Are You Feeding Your Emotions?
Are you an escapist? Do you feel the need to dive face first into a big bag of chips or a bowlful of ice cream for the pure feeling of being comforted. Food tends to be a way of coping and dealing with discomfort we experience. Experts believe that up to 75% of overeating may be due to reasons other than physical hunger. By practicing a little introspection you can usually figure out what is causing you to use food as a drug to silence your emotions. First, identify the triggers to emotional eating, such as:
Social Eating -- If you find that most of your social interaction involves food, then it's possible that you and your friends are using food to calm stress. Think about your activities, and consider offering new ideas to spend time with friends that does not involve food.
High Stress -- Whether it is job stress, family stress, or something else entirely being too busy and leading a stressful life causes a high level of the hormone Cortisol to be released into
the body, which in turn leads to cravings of high calorie foods. Also, living a busy life lends itself to running through the drive through. Preplanning for times of high stress and being busy can go far in eliminating making bad choices.
Habits -- Most of us have habits ingrained in us from childhood around food. That is where the whole idea of comfort foods came into being. Whether it's mac and cheese or a hearty bowl of beef stew, or something else entirely, the foods from our childhood can often comfort us and make us feel loved. Try redefining love to something more healthy such as a nice hot cup of tea and honey or going outside to play a game of tag.
How to Tame the Emotional Eating Beast
Once you identify the issues that are causing you to over eat, or eat the wrong kinds of foods, you will be able to stop eating mindlessly and emotionally. It's a lot harder to kick a food habit than any other type of habit. We don't need alcohol, or drugs to live, but we do need to eat. There are a few tried and true tips to help you overcome your need to binge emotionally on the wrong foods.
Make a Substitute -- Instead of binging on Doritos and cheese, find an alternative such as sliced crispy apples with sea salt. You'll get that crunchy satisfaction plus the salt you crave in a healthier way. Plus it's a lot harder to eat too many apples than too many chips.
Start a Journal -- Writing down everything that you eat, in addition to your feelings surrounding eating or choosing not to eat something you know is bad for you is a good way to channel your frustrations. Just keep a small notebook and pen in your purse so you can write any time you're tempted to reach for a donut instead of a more healthy choice.
Get Moving -- Studies show that getting even 30 minutes of exercise per day can help you with your weight, your cardiovascular health and with reducing cravings. Any time you have a craving, drink a glass of water first, then if you still have it, get out and go for a walk, or turn up the music in the house and dance! The rush of endorphins will assist with resisting cravings and make you feel great.
Graphic from kptto.org
Don't beat yourself up!
Get in touch with your emotions, everyone has them! It is all in how you deal with them. If you do have an episode of emotional eating, learn from the experience and the very next meal eat healthy!
Need more advice? We have a wonderful team of fitness and nutrition experts that are just a mouse click away. You can click the button below to submit your questions electronically or, if you are local to the Chantilly, Fairfax, Centreville area and would like to talk to us about strategies for overcoming emotional eating, you can Request a Consultation.
If you are one of those people who toss and turn all night long trying to get into a comfortable sleeping position you are not alone. Studies say that people can change their sleeping position anywhere from as low as 3 and up to 36 times per night! Although experts admit that there really is no one "right" way to rest our weary bodies at the end of the day, people with certain medical conditions or who experience pain could benefit from laying in one position versus another. We found this handy guide from The Wall Street Journal to help you uncover what the best sleeping position may be for you based upon aches and pains that may be keeping you awake at night:
Did you know?
- 8.4 is the amount of minutes people waste per hour online for every minute of interrupted sleep the night before.
- Always choosing the same sleeping position can cause issues according to Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth, chief of physical therapy at Harvard university Health Services. Consistently compressing one side of the body and stretching the other can result in imbalance and soreness or pain.
- The Better Sleep Council says the average number of times people change their sleeping position is 11 to 15.
- $63.2 billion is the estimated cost for U.S. companies from workers who toss and turn all night. Those workers lose an average of 7.8 days of productivity a year due to insomnia.
Great Tips for Restful Nights
Now that you know more about what the best sleeping position might for you, download a copy of a free eBooklet, 'Your Guide to Never Being Tired Again' and start getting re-energized today. Also check out our blog post '5 Reasons You Are Always Tired' to uncovering other underlying reasons why you may not be getting the vaulable sleep you need. Sweet Dreams!
Primary article source: 'Find the Perfect Sleep Position', Mike Sudal, The Wall Street Journal
Taking the time to examine the way you exercise can offer various differences in being safe and keeping the body well balanced along with the better results. Here are five of the worst fitness habits you need to know about in order to make sure that you are maximizing your workout and preventing injury.
1. Holding Your Breath During an Exercise – Breathing steadily in a regular manner has a lot of advantages. For example, inhaling and exhaling properly can help you exert more energy while doing some moves. It can also aid in the balanced production of lactic acid which is necessary for muscle build-up. With proper breathing, you can have a stable heart rate. The maximum oxygen level to the blood can be well-delivered with a full breath. This in turn will bring enough energy to muscles on the move.
2. Sticking With the Same Exercises – Challenge is something that your muscles need to produce better results. Your muscles will simply adjust when sticking to the same workout routine and progression will be difficult to achieve. Simply change up your exercises every week or two by increasing weight, adding sets and repetitions, as well as adding new exercises like Zumba, yoga, etc. This will not only prevent injury and produce better results, but will prevent boredom as well.
3. Fueling the Body – Properly fueling the body before and after you workout is essential for maximum results and recovery. The body needs glucose for fuel so if you are a morning exerciser, make sure you eat one hour before you exercise to give your body the energy it
requires. If your blood sugar is low, your body ends up stealing it from your muscles. Consuming a mixture of protein and carbohydrates will be optimal for exercise performance.
Drinking a protein shake with fruit is ideal.
A post workout meal is important for re-fueling the muscles. Your muscles breakdown during exercise and giving your body proper nutrition after your workout is highly beneficial for muscle recovery and growth. Try drinking a protein shake with fruit or making sure you consume both protein and carbohydrates within an hour after exercising.
4. Bad Form – Safety is essential during your workout and the best way for you to be safe is to maintain the correct form. If you do not put serious consideration on proper movement and form then you are no longer attaining the best benefits that exercise can offer. Plus, with bad form you are adding much risk of injury. Remember, slow and controlled is best when using weights.
5. Slacking off on Stretching - After a hard workout, the last thing most people want to do is stay and stretch. However, flexibility is very important as we age in preventing injury and maintaining health for your body. The next time you work out simply plan ahead and allot time for stretching all major muscles including hamstrings and lower back.
So how are YOU Doing?
Do not despair if you found that you were guilty of one (or maybe even more than one) of these bad fitness habits. The key here is to make change so that you CAN get the results that you want. Instituting the help of a personal trainer and/or a nutritionist can be a tremendous help answering the "what am I doing wrong" question many of us have when if comes down to our exercise program. So dont' be afraid...go ahead and ask for help. we would love to hear the questions that you have! Drop us a note in the comment section or just click the button below and we will get to as many questions as we can.
From time to time it's good to know when you've done something right! In this week's post we let guest blogger, Natasha Nixon, sing our praises...or more to the point the praises of women's fitness centers in general as opposed to co-ed facilities.
Because we have added to our chosen responsibilities of wife and mother, roles as career, sport and many other activities, we need to use a women’s fitness center to give us the necessary balance. That being said we don't just want any old "gym," we want programs, equipment and training programs just for us. We need things that will help us a women to be in better shape on a number of levels, including mind, body and spirit.
I see the commitment to a health club for women as being a special one. The certified personal trainers know our physiological composition and understand the regimens we need to be productive at work, at home and at play. They understand that means being just phyically strong, but emotionally strong ands they get the connection bewteen the two for women.
We are challenged to meet the diverse venues that our choices require. But, in our hectic lives a women’s fitness center provides the therapy that we need to feel better, look better and to manage our many responsibilities. It is not just statistics that bears out the value of joining a health club for women. It really is common sense.
Men did get one thing right. To realize their full potential in business, sport, career and family, men must be fit...but the need for fitness is genderless. Remember that anything they can do, we can do better...much better. :)
We want our Pilates classes. We love our yoga classes. We embrace training regimens that specifically address mind, body and soul. We want to meditate. We want to nurture. We want to succeed. We believe this life is a truly magnificent gift that we should do our best to respect and prolong.
Our sane time is our fitness time! Women’s fitness is such a rewarding lifestyle choice. We learn at a health club made just for us what lifestyle choices are prudent and which habits we should correct. All the while, our trainers and other female members are right there with us.
At a health club for women, we are never alone. Lasting friendships evolve because we are pursuing the same goal. Often, the relationships at our club help us in other aspects of our lives.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray and Love was a highly acclaimed bestseller. But in truth, it lacked the very necessary whole life ingredient we call fitness. Here is my message to you as a woman who has tried and failed many, many times on her fitness and weight loss journey. If you want to perform your best, feel terrific and be strong enough to deal with the rigors of the day, don’t wait any longer...join a women’s-only fitness center right away.
So What Say YOU?
If you belong to an all-women's gym we would love to hear why you choose it. Drop us a comment in the section below!
Your Guide to Breast Health Based on Your Age
Your breasts...they have been with you since you hit puberty and will stay with you until the end of your days. Although they are a "constant" in your life, how they look, feel and how you should take care of them changes at every stage in your life past 30 years of age. Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what better time than now to share with you a handy guide that will help you navigate through the steps you need to take to have healthy breasts based upon where you are in you are in your life, as well a little breast health Q & A to answer some of those questions we all have regarding the health of our breasts.
In Your 30's
Your breasts may be: Feeling PMS-related aches and lumps, and changing through pregnancy and breastfeeding.
TRY A SUPPLEMENT COCKTAIL. A combo of 100 to 200 mg of vitamin B6, 200 to 400 IU of
vitamin E and two capsules of evening primrose oil taken daily for one week before your period can ease breast discomfort. The vitamin B helps stop swelling, and the vitamin E and evening primrose oil help relieve pain. (Check with your doctor.)
KNOW WHAT'S NORMAL FOR YOU. Do monthly self-exams so you can spot changes more easily. Keep in mind that there's a slightly higher rate of breast cancer during the five years after pregnancy, and tell your doctor about changes like bleeding or lumps ASAP.
In Your 40's
Your breasts may be: Starting to feel softer (and look less-than-perky), since you're developing more fatty tissue.
HAVE A MAMMOGRAM. Although the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises starting mammograms at age 50, groups like the American Cancer Society and the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians say to begin at age 40. At the very least, a mammogram in your early 40s will help establish a baseline so your doctor can better determine whether any changes are irregular.
WALK FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES DAILY. Since it helps you maintain a healthy weight and keep estrogen levels in check, any amount of exercise that ups your heart rate can help lower your breast cancer risk.
In Your 50s, 60s and Beyond
Your breasts may be: Less dense as your tissue shrinks and less elastic as your skin loses collagen. You can still feel lumps and bumps and tenderness, particularly as you head into menopause. But once your periods stop and your hormones settle, the discomfort should subside.
DISCUSS HORMONE THERAPY (HT) WITH YOUR DOCTOR. The latest research shows that taking estrogen and progesterone together for less than three years does not raise your risk of breast cancer. Taking estrogen alone appears to be safe for about five years. You may not need to go the prescription route—some studies have shown that over-the-counter options like black cohosh extract can help reduce symptoms of hot flashes, mood changes and vaginal dryness.
PUT THE BRAKES ON WEIGHT GAIN BY ADDING 10 MINUTES TO YOUR WORKOUT. Start by tacking on 2 minutes per session and go up from there. Extra pounds can mean higher estrogen levels, which can raise your breast cancer risk, especially during and after menopause. But it's never too late to reap the results of slimming down. A recent study at theFredHutchinsonCancerResearchCenterinSeattlefound that overweight and obese women between 50 and 75 years old who lost just 5% of their body weight lowered their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 50%.
Breast Q & A
Q. Should I be getting a sonogram instead of a mammogram?
A. A sonogram, or ultrasound, does not replace a mammogram, but experts do recommend that women who have very dense breast tissue and/or a strong family history of breast cancer get a sonogram in addition to a mammogram. If your breast tissue is very dense, unusual growths may not show up as readily on a mammogram as they do on a sonogram. Since sonograms are more sensitive, there is a higher risk of a false positive, which is why experts don't advise all women to routinely have this screening.
Q. One of my breasts is bigger than the other. Is that OK?
A. Absolutely! In fact, very few women have perfectly symmetrical breasts. (For no specific reason, the left breast generally tends to be larger than the right.) It's also not uncommon for your nipples to look slightly dissimilar or point in different directions. Most of the time, simply wearing a bra that fits well can help compensate for the difference. The only time to be concerned is if you notice a sudden increase in the size of one breast or nipple.If that's the case, make an appointment to see your doctor, who can check for an underlying growth.
Q. Why do I sometimes notice discharge?
A. Most of the time it's entirely harmless, but if your breast is also sore, red or warm to the touch, you may have an infection that requires antibiotics. A blockage in your ducts, especially around menopause, can also cause discharge, as can a diet high in certain herbs including fennel or anise. In rare cases, discharge can be a sign of a form of cancer called Paget's disease. In general, it's a good idea to see your doctor to make sure it's nothing serious.
Portions of the article orginally appeared in a blog post by Alyssa Shaffer on Woman's Day.com
What's Your Vice?
Maybe its the smooth, melt in your mouth taste that comes from chocolate, perhaps its the salty crunch from a crisp potato chip, could be sweet sugary confection that you crave -- all you know is that you really REALLY want it BAD! The question becomes do you give in or fight it? Do you truly want whatever the objection of your taste bud's affection or is your mind tricking you into believing if you don't give in to indulging "just a little bit," the craving will become so bad that the "little bit" will turn into a pig out fest of epic proportions!
If you have ever wondered why you crave certain foods at certain times, there has been a recent surge of research on the subject of the how's, and why's of food cravings as well as what to do about them.
- Food cravings activate the same reward circuits in the brain as cravings for drugs or alcohol, according to functional MRI scans, tests that measure brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow.
- Nearly everyone has food cravings occasionally, but women report having them more often than men, and younger people crave sweets more than older people do.
- In one study, 85% of men said they found giving in to food craving satisfying; of women, only 57% said they did.
- While many women report craving salt, fat or bizarre combinations of food during pregnancy, researchers can't find much scientific validation. They suspect folklore and the power of suggestion instead.
Why? Why? Why?
For a long time it has been the belief of researchers that what we crave has something to do with the bodies efforts to correct a dietary deficiency of some sort. For example, those who salivate over the thoughts of a big juicy steak might be low or missing iron in their diet. chocolate lovers might be missing magnesium or the mood boosting chemical phenylethamine, a chemical humans produce naturally when they are in love.
Health Journal writer, Melinda Beck, says no way, "...a growing body of research casts doubt on the nutritional-deficiency notion. After all, few people crave vitamin-rich green leafy vegetables and many other foods contain more phenylalanine than chocolate—including salami and cheddar cheese."
Current research has revealed the following as the most likely reasons why we experience food cravings:
Learned behaviors and experiences - As a child, you may have been consistently rewarded with a sweet treat when you had a bad day. The learned behavior of having something sweet to lift your spirits became a habit that is very hard to break.
Hormonal fluctuations - Certain hormones in your body help control appetite. Ghrelin is the hormone you produce that drives you to eat, while leptin is the hormone that signals satiety. Normally, these hormones act as a checks and balances system to keep your appetite in check. However, under certain physiological conditions, such as sleep deprivation, this system is thrown off because the hormones are not produced in proper proportion to one another. Estrogen, cortisol and serotonin can also play a role in food craving frenzies, and whether due to stress, sleep deprivation, or the normal hormonal fluctuations of a woman’s menstrual cycle, these hormones can drive you to seek out nutrient- dense, fatty, sugary foods.
Environmental factors and sensory stimulation - Studies have found that the sight, smell, taste, or even just the thought of favorite foods can lead to intense cravings. Experiences like seeing food advertisements on TV or passing a bakery and smelling the aroma of fresh baked bread can also initiate food cravings. Certain social settings, like a party or environmental factors, such as dim lighting in a restaurant, can fuel our drive to indulge.
Because It Makes Us Feel Good- In the U.S., about 50% of women who crave chocolate say their cravings peak around the onset of their monthly period. But researchers haven't found any correlation between food cravings and hormone levels, and postmenopausal women don't report a big drop in chocolate cravings, a 2009 survey found. Some psychologists suspect that women may be "self-medicating," because sweets and carbohydrates spur release of serotonin and other feel-good brain chemicals.
How the Heck Do I Fight Food Cravings and Win?
Is Fish Oil the New Snake Oil?
For years we have been told that as far as heart health, nothing could be better for you than taking a few fish oil pills as part of a healhty daily diet. Now a shocking study conducted by the American Medical Association has revealed that fish oil pills do not reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes in spite of the fact that they have long been used as such and sometimes even perscribed by doctors as a preventative. This edition of Nutrition Advice for Women takes a look at the recent findings about fish oil supplements and examines some alternatives to popping a pill.
Say It Ain't So...
The existing theory behind the use of fish oil pills in the diet was that they "help make the blood less ‘sticky’ and lower blood pressure by relaxing vessels, thus making heart attacks and strokes less likely." (huffingtonpost.com) To be more specific, the findings came from over 20 studies which included more than 70,000 patients and found that taking the Omega-3 fatty acids found in these pills boasted no "significant effect on rates of heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths." (dailymail.com)
Study author Dr. Evangelos Rizos, of the University Hospital of Ioannina in Greece, said: “Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or guidelines supporting dietary omega-3 p olyunsaturated fatty acid administration.” The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Fish oil supplements are hugely popular as a dietary supplements among Americans. Though it is hard to pin down an exact figure for sales of such products, an article in Forbes magazine noted that, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, over-the-counter fish oil supplements accounted for $739 million in sales in 2009. Meanwhile, in 2010 Americans spent nearly $4 billion on products fortified with extra omega-3s, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts.
Not Everyone Agrees
Many who have been convinced the they key to a healthy heart and longevity lies party in a bottle of the amber-colored pill find themselves very disappointed by these findings, but the not everyone in the medical field agrees with them. Conflicting information abounds, for example a study published two years ago found a one gram a day supplement could help extend the lives of those with heart failure, and patients who have had heart attacks are alredy advised to take a pill daily.
The relevance of the current study has been questioned by some. Dr. Carrie Ruxton, from the Health Supplements Information Service, said: “Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their heart health benefits with a significant body of evidence.”
According to an article on abcnews.com , "Patients and doctors like the idea that it is natural and has no real side effects," said Dr. Howard Weintraub, clinical director of New York University Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. And some doctors say the findings of the new study are no reason to cut bait on fish oil pills.
"Meta-analysis (like the type used in this study), particularly when neutral, should not be used to draw a conclusion," said Melvyn Rubenfire of the University of Michigan.
So What SHOULD You Do Instead...Go Fish!
Many experts say the best way to get fish oil is just to eat fish. The American Heart Association (AMA) currently recommends that people get their dose of omega-3 fatty acids from eating two servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackeral, tuna, sardines, per week. For the fish-averse, a slightly different kind of omega-3 fatty acid can be found in flaxseed, walnuts soybeans and canola oils. In addition many cardioligists, and nutrition experts agree that regardless of its nature, no supplement is a "magic bullet" and they should never be used as a substitute for a healhty diet pattern.
As the debate on to fish or not to fish rages no, you may still be a little confused as to what types of fish are best to add to your diet and in what amounts in order to get the vital omega-3 fatty acids that we all need. The AMA has published Fish 101 which is a handy guide to more specific consumption recommendations. In addition, you should cosnlut your doctor before starting or stopping any supplement regimen.
You can also drop us a note in the comments section below or submit your question privately and we would be more than happy to forward it on to our team of experts!
By the time the mid-afternoon rolls around, many of us find our energy waning. But what happens if you start the day tired even with a good night's sleep? This is the moment when you will need to start looking into why that may be and also what you can do to change it. In this edition of Women's Wellness Tips we look at 5 things that may be the energy-zapping culprits giving you that run down feeling all day long.
It turns out that even moderate dehydration (which results in the loss of 3 percent of your body weight) can make you feel mentally sluggish and mess with your concentration. The next time you're feeling foggy or lightheaded, don't just assume you're in serious need of some food. Try downing a glass or two of water.
2. Cell Phones
Checking your cell before bed amps up brain activity, making it harder to doze off. Plus, any electronic gadget's artificial blue light can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin. A 2011 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 20 percent of people ages 19 to 29 are awakened by a call, text, or e-mail at least a few nights a week. Power it down well before bedtime.
Many drugs have veiled energy-sapping side effects. Chief among them are some classes of antidepressants and certain beta-blockers used to prevent migraines or treat high blood pressure. If you start a new med and feel more lethargic than usual, see your doctor for an alternative. (If there isn't one, take your dose right before bed.)
While working out zaps the stress hormone cortisol, prolonged sweat sessions—like, for example, regularly running for more than 30 minutes at a steady rate—can actually rev cortisol production. Interval training (bursts of intense activity) combined with strength training (free-weight and body-weight moves) helps keep cortisol in check.
5. Low Iron
The mineral shuttles oxygen around your body and removes waste from your cells. If you're not getting around 18 milligrams a day, your body struggles to function properly and you can feel worn out; low iron levels in your diet can cause iron deficiency anemia. If you feel sluggish, ask your doctor for a simple blood test to see if you should be taking a supplement.
Other Possible Reasons Why You Feel Tired
Tired of Being Tired?
Download a copy of a free eBooklet, 'Your Guide to Never Being Tired Again' and start getting re-energized today!
Shopping Organic Doesn't Always Mean Healthy
Increasing numbers of us are waking up to the benefits of eating in more healthy ways and looking for food products that are made with our health – and the planet’s health - in mind. Organic foods stores are flourishing, as the go-to places for healthy nutrition.
Photo courtesy of Yumsugar
If you’ve recently decided to boost your own health by eating better, it’s likely you’ve made a few exploratory trips to the local natural foods stores. You may even have purchased a few items and perhaps you were amazed at how delicious they were. Sure, it’s ‘health food,’ but those crackers were outstanding; that ice cream was to die for. You may assume that anything you purchase at the health food store is ok to consume and free of health risks. Turns out that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Since people adhere to all different kinds of diets, even health food stores offer a huge variety of products, not all of them suited to a style of consumption that’s dedicated to strictly healthy practices.
If you are serious about your nutrition for fitness, you’ll need to carefully examine all food labels, even those from trusted health food resources. Here’s why:
1. Gluten-free foods have become the recent craze and a smart one to say the least, however, when purchasing gluten-free one must watch the sugar content. Sugar is organic, but it is never healthy in anything other than very small amounts. On average, Americans consume 30 teaspoons, (that’s 475 calories) of added sugars on a daily basis, which is more than three times what’s recommended by the American Heart Association. And according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control, 16 percent of kids and adolescents’ total daily calories come from added sugars! So, keep an eye out on sugar content in the gluten-free department. These tend to be misconstrued as “healthy” and even though one may give up gluten, they may end up adding just a bit too much sugar in the diet.
2. Vegetarian “faux-meats” and frozen entrees may be made from nutritious ingredients, but how much fat and how many calories do they pack in? Also, be aware of your consumption of processed soy since that is essentially what you are eating. You might want to check those numbers before indulging in extra helpings. Organic or not, such products should be consumed with restraint.
20 Frozen Entrees - Nutiritonal Break Down
3. Organic soups are another health food product to watch out for. While these are generally better than traditional, non-organic canned soup, they can still contain more than half your recommended daily allowance of sodium. It’s recommended to look for soups with less than 400 mg per serving (and to watch out because many cans actually have two servings). You can always spice up your soup with herbs to make more flavor.
Favorite Soups of the Experts
Eating organic foods is generally good for people and for the environment. But in the midst of the craze to establish a better diet, take the time to make sure you really are buying the excellent nutrition you are looking for.
We completely understand! Navigating your way through all things "organic" can be a daunting task. Sorting through nutrition advice for women in general gets even tougher when there are conflicting reports on everything from soup to nuts. We would love to help you with those burning questions! Drop us a line in the comment box or click the button below and fire away!
Everyone carries around a body-image. Because we are thinking and feeling creatures, we reflect on and worry about the image we are communicating to others by our presence in the world. Most people want to project an attractive persona; but making peace with your body-image is a difficult quest. So how’s your self-image these days? Are you feeling confident, or could your self-esteem use a boost?
If you’re looking for a way to increase your self-confidence, especially in regard to your body-image, maybe you should consider the many benefits of physical exercise. Did you know that the most powerful, magical effect of regular exercise is that it boosts your self-image? Getting a workout is a direct route to feel-good-about-me.The amazing thing is that it’s the exercise itself – and not necessarily the resulting improved fitness – that makes us feel better. So scheduling 30 minutes a day to walk or play a sport or do some Pilates is at least as much about giving our mood a lift as it is about building muscles.
It’s important to be consistent with exercise in order to gain the psychological benefits, but it doesn’t really matter what type of work out you do, or its intensity or duration. That means improved self-image will be the result even if the exercise is moderate. Whether or not you’re overweight, exercise is crucial to women's wellness. According to the Mayo Clinic, being active boosts “good” cholesterol and decreases unwanted triglycerides. This reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and helps prevent a host of other health concerns as well.
Exercise opens you up to the free flow of oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs. With increased oxygen, your body takes on an overall feeling of well-being. It’s a fact that too many of us have negative body images. Because of poor self-esteem, health problems ensue, such as dangerous yo-yo dieting, smoking, drug use, and cosmetic surgeries.
Poor self-image is rampant especially among women, who compare their bodies to the unnaturally svelte figures of advertising and other media. But men, as well, are subject to fears and worries about their bodies. These perceptions can lead to a range of unhealthy lifestyles.
A Little Goes a Long Way
According to recent studies, even a small amount of exercise will improve self-image. It’s not so much a matter of how much more fit you are becoming; the greatest thrill is that your self-image improves and so does your general outlook on life. It has been proven, even, that regular exercise improves sexual function in older people, with men reporting less difficulty with erectile dysfunction and women noticing enhanced sexual arousal.
Apparently it is critical that the exercise be regular. While you may feel great after the occasional excursion to the park, if you make it a daily occurrence you’ll not only feel great, but you’ll recognize improved self-confidence and optimism overall. Is 30 minutes a day more than you can handle? Do five minutes, then; or ten. Whatever amount of exercise you do will give your self-image a boost.
Be careful, though. You are likely to fall in love with your physically active self. Those five minutes will quickly become 20. Having a healthy self-image is just a fabulous place to be.