“You’re Pushing My Buttons!” And it feels so good…

Let’s just be honest – to some extent, we have ALL been told stress is bad.
Consider the following:
We know we hate feeling stressed.
We know we feel stress is an unavoidable part of life.
And we all probably have at least a few “go-to” ways for reducing said stress, yes?

A glass of wine?
A few good laughs?
A little um…Nookie?
Listening to music?
A second glass of wine?
A tickle fest?
A wrestling match?
A lot of um… Nookie?

[Rinse, and Repeat?]

Your list may look different, I’m not sure how I auto-imported by journal for that…awkward…. 

Alright, where was I?

Yes okay, stress.
Feeling stressed? It’s no fun*

Unless you are a fat cell. Then you are in heaven.

 Allow me to explain.
When you are in a state of mental or physical stress your body is producing more of the hormone Cortisol. This hormone is directly related to fat storage. And by directly related, I mean it initiates and sustains the storage of fat. Simply put, the longer you stay in a state of stress, the longer your levels of cortisol stay elevated, the more fat you will store [cue ‘happy fat cell dance’…not] and the harder it is going to be for you to reach your fitness goals. No Bueno.

Did you know that there are pressure points all over your body that, when pressed, can actually reduce stress/tension?

The science behind this is called Reflexology and primarily involves the feet, neck, and hands. For instance, if you have a headache, there are pressure points on the tips of fingers and on the nape of the neck [where the skull meets the neck] that can be pressed and held to relieve tension. Backache? Simply find, press and hold the connective tissue between the thumb and forefinger for 30 seconds and feel relief.

Same concept applies to the labels you see in the picture below. Find a spot that correlates to your complaint, press firmly and hold for 30 seconds. You can do this as often as you have time to. The video is quite informative as well – and please note, you don’t have to pay for a professional [like in the video] to “push your buttons”. You can push your own. Or solicit a partner or friend!

Now, relax, reflex, and BREATH – you don’t want to store anymore unneeded fat.

reflexology

*Some research supports some short-lived, non-chronic stress has evolutionary advantages and should be recognized as such. For instance, stress about meeting a project deadline can push you past complacency and encourage you to rise to a fuller potential than if there was no deadline and your project was just due “someday”. Similarly, if you have stress about a certain place where you experienced something negative, this stress can actually act as somewhat of a safeguard in future situations, as you will already know red flags, etc and be better equipped to handle a repeat negative situation. But, again, the stress referred to in this research is strictly talking about moderate situational stress; stress that DOES NOT impair activities of daily living and does not last indefinitely.  

The Snaahhz-berries Taste Like Snaahhz-berries…

Ok, so no actual Snaahhz-berries to report on BUT I got your attention, yes?

Now, for some reason, since the very first time I heard the word “snaahhz-berry” I have not only pictured it spelled as such [probably not accurate?] but I have also pictured them to be of the color BLUE

For the longest time I could not figure out why.

I came across an interesting nugget of knowledge a while back that I think may hold the answers:
It was a typical Tuesday, I was doing research for one of my clients who was looking  for some additional ways to help out with weight control [aren’t we all!] and I was discussing the differences between sugars you would find in fruit vs sugars found in candy [see my article Carb Crazed]
We began discussing fruits he liked and fruits he didn’t. I brought up blueberries because they are absolutely packed with vitamins and antioxidants. He made the coy remark – “blueberries… I know… I should probably eat them…they just… I don’t know… I mean they are BLUE… that just doesn’t even sound appealing. You know?”

[IN MY BRAIN]
Hold the phone… He’s totally right…Are there even any other foods that are blue? Is this like that time I heard there are no words in the English Language that rhyme with “orange” or “silver” ? Could blueberries be an orphan food?

[WHAT I ACTUALLY SAID]

“What an interesting comment. Let’s look into that further…”

“Turns out, other than some strands of seeding for plums and eggplant – there are no other naturally occurring [non GMO, non-hybrid] foods that are blue other than blueberries.”

Now, back to Willy Wonka.

Psychologically speaking, because snaahhz-berries do not really exist [and certainly if they did , they would prefer themselves to be spelled quite differently and so would be rendered un-recognizable in their currently delineated form] my mind envisioned them as BLUE because there are so few known blue foods in my schema. Hence an unheard of food is more likely to be BLUE than any other color. HAH! Take that Years of Uncertainty!

[I also did not spout that information off to my poor, unsuspecting client either… However, I thought there may be a Willy Wonka fan or two strolling through my blog at some point who would enjoy this anecdote.]

[WHAT I ACTUALLY SAID]

“You’ve probably never heard a health professional tell you to ‘Get Blue’ for weight loss – but I’m going to. I’m not telling you to get sad and depressed – but actually get the color Blue around you, especially in the kitchen, plates, bowls, countertops, etc.”

       Why, you ask?          

Simple:
Research shows that while BLUE is the most calming color, it is also the least appetizing color as it does not occur naturally in foods aside from blueberries and some plums and eggplants.
Furthermore, evolutionarily, humans avoid foods that are thought to be poisonous and BLUE tends to be a color associated with poison and/or spoiled and rotting food. Eating off of BLUE dishes can reduce food intake by 15% or more simply by inducing notions of calmness, mindfulness, and survival [thank you Darwin].
Strange, but true.
Now if you still need more convincing, check out this great info graph and You Tube spotlighting even more research to support these small but mighty little fruits.

blueberries

And lastly, some kitchen ideas: blue

Your Sixth Sense may actually be your Second Brain?

happybelly

Any of the following lines sounds familiar?

  • “My Gut Instinct says I should definitely not go over there…”
  • “My Gut Reaction was to scream and run away”
  • It’s a hard decision for sure, maybe just Go with your Gut”
  • “I don’t know guys, I just feel it in my Gut, you know?”

OK, so what do all these sayings have in common? [Aside from the speaker obviously leading a challenging, confusing, and indecisive life]

They all lend to the idea that, some way, some how, in our culture we have linked the gut/stomach with our intuition about feelings, and even decision making[ !].
Intuition is commonly regarded as our “Sixth Sense” and feelings and decision making are commonly regarded as functions of the ever powerful maestro that conducts from his lectern above our necks AKA The brain. Hence the title of this article was born.

In doing research for a client recently, I came across a field of research known as Neurogastroenterology which studies the Enteric Nervous System [ENS]. Evidently the ENS has more neurons than the spinal cord and covers a surface area 100x greater than that of our skin. Lastly, and most importantly, Neurogastroenterology is investigating how the ENS can [and does!] operate independently of brain input. Infact, studies so far are showing that the ENS actually sends input TO the brain in regards to stress, sadness, memory, learning, and even decision-making.

First and foremost, thanks to Jennovafoodblog for her recent most about the importance of keeping your Gut happy.

Amp up your intake of cultured and fermented foods to help balance flora.

Amp up your intake of cultured and fermented foods to help balance flora.

It’s awesome how the world wide web connects us all. Having just come across this notion of Neurogastroenterology, I was just going to write a very similar article. She summed everything up so well, please check out her blog and learn more than you ever thought you could about what’s really going on inside that stomach of yours and how you can keep it functioning at tip-top shape. After all… if it’s going to be impacting our emotions and behaviors in ways we never before that, it would behoove of us to take good care of it.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t want a surgeon or financial planner to be conducting her business with a full-blown head trauma – – but what if they have all their gut flora all out of whack? Should we be equally as concerned?

According to Canadian Neuro-scientist Jane Foster, “The gut biome is actually an interface between your diet and your genetics. The human diet powerfully influences the makeup of the gut flora, and the gut flora in turn influence our makeup.”  Foster goes on to say, “Our genetics determine our predispositions [to food and otherwise] but the gut biome influences how those predispositions function on a day to day basis”.

In Foster’s  experiments she has found that essentially from birth on there is constant cross-talk between gut bacteria and the brain. In those early stages, that communication has been shown to play a significant role in shaping how the brain is wired and influencing items such as anxiety, fear, memory, learning, and possibly even autistic traits. Foster sums it up well stating, “The important take home message [is] these are not two separate systems, they are two parts of a single system”.

probiotics

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Abandoned

Thanks to the Daily Post for this Weekly Photo Challenge, hope they don’t mind this is actually a [short] video.

american beauty

Vignette: I was sitting out at a coffee shop in Phoenix – working on my blog, as full-circle irony would have it – when I saw this abandoned grocery bag and of course had flash backs of American Beauty.

Always remember there is beauty in the simplest of things [you must only decide to see it] and you are ever only as alone as you choose to feel.

Of course big thanks to Pandora for streaming Capital Cities hit song “Safe and Sound” at an opportune, epic moment. Sometimes the Universe just smiles and I hope it always sees me smiling back