Actually I am a happy-mood cow today!
It’s been a good day for no particular reason…which is always nice!
Being happy…it was once something that I dreamt about. There were little moments of happiness and things that made me smile back when I was at my biggest. The underlying feeling of despair and desperation though made it hard for those feelings to flourish. Happiness was fleeting at best.
I get so many requests for help and support…with people wanting to know how I manage to stay so focussed and on track. My biggest tip is to get happy. So simple, yet so bloody difficult to achieve when you aren’t in a great place!
Happiness is also subjective…what makes me happy would have some running for the hills. For example, happiness now is picking poo from my horses field, or giving them a good brush and getting covered in shedding hair and grease from their coats. Happiness now is playing horses with my niece and nephew and giving them rides around the lounge on my poor old back. Happiness now is making my way through McDonalds DriveThru without buying anything for me.
You have to find your own happiness, just as you have to find your own motivation.
There are generic things that we can both do to find our happiness, and I read an American article today that gave some great little pointers and I thought that I would share them with you. These are supposed to be things that you can do within 5 minutes to improve your mood…
Make a gratitude list
“The most effective way I know of to shake a bad mood is to brainstorm everything possible that you’re grateful for and write it down,” says Amy Wood, PsyD, author of Life Your Way. She suggests starting with broad strokes, like being thankful the sun is shining or that you’re breathing. “You’ll find that once you get the ball rolling, more and more ideas will come to you. Studies actually show that it’s impossible to feel gratitude and unhappiness simultaneously. That’s why this strategy works so well, and so quickly!” This is similar to the ‘Three Blessings’ exercise created by Martin Seligman that I used to help me get happier. This kind of things really works!
“If you’re in a slump, you may also be stuck ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Both of these thoughts are nonproductive,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Instead, he suggests practicing mindfulness, which involves being present in the moment without judgment. “Try taking five minutes and eating your meal in a mindful way, paying attention to how it looks, smells and tastes with each bite, before swallowing it. Or take a quick mindful walk, considering the sights, smells, sounds and temperature with each step.” By focusing on the present, you’re less likely to dwell on the outside circumstances that are making you unhappy. Again, I am a huge advocate of mindfulness. It really helped me beat my binge-eating by allowing me to just feel my emotions rather than having to bury them under a mountain of junk food.
This type of toning doesn’t refer to weight training, but it is a great workout for your mood. According to Marvin Sams, MA, ND, founder of The Sams Center in Plano, Texas, extending the sounds of vowels is extremely beneficial for getting out of a funk. “Take a breath and then sound out a vowel, like ‘aaaaaaaa’ or ‘eeeeee’ [during the exhale],” he says (similar to the om chant that is often done at the beginning of a yoga class). “It will stimulate the inner ear, which supercharges the cerebellum, which then balances out the left and right hemispheres of the brain.” So what does that have to do with feeling happy? According to Dr. Sams, a bad mood could be due to the right hemisphere of the brain, where negative thoughts are generally processed, being too active. When you energise the cerebellum it will balance out both sides of the brain, so the left side, which handles pleasurable experiences, is also activated. This is one that I haven’t tried…I am off to ‘aaaaaaa’ and ‘eeeeee’ right now!
Practice a random act of kindness
According to Dr. Rego, doing nice things for other people will make you feel good about yourself. Try holding a door open for someone else, offering a compliment or smiling at a stranger. These acts of kindness lead to positive thinking about yourself, and usually garner a positive response, like “thank you,” which can easily put a smile on your face, he says. I like random acts of kindness. I tend to pop in to see the old lady down the road, but a quicker version is just letting someone cross the road, or letting a car pull out in front of me…makes me feel all virtuous!
Pour yourself a small cup of coffee
“People are obviously drinking way too much caffeine these days, but half a cup of coffee can really perk you up,” says Dr. Sams. The secret, he says, is stopping at that half-cup to avoid a post-java crash, while still enjoying the feel-good properties of the beverage. This is not one for me…coffee makes my heart race and I never drink the stuff – although the smell of it is great.
Have a laugh
“Set up a YouTube channel with your favorite comedy sketches and comedians,” suggests Cory Bank, PhD, founder of StompStressAway.com. “Have it saved so that if you’re in a bad mood you can take a three-minute break and infuse some humor into your day.” Belly laughter will make your endorphins kick in within minutes. Plus, he notes, “you’ll feel better when you take a short break from your day-to-day reality.” Another idea that I like…although I doubt that my favourite and very un-PC comedians could be listened to in the office!
Eat an orange
According to celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, foods packed with vitamin C, like citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli, are proven to cheer you up. In fact, a study published in a 2010 edition of Nutrition found that vitamin C therapy can help improve the moods of patients who are hospitalised for long-term or critical care. Dr. Sams also stresses the importance of vitamin C (as well as other antioxidants, like vitamins A and E) when it comes to boosting your mood because it helps stabilise free radicals in the body, which are known to accelerate aging and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. When these highly reactive atoms are neutralised, it prevents them from also damaging brain cells, resulting in better health and improved mood. I find that the smell of citrus improves my mood…I use essential oils and citrus scents are linked with energy improvements…so if you don’t fancy eating any superfree, maybe just sniff something nice instead!
Sure, we do this all day long, but breathing in a certain way has the power to relax us as well as lift us out of a slump. Dr. Sams is an advocate of diaphragmatic breathing. “Take a five-count breath in, and a five-count breath out. The goal is to manage your breath, instead of having your breath manage you.” When you breathe into your diaphragm (lower belly) as opposed to just your chest, which many of us do when we’re feeling stressed, you will absorb a lot more oxygen into your system. “Our brains thrive on oxygen—it’s very powerful in boosting your mood.” I can’t argue with the fact that breathing is good! There are a many types of breathing out there…I quite like bamboo breathing, and quick breaths in with very slow breaths out…find your own breath though – I don’t want to be held accountable for any purple faces or asthma attacks.
So there we go then…a few quick-fix happiness options to throw in your toolkit!
As I mentioned, today has been a happy day. I managed to grab a bit of extra sleep this morning, which was followed by a great gym workout. I decided to push myself on the leg-press today and shifted 200kg…which was as much as the weight stack had on it! There was a bit more in the tank, but no more for me to push! I don’t necessarily want to become a weight-lifter, but the feeling of power and achievement that I get makes me feel amazing…especially considering that I could hardly lift myself off the sofa at 43st+! Mr WLB and I then went to see the horses, grabbed some shopping, and had a catch-up with my Dad. I then made lunch for us and went to see my niece and nephew. My niece was having her hair cut over at my Mums house, and I got taken along for the ride….after which we went to McDonalds but I left empty-handed and empty-stomached…dinner had already been prepared. I am hoping for a nice quiet evening in with Mr WLB before his Mum arrives tomorrow for the weekend.
Breakfast: Boiled eggs and a banana.
A good food day! My new usual brekkie fuelled my workout and was followed by a jacket potato with some mixed beans, roasted veggies – red onion, peppers, and courgette – with cheese and some cherry tomatoes. Dinner was a recipe from the ‘Little Book of Soups’ – country vegetable – and had onion, garlic, mixed herbs, veggie stock, carrots, celery, baked beans, and potato…it was quite nice! And my snacks were lovely too.
Exercise: 20 minutes elliptical machine, 13 minutes hand-bike, 18 minutes treadmill, and a new PB on the leg-press of 200kg!
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx