I like to spoil my kids with healthy treats and came across a yummy recipe for fudge using coconut oil. I altered it a little by adding sweetened coconut flakes. Coconut oil has so many amazing health benefits so no need to feel guilty eating a few pieces of this super yummy coconut fudge 🙂
- 1 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup Organic Honey
- 1 cup Organic Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 cup Coconut Flakes
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla
- Melt coconut oil then stir in honey & vanilla
- Blend in Cocoa till smooth
- Stir in coconut
- Spread mixture into small glass pan
- Refrigerate until solid, approx 1 hour
- Cut into squares or whatever shape you like and enjoy!
What Working Out Does To Your Psyche
Most of us work out to improve our respective physiques. But aside from the benefits of having sculpted bodies, we also actually enhance our overall mental wellbeing just by regularly exercising. You think all that bench press or treadmill run does is make you stronger and agile? Think again! There are far more benefits, psychological that is, which you’ll obtain if you start to regularly break a sweat.
It’s that feel good chemical that’s responsible
Whenever you exert your body to perform a range of physical activities, your brain releases endorphins, a kind of feel good hormone. Of course, when endorphins are present and actively functioning in your brain, then you become particularly happier and therefore more energetic as well.
You’re bound to feel less anxious when you work out
If you have bouts of self-doubt, or you sometimes feel worried or hopeless…
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Whether it’s getting started on a new program or sticking with your current one, motivation can come and go and for some, just down right not exist when it comes to fitness. I’m human, I definitely have my days where working out is the last thing I feel like doing, heck, I’ve even hit a few slumps where I wont work out for a week straight. I can tell you though, when that happens, after a few days I start to feel awful, and that there is part of my motivation to get my butt back in gear!
Getting motivated to make fitness a regular part of your life needs to be a positive experience. Your drive needs to come from within, and it needs to be about YOU and what regular exercise can do for YOU. My main focus for fitness is not just about looks, sure, I enjoy the benefits fitness has on my physical appearance but how it makes me feel about myself, how it improves my mental health, is my driving force.
Lets list a few negative reinforcements that you want to try and avoid. Although some may seem to make sense for helping to motivate, in reality, any type of negative thinking is going to have a negative effect. These can include unnecessary stress and low self esteem. In the second list you can see how we take some of these negative motivators and put a positive spin on them so that they work in your favor to boost self esteem and keep you on the right track.
Negative self talk (spoken or not) is the number one issue and this only leads to low self esteem, stress and in many cases, quitting or giving up on reaching your fitness goal. Negative self talk can include the following;
- Viewing the negative outcome of a situation (was too difficult, you didn’t complete as many reps as planned etc)
- Focusing on what you could have done better
- Comparing yourself to others
- Fixating on your current state of health/fitness
- Telling yourself you aren’t capable, worthy or good enough
If talking to yourself in a positive way is not something you currently practice than repeating positive phrases to yourself may feel strange but like any other habit, it just takes a short time before it becomes natural. Now lets have a look at some positive reinforcements;
- Reminding yourself of your accomplishments
- Focusing on the progress you have made
- Celebrating milestones and goals achieved
- Telling yourself you are worthy and deserving of a healthy body and mind
Making the switch from negative to positive self talk can and will have a huge impact on your health and mental well-being. Self esteem rises, stress is reduced and overall, you feel and look healthier & happier. Perhaps you aren’t even aware of your negative self talk, perhaps you think beating yourself up will help motivate you, either way, it’s got to stop!
How to go from Negative to Positive Motivation
- Set realistic goals. (Write them down and look at them often)
- List the things you are grateful for.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive and encouraging people.
- Talk to yourself as though you have already accomplished your goals. (I look great, I feel great, I’m gonna rock my new bikini this summer etc)
- Place positive notes or quotes around your home so that you are constantly bombarded with positivity!
- Create a vision board and hang it somewhere you will see it everyday. (A collage of inspiring and motivating pictures, quotes, goals etc)
These don’t have to be all fitness and health related, they just need to be positive! Over time thinking positively will become natural and the negative self talk will phase its way out of your life, where it belongs!
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Stress gets to all of us at one point or another and although some of us may handle it better than others, taking time out to clear your mind and focus on the now can be extremely beneficial in your overall mental health. Daily exercise is great for both your body and mind and can really help you to achieve some mental clarity, both immediately and long term.
During exercise blood flow to the brain is increased, delivering more oxygen, elevating serotonin and boosting energy levels, all leading to improved mental clarity. Exercise produces a relaxation response in the brain relieving stress, anxiety and depression. It boosts your mood and leaves you less irritable, more energized and feeling ready to take on whatever comes your way.
Be it yoga or weightlifting, at home, outside or in the gym, finding the type of exercise most enjoyable to you and a comfortable location is the most important step. Forcing yourself through a routine of any type isn’t going to help if you don’t enjoy it! I personally like to switch things up as often as possible to keep things fresh and exciting. Running up and down the bleachers at the dog park with my pup on a sunny day leaves me feeling refreshed and energized. On not so nice days staying home and working out to my favorite music turned up loud pushes me to keep going as I enjoy my favorite songs. Either way, after any workout I can definitely say my day gets a more positive start!
1. Eat Clean
Stay clear of processed foods! Eating a diet of whole foods will help to reduce bloating, water retention and fat which covers up that 6 pack! It’s not about eating less if you are eating the right foods. When your body gets the proper nutrition it wont crave the junk. Portion control is important as you need to burn more calories then you eat in order to reduce fat so eating the right kinds of foods makes this much easier to do.
2. Pay Attention to Posture
Throughout the day be certain to pay attention to your posture. Belly button in, back straight, no slouching!
3. Use your Bodyweight
Machines that isolate do not allow you to engage your core. Exercises like planking (bridging) and using a stability ball work wonders to engage the core and strengthen abdominal muscles. There are tons of planking varieties and they are a great way to work your abs and up your core strength without equipment.
4. Work a Little Harder
Remember to keep upping the intensity of your core workouts. By doing so you are turning your body into a fat burning machine and burning more calories.
Remember, this doesn’t happen overnight but with some patience and perseverance, anything is possible!
Fitness has changed my life.
…and I’m not just talking about my appearance or my strength, I’m talking about how fitness has brought me from an anxious, depressed state to a positive, confident and more outgoing person. Of course, it didn’t happen over night but I can honestly tell you it didn’t take long for the mental health benefits of exercise to kick in either!
Anxiety was a daily thing for me, going out anywhere had me riddled with fear yet I had not had a panic attack for nearly 10 years. That was until Christmas 2013. I’m not sure if it was the stress of the Holidays, the fact I was hosting this year or the sad reality that it would be the first year without my dear Grandparents, or all of the above, but my anxiety was kicked up a notch and it quickly turned into insomnia and full out panic attacks.
Within a few days I felt like I was losing my mind, which is common when you haven’t slept more than 3 hours in 4 days and are experiencing non stop anxiety, and I knew I had to make a drastic change quick as I was spiraling into a deep depression, something I just cannot have being a single mom of two kids. So, I decided that the next time I woke up at 3 am to a panic attack I would work out as a distraction. It started with the basics; pushups, squats, crunches etc…within a few minutes my anxiety eased off and my concentration was on my form and breathing. It was a temporary solution at first which worked in the moment.
Fast forward 1 year…
I have never felt better in my life. With daily exercise and proper nutrition I haven’t had a panic attack and rarely feel anxious (first dates will have you anxious no matter what 😉 ) in just over a year! Depression is a thing of the past and my self confidence has definitely risen.
This isn’t just for me. This can work for you too, if anxiety, depression or even low self esteem has got you down, and here is why:
Exercise has been proven to help boost the release of endorphins which make us happy and put us in a better mood. During exercise the increase of neutrophils and monoamines, (neutrophils are white blood cells that assist the immune system and monoamines are neurotransmitters) work to reduce the symptoms associated with depression.
Exercise can help to reduce and even eliminate anxiety by reducing the sensitivity to the fight or flight response which induces fear in those who have heightened sensitivity. Because having anxiety usually leads to panic disorder, or vice-versa, it can help to reduce panic attacks as well.
Another great benefit of regular exercise is that it can help to improve sleep which in return can help reduce insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Starting can be hardest part for someone with anxiety or depression but once you get going and start feeling the amazing benefits regular exercise has on your mental health you wont ever want to stop!
Now go do some jumping jacks and get happy 😀