I want to welcome my first guest blogger, Tripp Hanson! Woop wool!!! Tripp is not only a good friend but also an ah-maz-balls acupuncturist who healed my hamstring a few years ago when I was out of commission. Here he gives us a stress smack down and some easy-to-impliment tips. Don’t take my word for it…read on.
Stress, it’s an overused word, right? We all toss it around casually and use it as code for a bunch of things: tired, overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, bewitched, bothered and…well, you know. The thing is, it’s true. We ARE stressed! It’s one of the inevitabilities of the modern, urban lives we’re living. Especially the rockstar super achievers and dreamers of big dreams among us…we gotta be firing on all pistons! But do we actually realize what that means? I’m afraid that we might be numb to it, because it’s just. so. ever-present. Can’t be avoided, so what can you do, right? Have a drink. Pop a Xanax (not so good). Meditate. Pray. Get your workout in (much better)!
Stress is more than just the tough emotional stuff that confronts us during our day to day. It’s more than that feeling you get when you’re late for an appointment, or the deadline is looming large. It’s also the noisy city we live in; it’s the light shining in our window at night from the building across the street; it’s the genetically modified foods we’re consuming. It’s WORRYING about the companies that aren’t telling us about the genetically modified foods they use. It’s the schedules we keep (staying up long after the rest of the animal kingdom has nodded off and still finishing our to-do lists)! It’s the collapsed building in Bangladesh on the news. It’s world peace. It’s the cacophony of machinery ringing/buzzing/beeping throughout the day and night. Yes, all of that AND it’s your personal relationships, your job, your boss, your finances, your…fill-in-the-blank… ! It’s in great supply, clearly. It’s physical. It’s mental. It’s emotional.
Now for some good news: stress is a good thing in doses. It gives the nervous system a work out. Your body is there, adapting and responding, cranking for you and doing the dirty work, while you’re polishing your aura and getting it ready for prime time. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot on your plate and have more things cookin’ than you can shake your money maker at. We have goals by the boatload. BIG plans! We go to workshops and buy books that promise to teach us strategies on how we can accomplish it all in a shorter period of time. You know what? I love us for that! We ARE the game changers of the world…but my question (and the real topic of our chat here) is this: are we working hard enough for our bodies??
Your body is a marvel. It handles incredibly complicated biochemical transactions in the understated blink of an eye. It manages hundreds of thousands…or millions…or even HUNDREDS of millions of functions, very quietly, in the background, while you go about your day, or at least that’s what it does when it’s getting what it needs. So how do we treat this “Maserati of a body” like the fine machine that it is? Believe me, I’m not preaching…merely speaking from experience. I’ve been one of those guys who takes some supplements, knocks off the sugar, steams instead of fries, and kicks up the green smoothies until I feel pretty good. Then I get a little careless again, until one day, I realize I’m back to square one. Feeling pudgy, sluggish…(or as I’ve coined it: ‘pudge-ish’). That revolving door gets dizzying. There’s a better way, I’m learning. So, what’s going on under the hood?
Our bodies will do their best to work around our lack of attention for a bit. They’ll kick up some adrenaline to deal with the stress, which kicks up the cortisol production to ease the discomfort and gives us the energy we need for our day. As a result, lots of other things have to wait: digestion, for instance is put on hold. Bloating and gas are SO HOT, aren’t they? Oh yeah, and it can cause fatigue, weight gain, problems with sleep, and a reduced immune system. Did I mention that the sex hormones are ruled by the adrenals as well? Nothing to dampen our groove like some hormones gone wild. Suddenly that rockin’ bod of yours will do its best to have a heart to heart with you. It’s feeling the stress, and if you’re not listening closely enough, it’ll not only talk…it’ll pretty much start laying down the law. The Law of Cravings. You see, our ‘cravings’ are really our body’s child-like (as in tantrum-throwing, pissed-off-cause-I-missed-my-nap) way of insisting on what it needs. In other words, if it’s a craving doing the talking, we already missed all the friendly signals that came and went an hour or 2 ago, and now baby’s getting cranky! Think about it, when we’re jonesin’ for sugar, it’s the body’s way of demanding that we restore the glucose reserves NOW in order to meet the energy demands we’ve been placing on the body without re-fueling. We’re runnin’ on empty, mama, and it’s time to pony up. We’ve stayed too long at the fair and now nothing but cotton candy will do. When a plate of french fries suddenly seems like the perfect foundation of the food pyramid it’s our body’s way of saying, “We’re stressed the f*^$ OUT!!!!” Hungry again 30 minutes after lunch? It’s because the body isn’t getting enough of what it needs, and so it starts playing the ‘quantity-over-quality’ game with you, and any crap will do, as long as it comes in bulk.
Now, let me say that I fundamentally believe that we are indeed ALL gloriously rugged individuals, Supernovas in our own firmament. That means that there’s probably not one particular way to eat that applies to all of us. That’s why in my private practice, I run lab tests to determine exactly what your Precise Hotness needs. Let’s begin with some basics that can help support that energy production, which will combat the negative effects of stress. We can always fine tune later! Here are 10 simple practices that can establish a ceasefire between you and your Stressed Inner Superstar:
- Protein- get on it! I know this is a tricky wicket these days. I’m not going to enter the fracas of what protein sources you should use right here on Lindsay’s blog. You and I can talk that one out in private! First, start where you are. Vegan? Kick it up with your favorite organic, non-GMO sources. Paleo? Add some organic grass-fed something. Easy for All? Mix up a big ol’ smoothie at home. A handful of fresh berries, some almond milk, and a wad of kale for extra credit; add a high quality protein powder (something that’s nutritionally complete with a variety of whole-food nutrients) and throw some avocado or coconut oil for some creamy luxury, and essential fatty acids to boot. It’s all good! Pour it into a BPA-free water bottle (or a recycled Ball jar for a few extra ‘you’re hot AND you’re conscientious!‘ points) and get on with your day.
- Carry a bag of unsalted, raw almonds or cashews. A small handful of them goes a long way to carry you through the vast expanse of a tedious afternoon. Or you could bring a baggie of home-made trail mix, you hippie you…withOUT any sugary stuff please;)
- Try munching on apple slices throughout the day. The malic acid in there helps keep things moving along, if you know what I mean. Detoxing is your friend!
- Some crudite and nut butter in Tupperware for when you’re on the move.
- Ambitious? Dust off the juicer, and make a vegetable juice to start your day. Use a half of a cucumber, a couple stalks of celery, a handful of spinach, a knuckle of ginger, and half of an apple. Pour it into a(nother) Ball Jar and off you go! Happen to be rich? Buy the aforementioned juice at your local juice bar for dozens of dollars and skip the cleanup!
- Did I mention WATER? Drink it. Lots of good clean water! You should consume 1/2 oz per pound of body weight. More if you’re sweating a lot. Just do it! And throw a pinch of Himalayan sea salt in the jug for a natural electrolyte formula that isn’t the color of your Lulu Lemons.
- If your digestion generally feels like Times Square at rush hour, try adding some digestive enzymes to your day. In actuality, it ain’t what you eat, it’s what you absorb. If constipation is your constant companion, add some magnesium to the menu. In addition to the almonds and cashews we mentioned earlier, use kelp, molasses, bananas, kidney or black beans, brown rice, quinoa, or spinach. Eat up.
- Add some B complex vitamins and vitamin C to your day. That’s like a 3-way for your Adrenals.
- If you can’t eliminate the news, at least contain your consumption. Especially the cheap, sensational headline type stuff. It’s a stress that is unique to our civilization, in which we hear about things that are half a world away and we have no power over. Try to reduce as much of that static as you can…read something positive instead!
- Last, but SO not least? Hit the Pause Button: I know you’re busy! Me too, but stop for even 5 minutes. Stop checking your emails, your texts, AND Facebook constantly. Set a timer and see if you can go 5 minutes without. Too much? Okay, 3 minutes. Think of one thing you’re grateful for, and breathe. Can’t think of anything gratitude worthy? We’ll talk about that later. Just breathe…annnnd go!!
My challenge to you is to try any of the above, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Or hell, try them all (you are an over achiever after all) but something needs to be done if you want your light to shine as brightly as possible. So, get your sparkle on! Do the things that you know are better for you before the stress gets the best of you and the cravings kick in, and watch how much better you work your Particular Kind of Magic on the world!
Tripp Hanson, MS, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist in private practice in midtown Manhattan, where he is the proud owner of Healing Perspective Acupuncture. Formerly a Broadway performer- ‘Crazy For You’, ‘Kiss Me Kate’, ‘Boys From Syracuse’, ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’, ‘Drowsy Chaperone’- Tripp understands the needs of the performer and the specific demands of intense athletic and artistic performance. His practice serves a variety of clients in all walks who want and need to function optimally, and who seek holistic wellness as a means to that end. Additionally, Tripp has performed on concert stages all over the world, appearing with the Manhattan Rhythm Kings, sharing the bill with Liza Minelli, Chita Rivera, Rosemary Clooney, Tommy Tune, Sandy Duncan, Christopher Walken and Gregory Hines. For more info visit: www.HealingPerspective.com
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