Blog


Christie RD

Cortisol, Inflammation, and Dietary Lifestyle

By: Lisa Johnson, RD

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress. The purpose of cortisol is to provide immediate blood glucose to fuel a “fight or flight” encounter. Under short-term stressful events including exercise, cortisol is a friendly hormone that aids your body’s adaption. The negative results from elevated cortisol levels occur under chronically stressful conditions. Because cortisol suppresses the body’s response to insulin in order to increase blood glucose, long-term elevation can lead to various chronic health conditions including weight gain, obesity, and increased risk for Type II Diabetes. Additionally, cortisol increases production and maturity of visceral fat cells which also contain cortisol receptors, compounding its effects. And, because muscle cells receive less glucose when blood levels remain high, appetite and food cravings increase with elevation of cortisol.

Cortisol has many other physiological effects on the body. With elevated levels, digestion is impaired, absorption of nutrients is diminished, and inflammatory bowel conditions are increased. A common name for stress-related IBS is a “nervous stomach.” Due to vascular changes, specifically constriction of blood vessels, chronic suppression of cortisol can also lead to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and fertility disruption in males and females. Another culprit to high cortisol levels is inflammation. Therefore, poor diet and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, that increase inflammation can lead to elevated cortisol and a weakened immune system.

Lifestyle strategies to modulate cortisol levels include anti-inflammatory diets, healthy sleep cycles, stress management, moderate exercise, and rhythmic meal timing. The most widely accepted anti-inflammatory diet is the Mediterranean Lifestyle Plan which includes stress-reducing modes of eating such as dining while seated. This plan also reduces trans and saturated fats, refined sugars, and caffeine. Additionally, it promotes healthy fats from fish, avocados, and nuts as well as high fiber intake from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Another dietary modality to lowering cortisol and increasing the body’s ability to utilize stored fat for fuel is intermittent fasting, or implementing a strict rhythm to the timing of meals. Emerging findings from studies of animal models and human subjects suggest that intermittent energy restriction periods of as little as 16 h can improve health indicators and counteract disease processes. The mechanisms involve a metabolic shift to fat metabolism and ketone production, and stimulation of adaptive cellular stress responses that decrease damage from inflammation, a cortisol-raising stress response.

Our human ancestors practiced circadian rhythms naturally as they were limited to natural periods of daylight and darkness. In addition, food supply was not continual. They naturally practiced shortened periods of eating, long periods of fasting, and much more physical labor during the eating phase. Industrialization has brought devastating consequences to our health and epidemic rates of obesity. The advancements of artificial light, modern agriculture, and technology have resulted in disturbed sleep patterns, over-feeding, nutritionally void processed foods, and sedentary lifestyles. Combined, these upregulate stress, inflammation, and weight gain.

Interestingly, circadian rhythms are cellularly mediated. This hints to our body’s need for patterns to include regular periods of activity with eating, and rest with fasting. When this pattern is disturbed by humans sleeping within fewer and eating within longer hours, cellular changes and gene expressions occur which increase the risk of chronic disease. Studies reveal that disruption of the sleep/wake and fasting/feeding cycle while maintaining an isocaloric diet, still reduced glucose tolerance, increased blood pressure, and decreased the satiety hormone leptin.

Major benefits of intermittent fasting include a better adaptive stress response, improved endocrine function with insulin sensitivity, reduction of age-related neurodegenerative disease processes such as Alzheimer’s, reduced risk of cancer, and reduced inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and asthma. The reduction in inflammatory markers and free-radical production is attributed both to better mitochondrial function and weight loss. Intermittent fasting may also lessen symptoms related to auto-immune disorders.

Healthy recommendations for intermittent dietary practices include not over-restricting without medical supervision. A modified approach suggests 8-12-hour windows for healthy intake and 12-16 hours for fasting. In addition, the diet should be comprised mostly from the anti-inflammatory guidelines in the Mediterranean Lifestyle Plan. Proper nutritional supplementation can be considered to meet the recommended vitamin and mineral values. And, healthy practices such as ample water intake, daily exercise, and 7-8 hours of quality sleep are necessary for optimal outcomes.

Sources:

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4250148/

 

Christie RD offers nutritional consultations on campus with Christie Hunter, RD.  If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, the consults may be a free benefit. To find out about your benefits and to schedule an appointment send an email to:  office@christierd.com.


Performance Dining

  • 43% of Americans made eating healthier, dieting or weight loss their New Year’s Resolution (Rocketto, 2018). Only 8% of people actually keep their resolutions (Gregoire, 2017).

  • For those who achieve their weight loss resolution, only 20% to 30% of individuals maintain their loss after 1 to 3 years, and that percentage is even lower after 3-5 years (Perrish, 2017) (Provencher, 2007).
  • Americans spend 60 billion dollars each year on diet related items (Perrish, 2017).

Based on these facts, as a Registered Dietitian I suggest ditching the restrictive diets (that is right the DIETitian does NOT recommend dieting) and focusing on fueling your body to optimally perform in your daily life.

What you really need to know about dieting!

Ditching dieting does not mean giving up on health, it is a shift from scale to body as the guide to your eating. Performance Dining is a flexible resource that empowers you to choose what your body needs in the moment.  Nourishment is a main goal of eating, but community and pleasure are important objectives as well.  That is why any eating plan you follow should stress that all foods fit within a healthy lifestyle and should improve both mental and physical quality of life—not diminish it.   Enjoying a meal with friends on campus is an important part of the college experience and a great way to build community.  A flexible eating plan allows you to enjoy pizza with friends at Zick’s (GUILT FREE) or confidently fuel your body with long lasting, high energy foods at The Pit before a stressful exam.

 

 

 

Fueling well is important across the life span, and nutrition goals change with age.  Bone health is important in college aged individuals.  There is a limited time in which we can influence our peak bone mass. The best time to build bone density is during years of rapid growth (childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood).  At these times we can significantly increase our peak bone mass through diet and exercise. Most people will reach their peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30. Not surprisingly, we can also make choices that decrease peak bone mass, such as smoking, poor nutrition, inactivity, and excessive alcohol intake (Fischer, 2019). Understanding your body helps guide the foods you fuel with (i.e. eating sufficient amounts of bone boosting foods containing calcium and vitamin d). Performance Dining classifies foods based on function. You will find 9 icons in our dining locations that symbolize functions such as bone support, protein, anti-inflammatory, etc. which will help guide your choices (Focusses Letter).  We have also created a Performance Dining plate and snack build to help you create well balanced meals and sncaks.  (Plate and Snack Document)

Examples of Performance Dining Meals on Campus

– Zick’s Pizza with side salad

– Subway 6” turkey sub with all the veggie toppings and apple slices

-Shorty’s Mr. Wake Forest Burger with a side of steamed vegetables

-The Pit at the Performance Dining Station grab a bowl and place spinach or kale as your base, top with high energy farro, Monterey bay certified salmon and garbanzo beans.  Make your own dressing with Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegar and your favorite spice.

You have enough to be anxious about without adding the worry of deciphering how to eat well.  Performance Dining is a great way to reduce that anxiety.  If you have questions or need more help eating on campus call health services to schedule an appointment with Brooke Orr MS RD LDN.


Research Says Exercise Also Improves Your Gut Bacteria

Researchers say they noticed changes in the gut microbiome after six weeks of exercise. The gut makeup returned to normal after exercise was dropped.

exercise microbiomeShare on Pinterest

If you needed another reason to exercise, try this. Exercise can change the composition of your gut microbiome.

There are trillions of microscopic organisms in the gut that play a crucial role in our overall health and function of the body. In a study from the University of Illinois, researchers found that exercising for just six weeks could have an impact on the microbiome.

“These are the first studies to show that exercise can have an effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors,” said Jeffrey Woods, PhD, a University of Illinois professor of kinesiology and community health who led the research with former doctoral student Jacob Allen, now a postdoctoral researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

What researchers discovered

Woods and Allen conducted studies both on mice and humans.

In the human study, the researchers recruited 18 lean and 14 obese sedentary adults.

They began by sampling participants’ gut microbiomes and then started them on an exercise program consisting of cardiovascular exercises for 30 to 60 minutes three times a week for six weeks.

At the end of the six weeks of exercise, the researchers again sampled the participants’ gut microbiomes.

They found that the microbiomes had changed. Some participants experienced an increase in certain microbes and others a decrease.

Many had an increase in gut microbes that assist in the production of short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases as well as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

After the initial period of six weeks, the participants then returned to six weeks of their normal sedentary lifestyle.

The case for regular exercise

When the researchers sampled participants’ microbiomes again at the end of this sedentary period, they found the microbiomes had reverted back to how they were before the period of exercise.

Woods said this suggests the impact of exercise on the microbiome for a period of just six weeks may be transient.

“This tells us that exercise needs to be done regularly and that stopping exercise causes reversion, not surprising as this is evident in other exercise training-induced adaptations in other tissues like muscle,” he told Healthline.

Woods said this calls for further study into exercise for a longer period.

“We need to understand if longer periods of exercise cause greater change.”

Dr. Emeran Mayer, a gastroenterologist at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and author of the book The Mind-Gut Connection, says science has only recently come to understand the importance of the gut microbiome in overall health.

“They have been completely ignored until about 10 years ago. Now there has been an explosive growth of interest in this area,” he told Healthline.

“They have a very important role in all aspects of health, particularly metabolic health. They have a very important role in most of our organ functions and… play important roles in some disease like obesity, depression and autism spectrum disorders,” he said.

Given that the microbiome in the Illinois study only changed for the period of exercise, then reverted back to normal, Mayer said it’s hard to establish the extent to which exercise benefits the gut specifically.

Lifestyle also important

For those experiencing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, Mayer says lifestyle factors are often a good place to start in improving quality of life.

“With my own patients, I would always recommend lifestyle modifications. Dietary, exercise, meditation, stress management. This is always part of any kind of treatment I give to the patients I see who come to me with gastroenterological problems,” he said.

Dr. Geoffrey Preidis is a scientific advisory board member for the American Gastroenterological Association Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education. He said the University of Illinois study raises some important questions about changing microbiome.

“These studies add important knowledge regarding the influence of body composition on the microbiome’s response to exercise, and regarding the transient nature of this response once an exercise regimen is abandoned. An important question that remains unanswered is whether these microbiome changes are responsible for some of the long-term benefits of exercise to human health,” he told Healthline.

It’s well established that factors such as diet and antibiotic use can impact the microbiome. But there are many other elements that can influence the microbiome.

“Age, genetics, body composition, medications, the presence of disease, diet changes, and stress (such as sleep deprivation) are some of many factors that can impact the composition or function of the gut microbiome,” Preidis said.

Microbiome sensitivity

Although there are still questions surrounding the impact exercise has on the body and the gut, changes in the body due to exercise could also be factors that alter the microbiome.

“Gut microbes are highly responsive to their intestinal environment; they sense and integrate signals from both their human host and the outside world. Even subtle changes can cause specific populations of microbes to expand or certain microbial genes to become active. Although our understanding of how exercise affects the body remains incomplete, some of the many factors that might trigger responses from the gut microbiome include changes in blood flow, circulating hormones, and intestinal motility,” he said.

As for whether this study should be a reason to exercise, Mayer said it’s important to remember the lasting impact of exercise on the gut is yet to be established.

“People that exercise do not have a permanently different microbiome than from the time they didn’t exercise, it’s just while they’re exercising. It’s like while you’re taking probiotics you have some beneficial changes, but after 48 hours after stopping the probiotic, you don’t see that effect anymore,” he said.

But Mayer says exercise is a good idea regardless of whether it will alter your microbiome.

“If you want to pick one thing you can do to enhance your health, it probably is exercise, right after comes the diet. For optimal health, overall wellness, overall resilience the answer is an absolute yes, daily exercise is a key component of that,” he said.


How Stress Affects Digestion

Stress can cause a range of gastrointestinal problems including cramping, bloating, inflammation, and a loss of appetite. Find out how to keep stress levels down to protect your gut.

Research shows that stress can negatively affect your digestive tract.
Research shows that stress can negatively affect your digestive tract.
David Malan/Getty Images

Have you ever have to make a “gut-wrenching” decision under pressure? Or were you ever so anxious that you had butterflies in your stomach? If so, then you know how stress can affect your digestive system.

The brain and the gut are connected and constantly in communication. In fact, more neurons reside in the gut then in the entire spinal cord, according to research published in the book Neuroscience.

Stress can affect every part of the digestive system,” says Kenneth Koch, MD, professor of medicine in gastroenterology and medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The gut is controlled in part by the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord. In addition, it has its own network of neurons in the lining of the gastrointestinal system, known as the enteric or intrinsic nervous system. In fact, the system of nerves in your gut is so influential that some researchers consider the gut a second brain, as noted in an article published in Scientific American.

The enteric nervous system, along with its 100 million nerve cells that line your gastrointestinal tract from your esophagus to your rectum, regulates digestive processes like:

  • Swallowing
  • The release of enzymes to break down food
  • The categorization of food as nutrients or waste products

Stress can significantly impact the way your body carries out these processes.

What Happens When Your Body Is Stressed?

When presented with a potentially threatening situation, the sympathetic nervous system — a part of the body’s autonomic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions like the heartbeat, breathing, and blood pressure — responds by triggering a “fight-or-flight response,” releasing the stress hormone cortisol to make the body alert and prepared to face the threat.

Stress causes physiological changes, like a heightened state of awareness, faster breathing and heart rates, elevated blood pressure, a rise in blood cholesterol, and an increase in muscle tension.

When stress activates the flight-or-flight response in your central nervous system, Dr. Koch says that it can affect your digestive system by:

  • Causing your esophagus to go into spasms
  • Increasing the acid in your stomach, which results in indigestion
  • Making you feel nauseous
  • Giving you diarrhea or constipation

In more serious cases, stress may cause a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the stomach, which could lead to cramping, inflammation, or an imbalance of gut bacteria. It can also exacerbate gastrointestinal disorders, including:

“Although stress may not cause stomach ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease, it can make these and other diseases of digestion worse,” Koch says. So it’s important to take measures to be in control during stressful situations and find ways to keep yourself calm.

6 Ways to Manage Stress

There are both psychological and physical ways to manage stress. But the same stress relieving technique might not work for everyone. Here are six options you can try:

1. Get Regular Exercise

Physical activity relieves tension and stimulates the release of chemicals in your brain called endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. Endorphins improve sleep, which can help relieve stress, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

“It’s one of the best ways to manage stress and maintain healthy digestion,” Koch says. A study published in 2014 in the journal Cognitive Behavioural Therapy examined the relationship between aerobic exercise and attentional focus during exercise on 33 patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and found that 89 percent of patients reported improvements in PTSD and anxiety sensitivity.

2. Consider Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a technique that has been proven to help reduce anxiety and stress by helping you learn to replace negative, distorted thoughts with positive ones. A study published in 2017 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology looked at the effectiveness of CBT on quality of life, anxiety, and depression in those with IBD. Patients with IBD who reported low quality of life were randomly assigned a CBT intervention along with standard medical care for three and a half months. When compared with a control group, people with IBD who received CBT reported higher quality of life and lower levels of depression and anxiety.

3. Choose Stress-Busting Foods

A review published in May 2017 in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews found that eating disorders and obesity can be associated with psychological stress. Cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands, also increases appetite. Stress can affect food preferences, too. Studies have shown that “physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both,” according to Harvard Medical School.

But there are certain foods that have been shown to reduce anxiety. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are natural mood boosters. Almonds are chock full of magnesium, a mineral that helps manage cortisol levels. And oranges and other citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which can lower blood pressure, according to research published in January 2017 in the journal Scientific Reports.

4. Yoga

This mind-body practice combines physical poses with breathing techniques and meditation. According to a study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, women who engaged in hour-long Hatha yoga classes three times a week for 12 sessions achieved significant reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. Research also shows that yoga can lower blood pressure and heart rate.

5. Meditation

There are many meditation techniques that can help you focus your mind on an object, activity, or though to help you achieve calmness. Although the goal of meditation is not stress reduction, that is a side effect of this ancient practice.

A review published in 2018 in The Lancet Public Health looked at the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on resilience to stress in college students. Eight weekly Mindfulness Skills for Students (MSS) interventions were randomly administered to students for 75 to 90 minutes, focusing on mindfulness exercises and periods of self-reflection. At the end of the intervention, students in the MSS group reported lower levels of stress.

6. Develop Time-Management Skills

An important part of stress reduction is self-care. For many, this involves managing your time as effectively as possible. A study published in 2017 in the journal Electronic Physician looked at the relationships between time management, anxiety, and academic motivation in 441 nursing school students using self-reported questionnaires and scales. Students who did a poor job managing their time had higher levels of anxiety and less academic motivation than individuals who were better time managers.

You can improve your time-management skills by:

  • Knowing your deadlines
  • Planning ahead
  • Setting goals
  • Avoiding procrastination

Additional reporting by Nicol Natale.

Last Updated:10/16/2018

Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier You

Reviewed by Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN

Granola and Fruit Parfait - Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier You

Foodcollection/iStock/Thinkstock

You’ve probably heard of prebiotics and probiotics, but do you know what they are? Nutrition research has pinpointed specific functional components of foods that may improve health, and prebiotics and probiotics are two such substances.Although they are available as dietary supplements, it is not necessary to use special pills, potions, cleanses or other concoctions to incorporate prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. These “nutrition boosters” are natural ingredients in everyday foodWhile research continues in this area of nutrition — investigating how effective and safe these substances are and how much we need to obtain health benefits — here’s what we know now.

What Are Prebiotics and What Do They Do?

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut. Simply said, they’re “good” bacteria promoters. That’s right, not all bacteria are bad! Prebiotics may improve gastrointestinal health as well as potentially enhance calcium absorption.

Prebiotics in Your Diet

Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides, such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides. But rather than focusing on these lengthy words, include more prebiotics in your diet by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.

What Are Probiotics and What Do They Do?

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria — or live cultures — just like those naturally found in your gut. These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. This functional component may boost immunity and overall health, especially GI health. For instance, probiotics have been used for management of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

Probiotics in Your Diet

To obtain more probiotics, look to fermented dairy foods including yogurt, kefir products and aged cheeses, which contain live cultures (for example, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). Be sure include plenty of non-dairy foods which also have beneficial cultures, including kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and cultured non-dairy yogurts.

What Makes Prebiotics and Probiotics the “Dynamic Duo?”

Ultimately, prebiotics, or “good” bacteria promoters, and probiotics, or “good” bacteria, work together synergistically. In other words, prebiotics are breakfast, lunch and dinner for probiotics, which restores and can improve GI health. Products that combine these together are called synbiotics. On the menu, that means enjoying bananas atop yogurt or stir-frying asparagus with tempeh is a win-win.

The bottom line: At a minimum, prebiotics and probiotics are keys for good gut health, which affects many other areas of the body.

Incorporating health-promoting functional foods, such as foods containing prebiotics and probiotics, into the diet aids in creating a healthier you.

For specific advice on obtaining prebiotics and probiotics for your own specific health needs, especially if you have GI issues or a weakened immune system, contact a registered dietitian nutritionist.


7 Non-Diet Changes for a Happier, Healthier You

By:

As we enter 2019, many of us begin to see the new year as a fresh start, an opportunity to set new goals and discover newfound motivation.For many, the new year can be an amazing time to reflect on our accomplishments and consider how we can better support our health and happiness. As such, many of us kick off the New Year with well-intentioned resolutions for making change to our lives – usually with the hopes of losing weight.But let’s be honest, if you’ve ever started out a new year by making a resolution to lose weight with the latest fad diet or exercise program, most likely you already know that these resolutions don’t stick.Here’s why: Dieting has a 95% failure rate! Dieting also creates a yo-yo effect, which can lead to binge eating out of feelings of deprivation, and ultimately breaks down our self-worth and confidence.Not exactly what you had in mind for the new year, huh?There’s a better way to go about finding change than getting sucked back into another diet. Plus, wanting to take better care of yourself and have more energy is doable!

Tell Me How!

This year, try something different. Embrace this radical approach: have a diet free year!

The following are seven non-diet changes that will promote a happier, healthier you in 2019. They’re habit- and body-based resolutions that we can get behind because instead of promoting restriction, deprivation, and a decimation of self-worth, they encourage you to become in tune with your body.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you take on all of these changes at the same time. That can be exhausting, which is a recipe for failure. Instead of creating multiple resolutions, which can leave you feeling scattered and overwhelmed, focus on one or two suggestions on this list. Once you’ve successfully incorporated them into your life, you can gradually add other goals any time throughout the year. That’s a way more sustainable way to think about changes

1. Switch From a Weight Focus to a Health Focus

In our current cultural climate, which often conflates the two, this can be really hard. But the idea is this: Your weight and your health aren’t inherently related. And you can work on the latter without being obsessively concerned about the former. Usually, we stress so much about how our bodies look that we forget that our real goal is to change how our bodies feel. Try these suggestions below:

  • Create daily healthy habits that help your body feel balanced and supported. Instead of focusing on a number on the scale, emphasize healthy behaviors, well-being, and how you feel.
  • Read a non-diet approach book that supports your journey. A few suggestions are Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating; Health at Every Size; and Intuitive Eating.

2. Learn and Practice Mindful Eating Skills

At one time, we were all mindful eaters. We’ve been taught our whole lives that we can’t trust ourselves and that we need to eat according to schedules and plans. But have you ever seen a baby eat? A baby cries when they’re hungry, and they simply stop suckling when they’re full. They don’t need anyone to tell them what they need.

Get in touch with your inner baby!

Rely on internal hunger and fullness cues. Learn to separate physical and emotional hunger. Legalize all food, and give yourself permission to eat anything. Focus less on numbers and more on fuel. Eat for health, pleasure, and taste. Yes, I said “pleasure” and “taste.” You’re allowed to find joy in food!

3. Explore Joyful Movement

It’s a fact: Movement is good for you. Having some kind of a fitness practice in your life, especially as we spend so much time sitting in chairs, starting at computer screens, can make a huge difference in your overall health.

But many of us believe that the only way to engage in a fitness practice is to (a) join a gym and (b) push ourselves past our limits. But neither of these things have to be true!

Find a form of movement that you really enjoy, as movement is meant to feel good on the body. If you don’t love weight training and using the elliptical, then don’t bother with the gym, try these instead:

  • Find a dance class
  • Try yoga
  • Go for walks around your neighborhood
  • Go old school and dig those old aerobics tapes (Jane Fonda, anyone?) out of your basement.

This year, create a healthy and fun relationship with exercise, so you actually look forward to movement. There’s no need to push your body until you collapse or hate every moment of working out.

4. Honor the Body You Have Today

Yes, today. Not tomorrow. Not ten pounds from now. Not at the end of 2019 when you finally fit back into a size whatever. Today.

Don’t keep putting your life on hold. Be her now – the person you want to be in the amazing body that carries you through the world. Practice honoring and accepting your body – the one you have today.

Research shows people who honor their bodies are more likely to engage in healthful lifestyle behaviors than people with high body dissatisfaction. You wanna know why? Because you can’t hate yourself into loving yourself.

When you believe yourself to be unworthy, you don’t take steps to take care of yourself. But when you love and appreciate yourself, you want to do what’s best for you! First, stop being uncomfortable! Go through your closet and get rid of anything that is too tight, uncomfortable, or doesn’t make you feel great. And no longer participate in body shaming yourself or others. People come in all shapes and sizes – and all bodies deserve respect, including yours.

New Year Resolution

5. Cultivate a Meditation Practice

Often, when people think of meditation, they think automatically of sitting still in lotus pose, chanting mantras – and can be really turned off to the idea. Of course, while that’s a totally legitimate and awesome form of meditation (and definitely worth a try!), it’s not the only way to add meditation to your life. All it really takes is a moment of mindfulness.

  • Learn to quiet the noise around you and be more present
  • Add mindfulness to your life and develop awareness of the internal states and feelings that are driving your behavior.
  • Be present in the moment, as opposed to in the past or future. Your life is now. And you will savor, enjoy, and appreciate the present much more if you are in the here and now.

6. Prioritize Yourself!

Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury! Yes, self-care can be indulgent and time-intensive (like, you know, a vacation). But it doesn’t have to be. Self-care is as simple as recognizing your need for relaxation and rejuvenation – and honoring that you have to find ways to feel good.

  • Block out some “me” time and learn to be okay with saying “no.” It is important to sometimes put yourself first.
  • Learn and practice self-compassion. Whenever you find your self-talk being critical and mean, stop, take a moment, and ask yourself if you would talk to a good friend in the same way.
  • Sleep more, as sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being.
  • Take a minute just to make and drink a cup of tea – or breathe.
  • Finding support can be crucial. Open up to the people you care about and let them know what is going on, so they can support you when you need it.

7. Decrease Your Social Media Screen Time

I know that it can feel like you’re not really in touch with anyone in your life unless you’re following what they’re up to on Facebook, but social media can be really detrimental to our health. It allows us to feel like we’re connecting with people when face-to-face contact would be much more meaningful. It pushes us to expand our limited resources of emotional energy on people who are only acquaintances. And it bombards us with images of people who we believe to be happier, healthier, and more attractive than we are.

Social media is exhausting! Try these suggestions for some relief:

  • Spend more time doing things you enjoy and cultivating the important relationships in your life.
  • Clean your social media and unfollow those who make you feel bad about your body, choices, and values.
  • Add body positive accounts and follow others who embrace bodies of all shapes and sizes and embrace diversity.

Are You Ready to Take Action on Your New Year Resolution?

Of course, for many of us, making small daily changes isn’t enough to help us heal our relationships to our bodies. If you are struggling with your relationship to food, consider working with a professional who specializes in Health at Every Size (HAES), intuitive eating, or eating disorders.

And even better, consider coming to Green Mountain at Fox Run. We can help and support you through your journey – and offer you the tools you need for successful change.

Let 2019 really be the new year that unveils a new you.