Body positivity has become more and more famous over the last few years, it implies that we should love our bodies no matter what. It screams at our faces that no matter what we have gone through, we should feel positive about our bodies. It has turned into another goal we need to achieve. But lets be realistic here, although body positivity can be an incredible thing and of course it is amazing to love our bodies, for most people, it is not achievable all the time. And that is okay.
That is why today I would like to introduce to you the term ‘body neutrality’. Body neutrality unlike body positivity changes the narrative and focuses on appreciating and respecting our bodies regardless of how we feel towards them at any particular moment. It lets us focus on the things our bodies allow us to do rather than how they look. This can be difficult to do since most of us have been taught to focus on the physical aspects of our bodies most of our lives. But to go from disliking our bodies to being madly in love with them can be a difficult and long process and the last thing we need during this time is feeling shame about not being “body positive”.
Practising body neutrality can teach us that regardless of how much we like and love our bodies at any given moment, we can still appreciate what they do for us and subsequently show them respect.
This respect can be implemented by moving our bodies in ways that feel good (dancing, running, walking, etc.) and nourishing our bodies instead of punishing them for not looking a certain way or because we need to “burn off” whatever we have eaten that day. It can also be practised by buying clothes that fit instead of trying to make them fit.
But how exactly can we practice body neutrality? It can be tricky at first but just like anything else, it may take a bit of practise to get used to. Here are some examples to get you started whenever you hear that negative self-talk.
- My body allowed me to dance around the living room with my daughter today and that felt amazing.
- My arms let me hug the people I love.
- My legs let me walk my dog today.
- My weight has nothing to do with my worth.
Moving away from focusing on how our bodies look and instead focusing on our strengths as human beings can take away the shame around not loving our bodies at all times and allow us to respect our bodies no matter what.
Author: Bogomila ToshevaLearn More
We all know that exercise is good for us as it improves our cardiovascular health, increases dopamine levels which leads to better emotional health, can be relaxing and fun. Exercise is a good way to improve flexibility, strength, and endurance.
But have you ever felt like a failure for skipping a day of working out, followed by intense emotions of guilt and negative self-talk. It is important to be aware of the signs which determine the fine line between determination and potential exercise addiction.
What distinguishes the everyday gym enthusiast, elite athlete, or runner from someone who may be addicted to exercise? Housenblas and Downs have developed a criteria which identifies substance addiction. Behaviour addiction can be very similar in signs to substance addiction which is what we will cover in this article.
Exercise addiction can be identified by the following factors:
- Does increasing the amount of exercise lead to a buzz feeling which can be achieved only if the amount of exercise is increased each time?
- Do you feel anxious, irritable or restless if you have missed a workout session?
- Do you feel ‘out of control’ when it comes to taking a day off, leading to exercising even when you feel exhausted?
- Do you feel like exercise has taken a toll on your life outside of working out, for example less time with family, friends, engaging in other activities?
- Do you think about exercise when you are meant to be relaxing, essentially leading to consciously ‘recovering from exercise’?
How can we distinguish the difference between frequent exercise and exercise addiction can be very tricky. You could still get that dopamine rush from achieving something you have really worked for, but normal exercise should not preclude negative consequence such as physical harm or time taken away from other important activities.
Addiction to exercise has not been fully researched however there are a few theories why it occurs, the main one being the Endorphin Hypothesis. It suggests that because when we exercise we release endorphins which are naturallu produced by our body. However when we start exercising regurarly, our body decreases the natural production and that individual will need to maintain that balance by exercising.
If you think you may be struggling with this, treatment approaches are available including cognitive-behavioural principles used to manage behavioural addictions.
Author: Bogomila ToshevaLearn More
What is compassion?
Kristen Kneff has described compassion as “Understanding one’s own pain in a non-judgmental way and seeing suffering as a part of a shared human experience.” We can give compassion, we can also receive compassion, but what we will be looking at today is the importance of self-compassion.
Self-compassion can be broken down into 3 main key elements.
Self-kindness: meaning rather than engaging in judgement and criticism, we treat ourselves as we would treat a friend or a relative. How do you respond when things don’t go to plan? Do you tell yourself you are a failure, or do you comfort yourself and say it is okay?
Being present: meaning we don’t let our thoughts define who we are. This allows us to witness what we are thinking rather than identify with our thoughts. For example, when you say “I failed this exam” is this followed by “I am a failure”?
Common humanity: understanding that we are all humans, we all suffer and struggle but rather isolating ourselves because of it, we can say to ourselves “I am only human, and we all go through similar situations”. It can be difficult to remind ourselves that not everyone knows what they are doing all the time, especially with social media only showing the positive sides to everyone’s life.
Recently, science has taken a turn on researching the benefits of self-compassion and the results are promising. In a study done in 2018, only 3 weeks of self-compassion meditations has showed a decrease in body dissatisfaction and body- shame followed by an increase in body appreciation. It was also associated with relieved feelings of guilt when it comes to eating. It has also been linked to lower levels of disordered eating and reduced body image concerns.
So how do we put this into practice?
Step 1. Acknowledge you are having a difficult moment, or you are experiencing a negative emotion. Once we have realised it, we are being in the present, allowing ourselves to stop for a minute before we automatically start the negative self-talk.
Step 2. Remind yourself that suffering is something we all as humans experience and we are not alone. Imagine a friend has shared with you what you are feeling right now. What would you say to them? Now say this this to yourself.
Step 3. Show yourself some kindness. This is where the difficult part comes in, but with some practice you can do it. Tell yourself that you are doing the best you can right now and acknowledge the difficult situation you are in.
Author: Bogomila ToshevaLearn More
We have all seen various articles stating how we can regulate emotional eating, how to stop emotional eating and how emotional eating is bad. If you have a spare minute, I would like you to Google ‘emotional eating’ and see what comes up for yourself. The definition that comes up is “eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness”. And the rest of the results are how to stop it and lose weight.
Now let’s unpack what is wrong with this definition from a psychological point of view.
- It only takes into consideration intense negative emotions.
- It displays certain emotions as “wrong” and “bad” and tells us that we need to avoid them at all costs.
- It assumes that this is a “bad” coping mechanism. (There are not good or bad ones, just helpful and unhelpful ones)
- It assumes that emotional eating is only related to overeating.
So how can we recognise emotional eating and navigate it?
First, it is important to remind ourselves that this is just another coping mechanism we have picked up to soothe ourselves when we experience a certain emotion, however it might not be the most helpful one all the time.Then we can try and recognise if what we are feeling is physical hunger or we are feeling an emotion. If it is an emotion, can we name it? Where do we feel it?
After that try and work your way through that emotion by trying out different helpful coping mechanisms that work for us (face masks, walks, talking to a friend, cooking, etc). Making a list can be useful, so we have something to turn to. Keeping in mind that food is still there and is very much an available coping mechanism.
So, to answer the question, is emotional eating bad? The short answer is no; however it might not be the most helpful coping mechanism at the time. Above all, being kind to yourself is key. We are emotional beings and emotional eating is part of being human. As humans, sometimes we just need some ice cream when we’re sad (or very, very happy!) – and that’s okay.
Author: Bogomila ToshevaLearn More
What is set point theory?
The set point theory suggests that if you gain or lose weight, you’ll slowly return to a normal set range because your body prefers to be “set” at a certain weight. It also states the human body will try to maintain this preferred weight range by controlling its energy balance through the use of various biological controls. These biological controls can impact your hunger, metabolism, and energy expenditure.
For example, within set point theory, if you suddenly start eating fewer calories, your body responds by increasing your appetite and slowing down how quickly you burn through fuel. And if you start eating more food, your body changes its hunger hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, to lower how much food yo
Set-point or the so-called “preset weight” is defined as a stable weight that the body maintains when no one tries to control it (Bennett and Gurin, 1982). For most people, the set-point varies between 5 and 10 kilograms and cannot be permanently reduced by a restrictive diet. This may explain why people regain the weight they lost while being on a restrictive diet.
When an individual is initially on a reduced calorie diet, it may be relatively easy to lose a few pounds. However, most dieters find that they eventually reach a plateau preventing further weight loss. By eating less food, a person’s basal metabolism – BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) decreases. Nutrition is used more effectively in the body’s attempt to protect its set-point and prevent further weight loss. This reduction in BMR is the built-in mechanism the body uses to keep us alive during starvation.
BMR reductions caused by dieting may require at least 6-12 months of normal eating (without dieting) before recovery. By the time the BMR recovers to its preset norm, the person may reach a weight that is higher than before the start of the diet. The weight will stabilize if the metabolic rate catches up with the intake and the body is convinced that it will be consistently provied with adequate energy.
What is your preset weight?
People often ask: “What is my set-point?”. One big disappointment is that there is no direct way to measure it. You can only say that you are at set-point if you eat normally – without being on a diet (for example, through following the Intuitive Eating approach) and exercising moderately for at least 6-12 months.
If you only stress your body – with excessive and prolonged, highly restrictive food regimes and compulsive exercise, you can achieve a weight below your set point. Attempting to weigh below this limit, however, leads to emotional and health problems, as well as the development of eating disorders.
This theory is really important as it teaches us that while our height cannot change, our weight can, but only within the limits of our set point. Anything above or below these limits is dangerous to our health and emotional state.
Author: Mirela VelikovaLearn More
In the topic of “Parenting Self-Care,” the big question is “Why should I put myself first?“. Without a doubt, the parenting role is one of the most difficult social roles in life. It is bound up with constantly responding to needs – those of your partner, those of your child and your own. It’s not hard to get lost in these relationships and self-care can start to seem, more like an obligation than a positive attitude towards yourself. A personal attitude towards an issue is the strongest motivator, so today we bring you an answer to the question “Why is it important to put your needs first?“. Here are just a few of the reasons:
- Makes you a better parent – When you feel satisfied, you can handle everyday situations more effectively and with more attention. This includes how you treat your children.
- Relieves you from unnecessary guilt – Understanding why your own needs are important gives you the ability to have a clearer view of what your child really needs and where the line is between wants and needs. You can set boundaries without feeling guilty.
- Understand your child better – If you don’t know how to talk through your own needs, you would have a hard time with your child’s.
- You model self-care in your child – Children learn from you. A parent who knows how to take complete care of themselves raises children who can accomplish the same.
It is also worth noticing that many parents treat self-care as a synonym of self-indulgence. The difference between the two terms, essentially, is the outcome. Self-care habits, like eating balanced meals or exercising regularly, help you stay healthy and at the top of our game. Self-indulgent habits, like binge watching TV or avoiding important responsibilities, tend to be short-term fixes rather than real solutions to health needs.
Parents often focus so much on their children that they have no time for themselves.Sometimes, it might be hard to carve in time for something as simple as getting dressed—let alone anything that improves social or professional health. But when you take time to care for yourself every day, you’re looking out for your loved ones just as much as you are caring for yourself.
Remember that your needs are important and that you deserve to get some of them met, even while you are primarily focused on taking care of other people. Your children will be better off if they have a parent who models self-care and who has the energy to care for them. And you will be more likely to experience the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment that parenting can bring you.
Author: Venera SimeonovaLearn More
First, let’s start by understanding what weight cycling actually is. It has been described as ‘rapid increases and decreases in body weight’, also known as Yoyo dieting. As dieting is common, the chances of weight relapse are high, causing weight cycling to be common.
If you have watched “The Machinist” then you would recognise one of the most extreme body weight transformations by Christian Bale, where he lost nearly 30kg, followed by him nearly doubling his weight in only 5 months for his next role in “Batman Begins”. This sort of yoyo dieting can lead to side effects that affect not only our physiological state but also our psychological wellbeing. To explore this further, let’s look at what the research has shown us so far.
Studies have found that dissatisfaction with one’s current weight can promote dieting behaviours which in turn can trigger disordered eating behaviours. Dieting is proposed to contribute to depressive symptoms employing failure at weight loss, and the direct effect of energy restriction on mood. Fasting and starvation have been associated with increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which in turn can cause irritability and further weight gain. Hence why rapid decrease in weight is followed by a rapid increase, kind of like a yoyo.
Now let’s look at the effects yoyo dieting has on our body. Weight cycling has shown to be associated with increased blood pressure and increased cardiovascular mortality risk. There have been some studies which have also made an association between yoyo dieting and the development of type 2 diabetes, but research is not yet certain.
Hopefully this has given you some more information before you consider starting a fad diet that could potentially be dangerous to your wellbeing.
Author: Bogomila ToshevaLearn More
One of the important tasks facing every parent is to teach their child how to be an independent adult. Independence is that quality that helps people recognize and meet their own needs.
Children learn patterns of behavior first through their parents. The first step to a child’s independence is for them to see their parents satisfied.
The idea that children’s needs come first is, to some extent, contrary to parental self-care. A parent satisfying the child’s needs first often faces chronic exhaustion, stress, and burnout; in such a state, the parent stops being fulfilling. In this sense, children need a parent who takes care of themselves.
Basic parental needs are arranged in a hierarchy in which you cannot skip over a need.
1. Physical needs – Food, water, enough sleep. Physical stressors are strong enough stimuli that cannot be ignored and can interfere with your well-being.
2. Intellectual needs – Parenting duties can take you out of your usual interests briefly, but boredom and monotony are a quick step toward burnout.
3. Social contact – Isolation is invariably associated with chronic stress and tiredness. To cope with them a parent needs socializing.
4. Emotional needs – The final step to self-care is to find understanding, love, and feel valued.
Author: Venera SimeonovaLearn More
Mental health is not all in your head. The heart, brain, and gut all have their own intrinsic nervous systems and communicate with each other. These three “brains” together influence your mental & emotional health.
Every function in the human body is controlled by the brain, which is responsible for your intelligence, feelings and emotions. Your behaviour and mood regulation directly depend on the gut or the so-called gastrointestinal nervous system, also known as the “second brain”, which communicates with the brain and affects it. The gut produces 90% serotonin (a hormone that regulates many brain functions, including sleep and mood).
GABA is a neurotransmitter produced in the gut that controls feelings of fear and anxiety. The gut also produces 70% of cortisol (a stress hormone). All of these neurotransmitters rely on a healthy microbiome to function properly. Your heart also has its own “brain” and affects both your mental well-being and the physiology of your body. It stimulates the release of the hormones adrenaline and oxytocin, which are associated with love, affection and social behaviour.
These three brains are connected in several ways. The vagus nerve is the information highway between the three brains. They also connect and sends messages through chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters. For many of us, one or two of the brains will override the other(s). This is because neural networks grow the more we use them, so if you use your mind more that brain will dominate and you’ll have more of a head orientation. This is also why sometimes the 3 brains do not align – your mind may say one thing but your heart tells you another, or you gut instinct tells you something’s not right when your brain doesn’t see why.
To function properly, each of your three brains requires daily care. Did you check in with your head, gut, and heart today?
Author: Mirela VelikovaLearn More
The purpose of sports psychology is to improve the effectiveness of the sport practiced; to provide guidelines for optimal use of the resources available; to achieve maximum results. Yoga is closely related to sports psychology, because it involves a two-way process: the body is a tool for achieving control over the mind and vice versa, the physiological processes of the body are controlled through control over the mind.
The main goal of sports psychology is to overcome weaknesses, as the main and most important weakness actually turns out to be the weakness of the mind; it is characterized by the inability of a person to remain concentrated in the present.
Yoga nurtures just that, putting all the fears, expectations, hopes, ambitions, responsibilities in the background and pays attention to psycho-emotional strength, endurance and concentration. Full concentration is obtained at the present time. When the mind is out of focus, when it is excited, symptoms such as lack of willpower, low self-esteem, poor memory, self-anger, emotional stress and sadness appear.
With the practice of yoga, these weaknesses can be completely overcome, the psyche and emotions can be kept stable, the quality of life can be improved and all talents and talents can be developed, which is actually the ultimate goal we must strive to achieve. harmony with the world and with oneself.
Here is the good start of 9 reasons why to give it a try:
- Yoga improves breathing. When practicing pranayama (breathing in yoga), the rate of breathing is controlled. It slows down, starting with a deep breath and a slow exhalation with a long pause. In this way, the amount of oxygen in the body increases, the lungs improve their capacity, and this leads to greater endurance of mental and physical stress.
- Regulates weight. Regular yoga practice successfully burns fat, leads to their natural loss and regulates metabolism. More calories are burned during sleep, and this is due to reduced stress in the body. Losing weight stays stable over time because yoga creates inner stability and promotes healthy eating habits.
- Copes with severe pain and other health related issues. Some postures in meditation and yoga can completely cure severe diseases such as multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, etc., for which conventional medicine offers only supportive treatment.
- Improves body flexibility. Stretching different parts of the body is involved in many yoga poses and asanas. This improves tone and muscle flexibility, strengthens joints and improves movement. The posture of the body stands up when training the muscles of the back and neck.
- Strengthens the heart and improves blood circulation. When blood cells are well supplied with oxygen, they move more efficiently throughout the body. Yoga poses increase oxygen flow, reduce heart rate and strengthen the heart.
- Relieves stress. Yoga reduces the levels of the cortisol (hormone of stress) and promotes relaxation. This in turn lowers blood pressure, heart rate, improves digestion, relieves symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, asthma, etc., overall improves immune system.
- Increases the strength of the body. In yoga poses and asanas, every muscle of the body is trained, thus increasing the total muscle mass, training the torso and improving the endurance of the body.
- Awareness of the present moment. Yoga helps people understand themselves better and sets the mind and body to work in sync. When a focus on breathing and muscles is achieved, a fuller awareness of the present moment occurs. This improves memory, concentration and enhances reactions.
- Contributes to peace of mind. Yoga relieves feelings of fear, depression, anxiety and stress. People begin to experience constant peace of mind. The mood rises and positive emotions take over in everyday life. This leads to a better self-awareness and connection between the mind and the body.
Let us vibrate higher!
Author: Yana KotevaLearn More