temp as it is more absorbable that way) a splash of lemon or lime and some sea salt. Chug it before you drink ANYTHING else especially coffee. This helps get your cells hydrated and immune system and digestive system moving. You can also try something like LIQUID IV that I use daily to help with hydration.
  • You can read more on hydration here.

 

So many things can add stress to our life and we may not even know it. The biggest take away I want you all to get from this is that you should focus on what makes you happy and fulfilled this time of year. Hopefully that means being with those you care about and love. This can also mean finding someone to love on or help during this time. Find volunteer opportunities near you, this can help you become more fulfilled in so many ways. 

Do you have any tips or tricks you do to keep stress down? I would love to hear them! Comment or share and tag me @candicecfitness. You never know who you may be helping!

I hope you have a happy holiday this year and look forward to seeing you in 2020!

 

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Grocery Shopping Made Easy – And How to Read Labels too!

Grocery Shopping Made Easy – And How to Read Labels too!

Oh the Grocery Store- there are SO many options. It can be overwhelming. I mean which brands are the best, which things do we really need, and why does it take so much time when you are trying to make smart choices??

Grocery store

Well this article is going to break it down a little bit for you. We are going to discover the best route to take when grocery shopping, which items to look for and which to avoid and why, and how to quickly understand nutrition labels.

First things first, not all grocery stores are created equal. However most are set up in a similar fashion. It is literally all for a purpose, if you do not believe me just look it up for yourself. Merchandising is a business and companies pay for where they are placed. Here is what I mean:

Grocery stores typically have the meat and produce and dairy going around the perimeter and the packaged stuff in the middle. However staples like meat, and dairy tend to be in the back…. why is that? Because it gives the consumer more exposure to other items first (i.e. when we go to the store for some chicken breasts but end up with a cart full of other stuff too).

Produce typically near flowers to seem fresher. It typically is fresh however, go for produce in the back of shelf or display because the older stuff typically gets put in front to get purchased quicker.

Baking goods, ingredients, and canned goods are typically in the aisles to again give consumers exposure to more stuff they do not necessarily need.

Another tid bit of info you may not realize is the shelves are also set up a certain way. Eye level is typically by the big brands that can shell out the money to be seen more. Smaller more local brands will typically be at the top, and kid appealing foods at the bottom.

Crazy right?

Knowing this though, what is the best route to take when grocery shopping? 

  • First off come in prepared- have a list- get actual recipes one day a week that you plant to cook prior and get only what you need, stay focused.
  • Try to go on the outside aisles only, you will be less tempted this way (just try to avoid the bakery lol)
  • Grab things toward the back of produce and meat etc, they tend to be fresher and newer.
  • Eat before going to the store.You know they have all those free samples for a reason right? If they get you to eat something…. and you like it…. more money for them because it is going in your cart.
  • If you are really dreading the idea of grocery shopping then use a service like instacart to get them delivered, if you always end up spending $10-$20 more just by buying things you see when you are there, then it is worth the delivery
  •  fee anyway.

What should you avoid/go for?

  • Go for Organic when possible
  • If anything else avoid the dirty dozen (the worst fruits and veggies to buy due to typical contamination levels from pesticides, antibiotics, etc.
    • These guys consist of – Strawberries, Spinach, Apples, Pears, Nectarines, Cherries, Grapes, Celery, Tomatoes, Potatoes (if eating skin), Sweet Bell Peppers, Peaches
  • Avoid overly processed foods (have a ton of ingredients you cannot pronounce, more on this in the next section)
  • Hit the parameter of the store

 

What about those nutrition labels- if you have to buy something packaged then how do you know whether it is good for you??

Here are my main tips:

  • Opt for things labeled organic or Non GMO to start then look at the actual ingredient list…. NOT THE CALORIES
  • What is in the actual ingredients?
    • If there are more than 5-7 ingredients and you cannot pronounce some of them, then put that back and opt for another brand.
    • Be weary of words like sucrose, dextrose, barley malt, rice syrup and of course high fructose corn syrup.
      • These are simply types of added sugars. Alot of people will say to be weary if it is ose at the end however that may not always be the case.
    • If it contains any of these artificial sweeteners then try to avoid it –
      • sucralose (splenda), aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet and Low) as these have been linked to numerous conditions over the years.
    • If it has a color with a number on it….. typically avoid it.
    • Pay attention to Added Sugars Listed on the label 
      • You typically will see sugar then added sugar. You want the sugar content overall to be low, but chances are if there are added sugars it is going to be even higher. **The daily recommendation for women the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25grams a day for women**** (some granola bars and yogurts contain that)
  • Look at the Macros (protein/fat/carbs)
    • Ideally you want a balanced ratio of all of this stuff.
    • Avoid things with Trans Fats
  • Look at the SERVING SIZE
    • This may go for more before you are consuming the product if you buy it but pay attention here. You may think you are getting 1 serving in a can for example and eat or drink it all….. but in reality there are 4 so you just consumed FOUR of everything listed on that label.

 

Try these tips out and see if you can’t master the grocery store like a boss. I got a FREE grocery list for ya too to be prepared with the best foods to keep inflammation down and feel better :).

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

 

 

5 Things to Help Late Night Cravings

5 Things to Help Late Night Cravings

We have all been there, its after dinner, watching tv or reading or doing whatever…. Then, hunger strikes and we do NOT understand why. Is it because we are bored?

Is it because we didn’t eat the right things?

Do we just have an undeniable sweet tooth that will never be cured?

It could be some of those things, but chances are it is more due one of the following- the foods we are eating, whether we are getting enough water, nutrient absorption and/or gut imbalances, lack of sleep and stress which can all lead to hormone imbalances and insulin resistance.

So lets it break it down a little bit and then I will give you some recommendations on what you can do.

What it could be:

 

avocado toastPoor food combining-

What we eat matters. Eating processed foods that lack proper nutrients our body needs can leave us feeling more hungry. Many processed foods contain sugars that combined with other fake ingredients our body cannot process cause blood sugar dis regulation which in turn affects hunger by leading to more cravings not long after we eat.

If we eat meals with proper proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats that also include vital micro nutrients (like those found in organic leafy greens and seeds) can make a huge difference in how we feel and process food. Not to mention eating processed foods lead to gut imbalances which lead to poor absorption of vitamins and nutrients when we do consume them.

Hydration-

We know we gotta drink water but did you know that not being hydrated makes a major difference in how we feel in relation to being full and satisfied?

For example, have you ever had someone tell you to drink some water you may be thirsty when you say you are hungry (but you really shouldn’t be?) Well there is a reason for that. When we are not getting adequate hydration our cells simply go after sugar (and make us crave it) for a quick fix for energy since we do not have enough hydration within our cells for them to function. Our body is smart and it knows sugar gives a quick boost- so enter the sugar craving. 

 

Sleep –

Lack of sleep causes stress hormones to rise. You can read all about that here. However when this happens it lead

to cravings. When there is a stress (like lack of sleep and repair)

to our body not only do our stress hormones rise but they also cause our appetite hormones to get imbalanced which leads to cravings and potentially overeating. 

Nutrient Absorption – 

I am going to focus on one in particular right here because many of us lack it. Low magnesium.

This is a nutrient our body needs to help with cellular energy and absorption of other vitamins and nutrients like calcium and vitamin k and d3. However most of us are low in it due to poor absorption in our gut and/or not eating enough magnesium rich foods . Being low in it can lead to insulin resistance  and fatigue which can both increase sugar and hunger cravings by playing with hormones such as our stress hormones which can signal our body to crave certain things for energy.

Other minerals that may mimic cravings due to our body lacking them are calcium, zinc, and chromium. Some of these may be simply due to dehydration while others may need to be supplemented.

So what are the 5 most important things you can do to help nix these late night cravings? 

1- Drink enough water throughout the day

    • Start your day with a full glass of water BEFORE anything else. Then aim to have atleast 2 more before lunch. Then 3 more before dinner, then two after. 
    • Avoid adding things with splenda or other articificial sweeteners to these glasses as they can strip the nutrients from the water you drink.
    • Opt for mineral based waters like The Mountain Valley (my favorite)

2- Eat a diet that consists of healthy proteins and fats

    • These two things combined with complex carbs (non starchy to spike bloodsugar) actually help regulate blood sugar and control cravings.

3- Get enough sleep

    • I know it is easier said than done, but sleep really is crucial to setting yourself up for success. It is when our body repairs itself, it is when our metabolism should be working and setting itself up for the next day. If you need help with some good sleep practices I have a freebie for ya here.

4- Relax

    • Do something every day to help yourself decrease stress. Again stress is so BAD for us and it is caused by so many different things in our life, not just from work. It is also caused internally with the foods we eat that are not good for us, the alcohol we may drink, the antiobiotics we may take and mess up our gut, the toxins we are exposed to in the air. Now do not take that to mean that you need to live in a bubble but taking some time out to really breathe and relax, take a walk, get a massage, read a book, take a bath, do something for you it can really make a difference.

 

5- Supplement or eat more vitamin and micro nutrient rich foods.

    • Eating things like spinach, kale, some grains and seeds, all these things can really help us and heal to where we can absorb other nutrients better. Supplementing with a probiotic to help the microbiome in our gut get more balanced and/or other things like magnesium and zinc can help too. Just make sure they are of a good quality like these.

 

Hopefully this can help you get off to a good start with feeling less hungry ALL the time. As always please check with your doctor before starting ANY supplement or changing anything in your diet as these are all ONLY recommendations. We are ALL different BUT we can always find solutions to help us feel better none the less. 

 

(Disclaimer- I may receive a small commission on some of the affiliate links posted in this article and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

Stress and how it impacts your ENTIRE life

Stress and how it impacts your ENTIRE life

Life is stressful, ESPECIALLY now a days with our go go go society.

As a matter of fact you probably are stressed if you answer yes to any of the following questions :

Do you find yourself feeling tense in your neck and shoulders?

Do you get sick a lot?

Do you have unexplained weight gain?

Do you find yourself laying in bed at night not being able to sleep due to “everything on your mind”?

(Pretty sure every human has agreed with all of the above at some point) sooooo guess what…. you are stressed. Did you know that some studies show that most all illnesses are caused by stress?

 

HERE IS THE LOW DOWN:

When we are stressed out our inflammatory response in our bodies is elevated. Our adrenals release cortisol as they should BUTTT we never slow down enough to let those levels come down as they should. This leads to an entire host of problems down the line. See cortisol is basically a hormone that is released to help restore our bodies balance, but when elevated for too long, it causes a spike in glucose which causes an increase in insulin release in the blood, this leads to hunger, which can lead to over eating (just as one scenario).

Which leads me to……. Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is as stated on the Sciencedaily from a study from UCSF,  is a “cluster of abnormalities” , ranging from increased blood pressure, cholesterol, fat around the mid section, and high blood sugar. All of these can be triggered by chronic stress and the bodies response to it. All of these things increase ones risk to stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.

Most people tend to go towards high fat, high sugar foods when they are stressed for comfort, the bodies response to these things versus healthy foods can also through hormones off since they are processed and cause inflammation in the body, which again leads to stress on our systems.

So stress on our systems, what does that mean? I am referring to our systems like our immune system and digestive system.

Digestive System being my next topic…

It is getting more and more widely known that our “gut” is our second brain. This is because our gut and brain both communicate through each of their nervous systems (the gut being enteric and brain being central). Our immune system also lives primarily in our digestive system and when stressed doesn’t receive enough blood flow to function optimally. This is because our digestive system restricts blood flow to get our body into more of a fight or flight response and allow blood to other areas. This is why our stomachs can feel funky when we are about to go on stage or do something scary. The gut lining can also become more permeable do to stress factors leading to things like leaky gut (leaking proteins and other things into our body) which is now shown to have possible links to autoimmune issues.

 

What are some things you can do now to help lower stress levels??

Here are some things I recommend starting now:

 

    • Get enough sleep

      • This is huge in keeping hormones balanced, try to shut down every night around the same time. Get your body and sleep cycle into a routine and it will be easier to fall asleep each night regardless of what you have going on.
      • Try to add in some melatonin or take something for adrenal health if you have trouble actually turning your mind off. I also love Reishi powder from Four Sigmatic.

 

    • Take Deep Breaths

      • When you find yourself getting tense, slow down, take a minute and breathe in and out trying to engage your diaphragm, fill your stomach up with air vs. your chest. Allow your back to expand too. Do 5 or so deep breaths, then do it again.
    • Exercise (but make sure you get rest/recovery)

      • Working out not only lowers cortisol levels by helping maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight, but it also releases endorphins (aka happy medicine from the body) :). You will feel better, and get those stress levels down. BUT overtraining can lead to just the opposite, so if you have a hard workout session then make sure you wait a day or so before doing it again. In the meantime do a not as intense workout like a brisk walk, yoga, etc the following day.

 

    • Eat the right foods

      • Things containing Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and certain teas are all proven to reduce cortisol levels. So go for things like salmon, spinach, and green/black teas.
      • Supplements can also help- but food is best! If using supplements be sure to find ones that are certified organic and/or have certificates of how they are made.

 

    • Read

      • Relax and lose yourself in a good book or magazine.

 

    • Stretch/Meditate

      •  If you are an avid yogi, good for you! You’re probably already benefiting from less stress as they focus on the mind/body/breath connection as they do in meditation. Take some time for you if you are not, do something that relaxes you daily and if you can get yourself to learn meditation it is proven to help.

 

    • Manage Time Wisely

      • if you have an over packed schedule, learn to say no. You do not have to do everything everyone asks you to do. Yes certain things are priorities but you may need to reevaluate what is really important and what isn’t. If your health isn’t on that list…. make sure it is and change accordingly. If you do not have your health those other “priorities” will never happen.
      • Try using a habit tracker, sometimes just writing things down can make a difference, try one like this one.

 

    • Keep Moving In a Good Way

      • If you sit all day- get up 3x and take a walk for 10 minutes at a time, or 6x for 5 minutes… that will give you 30 minutes of walking a day. That can honestly be more beneficial than getting on a treadmill some days.
      • Take meetings outside- go for a walk while you talk.

 

Deep Breathing
Priorities

Any of these signs could indicate you are stressed! (and chances are you have more than one!)

So take action to help limit them- start those tips above.

Sress

Another reason stress is bad??

Some of the things that are mentioned in this post.

I hope this helped you have a batter understanding as to why you may be at a plateau. If you need help find someone who can help you come up with a plan. Stay accountable and keep trying, do not give up! Sometimes it takes longer than we like, but the biggest thing is to just keep changing and trying, be open to change and learn patience. You want to not only lose weight but create a healthy life to go along with it.

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