“Discover how managing emotions successfully leads to better metabolism, weight loss and fitness. You’ll strengthen the metabolism-building process.”
Nothing of any value ever happens in life without there first being an intense desire for its achievement followed by a rigorous emotional management program that keeps you focused on your goal. In the case of setting out to improve your health and fitness, your program of emotional management must enhance your metabolic function as well. Managing emotions and feelings is critically important to successfully maximizing your metabolism and should be taken very seriously.
Emotions are the key to our hormonal responses. If we are in a depressed state (meaning that every time we think about our body, we think negative thoughts), then our hormones, glands, and related systems will all work in concert to keep us in a depressed state—an emotional state that in turn brings about a depressed or slower-working metabolism.
Fortunately, the opposite is also true! A heightened enthusiasm for life results in a heightened metabolism.
As a matter of fact, whenever we enlist any negative emotions such as depression, anger, hatred, or jealousy, we slow the process of building our metabolism.
More importantly, whenever we enlist positive emotions such as love, enthusiasm, or faith, we immediately strengthen the metabolism-building process. The upshot of this is that a positive emotional state can be very exciting—even monumental—if it’s structured properly.
Mood And Food
You’re probably already very familiar with how food alters mood. There are many people who are managing emotions, whether positive or negative, by using food as a coping mechanism.
When they’re . . .
. . . they eat.
After they feed their emotions with food, they may also feel guilty, so what happens then? You guessed it! They eat all the more, and the cycle starts all over.
Other people, because of chemical imbalances or emotional issues, have a difficult time eating normally. Sometimes they’re able to exert considerable control over the types and quantity of food they eat, while at other times they may binge uncontrollably.
The bottom line is that, much of the time, they’re terribly preoccupied with food—and their relationship with food makes them miserable.
Not only does food alter mood, but mood then proceeds to alter metabolism. We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of wintertime weight gain. One of the reasons why that occurs is that we force our metabolism to slow down in winter: we sleep more, we’re less energetic, and we’re more prone to sadness and depression. As a result, our metabolism follows our mood on its downhill slide.
Much of this change is due to hormonal changes. It was this discovery that first led researchers to study the link between emotions, hormones, and metabolism.
What Is A Hormone?
In the simplest of terms, hormones are the “messengers” that your body uses to communicate with other tissues, using your bloodstream as a chemical freeway.
We could say that your brain acts as the traffic cop in this scenario. It directs hormones to various parts of your body and regulates the functioning of your cells. Hormones ultimately determine how you feel, both physically and emotionally.
You’re probably familiar with some hormones, such as:
- thyroid, insulin, testosterone, and estrogen.
Why Is A Hormone Important?
Each type of hormone performs a very unique role in the body and supports a wide range of physical functions.
In order for the body to function optimally, all of our hormones must pull together and work as a team. And that means that they cannot be disrupted by the myriad of negative emotions that often come into play in our lives.
Changes in hormone levels can exert a profound influence on the amount of fat your metabolic system decides to store, as well as on a variety of other functions, including:
- sexual desire, mood states, energy levels, and physical appearance (skin and muscle tone).
Hormonal imbalances have also been closely associated with heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
In short, because hormones impact your metabolic system and virtually every other major system and organ in the body, optimization of your emotions becomes a critical component in maximizing your metabolism. If you succeed on the emotional front, you’re certain to end up looking, feeling, and performing at your best.
The Key To Managing Emotions
A big part of achieving metabolic success is learning to manage our emotions. All too often, we accept negative emotions as a “necessary evil” in our lives, something that we are powerless to control.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Though we all have “hot buttons” that can lead us to feel anxiety, anger, depression, or even burnout, we can learn to be sensitive to our emotions and take active steps to turn them all into metabolism enhancers.
The key to managing emotions is to become acutely aware of our emotions, and then learn how to develop alternative responses that turn undesirable situations into positive ones.
Managing Emotions: A Three-Pronged Program
People who lead high-stress lives need to develop a personal program of emotional management. Managing emotions helps keep life’s hassles in perspective and allows you to increase both your productivity and your performance in all areas of your life. A good emotional management program consists of three parts:
- physical fitness
- effective time management
- self-image development
By far the most important component of any emotional management program is an ongoing exercise program. Being physically fit pays handsome dividends to those who seek and demand personal excellence. This is because of exercise’s unique ability to almost “inoculate” a person with a certain degree of immunity to stress.
Exercise is very effective in reducing anxiety, although precisely how this occurs is not fully understood. Some researchers believe exercise satisfies the evolutionary need of humans to engage in large-muscle, physically aggressive activity. Primitive humans frequently practiced this form of adaptive behavior, but in our sedentary, civilized lifestyle there are fewer outlets for behavior of this sort.
Certainly, one of the benefits of exercise, and perhaps one often overlooked by medical researchers, is that . . .
- exercise takes one’s mind off of the event that produced the negative emotion in the first place.
Exercisers report that it’s extremely difficult to concentrate on the negative event while participating in an intense workout.
Studies On Physical Fitness
My own research with my clients has shown that the physiological response of fit people to life’s stressors is superior to that of the unfit. For example, several studies have shown that . . .
- people with low levels of aerobic fitness experience greater cardiovascular stress than people with higher levels of fitness.
The heart rates of the less-fit test subjects increased by nearly thirty beats per minute more than the heart rates of highly fit subjects when faced with a stressor.
Another study showed that physically fit subjects had significantly reduced psychosocial stress responses to various stressors as compared to their less-physically-fit counterparts. In plain language, what this says is that . . .
- physically fit people perform better, both physiologically and psychologically, when faced with stressful situations.
And it is in stressful situations that true excellence tends to be manifested.
Moreover, some studies have demonstrated that fitness plays a vital role in the ability to recover from stressful events, both mental and physical.
According to the results of several recent experiments, the great stressors of life, such as those measured in the Holmes Stress Test, simply don’t seem to impact the lives of physically fit people the way they do the unfit. A four-year study of corporate managers showed, for example, that physical fitness seemed to buffer the impact of the typical ill effects caused by stress.
Many other studies confirm these results, suggesting that being physically fit reduces the effects of stress. Similar outcomes have been reported among those who regularly engage in exercise, whether they are super physically fit or not.
In practical terms, this means that regular exercise is like a soothing tonic. It’s a key to managing emotions, like stress. And if you exercise regularly, it’ll produce results that are almost immediate as well as provide long-term immunity to stress.
Endorphins: The Body’s Natural Stress Relievers
Perhaps the best explanation as to precisely how exercise helps you manage your emotions— through reducing stress, tension, and anxiety and through enhancing self-awareness—has been put forth by biochemists.
As found in numerous studies, the pituitary gland increases its production of endorphins during exercise. Endorphins have long been associated with pain reduction. Moreover, the endorphin level rises sharply during exercise. It is now believed that the endorphin level is responsible for the exercise-induced euphoria reported by many athletes and other exercisers.
Studies at Duke University Medical Center showed that exercise is associated with a significant reduction in negative emotional states, and with a significant increase in positive mood states such as a sense of vigor and self-appreciation.
Exercising To Reduce Stress
A program of regular cardiovascular exercise is a key component of managing emotions. Research has found that the exercises most effective in reducing stress and enhancing mood are the same ones that produce the greatest levels of cardiovascular (aerobic) endurance.
Recommended exercises include:
- riding a stationary bike
- participating in an aerobics class
- a group exercise class
- or using weights in an aerobic fashion
Whatever the exercise, it should be vigorous enough to keep your heart rate in your target heart-rate range (as detailed earlier in an article).
The benefits of exercising to reduce stress are both immediate and long range. Not only can a proper exercise routine reduce the crush of stress right now, but it can also condition your body to handle stress better in the near future. And it doesn’t take long for exercise to have this effect.
Your emotions are not always under your direct control,
but your actions are.
It is extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, to maintain a negative, metabolism-robbing emotion when your actions are in opposition to that emotion.
If you’re feeling sad, for example, you often unwittingly enhance that emotion by adopting body language that supports sadness: shrugging your shoulders, hanging your head, and speaking in low, hushed tones.
Banish Negative Emotion
However, did you know that you can help banish ALL negative emotion by adopting a physical presence and manner that’s just the opposite of the emotion you’re trying to eliminate?
If you . . .
- hold your head high,
- walk firmly upright with confidence and speed,
- and speak in an excited tone,
. . . in no time at all you’ll discover that that negative emotion slips away as your new behavior creates an entirely new mindset.
What’s more, your metabolic rate will follow suit. The more positive your emotional level becomes, the greater the likelihood of your metabolism regaining its normal—or a slightly elevated—state.
Try it and see for yourself. It works every time.
One piece of good news is that we can take ACTION to modify our emotions. For the same reasons that it’s difficult to maintain a negative emotion when your body language is positive, it’s also difficult to maintain a negative emotion when your actions are positive.
If you start to feel any negative symptoms, you should take immediate corrective action.
Plan an activity which is the opposite of the emotion you’re experiencing. Feeling down?
- Go to a concert.
- Take your child or a niece or nephew to the zoo or to a children’s museum.
- Volunteer for a cause you believe in.
- Take up a new hobby. It can be a simple one like gardening or a more demanding one like sailing, mountain climbing, or bungee jumping.
- Try a new exercise regimen.
- Get out and meet new people.
- Learn new things.
No matter what form it takes, becoming active and involved will give you a fresh view of what your life is about, enable you to learn new skills and techniques, and recharge your batteries. This not only builds good, positive emotions; it also alleviates boredom, reinvigorates your work ethic, and reminds you of the good you can actually accomplish.
Do One Thing At A Time
Another aid in managing emotions is to concentrate on your immediate task. Clear the desk and your head, and let tomorrow’s job wait. It also helps to do the most difficult tasks during your high-energy periods. You may want to map your daily energy to determine your peak hours. Keep track of the high-energy times of your day over a period of several weeks, look for patterns, and then de-stress accordingly.
Thinking that a job has to be done perfectly is a setup for becoming overstressed. When you’re overstressed, your performance levels decline—and that’s exactly the opposite of what you want. Another trait that often accompanies perfectionism is procrastination. If we tell ourselves that we need to do a job perfectly, we often put off doing it. That produces even greater stress and, ultimately, a vicious circle of defeat.
Stop Trying To Control Others
Worrying about things over which we have no control is a fruitless and unrewarding mode of behavior. Remember Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer:
Accept the things we cannot change,
change the things we can,
and have the wisdom to know the difference.
Plan Playtime Into Each Day
Make a point of setting aside some time for play, and then honor that commitment to yourself. What playtime consists of is different for different people.
For purposes of improving your health and fitness, it would be best to plan “active” play into each day (over and above your exercise time). An example might be . . .
- running around with your dog,
- playing a ten-minute game of basketball,
- taking a walk around the lake or through the park on your lunch break.
Employers learned long ago that workers are more productive when they take short breaks twice a day. A good option for desk workers is to take a nice, brisk walk on their work break. That could be a walk around the block or up and down the hallways.
The important thing is to build breaks into our day as a matter of course. Whenever we avail ourselves of a chance to relax or to take a break, we greatly minimize the negative effects of both mental and physical stress.
In the end when it comes to managing emotions, it is you who are in charge. And though you cannot gain control of every single event in your life, you can control your actions and emotions. And make them both positive and constructive. Adopting the measures we’ve discussed here will put you in charge of your life—and of your metabolism.
So let’s sum up this article on managing emotions . . . . You cannot Maximize Your Metabolism without shutting out negative or depressing thoughts from your mind AND replacing them with positive, exciting thoughts that are powerful enough to alter your emotions and your actions.
- Speak positively to everyone you meet
- Think only positive thoughts
- And train yourself to move about at double your usual speed
Do these steps on managing emotions, starting today. I know it will be frustrating at first. But hold onto the notion that you’re not doing this to benefit the people you’re dealing with. Rather, you’re doing it for a strictly selfish reason: to heighten your own metabolism.
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