Tag Archives: Mental Health

Mindfully Eat Your Way to Weight Loss This Fall

In many parts of the country, fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Other bonuses of the season including being able to exercise outdoors without fear of heat stroke and the holidays are quickly bringing family an friends together. However, that’s also a downside. With the holidays comes the lure of many enticing foods that will quickly pack on the pounds. Fad diets that promise quick weight loss may show results at first, but many times lost weight is regained as soon as the holiday decor is taken down.

Before this holiday season gives you even more reasons to overeat, change your bad eating habits in favor of ones with lasting weight loss.

We spoke with Susan Albers, PsyD., a clinical psychologist and author of Eating Mindfully, to hear her advice on how to achieve weight loss goals through permanent changes in eating habits.

“Seventy-five percent of overeating is caused by emotions, yet most of our diets focus on food, which is why they fail,” she said. “They don’t teach what to do for cravings or slip ups.”

Instead of another diet failing, focus on what she calls mindful eating. It’s not a diet with menus or recipes, instead it’s about changing psychological habits. “It’s more about how you eat than what you eat,” Dr. Albers said. (more…)

When Common Life Problems Turn into Mental Health Diagnoses

I was pretty excited to watch “Diagnostic & Statistical Manual: Psychiatry’s Deadliest Scam,” a production of Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights. Most people in the mental health field are anxiously awaiting the official reveal of the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) – the book that outlines and defines all known mental health disorders. 

There are even debates about the potential changes. Whether you love it or you hate it, this book does make a big impact on our field. As a practitioner I am not a big fan of diagnosis, but I believe insurance is to blame for this more than the DSM.

Most people want their insurance to pay for treatment, even when simply dealing with the normal grief of losing a loved one, stress regarding life changes, or marital problems. However, for insurance to fund treatment, a diagnosis is required.

These kinds of situations, in my opinion, have led to the exaggeration of common life problems into diagnoses more so than the DSM itself. Most people, even when given the choice, choose diagnosis for the benefit of insurance-funded treatment. While this might save money and stress immediately, there are many longterm consequences of mental health diagnoses. (more…)

Regular Yoga Practice May Increase Productivity at Work

Most of us are familiar with the benefits of having a wellness center at the workplace. While some of these centers offer treadmills, free weights and a scattering of fitness mats for stretching or core work, others provide classes for yoga and meditation.

It is almost impossible to ignore the headlines that boast how a regular yoga practice promotes health. From improved digestion to a peaceful state of mind, the benefits of yoga seem endless.

One of the lesser known perks of yoga is that it yields a higher level of productivity at work. While you might gain a fit body and a calm mind as a result of your efforts on the mat – whether at your workplace wellness center or your local yoga studio – your boss benefits from a more engaged and active worker. It is a win-win situation that might just lead to a raise, a promotion, or an opportunity to switch careers and find your dream job.

The following are three ways yoga might help increase your productivity and boost your mood at work. (more…)

4 Surprising Exercises for Stress Relief

When it comes to stress and frustration, sometimes it’s just good to let it out. We yell, run, punch – whatever it takes to blow off some steam. However, letting out aggression forcefully isn’t the best habit to fall into especially if you find yourself needing to do so often.

When I think of the best workouts for stress, my mind naturally goes to punching, kicking or tearing things in half. However, fitness expert and health coach Stephanie Mansour would suggest otherwise.

In college, Stephanie had a professor in an aggression and media class who told her the worst thing you can do when you’re upset is to start punching things. As a result, she’s concluded that when we’re angry or upset and need to take it out on something, we’re not teaching ourselves how to actually deal with our issues or become a mature, centered person.

As a fitness coach, Stephanie sees her fair share of clients who come to her for a stress-relieving workouts. But instead of letting them rip into a punching bag, she guides them toward these more relaxing exercise instead.

Breathing techniques – To practice intentional breathing, place your hands on your stomach and draw in air like you’re trying to inflate a balloon, and then slowly let your breath out through your nose like you’re deflating the balloon. In the process, feel your stomach getting bigger and smaller as you breathe, and think about breathing in perspective and breathing out stress. (more…)

Pro-Anorexia Sites Are Dangerous for Those Struggling with Disordered Eating

If you want to talk about a touchy subject, bring up the term “anorexia” and eyebrows will quickly raise and the room will become uncomfortably quiet. The reality is, there’s a relatively high chance that someone you know has either privately or publicly struggled with an eating disorder. Because so many remain private in their dealings with disorders like anorexia, pro-anorexia or ‘pro-ana websites‘ that provide resources and support – two terms used loosely and subjectively in this context – have become a big presence online, and a big problem from a mental health standpoint. 

Bailey, 29 (who wished to leave her last name anonymous), became anorexic when she was 17, but had always struggled with self image growing up. Though she was never overweight, she felt uncomfortable in her athletic body so she started to severely restrict her diet. Bailey’s 5 foot 6 frame shrunk from 135 pounds to 105 pounds, whittling her hourglass shape to one that she describes as looking “very sick.”

Knowing she needed help after nearly skimming 100 pounds, Bailey sought treatment, which ultimately turned out to be a disappointment. “I found therapy frustrating because it was focused around getting me back up to weight, not why I was doing these things,” she recalls. “I can’t say for sure what healed me, but I believe it was…realizing that I was all I had, so I had to take care of me.”

Now, years later and on the other side of anorexia, Bailey can easily say that pro-anorexia sites do very little good, if any, to actually stem anorexia. “In my opinion, they teach people to be better anorexics – which isn’t a good thing,” she said. What I needed was strengths counseling – a safe arena in which to air my feelings, and support to retrain myself to eat for a healthy life, not an imaginary body.”

As for whether or not she’s fully recovered from anorexia, Bailey said it’s been a process that she thinks may never end. “I still struggle with this at times, and it’s still tough,” she admits. “I don’t think it’s a disease that anyone ever ‘gets over.’ They just have ‘more ordered eating’ than ‘disordered eating.'” (more…)

Rest May be Key to Boosting and Retaining Memory, Study Shows

When it comes to improving your memory, experts say it’s all about rest.

A new study from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, suggests that taking breaks is more effective for boosting memory than other traditional methods like caffeine and mental exercises.

As reported by CNN, researchers gathered a small group of “normally aging” elderly men and women, and asked them to recount as many details from two stories as they could.

Following the first story, participants were asked to relax and close their eyes in a dark room for 10 minutes. Researchers then asked participants to point out the differences in several pairs of near identical images.

Researchers found that overall, participants recounted far more details after they had rested; and that their memory boost held up even a full week after the initial trial.

Previous research has showed that small periods of rest – even a few minutes – are beneficial to both memory and alertness. But this new study points to the effectiveness of short periods of rest for “long-term memory consolidation.”

Research fellow and lead study author, Michaela Dewar, points out that when we first encounter new information, we’re likely in an early stage of memory formation. “Further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time,” she said. (more…)

Discovering How Food Sensitivities Create Mental Health Diagnoses

I cheated on my gluten-free diet (again). Now I can share with my clients in my adoption nutrition class the symptoms of gluten sensitivity from experience, not just research. I chose to be gluten and wheat free based on research upon hearing that all wheat in the United States was genetically modified. I prefer to avoid genetically modified foods. When I read Wheat Belly, it was clear that gluten certainly had other impacts on the brain and body, and some people’s behavioral and mental health diagnoses could be a result a gluten sensitivity of which they were unaware.

After giving up wheat and gluten for several months but not being very cautious, I had been much more strict in the last several weeks. If I do not naturally have a tendency toward gluten sensitivity, I had now created a situation in which my body would be sensitive to this new item in the diet. It is said to determine if you have a sensitivity or allergy to any food you should eliminate it from your diet for at least three weeks and then cautiously introduce it back into your diet to notice any symptoms.

Sunday night, I cheated on the gluten-free diet. My dreams were a bit chaotic, but Monday morning I noticed plenty of energy. After my run, I noticed a bit of a rash on my neck but I assumed it was just heat. I also noticed some very minor asthmatic symptoms which I thought were odd since I had finished the run and usually breath better after running. When I realized the rash had not gone away even after I had cooled down several hours later, I consulted my friend and allergy advisor Heather who was gracious enough not to say “I told you so,” even after my rash had spread on Tuesday. (more…)

Lying is Bad for Your Health, Study Shows

If you’re a straight shooter in your personal life, it may be benefiting your health, according to new research from the University of Notre Dame that suggests honest people are healthier both physically and mentally than those who fudge the truth.

According to previous research, Americans tell an average of 11 lies each week. To test how this was affecting our nation’s health, researchers issued 110 participants (ages 18-71) a lie detector test as well as a health and relationship measure to assess the number of lies they told in a week.

As reported by USA Today, half of the participants were asked to “refrain from telling any lies for any reason to anyone.” Participants were, however, permitted to omit truths, refuse to answer questions, and keep secrets. But they couldn’t say anything that they knew to be false. The other half of the group was given no such instructions.

At the end of the 10-week study, researchers found that the link between less lying and improved health was much stronger for those in the “no-lie” group. Furthermore, when those in this group told three fewer ‘minor lies‘ than in other weeks, they experienced an average of four fewer mental-health complaints and three fewer physical ailments as a result; mental complaints defined as ‘feeling tense or melancholy,’ and physical complaints including ‘sore throats and headaches.’ (more…)

Bob Greene’s Best Motivation Secrets for Weight Loss

By Bob Greene for TheBestLife.com

I get asked a lot of questions about weight loss, fitness and diet, but the topic most people want to know about is motivation—how can I find the drive to get going? How can I maintain it once I get started? How do I get back on track after a setback? It’s such a common question that I even wrote a book about it, The Life You Want. In my years of experience as a personal trainer and health expert, I’ve learned that it helps to:

Dig deep. Quick, what’s your reason for wanting to lose weight or live healthier? If it’s to fit into those old jeans or to look good for an upcoming event (like a wedding or reunion), you may struggle to maintain your motivation in the long term. That’s because these are surface goals—they’re superficial and fleeting. To ensure lasting success, you need to find a more meaningful reason to make lifestyle changes, such as wanting to be around for your grandchildren or to be a more active participant in your life. (I recently shared my own motivation secrets on my blog.) Take some time to think about how losing weight can change and improve your life and reflect on these reasons when your motivation wanes. (more…)

Willpower is an Exhaustible Resource, Study Shows

My battle with self control when it comes to food has been an arduous one, the main problem being I love sugar so much it hurts. One week, I feel I could say ‘no’ to someone waving three of my favorite flavor ice cream cones in my face. And the next, if I saw a shiny piece of candy on the ground I might just pick it up and eat it right there on the spot.

In other words, my self control seems to come in waves. While it’s here, I feel empowered. But when it’s outside of my grasp, I’m left feeling powerless.

But there may be reason behind my inability to pass up my favorite indulgences. According to a new study, we have a limited supply of self control and when it dries up, we’re practically defenseless in the face of temptation.

Researchers asked 16 people to perform a self-control test while being monitored by an fMRI scanner, and found that participants exuded much more self control during the first session than the second.  (more…)