Tag Archives: Stress & Anxiety

Developing a Positive Relationship with Food: Making a Positive Shift

What comes to mind when you hear the word “diet”? For many, it’s a sense of dread or even disgust. Just like with any diet or lifestyle choice, Paleo has its critics. I’ve found that the most critical opinions tend to come from those who don’t really understand what Paleo is, and what it really is about. For us, it’s not a diet (and I hate associating it with the word “diet” because of the negative connotations that go along with that), and it’s not meant to be a restrictive lifestyle either. Paleo, for us, is changing our way of thinking about food, and our perspective about what food is and what we use it for. Since beginning the Paleo lifestyle, I have gone through a myriad of emotions, many that I witness our clients going through as they transition to eating healthier. It’s looking at food in appreciation, and an understanding of how it was made, what is in it, and how those things effect our bodies. Paleo is a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s not a temporary way to lose weight, or a restriction of all things fun. In fact, since going Paleo, I have had more fun than I ever have in shopping for food, creating food, and enjoying food with my family, without that insatiable need to depend on food for all social activities and emotional ups and downs. It’s been freeing in that I can focus more of my energy on experiences and relationships with people, rather than food. All that said, like anyone, I struggle at times, especially as our society is still not conducive to clean eating. Going out to eat can be challenging, as can other social events. But I have learned to navigate most situations in a way that is comfortable to me and my family, and allows me to still enjoy most things that I did before – and then some new things too! For me, once I figured out how to look at food differently, more positively, I became content with my nutrition, my lifestyle, and myself.

Negative Relationship Patterns with Food

So let’s take the word “diet” out of the equation, and even the word “Paleo” for a minute and focus on how to start shifting perspective from a negative to a positive relationship with food. Because in order to be successful in reaching any health and fitness goals, a positive relationship with food is necessary, and imperative. Here are some of the most common negative patterns with food (do any of these relate to you?):

  • Emotional/Stress Eating: whether feeling positive or negative emotions, eating based solely on emotion can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.
  • Ignoring Hunger Cues: an inability to tell when you are hungry, and when you are satiated. Ignoring your body’s signals can lead to weight fluctuation and unhealthy weight gain or loss.
  • Food Guilt: beating yourself up about an unhealthy food choice so much that you’re unable to enjoy the food, or the experience.
  • Skipping Meals: skipping meals is just a bad idea. It can be detrimental for your mood, your sleep, your metabolic functioning and your overall health.
  • Negative Nelly: when describing your eating routine you list all the things you cannot eat. When thinking about your health/nutrition plan, the only things you can focus on are the foods that you miss and that you have eliminated, and how that impacts other aspects of your life in a negative way.
  • Restriction: you restrict yourself from food so much that you miss the point of healthy eating – to fill your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically – not to deprive yourself of all things happy!

Making a Positive Shift

If any of these things describe you, you may have some work to do before you can be successful with your health and nutrition journey. We’re striving for healthy body and healthy mind, and to do that we want to take some of the emotional stress out of your relationship with food. Here are some ways to make a positive shift in perspective when it comes to food, and how ultimately to develop a more positive relationship with food in order to be successful – and happy!

  1. Mindful Eating. This is listed first because I feel that it is the most important key to enjoying food, understanding food, and learning to eat and enjoy real, whole, organic foods. Eating mindfully can lead to better control over your weight by allowing you to tune into hunger cues. When eating mindfully, it also helps you to get more satisfaction from food, and enjoy the various flavors of real foods. Think about how you might eat a hamburger from a fast food restaurant or popcorn at a movie theatre – probably pretty fast and mindlessly, right? And you think it tastes so delicious because in those quick minutes of eating you are overwhelmed with the taste of salt and chemicals. Now imagine sitting down to eat a salad made with fresh, local organic vegetables and a bunless grassfed burger, eating slowly and tasting each subtle flavor, imagining the farm that these foods came from, healthy cows, and vegetables growing in the warm sun, and no added pesticides or chemicals. Try bringing more time and awareness to your next meal and notice the difference.
  2. Eat When You’re Hungry. It sound so simple, but we all struggle with this one. You come home from work and nosh on the first thing you see because you’re relieving stress. You have a fight with a friend or spouse and you down 6 brownies. You go to dinner with friends and you eat an inordinate amount of cheese dip, fries and maybe even some key lime pie. I’m not saying don’t eat when with friends. My point here is to bring more awareness to when you eat and why. And try to eat when you’re hungry, as much as possible. Emotional/stress eating leads to weight challenges, and negative emotional energy toward yourself and others.
  3. Imperfection. If you’re human, you will make mistakes, even when eating. And it’s ok! Just because you couldn’t resist that bread, or slice of cake, doesn’t mean your health plan is ruined, and it doesn’t make you a failure. Acknowledge your mistake, and how you want to do it differently next time, and let out go. Move forward. Be kind to yourself.
  4. Positive Penny. Let’s say goodbye to Negative Nelly – she drives me crazy. When someone asks you about your nutrition or lifestyle, start telling them about all of the amazing things you do and eat. For example, I had this amazing 6 layer paleo strawberry cake for my birthday this year! I discovered how to make the most delicious salad dressing I’ve ever eaten because of my paleo preferences, and I never feel bloated after a Thanksgiving meal! Also, I’m more active since going paleo, because all of my social engagements are no longer centered around food, but more around things like yoga classes, bowling, hiking and concerts!
  5. Enjoy the Experience. Whether cooking your own food or eating out with others, take time not just to eat mindfully, but to enjoy and be grateful for the experience of creating the food, sharing the food, and eating the food.
  6. Eat. Be okay with eating. Every meal, and multiple times a day. When you use the tools above you’ll soon realize that not only will you not gain weight or fat from eating multiple meals a day, you will actually feel better and your life and energy will improve.

Hopefully this will give you some food for thought. How have you found success and contentment when it comes to food and a healthy way of eating? What mistakes have you made, and how have you overcome your challenges?
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Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Yoga and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

Yoga and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

Yoga is everywhere. Celebrities credit yoga for their svelte physiques, yoga studios are popping up on every corner, and yoga pants are the new jeans. I don’t even wear jeans anymore. “Yoga” is a buzzword for sure, and most often – in our culture – used to reference yoga postures, or asanas. I find that even seasoned yoga students sometimes have difficulty answering the “What is Yoga” question, and many students come to a yoga class originally for the physical benefits: flexibility, coordination, balance, etc. That’s what originally drew me to the practice, in fact. But, like many, I soon discovered that yoga encompasses so much more, and I haven’t stopped practicing since. So what IS yoga, what does it have to do with the mind and spirit, and what is the mind-body-spirit connection?

What is Yoga?

The word “yoga” means “to yoke” or “to unite”, as in to unite the body, mind and spirit. Yoga originated in ancient India as physical, mental and spiritual practices. Later, yoga was introduced to, and quickly gained popularity in, the western part of the world as primarily a physical practice. While yoga history and philosophy are becoming more known in our culture, the stigma of yoga being simply another form of physical exercise remains. However, growing bodies of research related to meditation and asana credit yoga with significant stress reduction, improving cardiovascular health, controlling diabetes, promoting healthy mood and self-concept, and even longevity. Students of mine have touted the benefits of yoga, ranging from healing hip and back pain, to making pregnancy and labor smooth and relaxed, to diminishing significant body tremors, to improving overall stress management. You may be wondering how yoga does all of this. The answer: through mind-body-spirit connection!

The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

As yoga teaches us, the mind, body and spirit are all connected; what we think effects our bodies and what our bodies do effects our minds. Yoga postures are just as important as other aspects of yoga, such as meditation, breathing, truth, or compassion, and all of these things lead to a deeper interconnection and unification the mind, body and spirit. To say it simply, a relaxed and healthy mind and spirit leads to a relaxed and healthy body, and vice versa.

Practicing the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
Once you begin a yoga practice, you will pretty quickly begin to notice the benefits. Maybe physically at first, but if you are observant you will soon notice other aspects of your mind, your body, your life, starting to shift. Here are some examples of how the mind-body-spirit connection comes into play:

  • Physical Goals. When struggling physically, observe what the mind is doing. For example, if your goal is to improve physical balance, and you find that even holding tree pose for more than 5 seconds is challenging, you may want to observe what the mind is doing when you’re practicing tree pose. Maybe you feel anxious because you know balance is challenging for you, or frustrated with your body, or maybe you’re thinking about something else. Come out of the pose, take a few deep breaths to calm and quiet the mind, and then come back to the pose. Observe, without judgment, how your tree pose feels now.
  • Mental Health. When focusing on mental goals, pay attention to what the body is needing. For example, if stress-management is an issue for you, as it is for most, and you find it difficult to sit quietly to calm the mind, your body may need more. Try this: When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, stop, move through 5 or more sun salutations (adding in other poses if you like). Don’t forget to connect the breath to your movements. Then you may be ready to return to what you were doing, with a renewed energy and perspective.
  • Fulfillment. Check in with the spirit. For example, yoga teaches us to be kind and compassionate toward ourself, toward others, and toward our environment. If you feel disconnected somehow, or feel unfulfilled in some way, find a way to give back or to follow a passion. It can be something as simple as bringing a cup of coffee to your dry cleaner, shoveling snow for a neighbor, or enrolling in art classes. Or maybe a bigger project within the community, or sharing yoga with a local group. Fulfilling the spirit will lead to a healthy state of mind and body.
  • Lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle choices lead to healthy mind, body and spirit. Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising? Are you eating real, whole foods, and eating mindfully? Have you eliminated most toxins from your environment? Being good and kind to your body will deepen your mind-body-spirit connection, and optimize your overall health.

At Water and Rock Studio, our private yoga sessions and small group classes help strengthen this mind-body-spirit connection through movement, meditation, breathing techniques, and other yoga teachings. Yoga is an integral part of our overall philosophy of integrating mind and body to optimize health, heal disease, and reach wellness goals. Contact us to try our online private yoga sessions or yoga classes, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.
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Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

14 Health Benefits of Magnesium and How to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough

14 Health Benefits of Magnesium and How to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough

Magnesium is an essential mineral for our bodies, with endless benefits, yet it’s not something that we hear a lot about in the mainstream medical realm. When we bring this up to our clients, for example, we often get blank looks, or sometimes a vague sign of recognition. Despite the lack of awareness for this mineral, an estimated 80% of Americans are actually deficient in magnesium, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe. We hope that after you read this post you will be armed with more knowledge and awareness about the importance of healthy magnesium levels, what to look for if you think you may be magnesium-deficient, and how to use diet and supplementation to compensate for any deficiency.

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Symptomology is the primary indicator of a magnesium deficiency. There is no lab test that can accurately and consistently diagnose a person as deficient in magnesium. While there are blood and urine tests that provide estimates of magnesium levels, most doctors Will likely look at the presenting symptoms as the primary indicators. So what symptoms should you be looking for? A magnesium deficiency, especially one that has been ongoing, can cause a number of symptoms. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Muscle weakness and cramps
  • Seizures
  • Hypertension and abnormal heart rhythms
  • Mood swings and behavioral disorders
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Other nutrient deficiencies
  • Headache/migraines
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Significant loss of appetite

14 Health Benefits of Magnesium

Numerous studies have evaluated the benefits of magnesium, with staggering results. Here are 14 health benefits of magnesium:

  1. Relieves muscle aches, cramping, and spasms
  2. Aids digestion and relieves constipation
  3. Helps with sleep by quieting the mind and relaxing muscles
  4. Calms nerves
  5. Increases energy
  6. Helps prevent hypertension and promote heart health
  7. Helps relieve symptoms of PMS
  8. Helps prevent migraines
  9. Helps relieve pain of fibromyalgia
  10. Promotes healthy blood pressure levels
  11. Can boost exercise performance
  12. Helps regulate mood and reduce symptoms of depression
  13. Promotes bone health
  14. Strengthens tooth enamel

How to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough

Magnesium-Rich Foods. If you suspect that you may be deficient in magnesium, it is always a good idea to evaluate your diet. Add in as many whole, organic, and varied foods as possible. Remember that plant foods are only as healthy as the soil they were grown in. Organic vegetables, for example, tend to have higher levels of magnesium than non-organic. Some foods naturally rich in magnesium include:

  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Banana
  • Figs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Salmon

Magnesium Supplements. Depending on your symptoms, it may be a good idea to use magnesium supplements. There are lots of different types of magnesium supplements, with the citrate, chelate, and chloride forms believed to have higher absorption rates. We use Davinci Labs Tri-Mag 300, which provides three chelates forms of magnesium. As with any supplementation, its important that you additionally adhere to a diet of varied, whole and organic foods. The paleo diet provides healthy levels of magnesium, as well as an optimal calcium to magnesium ratio.

Contact us at Water and Rock Studio for a free online or in-studio health consult today!


Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Adrenal Fatigue: Signs, Symptoms, and What To Do About It

Adrenal Fatigue: Signs, Symptoms, and What To Do About It

Adrenal fatigue seems to be making its way to more mainstream health conversations, and for good reason. An estimated 80% of people are affected by this condition, and exhibit a wide range of symptoms. So what is adrenal fatigue, and what are the symptoms? Adrenal glands are two small organs that sit above the kidneys and are part of the endocrine system. They produce over 50 essential hormones, and are responsible for keeping many body systems in balance. One of these hormones, cortisol (otherwise known as the “stress hormone”), controls immune response, normalizes blood sugar, and regulated blood pressure. In a nutshell, when life stressors become too intense or too prolonged, the adrenal glands can’t keep up. Adrenal fatigue can possibly be caused by stressors such as:

– lack of sleep for long periods of time
– traumatic life events such as the death of a loved one
– lack of a healthy diet and exercise
– excessive workload and long hours
– environmental toxins: chemicals, mold, etc
– chronic infections or illness
– persistent negative emotions and emotional strain

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue vary, and are often misdiagnosed as other conditions. Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:

  •  brain fog/poor memory
  • trouble getting up in the morning
  • bone loss
  • inflammation
  • weight gain
  • hair loss
  • excessive sugar or salt cravings
  • weakened immune system response
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • loss of interest in sex

What To Do

If several of these symptoms describe you, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. So what can you do to heal your boy and help your adrenals function effectively? Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do on your own. Here are some things that we recommend to our clients who are dealing with symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

  1.  Diet. A healthy diet is at the root of any health and wellness regimen as we all know. Yet just hearing those words make many people cringe. We are so attached to our love of food that sometimes we can’t even see how harmful certain foods are to our bodies, and we may not even notice how they make us feel. What you eat matters. And if you want to feel your best you need to look at your diet, period. Addressing adrenal fatigue is similar to other health conditions in that you need to avoid chemicals and processed foods and eat more real, while, organic foods. Specifically, avoid
    – sugars/ artificial sweeteners
    – caffeine
    – processed food
    – hydrogenated oils
    – foods that you are sensitive to. For many people this includes gluten and/or dairy.

Instead, eat:
– organic fruits and vegetables
– organic or grass-fed protein
– nuts and seeds
– healthy oils, such as coconut, avocado or olive oil
– Himalayan sea salt

2.  Stress Reduction. A few things to incorporate into your daily routine include:
– moderate exercise a few days a week
– yoga
– deep breaths
– adequate sleep (8-10 hours a night)
– fun
– positive thinking and positive people
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3.  Supplements. Due to unhealthy farming practices, even our whole foods do not always contain the full amount of nutrients like they used to. Sometimes our bodies still need nutrients to help with adrenal functioning, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and others.

4.  Water. Make sure you stay hydrated with roughly half your body weight in ounces of water daily.

5.  Work with a Knowledgable Professional. It is always helpful to seek the support and guidance of a professional who is knowledgeable about adrenal fatigue and how it effects your body. Integrative and functional doctors, naturopathic practitioners, integrative and holistic nutritionists, and personal trainers with a holistic and integrative perspective with regard to wellness can all be helpful resources.

Keep in mind that just as it took months or even years to fatigue your adrenals, it may take some time to recover. Honor your body and nourish it with the lifestyle changes mentioned above and you will be well on your way to recovery! Contact us at Water and Rock Studio with questions, and let us help guide you to adrenal fatigue recovery.

 

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Reduce Stress with Deep Breaths

Reduce Stress with Deep Breaths

Anyone who frequents a yoga class has heard the words “deep breaths” probably multiple times. Most yogis and non-yogis alike have heard the phrase “take a deep breath” at some point in their lives. And deep breathing is all over self help books and google searches as a major way to cope with stress. So what’s all the hype about deep breaths? Is it just a cliche or can it really make a difference? Here we explore how deep breathing can reduce stress in the body, and how to know if you’re doing it correctly (yes, there actually is a method to proper breathing!).

Deep Breaths and Stress
Deep breathing can have small, large, and profound effects on health and the body. Research shows that breathing deeply can reduce anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, improve lung function, and improve sleep. Not to mention reducing stress and calming the body. How?Deep breaths, when done correctly, can move the body from its stress response, otherwise known as “fight or flight”, to a relaxed response, “rest and digest”. They actually engage the parasympathetic nervous system, reversing the stress response in your body, triggered by the body’s sympathetic nervous system. As you may hear in yoga classes, this can not only have positive physiological effects, but emotional effects as well. Deep breathing helps to quiet the mind, easing emotional turmoil and chatter.

How to Breathe Deeply and Reduce Stress
It sounds so easy right? Just take deep breaths. However, breathing properly is actually not intuitive to most adults. Unlike babies and small children, adults are influenced by learned behavior and often have a tendency to tense up the abdominal muscles when breathing, making the breaths shallower and more strained. To benefit fully from deep breathing, you first want to make sure you are relaxing the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, and sitting, standing, or lying in a way that provides space in the upper body for the breath to flow unobstructed and with ease. Place a hand on your belly and slowly inhale, filling the belly, the ribcage, the chest. As you exhale, release the air from top to bottom, fully contracting at the end of the exhale, hugging the belly button in toward the spine. This may feel counterintuitive to you, and you may feel muscles working that you don’t typically feel throughout the day.

We typically recommend to our clients to bring awareness to their breathing throughout the day. Some people respond well to numbers, and for those people we recommend trying to work up to taking about 100 deep breaths a day. For those of you who already have a meditation or other yoga practice, this may come naturally and easily. For many others, this may be something new and even intimidating. Relax, enjoy it! Breathe deeply as you walk down the hall, in between sips of water, during your kid’s soccer game, while you’re sitting in traffic, and as you drift off to sleep at night (the breathing will actually cause you to fall asleep faster!). Maybe you’ll start to notice differences in your response to stressful situations, your ability to manage daily tasks and social interactions, your energy, and your sleep.

Start today – start now! – practicing deep breaths to reduce stress. Contact us at Water and Rock Studio for help with stress relief, lifestyle goals, and to learn various breathing techniques!

Bob Butera’s Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety Workshop

bob butera 2013 bio photo
Bob Butera’s Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety Workshop

Harness the keys from Bob’s new book, Yoga Therapy for Stress and Anxiety. Learn how to use the basic tools of yoga (postures, breathing practices, relaxation, meditation) to quiet emotions, relax the body, and steady the mind. Deprogram limiting mental habits by examining and reforming long-held, nonconscious belief. Personalize simple, powerful shifts in daily routines in order to create a lifestyle that transforms stress into confidence

Bob Butera Ph.D., M.Div., E-RYT-500, is the founder of the YogaLife Institute and publisher of Yoga Living Magazine.

Schedule:
Thursday, December 17th 7:00pm (1.5-2 hours)

Cost
$35
$25 for unlimited class members of Water and Rock Studio
   


Space is limited, contact us today to register!