RD-Approved Hacks to Recharge your Routine
Laura has been feeling down lately. Not depressed, more so just feeling in a slump. Nothing significant has changed recently in her life, and there isn’t anything wrong with her job, her friends or her children. She almost feels guilty for her low mood, and finds it embarrassing to talk about with her friends. There’s “real problems” in the world, so why should she be complaining? She has the same daily routine of waking up, getting her children ready for school, spending the day at work and returning home to make dinner and once the children are in bed, relax for an hour on the couch. Recently, however she’s felt apathetic about the monotonous series of her day. She knows she hasn’t gained weight, however she isn’t happy when she looks in the mirror. She reaches out to her local nutrition professional for some advice.
Temperatures are cooler, evenings are darker and we’re smack in between the two seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas. November is often a time my clients express that they’re feeling unmotivated and fatigued. Let’s take a moment to explore this. With the change of seasons and lack of holidays to look forward to, these feelings are completely natural. It’s important to remember that they’re also transient. We know that we’ve felt this way before, and that the feeling will pass with time. It’s a natural progression to have highs and lows. Once you’ve accepted this as normalcy, it will be easier to pull your socks up and find simple solutions to feel energized and joyful.
Feeling stuck in a melancholy mood?
Have you ever gone to the gym after a stressful day and immediately felt more confident and motivated once you finally dragged your butt there and finished it? There’s some science behind this sentiment. The key lies in endorphins. During exercise, there are complex hormonal and metabolic responses that release endogenous opioids, including beta-endorphins, which bind to neuron receptors in your brain. Endorphins have been linked to psychological changes including exercise induced euphoria and mood state changes; as well as physiological changes such as decreased pain perception. Basically, exercise will ward off depression, anxiety and boost your self-esteem.
Every day, it’s important to incorporate some type of physical activity. This can range from gentle movement such as yoga and walking to more intense activities like cycling and weight lifting that really get your heart pumping. There is no “good” or “bad” exercise – the best type of activity is the one you’ll enjoy!
Trapped in erratic eating habits?
When we get stressed and feel defeated, many of us turn to food for comfort. And often, this isn’t a binge on veggies, fruits and lean protein. We turn to the comfort culprit – carbs. The first step to moving past emotional eating is acceptance; acceptance that food is meant for nourishment and pleasure, not shame and guilt. Instead of letting the food control you, focus on eating mindfully and intuitively. This means sitting down to enjoy a meal distraction free. Listen to your hunger cues; your body is an expert at what it needs. Focus on how you feel after eating a balanced meal comprised of whole foods.
The science behind eating balanced meals is proven. When we pair our carbohydrate foods with protein and fibre, it helps stabilize our blood sugars. This prevents the immediate high you feel from a carb binge, and the inevitable crash a few hours later. This pairing allows us to have blood sugars that look more like rolling hills than an unpredictable roller coaster. Aim to have half of your plate as veggies, a quarter as a whole grain and a quarter lean protein. And don’t forget to listen to your body, start to get back in touch with what hungry and full really feel like.
Are you tired all the time?
Fatigue is similar to pain, when you’re feeling tired it often puts a blanket over all other emotions. For example, often when you feel too tired to exercise, you’ll lounge at home on the couch instead. This creates a negative cycle of feeling more exhausted, plus you’re not doing the one thing that would actually give you more energy – exercise. Feeling exhausted all the time can be due to a number of medical reasons, so it’s best to rule this out with your doctor. More often than not however, chronic fatigue is from lifestyle habits such as rollercoaster shifts in blood sugar levels (see above) and just a plain ol’ lack of sleep. Want to catch more shuteye? Implement a few positive sleep hygiene habits such as sticking to the same bedtime, avoid using electronics before bed, and try a relaxing activity such as reading a book half an hour before bed.
Hopefully these tips can give you some relief from the November blues and get you feeling back to your happy self.