Are You Under Constant Pressure?
‘Constant pressure’ is a phrase I hear all the time from clients. Working as a nutritionist you might assume my sessions are all about green juice and fermented foods (and there is certainly a scoop of that) but most of the time I’m helping clients work out how to get the healthy foods into their relentless and often stressful daily lives.
Take Mark*, 40. When I first met Mark he estimated he’d had 5 hours sleep in the proceeding 3 days thanks to travel and insomnia. He was also feeling anxious, had digestive issues and felt under ‘constant pressure’ from work and family life. He was also worried about getting older; ‘you’re constantly reading that at this age, things fall apart.’
But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it wasn’t for Mark. Instead, over the course of six sessions, we worked on four key areas which helped him rediscover his spark, lose weight and take control of his daily life. Here are the 4 R’s we worked on:
Really Quick Meals What to get at Pret… that won’t leave you hungry one hour later and avoids the hidden sugars? What to cook for dinner when you find yourself in Sainsbury’s at 7pm starving? After discussing Mark’s favourite foods we hatched a plan of simple, 10 minute recipes he would enjoy eating. When I met Mark he said that ‘100% of what he ate was shop bought’ but after providing him with a few simple recipes he was cooking three times a week and bringing his lunch to work. His favourite meal? Steak with cabbage slaw, which he took in a wrap the next day. Recipe here.
Recovery Pockets I encouraged Mark to maximise those small windows of time when he was away from his desk. Rather than say, walking to the coffee shop with his mind in a whirr, I suggested a walking meditation. This simple exercise involves breathing in for four steps, holding your breath for four steps and breathing out for four steps. This simple exercise activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps get your heart rate under control. When Mark arrived, rather than scrolling through social media or plugging into a podcast, I suggested Mark listen to a 3 minute meditation while waiting for his coffee. Try InsightTimer (you have the option to listen offline when you sign up).
Routine in the chaos Mark said he found it ‘hard to justify going to the gym in the morning’ when he could be spending time with his kids. Anyone relate? It’s tough when adorable toddlers are tugging at your PJ pants begging you to play ‘crash’ with the cars or ‘Be Princess Anna’ again. Kids grow up so quickly and every moment counts. But they also require a lot of energy – and what gives you energy? Coffee will give you an instant kick but you might pay a price, more on that here.
Exercise, on the other hand, is a total system reset. You need exercise to get the lymph system moving, which is how the body removes toxins and waste. Exercise also boosts muscle mass and metabolism and finally it increases our tolerance for stress. When you’re moving fast your heart rate quickens, your breathing rate goes up and this gets you familiar with those same feelings you have when stress hits. We looked at Mark’s diary and scheduled in two exercise sessions during the week and one on the weekend. His wife and kids knew these were non negotiable and on the other days he was in Dad mode. Sometimes we can be scared to ask our partners for more ‘me time’ but remember that it also gives your partner permission to do the same. The result? Less resentment and more goodwill.
Reduce Sugar Cravings Mark’s job meant that he was often travelling and had to eat in the car between clients. Previously this meant reaching for chocolate or vending machine snacks so we talked about snacks he could take with him that were rich in healthy fats and protein and required no refrigeration. These 200 cal snack bags would keep his brain firing and energy levels humming until he got home. I also recommended he take chromium picolinate (200mcg, Pure Encapsulations) for 30 days to reduce sugar and carb cravings and aid weight loss.
Do you relate to any of this? Are you ready to reclaim your energy and find foods that work for you and your lifestyle? To book your free 15 minute introductory session with me, email [email protected] or call 0775 8365 092.
Laura Bond is a journalist, author and health coach. She specialises in helping clients beat stress, reduce their toxic load and prepare their bodies for babies. To find out more, click here.