The Connection Between Stress and Digestion (Guest Post)

Hey, Readers!

So, it has been a MINUTE since my last post. Life is crazy. School has been crazy. The stress has been real.

Stress is all kinds of evil and receiving certifications in Acupressure for Digestive Disorders, and Swedish massage has only reinforced just how detrimental stress can be to our digestion.

In case you didn’t already know this (though I have a feeling you might) our gastrointestinal systems are responsible for a majority of our body’s immunity. We are quite literally in need of listening to our guts!

Today, I have a guest post from Trysh Sutton from Pure Path, a naturopathic wellness site that promotes healthy living and healing through the use of essential oils and sustainable living. Trysh is going to give us some insight into the connection between stress and digestion. To find out more about Trysh and Pure Path, please check out her bio at the end of this post.

The Connection Between Stress and Digestion

Today’s busy lifestyles, heavy workloads and daily bombardments of troubling news can quickly and easily result in high-stress levels. While we all live with some degree of day to day stress, too much of it can wreak havoc on your gut, resulting in chronic digestive issues that can affect our overall health and wellness.

How Stress Works

We all have a survival mode, known as the “fight or flight” response. It is an evolutionary feature in our bodies where, when facing a potential threat (real or perceived), our bodies go through various changes to prepare us to confront or evade the threat. Some of these changes include an increase in blood pressure and faster heart rate (to push more blood to the muscles and vital organs), increased alertness and sharper senses.

Being chronically stressed perpetuates some of these processes over an extended period, which can lead to a long list of issues (digestion being one).

How Stress Affects Digestion

When the fight or flight response is activated, blood flow to the digestive muscles is limited because precedence is given to the limbs and brain which are more necessary for fighting, running and thinking quickly. This affects your gut peristalsis and slows down the transition of food, leading to constipation.

Stress may also lead to intestinal muscle spasms which can affect the movement of food in the intestines. Depending on the type of muscles being affected, food may move too slowly (constipation) or too quickly (diarrhea or inefficient absorption of nutrients).

Another muscle that may spasm is the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach. When this happens, stomach acids may back up into the esophagus, causing the painful condition called heartburn.

Speaking of stomach acids, stress affects that too! Studies have found that psychological stress can lead to an increase or decrease in gastric acid secretion in different individuals.

Other ways stress may affect digestion are by upsetting the balance of good to bad gut bacteria and comprising the integrity of the intestinal barrier (in extreme cases).

Relieve Stress

It may seem easier said than done, but we can all find time to take simple steps to calm down and ease our stress levels.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Moderate exercise

Even short walks 4 or 5 times a week can raise endorphin levels and reduce stress.

Practice mindfulness

Create a calm place in your home, free of electronics and with low lighting, to sit and concentrate on pleasant thoughts for a few minutes every day.

Try Essential Oils

Aromatherapy has been shown, in countless studies and personal testimonies, to reduce stress effectively. Some essential oils you can buy for this purpose are lavender, roman chamomile, bergamot and ylang ylang.

Eat more omega 3 fatty acids

These nutrients help to reduce stress levels and make your body and mind more effective at handling stress triggers. The most reliable sources of omega 3’s are fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon.

Play with your pet

Spending a few minutes petting or playing with your four-legged friend gives you added purpose and brings you joy.

Write

You don’t have to be a best-selling author to put pen to paper and jot down your thoughts and feelings. Journaling helps us get things off our mind and can help us identify solutions to everyday problems.

Listen to Music

Turn on some familiar, soothing tunes and spend a few minutes singing along. Music can take your attention away from everyday pressures, giving you valuable time to decompress.

Say No

One of the main causes of stress is having too many obligations and not enough time. Sometimes we take on too much and don’t realize until it’s too late.

Saying no, not just to others, but yourself as well will allow you to have more time to get through your tasks, as well as the wiggle room to deal with any possible inconveniences. Proper time management is a crucial skill to hone if you want to improve your stress levels.

All of these approaches are healthy and sustainable approaches to relieving stress. Stay away from unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol.

Why Good Digestion Matters

Aside from reducing the risk of chronic health problems, an excellent digestive system provides better immunity, a healthy metabolism, and heightened mental clarity. We also experience increased energy and better mood. Because of this, a healthy gut helps us better cope with daily stressors.

Don’t let too much stress negatively impact your digestive system. It’s a vital component to your overall health and wellness and, by caring for it properly, you can significantly decrease your risk of long-term and serious health concerns.

About Trysh

Trysh Sutton is a wife, mother, strategic leader and teacher. She runs a website called Pure Path, which is a naturopathic wellness site that promotes healthy living and healing through the use of essential oils and sustainable living.

You can follow her on social media to learn more about the benefits of essential oils, and healthy living practices.

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Youtube | Google Plus

How do you manage the stress in your life?

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Emotional Eating Triggers, NEDA Week and Life Update

Hello, readers (ECHO ECHO):

It has been a really, REALLY long time since my last post.

Life has been crazy (I know that I always say this, but when I say this I still mean it!)

I have a lot going on.

The world is still a garbage fire, for the most part.

I am (and have been) undergoing a personal transformation that has shifted my priorities immensely.

I have learned a lot about myself and the world in the past nearly five years since I started this blog (wow, that’s a LONG time, but still it isn’t…?)

Some things I can share, like that I am now Eating Psychology Coach (still finalizing some of the coursework) and have shifted my focus on the politics of food, diet culture, and other such delightful topics.

As well, I have received training in massage therapy, and I am currently working on a certification in digestive disorder acupressure.

I am working on a new blog discussing eating psychology and digestive health — the blog/site is still under construction, but will hopefully launch by late spring.

I still love fitness and food, but I’m not going to lie, “FitBlogging” wasn’t always the best outlet for me and I’m working through some of that now both personally and professionally.

In news of garbage fires, Weight Watchers announced in February that starting summer 2018 they will offer “free memberships” to teens looking to lose weight.

I have too many issues/problems with this.  I find it deeply problematic, and I have spoken directly to my personal experience with this here.

Also, last month I loaned my ‘wisdom’ to DietSpotlight.com for their post dedicated to discussing Common Emotional Eating Triggers and How to Manage Them — 10 Things You Need to Know.  The piece offers some great advice from a range of experts on emotional eating, so you should check it out if you or someone you know is struggling.

Hope 2018 is going well for you all and if you’re not following me on Twitter, you should.

FYI, on Twitter, I talk about politics, and I’m not going to stop.  Some people don’t like to discuss politics behind issues, but I believe being able to ignore something that doesn’t affect me, isn’t helpful or useful.

And if anybody thinks that health, wellness, weight and all the things attached to it are not intensely political, I want to borrow your rose tinted glasses for forever.

What have you been up to lately?

 

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Is Your Body Positive Selfie Actually Empowering?

I have become increasingly immersed in the body positivity community over the past year.

I started to get interested in following Instagram and YouTube personalities who promote happiness at any size and self-love — I think it’s utterly fantastic.

I believe we do need to expand the reductive definition of what is beautiful, but having said that, do we, from a feminist perspective, need to stop objectifying our bodies regardless of how proud we are of them?

I stumbled across a fantastic podcast by Lindsay Kite, Ph.D. that covers this topic beautifully.  Kite and her twin sister, Lexie, are the founders of the organization Beauty Redefined and her podcast  “Empowerment in the selfie age – an interview with Lindsay Kite” is a must hear for anybody out there looking for a different perspective on body positivity, sexuality, and feminism.

Photo: www.beautyredefined.org

There’s no doubt that body positive social media posts spark very divided conversations, but nonetheless, they are important conversations to have.

Lindsay Kite explains on her podcast a belief which is that many women who post nude and lingerie selfie photos online may help them ultimately they feel like they “have to show their body to prove that they value their body — to show that other people’s bodies are acceptable.”

Kite also contends that self-objectification –  the obsession with what our bodies look like inside our minds – is the thing that is hurting us.

That self-objectification is, in fact, the thing that is reinforcing our body shame.

She further explains:

We need to be very critical about what is being labeled “empowering.”  This culture that we’re living in will give women “power” for showing their bodies.  It will give them money, followers, likes, magazine photo shoots, and fame — women who have risen to extreme fame because of the way they present their bodies online.  You can see how that feels like empowerment — and a lot of people think that’s true.  However, from a feminist perspective … that “power” can be taken away as quickly as it’s given, because it is being determined by a culture that only values women’s bodies as objects.  

-Lindsay Kite

What exactly does empowering mean?

As defined by Merriam-Webster, to empower means to promote self-actualization or influence.  

Interesting.

Influence is the power to change or affect someone or something.

And the definition of self-actualization is the process of fully developing and using one’s abilities.

So really empowerment is the promotion of the process of using one’s abilities and power to change or affect someone or something.  

I don’t believe that showing bodies in and of itself is a bad thing.

If bodies are a form of our consumption, then, yes,  I think all bodies have a right to be promoted and seen.  

But, this often becomes a ‘chicken and egg’ conversation.

If it’s the obsession of what our bodies look like inside our minds that hurt our self-image, then it is most certainly stemming from the influence of bodies seen day in and day out in the media.

To that effect, are women showcasing these selfies for body diversity the best chance we have at a silver lining of capitalism, patriarchy, and exploitation?

Kite suggests before you post an image as a statement of feminist empowerment that you ask the following important question:

Who determines your power?  If it’s coming from the outside, it’s probably not real.  Showing and sharing bodies online isn’t ever going to get us there.  You’re still pre-occupied with your looks, and you’re still feeding off external validation.

So, the important question:  what does empowerment look like?

Being able to accomplish what you want to achieve and having self-efficacy brings empowerment …most women are not happy with themselves and judging and defining themselves based on what they think other people think about them.”  

The bottom line:  We have to set goals for ourselves that yield actual feelings of accomplishments outside of what other people see when they look at us.

My last question is this:  Is there a way that external validation can encourage internal validation in a healthy manner?

I say there’s nothing wrong with feeling happy and comfortable with yourself nor is there anything wrong with posting photos on social media.

The central questions of this post are strictly these:

1.  Are pictures of nude and semi-nude female bodies at any size just a continuation of the general objectification of women?

2.  How, as women, can we create a shift away from external validation to create lasting feminist empowerment and ultimately reject the notion that what a body looks likes should ever matter in the first place?

Is your body positive selfie empowering?

Please listen to this podcast; it is a 40-minute conversation worth having.

To learn more about Beauty Redefined, you can visit Lindsay and Lexie Kite’s website www.beautyredefined.org to find out more about body image “resilience.”

How do you feel about the body positive selfie movement?  What’s your take on “empowerment”?  What does it mean to you?

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Finding Self-Compassion Through The Mirror of Discontent

Finding self-compassion through the mirror of discontent

self-compassion through the mirror of discontent

As an American living abroad during last year’s presidential election, I couldn’t help but feel frustration with the state of things back home.

To say things appear to be toxic and divisive would be an understatement.

It seems like everywhere you turn, people are at odds with each other about everything.

“You lost, get over it.”

“Things are going to change, get over it.”

Before I became a coach, I used to be one of those folks who walked around thinking, “just get over it.”

However, these days it is my belief, and the belief of many great scholars, thinkers, and leaders before me that love and compassion are necessities for living an honest and substantial life.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the importance of seeing past the not-that-big-of-a-deal in everything and recognize that my privilege has a better use; for building up the people what have less privilege than myself, who need it most.

And the truth is; I couldn’t do this without being more loving and compassionate to myself.

Self-compassion is something with which the majority of us struggle.

It’s much easier to beat ourselves up about our perceived failures or prop ourselves up for our perceived strengths while comparing ourselves to the failures and strengths of the other people than it is, to be honest with ourselves.

When we evaluate ourselves so critically, it doesn’t just stay with us.

When we are critical of ourselves, we tend to be less kind to others in turn.  I’ve worked with clients who pick apart other people’s lifestyles, partners, and appearances simply because of how they feel about their own.

And we all have done this, and it is not helpful, because as the saying goes, “What Sally says about Jane says more about Sally than it does about Jane.”

In other words,  we only end up burning ourselves by thinking and saying cruel and overly critical things.

It is not entirely our fault.  Sometimes, our human default setting is not to reassure ourselves we’ve done the best we can.

Sometimes, our default setting is to scrutinize others as harshly as we would ourselves.

When I say the “mirror of discontent” I mean that everything we look to as a source of providing us with feedback about ourselves.

finding-self-compassion-through-the-mirror-of-discontent

I see this especially on social media over and over again.  And I’ve fallen victim to it myself.  Say you’re having a bad day and are frustrated with your life, all it takes is a scroll through Instagram or Facebook to watch the highlight reels of other people’s lives to set us off into critical mode.

But you know what?  Most of what you see on people’s social media accounts is (at least) slightly fictional.  I have worked with individuals who show how great their relationship or career is online and then tell me things are hanging by a thread in real life.

Our perception of other people’s lives doesn’t obligate us to beat ourselves up for not having the same story as they do any more than it does to judge them for living differently than us.

And truthfully, most people are not very transparent about their true selves, and it keeps them from being able to show their vulnerability.  If you’re as big of a fan of Brene Brown as I am, then you know what the cost of hiding shame and vulnerability is.

Success is not having an expensive car, high paying job, significant other, or  1% body fat.

Failure is not the absence of those things either.

Success and failure are just feedback, and they are what make us more resilient.

In fact, your resilience is far greater than you give yourself credit.  Just stop and think about all of the things you’ve been through in your life – hell, this month alone.  I assure you that you have picked yourself up and dusted off more times than you even realise.

But what if you could be more aware of your resilience?  What if you could comfort and console yourself along the way?

Being kind to yourself, when you need it most, is a necessity, in fact, it is part of what being human is.

As Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the world of self-compassion states: there are three main components to self-compassion — self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.  It is part of the human experience to feel vulnerable and to experience failure or disappointment, but what we don’t need when this happens is to be our worst enemy.  It is our moral imperative to build a healthy self-support system and realise that we all feel discontent and we all struggle.

Self-compassion will enable us to be less critical of ourselves and others and further develop our resilient spirit.

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Why A Revenge Body Is Bad Motivation

As a coach and personal trainer, I encounter various forms of personal motivation when it comes to fitness.

Some people want to be fit enough to run a half-marathon because it is something they have always wanted to do.

Some people have specific health concerns and are advised to start a fitness regimen.

And then some people come to me looking to “make their ex significant other regret the day they broke up with them” by getting a “revenge body.”

Any tabloid magazine, on any given week, will post a story about the “revenge body” of a celebrity who is going through relationship woes or bad times.

In fact, right now, Khloe Kardashian is getting paid a bunch of money on her new E! show aptly titled, Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian to assist people in obtaining an excellent form, and I’m not the only person who thinks this show is bad news.

I have a policy that I won’t work with individuals with body revenge goals.

Instead, I ask clients to focus on the power of a growth mindset; to have them take their desire for revenge and turn it into an exercise in self-compassion and forgiveness.

Why a revenge body is  bad motivation

Simply put, working towards a revenge body infringes upon your innate ability to embrace healing.

Kevin Carlsmith, in a 2008 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, discussed that by seeking revenge we inflate the event or issue to a level of obsession, where it’s no longer something that can be “laughed about later.”

You’re willing to sacrifice your well-being to seek punishment towards somebody else.

When a client comes to me with a goal not based in self-care, my concern is that the individual runs the risk of possible long-term consequences.

I am not making this claim based on speculation. I once sought out to change my physical appearance after being called fat. Before it was a buzzword (I’m aging myself here), when I was fifteen years old, I started a revenge body diet and exercise regimen, and it turned into a fifteen year battle with bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder.

We see this scenario all of the time in the movies.  An individual gets rejected and, soon after, their mission is to rise from the ashes and make this person regret their decision to abandon or hurt them.  So, they falsely believe the best way to go about this is to become more physically desirable.

But what tends to happen in the end for our protagonists? They realize that they do not need nor desire to change for that person, and in sacrificing so much to ‘improve’ themselves, they understand that the individual wasn’t worthy of their affection and, ultimately, they are the better off without them.

Why do these characters finally realize, within a 90-minute time frame, that they need to accept who they are and be okay with it?

Because revenge inevitably brings us down to the level of the very thing we are fighting and compromises our integrity.

As humans, one of our most compelling traits is our ability to forgive ourselves and others.

So, when we apply our actions with the intentions of proving our worth or getting one over on others, we keep the pain associated with it alive and well.

why-a-revenge-body-is-bad-motivation

We cannot heal and grow to our full potential if we are doing things for the benefit of needing to prove our worth to others.

For this reason, when I meet a new client now, and it is clear that they are in a vulnerable and transitional point in their life, I ask them to reassess what is upsetting them and the areas of their life they should focus on strengthening.

There are not many things that we as humans have control over in our lives.

Revenge dieting and bodies, as well as the entire concept of improvement based on outside justification and approval, limits what control you do have over your present and future well-being.

 

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.

-Tony Robbins

We cannot control how people treat us or the decisions they make about who we are.

That’s on them.

However, we can control how we respond to things and grow from the experience.

Breakups, for the most part, tend to be multi-dimensional events and, upon reflection, there is much more to their demise than how our partners feel about our bodies.

So my advice is this:   Focus on living the best life possible on your terms because you’ll be living well and if it still matters enough, living well truly is the best “revenge”.

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