4 Common Stress Responses and What You Should Do Instead

4 Common Stress Responses and What You Should Do Instead

Physical and biological responses to stress can really mess with our health. We experience varying levels of this emotion every day, so it’s good to draw some attention to some of the unconscious responses to stress that have the potential to damage our wellbeing.  

Here are 4 things you probably do when stressed, along with 4 things you can do to cope with them: 

Common Stress Responses 

TENSING YOUR MUSCLES

When you’re stressed you may unconsciously clench your jaw, tighten up your shoulders, or clench your fists. You probably won’t realize it in the moment, but this habit can lead to pain down the road.  

A tight jaw can lead to headaches or neck aches, and it can also lead to teeth grinding while sleeping. Teeth grinding can also be a source of pain as it can cause tooth sensitivity, receding gums, and headaches 

Do This Instead: Make a conscious effort to relax your muscles. When you notice you are feeling anxious or stressed, try doing a full-body scan in your mind and relaxing each group of muscles as you go. 

OVEREATING

Eating has a special connection with stress. Psychology Today explains that stress involves the release of the hormone cortisol. When you have this hormone in your system, your brain sees it and automatically stops producing more so your system isn’t overloaded with it. However, the role it plays in your body is part of the reason why you feel comforted by eating.  

Cortisol tells your body to prepare immediate energy for your muscles to either fight or flee from the stressful situation. When you “stress eat” you’re psychologically comforted by the fact that you are replenishing the energy stores your body has been demanding. 

Do This Instead: When we have access to high-calorie foods, it’s more difficult to turn down the impulse to stress eat. Try to avoid stocking those foods or buy only a small amount. If you don’t have a lot, you’re likely to eat them less often because you’ll want to stretch your supply to last longer. The preferred solution, however, would be to address the source of the stress. That is the healthiest long-term solution.

NOT EATING ENOUGH

The opposite of stress eating can also be true. Sometimes, when your stomach is in knots, you’ll find you don’t have the desire to eat at all. The Cleveland Clinic explains that this is more about not noticing your hunger cues because you’re so focused on the stressor. It’s important to note this distinction because loss of appetite can also be a symptom of depression. 

Do This Instead: If your stomach is in knots and you can’t seem to eat, focus on relaxing to melt some of that stress away. Keep a stress ball at your desk, take a minute to step outside, try some breathing exercises, or refocus your energy by giving yourself something to do.  

GIVING UP

When things look hopeless, it’s often tempting to just stop trying. Whether you’re struggling to achieve something you’ve been working towards or have encountered an unexpected obstacle, throwing in the towel is a common stress response. The sudden rush of relief from no longer needing to work through a problem can make it easy for us to give up. This is also tied to feelings of anxiety.  

Stress and anxiety can be good for you in small doses. They are good motivators and help you move forward with things that need to get done (for example taking a test or preparing for an interview). When they start to become overwhelming and cause you to withdraw from people, situations, or tasks more than is healthy, it’s a good time to address these emotions more seriously. 

Do This Instead: Instead of throwing in the towel when you feel stressed, ask yourself some questions first. Why did your situation become the way it is? Are your worries realistic or are you blowing the problem out of proportion? Do you have feasible options you’re trying not to take because they look scary or difficult? Being honest with yourself can help you assess your situation better and help you decide if it’s really better to abandon your goal.  

What are some ways that you combat stress in your life? Share your approach with us in the comments below! For more ways to care for yourself, read these reminders of why you are worth the self-love. Stay in-the-know and subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

Intermittent Fasting: Post-Workout Protein | QA

Intermittent Fasting: Post-Workout Protein | QA

Question:

I work out in the morning about 5am every day. I also participate in intermittent fasting. My question is about the intake of protein. They say after a workout within about 30min you’re supposed to intake the protein, but that would break my fast (I eat at 11:30am every day). Should I break my fast or just be sure to intake enough protein within the day? 

– Celeste C.

Answer:

Choosing between the benefits of intermittent fasting and refueling post workout depend on your primary goals. Losing weight would dictate adhering to your time schedule for eating, while gaining strength or lean mass would necessitate repleting muscle building blocks in a timely manner. Endurance exercise repletion generally involves carbohydrate recovery – though protein helps. Really, we may only be talking about 50-75 calories or so from approximately 15 grams protein! If you think that would damage your fasting impact, then skip it. But doing so will certainly mean resistance workouts won’t have the maximum intended outcome. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Corporate Fitness Challenge – Podcast Ep. 39

Corporate Fitness Challenge – Podcast Ep. 39


Welcome to the 39th episode of the Living Healthy podcast, presented by LA Fitness.  

Today we’re talking about an awesome challenge that we do every year at the LA Fitness corporate office. It’s become a way to get active during the workday and to meet people throughout the company we otherwise would never have known!  

Our hope is that, in sharing a bit about our corporate culture, we can shed some light on our passion for what we do and help you find new ways to add more activity to your workplace as well!  

Tune in now to hear how we get up, get moving, and get acquainted at the office.

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – Corporate Fitness Challenge – Podcast Ep. 39

Intro 

 0:01 

Sneak Peek into the Corporate Volleyball Tournament 

1:33 

Introduction of Today’s Guest: Deanna Mercurio 

2:27 

Deanna’s Fitness Background 

6:08 

What is the Corporate Fitness Challenge? 

8:37 

What are Some of the Events That Make Up the Challenge? 

10:37 

Which are the Crowd Favorites? 

18:09  

What Kind of Issues Does Sedentary Living Cause? 

20:44 

What are Some Examples of Week-Long Challenges? 

25:46 

What are a Few Exercises That People Can Do at Their Desk? 

28:10 

Are People Competitive with the Challenge? 

32:25 

How the Challenge Helps Develop Friendships 

34:42 

Actionable Advice – How to Start a Fitness Challenge at Your Workplace 

39:35 

Outro 

42:38 


Recommended Podcast Episodes 

The Fact and Fiction of Gluten-Free

The Fact and Fiction of Gluten-Free

What is Gluten? 

Gluten is a common term for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale, malt, and brewer’s yeast.1 It is what helps maintain the shape and texture of foods made with these grains. The list looks simple enough, but we have not yet considered the various products made from these grains that are then used in various foods. This can make it difficult to really know which consumables contain gluten. 

For example, products like semolina, farina, spelt, farro, bulgar, emmer, and more, are all products made from wheat. If you see one on a food item’s ingredient list, you may not immediately know that it contains gluten.

What is the Problem with Consuming Gluten?

Consuming gluten typically isn’t a problem unless you have a sensitivity to or intolerance for it. People diagnosed with Celiac Disease experience the more serious side-effects because the intake of gluten actually causes damage to the small intestine. Not only does this hinder nutrient absorption, it can also result in symptoms like weight loss and diarrhea.2 For these reasons, malnutrition is a serious concern for individuals with this condition.  

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity essentially means that, even though a person tests negative for Celiac Disease and negative for a wheat allergy, they still experience some of the milder side-effects. Typically, this means they may experience some intestinal symptoms, headaches, fatigue, and joint pain if they consume gluten.2 

Busting the Myths About Gluten

Gluten-Free Diets Aid Weight LossMYTH 

How surprised would you be to learn that the opposite can actually be true? Gluten-free foods can contribute to weight gain because food manufacturers will often add fat and sugar to help recreate the qualities that gluten gives to food.3 In fact, there is no evidence that supports the idea that gluten-free foods can help someone lose weight.3   

The reason gluten-free diets are perceived as beneficial for weight loss probably comes from the fact that going “gluten free” can simply mean sticking to unprocessed foods. For example, avoiding glutinous foods (like cake, pasta, etc.) can mean a lower daily calorie count which is potentially what helps gluten free dieters lose weight. 

Gluten-Free Labels Mean Zero Gluten Content – MYTH 

Research has determined that there is a safe threshold in terms of gluten consumption. So, if a food is labeled as “gluten free,” what that really means is that it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.4 Okay, but what does that even mean? We rarely quantify things this way. Parts per million refers to how much gluten there is in relation to all the other ingredients. This is not a fixed number. Some foods have a little more and some have a little less.  

Each low-gluten food item adds to your overall daily intake. This means that if you consume too many “gluten-free” foods, you can accidentally consume more than the safe amount. Individuals with Celiac Disease are advised to consume no more than 10-50 milligrams per day.4  

Gluten-Free Diets are Easy to Follow – MYTH 

Following a gluten-free diet is actually pretty tough to adhere to, and if you don’t pay attention to what you’re eating (or if you stick to the same foods every single day), you may put yourself at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Not to mention that gluten-free foods typically aren’t enriched with the nutrients you’re already missing by avoiding gluten-containing foods.3 

According to an article by the Gluten Intolerance Group, some of the most common nutrients that are difficult to obtain on a gluten-free diet include: 

  • Thiamin 
  • Riboflavin 
  • Niacin 
  • Folate 
  • Iron 
  • Calcium 
  • Vitamin D 
  • Magnesium 
  • Fiber 
  • Zinc 

Which Foods You Should Avoid

If you need to go gluten-free, Healthline explains that the easiest way to avoid gluten is to eat unprocessed, single-ingredient foods. This means you should avoid foods like bread, pasta, cereal, cookies, muffins, pizza, crackers, and certain beverages like beer. You should also avoid foods made or topped with soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, certain broths or marinades, and even some salad dressings.1  

If you are going to consume grains, you are encouraged to stick to foods like quinoa, rice, buckwheat, tapioca, corn, and gluten-free oats.1 To be extra-safe, check the packaging for a “gluten-free” label on these items because many foods that are naturally gluten-free (like oats) may still be contaminated with gluten because they are processed or packaged in the same facility as gluten-containing products.  

The lists go on for both the do’s and don’ts of gluten-friendly dieting, so be sure to check with a reputable source for a more complete list of foods. 

Do you have any tips or tricks for gluten-free dieters? Share your thoughts in the comments below! For more articles like this one, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the Living Healthy Blog. 

Sources  

  1. Raman, Ryan. “The Gluten-Free Diet: A Beginner’s Guide With Meal Plan.” Healthline, 12 Dec. 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-free-diet.  
  2. Kubala, Jillian. “Is Gluten Bad for You? A Critical Look.” Healthline, 6 Mar. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-gluten-bad#who-benefits  
  3. Fontenot, Beth. “Gluten: Fact and Fiction.” The Doctor Will See You Now, 28 Dec. 2011, http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/content/nutrition/art3542.html  
  4. Spector Cohen, Inna, et al. “Gluten in Celiac Disease-More or Less?” Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal, 2019, https://www.rmmj.org.il/issues/40/articles/897  

Mid-Workout Snacks to Boost Your Energy | QA

Mid-Workout Snacks to Boost Your Energy | QA

Question:

I am a 59-year-old male who is still playing competitive soccer. – 2 x 45 minute halves each game. Any suggestions for a halftime snack to boost my 2nd half energy level?

– Joe B.

Answer:

Bravo for keeping up your game! Many athletes experience a decline in energy level toward the end of a match, especially those lasting nearly 2 hours. Hopefully you are consuming a balanced meal a couple of hours prior, then a sports drink 5 to 10 minutes before kickoff. A halftime snack helps to postpone fatigue, stabilize blood sugar and keep up the pace during the second half.  

Items with significant fat, fiber or protein — which slow digestion and thus blood glucose replenishment – should be avoided at this time. For that reason, even a flavored yogurt cup or granola bar may not be suitable. 

A halftime snack should be comprised of carbohydrates, fluids and electrolytes. Examples include: watermelon slices, orange wedges, grapes, applesauce packet, half fruit bar + water, coconut water, and a sports hydration drink. Carbohydrate gels are another (more expensive) option.  

Sources: 

  1. Dirks, A. (2019, March 14) Nutrition for Soccer Players: What to Eat When. https://www.soccertoday.com/nutrition-for-soccer-players-the-right-time-to-fuel-up/ Accessed 1.10.2020 
  2. FIFA (2010, January) Nutrition for Football: A Practical Guide to Eating and Drinking for Health and Performance. https://resources.fifa.com/image/upload/practical-guide-eating-and-drinking-515515.pdf?cloudid=ukbqfkkxw2o8s1gyjria Accessed 1.11.2020 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

6 + 13 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

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