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Relax And Lose Stomach Fat. Plus! Win A Year’s Yoga Membership!

If you follow this blog regularly, or keep up to date on your nutrition and fat loss knowledge, you’ll have heard about a nasty little hormone called cortisol. You know, that one your body releases bucket-loads of when you’re under stress, resulting in increased fat storage most particularly around the front of your belly?

Before I get too carried away on the evils of cortisol, I should probably back up a little. The truth, of course, is that cortisol – or indeed any hormone – is not evil. Every hormone has an important role to play in your body; actually several important roles. Cortisol is responsible for getting you up and going first thing in the morning (at least in a healthy body it is), and is also crucial for helping you to deal with urgent or stressful situations. It’s just that it’s not such a great thing when your life is so full of urgent and stressful situations, or when you stress yourself through poor nutrition or lifestyle. The reason that this is not ideal hormonally is that a constant stream of cortisol into your bloodstream can result in a number of undesirable outcomes, including:

  • An inability to focus properly
  • Feelings of anxiety, panic, overwhelm
  • Poor digestion
  • Reduced libido
  • And – you got it – increased fat storage. Especially around the umbilical area.

Detoxifying cortisol 101

The thing with cortisol is that it should optimally be release only from time to time. In nature you would only encounter extreme stress or urgency on an occasional basis, and that’s what your body is conditioned for. It would go something like this: stress hits – you get a cortisol boost – you deal with said stress more effectively – cortisol goes away until next stress ensues. But I’m sure you can guess what the problem is when it comes to modern-day living, can’t you? A likely scenario for you and any of your busy family/friends is that your life by definition seems to be full of situations resulting in a steady stream of cortisol release. Am I right? If so (and I really do know this from experience!) it can be very tough to break the effects of this pattern. Here are some tips that I think will help you physiologically as well as mentally.

  • Set clear boundaries. You will never EVER finish everything on your list. Choose 3 things maximum that are important for the day; focus on getting them done first, and then bask in your success.
  • Chunk admin tasks. Designate a set amount of time for emails and paper processing, and stick to those limits.
  • Turn off the TV earlier and get more sleep! Unwinding at night is important, but that extra late-night show really isn’t doing you any favours.
  • Keep the caffeine if you love it, but definitely not after 2pm, and aim for only 2 per day. Wean yourself off sugar and other stimulants.
  • Wean yourself off processed foods by replacing one ‘bad’ food or meal each week with a healthy one. This is a slow but very effective way to revamp your diet.
  • Reduce cardio and increase weight training – not least so you can burn fat while you sleep!
  • Consider introducing some or more ‘anabolic’ exercise into your regime. This means exercise that helps your body rest and repair, and also calms the mind. Yoga is a perfect example. Pilates, tai chi, body balance and the like are also ideal. As you may have noticed I have a little competition for you today which ties in to just that – the chance to win a year’s free membership to My Yoga Online! Keep reading for more info.

Win a free membership to My yoga Online

As you may already know, yoga is one of my all-time favourite ways to de-stress. I practice at least once a week and as a result I’ve noticed tremendous benefits in everything from my flexibility, to my strength in the gym, to my peace of mind outside of the gym. I try and make it to classes when I can, but one of the side-effects of a busy schedule is not always being able to cater to a timetable, and that’s where My Yoga Online comes in. They offer yoga, Pilates, meditation and dance in a HD video stream live from your computer or iPad. I’ve found it to be brilliant for those times when I just want someone to tell me what to do but can’t make it out of the house. Here’s an excerpt from the My Yoga Online ‘About’ page:

“We offer one of the largest and most diverse Mind-Body video and article libraries in the global arena. Our Premium, On Demand subscription service provides unlimited online access to the powerful benefits of yoga and wellness, wherever and whenever our members need them. Our classes fit your schedule. You can practice at home, at work, while traveling – or anywhere else you want. With one of the largest online library of yoga and wellness videos and articles in the world, you can choose the perfect class for you, exactly when you need it. We’ll help you progress on your yoga journey and reach your fitness goals quickly and easily – whether you have tons of experience or none at all.”

If that sounds like something that would float your relaxation boat, then here’s how you can enjoy a full year’s premium membership absolutely FREE. Simple submit a comment on this post sharing your simple relaxation tip. The tip that stands out the most (most unusual, creative, efficient) will win! Competition closes November 5th at midnight, Melbourne time.

 

Don’t forget –

Life is Now. Press Play.

Kat x

PS

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19 Comments

  1. HedgeMage says:

    A good cup of tea, taking time to practice drills or kata from my martial arts study, doing a puzzle, or reading some good fiction all relax me, but none compare to what I do each afternoon:

    Even when my day has been miserable and overwhelming, walking my son home from school in the afternoon gives me a perfect “reset”. This is the one time of day I leave my mobile phone behind, don’t have a laptop, calendar, or even a notebook on me. My little guy tells me about his day, we talk about our plans for the evening or beyond, and always stop to watch the squirrels, or analyze interesting bugs, or whatever catches his attention.

    Often, my housemate or my coworkers comment on the difference in my mood between the middle of a stressful day, and later that afternoon. Now you know my secret. 🙂

    1. Kat says:

      That’s beautiful. Even though my daughter is only one (nearly!), I’m already noticing how relaxed and recharged I am after spending proper time and attention on her. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Joanne says:

    My relaxation tip is to eat lunch by yourself during the work day once in a while. It’s relaxing and gives you a break from your co-workers.

    1. Kat says:

      It’s so important to take time for yourself. Great tip Joanne.

  3. Bonnie says:

    Sounds a bit off kilter but a good (albeit high dose) magnesium supplement does it every time! Somehow, it just takes the edge off as if time is slowed enough to get a good grasp of what needs to be down and what my priorities are.

    1. Kat says:

      That’s a great one Bonnie. I love using good magnesium in the evenings but – oddly enough – have never really even thought about using it during the day to help slow down. Although I do take one after weight training in order to start detoxing cortisol.

  4. Catherine says:

    The best thing for me has to be a hot bath. With my iPod to dull the roar of my three children. When they make a properly waterproof iPod I will be first in line!

    1. Kat says:

      Haha 🙂 blocking out sounds of the kids seems to be a popular theme here!

  5. Nicking my husband’s Bose headphones (can’t hear any kids squabbling with those ones on!), shutting the door to my room and listening to Florence and the Machine’s You’ve Got the Love. Loud and passionate. In less than five minutes I’m re-charged mentally and ready to do the next thing on my to-do list.

  6. Falcon says:

    For a quick relaxation tip I’ll unplug from all distractions and pay attention to my breath for at least a minute. Easier said than done but makes such a difference in slowing down the mind.

    If it’s nice outside I also like to downloaded a podcast – at the moment I love Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone – and I take a walk through the Botanical gardens for as long as it takes!

    1. Kat says:

      I love listening to inspiring podcasts as well … Tony Robbins always gets me going in the morning, although probably more in a ‘fire up’ sort of way than relaxing!

  7. Lisa Sara says:

    I use a meditation technique to clear my mind and then I focus all my energy on creating a waking dream…I think of something I wish I could dream about, ranging anywhere from lying on a tropical beach, running a marathon, or ravaging Brad Pitt and many things in between, whatever my heart desires at the time. It is very effective and I always feel great for the rest of the day because I can go back and remember things I created almost as if they were actual memories! =)

    1. Kat says:

      That sounds fabulous Lisa! Where did you learn the meditation technique?

  8. Anita says:

    I am ALWAYS stressed esp at the end of the year. To relax I look at the situation at hand and think to myself “is this going to be a problem in 5 years time” – almost 90% of the time the answer is NO and I can just relax knowing that the problem is not worth me stressing and risking my health. Exercise is also another way to beat stress, it just takes you to a different place and makes you feel good… 🙂

    1. Kat Eden says:

      I LOVE that 5 year idea!

  9. Lisa says:

    When I am at my most stressed and overwhelmed I take a deep breath and simply ask the universe (can be God, or the mother ship, or whatever greater intelligence you believe in) to help me keep my head where my hands are. This is a great visual that brings me right back to this moment – where there is NO stress, as most of my stress is caused by either replaying yesterday’s tapes or trying to pre-record tomorrow’s!

    1. Kat says:

      Staying present – that’s one of my favourite techniques, although I do find it tough to follow!

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