Being Stressed Out! Bad for You and Your Health

A full 43 percent of U.S. adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) study. Jobs, money and health are cited as the “top three” sources of stress.

A little stress can be okay, but with the crazy time schedules we keep to these days, chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Stress can hit us an external force, like a big project at work, or a self induced internal force like doubting yourself.

When your body feels stressed or threatened, your nervous system kicks into overdrive.

“Fight or Flight”

Hormones including adrenaline and cortisol tell your body to get going to either fight, or run from the stressor. Adrenaline causes the body to increase energy supplies while cortisol lets your brain use glucose more effectively. It also tells your digestion to stop, and refocus the energy to external limbs (run away!).

Body Responses to Stress

Here’s what happens during your stress response:

  • Heart rate increases
  • Muscles tighten
  • Blood pressure increases
  • Rate of breathing increases
  • Senses sharpen

A Little is OK, More is Not Better

But what happens when you’re stressed all the time? Your body ceases to respond to each incident in the above ways and begins to affect not only your mood, but decreases your health as a whole.

Long term stress can affect you in the following ways:

  • Raises blood pressure
  • Suppresses the immune system
  • Increases the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Contributes to infertility
  • Ages the body
  • Increases risk of depression
  • Causes sleep problems
  • Digestive problems like increased stomach acid (ulcers)
  • Increases risk of obesity
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Pessimism
  • Anxiety
  • Constant worrying
  • Aches and Pains
  • Increasing food consumption or decreasing it

With all the “down sides” to chronic stress, why do we put up with it? I have no idea, that’s a good question. One guess is that it’s that feeling of trying to “dig out” of all the “things” that seem to pile up on us.

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We can’t do it all… so how does TRYING to do it all help us? Maybe it’s better to look at our 24 hours and spend it wisely. Then… Let it go.

How Do You Chill Out?

De-stress by reaching out to a friend for a great chat. Go for a walk or get some exercise in by going for a swim! Pause for a few minutes of deep breathing — or even better hit up a yoga or meditation class. You’ve got to take a little time for yourself to reduce stress before it affects health.

Remember, small changes for big results: stopping the stress before it becomes long term can keep the long list of problems I mentioned earlier at bay.

http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/

Reliving My New York City Marathon – In Pictures

The ING New York City Marathon is one of the world’s great road races, drawing more than 100,000 applicants annually. The 2011 race had 46,795 finishers — and I was one of them with a time of 4:36:44. Check out my race recap – and apply for the NYC marathon lottery. You won’t regret it. (Good luck getting in. It took me three years.)


Even though I have finished 7 previous marathons and ultra marathons I have never done the “red recovery routine” before. As a “powered by red” team member for NYC marathon, I had the perfect opportunity to try it out on myself.

Basically, I added in 10 ounces of tart cherry juice a day the week leading up to the marathon and for a few days after the race.

I’m completely sold. I cannot believe the difference in my post marathon recovery. I had minimal pain and inflammation compared to other marathons. I thought I’d eventually feel it 1-2 days post-race (due to DOMS) but I didn’t. Watch my full video experience here.

I seriously hope you consider trying the red recovery routine yourself. If you are curious about what is “special” about tart cherry juice, it’s the anthocyanins. Tart cherry juice has anthocyanins I and II in large amounts and they have been found to help reduce pain and inflammation in endurance athletes.

Race Preparation

I do so much to get ready physically and mentally for a race. One major thing I need is sleep. I was lucky because it was “fall back” time. I also got good sleep 2 nights before race day. I absolutely LOVED this from my race packet – a door sign for the hotel. Ha! It reminded me I needed to get that shut eye. It was lights out by 9:30 p.m. I woke at 3:30 a.m. for a minute but then got good rest/relaxation until 6:45 when I had to get out of bed to catch a cab by 7 a.m.

Getting to the Start

It was basically a race in itself. I took a cab to a ferry to a bus and walked to the start. But check out some of the cool sites along the way!

Leaving Manhattan – We had an escort with a machine gun! Don’t mess w/ marathoners!


She is so beautiful in the morning sun. Thanks to the People of France for this gift – Libertas – the Roman Goddess of Freedom!

Pre-Race at Staten Island

Here I am with an 87 year old woman who has completed over 20 New York marathons! You go girl…

I made a friend on the bus from the State Island ferry to the start line. I can’t tell you how excited I was to be invited to start the race with them. They were doing a 4 min run, 1 min walk pace for a 4:45 finish. That was in the zone of my time so I figured, what the heck! It was great to have some tempo buddies. And… I got someone to draw cherries on my face to help me “rock the red”!

 

Random Race Photos

It’s not easy to run and tweet, let alone grab pics, but I managed to do it. Here are a few things I captured that weren’t completely blurry :)

Mile 1-2

I think this was the prettiest bridge. Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn

I took more pics but they were very blurry so I didn’t include them here. It was basically crowd shots — awesome spectators — and shots of bands. There were 130 bands total. THANK YOU for keeping it fun! There were great signs. My fave “Because 26.3 would be just crazy”. I also enjoyed the kids passing out oranges and suckers. So cute!

Bridge Queens to Manhattan – Right before mile 16 – Hubby is waiting for me at 63rd St


Mile 18 – Have U Hugged a Firefighter?

(don’t know this guy at all, but things like that happen when you’re that far into a race!)

Mile 22 – Wow, more firefighters!

Mile 25 – Central Park – Just capturing the last mile!

Post-Race in Central Park

We got a goodie bag that included an apple (of course) so I took a pic of me getting my own “bite” out of this BIG apple.

The Bling

And of course, it’s all about that BLING :) so here’s mine….

Inspiring Women at the 2011 AALU Annual Meeting Today!

Today is going to be a great day! That’s because I get to do what I love best… talk! (LOL, seriously, I was voted “most talkative” in middle school and high school). No. What I love best is engaging people and helping them think differently about their health and wellness. I want people to see their daily choices about nutrition, exercise, and managing stress as self-care. Unfortunately, we don’t. Most women (97%) spend most days “bashing” the way they look. We don’t get any help from certain forms of media either. Take this month’s issue of Marie Claire. They published self-proclaimed “nutritionists” daily food journals. One woman starved herself all day and then binged on fruit, smoothies, and a box of macaroons once she finally let herself eat at dinner time. That’s disordered. Period. And any real nutrition expert with proper training would be able to tell you that (as if you couldn’t figure that out for yourself!)

So today is going to be a great day! Today I get to speak with influential women and clear the air. I’ll bust some serious myths about healthy eating… such as “eating after 7p.m. causes weight gain”. I’ll take them on a “flavor tour” tasting four different chocolates and documenting flavor notes. (This is a stealth way of teaching mindful eating, using all their senses. Savoring chocolate and choosing your favorite based on taste, not a food label.) I’ll show them how they can start with any food and “add nutrition” by adding veggies, nuts or seeds, beans, and herbs. We’ll also make a vitality fruit smoothie (banana split flavor – oh yeah!) using the approach of “add nutrition” – and the best part is I’ll be working with a 12 year-old girl (the granddaughter of the President of the women’s group).

I get so excited about every speaking engagement like it is the best one I’m going to do. I realize that I might only have an hour of their time. But a lot can happen in an hour. I hope to bring a more positive message about health, wellness, and body image to the group. I hope to change at least one person’s life today.

(And one other cool thing… yet totally unrelated… I’m speaking after George Bush! I won’t even run into him as we are in different rooms. This meeting boasts a list of major “world class” speakers Dennis Miller, Steven D. Levitt author of Freakonomics, Veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile… just to name a few! I kinda can’t believe I’m part of this meeting.)

Learn more about my speaking: www.nurtureprinciples.com and my online community for self care the “ME” movement on Twitter @ScritchfieldRD and #mefirst

Talking Natural Colors on NBC with Tom Costello

I was honored to give an interview as part of a story on artificial colors. There is mounting concern about the safety of artificial colors in U.S. food products (anything from sweetened drinks, colored candies, and even mac-n-cheese. The FDA is holding meetings over the next few days to discuss the latest evidence and possible link between artificial colors and ADHD.

The segment featured a mom who has claimed her child’s behavior has improved when the artificial colors were taken out.

[watch it]

We need to follow the science – absolutely. But let’s look at the big picture 70% of Americans don’t get the whole food fruits and veggies they need. The foods with artificial colors should not be part of our “typical day” of food intake anyway. Since we’re getting over 3 times the safe amount of added sugar and not enough nutritious foods, there’s a lot we can do to shift that balance — and whether artificial colors are “good” or “bad” — eating right is the right thing to do for our long-term health and wellness.

Here’s what you can do:

  • half plate fruit or vegetables
  • 80% of your food in the day minimal processing – nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, eggs, beans… you get the idea
  • don’t fear fat – olive oil, avocado, nuts/seeds, salmon, yogurt (full or low fat) and regular fat cheese are good for satisfaction and pleasure just be careful of portions because fat is high in calories
  • look for short ingredients lists on packages and make sure you don’t need a chemistry degree to pronounce the ingredients – companies are making chips and snacks with a few simple ingredients – reach for these in moderation

Capsaicin for Weight Loss?

By Carlene Helble-Elite Nutrition Intern

Have you ever taken a big bite of salsa only to recoil at the intense spice? The big bang happening with each scoop is due to capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in super hot peppers, like cayenne, but you may have also seen it as a topical cream or dietary supplement. The capsaicin within that spicy hot food is doing you some good by acting as an antioxidant but also strengthens lung tissues, helps relieve pain, and aid digestion among other great things.

The topical cream is actually a pain reliever and anti inflammatory, which first excites pain signals in the body (through nerves in the spinal cord and other areas of the body) and then decreases them. When the cream is applied, the ‘substance P’, which is an important transmitter of a pain message going to the brain, is inhibited.

Capsaicin as a supplement  is used as a digestion aid by amping up the amount of digestive juices in your stomach and fighting bad bacteria. Besides pain relief and digestive help, this chemical compound has research indicating capsaicin can help prevent heart disease by preventing clotting, hardening of the arteries, and lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Recent research in the International Journal of Obesity by Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is showing capsaicin can also decrease appetite, leaving the weight loss world is on the edge of its seat. During a study, 24  men and women were given about ½ a teaspoon of red pepper, close to .9 g of the red pepper which contains 0.25% capsaicin, thirty minutes before every meal. Other members of the study were given a placebo without their knowledge. After eating their meal, the subjects’ saity increased when they were given the red pepper, and less calories and fat was consumed. Those who took the placebo had minimal change in saity compared to saity after a meal when they didn’t take the placebo. The study also found that post consumption, more energy was expended by those involved in the test. Capsaicin creates these results by increasing thermogenesis (the body burning energy from food released as heat), “enhancing catecholamine secretion from the adrenal medulla”.  The increase in thermogenesis suggests a change in “substrate oxidation from carbohydrate to fat oxidation”. These amazing outcomes that say capsaicin increases fat burning and weight loss almost seem too good to be true! The results are legitimate and strong, but like all new research, multiple studies should be done to test the consistency.

That spicy kick in your food has great benefits! From anti-inflammatory properties to current results indicating fat burning, capsaicin is a powerhouse. Eat those peppers! Just be smart about it. Some red pepper flakes on 4 slices of thick crust pizza aren’t going to do much for fat burning.