80/20 Diet Rule: Staying on Track – Exercise is only ½ the battle, you’ve got to keep focused on healthy eating, too:

Remember – the nutritional part of maintaining a healthy weight is about 80% of the battle. While exercise matters for quality of life, ability to live well into our older years, and feeling alive, it’s only about 20% of losing/gaining weight. This is because exercise is good at helping us use up calories (aka stored fat) but only if we aren’t putting more into storage.

In addition, exercise often creates more hunger – because you are using more calories you need more fuel. If you are eating your fuel via junk food you are only filling your tank with junk. The body then struggles to help you rebuild tissue and have what it needs to make sure you are strong and ready for your next workout.

Planning your meals and making sure to follow the 80/20 rule when choosing foods is important. Here 80% of the time you are on track for your goals (weight loss, maintenance, or gain) and 20% of the time you eat what you want. This can be looked at according to the hour, day, week, etc.

Check out E-Meals for help making healthy meal planning easy!

If you are following the 80/20 rule on food and making good, healthy, whole food, nutrient dense choices, you can be pretty sure your also following the 80/20 rule when it comes to the way diet and exercise work together to create a healthy weight for you.

This video goes over a case study of someone who works a lot, isn’t able to find the time to exercise, and is starting to have physical problems as a result of being about 100lbs overweight. He outlines where to start and how to stick with it.

If you liked this article – check out these:

More on food choices: Eat Well, Feel Well or making sure your workouts are fun and interesting: Cycling Your Workouts.

Photo Credit: Diet Quotes

Thank You UWS Students! 

Thank you to UWS Counseling Students for a great evening of exploration regarding the mental health field. In this post I also outline and more in-depth explanation of treating and healing from early trauma. A list of somatic psychology resources is also included.

Thank you for letting me come speak about our profession! I enjoyed the exploration and interest areas. There are some many possibilities and avenues for careers in behavioral health. I am grateful to be able to share my experience and hope for the next generation of LPCs. I wish you well, and please feel free to contact me if more questions/thoughts arise.

As I reflected on the questions I believe I didn’t answer the question about early trauma fully – to heal from psychological trauma we do not need the story/details of the event. Trauma happens in the body, even when it is verbal in nature, the physiology of the fear disrupts the endocrine system and dysregulates the brain processes. As a result we see dysfunctional behaviors and coping skills. To treat this we can use a number of therapies that target body sensations, as early trauma is stored in brain centers as sensations – not as words/symbols. We can then use the body sensations to track and allow neuropathways to develop while using the present moment therapist to client regulation. This allows the person to process through the trauma in the brain via the body with safety, then make meaning of the event(s) using words, art, music, etc. I tend to use somatic therapies most of the time along with cognitive work to help make meaning and keep the process moving – help clients understand what’s happening when that’s what’s needed for safety. And Dialectical Behavior Therapy to teach regulations skills prior to trauma protocols. Many somatic modalities teach them along the way, however some struggle with the mindfulness and/or aren’t used to being in the body, tracking sensation for long periods of time. Cognitive work can help balance the fears and safety while building endurance. 
Some resources for the somatic work:

  • USABP – United States Association for Body Psychotherapies
  • SE – Somatic Experiencing, Peter Levin has a good book on trauma in the body
  • Hakomi – Hakomi Institute 
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – check out Pat Ogden’s book on trauma and the body 
  • EMDRIA – Eye movement densitization and reprocessing therapy main association website.

Suicide … 

Today my life was touched by suicide for the second time this week.

It is time we breakdown the fear of vulnerability and the ridicule we perpetrate when we see it in others. Personal hurts cloud our vision of true connection for fear that our difficulties will been seen as opportunities to be exploited. This clouding blocks the authentic connections we desperately need. Lack of connection creates a society based on judgment, separation, materialism, and the very fear we were hiding from in the first place.

Suicide is complicated … healing the pain of our pasts is tough … and doing the work actually gives more capacity for life’s adventures – good and bad.

The hardest part? We have to be the ones to reach out. For ourselves and for others. We have to be the ones willing to engage in authentic relationships and offer support and presence. We have to be the ones willing to face our own fear, hurt, sadness, shame, and ultimately our own goodness.

Facing this goodness is difficult. Making space for the goodness to shine means we must make space for our authenticity. We must make space for others’ goodnesses, too. We must face our fear of scarcity and of difference. We must honor our connection and sameness rather than highlight our differences and spotlight separation, even when we don’t agree, like, or want those different perspectives in our lives.

To do this we must be willing to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable means we will meet those who see themselves in our vulnerability and hate it because it means they are vulnerable, too.

And we must be kind anyway. We must find it within ourselves to be really kind. We are all fighting similar battles. Battles of insecurity and fear of rejection. Battles of not knowing and confusion. Battles of love and joy.

As you walk through your world today, remember things aren’t always as they seem and all people could use a smile, a kind word, an open door. All of us could use compassion when we are stuck and respect for trying even when our attempts fail.

I intimately know the darkness and desperation that accompanies suicidal thinking. The despair that envelops one’s being and eclipses the soul. I know the thoughts that anchor and make hope a distant memory. These thoughts and feelings are what make doing the things that heal us so hard. They keep us lonely and separate. Which is why it is so important that we all reach out, connect, model authenticity, and build relationships based on vulnerability and real experiences.

Today make an effort to connect, reach out ask for help, practice vulnerability and show up authentically. Notice where it’s easy, where it’s hard. Where it’s welcome, where it’s not safe. Notice how you react to others when they share vulnerability and authentic experience. See what happens in your own life as you experiment with acceptance of self and others, just as they are, where they are, thus creating real connection.

If you are still trying to figure out how to get yourself on track or support another who is struggling. Check out this blog post on the 5 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do, by Marc and Angel:

http://www.marcandangel.com

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful
People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 5 Things Emotionally
Stable People…. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for
more inspirational advice and tips for life.

The New SuperiorWorkout.com Focus

I’ve taken some time off from blogging to complete my PhD. Here’s my new vision for SW.com …

It is time. Time to put some effort and thought back into reaching out. I have missed my regular forays into the experience of touching lives through writing. There is something pretty amazing about writing a piece from personal thoughts, experiences, and then put it out there. There is no guarantee that others will read, listen, like, care, yet when they are touched by a piece of what I have written it is a gift. When I hear stories of how folks reconsidered a long held belief, changed a behavior, or tried something new, and maybe even scary, with success or failure, it is a gift. It brings ‘this being human’ back to our interconnectedness.

And isn’t that what we all crave? The acceptance and belonging that come from being connected with others. Some of us require (or want) more or less humans in our lives. Some of us require very little human interaction and really prefer the animal kind of acceptance that comes from caring for a pet or animal in need. Others want an entourage. Both are fine and good. By embracing ourselves as we are and accepting the differences we have, we learn to live in less fear and more openness. There is no need to judge ourselves when we can accept that we are ok just as we are, because the person next to us is ok, just as they are. Thus, no need to judge them either.  Ahhh, the sweet sound of acceptance, so much more open and easy. This is the place to live from.
As I have transitioned my career from the fitness center (working with the body in physical health) to somatic based psychotherapy (working with the body in mental health) it has become time to broaden my audience once again. It has been awhile since I reached out regularly in the blogosphere or newspaper columns. As I make the transition back into writing I am creating a new focus at SuperiorWorkout.com. This focus brings together why I think your workout must be more than just exercises, more than just movements, and more than just thinking about and planning your new healthy lifestyle behaviors. This new focus brings the balance back into our lives. Borrowing from the concept of SuperiorBalance, Inc (which was the brick and mortar fitness center), SuperiorWorkout.com’s Blog will bring back the BALANCE that was the foundation in developing the business model that was part of programming at Superior Balance Fitness Center. Now I have a new shiny degree (PhD in clinical psychology with a somatic psychology concentration)
to guide the new direction integrating the body and mind as one unit, not two that share a boundary. All that learning taught me how the body experiences life rather than how to push it, direct it, mold it. I have found that as I allow for an unfolding of experience there is no need for pushing and prodding and working so hard (mentally) to accomplish a physical goal. So I plan to bring that openness, ease, and flow to SuperiorWorkout.com.
____________________________________________________________________________
BALANCE is needed in everything we do and many of us struggle to understand what it is, how to maintain it, and when it’s off. Here’s how I am going to use Balance to guide SuperiorWorkout.com:
B = Body
A = Activities we do for health – in work, home, family, physical, social – everywhere in our lives.
L = Love … and hate, along with all the other emotions that are an intelligence system when we read them right.
A = Acceptance of ourselves, of others, of the way things are. From this place of non-judgment change isn’t so hard.
N = Nervous System – We become dysregulated due to traumas in our lives. These could be big, small, relational, events. As a result we throw off our endocrine system and wreck havoc on our life. Learning to regulate is a very important task.
C = Cultivating Calm & Creativity. From this centered place life doesn’t have to move so fast, yet much more gets done.
E = Enlightenment – We still have to do the daily chores of living however we can do them with joy, being, and peace.
D = Diet … or anything we ingest into our system – news, food, relationships. How do you fill yourself up?

Eat Well, Feel Well

Over the last few years I have been diving deep into the connections between mental health and physical health. As I have been working with mental health clients using physical exercise some surprising interventions have made the most impact. One that continues to be a solid help is eating a balanced diet at regular intervals.  Here are some reasons to care and tips to track your own moods as they relate to your food choices.


Easy Budget Meals Your Family Will Love

When we look at the links between blood sugar and mood we see some themes. When one doesn’t eat for long periods of time irritability, depression, sadness, a general feeling of malaise are common. My clients articulate this as “blah” and it makes sense given that feeling low energy often gets tagged as depression in our culture or “what’s wrong with me because I can’t get things done”. Things just aren’t as vibrant, colorful, interesting, or exciting when you aren’t feeling well. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, you don’t feel well.

In the body the brain registers this as dangerous and a slew of chemicals is pumped from the endocrine system to accommodate this threat. Some describe feeling a “little high” or “being detached” from the world and people around them. They report using food to help them achieve these states helps them “numb out” from painful emotions. The problem becomes this behavior feeds its own cycle and often the thoughts around these somatic sensations are distorted. As noted above people label their low energy as depression, the shaky nauseous feeling as anxiety, and the lack of focus as ADHD. However, what’s really going on doesn’t need a psychotropic med it needs a balanced meal.

To begin your own exploration of how food impacts your moods tracking can be helpful. Note what time you eat, what you ate, what emotions you were feeling before and after the meal, and any physical (or lack of) sensations you had. Track for 1-2 weeks without changing anything.  This can help you see patterns in your behaviors, moods, and physical sensation. It is important to begin this process without judgment. There is no need to judge, you are doing what you are doing, just allow yourself to objectively see what it is you are doing. From this place of observation it becomes easier to determine what you would like to change and how you’ll be most successful changing it.
Here’s to happy eating and contented feelings!
Food Diary Log Example:
Date
Meal (can include calories or nutrition info if wanted)
Time eaten
Emotions Before
Emotions After

Physical Sensations

 Photo Credit: www.naimamohamed.com

Be Free This 4th of July

The fourth of July is here once again. Last year I asked you to let go of all that was no longer serving you and celebrate your freedom. Did you do it? What was successful? What was difficult? What will you let go of this year?

We’ve been talking each week for more than two years now. How have our online conversations changed you? How have you evolved? I would love to know. When I am out and about I hear many stories about your lives and would love to hear your story. Change is hard. When we support each other and believe we can make our goals happen. You could be the support another community member is looking for. Amazing things happen when we work together.

Today I want you to think about what you are free from. What have you left behind? Negative thoughts? Excess weight? Belief that you weren’t strong enough? Your slow race time? People who didn’t support you? As you look back on on the past two years what did you start with that you are now free from? Celebrate your emancipation! Celebrate your ability to accomplish a goal. Congratulations! You did it. Celebrate You.

The person you want to be is achievable. It happens moment by moment in the choices you make. As you think about what you left behind and where you are going next ask yourself if you are living now as the person you want to be. We are the only ones who control our behaviors. We may like to think others do, but it really is about you and your choices. Free yourself from blaming and begin in this moment, right now, living like the person you want to be. Start making choices which free you from being stuck and wishing to be different. Be different know.

Free your thoughts to direct your behaviors toward the person you want to be. Stop wasting space acting in patterns which no longer serve you and free up your thoughts to act in ways which do. Once your thoughts are in place to move in a new direction your actions have no choice but to follow. Free yourself to make the change.

Free up your mind and let go of all those thoughts that keep repeating in your head. Let go of worry and anxiety; just be. The 4th of July is all about just being. Relax and let go of all shoulds and coulds and free up your schedule. Feel your skin relax and rest as you free your body and allow space for all parts of you to relax. Don’t worry about places you would like to change or see differently in the mirror, toss the ideal and free your expectations and just begin doing. Accept who you are today for all your greatness. Tomorrow you will be great, too.

Sounds good, I know. Sounds easy, not really. This process isn’t easy. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Its not easy, but you can do it. Free yourself from the voice that says you can’t. Practice selective hearing and hear only; you can. To begin practically take the Healthy Lifestyle Challenge This week. Free yourself from constraint and begin your new healthy life today. Free You – Be You.

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge:

Begin by letting go. For the day practice being present to the moment. In each moment throughout the day you have a choice to do this or that. Decide which one leads you closer to the person you want to be and choose that choice. Each time you realize you are not paying attention just decide to pay attention again and repeat as often as necessary throughout your day. Goals are just the end result of many little choices made all day long over weeks, months, and years. Easy, no…doable, yes.

 

How To Improve Mental Health Using Exercise

Many of us have good days and bad days. But what happens when our worry, fear, and sadness take over? It can be hard to exercise and find the energy to take care of ourselves during those times. For some those times are situational and fleeting however for others the situation leads to prolonged feelings of sadness or worry. Exercise can improve our mental health. Exercise can improve mental health by helping our bodies release endorphins. In an article by Jennifer C. Panning titled “Mental Health Benefits of Exercise” she points out that endorphins are our bodies natural way to help us create feelings of happiness. In addition to releasing endorphins exercise helps us focus on caring for ourselves.

When we take time to care for ourselves we are better able to realize our own value. As we realize our own value our self-esteem and confidence go up. As these rise so do our feelings of well being.

According to Daniel M Landers, “We now have evidence to support the claim that exercise is related to positive mental health as indicated by relief in symptoms of depression and anxiety”. This is important because the CDC states 1 in 5 Americans suffer from these illnesses. Landers highlighted studies which show both conditions are helped by exercise (without medication) with similar effectiveness to just using medication.

For many the decision to take medication is a tough one. There are side effects such as weight gain, loss of libido, and feeling “flat” which are compounded by worries about how long one will have to take the prescribed pill, not to mention the financial cost. Personally, I am not against medication and I know it can be effective and helpful, but my opinion is that a combination of treatment is most effective.

By focusing on healthy lifestyle choices like adding exercise into your daily routine you make positive steps to feel better, learn new and healthy ways of coping, and take charge of your life conciously.

*It should be noted that exercise is not a cure all and professional help and advice should be sought before beginning any exercise program and for your mental health concerns.

References:
CDC. Treatment Works – Get Help for Anxiety and Depression.

Landers, D. M.(1997). The influence of exercise on mental health. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Diegest. 2, 12. http://www.fitness.gov/mentalhealth.htm

Panning, J. C.(2000). Mental health benefits of exercise. Mental Health Journal. http://www.findcounseling.com/journal/health-fitness/

Rose, T. (2007). Depression and Weight Gain.

Health is More Than Just Physical

As I enjoy a much needed summer break I thought I would focus on wellness this week. Being healthy isn’t just about being physically fit. In fact, that is only part of the equation.

Being healthy has many layers. Wellness can be thought of as a wheel (think pie – sorry to be using food but it works!) encompassing such things as career, relationships, and culture (the slices). It is important to examine each area to understand where you may be losing energy and in need of better balance (one slice is huge and the others slivers)

Although, my background deals mainly with physical health I can’t ignore the impact the other areas of wellness have played in my personal training clients’ success or failures.

Do you feel out of balance in any areas of your life? Have you thought about how they might be effecting your efforts to be more physically healthy? For example: Do they impact your food choices, your exercise habits, or your motivation and confidence levels?

After noticing how these imbalances are effecting you can you see ways to change and stop patterns of behavior? Sometimes just noticing can be so powerful the choice to changes becomes easy. Other times it may be incredibly difficult to change even though it becomes obvious you are self-defeating the hard work you are doing (or have done) to live more healthy.

Take some time today to notice the impact other areas of your life may be having on your physical health. In our next posting we’ll look at ways to bring better balance to life.