Let's take a closer look this week at CARBS (que the oooooo's and aaaaaah's). Carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years due to the misconception that they're inherently bad, or straight up fattening. This misrepresentation prevents people from consuming a properly balanced diet because the right carbohydrates are essential for good health. Let's keep going...
Carbohydrates are essential to life. They provide the body with glucose which is the preferred fuel source for the brain and nervous system, both of which require a constant supply to function optimally. When dietary carbohydrate is too low, lean mass will begin to break down and get used in providing glucose for the cells. This is far from ideal! Our bodies require a minimum amount of 130 grams of carbohydrates each day in order to meet basic energy demands and provide our brains with enough glucose to function optimally. This is why nutrition plans such as "macros," can be useful in ensuring our body is getting enough of our core nutrients - protein, carbohydrates and fats.
So, now that we know carbs are important for optimal function what are some signs that we may be cutting carbs too low?
- Fatigue & Brain Fog: The most obvious indicator that your body isn’t getting the carbs it needs to function its best will manifest as feeling physically and mentally exhausted. In addition to feeling sluggish and even sleepy throughout the day, many people experience headaches and trouble focusing when they don’t consume ample carbohydrates.
- Moodiness: Along with difficulty focusing, you may also experience changes in mood — especially irritability. In addition to providing glucose, carbohydrates also increase the body's production of serotonin (our feel good hormone) which lends to our overall feelings of well-being. If you notice consistent shifts in your mood consider looking at your daily carbohydrate in-take and aiming for that 130 grams noted above.
- Bad Breath (yikes): Unexpected but very real: Falling short on carbohydrates can make your breath stink. When you eat low-carb, your body turns to fat for fuel and in the process of breaking down that fat, your body produces chemicals called ketones, which are released in the breath and have a foul odor.
- Poor Workout Performance: Insufficient carb in-take may not have a measurable impact on low-intensity style workouts but if you begin to notice that you're consistently struggling to simply make it through higher intensity training sessions it may be that you're not providing your body with enough glucose (a.k.a. carbohydrates) to utilize as fuel since it cannot produce ample energy quick enough with just oxygen or fat.
- Tummy Troubles: When we cut back on foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, we eliminate a lot of the fiber in our diet. Without that valuable fiber we end up with constipation and irregular time spent on the toilet (no bueno). Most Americans fall short of their daily fiber in-take so if you're cutting carbs too low you can practically guarantee digestion issues are on the horizon.
Hopefully by now you're learning to embrace carbohydrates again. The important thing to remember is quality carbs are part of quality nutrition. Aim for 130 grams each day and focus on functional carbohydrates to provide your body with optimal fuel that will keep you going day in and day out!
Last week we covered the practice of energy awareness and why it is an integral facet of our overall health and well-being. This week I want you to do two things:
- Email me the results of your energy awareness exercise from last week (send to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Begin establishing your core values
Why are core values important? Your core values are the bedrock of who you are and should be what you care about most in the world. Once established, our core values serve as guideposts in ensuring our happiness, integrity, optimal mental / emotional health and a whole lot more. When we live in accordance with these values we are able to function our best on a daily basis...we can operate in high vibrational energy (think: "in the flow"). The key is to think about and establish what our top values are as an individual. This week I want you to use the link provided here to review the corresponding list of values and select your top FIVE. In the coming weeks, we will then use these values to create boundaries - yahoo!!
The More You Know: Say "Yes," to Stress....Wait, huh?
STRESS...that dirty little word we all know too well.
Stress isn't a new problem. In fact, it's been around for centuries clueing us into just how powerful our mental and emotional states can be to our health.
The United States consistently ranks among the Top 10 in surveys citing countries with the "most stressed out," populations. Americans report feeling more stressed, angry, and worried than they had at any point in the prior decade - and that was the "good ole days," before any of us have even heard of COVID19!
While scientists are still hard at work trying to fully understand the role that stress plays in a holistic mind-body connection we have learned that consistent, elevated levels of stress are detrimental to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
But there's another side to stress that goes largely unnoticed. Stress is a valuable tool encoded into our human evolution. Stress is our adaptive "red flag," - it is our mind and body's way of communicating that something (or some things) within our environment are triggering our "flight of fight," response. It's a queue that our surrounding stimuli is not optimal on multiple levels. We vilify stress because we associate it with it's negative effects - poor mental functioning, physical disease and deficiency, emotional unrest.
But stress in its basic form is the result of stimuli. It's there to tell you, "hey, something is off and it's time to re-balance." For each person, the process of finding a healthier balance will look a little different. As a community, each of us processes and experiences stress in highly unique ways that also intersect with each individual's own coping / adaptogenic skills.
But this is where the "fun," comes in...rather than trying to avoid stress altogether, if we lean INTO the stress we KNOW is there we can strategically begin to unravel its hold over us. The first step is saying, "yes," to acknowledging that something is off kilter in our environment and more importantly saying "yes," to the sometimes frustrating process of discovering what stimuli is pushing us to our limits and which are propelling us in the right direction.
It's in our willingness to say "yes," that our power over stress resides. When we decide to move through it rather than trying to go around it is when we authentically empower ourselves to de-stress our lives and become the happiest, healthiest versions of ourselves.
So! You know where this is going! Are you ready to finally and courageously say "YES," to stress?! If so, then your assignment is to continue building on the mindset work we have already begun. Take the time to do the energy awareness and core values exercises! These weekly to-do's are designed to build off one another so that in time you have the necessary tools to not only manage stress but keep it in check over the long haul so that every area of your life looks and feels better. If you get tripped up, have questions or need an accountability partner don't hesitate to reach out to me!