Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

20 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time of year. But between the parties, stress and baked goods, it’s also a time when people tend to gain weight.

In fact, between mid-November and mid-January, adults gain an average of one pound, or half a kilogram.

This may not seem like a lot, but most people don’t lose the weight they gain over the holidays. For this reason, holiday weight gain is one of the biggest contributors to total yearly weight gain for many people.

The good news is that weight gain during the holidays is not inevitable.

Here are 20 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holiday season.

1. Be Active With Family and Friends

Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching sports, are common holiday traditions for many families.

Inactivity may contribute to weight gain, especially when lounging around is accompanied by eating excessive amounts of food.

Doing some type of physical activity while on holiday with your family may prove to be beneficial for weight control.

An activity as simple as a family walk can provide benefits, as it will get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.

You can also be active during the holidays by signing up for a workplace or community fitness competition or event. Running races are popular options.

2. Be Smart When Snacking

During the holiday season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies tend to be available for you to take as you please.

When treats are easy to access, unnecessary snacking or grazing is more likely to occur.

At home, this problem can be solved by keeping treats out of sight. However, that strategy is more difficult to avoid in situations that you cannot control, such as your workplace or a family dinner party.

You can overcome these situations by being mindful of your snacking habits. If you find yourself snacking just because there’s food available — and not because you’re hungry — then it’s best to avoid snacking altogether.

However, if you are hungry and need a snack, opt for real foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are filling snacks that don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats, both of which can lead to weight gain.

3. Watch Your Portion Sizes

When the holidays arrive, it can be easy to overdo it on your portion sizes.

Those who eat larger-than-recommended portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don’t.

The best way to overcome this is to weigh and measure your food, or eat off of smaller plates, which is discussed more below.

To determine an appropriate portion size, read food labels and the recommended serving sizes listed on recipes.

If you’re in a situation that leaves you unable to measure portions, use your best judgment to fill your plate with a reasonable amount of food.

4. Practice Mindful Eating

People are often rushed and on the go throughout the holiday season, which frequently leads to multitasking during meals.

Studies show that those who eat while they are distracted are more likely to overeat. This is because they are unable to pay attention to their body’s fullness signals.

To prevent this from happening, eat mindfully without distractions, including work and electronics.

Another way to eat mindfully is to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly, which will allow you to better recognize your body’s signals of fullness and consume fewer calories.

It can also be helpful to take a few deep breaths before you start eating. This can induce relaxation and help you keep your full attention on your plate, rather than your to-do list.

Several studies show that those who engage in mindful eating practices are less likely to gain weight.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation is quite common during the holidays, and it may cause weight gain.

This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity.

The reason behind this is that sleep restriction may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake.

Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to lower metabolism. This is believed to be due to alterations in your circadian rhythm, which is known as the biological clock that regulates many bodily functions.

6. Control Your Stress Levels

Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful.

Those who are stressed commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake.

Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause more cravings for junk food.

For these reasons, it’s important to keep stress levels under control throughout the entire year, but especially during the holidays when you might be plagued with more tasks and surrounded by unhealthy foods.

There are plenty of things you can do during the holidays to reduce stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing.

7. Keep Meals Balanced With Protein

Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs but lack protein.

However, it’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance.

In fact, eating protein with meals may automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite.

Protein is also beneficial for weight control because it increases your metabolism and levels of appetite-reducing hormones.

For these weight-management benefits, you should include at least 25–30 grams of protein in each meal.

Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish and some plant foods like beans and quinoa. Ensure your holiday meals include a serving or two of these foods to reduce the likelihood of overindulgence.

8. Focus on Fiber

Fiber is another important nutrient that induces fullness.

Some studies show that increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake, which may be a method to prevent weight gain over the holidays.

Unfortunately, many common holiday foods lack adequate amounts of fiber. Do your best to incorporate fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, into your meals.

9. Cut Back on Taste Testing

Many people spend a lot of time cooking and baking during the holiday season.

Surprisingly, this can lead to weight gain. That’s because along with the cooking and baking comes taste testing, and even small bites of baked goods and holiday dishes can add up in calories.

Tasting your dishes can be important, especially if you are cooking for others, but a small bite of less than a teaspoon is probably more than enough.

You should also make sure that you aren’t hungry while cooking, as it’s much easier to go overboard on taste testing when your stomach is growling.

10. Bring a Healthy Dish to Share

Holiday parties can be a common setback in the battle against holiday weight gain. In these instances, you often have no control over the food that’s served.

The good news is that you can have control. Simply bring your own healthy dish for yourself and to share with others.

This way, you can be sure you’ll have something to eat that aligns with your weight goals.

11. Choose Desserts Wisely and Savor Them

Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. This often leads to excessive sugar consumption, a common cause of weight gain.

Instead of eating every treat in sight, it can be helpful to focus on your favorites. Eat the ones you really want and ditch the rest.

Another trick is to savor the desserts you do indulge in, which may leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overdo dessert.

To savor desserts, eat them slowly and mindfully so you can really taste and enjoy them.

holiday-buffet

12. Limit Liquid Calories

The holidays are a time of year when alcohol, soda and other sweetened beverages seem to be unlimited.

These beverages can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain.

Additionally, alcohol consumption is often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain.

If you’re trying to control your weight, it is best to limit liquid calories during the holidays — and all year long, for that matter.

13. Use a Smaller Plate

Dinner parties and potlucks are common occasions during the holiday season.

While people often think of these as diet disasters, they don’t have to be if you eat from a smaller plate.

This is based on the fact that people tend to consume larger portions off of large plates, which may lead to overeating.

By using the simple trick of choosing a smaller plate, you can control portions and therefore reduce the likelihood of holiday weight gain.

14. Reduce Calories in Recipes

Excessive calorie intake is a primary cause of weight gain during the holidays.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of things you can do to lower the calorie contents of recipes. Here are some ideas on how to reduce calories in baking, cooking and beverages:

Baking

  • Replace butter with applesauce, mashed banana or pumpkin puree.
  • Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie substitute such as stevia, erythritol or xylitol.
  • Add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies.
  • Flavor recipes with extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint instead of butter and sugar.

Cooking

  • Flavor dishes with herbs and spices instead of butter.
  • Use cooking methods such as baking, steaming or grilling instead of frying.
  • Substitute low-fat or skim milk for heavy cream.
  • Replace cream cheese, sour cream and mayo with Greek yogurt.

Beverages

Use club soda or sparkling water in place of sweetened beverages.

  • Flavor drinks with freshly squeezed lemon or lime rather than sugar. Cinnamon can also add flavor to holiday-themed beverages.
  • In dairy-based drinks, use low-fat or skim milk in place of heavy cream.

15. Weigh Yourself Regularly

Stepping on the scale regularly during the holidays may help prevent weight gain.

In some studies, individuals who weigh themselves regularly are able to maintain or lose weight better than those who do not weigh themselves.

Do what works best for you when it comes to weighing yourself. Some find it beneficial to check their weight daily, while others are successful weighing themselves once or twice a week.

16. Use the Buddy System

Many people report success with their weight goals when they have a partner to pursue them with.

Finding a health buddy who has similar weight goals may be useful over the holidays, as this person can keep you motivated and accountable.

Reach out to friends, family and co-workers to find someone willing to partner with you in your effort to prevent weight gain.

17. Avoid Processed Foods

The hectic holiday season has led to the increased availability of processed holiday convenience foods, such as boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing.

While these may be quick and easy, they often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that are not good for weight control.

To prevent weight gain, opt for whole foods this holiday season. Focus on making meals and baked goods from scratch instead of a box.

That way, you can control what goes in your food and stay on top of your weight.

18. Plan Ahead

All of the suggestions in this article come down to planning ahead if you are watching your weight over the holidays.

If you have events that involve food on the calendar, take matters into your own hands. Find out what types of foods will be served and if you need to, bring your own dish. Decide what and how much you will eat ahead of time.

It can also be helpful to gather a list of healthy holiday recipes, so you always have a go-to when you need to bring something to a party.

19. Skip Seconds

Often times, holiday meals are served in a buffet style, with several options to choose from in unlimited amounts.

This leads people to serve themselves seconds — and maybe even thirds.

The calories from double helpings can add up and contribute to weight gain.

To overcome this, assess your hunger when you finish your first plate. If you’re still hungry, have a little more food. If you’re not, then you’ve probably had enough and can move on to enjoy other aspects of the gathering.

20. Draw the Line

During the holiday season, many people have an “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality, which can end up being a vicious cycle of unhealthy habits.

If you are serious about controlling your weight over the holidays, it may be helpful to draw the line, set limits for yourself and stick to your goals regarding food intake.

Decide which foods are worth it to you and which ones are not. Know that it’s okay to say no to certain foods and habits that don’t align with your goals.

It’s also important to be aware that you might have a slip-up or two.

Often times, people abandon their goals after this happens. However, there is no need for this. Simply move on and make a healthier choice the next time you eat.

By Brianna Elliott, RD

 


1 Comment

Stop Letting Your Feelings Color Your Thoughts

Imagine getting into a political discussion with someone who is highly passionate about their beliefs. If the conversation is a good one, those beliefs will likely, at some point, come under question. If their emotional PH is high enough, they’ll interpret that as not only their ideas being threatened, but their identities too. Soon, you’re not having a conversation anymore, but a back-and-forth defense match. It’s not about listening, it’s about being right. You reach for over-generalizations, they argue with singular, personal anecdotes, you make sweeping assumptions, cite studies you read once-upon-a-time, their faces widen with bewilderment at how you cannot possibly see what’s so logical and self-evident to them.

This is a really common example of what happens when people allow their emotions to color their thoughts.

Being passionate is fine. Feeling a lot is fine. But when you lose your ability to differentiate what you feel from what you think, you debilitate yourself. Your arguments lose their edge. You can no longer think clearly. You panic. Irrational fears take hold, because you have corresponding emotions which make them seem true.

Twist your wrist really hard with your opposite hand. Enough so that it hurts a bit. Enough so that the sensation is comparable to what you feel in your chest when you have anxiety. Are you panicking as you twist your wrist? No, because you haven’t assigned meaning to that sensation. In other words, your emotions are not coloring your thoughts right now, because you know better – and that is the key.

thoughts

Your emotional child cannot run the show. Your mental parent must do that, which is something you develop over time.

It’s rare to see an intelligent person become overly-emotional about one fixed, definitive idea. They’re often passionate about concepts, topics, or subjects, but never singular “truths.” This is because well-read, studied, informed people are aware of complexity, possibility, valid, opposing arguments. They know they don’t know everything, and they also know that almost nothing is black-or-white.

You must learn to apply the same logic to your emotional life.

Most things people become extremely emotional about lack depth. They get stuck on one idea, and convince themselves it is unfailingly, unquestionably true. They assume they know everything. They leave no room for growth or learning or possibility.

Your feelings can inform your thoughts, but they cannot color them. Your feelings should be utilized as a mechanism to guide you – show you what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable. From there, your mind must discern. Is this discomfort healthy, or indicative of a problem? Is this pain coming from true hurt, or making meaning of a situation where there is none? From there, you can choose a course of action. You are no longer flailing around, being thrown by temporary, subjective, illogical, inapplicable emotions. You are using your feelings to guide you, not govern you.

BY BRIANNA WIEST


2 Comments

12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

Your behavior is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Let’s be honest – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another.  None of us are immune to occasional toxic mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.

The twelve most common toxic behaviors are:

mirror mirror
  1. Being envious of everyone else. – Don’t let envy (or jealously) get the best of you.  Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  There is nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior.  So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s.  Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
  2. Taking everything too personally. – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them.  The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you.  People’s reactions to you are about their perspectives, wounds and experiences.  Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, is more about them.  I’m not suggesting we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback.  I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally.  In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide.  (Read The Four Agreements.)
  3. Acting like you’re always a victim. – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization.  Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck.  Working as a life coach with people who have suffered major trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know we all have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe.  When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a helpless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality.
  4. Hoarding pain and loss. – One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss.  Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go.  But oftentimes letting go is the healthiest path forward.  It clears out toxic thoughts from the past.  You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you.  Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus your thoughts, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster.
  5. Obsessive negative thinking. – It’s very hard to be around people who refuse to let go of negativity – when they ruminate and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the scorns they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life.  These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening.  Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in a negative mindset is another.  Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a twisted way of thinking and living, and you can change that.
  6. Lack of emotional self-control. – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you.  We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem.  Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor.  If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing your cool at every turn, you may need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your inner angst.  There’s more to it than what appears on the surface.  An independent perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  7. Making superficial judgments about others. – Don’t always judge a person by what they show you.  Remember, what you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you, or what they were driven to show based on their inner stress and pain.  Alas, when another person tries to make you suffer in some small way, it is usually because they suffer deep within themselves.  Their suffering is simply spilling over.  They do not need punishment or ridicule, they need help.  If you can’t help them, let them be.
  8. Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion). – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others.  We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can.  They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield.  Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well.  If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks.  Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all in this together.
  9. Cheating and cutting moral corners simply because you can. – Cheating is a choice, not a mistake, and not an excuse!  If you decide to cheat, and you succeed in cheating someone out of something, don’t think that this person is a fool.  Realize that this person trusted you much more than you ever deserved.  Be bigger than that.  Don’t do immoral things simply because you can.  Don’t cheat.  Be honest with yourself and everyone else.  Do the right thing.  Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
  10. Hiding your truth. – People cannot connect with you if you’re constantly trying to hide from yourself.  And this becomes a truly toxic situation the minute they become attached to your false persona.  So remember, no matter what age, race, sex, or sexuality you are, underneath all your external decorations you are a pure, beautiful being – each and every one of us are.  We each have light to shine, and missions to accomplish.  Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side, your own special creation.  If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in.  But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are.  Don’t deny yourself, improve yourself.  (Read The Untethered Soul.)
  11. Needing constant validation. – People who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around.  Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to win over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining.  Know this.  Over-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down.  There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses.  It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.
  12. Being a stubborn perfectionist. – As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection.  We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend or lover.  The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state.  Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing.  What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow – that perfect house, job, friend or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection.  But with a little patience and an open mind, over time, that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home.  That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career.  That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on.  And that imperfect lover evolves into a reliable lifelong companion.  It’s just a matter of letting perfectionism GO.

If you can relate to any of these toxic behaviors, remember, you are not alone.  We all have unhealthy personalities buried deep within us that have the potential to sneak up on us sometimes.  As stated above, the key is awareness – recognizing these behaviors and stopping them in their tracks.

WRITTEN by MARC CHERNOFF
This article was co-written by Marc and Angel and Kathy Caprino, and inspired by Kathy’s insightful work which can be found here.


5 Comments

Emotional Intelligence Isn’t A Philosophy, It’s A Fundamental Part Of Survival

BY MAZWI TYSON ZONDI

In a world that encourages shallowness and consumerism (which aren’t as far apart as one might think) we need to be able to develop emotional intelligence. We need to realize that it is just as important as mental (and other forms) of intelligence, if not more so.

People have all these misconceptions about emotional intelligence: they believe that it is dismissing every negative emotion and choosing only to feel positive- whereas doing this is near impossible to do.

Either that, or they believe it is dismissing emotion altogether, and living in a constant neutral state. This is even more dangerous, as suppressed feelings always find a way to come to the forefront. And not always in the best way.

Emotional intelligence, really, is about knowing our emotions, and listening to whatever said emotions call us to do.

Emotions aren’t enemies to be silenced. They never were. They are only signals to show us how we interpret a given situation, and it is up to us to learn how to manage those signals so that they can lead us to fulfilling, happy lives.

Emotional intelligence has not developed as we have. When we weren’t as highly actualized beings, we knew that fear meant to run, and pain meant to be present, and so on. Our emotions evolved, but our minds haven’t caught up yet.

emotional intelligence

We don’t know what to do with complex feelings – how to interpret them, how to respond. So we don’t know how to ensure our survival in 2016. We may not be running from lions, but now we’re at risk of running from ourselves.

In gaining emotional intelligence, you learn that the manner in which you are in tune with your emotions = how you are able to manage your life.

Communication skills seem to be in abundance for those with high levels of emotional intelligence. This makes sense, seeing as how communication is, by far, the most common trait in successful relationships (romantic, or otherwise).

Speaking of relationships, knowing yourself emotionally changes your perspective on how to get to a successful long-term relationship. You realize that a relationship that is worth giving your time, attention and emotional availability to isn’t just found. It is built. It is cultivated. It is made.

And the most important relationship of them all?

The relationship you have with yourself.

You see the importance of knowing oneself; to have a sense of self-awareness. And so you go on walks, meditate, read, journal, and take personality-type tests in order to better understand yourself. To be able to live a life where anger, sadness and fear aren’t to be avoided at all costs, but to be felt and used for our benefit.

All in all, emotional intelligence is probably the closest thing humanity has to life intelligence.


Leave a comment

Skimping on Sleep May Activate The ‘Munchies’

BY KATHRYN DOYLE

(Reuters Health) – Getting too little sleep may activate the same chemical pathways in the brain that are involved in heightened attraction to and enjoyment of junk food associated with marijuana use – also known as “the munchies” – according to a small U.S. study.

Researchers found that a night of restricted sleep was followed by extended peaks, later in the day, in natural signaling chemicals that regulate hunger and pleasure. They think that may be one reason sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain.

“Our current study adds to that growing literature and suggests that along with changes in leptin and ghrelin, alterations in endocannabinoids – all changing in the direction to favor food intake – may be mechanisms by which sleep restriction promotes overeating,” said lead author Erin Hanlon, a research associate in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Chicago.

“And, on a larger scale, evidence from both laboratory and epidemiologic studies have consistently associated insufficient sleep or short sleep with increased risk of obesity,” Hanlon said.

munchies

The researchers studied 14 healthy young adults ranging in age from 18 to 30 years who got four nights of sufficient sleep, about eight and a half hours, then four nights of sleep restricted to 4.5 hours. The two sleep tests took place in a sleep lab and were separated by a month.

During waking hours, participants were housed in a private room and kept basically sedentary. They had three identical meals at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

In each test, calorie intake was controlled for the first three days and on the fourth day participants were allowed to eat as much or as little as they liked from a buffet tailored to individual preferences. Meanwhile, researchers monitored participants’ calorie intake and analyzed blood samples.

Participants also answered questions about their hunger, appetite, energy level and mood during the 24-hour period of blood sampling, 25 minutes before each meal and one hour and 35 minutes afterward.

When sleep deprived, participants had higher levels of endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), a chemical signal that makes foods, particularly junk foods, pleasurable. This blood chemical is usually low overnight and rises steadily during the day, peaking in the afternoon.

But in the sleep-deprived phase, 2-AG remained elevated late in the evening and participants reported higher hunger scores, according to the results in the journal Sleep.

“These are the first results showing that sleep restriction influences the endocannabinoid system in humans,” said Frank Scheer of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who wrote a commentary alongside the new study. “This opens up a new insight into systems involved in energy balance and food reward,” he told Reuters Health by email.

“Previous studies had shown that experimental sleep loss causes an increase in ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin and a decrease in ‘satiety hormone’ leptin,” Scheer said. “The increase in the peak in endocannabinoids following sleep restriction provides an additional mechanism that could help explain an increase in hunger.”

Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, he said.

“With decreasing amounts of sleep, the metabolic effects appear to become progressively stronger,” Scheer said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1UzIW0G and bit.ly/1VRhaLB Sleep, online February 29, 2016.   Reuters


1 Comment

The Surprising Key to Increasing Your Willpower

Research into the unexpected impact of pride on our self-discipline.

Your emotions play a significant role in your behavior. Being aware of those emotions, and how they influence your choices, can help you take steps to improve your self-discipline.

When you’re feeling bored with a project, for example, you may be less productive. You may stare off into space and grow distracted by just about everything going on around you.

On the other hand, when you feel excited about a project, you may be able to sit down and accomplish your task with intense focus. It’s much easier to exercise willpower—and tune out potential distractions—when you’re happy.

While there has been a lot of research into the link between emotion and self-control, a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research (link is external) examined the specific role pride plays in self-discipline.

Through a series of experiments, researchers concluded that under certain circumstances, pride increases self-control. But in other circumstances, pride gives people a license to indulge. The difference in whether pride increased or decreased self-control depended on the source of participants’ pride.

Pride boosted self-control when participants didn’t have a previously established self-control goal. Their pride stemmed from feeling good about who they are. If however, participants were already working toward a goal, pride led to self-destructive behavior. Their pride resulted from what they did.

positivity

What It Means for You

The more pride you feel about your accomplishments toward your goal, the less likely you are to exercise self-control. Telling yourself, “I’ve done a great job already,” gives you permission to reward yourself. Ironically, even pride over your ability to demonstrate self-control decreases your will.

If you were dining out with a friend, and out of the blue your friend says, “Wow, you look like you’ve lost weight,” your feelings of pride could very well lead you to order a healthy meal. If however, you’d set a goal to lose 20 pounds a month ago, that same compliment could decrease your self-control. Your pride may cause you to think, “I’ve done well eating healthy and my hard work shows. I deserve a burger and fries today.”

Of course, none of this is to suggest that you shouldn’t establish goals that require self-discipline. Instead, be mindful of the ways your emotions can increase or decrease your motivation to stay on track.

How to Use Pride to Your Advantage

Self-discipline may come easily to you in some areas of your life. Perhaps you’ve successfully turned exercise into a daily habit. Or maybe you stick to your monthly budget with incredible perseverance. But there may also be one or two areas in which you just can’t seem to get your behavior under control.

Here are some strategies for using pride to your advantage:

  • Be aware of your emotions. Recognize how you’re feeling, and how those feelings influence your thoughts and behavior. Self-awareness is key to self-control.
  • Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel pride. Feeling pride about your achievements isn’t bad; it’s what you do with those feelings that matters.
  • Don’t allow pride to turn into overconfidence. Recognize how your prideful feelings may cause you to start thinking you’ve earned the right to overindulge.
  • Make a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track. Write down all the reasons why you should stick to your goals. When you’re low on willpower, reread the list. That should help balance your emotions with logic.

Pride in who you are, not what you’ve accomplished, is the key to self-discipline.

Amy Morin     Sep 28, 2015

Source: AmyMorinLCSW.com
Amy Morin is a keynote speaker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do (link is external), a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages. 


Leave a comment

The Good Habit Which Boosts Self-Control

This good habit can boost attention, decision-making and the ability to resist impulses.

Good sleep habits can boost attention, decision-making and the ability to resist impulses, a new review of the evidence finds.

Good sleep habits include going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding caffeine late in the day and allowing time to mentally wind-down before bedtime.

Professor June Pilcher, who led the study, said:

“Self-control is part of daily decision-making.
When presented with conflicting desires and opportunities, self-control allows one to maintain control.
Our study explored how sleep habits and self-control are interwoven and how sleep habits and self-control may work together to affect a person’s daily functioning.”

sleep

Professor Pilcher explained the review’s conclusions:

“Poor sleep habits, which include inconsistent sleep times and not enough hours of sleep, can also lead to health problems, including weight gain, hypertension and illness, according to prior research.
Studies have also found that sleep deprivation decreases self-control but increases hostility in people, which can create problems in the workplace and at home.”

Since sleep and self-control are so intimately connected, improving sleep can help in many ways, Professor Pilcher said:

“Many aspects of our daily lives can be affected by better-managed sleep and self-control capacity.
Improved health and worker performance are two potential benefits, but societal issues such as addictions, excessive gambling and over spending could also be more controllable when sleep deficiencies aren’t interfering with one’s decision making.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Pilcher et al., 2015).

source: PsyBlog