I want to talk about a very vulnerable time in my life, it’s something that I don’t discuss very often.

I entered the fitness industry right out after university as a personal trainer. I thought it was just going to be temporary until I decided exactly what I wanted to do, likely a Master’s degree in kinesiology. Unexpectedly, I quickly fell in love with fitness and haven’t looked back.

My first job was in a large corporate gym, and I’m so grateful for that place because I met some of my very best friends- that I still have- in that gym. As is typical in all large gym settings there was constant turn over and opportunity to progress to management roles within the company. I am a naturally driven leader and a leadership position quickly became my new goal… and within two and a half years of working for the company I had arrived as the “Director of Health Centre Services”. In this role I managed a group of 20 trainers, 4 fitness consultants and a nutritionist. At 24 years old I had made it, BUT something wasn’t right…

I was gaining weight, I had skin problems, I was constantly puffy and bloated and developed chronic back pain that I thought I was going to have to “live with” my whole life.

This is not the picture of health you imagine for someone running a health centre and encouraging clients to hire personal trainers and nutritionists for their own betterment.

Although several lesser factors were present (inconsistent exercise patterns, eating out too much etc.) the BIG ONE, the one really holding me back from feeling well was STRESS.

OK, I know you have heard this before and it can be very frustrating to just hear that you need to reduce your stress. How??

Firstly, stress is not always a bad thing. We need a certain amount of stress. Stress is a good thing when…

  • We exercise. We are creating a physical stress on our bodies in order to illicit physical adaptations and progress.
  • We need stress in order to react to certain dangerous situations… I’m sure you have all heard the “run from a bear” example. You need to be able to either fight or flight the bear otherwise we just freeze in shock.
  • We need a certain amount of stress in order to set vigorous goals and getshit done. Stress can propel us forward if channeled in the right way.

When does stress becomes “Bad” for us…

  • When we have chronic physical reactions to stress such as: weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, adrenal imbalance, lack of motivation and other serious physical ailments.

I want to note that it is not possible to completely eliminate stress, as mentioned above, we need it, the issue occurs when it becomes chronic and starts affecting our health. We must build up a resiliency to stress that affords us the ability to deal with the situations in a more productive way rather than allowing stressors build up and cause long term issues.

Here’s what helped me build up my resiliency to stress ….

The Lifestyle Approach (Part 2 will include my top nutritional support for stress reduction)

Awareness. Bringing awareness to our stress is the first step. Busy schedules and endless responsibilities have us walking through life not realizing that we are overly stressed. Some of the main symptoms of stress are: chronic fatigue, low energy, lack of sleep, headaches, issues with digestion (diarrhea, constipation etc.), frequent colds and infections, and lack of sex drive.

Sleep:  Sleep is our way to rejuvenate and recover for the next day. If you are fatigued from lack of sleep this can lead to added stress due to decreased productivity. How do you get better sleep?

  • Power down. Turn all electronics off an hour before bed. Staring at screens interferes with our natural circadian rhythms. (energy regulators) I also suggest turning your phone on airplane mode at night time. (especially if you are using your phone as an alarm clock)
  • To add to the point above, make sure to sleep in a completely dark room without light exposure.

Deep Breathing: Also a frustrating thing to hear when you don’t know how to apply it. Check out this video I did with Janey Brown for an easy way to start today! 

Meditation: Luckily there are so many ways to get into meditation these days, one of my favourites is the app Headspace. A guided mediation that takes 10 minutes a day and is a great way to get started. I also interviewed Janey on this topic as well, check out the video here.

Organize your thoughts: I know when I go through stressful times in my life I am guilty of allowing my thoughts be clouded with things that I can’t control in that moment.

A simple question I ask myself is: What can I control at this current moment? Then I write down what exactly I am worrying about and my action plan for reducing stress around that particular issue.

Tune in for my next blog on the top suggestions regarding nutrition and stress.

– Sylvie (OG Lifestyles)


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