I have the very best customers at my shop. They are informed. They take a proactive approach to their health. They desire more from their bodies than just feeling okay. But I have noticed these same customers get so defeated and flabbergasted when it comes to losing weight. They are doing all the "right" things but can't seem to drop the weight. So I go down the list...
- What is your diet like? Usually people think they have a healthy diet. I was one of those people. I thought my pantry filled with whole grains was good for us. I thought canola oil was the healthy oil. I thought eating less meat was keeping us lean. I was wrong. But those that are totally eating all the right things may still find that they are struggling with weight.
- Are you getting exercise? Are you active daily? Most people say yes. Especially those that are trying to lose some LBs. Running is usually the response. Everyone is training for a 5K. But for some reason they cannot lose the fat around around their belly.
- Are you stressed? YES! It ranges from dealing with work issues, caring for an elderly parent, being a mom of toddlers, making the paycheck stretch, etc.
God made us in such a way that when the zombies come chasing after us our bodies will respond in a way that we can run to the nearest telephone pole and scale it (because zombies can't climb...depending on who is writing the story). Stress is kind of like a superpower activator. All of a sudden we can do things we never could before. That is why a lot of us find that we can focus better when there is a closing in deadline. It is the way our body responds to stress. So let's break it down...
You are walking down the road with your backpack full of apocalyptic gear (this includes water you have stolen, cans of disgusting food like soggy asparagus and spinach that was picked over at the beginning of the apocalypse but hey it's still paleo, a bat that you have driven nails through as your weapon, and apparently some makeup because everyone always has mascara on in these types of situations). You look to your right and there is a whole crowd of hungry zombies. First your hypothalamus clicks into gear which triggers that flight or fight response which comes from your adrenal-cortical system and your nervous system floods your body with adrenaline and noradrenaline which makes you super focused on the issue (zombies) before you. At the same time your pituitary gland secretes a hormone called ACTH that travels through your bloodstream to your adrenal cortex where they will then send out up to 30 different hormones to help you respond to the stressful situation. One of these many hormones in cortisol. This hormone is responsible for rapidly releasing glycogen stores for extra energy.
Here is the problem and why stress leads to weight gain...We aren't being chased by zombies (yet) but we are under CONSTANT stress ALL THE TIME and we rarely allow our bodies to recover and reset. So guess what happens when our body is constantly being flooded with cortisol? It causes all kinds of issues including brain fogginess, immune system shutting down, low thyroid function, blood sugar irregularities, decreased bone density and muscle tissue, and INCREASED BELLY FAT.
So what is the answer? Well obviously it is just to get rid of stress. Duh. That's easy. UHHHH NO. Not easy or maybe not even possible. I wouldn't know. I am so lousy at this. But I do what I can when I can and I guess that is what you should do too. Everyone de-stresses differently. My favorite way to de-stress is running but according to a lot of the paleo world running causes the same effect on your body as stress. Eh...don't know what to tell you here. Running and coffee are just two vices I'm not willing to give up. So yeah, I pretty much suck at this stress thing. I do limit myself to only 2 miles so I don't have a prolonged stress response. (Please forgive me Robb Wolf.)
I would say that probably the best thing I ever did for stress was two years ago Levi and I had a whole year of just saying no. We do this thing at the start of the year where we have a goal or a theme (This is a serious thing for us...not a cutesy Pinterest idea). This year's theme is GROW. It is hard and is really painful. But two years ago our theme was KEEP IT SIMPLE. And during that whole year we didn't sign up for things or tackle any house projects and we limited our kid's extra-curricular activities. It was AWESOME! We saved a ton of money and really learned how to enjoy what is real again. This was an extreme case of taking a break but I think it is a good idea to at least highlight a week on your calender and just say, "This week we are saying no. We are going to be home for dinner. We are going to take a nap. We are going to watch cartoons. We are going to just be." Make it official and gather the family around as you discuss what you think are necessary activies and what you can eliminate for the week. There is something special about putting it in writing. We use a chalkboard. But when it is writing it is a reminder that you are doing this not because you are lazy but because you planned this break because your body requires it for you to stay healthy, for your family to stay whole.
Taking a B-Complex supplement is another good idea. B-12 is especially important for stress. I also really like an amino acid called GABA. I have taken GABA when all I can think about is having a glass of wine but it is 10am and it probably would be the saddest thing ever for my kids to find me drinking alone in my closet. Just kidding...kind of. You try talking to a sales rep or customer while three tiny people are all begging for the most ridiculous things and they are all demanding they have it this very minute while the dog is barking at the stupid squirrels and the dryer buzzer just went off for the fifth time because you keep having to dewrinkle this load. Life is crazy. GABA can sometimes help take the edge off. But ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS talk to your doctor before self-prescribing. (You can't take GABA while on MAOIs).
Sleep is also pretty stinkin important to this stress thing. It is all about the recovery. If you have a difficult time relaxing enough to just fall asleep then try some magnesium. My absolute favorite is called CALM. But make sleep a priority. I would even say, and so would Robb Wolf, that sleep is more important than working out. I had a friend tell me the other day that she was getting up and working out super early every morning just to be able to fit it into her very crazy schedule but she just wasn't seeing any results. But after reading Robb's book she traded the workout for sleep and soon saw it making a difference on her weight and her well-being. Something to think about.
I love my recipe for today because it is super stress free and looks like something you would have at a spa while you are relaxing after your massage.
Fish Tacos with Pineapple Mango Salsa
Frozen Tilapia fillets (I buy them in a big bag in the freezer section. These are great because they thaw quickly in a bowl of water, and I have yet to be able to overcook them...even after leaving them under the broiler for 10 minutes.)
Old Bay Seasoning
Butter Lettuce or any lettuce you can use as a taco shell
Sweet bell peppers
Thaw the tilapia fillets. Pat dry and then rub with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with Old Bay, salt and pepper. I go heavy on the Old Bay but it gives it a kick so watch out.
Broil fillets in oven until they look done. (Seriously, you can't overdo this part...I've tried.) I like mine to be browning on the edges. Kind of chop it up into bite size pieces.
Chop all of your salsa ingredients. I have no measurements. Sorry. I just chop until the mixture looks pretty. Squeeze in some lemon and add a bit of salt.
On a plate fill lettuce with some fish and top with salsa. Ta-da!
THEN...that's right people! We have leftovers! YAY!
Take your leftover fish and salsa and throw it in a gallon sized baggie. Toss in a few handfuls of salad mix and add your fav dressing. See my balsamic vinaigrette below.
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper
Add ingredients to a jar and shake. EASY PEASY.