Not into downward dog? Try these alternatives to combat stress. You won’t burn calories, but lowering your cortisol (a stress hormone) will help you shed fat more easily and effectively. From Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat: The Paleo Chic Diet for Rapid Results.
• Put yourself in a time-out. I’ll never forget the time my mother had had enough of my two brothers and me. She looked us all square in the eye, told us she was leaving, got in her car, and drove away. Thankfully, she came back, and when she did, the message was clear: she had been mad as hell, and she wasn’t going to take it anymore! Women are wired to overprovide for others; that’s just how we roll. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t take time for ourselves and recharge our batteries. Send the message to your family or those around you and slap a tiara on your head to signal that this is your time to check out and to leave you be for the next twenty minutes.
• Boost your oxytocin. Spending time with friends floods your body with oxytocin, a powerful brain modulator that helps you feel happy and calms you down. Oxytocin is also released during breast-feeding and orgasms and helps you mellow out. A girls’ night out with your BFFs is a great way to let loose and bond with your fellow cavewomen.
• Take a bath. Light some candles and dump two cups of Epsom salts and ten drops of lavender oil into your bath water. Climb in and read a trashy magazine. Loll, doll! Soak your stress away and take some deep breaths.
• Have a vitamin cocktail daily. The following protocol will help lower your cortisol, promote restful sleep, and keep your energy grooving throughout the day (as a reminder, always consult your nutritionally oriented health care provider before introducing supplements to your diet): Omega-3: take two teaspoons (this should be equivalent to 2,000 milligrams [mg]) once a day with food, preferably before you work out.
Rhodiola rosea: take 200 mg twice a day with food.
Phosphatidylserine: take 400 mg at bedtime to promote restful sleep.
Vitamin C: take 2,000 mg immediately following a workout to normalize cortisol.
Chaste tree: take 1,000 mg twice a day of 6:1 extract to balance the endocrine system and support normal progesterone levels. Chaste tree can also restore normal menstrual cycles, especially if you are amenorrheic and have stopped menstruating.
• Eat wild fish. Wild Alaskan salmon is my favorite. A 6-ounce serving has almost 700 IU (international units) of vitamin D and about 2 teaspoons fish oil per serving. The fats found in omega-3s boost and sustain serotonin levels in the brain and reduce the vascular inflammation associated with heart disease. Plus, wild Alaskan salmon contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which contains a natural sun protection factor (SPF) of 5, and the neurotransmitter DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), which helps maintain the gorgeous contours of your face and muscles. Aim to eat cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, Chilean sea bass, trout, and anchovies at least three times per week.
• Vitamin O. Let’s talk about sex. If you have a secret lover undercover and are out there having fun, then you know the joys of spontaneity. A little afternoon delight or sex on the fly can be quick and dirty and just plain fun! If you are married or in a long-term relationship, there are benefits, too: statistics show that married people have more sex than single people do. But what kind of sex are we talking about here? Is it mercy sex? Two-pump-chump sex? A-quickie–before-the-kids-wake-up sex? I’m all for a quickie, but we need to do better for ourselves. Long, luscious orgasms have been shown to decrease cortisol levels and raise the good estrogen (estradiol), and make your thyroid more efficient. You’ve got to use it or lose it. I always tell my husband that it’s TV or me. Television can wait, and that’s what the DVR is there for. Break up your routine and schedule sex around nine at night, before you and yours are exhausted and too tired to get it up. Or even better, get into bed before you go out on a date—that way, if you stuff your face at dinner, you don’t have to worry about getting aroused with a bloated belly afterward!
• Ditch the booze. Grain-based alcohol, beer in particular, increases estrogen and progesterone and decreases testosterone in both men and women. As little as one glass per day can upset your hormonal balance and overall metabolism. If you can’t live without your booze each night, have a 4-ounce serving of Pinot or Merlot or a Spanish wine. These wines are rich in resveratrol, which has been shown to inhibit the aromatase enzyme that turns testosterone into estrogen, ultimately lowering estrogen levels.
• Give thanks. I practice gratitude daily and try to instill it in my family members as well. In fact, the mantra in our house has become “A little less attitude, a little more gratitude.” Keep a log next to your bed and before you hit the pillow, take two minutes to record three things you were grateful for in your day. Or project gratitude for the beautiful night’s sleep you’re about to enjoy. Appreciating the beauty of even an ordinary day can naturally lower your anxiety and cortisol levels and end the day on a positive and peaceful note. It will also help you become a happier and kinder person. Remembering just how good we have it can help us keep a healthy perspective on what’s important versus what I like to call “high-class problems.” Focusing on our blessings frees us up from worry about less important things.