When you are craving foods because of a stressful situation, take a few minutes to relax, gather your thoughts and reflect on your fitness goals.
Go for a walk
Walking provides a simple way to take a mental break, and the physical activity eases tension. While all exercise has benefits, an outdoor walk in a quiet setting will be the most effective for gathering your thoughts. Choose a route through a park or quiet neighborhood that is free of traffic noise and other distractions. Bring your focus to how good it feels to get moving and the peacefulness of your environment.
Repeat a word or phrase
While sitting quietly, think of a positive word or phrase. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and repeat the affirmation in your head. It takes as little as 5 minutes of sitting quietly and reflecting on something positive to help ease stress and refresh your outlook.
Use guided meditation
If your thoughts tend to wander while meditating, listening to guiding words can be helpful. Guided meditations offer cues to help you refocus your thoughts and get the most from your meditation time. You can find guided meditations in the form of podcasts, apps for your smartphone, CDs and community classes.
Muscle relaxation eases tension throughout your whole body. It can be done while seated or while lying on your back. Begin at your feet and tense your muscles. Next breathe deeply as you relax the muscles. Repeat this process for each set of muscle groups, and work your way up your body.
Whether it’s a dull throbbing in your forehead or a full blown migraine, a headache can throw your healthy habits off track. Research shows that nutrition plays a role in triggering headaches. By monitoring your food and drink intake, you can reduce the chances of a headache that keeps you from working out.
A change in caffeine intake is a common cause of headaches, often called withdrawal headaches. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels that carry blood to the head. When caffeine consumption decreases, these blood vessels dilate, causing blood flow to the head to increase, which results in a headache. Over time headaches will lessen, but if you consume caffeine and want to decrease your intake, consider a gradual reduction to wean your system off of the stimulant.
The effect of alcohol on blood vessels may cause headaches in some people, but they are more likely caused by chemical compounds that lurk in the beverages. Beer and wine can contain tyramine, histamine and sulfites, substances that are commonly linked to headaches.
Common trigger foods
A variety of foods contain amines associated with headaches, such as tyramine, phenylethylamine and octopamine. Eliminating foods that contain these substances can reduce headache pain and frequency.
Fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
If you suspect that these foods and drinks are causing headaches, consider eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks. If reintroducing them into your eating plan results in an increase in headaches, you can identify them as trigger foods that are best avoided. For severe headaches and migraines, consult your doctor to determine a cause and treatment for the condition.
Stress and anxiety are often used to describe similar feelings, but they are two different things. Stress is a response to a current situation. For example, a big deadline at work can cause stress. Anxiety results from uncertainty about what may happen. For example, fear of losing your job can cause anxiety.
Both can influence the stress hormones that increase hunger and stall weight loss. The physical symptoms, such as headaches, upset stomach and disrupted sleep, can zap energy and make committing to workouts more difficult.
Identifying whether you are experiencing stress or anxiety can help you choose the best way to gain control.
Tips to control stress
Get organized. If you have a big deadline coming up, take control of your time and productivity. Set small daily tasks that will help you accomplish the work in a timely manner.
Ask for help. If you have too much on your plate, ask for help and delegate duties that will help reduce your workload.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity reduces the symptoms of stress.
Meditate. Meditation can help clear your mind and renew your focus, so you can react to stressful situations in a more positive way.
Tips to control anxiety
Focus on the present. Anxiety is often caused by a fear of what could happen in the future. Refocusing on the here and now can reduce concerns about the uncertainty of things we cannot control.
Take a break from the screen. Media outlets cover shocking and negative news stories to catch attention. Constantly consuming this information can cause anxiety over what could happen. Take note of your exposure to these media outlets and, if necessary, reduce your exposure.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can reduce the symptoms of anxiety in the same way it eases stress.
Seek help. Sometimes overcoming anxiety is not something you can do alone. Anxiety disorders affect as many as 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. Talk with a health professional about your anxiety.
If you have more than one farmers market in your area, shop around. Many vendors price foods differently based on the clientele and one might be more affordable than another. Also, check out foods that are farm direct through local farm stands and u-pick farms. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is another option for fresh foods that might be a better fit for your budget.
Shop the farmers market late
You can sometimes secure special discounts on foods at the farmers market just before closing. The selection may be limited, but vendors would rather sell fresh foods than pack them back up to take home. Don’t be afraid to make an offer on plentiful fruits and vegetables just before market closing time. You might walk away with a great deal on plenty of produce for meals all week.
Stock up during the height of the season
Prices on seasonal foods tend to drop when the food is most plentiful. For example, peaches may seem expensive early in the summer, but soon sellers will have an overabundance and prices often drop. Take advantage of this time, and stock up on fruits and vegetables that freeze well for later use.
Buy only what you’ll use
When you find a good deal on seasonal produce, it’s easy to get carried away and buy more than you need. You may forget about busy nights at the ball field or weekend road trips that will keep you away from your kitchen.
Make simple foods at home
Summer foods that best highlight seasonal produce are often very simple to make. Kale salads , chicken salad in lettuce wraps and lunch kabobs are easy recipes that are perfect for warmer weather. Save money by making these foods at home instead of buying pre-made versions at the store.
The summer heat can derail your best intentions for an afternoon workout, so exercise in the morning. It’s best to avoid outdoor exercise between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when the sun is at its strongest. Heat and humidity during this time forces you to decrease the intensity or length of your workout and can put you at risk for overheating. The cooler temperatures and less intense sun make a morning workout more enjoyable.
Summer is the best time to take advantage of the vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients in fresh produce. Using fruits and vegetables to fill up with fewer calories will help you reach your summer weight loss goals. Lighten up side dishes with fresh salads and grilled vegetables, and satisfy your sweet tooth with seasonal fruit.
Step 4: Plan ahead for treats
Summer isn’t quite the same without an occasional popsicle or scoop of ice cream. Plan for these treats by adjusting your food intake and your workouts to compensate for the extra calories. Skip a second helping at dinner so you can have dessert, or save treats for the days you can commit to a more intense workout.
Step 5: Create a restful evening routine
The change in daylight hours during the summer may influence your bedtime. When it’s still bright out at 8:00 pm, it can be more difficult to wind down from the day in preparation for a good night of rest. Create a routine that signals your body that it’s time for sleep. Close the blinds and end screen time 1 to 2 hours before you are ready to go to sleep.