Emotional Balance
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And your body will follow

It's never easy to know where to begin when considering a new healthy lifestyle plan.  We start looking into diets, weight loss supplements and gym memberships.

Pretty soon we are getting into one or more of these options to bring our bodies back to their original form, whatever the heck that means.  We start to lose a couple pounds and we begin to feel like our old selves.  The only problem is that within months we start to fall back into our old habits and the weight comes back.

Long term health and fitness goals

One of the major components of healthy weight loss and good physical fitness is that we employ measures that can not only be sustained for a brief period of time.  Instead we should make lifestyle changes that incorporate portion control, healthy food options and regular fitness & exercise.  But, that isn't always the easiest change to make.  

First, we need to free ourselves of the current mindset that our society has embraced.  We are a society of overstressed, high fat & carb eating, pro-sedentary people.  We don't sleep enough.  We don't practice stress reduction methods.  And most of us drink too much soda, beer and wine.   While each of us may not fit into this summary perfectly, each of us likely share some similarities.

We can't simply erase the sociological fast-food mentality we were brought-up to believe was okay to rely upon for frequent meals.  Perhaps it is the family dinner with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and canned vegetables that some of us were raised to believe was a good thing to prepare for our family.  Regardless, we can not simply abstain from these foods for celery and weight loss shakes over 8 weeks and expect to keep the weight off following our diet.  First, we must recognize the problem is more than how much we eat; but what we eat. 

Activity is the same way.  It isn't just enough to join a gym for a brief period of time or start walking intermittently.  We must find what interests us, and what will keep us engaged in the activity for years rather than weeks or months.

Free your mind

Stress, lack of sleep and sociological influence are three major factors preventing our success to reach and maintain a healthy weight and physical fitness plan.  The first step to our success is to free our mind of the commercials, pop culture, advertisements and otherwise that tell us we can eat high fat, high carbohydrate meals and snacks and stay healthy, fit and trim.  We can't. 

Not only do these foods have all those unhealthy ingredients plus high calories that cause weight gain; but, the additives themselves, such as soy can affect hormones and thyroid function which can increase the likelihood of a sluggish metabolism, feeling tired, tired feeling, weight gain and brittle nail and hair.  The worse we feel, the more we seek high sugar type foods to stimulate the neurotransmitters in our brain to give us a false sense of energy and "sugar high".

At the forefront of such misguided eating and fitness routines we must implement stress reduction methods such as mindfulness and meditation.  Even 10 minutes a day can provide the benefits necessary to regulate the heart rate and clear our mind of the clutter that keeps us from sleeping or feeling relaxed. 

Getting a restful night sleep will also be an important part of healthy habits.  Failure to do so increases your caloric intake and decreases your physical activity.  Again, feeling tired can be a major reason many of us reach for high caffeinated, sugary energy drinks and high sugar snacks to increase the dopamine in our brains to wake us up. We are less likely to maintain our fitness plan when we continue to get less than 7 to 8 hours sleep per night.  Each night we must achieve the multiple cycles of our sleep to include REM (rapid eye movement), the period of time that we dream.  If we fail to reach these stages continuously, we will suffer from daytime sleepiness and our brains, mind and body will fail to function at optimal efficiency.

Free your body

Our diets should change permanently to lots of whole foods, unprocessed and unrefined snacks, fruits, vegetables, minimal red meats and limited carbohydrates and sugar.  As you begin to phase the processed, fast food out of your diet you will find that the amount of food will be less a factor in your weight loss management since your hormones may positively be affected by your new diet and thus your metabolism begin to work optimally.  You will also find your less interested in unhealthy processed foods.  Your brain and body will stabilize and the triggers that formerly sent you into the kitchen for something sweet, will be dramatically reduced.  

Once we have achieved continuous sleep cycles, introduced stress reduction techniques we need our activity plan to include fitness that we both enjoy and provides us age appropriate benefits for heart health, circulation and otherwise.  It may be cycling, walking, rowing or running.  You can add weight training, yoga or Pilates.  It's good to have multiple options that you enjoy to keep you interested in year round activity away from too much couch and television time.  Even if it is one activity that you just love, it's important to keep it going.   Try group sports like softball and volleyball to keep fit and social.  Stay aware of your body's response to each activity to ensure it is beneficial and not damaging to your joints or former sports injuries.  As always, check with your family physician prior to any new diet or exercise routine.

Now, the part you may not expect.  Most of us will never practice perfect nutrition and exercise.  It's perfectly okay to enjoy some down time and/or some sweets or indulgences.  Set a reasonable limit, such as 80% of the time you will follow your healthy plan.  If you go out with friends or family, splurge a bit and DON'T feel guilty!  Your body will actually respond better to a day or two of rest and sweet treat on occasion, then right back to your normal routine.


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