Taking Action to Optimal Health - Part 3
It is just about time for summer, and soon we will be dusting off the roller blades and unfolding the Speedos. Not everyone is or will be as prepared as others, as they have been avoiding their fitness and nutrition programs like the photo radar on 14 Street.
Warm weather and less clothing go together like police and pastries! It is time to focus, commit, and be disciplined with your nutrition and fitness programs. As in the popular Eminem song, Lose Yourself, “Success is my only option, failure is not.” We must realize it is not necessary to be afraid of accomplishing our dreams and goals. What is standing in your way? The usual answer is fear! What do you really want in your life? Only you can prevent you from succeeding! You must focus, commit and be discipline with every aspect of life. Einstein was right when he said, “The significant problems of today cannot be solved by the level of thinking at which we created them.” Millions of dollars are spent yearly testing fat burning pills and anti-depressants, when the medical world should focus on the cause and prevention of disease, instead of administering more medication to try aid the problems.
As promised in my first article, I am here to shed some light on the fat loss puzzle, weight management, increasing energy and sleep levels, and decreasing the top causing factor in death related disease in North America: STRESS! I have devoted this whole article to this killer, and we will discuss stress and how it affects the human body, and introduce methods to relax and de-stress the body daily.
Stress can be defined as a condition that comes from any situation or circumstance that requires behavioural adjustment. Any change, either good or bad, is stressful. Positive or negative, the physiological response is the same. There is a secretion of adrenaline (epinephrine) or nor-adrenaline (nor-epinephrine) from our endocrine system. These hormones change the mental and physical components of our body. The ‘fight or flight’ response from the central nervous system can cause many problems in the human body that are detrimental to health, such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, low metabolism, increased breathing rate, muscle tension, and all heart diseases. We must develop, make time for, and incorporate methods of relaxation and de-stressing techniques to create a healthy balance in the mind and body.
In a recent study conducted at the UCLA School of Medicine, 22 people with high blood pressure incorporated deep breathing, biofeedback and relaxation tapes over a period of time. Over half were safely off medication all together in the time span, and 73% brought their blood pressure back to normal and reduced overall medication. In the control group of 17 people who did not learn the relaxation methods, only 1/3 was able to reduce their medication!
Life is an unbelievable gift, and to be able to conquer or prevent disease by simply learning techniques that calm the mind and body without having to see a specialist or professional is very rewarding. Gail Harris, author of Body and Soul, states, “Let go of the future and the past, and really live in the present,” and further, “We don’t create time by going faster; we create time by just simply allowing ourselves to be here in the moment.” These quotes epitomize how people today do not perceive what life is supposed to be about. We work harder and try to fit more tasks in to an already busy lifestyle without creating or focusing on the most important: us. We must learn to relax, create a peaceful mind, and work smarter, not harder. This will create a higher return on our energy. If you could actually put in less effort and create more positive results daily, would you make the time? This takes minimal effort and is a vital aspect of health, wellness, and creating overall longevity.
How do we achieve the relaxation response? It is a state of deep calm that results in a decrease of breathing, blood pressure and muscle tension, and an increase in metabolism. There are many ways to help achieve this relaxation, and we will explore a list of options that can be incorporated into your lifestyle.
- Schedule time for you. Concentrate on your fitness and heart health by exercising with weight training and cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or running.
- Incorporate relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, pilates, aerobics, massage therapy, hydrotherapy, tai chi, hiking, climbing, walking etc., are all examples of relaxation methods.
- Remember to have fun. Allow time for fun activities with family and friends.
- Visualization. Athletes use visualization to project their success. Run your goals through your mind daily as though they are happening to you.
- Counter negative or stressful thoughts and situations. Immediately counter negativity with positive thoughts/actions.
- Use imprinting methods. Rehearse your goals and create positivity daily.
- Affirmations. The power of repetition, using positive and powerful slogans, can help create your mind/body connection.
The relaxation state can be achieved through two basic principles of meditation: repetition of a sound, phrase or motion, and passively disregarding your thoughts. Studies show that practising these simple forms of meditation for at least 10 minutes each day can protect against or alleviate anxiety, depression, headaches, heart rhythm disturbances, high blood pressure, PMS, and insomnia.
In conclusion, incorporating any type of stress reducing activity as listed above, has been proven to aid in the cause and prevention of disease. Remember, it is important to consult with a professional who has the skills to instruct or educate you on the benefits, rewards and the practice of the activity. Life is a process of creating, and only you can create what you want! Next time we will discuss the best foods to avoid toxins and cellulite, and cleansing of the body. Until then, take care of yourself and the ones you love!