We all know that stress wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies, including packing on the pounds. And while de-stressing sounds easy enough—do a few yoga poses here, take a few deep breaths there—understanding the weight-loss and stress connection goes a little deeper than just getting a massage every month. Committing to a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about what you do outwardly, it’s also about what you think, what you say and how you treat yourself.
I’ve known this to be true for quite awhile now (Oh, how I’ve had my own ah-ha moments as this blog has grown over the years), but I’ve never seen a whole book dedicated to the sole concept of actively managing your mind and body to handle stress over the long term to achieve optimal health and wellness. Stress Less, Weigh Less by Holly Mosier honestly surprised me.
I thought it would be another diet book with super-basic advice (as if we all don’t know that yoga de-stresses), but this stress and weight-loss book went deep into the mind-body connection and provided a road map of how to go from unaware of your thoughts and your body to keenly tuned in through series of exercises, tasks and games (whee!). Sure, the old relaxation standbys of doing yoga and trying meditation are there, but there are definitely new ones. Read on for six tips to truly Stress Less, Weigh Less.
1. Stress adds up over time. Most of us think of stress as an event—a late night working on a deadline, a fight with a boyfriend or a child who just will not stop crying. But the stress that really affects our health and our waistline is the kind that builds over time, straining our minds and bodies. Mosier says this increases your appetite, suppresses your immune system and makes it harder to sleep. Making the commitment to decrease stress EVERY DAY—not just when we’re feeling stressed—is essential.
2. Discipline your thoughts and the behavior might follow. Although the word “discipline” takes me back to sitting in the corner for talking too much in first grade, in Mosier’s book (quite literally!) “discipline” is just being aware of your thoughts and not beating yourself up time and time again. We’re all for treating yourself like your best friend!
3. Make focused breathing a game. Deep breathing has been shown to reduce your blood pressure and lower stress levels. But to make focused breathing a little more fun, Mosier suggests seeing how many breaths you can take that are truly focused (you’ll know you’ve lost the game once your mind starts worrying about what you’ll wear tomorrow to that work luncheon). The game is to always try to be focused for longer and longer periods of time.
4. Be grateful for what’s going right. Oh, the power of gratitude! Instead of focusing on the size of your thighs or how your husband can never put his clothes away, be grateful for how strong and powerful those legs are and how your husband always mows the grass without you even having to ask! It’s all about perspective.
5. Eat protein at breakfast. Our nutrition can greatly affect our stress levels. Start your day off right by eating some whole-grain carbs, a little healthy fat and some protein. The protein keeps you feeling full and your blood sugar stable, so that you stay energized to tackle your day—and win that focused breathing game!
Stress Less, Weigh Less is chock-full of more good tidbits, advice and information on helping you to reduce stress (and therefore drop unwanted pounds) in ways I promise you haven’t heard before. Truly a must-read, ladies! How do you beat stress every day? —Jenn