Understanding Stress

 

Now, here’s the thing that I drill into most of my clients.. busy women with kids, jobs and LIVES.

 

It’s not stress that’s the issue. It’s the fact that you don’t manage your stress effectively, yet.

If you’re stressed daily, you need to de-stress daily.

 

^^^Read that again.

Here’s the thing, as human beings we’re gifted with automatic physical responses designed to keep us safe, heathly and well.

 

One of these is an evolutionary response to threat. Think along the lines of cave girl running away from a wild animal.. cause ya know, the evolution of the human race depends on staying alive, ya know?

This can be Actual threat, perceived or even anticipated threat.

 

Now, when we perceive something as threatening, the primitive part of our brain releases the chemicals adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body and mind for action so we can either fight or RUN away (AKA fight or flight).

 

While this was great for our primitive ancestors when faced with life or death threats – in our modern day lives, this response isn’t always helpful in the same way.

Once a threat/ challenge is perceived, our bodies become mobilised and ready for action.

Typically heart rate and blood pressure increase, breathing becomes shallow, muscles tense and non essential systems like digestion and the immune system shut down.

Mentally, we can have trouble focussing on detail.

If the challenge is linked to a particular situation or goal, for example, delivering a presentation or attending an interview, this chemical response creates a heightened state of physical and mental arousal, designed to help us perform at our best.

 

Once the task has been completed and the challenge is met, adrenaline and cortisol levels can return to normal.

 

However, when the fight/flight response is triggered by threats we perceive as being beyond our control or capability to handle or by free floating anxiety as a result of repeated or persistent uncertainty and distress, there’s no outlet for the cortisol and levels can build up to a point where effects memory and learning along with raising blood pressure and cholesterol, decrease resilience whilst increasing feelings of depression and inability to cope.

 

If we’re already in this high pressure state, internally, it takes very little in the outside world to take us over the edge.

we can think of internal stress levels as an internal temperature, each stressor that we experience can raise our temperature by several degrees.

If we experience and create multiple stressors, our internal temperature will go up and up.

 

If we’re already at 90 degrees – it doesn’t take much to take us to boiling point.

However, if our temperature is at only 40 degrees, we can tolerate A LOT more.

 

So, the trick to managing our stress responses is 2 fold.

 

  1. REPEATEDLY practise techniques and strategies to keep down our internal temperature and to engage our natural recovery systems.
  2. To build up our resistance to COPE and THRIVE (my fave word)

 

Now, here’s the biggie..

Most women I speak to have the perception of de-stressing as a spa day, 3 hours of meditation or an all inclusive week long holiday.

 

When the actual fact is, it is SO much simpler than that and it can be done to take some time out each day to collect yourself and build your resilience to cope and thrive in your own way.

Things that can be as simple as:

 

  • Taking 10 minutes of quiet time with a brew in a morning (before your kids get up and you’re running round like a bat shit crazy person)taking some time that’s just for yourself to set up your day.
  • Setting a bed time routine or a morning routine to start and end your day on a good note.
  • Journaling using a 5 minute journal to shine your torch beam away from the perceived stress (My fave is 5 min journal- can buy on Amazon)
  • Finding three positive things that have happened in your day and writing them down.

 

Here are my final thoughts on this that I wanted to share with ya…

In the world we live in ‘being busy’ is often used as some kind of weird status symbol.

Ya know, the GO HARD or GO HOME mentality.

 

As human beings we aren’t designed to thrive in that stress ridden environment.
We’re actually designed to spend most of our time in the ‘rest and digest’ state, believe it or not.

So, if you’re finding yourself constantly running at 90 degrees , constantly on the edge of burn out. It might just be time to take a step back and get some tools in ya box which help you to be the best version of yourself. To cope and thrive.

Love Char xxx

Does Tess Holliday Deserve To Be On The Front Of Cosmo?

So, let’s talk about the picture that’s caused so much divide, what it stands for and everything that comes with it.
I know that you’ll be offended, one way or another, and I’m not about to change what I think in order to pander to people’s opinions.

What I’m about to say isn’t just as a personal trainer but a human being.

So lemme just kick this off..

THAT picture, whether you like it or not is..

Powerful. As. Fuck.

I am a MASSIVE believer in OWNING your shit.. whatever that looks like.

From your view of the world, you may or may not agree and I’m cool with that.

However, from mine, working with women who feel like they’re ‘not enough’ one way or another, for more than 10 years, I’ve seen, heard and FELT more than you can imagine.

I’ve had conversations and been a confidant to women that have told me their deepest, darkest worries and fears about how they feel about themselves and their bodies. Things they have never felt comfortable telling even the people closest to them.

Women who come to me with zero self confidence.
Women who struggle with what they see in the mirror.
Women who place their value in anything other than themselves.
Women who are stuck in old, self limiting, beliefs.

Believe me when I say, I’ve felt that shit in my soul.

And as a personal trainer who specialises in coaching women, I find it VERY hard to read comments from other’s in my industry talking about this same picture and their interpretation of ‘what it stands for’ with a complete lack of empathy and understanding with a ‘THEM’ against ‘US’ mentality.

I imagine it’s very easy from the outside looking in to assume that as a personal trainer I want to SAVE all the fat people (equipped with cape and shit tights) but Im not here for that. You might not be like me but I’m here to RESPECT and seek to understand difference then put things together to help you to help yourself, whatever that might look like.

But understand that some people are happy as they are.

Isn’t CHOICE, something that’s being forgotten about, here?

Believe it or not, yes some people take up more space in the world than others yet are very comfortable and confident in their own skin and don’t want or need to be ‘saved’ like you might believe. You only have to look at Tess’s instagram to see that again, she is OWNING her shit.

And what are we trying to do here? Scream from the roof tops that there are only SOME people who DESERVE to be on the cover of a magazine..

But wait hang on a minute, that’s not you, fatty… wallow in your plus sized misery.

‘We can have a fat person but not too fat’
‘We can have a skinny person but not too skinny’
‘We can have a woman with muscles but not too muscley’

Now I would like to make this very clear, I couldn’t give a shit whether you’re plus sized, zero sized, black ,white, purple.. or whether you identify as a fucking tumble dryer.. I would never want someone to feel like they were undeserving or that they didn’t have a voice in this world. Ever.

Now here’s the difference..

Am I cheerleading for obesity?
Am I saying WOOHOO let’s all be fat?

No, no I’m not.

What I am saying is that women have EVERY damn right to be confident in their own skin.

Now, I understand the ‘uproar’ I  understand  the comments.
I get the view that Tess is an extreme, just as a tiny model would be seen as another extreme and, as little of 5 years ago, I probably would have jumped on the same band wagon of ‘This is not ok’.

Which I’ll talk more about again in a sec..

For now let’s just move on to the ‘she’s not healthy’ debate.

Is that amount of excess body fat putting a strain on her skeletal system, body functions, putting her at a higher risk of heart disease amongst a long list of other illnesses, ailments, so on and so forth?

Yes.

All of which are proven to create physiological burden and both a shortening and negative impact of quality of life.

This isn’t something that can be denied and something I see day in, day out.

However,

I think we need to realise that, in the same breath, the word ‘healthy’ is a complete nominalisation. What healthy means to me, I can guarantee, will not mean the same to you.

It wont look the same.
It wont sound the same.
It wont FEEL the same.

And you will be surprised how many people have a VERY skewed view of what ‘health’ is.

Give it 8 years ago ‘healthy’ to me was having a six pack and that’s where my value of myself lay.. pretty sad really.

And the unfortunate truth is that I speak to ALOT of women who are in a mindset that disguises health as  perfectionism, deprivation, misery and self loathing.

Do I think that the preceding years of epitomising 6 packs and being sold air brushed images of zero cellulite, zero stretch marks (and the deceit that comes with that) have left women, from the outside looking in, with a skewed view of how they ‘should’ look?

At the same time, would I be disappointed if we were trying to use the other end of the spectrum to promote what ‘health’ should look like by promoting obesity?

Yes I would.

But, that’s not what’s happening here.

For me, personally, here’s what ‘healthy’ looks like these days in..

  • Feeling mentally well.
  • Not attaching negativity to food of any kind.
  • Accepting and feeling good my body, regardless of how much space I’m currently taking up in the world.
  • having the attirude that I will always be a ‘work in progress’ and that, actually, is ok.
  • Nourishing my body and practising self love.

Here’s what I can bring to the table in terms of this debate, from working with women who have TOLD me the following..

I want to be able to run around with my kids.
I want my body not to hurt when I move.
I want to get up and down from the floor without it being a struggle.
I don’t want to have a fear that I’m not going to out live my kids.
I don’t want everyday, normal tasks, to feel difficult.

Now, I want to make this very clear.

I may take the piss out of the fitness industry (alot) but I do not, under any circumstance agree with inciting hate. And if there’s anything we can learn from this whole debacle maybe it’s to have RESPECT and understand difference.

Do I think that putting Tess on the cover of Cosmo is the answer to tackling body confidence and self esteem amongst females?

No.

I do  think, however, showing diverse bodies, showing confidence and owning your shit, WHATEVER that looks like and whatever you take away from it, is a start in this shallow world.

Now, at this stage I think it’s worth pointing out that despite the potential facade of “Look at us celebrating body diversity”  I find it very interesting that Cosmo’s pages are still riddled the same drivel of the latest sensationalist celeb diets (despite NOT being categorised as a ‘health’ magazine *eye roll*) and the usual patronising shit-show gossip rag of who banged who.

Considering that I would go as far as to say that Cosmo is , ironically, one of the publications that has undoubtedly played a hand in the disordered eating of Western society, it’s a resounding NO on my end.

Have Cosmo done this whole thing from a place of genuine good intention and celebration?

I’m not so sure.

Have they changed the ethos of the magazine and it’s pages?

No.

And maybe we need to consider THAT is what the actual problem is here.