Love Matters For … Your Own Health

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over all the reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

Portrait of a woman breathing and holding a coffee mug at home

The airplane attendant always tells you: in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. The first time I heard this, my immediate reaction was to think, “Well, that’s a little selfish don’t you think”?

This is exactly how many people think about helping others – even when a plane is NOT in trouble!

That is, taking time for yourself seems a little selfish when you could be doing something for someone else. As you take a leisurely walk with friends, a long soaking bath, or just a few moments of peace alone with your thoughts, you may think that this it is so self-indulgent.

But the truth is that you are better able to help others when you have taken care of yourself already. If you are over-tired, over-stressed, or over-burdened by taking too much onto yourself, your decision making will be poorer. Your energy level will be less. And your attention will not be as good as it could be.

This lowered ability isn’t about you, your effort, or even how hard you try. It is about biology. When you are rested and relaxed, your body responds better and you will be more efficient at whatever you’re doing. It’s that simple.

So the first step to taking care of others is to do so for yourself.

 

 

Love matters for … your activity levels

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over all the reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

THE LOVE OF MOVEMENT

How did our culture decide that being active requires a shirt that says, “No Pain, No Gain.” How did we decide that if it hurts and your thighs burn and your side is splitting that you’re doing it right.

No healthy culture does this. In fact, most cultures simply move more through the day, doing activities they enjoy. They walk with friends, ride bikes, swim, play ball with their mates, or play with their kids.

Does this mean you shouldn’t go to the gym? Not at all! If you love the exertion of it, then it’s perfect for you. If you do not, it’s not! And many gyms have now incorporated a broader range of activities like yoga, team sports, biking groups etc.

The key is to find the activity you love, then do that. If you hate that activity, you’ll be less likely to follow through. But also, schlogging through a workout you hate can contribute to a stress response that can partially counteract the effect of the activity in the first place! In other words, doing an activity that you don’t like makes it even harder to get the benefits of exercise.

So find what you love and do that. Not only is it more enjoyable, it also puts your body’s internal state in a better position to take advantage of it!

 

 

 

Love Matters For … Your Relationship With Food

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

Let’s start with the love of food

I got into a long drawn out discussion with a wonderful person over this idea. I said that, like the people Mediterranean region, we need to love our food. She had struggled with eating issues in her past, and told me that this message was wrong, it was bad, it was [fill in the blank], and loving your food more is not the solution but the problem itself.

Clearly I had touched a nerve, and 100% understand the source of the sensitivity. We are coached by our culture to equate ‘love’ with consumption. We believe that the more you love your food, for example, the more you eat,and the bigger and faster and longer you should consume it.

This assumption is laced into every print, audio, and television food commercial you’ve ever seen. Even if this constant barrage isn’t coaching you explicitly, it’s still doing it implicitly. And you can see the outcome of this cultural messaging when someone eats huge bites in a hurry and says some version of “Did you see how much I loved my food?”

But those behaviors do not reflect any love of food, they equate love with consumption. These two are not the same and when you conflate love with consumption – whether that love is attached to food, or drink, or a person, or a job, or whatever – you are in a disordered relationship with that thing.

So change your definition for what it means to “love your food”.

  • If you love your food, you would take your time with it and not finish your lunch in the 5 minutes it takes you to walk back from the kitchen to your desk.
  • If you love your food, you would eat small in order to taste your food. Remember that your taste buds are only at your tongue. If you pack your cheek pockets with your food, you aren’t tasting 90% of it. At that point, you’re just gulping food.
  • If you love your food, you would not choose low cost processed food product made with ingredients that will never degrade. You would eat higher quality real foods because those taste better. By the way, they’re healthier for you too!

When you actually love your food, you eat smaller, taste more, control consumption, and therefore manage weight and health better as a wonderful byproduct of the process.

 

 

Resolution Solutions: Reward For Long Term Success

We’re human and like to be rewarded for our accomplishments. For the new year, we often have goals for ourselves, and those goals should come with rewards!

The key to these rewards is to make them support your efforts, rather than work against them. For example, if your goal is weight-related, don’t make that reward be some kind of triple fudge caramel macchiato ice cream caloric explosion. That’s going to work against you.

On the other hand, if your goal is to be more active, perhaps your goal for meeting the metrics you set could get yourself a new pair of running shoes or workout clothes. A goal to be more mindful could come with a reward to give yourself a trip to the spa.

In addition to creating goals that support your efforts, it’s a good idea to have multiple small goals to help pull you along. Remember, the big changes come from the everyday lifestyle activities you follow through on each day. So reward yourself weekly – in some small way – when you make your weekly goals as well.  If you meet your goal for an entire month, the reward yourself with something more substantial. This kind of tiered reward system can help sustain your efforts over time.

 

Resolution Solutions: Barriers To Your Goals

Even well-written goals can fail. And that failure may not come from the goal itself, but from life circumstances that get in your way. The key is to acknowledge that there are barriers, identify what they are, and then plan a fix for them.

There are so many kinds of barriers that it would be impossible to list them all in a blog post. It would be easier to have a method for finding yours.

Get into the practice of looking backward when you find that you did not complete a goal and reconstructing just what happened. This sounds simple to do, but it’s really not because you can be so rushed to get things done that you really never take stock of what happened!

When you pause to find that you missed a goal for the day, piece together the events that led to the moment when that incompletion happened. Think about the reasons why, and what would need to change in order for it to be complete the next day.

Making this a practice will help you be more self-aware of your goals and your own efforts to achieve them. It will also help develop the vital life skills of self-reflection and correction, which you could use in many aspects of your life!

 

 

 

Resolution Solutions: Face Forward

The new year is a time when people often reset expectations for themselves, to have a brighter future.

One great exercise in facing forward is to answer the following:  Life is short, so today I will [fill in the blank].

Take a moment each morning to reflect on what you can do to get the most from the time we have.

This simple exercise can be a potent daily reminder of what is truly important, and what may be simply a distraction.

Not only does this help our mental peace of mind, but can also improve our current and long-term health.

 

 

Resolution Solutions: One change solves two problems

In the new year, many people make resolutions to better manage such things as their finances and their health. But there is one activity that can allow you to do both: make your own food in your own home.

For example, eating out might cost $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $25 for dinner. Over a week, this equals $350 each week! What could you purchase for $350 per week!? Compare this to your weekly grocery bill, and think about how much you could save by simply making your own food in your own home.

For your health, eating at home is far better for you. For example, 80% of sodium and 70% of sugar consumed is obtained through foods purchased outside the home. When you make your own foods, you’re automatically eating better foods because zero people add hydrogenated oils and synthetic food ingredients to their plate — let alone those pounds of salt and sugar!

So, making your own food in your own home is a total resolution solution that not only kills two birds with one stone, but is super tasty too!

 

 

For A Stress Less Holiday: Look Forward

This week, the phrase you should focus on is, “Here’s what I’m looking forward to …” Then fill in the blank.

Last year is done, and now we can view the horizon in a positive way.

Create next year as one full of potential and promise by taking time each day of this week to identify what it is you look forward to in the coming year.

Look Forward.