Have you ever seen the show "Curb Your Enthusiasm"? If not, go out to your nearest blockbuster, redbox movie rental or netflix and get it. Then watch it. Then continue to talk about it with your friends because everything that happens in that show has most likely happened to you at some point in your life. It's like Seinfeld (shocker... same creator) but on another level... About 7 more levels.
That had nothing to do with this post except for the fact that the title of this blog post reminded me of the show. But on to more important things. Cravings.
I could never understand why the holidays were such a hard time for people trying to lose weight. I mean, everyone is so happy around thanksgiving and christmas being around lots of friends and family, and if we are happy then usually that means we will stick to our goals and lose that body-fat or get stronger, whatever it is you want! But a light bulb went off while doing some research and I think I found out...
It's the cravings we fight, and often submit to during this SEASON of the year. During this season, we all experience shorter days, low sun exposure and a DIP in SEROTONIN. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the body that can elevate our mood and provide a sense of well-being. The happy drug. A totally legit drug that we can't get enough of!
Since some of us experience a drop in serotonin levels during this time of year, we turn to a lot of carbohydrate-rich sources of food because carbohydrates give an instant lift of the feel-good drug, however it also can lead to a little extra pounds during this time. I love me some ugly christmas sweater parties, but I don't want to be rockin' a large sweater because I'm trying to hide my christmas gut. This lift is also very temporary and we want a sustained release of the feel-good drug, right? So let's get to my top 3 ways to increase serotonin and make you feel good AND look GREAT!
3. Eat Protein
Lots of different sources of protein are high in tryptophan(an amino acid) which is a precursor to serotonin. Consume various sources such as: turkey, fish, chicken, lamb, veal, lean cuts of pork, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese and eggs.
Plus, protein will help you get big muscles and look like this...
Engage in some kind of activity that helps get you to that relaxed, meditative state. I am not a "meditator" per-se but I do love me some yoga (especially in a heated room) and when I leave I can't deny that I feel absolutely AMAZING and ready to charge forward the rest of the day/night. Also try listening to relaxing music in a natural environment like in the woods, forrest or at the beach (bring a sweater okay). Basically try to be at peace...
This is the most important one because I find this to give the most serotonin inducing effects. Exercise is a natural stimulator of not only serotonin but dopamine as well. Don't think of this as a chore but rather as a chance to get the feel-good neurotransmitters fired up! A short 15-20 minute workout can get you to a calm and happy place.
The greatest thing about these other 3 options is that you won't have to turn to carbohydrates (or crave them, even) because your serotonin levels will be boosted from these alternate sources. No more holiday onset weight-gain! If we aren't movin' too often then we don't need those carbos! I have a job for each and every one of you; on a rainy day this season, wake up early and hit the gym, then refuel with a protein rich meal and maybe even a small cup of joe. Get your yoga session in (or any mode of revitalization) and then come home and pop in your favorite movie with a special friend while sippin' on hot cider (home-made = less sugar) and some roasted nuts! I don't know... just an idea.
How can I forget.... SLEEP! This is an extra one for all of you out there who don't get enough sleep, which is me included. Get your 7-8 hours of sleep a night and try to stay on a regular wake-sleep cycle. If you need, I would also get a nap in mid-day. Your body will thank you, in many ways.
Now get out there and curb those carb cravings! I know you want to!
In Warm Health,