Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of those pieces — Judith Viorst
Time to Be Happy
It is only the first week of November and we are already hearing it in stores and on T.V. commercials. Christmas music. The sound of the holidays approaching quickly. It seems that we can hardly go anywhere without being reminded by an upbeat tune that, It’s the most wonderful time of the year. While it certainly is an exciting time of year with people busy spending time with family, buying gifts, and decorating their homes; this season also brings colder temperatures and more dark and dreary days. The hustle and bustle of the holidays, combined with the changes in weather, make perfect excuses to lay off the workouts for a couple of months until the New Year. But, be warned! Skipping out on your workouts this season may actually have an adverse affect on your happy, holiday-mood.
Seasonal Depression / Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal depression conditions are very common during the Fall and Winter seasons. The nights are longer and the days are darker which makes us more apt to tap into our inner desire to hibernate all day in our nice, cozy, warm beds. Everything becomes an effort. Simply to walk outside, we have to layer on the clothes, jackets, scarves, hats, gloves, etc. Many outdoor activities are put on hold until Spring, or limited to indoor substitutes. It is times like these when your dedication to your workout plan may falter and take a back seat. We want you to do just the opposite. We encourage you to think about your workouts as self-preservation. In sticking to your exercise routine, you are doing your part to help preserve your health, both physical and mental.
Exercise Improves Your Mood
Research has shown that exercise is not only good for physical health, but for mental health as well. Exercise can improve your mood, increase self-confidence, and reduce stress. All of these are good reasons to keep regular exercise as part of your routine as we enter the holiday season. A comment we hear often is that people wish they could remember just how good exercise makes them feel when faced with obstacles that seem to get in the way of working out. This is especially true this time of year when it becomes much easier to throw on another layer of clothes and vow to work on your beach body come next Spring. One way to keep the positive, mood-boosting affects of exercise in the forefront of your mind is to journal your workouts.
Journaling is an effective way to help you reach your health and fitness goals. It allows you to visualize improvements in your workouts such as increases in strength and cardiovascular fitness. Additionally, keeping a journal of your mood can ultimately help encourage you to make the move to adhere to your workout regimen during more busy and challenging times of the holiday season.
Measuring Your Mood
There are several mood assessments you can give yourself before, during, and after you exercise. We are going to discuss three assessments that can easily be completed each time you workout. These three assessments are called:
- Feeling Scale (FS)
- Felt Arousal Scale (FAS)
- Profile of Mood States (POMS)
The FS and FAS are often used together to record more detail about your mood. The POMS can be used in combination with the previous two, or on its own.
With the Feeling Scale, you are asked to give a general rating of how positive or negative your mood is before, during, and after exercise. The scale ranges from -5 to 5. The -5 rating means you feel very bad; -3 is bad; 0 is neutral; +3 is good; and +5 is very good.
The Felt Arousal Scale is more specific to the level of intensity of your mood before, during, and after exercise. On a scale from 1-6, 1 equals low arousal/intensity and 6 equals high arousal/intensity.
The Profile of Mood States is a bit more complex. This assessment measures how much of a specified mood or emotion you feel before, during, and after exercise. Examples of six moods/emotions are: tension, vigor, depression, fatigue, anger, and confusion. In performing this assessment, you would rate from 0-4 to what extent you were feeling each emotion. Not at all would be 0, 1 is a little, 2 is moderately, 3 is quite a bit, and 4 is extremely.
Give one, or all three, of these assessments a try next time you workout. We think it will add to your overall exercise experience and help you realize just how much moving your body can have an affect on your mood.
Exercising Through the Season
If you use the above assessments to journal how exercise affects your mood, we think you will find it easier to convince yourself to continue your routine throughout the holidays. Also, it is important to remember that while exercise can boost your mood, not exercising can lead to feelings of guilt, regret, and disappointment in yourself. Those feelings are certainly no fun to have during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
- Melin, Gabrielle, M.D. It’s a SAD Time of Year. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sad/MY00371
- Kilpatrick, Marcus W., Ph.D. Exercise, Mood, and Psychological Well-Being: A Practitioner’s Guide to Theory, Research, and Application. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. September/October 2008. p. 14-20.
Nutrition Corner: Good Food for Your Mood
As the holidays quickly near, schedules become busier and busier. Stress levels can elevate along with feelings of depression and sadness that often times accompany the winter season. Holiday parties and family get-togethers are weekly events throughout November, December, and January. Colder weather and all the celebration can also mean the return of comfort food and holiday treats. It is a time of excitement and socializing, but it can also be a time of extra anxiety for those people with the goal of eliminating or maintaining weight and/or a healthy lifestyle. However, if you enter into the holiday season armed with the knowledge of how food affects your mood, you can have the confidence that you will get through the next few months feeling great!
There are a variety of foods that affect your physical health in a positive way. Many of these same foods benefit your mental health as well. The nutrients found in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts will all contribute to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This nutrient found in fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, herring, or mackerel, as well as in flaxseeds and walnuts, has become a “super-food” that is greatly desired in healthy diets today. These fatty acids are probably best known to promote heart health, but they are also important in supporting mental health. The body uses Omega-3s for building neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin (a hormone that helps relay messages from one area of the brain to another). An imbalance of serotonin in the brain is believed to directly affect mood, specifically depression. Therefore, including Omega-3 fatty acids regularly in your diet may actually improve your mood and prevent depression.
Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is thought to play a big role in mood regulation. Some studies show that people with low levels of folic acid in their diets have higher rates of depression. Foods rich in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, sunflower seeds, soybeans, beets, and oranges.
Vitamin D is key in reducing the risk of osteoporosis, various cancers, and some autoimmune diseases. Studies have shown that vitamin D may also help alleviate mood disorders like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when exposed to sun, but unfortunately, the dark days of winter do not always allow for adequate time in the sun. Scientists believe the link between SAD and lack of exposure to sun during the winter months may be related to insufficient amounts of vitamin D in our systems.
Unlike omega-3s and folic acid, it is more of a challenge to take in enough vitamin D because it is not readily found in many forms of food. Therefore, a supplement may be advised. Most multivitamins contain 400 IU of vitamin D, but some experts recommend 1000 IU per day. Many foods today are fortified with vitamin D, so be sure to pay close attention to your food labels. Also, bear in mind that absorption of vitamin D is also critical. You are much better to break up your supplemental intake of vitamin D into 1 – 3 doses of 400 IU to 500 IU than to take in all of your daily need in one mega dose.
Carbohydrates, in general, are a “feel-good” food. Most of our favorite comfort foods consist of some carbohydrate. It is important to remember that carbohydrates themselves are not the enemy. It is the type and the amount of carbohydrates we choose that can make this nutrient a mood enhancer or a mood depressant.
Choose high-quality carbohydrates, also known as complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates contain lots of soluble fiber and consist of whole grains, brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes, lentils, etc. They are metabolized slowly by the body which helps keep blood sugar levels more steady throughout the day, limiting mood swings.
Be picky this season about what sugary sweets you choose to eat. Sugar-rich foods like soda, candy, cookies, cake, etc. may make you feel good initially, but because these types of carbohydrates are digested and absorbed quickly by the body, your “sugar high” will not last for long. As your blood sugar drops, it can leave you feeling tired and irritable.
It would not be the holidays without chocolate. The good news is that certain types of chocolate can actually be good for you and especially good for your mood. Studies show that cocoa beans are rich in mood-lifting nutrients. Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols and phenylethylamines. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant (known as flavanoids in chocolate) that improves cognitive function and phenylethylamine is a chemical that has been found to trigger feelings similar to falling in love.
Of course, chocolate and chocolate products also contain high amounts of sugar, so be careful with the amount of chocolate you eat or you will fall victim of the sugar crash described earlier.
Other note worthy good mood foods:
- Spinach contains the mineral magnesium which has been shown to create a relaxing and calming affect.
- Milk contains calcium and tryptophan (an amino acid that the body uses to help make serotonin) which have both been shown to have calming effect on nerves when feeling anxious or stressed.
- Brazil nuts are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc, all of which can help calm your mood. They also contain selenium; a mineral scientists think may be an essential nutrient in preventing depression.
Two words Fast Food. Yes, it is convenient. Yes, sometimes it is cheap. Yes, it can even make us feel good for a brief moment in time. Regardless of all these “positive” reasons one may come up with, Fast Food is NOT good for your mood.
Fast food is loaded with mood depressants such as: sodium, refined ingredients, sugar, saturated fat, and preservatives. While you may feel good initially due to the burst of sugar and easy-to-digest processed foods, you will experience a major crash shortly post-consumption. This crash can severely affect your mood, leaving you craving more of the same food that gave you your original sugar high.
We have used Fast Food as the example here, but the same principles apply to any food that consists of the mood depressing ingredients listed above. It is best for your health, both physical and mental, that you strictly limit your fast food consumption. Luckily now, many fast food restaurants provide a healthier menu, complete with nutrition facts, for those times that you feel you have no other option.
Tips to Making Choices for Good Mood Food
The key to making good food choices, no matter what the time of year, is to always be in control of your hunger. The moment you become overly hungry, your ability to make thoughtful, healthy decisions is compromised. This is because your body needs food fast and it will crave it in the simplest, most easy-to-digest form possible; sugar. Remember these tips when you are out and about this holiday season:
- As our schedules become more hectic, we tend to get thrown off of our normal everyday routine. This is when it is extra important to make sure you are eating every 3-4 hours so you can prevent becoming overly hungry and will be able to make smart food choices and control your portions.
- Be sure you are continuing to drink at least 64oz of water throughout the day. Dehydration can lead to feeling lethargic and cranky and can mislead you into thinking you need a sugar pick-me-up.
- Keep good, nutrition-packed, energy bars in your car or purse so you are never without a snack in case you need one.
- Don’t deprive yourself! With the holidays come special treats, so allow yourself to indulge from time to time. Just remember, everything in moderation. Pick and choose your treats and be careful not to mindlessly put things in your mouth just because they are there in front of you. Save your indulgences for the foods that really mean something to you. You’ll feel better in the long run.
- Focus on consuming good mood food this holiday season. If you are filling your tummy with healthy food and your brain is reaping the benefits, you will have little room or desire for the not-so-healthy choices.
Laughing All the Way
The months of November and December always seem to fly by and, before we know it, we are making our New Year’s Resolutions again. With all the stress and excitement, it is easy to get off track. However, we encourage you to make it a point to include the mood enhancing foods in your meals this season and stay away from foods that will bring your mood down. Doing this will help you stay focused through the holidays and come January 1st, 2010, when you look back over the past two months, you will see that you survived laughing all the way.
- Bauer, Joy, R.D., “Eating For a Better Mood. Parade Magazine, October 2008.
- Chitale, Radha. You Feel What You Eat: Certain Foods May Have Direct Impact on Emotional State. ABC News Medical Unit, March 5, 2008. \
Healthy Recipe: Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce and Moist Mocha Cake
Here’s your chance to try out some “good mood food” with delicious salmon packed with health omega-3 fatty acids. Then top off the meal with a scrumpcious dark chocolate cake, packed with mood enhancing nutrients. These recipes are from Registered Dietician and Food Network Chef, Ellie Krieger’s webpage on the Food Network website.
4 skinless salmon fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 ruby red grapefruits
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons honey
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Season the salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt, place in a baking dish and roast until cooked through, about 18 minutes.
While the salmon is cooking prepare the sauce. Cut 1 of the grapefruits into sections by cutting off the top and bottom of the fruit, then standing it on 1 end, cut down the skin to remove the pith and peel. Then, with a paring knife, remove each segment of fruit from its casing and cut the segments in half. Set the segment pieces aside. Juice the other grapefruit and set the juice aside.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, grapefruit juice, honey, and cayenne pepper and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce is reduced by about half about, 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and season with salt, to taste.
Right before serving, toss the grapefruit pieces and basil into the sauce. Put the salmon onto a serving dish. Spoon sauce over the salmon and serve.
Moist Mocha Cake
For the cake:
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups lowfat yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water
- 2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate
For the frosting:
- 1 (8-ounce) bar Neufchatel cheese (reduced fat cream cheese), softened
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water
- 1 teaspoon coffee liqueur or vanilla
- 1 small square chocolate
Arrange rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Whisk together flours, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl, then sift ingredients through a fine mesh strainer.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and oil. Add eggs and egg whites and whisk to incorporate. Fold in yogurt, vanilla, sugar and dissolved espresso powder. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 90 seconds or over a double boiler. Fold chocolate into batter.
Gradually add sifted dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated; do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cake has risen nicely and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
While cake is cooling, make the frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until soft and creamy. Spread frosting evenly over cake and cut into squares. Finely grate one small square of chocolate. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the cake.
iPod Music at BodyBasics
What would you like to listen to while you’re doing your cardio? We want to know! Music can really make an otherwise BORING workout a lot more enjoyable. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org any and all songs that you would like to hear at the studio during your workouts. We will even set up a personalized playlist for you! You provide the song list and the order. We’ll do the rest.
5 Years of BodyBasics!
As we end 2009 with this newsletter, we would like to extend a very appreciative thank you. Thank you for all of your feed back. Your thoughts, hopes, and constructive criticisms are always listened to and often implemented. Thank you for your energy. Each of you posess wonderful amounts of it. Thank you for your faith in our abilities. We love knowing that you value us as your fitness experts and we intend to continue our educations to bring you the best we can each day. Thank you for your referrals. We love extending the family!
Please join us Saturday, November 14th at 4:00 p.m. for our 5 year celebration! If you have not received an e-vite or you have questions, feel free to email at email@example.com or call us at 498-0359. We can tell you where it will be held at that time.
To empower people to realize their innate abilities by providing an environment that nurtures, educates, and inspires.
Keep Up the Great Work!
We are very proud of all of you!
Chris, Kathleen, Mike H., Maureen, Mike D., Jenny, Robin, and Terry