The “fight or flight” syndrome – you’ve heard of it, right? Accompanied with the image of the saber-toothed tiger dashing after a hunter, getting ready to attack. You often get into this situation, don’t you? In modern times, we’re not literally in that frantic position, but our bodies are often reacting as if we were fighting for our lives. Our adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, are forced to work overtime in an effort to deal with stress from all sources: injury, disease, work, family, finances, environment, etc.
It’s hard to imagine these small endocrine glands, essentially the size of a walnut, responsible for the manufacture and secretion of vital hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone. The cortisol production is crucial for the body to combat stress. Whereas thousands of years ago the stress was a finite amount of time – you either outran the predator or survived or you were eaten – nowadays, stress seems to be a state of being for so many people.
Although not getting along with a boss or missing a bill payment are not life-threatening like the saber-toothed tiger, our bodies react to the stressors in a similar fashion. The body starts to feel unsettled. More and more cortisol is produced because the body believes it needs massive amounts of energy to run for its life. This happens over and over again throughout the day: getting the kids ready for school and getting yourself ready for work, traffic, spilling coffee on your new suit, your assistant calls in sick and you’ve got to send out 20 packages today, the babysitter is late picking up the kids from school and taking them to soccer practice, your late afternoon meeting runs over and you leave the office late so family dinner becomes you eating leftovers alone. And all this is going to happen again tomorrow!
Here’s the problem: chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. For some, the fatigue will become overwhelming and the adrenals will no longer function properly to provide the energy and resources the body needs on a day-to-day basis. When someone is exhausted, a natural suggestion is to get more sleep. In the early stages, these are a few misconceptions about sleep:
- I don’t need much sleep. I’m just wired that way
- When I sleep doesn’t matter. Sleeping during daytime is every bit as valuable as sleeping at night.
- If I miss sleep during the week, I can always catch up on the weekends.
Unfortunately, none of these beliefs are true. Humans are built to sleep. Even more importantly, we are built to sleep at night, around the same time every night. A lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can hinder critical repair processes and generate inflammation- major driver of chronic illnesses. Insomnia is a common symptom of adrenal exhaustion. That too wired to be tired feeling and waking up feeling exhausted! There are, however, steps you can take to prepare yourself for sleep, which is certainly one of the best ways to refresh and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit. Counting sheep is not one of them!
For better sleep and to heal your adrenal glands:
Counteract Stress: Although it might seem a dirty word to many, there’s no denying that exercise is the best when it comes to relieving stress. I don’t mean High Intensity workouts but deep breathing, walking, massage therapy and yoga.
Eat nutritious meals: The best way to prevent poor digestion and having your sleep disturbed by a bloated belly (thanks to late night meals and takeaways) or simply a body lacking nutrients is to eat healthy meals that your body can break down and absorb easily. Eating correctly doesn’t mean deprivation or bland food.
Switch your nightcap: The more you avoid coffee, soda and alcohol before hitting the sheets, the better your chances of a good night’s sleep. If you want a little nightcap, try herbal teas or tinctures such as chamomile and passion flower.
Whether you have occasional poor sleep or downright chronic insomnia, don’t for a slightest moment think that dangerous, addictive sleep drugs are your only answer. Instead, take a close look at what may be behind your “night owl syndrome” so your restless nights can finally come to an end. Imagine, sleeping soundly like a baby every night!
Last weekend, I broke up a 15 year relationship.
After 12 volatile months, I finally decided to let go.
I mean, there’s no point in going round in circles. You’re either on or off. I hate in-between greys.
Who on earth would leave you stranded on a cold, dark night on a busy round about? My car did.
It’s heart wrenching to let go of a Valentine’s day present. And I thought of you.
“Let go, or be dragged.” – Zen Proverb
Do you find yourself believing the latest promises to make you look good and feel great after just a few weeks? You know, maybe it was the one that was recommended by a friend with surreal and fabulous results. The diet that promised you that you would lose weight only to put it all back on a month later once you start to come off of it, and join the real world of food again.
Blissball, it’s time to let go of what doesn’t serve you any more!
What do you do now? You’ve admitted that this relationship is a problem, and want real results, real change, and a real healthy and happy life. How do you break free from act-repent-repeat cycle?
By crowding out.
Deprivation sucks. You cannot spend a lifetime counting calories and dieting. Think about it –your belly can only fit so much food at once, so if you fill it up with good stuff, you’ll be less likely to crave the bad.
Here are some simple tricks to start crowding out the unhealthy foods.
1.Stay hydrated. Don’t wait to sip the H2O till your mouth is dry. You will end up looking like a dried up prune! Start your morning with a cup of warm lemon water with honey.
2. Feast on fruits and vegetables. They are packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants to keep you satiated for longer. I have gained belly fat eating fruits and greens, said no one ever!
3. Plan and prep ahead. Planning your meals ahead will help crowd out the unhealthy foods. You’ll be better prepared if you have your healthy snack ready rather than grabbing that chocolate bar at a fuel station.
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Now-how’re going to crowd out your plate this week? You don’t have to do all in one go.
I am waiting to hear your let go stories below.
GINGER BREAD COOKIE SMOOTHIE
A fun smoothie without the nastiness of bleached flour and sugar. I crave warming, nourishing drinks in the cold days and this one fits the the bill! Ginger is warming, has powerful anti-inflammatory oils, helps settle stomach upsets and alleviate nausea. Spinach is alkalizing, packed with anti-oxidants and Vitamin K to protect our bones. The tiny chia seeds pack a punch with omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron and also help stabilise blood sugar levels. Gives a healthy start to your day or as an in between snack to kick the 4 pm slump!
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 banana
- 1 Teaspoon flax meal or chia seeds
- 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons almond butter
- 1 ½ inch piece ginger, chopped
- Ice (optional)
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!
Believe it or not, kale is the new rocket showing up in the super market aisles and many restaurant menus! Ever wondered how anyone can actually eat this stiff , woody, bitter, fibrous green? My taste buds have got used to it in the green juice blends that I slurp down each morning. As for kale chips? I have fallen hook, line and sinker! I think my taste buds are greedy for more kale.
The idea for this salad came when participants from my 12 Day Mindful Eating Challenge wanted me to share some recipes with the group. We all know what to eat and what not to eat, but many hit a wall when it comes to deciding on a nutritious recipe that is both easy to prepare and delicious. This Mediterranean Kale Salad is perfect to thaw your palate to kale’s earthy, pungent flavor. The secret sauce to making lighter meals out of kale is massage! After washing and slicing the leaves, make sure you give a five minute rubdown to transfer it from rough and bitter to silky and smooth. The olive oil, lemon juice and salt act as a tenderiser to break it’s tough cellulose structure. Try a bite, if still bitter, it needs some more sensory love! Go ahead and taste the recipe. I’m sure the rubdown has worked it’s magic to trigger a marriage proposal (if not better!) and a loving relationship with this strong green for life.
Mediterranean Kale Salad
Makes 4 servings
- 2 small bunches kale, stems removed
- 1 carrot, peeled, spiralled or grated
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, soaked 10 minutes, drained, and rinsed
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Stack the kale leaves a couple of leaves at a time, and slice . Place the kale in a mixing bowl along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Toss well with your hands, working the dressing into the greens. Add in the carrot. Mix well. Add the pine nuts and raisins and toss gently. Season to taste with black pepper. Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Mediterranean Kale Salad will keep for three days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!
The strain of coming behind on something important and challenging that you want to achieve can be disabling; it can create avoidance techniques, depression, and ultimately derail your goals. If you are beginning to feel the weight of your intentions and the stress of the challenge that came along with them, don’t throw in just yet!
It is perfectly normal to struggle with making a change to your lifestyle or habits; and lucky for you, there are a couple of things you can do to keep the ball rolling.
Slow your roll, friend
Taking up a new goal usually comes with a boost of motivation for about the first week, then reality sets in, and your big plans of giving way to the gym for 2 hours every day of the week turn into endless hours of tv surfing.
The phrase “your eyes were bigger than your mouth”, come to play here. You are entirely capable of stretching your mental limits to a level before your head and body gang up on you.
Take it easy on yourself, if you are trying to do too much, break it down into smaller chunks. It is better to stretch a goal timeline out a couple weeks than to throw it away.
Take a Day Off
You don’t have to feel bad or guilty about taking a day for yourself from time to time. Our brains are naturally hardwired to resist change, and when we push too much, it often leads to fatigue and a lack of motivation.
Taking little breaks tend to give us a chance to reflect on what is causing the resistance to the desired goal or change. It also allows you to refill your motivation battery to get going again.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a couple hours, or even a day, to read some motivational articles/books/quotes, meditate, and reflect on what has caused your discomfort. Take the time to get to know yourself, what makes and breaks you, and what gets you going.
What exactly triggers you to fall off the wagon and into the well of inactive despair?
Knowing the situations or actions that cause you to sway is a step in the direction of controlling your environment and mastering self-discipline. Finding ways to sidestep these triggers also strengthens your resolve and leaves you with a map to successfully make changes in your life no matter the challenges involved.
Mindfulness also helps you to better evaluate the processes of how you do things, making it easier to improve your routine and techniques.
This makes life a whole lot easier in general.
Here are my top 5 benefits you get from staying healthy and fit:
Benefit #1: Living Longer and Thriving
There is no need for me to tell you that life on this earth is short. We all have things we want to accomplish and do while we are here, and studies have found that people who eat healthy, regularly exercise , avoid smoking, and consume alcohol only in moderation can add an additional 14 years to their life expectancy!
Now, this really doesn’t mean anything if you make it to 90 or 100 years old and you are confined to your bed and not able to enjoy the life you have.
You want to be able to blow out your birthday candles and cut a rug celebrating your amazing life!
Benefit #2: Increased Energy
It’s funny that people make up the excuse that they are too tired to work out, because exercising actually gives you more energy! Or maybe you are too tired to eat a healthy meal, but that will give you more energy as well!
Eating well and exercising triggers ‘feel-good’ endorphins in your body that makes you feel happier and bumps up your energy levels.
Benefit #3: Protects You Against Diseases and Illnesses
This world is plagued with unwanted colds, viruses, and bacteria. The best way to help your body combat these diseases and illnesses is to eat healthy and exercise.
When you eat healthy and exercise, you are supporting your immune system which fights off these infections.
Studies have also shown that treating your body well drastically lowers your risk for cancer.
Benefit #4: Better Mental Health
Your brain is connected to every aspect of your being. If you are treating your body well, your brain is going to benefit and function optimally.
We have already discussed how eat well and exercising boosts your mood and energy levels, but it also reduces depression and improves the sleep you get as well.
Benefit #5: Bone Health
Let’s be honest, the bones are the bricks of our body. If we are not making sure our bones are getting everything they need, we will literally crumble.
Regularly exercising and eating a balanced diet helps prevent osteoporosis and keeping your bones strong and healthy.