Thursday, July 09, 2009

Weight Loss After Job Loss

Prepared or not, losing your job can turn your life upside down. Find out how to weather this difficult time with your healthy plans, good intentions and motivation intact. Jobs are falling away at a dizzying rate. Another week, another few thousand layoffs. And as much as the headlines have spurred many people to take stock and come up with their “what if?” scenarios, nothing can quite prepare you for the shock of it happening to you, or someone close to you. There are several challenges that await those who have found themselves packing up their cubicles and walking out of the office for the last time. It can be hard focusing on anything other than the job situation, and it’s a time when many people fall into the trap of thinking that taking care of their bodies is a trivial occupation in the grand scheme of things. But however tough it may seem when the shock is raw, a job loss doesn’t have to mean a complete breakdown of your healthy lifestyle routine. Fresh options Consider this time of unemployment as an opportunity to take more control over your menu plan — a brief recess from the tempting leftover donuts and bagels in the office kitchen. You now have more time to cook and plan your own meals, so embrace it while it lasts. The habits you develop now might well stick when you find yourself employed once again. Cooking more frequently is not only wallet-friendly, it also offers an opportunity to introduce fresher foods into your meal plan. “I ate a relatively low-fat diet, but it was mainly of processed foods,” says Melissa Richgels, a former employee communications manager in Chicago, who was recently laid off. “Now I cook more wholesome meals with brown rice, fresh veggies, and homemade hummus.” To keep your food bills low, take advantage of grocery store sales and coupon offers on healthy fare such as fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables. And stock up! Work it out Exercise is one of the best ways to combat the triple weight-loss threat that unemployment may bring on: depression, boredom, and stress. Port Washington, NY-based psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell explains that depression can lead to overeating (as a way to soothe oneself), as well as tiredness, which keeps you from exercising. She points out that eating out of boredom can also cause weight gain, as we often turn to carbohydrates (they provide a quick, temporary energy rush) to break the boredom cycle. If you’ve still got a health club membership, by all means use it. If you’ve cancelled your membership, fear not, you can still get in shape for low or no cost. The great outdoors can take the place of the treadmill, but if the weather’s not cooperating simply bring the workout indoors. You can check out a fitness magazine from the library, photocopy a workout routine or two, and perform the exercises in the comfort of your own home. Or if you still have cable TV take advantage of numerous exercise and yoga programs on networks like Oxygen and ExerciseTV On Demand. Relax and release Job searching and wondering when this recession nightmare will end can add up to a great deal of stress. The aforementioned exercise plan is one way to deal with the problem, but there are a number of other options that can help keep you calm. “I get a lot of my strength from prayer and meditation…which for me is one and the same,” says Anna Martinez, a Weight Watchers Leader in Queens, New York, who lost her job of 15 years as a project manager last year. “It helps me calm down and quiet my mind, so I can focus.” If meditation seems a bit daunting, try something as simple as deep breathing. It slows down your system and makes it easier to relax. Keeping a journal, listening to music, dancing, and yoga are all fantastic ways to relax, relieve stress, and keep idle hands from reaching for snacks. Think outside the box Unfortunately, many of us define ourselves by what we do for a living. When that identifier is taken away it can lead to feelings of emptiness, which can trigger overeating, says Los Angeles psychologist and eating disorder specialist Sari Shepphird, PhD. To counter the effect, she suggests developing new aspects of your identity and developing outside interests to keep your days structured and bring pleasure into your life. “Believe it or not, you are more than your job,” says Shepphird. Martinez has taken time out during her period of unemployment to engage in her favorite arts and crafts hobbies, such as scrap booking and card making. “I also spent a lot of my free time taking care of my 18-month-old triplet nieces,” says Martinez. “They made me laugh and [acted] silly when I needed it the most.” {Source}

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