The theory is that dieting – which produces stress for most of us – increases cortisol levels.
And for women who have dieted on and off again throughout life, they may end up looking more like “apples” than “pears” because of bigger waistlines that may be associated with high cortisol levels.
Real health risks accompany excess fat in the abdomen – like increased chances of developing diabetes and even heart disease.
A study published this month demonstrated that women who constantly restrict food (that is, who constantly diet) have higher levels of cortisol, and the researchers speculate that this may spell bad news for bone health. Other studies suggest cortisol levels may be a predictor of fractures for older adults.
Stress hormones aside, we also know that stress makes it harder for women to put their good intentions into action. It puts us on edge, sometimes making the least challenge something that causes us to mindlessly revert back to old, unhealthy habits.
So how do we achieve personal health goals without adding to our stress? Consider a healthy lifestyle approach that’s all about feeling great!
Feed yourself well.
Forget calories and fat grams. Instead, focus on feeding yourself balanced meals and snacks when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied. Most of us get hungry about every 3-5 hours, but if you’re not sure when you’re hungry and when you’re not, try putting yourself on a schedule that starts with breakfast and includes lunch and dinner and 2-3 snacks, if hungry. Also be sure to eat balanced meals that include Grains/Starchy Vegetables, Protein Foods and Fruits &/or Vegetables. If you’re particularly hungry between meals, make sure your snacks include Protein Foods, which may help you be better satisfied.
Give up notions about “good,” “bad,” and “forbidden” foods.
Bottom line: If we forbid a food, it often makes us want it more. So learn to eat all foods, and learn to tune in to what you really want, not just what you think you want because you “shouldn’t” have it.
Move your body regularly.
Yes, we’re talking about physical activity. There’s much more to physical activity than burning calories. It’s a tremendous stress reducer, and its feel-good benefits kick in almost immediately! Make your regular physical activity something you look forward to by coming up with fun ways to move your body. Try dancing, skiing, snowshoeing, gardening, playing catch with the kids. And, remember, you don’t need to devote long periods every day to physical activity.
Think positively about yourself and your body.
Starting to accept yourself now…just as you are…no matter whether you think you need to lose weight or get in better shape or whatever. Negative self-talk has tremendous power to knock us off track. By starting to support ourselves in our minds now, we help ourselves stay on track with our fitness efforts. Accepting yourself does not mean that there isn’t room for improvement. It just helps you treat yourself well so that you can better find your way to personal health goals.
Take time for yourself every day.
Whether it’s 10 minutes to reflect and relax, or whether it’s some fun activity that will revitalize you, it’s critical to do it! Make a list of activities that you really like and try to find time for at least one every day. Here are a few activities to get you thinking about what you can do to help yourself to regular “time-outs.”
Get a massage or foot-rub.
Send/buy yourself fresh flowers.
Listen to a relaxation audiotape.
Read for fun.
Take a long, relaxing bubble bath.
Do a crossword puzzle.
Take a walk on the beach.
Take a yoga class.
Kisses Kim xxx
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