The Uphill Climb Away From Bad Habits
Congratulations for resolving to turn around from your set ways and start a new healthy lifestyle! There are countless benefits both long term and short tern for every positive change and the reward you'll reap will be extra years lived to the fullest. Unfortunately, every bad habit takes a tremendous amount of determination, will power, and mental strength to overcome.
A very powerful tool to mitigate the risk of discouragement and giving up is to be mentally prepared and to know what battles you should expect to have to face, both emotionally and physiologically. The following are several speed bumps you need to be ready for in order to keep them from becoming red lights.
Stepping into the fitness lifestyle there will be changes in your body that regulating and keeping your hormone levels under control. Because of this, when falling off the horse, like everyone who starts changing their lifestyle does, you will really feel the adverse impact of the consequences your body experiences from the sudden hormonal shock.
Whenever your body gets stressed, hormones are produced by the adrenal glands called Glucocorticoids. Stress is any stimuli that cause a nonspecific response in an individual, including exercise.2
Secreted by the adrenal glands, the hormone cortisol is used for many functions including proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, and insulin release for blood sugar maintenance (ie, to maintain adequate levels of glucose in your blood).5
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Cortisol is at its highest level when you first wake up to combat the stress of fasting overnight and to get the body ready for the day's activities. It gradually declines throughout the day till it gets to its lowest levels at bedtime and stays suppressed till it gradually rises in the early pre-dawn hours and naturally wakes you up.1
In a non-ketosis state the brain gets most of its energy from glucose. After a period of not eating, for example when not properly dieting, the body's cortisol levels get too low causing hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) leading to body to increase cortisol production.1
The last thing a smart dieter wants is for their body to resort to breaking down their muscles for weight loss. Many dieters may be losing weight but are unhappy with their new appearance because they look like they are "withering away" and have that unhealthy look to them.
Understand what cause of losing the wrong weight will keep you from; feeling you look healthier when you're not exercising and returning to your old ways. So make sure to keep cortisol levels from dipping to low; to allow catabolism will let you lose fat rather than muscle and keep you motivated!
On the flip side, too high of cortisol levels also has adverse consequences including suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances (such as hyperglycemia), and increased abdominal fat.5
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The main culprit for excessive cortisol levels is stress. Any changes in your life causes stress, including the changes that need to be made for your new healthy lifestyle such as learning new cooking styles, rearranging your schedule to work out and eat regularly, financial needs for the gym, personal trainer, supplements, etc.
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No matter how fit your life gets, you will always have stress. When you hear people mention getting an "adrenalin rush" most of them think it's that extra power when under duress. But they fail to realize that the adrenal glands secrete the hormone adrenaline under any sort of stress.6
When the adrenals are chronically overworked and strained to maintain high cortisol levels they lose the capacity to produce DHEA. DHEA is a precursor hormone to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and is necessary to help balance other hormones in the body.6 Insufficient DHEA contributes to loss of muscle mass and other health risks.
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To keep cortisol hormone levels from getting too high, and loosing DHEA hormones, the body needs to activate relaxation responses. Exercise is very powerful for relaxing the body. Cortisol secretion varies amongst individuals.
The people whose bodies secrete higher levels of cortisol than others when under stress tend to eat more food, especially food that is higher in carbohydrates than people who secrete less cortisol.
If you find that when you are under stress and you go for your comfort foods, step back and understand you have those cravings because of increased cortisol levels due to the stress you're under. Instead of letting yourself go for the cookie, relax your body with some of the many exercise options available to you. When you do that you won't feel like you failed and you'll stay on track!
The Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets have put the hormone insulin into our vocabulary. Insulin resistance occurs when the body responds to control and insulin begins to slow down so blood sugar levels rise.4
One of the many consequences to insulin resistance is excessive abdominal fat. Insulin stimulates the uptake and storage of blood sugar and other nutrients in skeletal muscles and fat tissue while simultaneously blocking the release of blood sugar stored in the liver. Insulin resistance is when a normal amount of this hormone becomes incapable of eliciting those responses.3
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Those low-carb diets got it right when it comes to choosing the right carbohydrates, however, not only is insulin resistance caused by an excess of blood glucose, it is also caused by an increased consumption of saturated fat.3 An uneducated dieter will get discouraged when he's taken out all the high glycemic carbohydrates and eats smaller meals with timed intervals throughout the day, only to find he still has pudge on his tummy.
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To control insulin levels every diet should avoid saturated fats completely but rather focus on including monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.3 These fats do not affect insulin levels.
Sources of monounsaturated fats include:
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
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If you get really sore and stiff after a workout do more cardio. The soreness comes from a build up of lactic acid in your muscles. Your body uses oxygen to clean that lactic acid out of your muscles.
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The only way to get oxygen through your muscles is to transport it via your blood. And the best way to get blood flowing through your muscles is by doing cardiovascular exercise. Once all that oxygen cleans out that lactic acid you'll be back to feeling great.
Don't Get Hungry:
Two factors come into play if you find you get hungry:
First, portion size is a difficult mental adjustment to make. For some crazy reason someone decided us humans should have 3 square meals a day. This mean in order to get our daily needed caloric intake those meals needed to be large, and because of the hormonal fluctuations discussed above its normal to eat more than our daily caloric needs. Now that society has wizened up and you are making an effort to make your meals smaller but eating more often, your mind feels like your eyes tell you should eat more.
Understanding the math that makes up your nutrition plan can train your brain to know you are having enough even though the size of your meals are small.
If you know how many calories you need per day and understand 1g carb = 4 calories, 1g protein = 4 calories, and 1g fat = 9 calories and how to spend your calories throughout each day to meet your caloric budget will get you through the hurdle of the visual appearance you are not eating enough.
Second, your tummy's almost empty. The volume of the foods you choose is too small and you should choose foods that have high fiber low energy density instead, meaning it's a lot more food for a lot less calories.
Though nuts are a healthy option in a diet, eating 1/4 of a cup of those is equivalent to eating like an entire stalk of celery. Or eating dehydrated berries only lets you eat a fraction of what you could eat if they were fresh blue berries. In addition, the fiber expands in your tummy filling you up even more. Fibrous vegetables let you eat a larger quantity for a low amount of calories and will keep you satiated throughout the day.
Don't Have Doomed Goals:
If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. You can't jumped into a new and improved lifestyle without knowing how to get there. In other words, you need to set goals and figure out a plan to be successful, however, setting the wrong goals could be the stumbling stone from success.
Every goal should be a SMART goal:
If you're off with one part of this formula you will set yourself up for failure. When you see you're not getting where you want to be but have no idea why you'll get frustrated and upset then before you know it you've thrown in the towel and start saying you tried but it didn't work for you. Whereas your ultimate goal would have been very probably if you planned how to accomplish it SMARTly.
Know And Accept Who You Are:
There are hundreds of exercise methods, and hundreds of ways to diet, and hundreds of motivational tactics, but there is only one you. And as a unique individual you need to learn what works for you and accept it.
Comparing yourself to others is a common trap to fall into. It often gets difficult when we try to make a change in our life and struggle day after day to overcome our cravings but see other people happily chowing down curly fries and not gain a pound, or you hate cardio but you see others do nothing more than a warm up and they stay lean, or you lift more than the other guy but his gains are always double that of yours, it is very easy to think we should be able to do the same.
Unfortunately life's not fair and you're a different person and all you could do is accept that and deal with it.
Changing the way you live your life is a steep uphill climb and each step is a challenge. If you know what the trip involves you can be fully equipped to make sure you make it. Before you know it you've bagged it and your body will be at the peak!
- "Stress, Cortisol, Insulin, and Glucose", www.drrobinmayfield.com.
- "Stress And The Immune System" by Hannah Koenker, 1994, www.econ.uiuc.edu.
- "Cortisol And Stress: How To Stay Healthy", stress.about.com
- "Adrenal Fatigue - The Effects Of High Stress And High Cortisol Levels", www.womentowomen.com
- "Hostility And Stress Predict Insulin Resistance", www.worldhealth.net
- "Stress-Signaling Fat Is Culprit In Insulin Resistance", www.medicalnewstoday.com