Food The Socially Acceptable Drug

Hello world! We’re back on regular scheduled topics today. Thanks for letting me share and talk about my newest hobby/ adventure on flipping vintage and antique furniture in my last few posts. I appreciate your feedback on it and I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to find some of my current projects on my Monday Musings posts.

If you missed the furniture posts you can find them here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/22/the-art-of-flipping-furniture/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/23/steps-to-transforming-vintage-furniture/

Todays topic though, we’re gonna get a little more serious and talk about something that we all need and use every day.

 

food drug

Food.

We all like to eat, right? And we need food at it’s basic level for fuel for our bodies to run on and to have energy for all our daily tasks and work.

Factors like our age, sex, body type, and activity levels, will largely determine how much food we need for optimal health and performance in our day. No one is the same in their needs.

Don’t eat enough for your body and activity level, you’ll lose weight.

Eat to much for your body and activity level, you’ll gain weight.

For many though food poses a harsher darker side. Food is as addictive and pleasing to the sensory part of our brains as drugs and alcohol are to others.

Food though. is completely and totally acceptable. No one considers it a form of medication to our deeper needs like we view alcohol or drug abuse.

Medicate me please….

We don’t really like to consider that we may use food to medicate deeper needs within ourselves.  We don’t (maybe)want to get that real and personal with our pain, our anxiety, our hurts or fears.

Emotional eating is as damaging to our bodies as other forms that are used to make people feel better. I wrote an entire post on emotional eating that you can find here…

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/08/09/understanding-emotional-eating/

All of us emotionally eat at any given time. It’s not all “bad”. We can eat for celebrations and enjoying time out with friends, we can get ice cream just because we “feel good”. I mean really, who is ever hungry for cake? It’s something we do because we enjoy it and that’s ok ’cause life is meant to be enjoyed.

However….

Habitual overeating can lead to obesity or eating disorders like bulimia. Obesity is becoming more and more of a health issue and causes many chronic ( preventable)  diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Foods people use to medicate can simply vary by individual. Everything from sweets to fried foods or maybe a certain style of food.

The act of eating  soothes that “thing” within that troubles us. It can momentarily make us feel better and give a sense of comfort or peace. A false sense.

That type of behavioral  eating also broods other negatives as in self loathing or negative talk over what was eaten as the person feels guilty for doing it.

It can then lead one to other extreme behaviors of perhaps, restricting or cutting back on foods, withholding food, crazy “miracle” diet ideas, or cleanses or detoxes as a way to “negate” or get rid of what’s been done.

You cannot “undo” what has been done. You can choose to change the next behavior or choice.

it’s a whirlwind of self destructive behaviors while never possibly grasping the “why’s” of what’s being done.

It’s a process of understanding and learning why we do what we do and what triggers us to make those choices to medicate ourselves with food.

How can we counteract this?

People often dismiss the overall benefits of exercise. They often associate it as something you do to “lose weight” or to stay in good physical shape. They make jokes about it or moan about “having” to do it.

I get it. Been there done that. Exercise IS hard work and does require a healthy amount of discipline up front to make it a “habit” that you want to stick with.

I always tell people if they will just start, make that commitment, and give it a few weeks to begin to feel like a new habit it will be easier and really, they will begin to anticipate it.

Where both of those are true and helpful ( weight loss and staying in good shape)  exercise has far more wide reaching benefits to our body and mind.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood.

Exercise has shown to help/improve mild to moderate depression without the side effects of medication.  Exercise is a powerful depression fighter. it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.

Stay focused on what you are doing instead of zoning out. Think about how your body feels, how you breathe, the feel of the wind on your skin and things like that.

There’s nothing I love more than being out on the road for a run, hearing my feet hit the road, the sound of my breathing, maybe the wind blowing and nothing else that is a calm to my mind and soul.

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

There’s a lot of other benefits too…..

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

You may be thinking you don’t have the time or it seems daunting to even start the process. The good news is that really, even a good 15 minute brisk walk every day can help boost your mood.

Let’s face it, everyone has at least 15 minutes, right?

Of course you’ll want to build that time up to reap bigger and better rewards not only mentally but physically too.

Overcoming obstacles

even intellectually knowing and understanding that exercise can help you mentally, it’s just not often that easy to jump into it.

Exercise obstacles are a very real thing.

For example:

Feeling tired. It’s hard to imagine going for a walk or whatever activity you’ve chosen if you feel like all you want is a nap. Studies show that exercise greatly reduces fatigue and even telling yourself just a 5 minute walk will most likely lead to a longer one.

Feeling overwhelmed. With all of life’s demands and things expected of us plus dealing with mental health issues, the idea of adding one more thing to your plate can seem daunting. Begin to think of it as a priority and you will find ways to fit small amounts into your schedule.

Feeling bad about yourself. We are and tend to be, our own worst critics. Embrace where you are and determine to think in positive ways about yourself.   No matter your age, size, fitness level etc there are people everywhere like you who are on the same path to wanting to get fit. Appreciate your body for what it can do for you and celebrate ways you are learning to take better care of it. It’s really ok to love yourself.

Starting small is the first important step and it’s really ok to start small. You don’t want to do to much to soon. Consistency will be the key to long term success. Commit to do something daily, no matter how small, and build on that.

Getting started in an exercise program is a good step towards having a healthy mind and spirit, to reduce stress and anxiety and maybe even, counteract negative behavior patterns with food and eating.

 

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Pursuing The Ideal Weight

The ideal weight. What is it, exactly?

I had to laugh once again seeing an “ideal” weight chart come up in my research. I couldn’t help but glance at the numbers and wonder what or who came up with them.

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I have a nice scale. I just rarely use it.

 

Not only that, I could pull up several different charts and be given different numbers to work with. IF I paid attention to any of that.

One thing those charts don’t recognize ( well a lot they don’t recognize) is your body and what you do or don’t do. They don’t address your nutrition or your body mass ( is it more muscle or fat? or a balance of both?)

If there is one thing I see that people begin to get fixed on as they lose weight is what they perceive as their “ideal” weight.

Sometimes it’s a weight they were back in school or when they got married. Maybe it’s a weight they felt good or most confident at. Nonetheless, they have an ideal weight goal they set before them to achieve.

That of itself isn’t bad. It’s good to have something to shoot for, something that keeps you focused and working towards your goals.

Often though what we see as our ideal weight might not be so ideal where we are now. Maybe you looked good at a certain weight in high school but 30 years later, it might be to thin for you. Perhaps a few more pounds on you might make you look better and be easier to maintain in the long run.

Sometimes people believe getting to that weight will make them happy. They will feel they have “arrived” and that there is nothing left to achieve. Perhaps they think at that weight their body will look the way they think it should look.

Whatever the reasons, it’s at the top of the list when people are striving to lose weight.

Back to those charts.

I’m amused at some of those suggested weights for me. It might not be apparent if you are reading my posts, or seeing my photos, but I’m 6’0 and solid. Those charts don’t take into account I’ve built a decent amount of muscle on my frame or my body structure. If I were to weigh in at some suggested weights I’d look…well… beyond lean. I’d look scrawny for sure.

One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is how my body can fluidly change depending on what I’m doing. In my heaviest part of my marathon training it was fairly effortless to stay on the super lean side. I was running 50-55 miles a week if not more. I certainly didn’t take in more calories than I was burning off. If anything long training tended to kill my appetite and not help it. I topped some of my lowest body weight and body fat numbers during that time.

However, when not heavy training my body tends to bounce back to what I think of as my “happy weight” or the weight that is most effortless for me to maintain. It’s also a reasonable healthy weight.

Yes, when I started on my weight loss journey a few years ago I had a distinct number in mind. I’ve since learned to allow fluctuations in that weight and that it’s ok.

 

goal weight

Was I happier at that weight goal? Well, on one hand yes, I’m goal oriented and love nailing my goals. On the other hand, nothing earth shattering happened reaching it. One thing I’ve found is once that goal is achieved the work isn’t done. You work to maintain and keep it there. And that can become a very mean task master if one is controlled by numbers. If those numbers moved up even a few pounds from there, it could ’cause you to feel unhappy or not satisfied. Or if you’re smart, you make adjustments you need to get the numbers closer to where you want them.

Numbers do kinda matter though

Ok I might be making fun of charts but it is good to understand, recognize, and know your body does have a “window” in regards to weight that you should know and should strive to maintain. A few pounds over it should be cause to make changes to keep you in your “window”.

Obesity is a major cause of many health related diseases and  is totally preventable. Obesity here in the states is at an all time high in adults and more disturbingly, children. Maintaining your weight in your healthy zone can prevent health related diseases.

If you are highly active or do activities to build muscle, that as well will cause numbers to fluctuate. My body structure is now more about a body fat percentage versus the standard BMI which doesn’t take into account an athletes muscle mass.

I have a weight that is what I consider my “in season” weight when I’m training longer and heavier and an “off season” weight when I can be 5-7 lbs “heavier”.

Both of those are “ideal” for me. I’m really not focused on a set of numbers anymore as much as I am my bodies ability to perform well, to be strong, and to be energetic.

I’ve also learned enough of myself that there is a place that is healthy and easily sustainable without me being rigid and constantly watchful of what I eat.

It’s a pretty free place to be.

Find your happy place.

If you have weight to lose, know what your “window” can be and work towards that. Allow that you might get within 5 lbs and be totally happy or see that you look good right there and don’t need to lose more.

If you’re highly active and engage in heavy sports, understand how your body works and the processes it can go through in and out of training and how those numbers may look on the scale.

Finally, once you know what that place is ( happy and healthy) it is easier to maintain it and enjoy life without obsessing over numbers.

Have you found your happy, healthy weight?

The Art Of Self Care

be_good_to_yourself

 

In todays adventures boys and girls, we’re going to branch out into something a little broader, something that encompasses more of us than “just” our bodies.

One of the buzz words out there right now is “self care”.  It’s a term  who’s meaning is most likely fairly obvious.

Let’s define self care as any activity we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health.

In a world that is increasingly more hectic and busy with lives that sometimes have us running in different directions with all kinds of responsibilities it’s easy to put ourselves at the bottom of our to-do list of important things.

Where I’m at now in life, at the age I am, I’ve learned not only is self care perfectly ok, it’s also necessary. Self care for me involves everything from my daily exercise to reading something I enjoy or escaping to a warm bubble bath if the day has left me stretched thin as well as many other things that can soothe my body and mind and keep me a happy, healthy functioning woman.

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Somehow, being upside down, is one of the ways I enjoy self care 😉 #yoga

 

I make no excuses for it or apologize for it. Nor should you. We don’t get any extra awards in life for not taking care of ourselves.

Even with all that said, many do not, or think they aren’t important enough, to practice self care viewing it as perhaps selfish to do so.

Eh.  Perhaps some may believe it’s selfish.

I don’t really think it is.

Honestly, if you don’t take care of you, who will? And no one will take care of you better than you. ( gosh that’s a lot of “you’s” haha)

Self care keeps us not only healthy in all aspects of our life for (us) it benefits those we are involved with too ( family, friends, co-workers etc) I’m pretty sure they enjoy us when we’re at our optimal best.

So where do you start if you aren’t already practicing it? Or maybe you are to a degree but are looking for other ideas.

Let’s consider the three points mentioned: Mental, physical and emotional.

The most important thing to understand on this topic…. it isn’t a one time deal.  Much like eating properly, exercising, and anything else we do, it’s an ongoing process. Practicing small self care things each day should be something you train yourself to do. Now with that in mind let’s move on. Below you’ll find a few tips or suggestions to help you get going. I’m offering up five various ideas but you will probably be able to come up with others for yourself.

Mental self-care

Social media. Pretty much everyone is on it in some way. There can be a lot of negativity and things that aren’t positive when we log on. Some days I don’t spend much time there because honestly,  I just don’t need to view what’s on it. Weed out people who don’t offer positive vibes to you or at least mute them if their posts are troubling or pull you down. Unplug and walk away for awhile.

Do a mini-declutter. Nothing makes me feel more frustrated or overwhelmed than things seem disorganized or out of hand. Spend a few minutes on a drawer, closet or any other area that might be bothering you.

Take another route to work or change the way you go if you ride a bike or run. It’s mentally refreshing to have a different point of view.

Get out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing I’ve found more mentally engaging than getting out of that place I’m most comfortable. It will grow you.

Be selfish. Yeah there it is. The selfish word again. Do something each day for you that you enjoy that brings you pleasure or happiness. It’s really ok.

Body self-care

Exercise. Of course this doesn’t come as a surprise that this would be my first suggestion. Moving your body will not only help you physically, it helps mentally too.  Find mini times to move through out your day as well. A quick 10 minute walk or some basic stretches to loosen you up.

Learn to breathe deeply. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in yoga it’s practicing those deep breaths through all the moves. You can simply learn to take three deep, slow breaths anytime in your day. Breath in deeply, let your diaphragm expand and feel your lungs really fill with air. Slowly exhale.

Laugh. Read something funny you enjoy or watch a show that evokes laughter. Laughing is good for the soul too.

Make small changes in your diet. Maybe drink an extra glass of water, try a new vegetable or swap a sugary treat for something healthier.

Take a quick nap. A power nap can refresh and energize you for the rest of your day. Remember to keep it between 10-20 minutes

Emotional self-care

Let’s refer to emotional or care for our souls. After all we aren’t just a body wandering around and our souls need some care too.

Write out your thoughts. For me personally, writing can be the most  cathartic thing I do for myself. There are times I let my humor out and there are times I write and feel like I’m bleeding all over what I’m sharing. Write out what makes you happy, sad, angry etc

Help someone. That’s explanatory enough. There is satisfaction in helping others.

Make a small connection. Connect with the checker at the store, the barista who serves your coffee or the person in line with you. Hubby often wishes I wasn’t so skilled in this area of making connections  haha

Splurge a little. Buy yourself a treat that you might not always indulge in.

Pray or meditate. Whatever you choose to do find sometime to just be alone and reflect. To let life breathe over you. Use that time to center your thoughts and reflect on the things in your life.

There you go.  A few ideas, some suggestions, to help you with this idea of self care.  Hopefully you will come up with a few others that are specific to meeting your needs.

The most  important thing to remember is that you are valuable and self care is not a special treat or a one time thing. It’s to be practiced in a variety of ways every day to keep you healthy and well for you and those you love.

Tell me. Do you have any special self care tips or suggestions?

Taking Up Space

This post is for every woman who has ever thought she has to move through this world shrinking, and not taking up space. For every woman who has thought if she were somehow some perfect small size her worth and value would increase.

Society pushes it at us.

Smaller this. Lesser that.  Just ….be….less…..

I guess for years I chased that ideal.

In my youth, I had hit my height of 6’0 sometime in middle school. Not cool. Boys were a long way from appreciating long and leggy at that point in time.

I was as tall or taller than boys pretty much through high school. Did I mention how awkward and difficult that was at times ??

I longed to be like some of my friends who were 5ft something and 110lbs soaking wet. My mom would constantly remind me to stand up straight… keep my shoulders back… I wasn’t overweight by any stretch….

I just wanted to take up less space.

Once out of school in the real world I realized being tall wasn’t a liability. As I got older I appreciated it more and more.

After settling into life, marriage, and having babies I had gotten “comfortable”  (which is my nice way of saying I had put on extra weight I didn’t need to have).

I was definitely… soft and fluffy.

Eight years ago I started on my health and fitness journey.

My goal at that point? Smaller. Take up less space. Shrink. Be less.

Being less meant being more, right ?

Now hear me… I knew for my health I needed to drop some pounds. I trust that you, my reading friend, know if you need to take those same steps…for your health.

And I did… I lost weight.. dropped sizes… lost inches. I got smaller. After all, isn’t that what the world tells us we should strive for ?

The scale, my judge and jury, applauded my efforts.

However, along the way, after I had lost the weight I desired and started building muscle I realized I liked having a strong, solid, powerful body and taking up some space.

I stopped thinking about numbers and what the scale said ( if you haven’t, be sure and check out my Scale Experiment post on that topic)

Until recently…. I had to start thinking about numbers and sizes and all things related as I prepared for my sons wedding.

I had found the “perfect” dress.

Seriously. Perfect.

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At the wedding with hubby on left and my brother on right… and “the dress” 😉
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A peek at the back during our mother son dance. Such a sweet moment that almost killed me.

If I wanted to make sure it was an absolute “fit like a glove dress”, I could send them my measurements and have a dress custom made for me.

That seemed like a plan.  So there I was after ( forever long) of not thinking of sizes or numbers, getting my measurements for the dress.

Ok this isn’t a blog on the perfect mother of the groom dress ( although…. 😉 I might not give any thought to what my current pant size is ( ha what is it??) or my measurements,  but more about  what numbers do matter to me now…..

How many miles can I run ? What pace can I push and for how long ? Riding my bike, how many miles can I get into a ride? How fast can I keep my speed? Lifting weight… what’s the heaviest dead lift I can do? How many squats will my body handle before it says “enough!” ? How many reps can I do working my core with several different exercises? How many push ups? How long can I plank ?

Those numbers matter to me now.

Ironically, so many of the exercises I’ve been doing are building me and pushing me out of certain clothes… but I’m really ok with that.

I can take up my space in this world and don’t have to make a single apology for it.

Neither do you.

Be healthy. Be strong. Take up your own space.

What do you think? Have you ever felt like you needed to be “less” to be “more”? Have you had any struggles with that? Or have you moved through a point where you comfortable with taking up your own space in the world?

Share with me.