Ok, now that we’ve covered the basics of looking inward at our emotional health, we’ll move on to something a little less intimidating: looking outward at our environment. There are tons of different ways that our environment influences our health, so take a look at your own life and see what applies to you. The last thing you want to do is sabotage your own efforts to eat healthier and be more active by unknowingly exposing yourself to negative influences in the environment.
Toxins are Everywhere
Our environment has been polluted by all kinds of chemicals in our soil, water, air, food, the products we use in our bodies, and even our homes. This subject is one I could talk about forever, but I’ll spare you the long diatribe. I’ve written a post about endocrine disruptors and ways to avoid them, so check that out for some practical tips on how to eliminate these substances from your life and accelerate your efforts to change your body composition and gain health.
Stress leads to weight gain
Do you work in a stressful environment? Are you in a relationship that stresses you out? Too much stress works against you in all aspects of health, and especially when it comes to trimming down and toning up. When you’re under stress, your body releases cortisol. Cortisol actually increases the amount of fat you deposit in your abdomen, which results in that lovely extra tire look. Not only that, but this fat tissue is also metabolically active. The fat cells themselves release hormones and pro-inflammatory agents that perpetuate the cycle, adding to the fat mass and contributing to the development of chronic inflammation. Research has shown that abdominal fat is more dangerous to your overall health than fat anywhere else in your body. So if you’re overly stressed by your job, take a good look at the factors that contribute to that. Are you doing something you don’t enjoy? Is it the way people treat you at work? Is it your commute or some other factor? Figure out what the most stressful aspects are, and do what you can to change or eliminate them. Set boundaries in your life, whether its with coworkers, family members you have conflict with, or other outside demands that are taking up too much of your time and energy. If the things that bother you are really outside your control, try and change your attitude or add something else you enjoy to your life in order to negate some of the stress. Don’t allow someone or something else to take away from your health and wellness.
Exposure to Temptation
Do you have a hard time resisting the “Hot Now” sign on the local donut shop you pass every morning? What about the cookies and chips in the pantry? Habits are hard to break, but if the opportunity is removed, its a lot easier. Change your route to work if you find you can’t say no to a donut and sugary iced coffee every morning. After a few weeks of not having it, you may find you can drive by without the irresistible urge to load up on sugar and caffeine. And if you know there’s junk food in the pantry, its hard to get up and make a healthy snack because of the convenience of what’s already available. Clean out your pantry, and don’t buy more. Sarah at the Healthy Home Economist has some great suggestions for how to resist the sugar cravings, but you could apply it to anything you want to eliminate.
Up next in our series: nutrition! I know you’ve probably been waiting for this one, so make sure to check back tomorrow!
This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways over at Frugally Sustainable. Check it out for more great posts.