In a recent blog we really dove into why rest is important not just for the reasons we hear often, but underlying reasons.
When we are relaxed we aren’t consistently shooting adrenaline throughout our body causing an inflammatory response like when we are stressed. Our body is able to maintain a balance that keeps us healthy. Being in a parasympathetic state can reduce stress on our heart, chronic illnesses, and immunity in general.
Parasympathetic states also affect our metabolism. When we are in fight or flight mode our cortisol is spiked, causing the blood sugar to spike. This can lead to weight gain.We know that stress can lead us to carry weight in different areas of our body. This stress weight is often related to being in a highly functioning, yet overwhelming sympathetic state.
If we don’t rest, things start to go wrong. We become exacerbated, exhausted, and fatigued.
How to Find Balance
So now that we know the ins and outs of our nervous system states, how do we achieve balance between them? The first step we can take is being cognizant of what our body and mind is telling us. I find it much easier to recognize cues of being in a fight or flight mode (sympathetic state) in my body than in my mind. These cues like racing heart beat, fidgety limbs, sweating, or wanting to run away (literally), help tell me that I need to reflect on the situation and see if I really should be engaging in fight or flight rsponse.
The more aware we are of our bodies and when we begin to track our varying cycles, the more we will be able to respond to the correct state with an educated and effective response.
How to Activate PNS
There are several ways to activate your PNS system. You can typically hack this by being in the company of others, or self soothing. Some of these items below may not apply to you; or you may have other activities that help you achieve PNS. It is important to take note of your physiological and psychological state to see whether the activity is right for you.
Our paleo ancestors did this. They groomed each other, slept together, communicated to each other in their own ways. This part of being human is ingrained in our DNA.
But sometimes it is difficult to understand how to enter a rest state; especially if this is a state we are unfamiliar with.
Soothing with Others
Some of my favorite ways to soothe around people include the following:
- Talking nature walks with my friends, either on the phone or together in person
- Taking a yoga class with a friend
- A couples massage
- Reading a book in the same space as a friend or lover
- Watching Netflix on the couch together
- Having a picnic with a friend
- Taking a study break at the library with a friend
- Sitting on a beach with a friend
- Massages or general welcomed and consented touch from others. If touch from others isn’t an option right now, check out this personal massager that does an amazing job as an alternative.
This may seem counterintuitive if you are an introvert who gains energy by being alone. However. It is important for our mental state to be able to soothe with others around. This fosters connections and allows us to enter a parasympathetic state. Simply, because we are with others and our defenses aren’t drawn, as in a sympathetic state.
Basically, any soothing activity you can do with a friend can be beneficial. A soothing activity is something that won’t push you to create more “should do this” or obligations while completing the task. Notice how I said taking a study break, not studying with a friend. To soothe, it has to allow you to slow down.
A lot of times when I need to get into a PNS state, I need to be alone and the reason I am in that state is because I exhausted my social capacity with others. The following are my favorite ways to get back in a parasympathetic state all by myself.
We are rounding a full circle here; no pun intended. A healthy lifestyle includes eating proper foods, moving your body, taking care of your mind, and incorporating balance and rest. In the paleo community, and in any western society, it can be easy to forget that the end goal isn’t always weight loss, physical appearances, or accomplishments, but that it’s sustainable health and wellness over the course of our lives.
In order to achieve this ideal state of wellness, we need to incorporate balance.
The time has finally come! You can now get your hands on our brand new love child, the Coconuts & Kettlebells book! If you haven’t heard anything about this new project (then my marketing person has some explaining to do, ((I kid!)) this book is basically a personal trainer at your fingertips. We remove the stress of searching for a personal trainer, making calls, spending a boatload of money, all so you can have a convenient little package rolled into one for you to refer too.
You can order it on Amazon here! In the meantime, I’ll just tell you briefly what it’s all about. I am just so excited to share with you something I love so much, and a product that I think will be a great tool for women and may even revolutionize the way we do nutrition.
The Low Down on the Coconuts & Kettlebells Book
Over the course of our time working in the health and nutrition space, Noelle and I both came to realize that there’s something off about the way we do nutrition. And the off-ness we discern isn’t just confined to calorie counters and juice cleanses, but applies to most major health gurus that everyone follows, even the best of the best of the paleosphere.
These gurus have two major problems: 1) they typically apply one-size-fits-all solutions, and 2) they fail to understand the relevance of psychological factors for physiological health and making sustainable improvements.
1) One-Size-Doesn’t Fit All
One-size-fits-all solutions are the most popular kind of solution out there. This is because they are simultaneously easy and profitable. They’re easy because the health gurus who extol them get to pick one area of health or slice of literature and know it really well, and they are profitable because one-size-fits-all solutions sell. In these conditions, health gurus win, and many other people lose.
One-size-fits-all solutions are appealing. Consider the ketosis craze. Everyone loves the idea that just this one simple trick will help you lose weight and maybe solve all your other health problems, too. Or think about diet books that promise you eliminating these seven foods will be your path to health, happiness, and freedom. Or books that say paleo will fix you. It is really nice to relax into the simplicity of such ideas. And it is easy to believe the hype–with all the before and after stories–and think that your turn is going to be next. If you do this one surprising thing, and if you do it really well, all your problems will melt away.
The problem is that this just isn’t true. The people who promise you solutions are either:
A) the ones who have had the greatest success with this particular solution, such as ketosis, or
B) have sold out, because their marketing lessons have taught them that magic bullets sell better than careful plans.
Noelle and I are here to call BS. Health isn’t one-size-fits-all. This isn’t true for macronutrients or micronutrients or exercise or sleep or stress. Everything is specific to your own body and your own needs. Of course there are some general guidelines that are probably helpful for the majority of people: reduce stress, sleep more, focus on eating “real” foods (though, I’d argue, even real food can get fuzzy for people dealing with disordered eating and body image issues).
So we’ve written a book and made a plan that helps you figure out what’s right for you. No more shooting in the dark with tips and tricks offered by people who show off their six packs in their instagram photos. Instead, we show you how to figure out which foods best support your health. We help you decide which macronutrient ratio is best for you. We help you learn which exercises are best for you. And more.
2) Food is Complicated
So far as psychological health is concerned, Noelle and I both know first-hand that food is complicated. Pretty much all of us have some sort of emotional relationship with it (and that can be a positive one, too; I’m just saying, we all have relationships with food). One of the problems we noticed in the health sphere is that most “diets” are too restrictive. The dieting mentality is all about what you avoid. Avoid carbs or fat or avoid “toxins.” Stay away from grains and dairy. Avoid eating too many calories. Definitely don’t eat snacks or fruit.
Over the last few years Noelle and I have seen so many people just practically lose it — or at least fall off the wagon — because the elimination diets they are following are too strict. It causes them to become restrictive, obsessive, and eventually develop a negative relationship with food.
We wanted to provide a plan that feels as good for you psychologically as it does physically. To that end, we support you with material that teaches you how to have a healthy mindset and love your body. We have already created an elimination trial diet that maximizes the gains you receive from the elimination while simultaneously maximizing your feelings of happiness and freedom.
You can snack. And, you can eat fruit (as much as you like!). You can eat fat & you can eat as many calories as you feel you need or want. And you can still arrive at the kinds of solutions that health gurus talk about–increased energy, easier weight maintenance, better sleep, radiant skin, reduced symptoms.
So all in all, this is in the Coconuts & Kettlebells book. And we love it and believe in it fiercely. It’s got literally everything you need in it to be healthy and love your food for arguably the rest of your life!
The book contains the following:
- information on food
- tips for how to figure out which macronutrient ratio is best for you
- a 28 day elimination phase called the 4×4 (eliminate four food groups for four weeks)
- two meal plans — one tailored to carb lovers and one tailored to fat lovers
- more than 70 recipes most of which have full size photos
- and a personalized fitness plan.
See? It’s actually everything.
We can’t wait! It is available for you to order now.
You’re lovely and thank you for being a part of this amazing journey!!!
Here are the order links:
Barnes & Noble
If I had a dollar, or even a penny for every time I have heard that rest is a crucial factor in keeping our bodies and minds stable and functioning, I would be entirely too rich for my own good.
We hear this from medical professionals, our friends and family, blogs, and people we may not even know that well. Everyone tosses around the word “rest” like it is something easy to obtain. However, I find it quite challenging to hit this idealistic state that is rest. (hello insomnia).
We are culturally and socially programmed to believe rest is not okay. Success comes to those that don’t rest, not those that do. Every seen that quote, Beyonce has the same amount of 24 hours of day as you? I had a therapist at one point suggest I rest more, despite the counterculture characterization that comes with resting.
Well big news loves! It is possible to rest in a way that won’t consume your entire weekend, or force you to cancel plans, and I am not talking about meditating either.
The Truth about Rest and Digest:
Rest and and digest is a common phase thrown around describing the state you should be in when you are eating. We want to be in a rest and digest state to avoid causing digestive issues or inflammation from eating too fast, while stressed, or on the go. But what does this really mean? And why is it important to be in rest and digest while eating?
Rest and digest is a term describing when your body is in a parasympathetic state. This is the opposite of the term “Fight or Flight” which is when our body is in a sympathetic nervous state. Read more about this, here. Like all things with our bodies, we need a balance of both states to maintain optimal health.
When our body goes into rest and digest, which can happen after eating, our body is able to restore and repair itself. When activated, the body has the following physiological responses:
- Slower breathing
- Relaxed muscles
- Heart rate drops
- Saliva is increased
- Pupils constrict
Why is the Parasympathetic Rest and Digest State Important?
When we are relaxed we aren’t consistently shooting adrenaline throughout our body causing an inflammatory response. Our body is able to maintain a balance that keeps us healthy. Being in a parasympathetic state can reduce stress on our heart, chronic illnesses, immunity in general to name a few.
Parasympathetic states also affect our metabolism. When we are in fight or flight mode our cortisol is spiked, causing the blood sugar to spike. This can lead to weight gain.We know that stress can lead us to carry weight in different areas of our body. This stress weight is often related to being in a highly functioning yet overwhelming sympathetic state.
To read more on how this can affect our metabolism and other systems, check out this post.
What is Sympathetic State:
Sympathetic state is what we often refer to as Fight, Flight or Freeze. This is the state our body naturally goes into when we sense danger. This can be as minimal as something like seeing a gardener snake on a trail ( so minimal, I know ). Our body may tighten up, we recoil and run or fight. We often feel a burst of energy, or adrenaline as the body initiates this reaction in a moment of danger.
However, we can also be in a sympathetic state in a less obvious moment of danger. Stressed at work? Home? Feeling overly fried? You could be extended out of the sympathetic state. The longer we are in sympathetic state without a balance of parasympathetic states, the closer we creep to what’s known as collapsing.
Sympathetic State Physiological Responses
- Clenched muscles
- Fast talking
- Pupils dilate
- Heart pumps faster
- Gut is inactive
- Thoughts that others are enemies
Why Too Much Sympathetic or Fight or Flight is dangerous
When you are constantly in sympathetic without a return to parasympathetic, your body and mind is put into a state of exhaustion.
Think about a time, maybe work or home, when you supported and cared for everyone else, and met that deadline, only to be followed by a weekend of booked plans, and no downtime in sight. Instead of canceling plans, you pursue on and meet all of your plans and deadlines, but feel yourself wanting to run away and hide to get time to bounce back.
This is your body creeping towards collapse mode. We will get into that in a second.
When the body releases cortisol, it is also stimulating an immune response. If your body is continuously in this state, it is always issuing immune responses. The Paleo Mom has an incredibly in depth article on this that can be found here. She notes that cortisol can affect the way our chemical messengers are transmitting information to our immune system. There are theories that this is contributing to the effect of our immune systems fighting back at us, due to confused signaling from those messengers or Cytokines.
Collapse or Freeze Mode
This system engages when your body is unable to reach a parasympathetic state. I have seen colleagues and students in these positions many times, using caffeine and reducing their sleep quality and quantity to complete as much work as possible.
When you are in collapse mode, your body is forcing you to rest. Collapse is often used interjectly with freeze, in reference to fight or flight. Collapse or Freeze is what happens when Fight or Flight is not engaged fully, but your brain is fully trying to complete the cycle of Fight or Flight. This is your body conserving all energy so when the “fight” is over, you are able to go find help when it pushes more cortisol throughout your system.
Putting it together:
We ALWAYS talk about how stress and lack of rest can contribute to so many dangerous ailments and conditions from autoimmune to physiological distress. There is proof that being in a highly stressed state, even if it is your normal functioning state, can be seriously detrimental to your health.
The Benefits of a regulated nervous system include
- More stable blood sugar
- Better overall energy
- Better Sleep quality
If you want to read more about hormones, stress, and your health and happiness, I have a whole book on the subject that is – well, it’s the place I went to dump all the knowledge I have about all the things, and what to do about it. You can check it out, here.
Stress is a dangerous thing, and I know it can be overwhelming to manage, but there are ways. Next week we will be discussing easy ways to activate the parasympathetic response system.
For those that are going working through restrictive eating patterns or negative body image, this post may be triggering.
I have definitely put off wearing a bikini, or a bathing suit for that matter, for YEARS, like probably half my life easily. Regardless of my weight or size, I always saw something different and unacceptable in the mirror.How many times have I looked back at photos of myself being extremely thin but also extremely unhealthy and unhappy at the same time, knowing my thoughts went something along the lines of:
“If I lose five more pounds I will be happier”
“Why can’t I work harder to maintain a fitter thinner shape?”
“I will never be strong or thin enough”
“I would give up blankity blank blank if only I could be my goal weight”
I look back on a lot of these mindsets and cannot help but face the overwhelming sadness and pain I was going through, and how I am incredibly happy and relieved to be at a place where I can respect and love my mind and body together.
And that includes wearing what I want, when I want it, especially if it makes me feel sexier and more confident in my own skin. This is because everyday is a new day to continue to implement this healthier mindset, or not. And in order to continue on this path of grace and self love, I have to work at it.
In this instance, working at it means wearing my bikini. If you have been in a similar pattern as me, please read through a few of these reasons (amongst many) why you should give society’s idea of a women a big ole adios and put on that bikini.
1) Because if you want to wear the bikini, you should wear the bikini:
Seriously let’s cut the crap. Why are we still caring what others think of what we are wearing?
2) Because its hot!
We already have to wear bras, why are we subjecting ourselves to more torture by wearing more clothes than necessary when it’s hot out!
3) Because the styles available are endless:
Check out Swimsuits For All for styles that look great on everybody.
4) Because you can embrace and love yourself in a bikini regardless of your weight:
This is possible, but it really starts with taking care of your mind body connection. With a more confident and accepting mind, you can learn to love your physical appearance too.
5) Because you may just love it :
What if…. just what if…. you put on that bikini and you feel damn good! Think of all the years you have been holding back, and just try it out. You may really love it.
6) Because you need Vitamin D:
We all need Vitamin D . If you’re going to be outside why not multitask and wear that bikini and get the Vitamin D you need at the same time! Just don’t forget the sunscreen, it doesn’t prevent the body from absorbing Vitamin D, just preventing sunburn!
Did I convince you? Would it help to know I wore a bathing suit while writing this for you? I am serious about eating my own dog food, loves!
If you are struggling with repairing your body image or are interested in losing weight in a HEALTHY sustainable manner, you can check out my program Weight Loss Unlocked here.
I also have a plethora of resources for increasing your body image. Check them out below.
My fave self love and self help books : http://paleoforwomen.com/resources/#selflovebooks
5 Things You Must Know About Self Love
My Favorite Self Love Resources
5 Habits Preventing You From Cultivating Self Love
Overcoming Self Sabotage
Self Love and Weight Loss: Enemies or Bedfellows?
Summer can bring up a lot of negative feelings towards our bodies. This is the prime time to be targeted by ad campaigns that shame us into feeling like we need a certain body type to wear certain summer clothes. Which we know is bulls^&*.
In light of this, I want to give you a little reminder to you that you should celebrate your body, no matter what it looks like, regardless of whatever anyone tries to shame you into feeling. Your body is your home, and with your mind body connection, you are a fearless, powerful women.
Can we please keep pushing momentum towards the women empowerment movement? A huge part of this is being respected and treated equally as others, but another important part of it is also to not let others dictate what we should think of ourselves or what we should and shouldn’t look like.
I am asking you to challenge yourself and your thoughts on this topic. Put on that dress, outfit, bikini whatever, and OWN IT. Don’t put it back in the closet and say “I will wear it someday”. Wear it today.
Let’s celebrate ourselves and our bodies and minds because we are kickass! Let’s stop denying that of ourselves, it is truly an empowering and inspiring feeling to be on your own side.
Here are a few ways to start:
Where a bikini or whatever swimsuit you want – If you want to wear the bikini, wear it! If you want to wear the one piece, wear it and wear it with confidence! It is hot out there woman, let yourself enjoy some sun in whatever you want to wear, just remember to put on sunscreen. Have y’all seen Ashley Graham’s swimsuit campaign? It gives me all the feels. Check it out here.
Hula Hoop in the Rain – Hula hooping is an awesome, full body low impact workout (insert link to last weeks blog) that is a ton of fun. There is something about the connection we form with our body while being able to keep a hoop in the air in unison with our bodies movements. Try in the rain for a spiritual-like experience, or just throw on your favorite music and hoop it up! They also make weighted hula hoops if you are looking to modify this into an even more intense workout.
Meditate in the Sunshine – Meditating is crucial. Elevate this experience by sitting in the sunshine, or on a bench in the middle of the woods. Focus on feeling your breath through your entire body to really engage the mind-body connection. This is a great way to increase your Vitamin D and gain peace of mind after a long workday.
Walk in the Sun – Movement + sunshine is a great way to take care of your body: Vitamin D! Bonus; a connection with nature! I find that sunshine strolls are a great time to practice gratitude, not only for the things in my life but for my bodies ability to move and carry me throughout these strolls.
Exercising – Exercising is basically giving our body positive fuel to maintain itself. By giving our body exercise, we are increasing our mental strength and are able to see in action our bodies capabilities which is so fulfilling. Don’t look at it as a punishment but as a reward for your body.
Have a Photoshoot – Boudoir shoots are becoming more mainstream since the explosion of the body positive movement. I seriously recommend this as a way to view your body in a new light. Photographers are talented people, and with their help and your body, you can be exposed and forced to look at your body in a different way. This can also help you become more confident in your poses and physical body.
Look in the Mirror – Check yourself out! I went so many years without looking in a mirror if I was passing by because I was scared to see something I didn’t like, and I didn’t feel confident catching my appearance off guard like that. Don’t be afraid to check yourself out, take a moment to reflect on the things (try identifying at least 3) about your body that you love versus what you don’t like.
Be Positive Towards Other Women – We are in a culture that makes us believe we can only feel good about ourselves by putting another person down. Don’t post that negative comment on someone’s instagram or gossip about another body. Give a compliment to a stranger and watch your own self-esteem rise. If we identify positive things about others it becomes easier to see them within ourselves.
Take a second and give yourself a hug and share a moment of gratitude for yourself. It is so hard knowing the things we as women say to ourselves that are just mean, cruel and astounding. Replace that negativity with love and watch how much more time and love you can give to other things in your life that are more important than your physical appearance.
Usually, when we think of weight loss, we think of work. We picture dumbbells, ellipticals, squat racks.
But – as most of our community knows – I am my most happiest when I am not slaving away at the gym everyday. It isn’t fun and it feels like work. To top it off, it is not the most efficient way to lose weight!
However, I am also my most happiest when I am engaging in physical activity. It makes me feel more energetic, confident, strong, and inspired. Over the years I have found a way to be really fit without being a total gym rat (balance!), and it is a huge reason I am able to maintain my weight management goals. In this post I show you how you can do it, too. The best way to achieve harmony with your body (and contribute to your weightloss goals) is by combining a low level activity that you love with a handful of high intensity exercises throughout the week. Balance! Summer is a perfect time to get in touch with outdoor activities that are actually fun but are also a workout.
How Much Should You Exercise?
I recommend that you try a low-level activity, like one mentioned in the list below, combined with one or two high intensity interval exercises and one strength training session a week to fully maximise your bodies potential. This will totally help you optimize your free time as well as health benefits, further contributing to a healthy balanced life!
It is important to give yourself the amount of exercise that your body needs. What does that look like? We really need to be intune with how much is too much, but we also need to not sell ourselves short. If you are obese, overweight, or ill, start as slowly as you need. The important part here is to just start. As you start slowly and continue, you will be able to achieve more weight and health goals overtime.
Best Summer Exercising Activities
There are literally a ton of ways to combine socialization, nature and its positive effects, and exercise with summer activities. You are capable of killing three health beneficial activities with one stone! This is why we all love warmer weather, right? I absolutely love doubling up on tasks by doing things like going on a walk with a friend to catch up, or getting competitive with some corn hole.
Any of the following would be considered at least a low impact activity that you can also do outside. These can definitely be modified to be a high intensity workout depending on the conditions.
- Kayaking or canoeing
- Lawn games like cornhole or bocce ball
- Outdoor yoga
- Climbing trees
- Tossing a frisbee or ball
- Hula hooping
High Intensity Workouts
- Interval Sprinting
- Interval Biking
- HIIT Classes
- Spin Classes
What to Eat
Seasonal produce is the best in the summer, there is a huge plethora of delicious fresh foods in season, not to mention it’s also grilling season.
Check out my post here on the best kabob recipes, and this post on what produce is in season right now.
I am a big fan of salads during the summer; they’re easy to throw together and you can combine so many different toppings to make it a superfood salad. My favorite right now is throwing arugula in a bowl with salmon, persian cucumbers, broccoli sprouts, seaweed and tahini for an asian style salad. The fat from the tahini combined with the protein from the salmon keeps me full and it’s super easy to throw this together.
If you are looking for more ways to reach your weight loss goals, check out my program, Weight Loss Unlocked here.
For more resources on healthy weight loss, check out my list of resources available here.