Happy Day Athletes! Are we feeling groovy today?
So by a show of hands, who out there loves being in a good mood? Great, that's what I thought. We all want it, and in The Food Athlete spirit of keeping it real, we can't always get what we want. But, we can get damn close. We are the creators of our actions as well as our intentions, so you can you commit to this journey of life by purposefully setting goals to be happy. Not saying it's going to be easy and believe me when I say I have my off days too, I'm certainly not perfect. The difference between a client and me is that I've mastered (to a degree) how to turn negative behaviors into positives. The process of eating to feel better will probably become increasingly more challenging before it gets easier, but EXCELLENT NEWS, there are rewards. When you elevate from a bad mood to a good mood it not just changes the way you feel but also how others perceive you. A happy person is a looks confident to the world. Positivity is contagious plus it breeds productivity. It seems so simple; it's the perfect formula, how come we all don't practice it, eating to feel better leads to so much bigger things.
How, Jessi, how? Alright friends, I can hear you. I get it; you want to know how to get to feeling happy about your body, excited about the foods we put in our system, enjoy the taste of our carefully thought out meals. What's the secret you ask? It's by practicing patience, forgiveness, and discipline. I'm reading a fabulous book, and the author talks about how we can heal our body. It starts within and our perception "....have faith in the way I treat my body..." Believe it, and you shall see it. There is a direct correlation between what we eat, how we move and how that makes us feel. So you see, we can make it our mission to surround ourselves with positivity, and it happens not just inside but also the outside. We can control maintaining our joy by doing specific actions. Choosing the company we keep, make like-minded friends who are in support of your health as well as their own. There's a saying in AA "you don't hang around a barber shop unless you want a haircut." Right? It's funny and at the same time, it might make you stop and think about why you might put yourself in a precarious situation. Find what gives you joy, remember as a kid what made you laugh, name one thing you have done past or present that after it happened you were smiling. How bad do you want this pleasurable mood? How long do you want the effects to last, do you want more than just a moment? So how can you make happy sustainable? I circle back to practice. 1.Repetition creates habits so, say you want to be a more nutritious eater, seek guidance, ask for support, sometimes it takes a village. 2.Do a job that is gratifying. I don't understand when I hear people say they hate their job, yet they stay and are miserable. Last I heard it's a free country so unless you like being in a state of discomfort nine to five get up and do something about it. 3.Find purpose in every day you are alive and do that by giving back. When something amazing happens to you, and you get a gift of feeling good, turn around and give to someone who needs some good. A simple smile can turn someone's bad day into sensational. 4.Remind yourself not WHY you woke up this morning, but tell yourself, you GET to wake up this morning and then do something miraculous. Know this we are put on this Earth for a very short time and a reason.
Let's talk more about creating your happy by specific choices we make. A.Like what we eat; perhaps choose grilled not fried. B. What we allow our eyes to view; turn off the T.V. and open a book. C.How we honor our body; take a walk in nature versus lying on the couch all day. D.Mindful exercises, think positive thoughts; meditating instead of always complaining about how you got cut in front of in the supermarket line. When unfortunate circumstances in the world filter in negativity to our happy place can we just think about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, warm woolen mittens, fuzzy puppies, rainbows, and unicorns, to make all the wrong quickly go away? We, humans, are pleasure seekers. Sometimes at any cost. I've been on the not so bright end of the rainbow chasing a feel-good time, risking my health just to get that high-on-life. The brain isn't that hard to fool, playing repetitive tricks on the mind is how you form an addiction. Part of my strategy when I work with clients is to help them discover how their emotions play a role in the food choices they make. What patterns and behaviors are you repeating and again that has morphed into a habit that now you have become emotionally connected? What we tell ourselves along with the action performed are powerful, so powerful we have made our bodies addicted, yearning for unhealthy substances. Even though our rational thoughts say Nah, have the veggies, not the cake, our addictive thoughts convince us differently. What are you willing to do for your pursuit of happiness? Can you go there? My question to you is this, what's stopping you from getting your happy on?
"Why does our brain prefer opium to broccoli?" It's not a mystery why we like unhealthy vs. healthy, because these are clear facts, and studies, journaled medical science. It's pretty simple, our brain would like a short cut to the feelings of happiness (because we do, all of us, want to be happy, not sad) and the quicker we can get the results the faster we get to reap the benefits of the experience. So, of course, a scoop of ice cream with all it's serotonin granules will have us giggling with our friends faster than a spear of asparagus. Science provides us a ton of information, I like to say and believe that knowledge is power, so let's put some of this data to use. Have you ever just imagined your dessert after dinner? Getting giddy at the thought of the "forbidden" food. It triggers a quake of excitement throughout your body. It's even before the first bite that the signals are informing our brain of the possibilities feeling joy from a delicious food. The messages are sometimes overwhelming even undeniable. It isn't until you've cleaned your plate and your stomach becomes filled that the regret begins to take over. There usually isn't anything we can do by then, the damage was done, but that isn't enough, we want to beat ourselves up a little more. So we go right to the nasty self-chatter, and we punch away.
Can we manifest joy made from pure, organic ingredients? Yep, sure can! I learned to do it, and I was in an incredibly dark place for over a decade. So the steps I talk about to get to being happy are some of the same steps I took and still take. Things like exercise, connection with family and friends, writing, hugging my fur-babies, watching the sunrise, meditation and delicious, nutritious, wonderful delectable food. I had temptations from sources that didn't believe in the magic of self-made enjoyment, but I choose to take the challenge delivered to me, and I continue my practice of faith. No matter how cruel the world can be, I will be able to handle it without synthetic stress relievers.
How does chemical play a role in mood enhancement? In food and our body they exist. That's why I lay it on so thick about dedicating your food ritual to whole healthy substances. Did you know that most of the chemical serotonin produced in your body, in fact, lives in your gastrointestinal tract? Doesn't it make sense that inside with all the cells and nerves the mechanics in your stomach are working to help you digest food will also control your emotions? " Serotonin regulates mood, sleep, and appetite. Reducing the amount of stress you take on will alter not only how you see your body mentally, physically when we run our bodies down we run the risk of develop diseases. Clearly, we have lots of power to elevate our mood with natural foods and engaging in productive activities, not just physical but loving generous acts of kindness.
So, If you knew that cashews were a natural anxiety tamer would you eat a handful a day?
Get happy by increasing your activity:
Move more. Serotonin productivity will multiply just by getting your blood pumping. Fact: people who exercise on a regular basis have less risk of depression.
Elevate your mood by food you choose:
1) Omegas like fish, eggs, nuts.
2) Spirulina: love this stuff (and all sea vegetables) I put a couple of teaspoons in my smoothie, and you don't even taste it. These blue-green algae contain tryptophan, and this is an amino that helps create the serotonin.
3) Walnuts: Many kinds of nuts contribute to happy feelings, check out my post last week about beauty and food here, I talked a bit about the calming effects when you indulge in these nuts, so when anxiety hits, and you want to reverse the panic try walnuts pumpkin seeds and cashews too.
4) Remember that saying "happy as a clam" well then, Clams: contain the vital vitamins B12 that our brains need to make serotonin.
The air you breathe:
I'm a huge fan of aromatherapy. I have a couple of diffusers, one for the living room one for the bedroom. I mix oils together to create scents that remind me of happy places I've been. Eucalyptus, oregano, basil, peppermint, frankincense. Although some boast of promoting specific emotions I have found that it doesn't matter what it says it's going to improve, it's all about how YOU feel once you get the first whiff.
As a chef I have an extremely positive reaction the moment I start to grill onions, this particular food takes me back to when I was a kid, cooking with my mom, and the beginning of holiday dinners. It's a feeling of safety and comfort that puts me at ease every time.
DIY TIP: Make your "cooks" kitchen scents by wrapping up some rosemary or cinnamon sticks in a low-heated oven and bake, even if you're not preparing food the house will begin to fill with the beautiful rustic fragrance.
So athletes, how do you all feel now? If you feel inspired, hopeful, and optimistic that you are the master of your happy destiny then my work here today is done. Do you feel confident that you can get out and present yourself to the world with a smile and an intention to feel amazing? Love it! Well. I have to admit I feel pretty happy myself. I get a surge of energy after I share some of my insights with you all.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts so please reach out and let me know how you find you're happy.
Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,
xx Jessi (your Food Athlete) xx