What is Stress?

Is stress what we see on the outside?

Outbursts, dry skin, hair, and nails, thinning hair

Is it what we feel on the inside?

Ulcers, headaches, arthritis, sleeplessness


Can exercise be a bad form of stress? People who push themselves too far too fast wanting an overnight transformation that has been promised to them by the whispers on the Internet. They usually end up broken mentally and physically and blame themselves for not being tough enough. Heck yeah, it can be a bad form of stress if done wrong.

The word “diet” in itself is stressful. We need to hack or reverse engineer this idea of diet. We need to create a model that works and stays constant for the long term.

We need to adjust how we live - not create levels or steps for us to achieve. Some people fare well with the philosophy of levels and steps but others continue to set themselves up for failure. Levels and steps alone are not enough.  Just because everyone else is doing it is no reason we should be, too.

Moderation and support - these are the keys. They are your safety ropes and rest camps that get you up that mountain.

Clearly, the idea of diet does not work. Why are there so many yo-yo stories out there? Because they were given a diet and not a well rounded way of life. An exercise plan, meal plan and weekly meetings aren’t going to cut it. Eventually, you are going to feel the cold bars of the new cage you have placed yourself in.

And then it’s going to get ugly!

Those 2am visits to the kitchen, those self-hate sessions after you realize that you’ve paid for a whole month of gym time but never showed up once. You know the drill...I’m too busy, the weather is too bad to get out, so-and-so usually shows up at this time and I just don’t want to run into them….there’s plenty more where those came from. I can do this all day.

A Plan to Decode Stress

What we need is an adventure to wake up that kid inside us that was told to shut up and sit down many years ago. We need to change our philosophy of life and this will be different for everyone. Have you ever arrived at a meeting thinking this is the thing that is going to set my life back on track only to discover that there is a party line you must follow or you won’t fit in the group? Well, omnivores, vegetarians, cross-fit, marathon runners, water aerobics, gamers, parents, grandparents, students, Star Wars lovers AND Star Trek lovers, hunters, farmers, Vulcans and Klingons, I don’t care what you are just that you are open to supporting others in our trip up this mountain called decoding stress.

Do you love cookies?

Don’t stop eating cookies cold turkey. Don’t make deals with yourself either. The next time you want cookies, don’t bake 3 dozen and eat them all while promising yourself that you will do 2 miles a day next week on the treadmill. That is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, bake the cookies and set aside 6 for yourself and take the others to work, church, a shut-in neighbor, etc… and share them with others. Or, divide the dough into thirds and freeze them. Only bake one dozen at a time and savor them over the course of a week. Having one after lunch and one after dinner.

That way, you win… You haven’t deprived yourself and played the martyr. You haven’t made a promise with yourself that you never intended to keep. By this simple, smart work-around, you have grown your mental and emotional muscle and it will be there for you next time you have a weakness. Stress (mental, emotional, and physical) averted!

You’ve got this…Warp 10 ahead!

Most people fail when they choose a diet to follow religiously. The approach they should be taking is a gradual one. If you know that your present way of eating is a disaster, then you need to start looking at what you need more in your life. Is it higher fiber, low-gluten, less processed foods, etc… For most of us, we just need to clean up our diets and our bodies will take care of the rest. Whatever it is you think you need more of, start looking through meal ideas and find ones that you would like to try.

I personally need more fiber in my life so I initially turned to The Fiber Guardian for inspiration and help in finding ideas for high fiber foods. From there, I went out to the expansive Internet and looked for more ideas. I started replacing snacks with things like pears with cottage cheese or yogurt and bananas in sweaters (goofy, I know, but they are the bomb!). By replacing one or two things at a time with something new that I really like; I end up with a new way of eating and I don’t miss the things I have left behind.

I used this rationale twenty years ago when I stopped drinking soda. I used to drink somewhere between three and five sodas a day in my twenties. We all lose our nutritional minds in college. I stopped having cravings right away because I started weaning myself off with naturally flavored waters and teas. I replaced something that I realized didn’t really taste that great with something that tasted wonderful and was nourishing my body. Try it for yourself...use frozen fruit as ice cubes for your water (use clean, filtered water, please).

Oh yeah, and back to the cookie idea:

Do I get cravings for bad foods? Oh heck yeah, I do! This weekend I was researching recipes for maximum nutritional value (that’s my way of hacking my nutrition) and I came across a recipe I hadn’t seen in a long time. Over on Simply Scratch’s website, she has a recipe posted for brown sugar and molasses cookies. I understand that unsulphured blackstrap molasses is an acquired taste but it is definitely a super food. It is packed with B vitamins and super important minerals like magnesium and potassium along with a host of other great items that help us repair the damage that stress does to our bodies. (It is great topically for acne, also.)

So, I decided to bake a batch and see if her recipe was like what I remember from childhood. Definitely!! They were awesome and my family got a nice desert after dinner that night. Plus, these cookies were sort of like really great tasting multi-vitamins! Yes, they have flour and granulated sugar in them and some purists would be upside-down with me right now. However, you can certainly choose a low-processed, whole wheat flour or some other substitute and a little sugar won’t hurt if it remains a very small portion of your diet. Ugh! There’s that word again.

Climb That Mountain

So, here you go...your first pep talk on your way to base camp. You are probably wondering why I keep mentioning moutaineering terms...well, I like comparing my quest for better health to expedition style mountaineering. I’ve watched people from all walks of life scale impossible mountains and they were able to do it because they had support, planning and organization for all instances.

Climbing a mountain has many variables that want to toss you off that mountain...inclement weather, rock slides and avalanches, etc… The successful mounainteers plan for all of these instances and when the variables change they just pick a different plan and path and get back to the work of climbing that mountain. True mountaineers stick together and never give up. They are doing what they love and they are always looking for that next mountain to climb. We should all relish our lives as much! I plan to help any who will join me in this quest to enjoy life and take back our health. Share your adventures and together we are stronger.

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