Couples going through divorce experience a lot of stress and as a result often neglect themselves and their health. This neglect is not necessarily new and in fact, may have been going on for a long period of time.
Stress increases the body’s cortisol levels. In response to occasional stress, it is a good thing because it gives you a quick burst of energy, to survive in a crises for example, a heightened memory function, and lower sensitivity to pain. When your are subjected to prolonged stress, however,the effect of the cortisol is that it impairs memory function, causes blood sugar imbalances, causes a decrease in muscle tissue, lowers immunity and, last but not least, causes fat retention. (Good News!! It’s not just the bowl of M&M’s on the counter, although they really don’t help.) The more chronic stress you are under, the more of the hormone is produced and the more fat is retained. So here we are, all stressed out and gaining weight, which makes us more stressed out.
During and after divorce, some couples go through a kind of re-examination of themselves and their lifestyle. Since marriage, which has influenced so much of their life, has changed, they want to make positive changes as they move forward. Up to now they may have neglected staying in shape and eating properly, which contributes to ill health by affecting both their emotional and physical states. When you are in poor health, you cannot perform at 100% of your ability.
The Pros say that getting in shape is 70% diet and 30% exercise. Dieting is key but not in the traditional sense of starving yourself and trying to lose weight. Just the opposite.
A healthy diet is one that is low in carbohydrates and high in vegetables and protein. Carbohydrates metabolize and turn to sugar which turns to fat if you don’t use it – – and most people don’t. Low carbohydrate diets can show significant weight loss and increasing the amount of vegetables you eat adds micro nutrients which makes you healthier and increases your ability to fight off illness.
But be careful. Your body fights dramatic changes in your diet by going into starvation mode and slowing your metabolism. This is why traditional diets don’t work. Any diet that reduces your caloric intake by more than 500 calories a day, will slow your metabolism down with it. This ability to slow down the metabolism is why our species has survived in times of famine, but when dieting, slowing your metabolism down to a crawl means you don’t lose any weight even though you are eating less. That can drive you crazy and is probably the number one reason people give up on their diets.
A calorie reduction of 500 calories or less a day, over a month’s time, will allow your body to adjust and won’t slow your metabolism down. For example, if you have been eating 3,500 calories a day, you will want to reduce that to 3,000 calories a day for the first month, 2,500 calories a day for the second month, etc. This slow reduction in calories per day will give you a weight loss without affecting your metabolism. It may take more time, but you will be much happier with the results.
Here is a link to what I call the “Good Health Eating Plan“. This plan is designed as a maintenance plan which will feed your body not starve it. This is the plan that you will work toward as you reduce your caloric intake. Eating the right kind of food generates health which gives you energy, affects your mental outlook and overall makes you a happier person. You look better, feel better, and your self image is better.
When you follow a healthy diet like this, you won’t feel the hunger or cravings caused by the highs and lows of a high starch/fat diet. Part of why this works so well is eating 6 small meals a day plus snacks like protein shakes and almond butter on a rice cake. This may not sound like enough but when you are eating every 2 ½ hours it’s plenty. Eating every 2 ½ hours also increases your metabolism making it like a fire that is burning all the time and never goes out. The level of activity raises your metabolism and you start burning fat.
There is nothing magical about the plan. If you stick to it and drink lots of water, the benefits are pretty dramatic. How much water? An ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight, which is a lot of water. While you are gradually decreasing your caloric intake, gradually increase the amount of water you drink until you reach the goal. You will feel healthier, be more resistant to colds and headaches, and sleep better. In some people chronic pain they have had for years has disappeared.
By the way, having a “cheat day” once a week is fine. The occasional slice of pizza, bagel or a dinner out will make you feel better. The key is to get back on your Good Health Eating Plan after the cheat so that you stay healthy.
So especially at this time of high stress and discomfort, Take Care of Yourself by eating right.