Whether it’s ice cream, fries, or some other comfort food, most of us have that one thing we crave when stress hits. It’s not that we’re eating it all the time, only when we’re feeling frazzled and feel like we “deserve” or “need” it. If we’re eating healthily the rest of the time, what’s the harm in indulging in some stress eating now and then?
The harm, as it turns out, is an average of 11 extra pounds a year. A new study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry shows that stress eating alone can lead to weight gain. Eating just one high-fat meal after experiencing one or more stressful events the day before can slow women’s metabolism enough to add more than ten pounds a year.
“The question we were asking is whether stress affects metabolism, and I was so surprised at the magnitude of the effect,” Dr. Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study, told Today, adding that she wasn’t expecting to see such dramatic results. (more…)
A number of factors in your life can contribute to your mood. Work, family, romantic relationships, and even the weather all play a part in how you feel. But what about weight loss or weight gain? Does how much you weigh affect how you feel? And does how you feel affect how much you weigh?
Speaking from experience, during the times that I am at a healthy and fit weight I’m in a happier mood than the times when I am heavier. Part of it has to do with how I feel about my body—better, obviously—but scientists think there’s more to it than that. Much of why you feel better at a healthier weight has to do with what you’re doing to reach those goals.
First off, exercise produces endorphins, so when you’re working out your brain rewards you with these feel-good chemicals. When you eat healthy foods like leafy greens, healthy fats, and lean proteins, you feed your brain nutrients that have been linked to happiness. (Conversely, when you eat trans fats and other bad for you foods your mood suffers.) And then there’s something to the idea of sticking with healthy habits, something that scientists call self-efficacy, which tends to lead to a boost in self-esteem and mood. (more…)
By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
If you’re like the majority of Americans—67 percent of them, to be exact—then you’re stressed out. And your stress may trigger physical symptoms, like fatigue or upset stomach, as it does in 72 percent of Americans, according to an American Psychological Association survey. These symptoms are bad enough, but stress can be even more destructive, causing chronic inflammation, depression, heart disease, and other conditions.
There are many ways to combat stress, including meditation, social support, building your confidence, and coping skills, but exercise is near the top of the list. Exercise primarily refers to aerobic exercise (cardio), but a few studies also indicate that strength training is a good stress-buster as well.
Getting sweaty is exceptionally effective because it attacks stress from so many angles. When you regularly work out, you’re:
- Likely to have lower levels of substances that spike stress and depression, such as cortisol and other stress hormones, inflammatory compounds and free radicals.
- Apt to have a tamer cardiovascular response to stress; your heart rate and blood pressure don’t rise as high, and come back down more quickly. (more…)
Ask your stressed out friends how they deal with feeling overwhelmed and they’ll likely list off the usual suspects: Sleep. Caffeine. Sugar. Alcohol. Exercise. Yoga. Some of these are clearly healthier options than others, but even the easy fixes take time—something that a lot of people who are stressed out tend to have in short supply. But there is a quick fix for the times when you have too much stress and too little energy: The simplest and most effective tool for instant energy, banishing stress, and ridding toxins from the body is breath!
That’s right. Breathing—the thing we do all day and night long without thinking about it—is responsible for a whole lot more than fuel our body with oxygen. The rate at which we breathe actually helps regulate our heart rate which in turn controls a bunch of other physical aspects. Breathe slow and fast and our body and brain will automatically shift to that fight or flight mode, the one that comes with stress and sends your blood pressure and shoulder tension soaring. Focus on slower, longer, and deeper breaths and you’ll help calm your body and mind, fighting stress in a matter of seconds while also filling your body with energizing oxygen, the lifeblood of a creativity, productivity, focus, and fire for whatever our life demands.
So how can you breathe better? (more…)
For the most part, we know what causes our own stress: work, family, friends, the usual culprits. But what happens when your stress isn’t caused by a direct influence on your life? Then, unfortunately, you’re suffering from secondhand stress.
It can happen to anyone. For example, if your close friend is going through a rough situation and shares it with you, you may experience stress symptoms even though nothing has changed in your life. Sadly, this is a real thing. Stress is actually contagious.
Alicia Clark, Psy.D. told Shape Magazine this happens because empathy for others is hard-wired into our system. It’s thought that when others around us feel stress, our brain picks up their cues and mimics them, creating stress in us, even without an actual cause.
This is unfortunate news for those who already suffer from stress. Stress can be damaging to your health, including affecting arteries in such a way that may cause heart attacks and strokes. (more…)
By Team Best Life
Skimping on sleep on occasion won’t cause much damage, but if you do so on a regular basis you’ll begin to see the effects, such as a decrease in memory and attention and possibly even weight gain. How can you make sure to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night? Your first step is to be aware of seven common sleep saboteurs:
1. Alcohol: Many people believe a nightcap helps you sleep, and while it initially can help you relax, it ultimately interferes with your ability to stay asleep. In fact, one study found that men who consumed an alcoholic drink before bed spent more time in the lighter first stage of sleep and less time in the later deep stages of sleep compared to those who drank an alcohol-free or lower-alcoholic drink. And, as the effects of alcohol wore off, the men experienced more awakenings. Limit your alcohol intake, and if you are going to drink, try to do so earlier in the day.
By Team Best Life
Why are so many Americans—69.2 percent to be exact—overweight or obese? The answer seems obvious: We’re taking in more calories than we expend. But why is that? Check out these seven common weight gain triggers.
We slurp down sugary drinks.
This includes sodas, fruit drinks, sweetened iced tea and other beverages that cost about 140 to 150 calories per 12-ounce serving. They are a major source of added sugar in our diet. Guzzle just one can daily on top of your actual calorie needs and you could gain 15 pounds a year. A Canadian study that tracked toddlers found that those who drank more sugary beverages were 2.5 times more likely to be overweight compared to those who didn’t.
We consume too little fiber.
This comes from not eating enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Aside from making you feel fuller on fewer calories (and thus, satisfying appetite), fiber may also promote a slimming gut flora, the population of trillions of bacteria that reside in our gut that are thought to influence everything from immunity to anxiety to obesity risk. (more…)
Odds are you’re reading this article on your phone while standing in line somewhere. Or maybe you’re skimming it while waiting on an email from a colleague to come through. Perhaps you’re sitting on the couch, TV on in the background, checking your phone periodically and browsing this in your pre-scheduled free time. If any of those scenarios sounded accurate, then congratulations, you’re just like the majority of people who can’t help but try to multitask.
Unfortunately for multitaskers, and if I’m being honest I’m one of them, studies show multitasking is a myth. The human brain cannot do many things simultaneously. Instead, focus is shifted from one thing to another extremely quickly. So what does it mean if instead of focusing on many things at once you’re really changing focus rapidly? It means that you are not paying as much attention to everything as you think. Tasks may not be completed as well as if you had focused your attention on them entirely. Beyond the risk of producing shoddy work, the myth of multitasking, and cramming as much as possible in to every day, may be hazardous to your health.
Dating is fun—especially in the flirty, passionate beginning of a relationship. But eventually, life settles in, and between the kids, family, work, and finances, you might forget all about that fire.
It’s perfectly natural—for most people, this passion plunge occurs between one and four years into cohabitation, and women experience it more than men. But that doesn’t mean you have to take the situation, um, lying down.
Keeping in mind all the physical and emotional perks of frequent sex—the cardiovascular benefits alone are impressive—it’s well worth it to make the effort to keep the home fires smoldering. Here are some ways to do just that:
Keep on moving. The benefits of exercise are endless. In the sex column, studies show that people who exercise more get more action in the bedroom—and they’re more satisfied when they do. They also have more stamina and higher levels of self-confidence, which benefit sexual experience. (more…)
By Team Best Life
Too busy to get busy? There are some pretty impressive health benefits associated with regular rolls in the hay that make it well worth incorporating sex into your life as frequently as possible. It turns out, getting lucky can help you get healthy! We’ll explain how.
It’s heart-healthy. A Scottish study found that couples who had sex more often over a two-week period did their heart a favor by lowering blood-pressure levels. Blood pressure was monitored during stressful situations, and those who got it on regularly showed their heart didn’t have to work extra hard to move blood around their bodies.
It’s a stress-buster. When your brain registers that you’re having an orgasm, it releases the hormone oxytocin (also called the “love hormone”), which has been shown to have a role in reducing stress. And even just physical contact, without doing the actual deed, provides benefits; A study out of Northwestern University showed that couples who kiss and hug are far less tense and have more elevated moods than those who don’t. (more…)
Getting stuck in traffic is enough to turn your hair grey. Blood pressure rises, muscles tense, and a positive attitude plummets when your car is at a standstill. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make the experience more pleasurable, and gain some health benefits while in the process.
The following are three easy yoga inspired exercises you can do the next time you find yourself wedged bumper to bumper.
Scoot your hips back so that your spine is upright against the seat of your car. Lift the crown of your head toward the sky as you inhale deeply, and press your hips down into the seat as you exhale fully. By doing this, you are creating space and decompression between each vertebra. As a result, you will gain energy, not to mention have to readjust your rear view mirror to take on your new height. (more…)