All Entries For emotional health

Sweat It Out: 50 Fast & Empowering Break-Up Songs


When you're newly single or going through a tough break-up, it's common to channel that emotional energy into unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking and even overeating. This is especially true around Valentine's Day (and other holidays) when messages and images of happy couples are in your face at every turn (grrr).

But there is a better—and healthier way—to deal. You can use this time to focus on you—your goals, your desires, and your unique life vision. When you need an emotional release, let exercise be your friend (just channel your inner Bridget Jones and hit that Spin bike!). Use it as a focus or a distraction, a natural way to build your endorphins back up.

The following workout songs will help you get in the right spirit for your fitness session and empower you to be your best, happy self! Some are angry, some are celebratory, and some are affirmation that you are stronger than ever—right now.
Posted 2/5/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 4 comments   38,286 views
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Is the Junk-Food 'Addiction' Study Junk Science?


"I'm fat because of Oreo cookies!" screamed the woman as she entered the weight-loss class I was coaching last week. In hand, she waved the press release from Connecticut College, which blared the warning, "Oreos are just as addictive as drugs!" 
 
 
"I am addicted to certain foods, just like those rats were addicted to Oreo cookies," she continued on.  "It's supposed to be worse than being addicted to cocaine. How am I ever going to be successful with my weight loss?"
Posted 10/23/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 71 comments   20,233 views
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Poll: One Exercise You'd Never Do in Public?


Do you have any exercises you really don't like to do when other people might see you?

I do.

In fact, at one time or another in my weight loss project, I've had a lot of them. When I was at my highest weight, it was swimming, or anything else that involved not wearing a shirt. Don't ask me why--it's not as though you couldn't tell how big I was when I was wearing a shirt.

When I took up stationary biking, I was always very careful, at first, to avoid the recumbent models and stick to the uprights. After catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror on a recumbent bike, I thought my body had the same basic shape as a Hershey's Kiss.

Even after I got down to my lowest weight, I hated to use an elliptical machine without wearing sweat pants. Whenever I built up to a good speed while wearing shorts, the loose skin on my legs started flapping so loud you could hear it on the other side of the gym.

I guess you could say that I had a pretty big problem with negative body-image, to put it mildly.

But things have gotten quite a bit better for me in this department, thankfully. These days, I rarely worry about how other people might see me enough to let that restrict my activity (otherwise, you'd never catch me riding my bike in compression shorts).
Posted 6/14/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Dean Anderson : 337 comments   19,433 views
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Have You Found Your Inner 'Normal Eater'?


One of the goals of making a “lifestyle change” (as opposed to going on a diet) is to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating that feels normal, comfortable, usually enjoyable, and relatively easy to maintain over time.

No elaborate eating rules, no worries about “good” foods and “bad” foods, no guilt feelings or verbal self-abuse for breaking the rules, no getting obsessed with weigh-ins or calorie counting, no restricting your social life so you can avoid people/situations that might make you blow your diet. Just a little common sense, some basic nutritional knowledge, and a willingness to trust your body to make up for your occasional dietary “mistakes” and balance out your calorie and nutrient intake over time to match your needs.

According to this article, this desirable state is called “normal eating,” and it’s something all of us can achieve by simply eating when we’re hungry, eating the things we like, and stopping when we’re satisfied.

But just how realistic is this notion, especially for those of us who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight? Can things really be this simple?

Posted 4/12/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Dean Anderson : 343 comments   57,915 views
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5 Easy Ways to Better Value Your Time


Everyone on the planet has one incredible thing in common.  Every week, we are each given 168 hours to do what we please, to create and share our worlds, to make choices that decide our future, and to fill our hearts up with what makes them beat with excitement.  What wakes us up in life and how we spend our time are one in the same. 
 
The time I have today, teaching yoga and building a new business, is completely different than when I worked a 9-to-5 gig.  My goals with practicing yoga and writing balance each day, as well as my love for CrossFit and Pilates.  I like having a full plate at the beginning of each day and slowly clearing it as the day goes along.  Except for on weekends, where I don’t do any "work" at all (only occasionally subbing for yoga classes). 
 
My goal is to end each day with the satisfaction that it was well spent.  I want to be able to sit back, enjoy a glass of red wine, and know that I contributed to something bigger than myself.  Knowing this, over the past couple of years I have developed ways to utilize my time to its fullest.  These five tips speak to me, and hopefully to you as well. 
Posted 3/30/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   24,719 views
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Mastering the Art of Imperfection: How I Am Learning to Let Go of My Perfectionism


I was born a perfectionist and it is something I have fought with for the better part of my life. I believe my need to be perfect has kept me from going out and truly embracing everything that life has to offer. I have often wondered why I expected more from myself than I would ever expect from my friends and family. For me, anything short of what I deemed was perfect was like a Scarlet Letter I wore for everyone else to see.

A few months ago I was watching an interesting documentary on the masterpiece painters. They told the tales of how it took some of the painters years and years of painting and repainting a particular portrait or landscape before they felt all was just right--and even then it may not have been right for them. What surprised me was the sheer beauty of their work and yet these great painters were, many times, never satisfied as they always saw the flaws in their own work when no one else could.

That is precisely what I found true with myself-- my need to be perfect was keeping me from ever accomplishing anything I wanted out of life. I would set the bar so high that the minute I fell flat on my face I did what so many others did and that was to give up. Giving up was so much easier than forgiving myself for not being perfect and moving on.

Posted 3/22/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 237 comments   31,674 views
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Rate Your Commitment to Weight Loss


For some of us, visualizing a goal is easy. For others, goal setting comes more naturally. Thomas Edison visualized the light bulb long before he succeeded in its invention.

Visualizing and goal setting are important steps to success, especially when it comes to weight loss. Preparing for a journey that lasts a lifetime also helps keep everything in perspective. Using available tools, reading articles, and connecting with others for support, keeps us going when we want to give up. Even with all this, the journey is still long, hard, and frustrating.

Sometimes all the resources and accountability in the world can't make up for one of the most important keys to success – commitment to your weight loss and health goals. You can have the vision, a plan, resource tools, and support but without heart-felt commitment to ignite the passion to go the distance, success may be fleeting.

Here is a scale to help you rate your commitment to reaching your weight loss and health goals.

Posted 3/21/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 431 comments   85,785 views
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Stay Motivated When the Scale Isnít Moving


It is very easy to get frustrated when the scale isn’t moving. It doesn’t matter whether we have hit a plateau or are trying to deal with medical issues. Sometimes it feels like it isn’t worth the effort to keep making healthy lifestyle choices. Everyone tells us to stay motivated. Our friends, our co-workers, our relatives say to keep going, don’t quit. Sometimes, though, you ask, "Why? Why try my hardest when it ends in disappointment? Why go through something when it’s going to hurt? Why?"
 
Because it’s going to be different this time! Because you can’t accomplish anything if you give up! Disappointments and failures happen to everyone. The difference between those who reach their goals and those who don’t is staying motivated. If you’re motivated, you’ll keep going. If you keep going, eventually you’ll reach your goal. Need more motivation? Here are some motivational quotes shared by our members to help keep the fire burning inside you.
Posted 3/13/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 72 comments   107,715 views
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Food Addiction is Real (and 6 Ways to Deal)


Greetings to everyone. I'm thrilled to share this guest blog on DailySpark.com to share my wit and wisdom on all things healthy living. The SparkPeople community is a powerful and potent network of wonderful folks supporting one another as they strive to achieve mental and physical fitness through a healthier lifestyle. Kudos to all of you for doing your best to live the rich and rewarding life each of you so deserves.
 
This blog is all about the brand new science of food and addiction. As a physician and scientist and Pew Foundation scholar in nutrition and metabolism, I have devoted years to studying this issue and am thrilled to see that scientists around the globe continue to produce brilliant work to help people manage what is now emerging as a major problem in the field of weight management. Even the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, noted in a recent pronouncement that a new and significant cause of overweight and obesity is food addiction.
 
SparkPeople has done a masterful job of enlightening the community about this cutting-edge new science. I've been following the personal journeys of so many people who are struggling with cravings, binges and addictive urges for what we now call the hyperpalatables--sugary/fatty/salty/refined/processed food combinations.
 
Let's meet Samantha, one of my patients, who is featured in my book, The Hunger Fix,  which described the new science in consumer-friendly terms.

The beast never went away, it was just hiding, waiting to strike. I was blindsided, and by the time I really consciously realized what was happening, it was too late. A clear consciousness of what was happening didn't emerge until real physical terror— I woke up choking, because stomach acid was running up my throat into my mouth from my anxiety. I had bought bags of candy, intending to make Christmas cookies for everyone, but suddenly I had to feed the beast. I hid candy in the freezer, the car, even wrapped in a sock strategically placed through- out the house. I felt ashamed, tricked, embarrassed, mortified, and angry. The anger fired me up and gave me strength to face the beast. I'm nauseous just admitting my darkest moments of addiction— my friends, family, and husband would be shocked to know!  The Hunger Fix, pages 166-167

Thanks to the advent of specialized scans that allow researchers to peer into the brain, we've discovered what is now believed to be the basic mechanisms underlying all addictions. This is what is happening inside your brain:
  1. Your Reward Center is Hijacked: In any addictive state, we now know that the reward center in your brain undergoes organic changes. In the case of food, it's usually the hyperpalatables that cause most of the problems. Overexposure to them causes too much dopamine (the brain chemical that helps you feel reward and pleasure) to flow, overwhelming the brain. The brain can't handle this long term and a primal mechanism kicks in resulting in a decrease in the total number of dopamine receptors (the only way to feel reward is when dopamine bonds with its receptor). The bad news is that as a consequence of this downshift in receptors, your own perception of reward significantly decreases. One cupcake is not enough. 2, 3, 20 can't do it. There's no period to the end of that sugary/fatty/salty sentence. This is how the addictive cycle begins. If you have addiction genetics in your family line, this entire process is magnified. You do not have to have addiction genetics to become food addicted. You just need that overexposure from your living environment.

  2. Your Executive Center is Impaired: People with food addictions are constantly told "just use moderation for heaven's sake!". The problem is that the brain center that controls impulses (prefrontal cortex or PFC) is also where your willpower and discipline is housed. Scientists have discovered that in all addictions, the PFC is damaged and impaired. Try telling a food addict or an alcoholic in the middle of their respective binges to use moderation. This is not an excuse to stay out of control. It's just a scientific fact that is taken into consideration when a detox and recovery program are created.
What does this mean to you? Here are some tips to help you get started on your own path to lifelong recovery.
Posted 2/13/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 30 comments   41,127 views
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This Year, Be Your Own Valentine


I'm a perfectionist, and I don't like to trouble other people with my problems. As a result, I'm sometimes quite hard on myself. Recently, I found myself in quite a jam, and I had no choice but to call a friend for help. I braced myself for her reaction. Rather than judge me, she was gentle and kind.

Her generosity, compassion and kindness were a wake-up call to me. I was shocked--not by her behavior, but by my reaction. And I vowed to go easier on myself.

A few nights later, I was reading the Pema Chodron book "Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion." I seem to stumble upon Pema's teachings when I am most in need of guidance. That night I reread teaching #15, Not Causing Harm. This excerpt is what seemed prophetic:"It's a lifetime's journey to relate honestly to the immediacy of our  experience and to respect ourselves not to judge it. As we become more wholehearted in this journey of gentle honesty, it comes as a shock to realize how much we've blinded ourselves to the ways in which we cause harm." (Emphasis mine.)

I read that passage several times, each time pausing to reflect on how I do this in my life. In an effort to be a more mindful person, I qualified and judged myself rather than employing gentle honesty.

Since then I've made a concerted effort to go easier on myself, to observe rather than judge my actions, and to  treat myself the way my friend treated me, and the way I treat those I love: with gentle honesty.

As we prepare to celebrate the day that we traditionally express love to others, let us take the time to express our love for ourselves. After all, the relationship we have with ourselves is our most valuable yet the one to which many of us devote the least amount of effort.
Posted 2/7/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 52 comments   12,129 views
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7 Quick Mood Boosters


Brighten your spirits in no time flat with these easy tricks.

Reach for the sky
 
Get on your feet, look to the ceiling and stretch your arms straight up, spreading your fingers. "The simple act of standing prompts a boost in circulation, delivering oxygen- and energy-rich blood to your cells," explains psychotherapist Kimberly Willis, PhD, author of The Little Book of Diet Help: Expert Tips and Tapping Techniques to Stay Slim for Life. And smile as you hold the stretch: It will trigger the release of feel-good brain chemicals. 
Posted 1/14/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   13,848 views
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8 Ways to Bust the Winter Blahs


For many people, cold weather and a lack of sunshine can bring on a mild depression known as the ''winter blues.'' People that experience the ''winter blues'' will generally lack motivation and energy. Others may even develop a clinical depression in the form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). 
 
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is ''a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.'' Those that experience SAD may produce too much melatonin, which is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep and body temperature. Producing too much melatonin disrupts the body's internal clock and may then cause depression, as seen with SAD sufferers.
 
Some of the signs of SAD may include the following:
 
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed mood
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Cravings for sweet and starchy foods
  • Oversleeping
 
Posted 12/18/2012  12:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 13 comments   9,679 views
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How to Help Children Deal When Tragedy Strikes


Our nation faced an unthinkable tragedy on the morning of December 14.  The school shooting in Newtown, CT, instantly became something that we could not wrap our brains around.  We try, but the answers that we seek do not come.  We struggle to comprehend it as adults and as parents, to choose the right words when speaking with our children, and to figure out how we can protect those around us who are more precious than anything on earth.

On the one hand, it seems an impossible task to try to write anything that can even remotely address people’s needs in response to the horrific  news that has been plastered on our television and computer screens, our mobile devices, and the black and white print around us.  On the other hand, it feels inappropriate to write about anything else at this time. (I began writing this less than 24 hours after the event.)
In the aftermath of a tragedy that is beyond our comprehension, people’s initial shocked reactions include the questions: "How could this happen?"  "Why?"  "Who would do something like this?" Even those in the news media, visibly shaken by the event as they reported on it, asked those questions.

With time, we can come up with intellectual answers to these questions that focus on the identification of the perpetrator, realization of the individual’s background and history, and a piecing together of the events that led up to the incomprehensible.  And with time, an increasing amount of the factual details will come together to tell a (perhaps fateful, and definitely tragic) tale. 

The emotional dealings with the aftermath are a much different matter. 
Posted 12/17/2012  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments   7,015 views
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How Exercise Can Reduce Stress & Anxiety


When I find my mood is going downhill, I usually take an exercise break to try and lift it back up. The mood boost that we get is just one of the many benefits we experience from exercising. Not only do I know that I burned some calories, improved my overall health, but I feel a lot better in general and come back with a much more positive outlook on things for quite some time afterward.

Posted 10/11/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 22 comments   11,016 views
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Watch: Blogger Takes on the Haters Who Called Her Fat


Posting anything on the internet can bring a lot of comments and feedback -- some positive and some negative. I wonder though, if it weren't for the anonymity of the internet would the same people that leave negative comments and feedback say the same thing in person? I doubt that they would, so when you get brave people to post blogs and videos, they open themselves up to a lot of scrutiny. Our very own Coach Nicole experienced this several years ago with comments made about her on her YouTube workout videos. I don't know if I could've taken those negative comments as well as Coach Nicole, but I didn't believe one word of the negative comments that were posted.
Posted 7/26/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 195 comments   24,951 views
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