Recovery

Coping with Obesity

coping with obesityObesity is defined as a condition marked by excess accumulation of body fat, according to the American Psychological Association (1) and it affects a great portion of our population. In fact, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third or 78.6 million U.S. adults are obese.

While you may not be at a healthy weight, there are steps you can take not just to lose weight but to better cope with obesity. If you’re overweight and tired of being down on yourself all the time, this article is for you. Here’s how to cope with obesity.

  1. Make better food choices. Though this may be an obvious tip, it’s an important one. Part of coping with obesity means taking the necessary steps to overcoming it. Learn about healthy foods vs non-healthy foods and make an effort to choose healthy and nutritious foods. Avoid foods which are high in saturated fats and cholesterol and opt for foods high in protein and low in sugars.
  2. Connect. According to a 2015 study on social relationships and obesity people who are socially-connected are at a decreased risk of becoming obese. (3) Connect with people in your community, especially with those who share the same goals as you. Together you can encourage, support, and connect with each other.
  3. Use positive criticism. Being obese does not give you free reign to come down hard on yourself about every little thing you need to change but like with any other condition, it does allow the opportunity for positive criticism. Positive criticism will act as a way to correct yourself in a positive way while building your self-confidence.
  4. Create small goals. Setting small goals for yourself is a great way to cope with obesity. As you work to achieve each little goal you not only get closer to a larger goal but you also make room for regular celebrations of your achievements. Set goals not only for weight loss but also emotions and physical activity.

You are so much more than a number on the scale, finding joy no matter where you are in life both emotionally and physically is key. Coping with obesity requires a balance of embracing who you are while working to better yourself. Remember to make better food choices, connect, use positive criticism, and create small goals for yourself. By doing so you can actively work toward a better, more-healthy you while learning to love the person you are today.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1.  Obesity, Definition of obesity, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/obesity/index.aspx
  2. Adult Obesity Facts, Number of obese American adults, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  3. Social Relationships and Obesity, Study findings ‘Connect’, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26213644

The First 3 Steps to Changing Unhealthy Behavior

Change BehaviorsUnhealthy behavior can include bad habits such as smoking, drinking, poor diet choices, and lack of physical activity. These behaviors can cause greater health risks, especially in middle-aged people. Statistics show that over 20% of people smoke or drink (or both), over 40% of people are physically inactive, and over 30% of people are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control (1).

However, these people are not the only ones affected by the poor behavior – approximately 25% of health care costs is spent on treating the effects of this voluntary unhealthy behavior (2). So what can be done about this increasing problem? If you or someone you know is making poor choices, a change needs to take place.

1. Determine the cause. There are many things that can cause a person to make poor choices.  These causes can vary for people of different ages, genders, and races.  In young people, habits such as smoking or drinking can be a result of peer pressure; poor diet and exercise choices can come from a lack of education regarding these issues.

In adults, however, the most common cause for unhealthy behavior is stress (3).  Turning to comfort food can cause obesity and inactivity while having a drink to relax after work can easily cause a drinking problem.  Recognizing the cause of your unhealthy behavior is the first step to changing it.

2. Make a plan. Once you have determined why you make the poor choices, you need to determine that you want to make a change.  It must come from you, not others, and you must put a plan of action in place to achieve it.  There are some people who know they have a problem but don’t do anything about it; there are others who know they need to change but continually put it off (4).  In order to accomplish a lifestyle change, a firm decision and commitment must be made.  One way to reach your goals is to find motivation.  Whether it is your health or that of someone that you love, find a reason for the change.

3. Seek support from others. There are support groups created to help people cope with dependency, disease, and social issues (5).  These support groups allow you to share with and learn from others in a face-to-face setting.  When making a change, it is very easy to relapse into your old habits.

A support group will provide the accountability you need to stay on track.  If you are unable to find a good support group, you can start one in your area.  This may provide you with even more motivation since others will be relying on you to lead by example.

Changing is hard – there is no doubt about that. However, it is possible. It simply takes determination and a conscious effort on a daily basis to make better choices in your life. Changing your unhealthy habits will be beneficial to you as well as your family and friends, and in the end your only regret will be not doing it sooner.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Prevalence of Selected Unhealthy Behavior Characteristics, Statistics of unhealthy behavior, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5916a7.htm
  2. Voluntary Health Risks: Who Should Pay? Cost of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v6n1/voluntary.html
  1. Americans Engage in Unhealthy Behavior to Manage Stress, Causes of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/01/stress-management.aspx
  2. Why It’s Hard to Change Unhealthy Behavior, How to change, 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-its-hard-to-change-unhealthy-behavior
  3. Receiving Social Support Online, Importance of support groups, 2001, http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/6/693.full

2 Terrible Truths about Stress Today

So, stress is up! We all know that high stress levels are on the rise all across the nation but what’s the real truth about stress today? Why is it impacting everyone we know- both the young and the old, and why does its negativity reign supreme?

StressOutAccording to the key findings of the American Psychological Association (APA), there are 2 terrible truths about stress today (1). To help you better understand these truths and in return your own personal stress, here’s more.

1. Self-care is not a priority. Only forty percent of Americans rate their health as very good or excellent, leaving the remaining sixty percent with less than adequate self-rated health, as stated by the APA. (2) The first terrible truth about stress in America is a lack of self-care. It’s simply not a priority. Instead of managing stress in healthy ways by staying active, eating nutritional meals, and making our personal health a priority we opt to indulge in unhealthy behaviors like drugs and alcohol, over or under eating, and being lazy when it comes to regular exercise.

The APA continues to provide a list of startling facts including, “two-fifths of Americans reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods due to stress.” (3) The terribly sad truth is that we, as Americans are taking part in a viciously repetitive cycle. We choose to eat unhealthy, not be active, and overall not make self-care a priority which in return creates stress in our life. And what do we do because we are feeling stressed? We continue to eat unhealthy, not be active, and not make self-care a priority. Yikes!

2. Lack of willpower is the problem. The second truth in our one-two-punch against stress is the lack of willpower. The APA cites the lack of willpower as being the biggest barrier to adopting healthier behavior and continues to inform us that survey respondents are mistakenly relying on an inner strength to make necessary health changes (4). Similar to standing in front of an empty refrigerator with the door wide open waiting for something delicious to appear, you too should stop waiting for some inner strength to emerge against unhealthy choices.

Willpower is a choice you make, not something that all of a sudden happens within you. Combatting the stress in your life requires better health choices through nutrition and exercise and both of those choices take a strong will power. Don’t be afraid to awaken yours.

Stress is up because self-care and willpower are down. The 2 terrible truths, the first being that Americans are not prioritizing self-care through eating healthy and being active and the second, that Americans have a lack of willpower are society’s downfall when it comes to combatting stress. Want to beat the stress in your personal life? It’s as simple as prioritizing your health and having the willpower to stick to those healthy choices.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Stressed In America, 2 Terrible truths, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  2. Stressed In America, Americans rate personal health stats, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  3. Stressed In America, Unhealthy eating due to stress stats, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  4. Stressed In America, Lack of willpower facts, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx

Sweat Away the Stress

Stress ReductionMost people experience stress on a daily basis.  For some it is mild and easily controlled, but for others it can be serious and begin to affect their everyday lives.  There are many ways to manage stress, but exercise is one that can assist in stress management as well as provide many other health and mental benefits.

1. Increase Energy. Your daily routine can be physically and mentally draining.  You may think that you cannot possibly squeeze one more thing into your schedule; however, finding time to exercise on a regular basis has been shown to give you even more energy to achieve those everyday tasks.  It may seem strange that exercise, which can be exhausting, can actually replenish your energy levels.  Not only can your energy be restored, but your ability to concentrate can be increased as can your overall brain function (1).  In order to fully utilize this energy, working out in the morning is a great option.

runStress22. Encourage Stability. Having a consistent routine as well as a goal to be attained can shift the focus of a person’s mind.  Even if the stress factors in his life have not been removed, the stability offered by a proper exercise regimen can allow him to concentrate on something other than those stress factors.  If you are in need of some consistency in your everyday schedule, make exercise part of your daily routine, not just something that you do if you have time.  The best way to accomplish this is to join a specific class that meets at a specified time or to work out with a friend; if someone is relying on you to be there, you are less likely to make excuses.

3. Release Tension. Exercise is a science.  There are many chemicals that can be released and many nerves that can be stimulated through physical activity.  Endorphins are released during physical activity, and these chemicals offer a person relief from stress as well as a chance to get a better night’s sleep (2).  Many people who are trying to do exercise specifically for stress relief choose yoga since it also requires that you concentrate and control your breathing.

4. Balance Emotions. The body and the brain go hand in hand.  What affects one will naturally affect the other.  When your body is stronger, so is your mind.  One of the greatest benefits of exercise is that it allows all the systems of the body to work together.  This includes the brain function, which then allows the body to handle stress more efficiently (3).  One of the best exercises to accomplish this is running since it works the muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.  Only a strong and focused mind will be able to balance all these functions properly.

Using exercise as a weapon against stress has been shown to be successful for many people (4).  Whether physical activity actually reduces stress or simply lessens the effects of it, there is no question that it is a great outlet for stressed people.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:
1. Physical Activity Reduces Stress, Benefits of exercise on energy levels, 2015, http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
2. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety, Endorphins released during exercise, 2015, http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
3. Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers, Body systems, 2015, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx
4. Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers, Body systems, 2015, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx

Expectation vs. Performance

performanceThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “expectation” as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”; It defines “performance” as “the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request; something accomplished.” We have expectations in every aspect of life: for our kids, our marriages, our careers. In some areas, we set our own expectations; in others, they are set for us.

Our performance shows whether or not we fulfilled those expectations. For example, if you are asked to write a report by a specific deadline, you will be expected to fulfill this. The level of your performance may be determined by the quality of the report as well as your timeliness and accuracy. In general, if we meet all of the expectations we create for ourselves or are given, we might consider ourselves “successful.”

Expectation Mindset

expectationsThe expectations that you set for yourself and your life can be determined by your overall attitude. If you are an optimistic person, you will most likely have high expectations regarding the outcome of your life, career, and family. You imagine everyone at his best. If you are a pessimist, you might have low expectations or have doubts that you can fulfill expectations in those areas, reasoning that you will be pleasantly surprised if it turns out better than expected but prepared if it does not. These views are not necessarily wrong or right, just different.

Expectation Level

  1. High Expectations. Setting high expectations for yourself or for others can provide great motivation to perform. In sports, if a coach puts great trust in you and expects you to be a team leader, you will be very motivated to prove to him that you are capable of doing so. At work, setting high expectations makes you work harder to achieve that goal. However, setting your sights too high can be detrimental to your success. If the bar is set too high and you are not able to reach it, you may feel disappointment or inadequacy. You might feel embarrassed if you do not perform the way that you were expected to.
  2. Low Expectations. If your expectations are too low, the performance might be too easy. If there is no challenge, then there may be nothing to work for. Instead of having a drive to succeed, you may get comfortable in your position and reach a plateau.
  3. Realistic Expectations. Set expectations for yourself and others that you know will be motivational and require hard work but that will also be achievable. This will give you something to work for and then provide great satisfaction when you accomplish it.

Expectation Failure

We have all failed at something or fallen short of the expectations. Instead of letting this get you down or giving up, use it as motivation to improve or change what is needed to perform the way you are expected to.

Whether your performance succeeds your expectations or not, it’s important to keep in mind success is reached through trial and error. In all aspects of your performance, try-try-again!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Expectation, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectation
  2. Performance, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/performance
  3. High Hopes and Happy Homes, Mindset of Expectations, 2004, http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep04/highhopes.aspx

Newly Single? How to Cope.

Single CounselingThe majority of people have experienced at least one break up. In fact, a study in 2011 showed that 37% of people ages 18 to 35 had been through at least one break up in the past 20 months (1). Regardless of the circumstances or the length and seriousness of the relationship, breaking up is hard to do. The mental and social side effects can sometimes be devastating. What can you do to make it easier on yourself?

Emotional

After a break-up, you will most likely be swarmed with emotions – anger, resentment, depression, heart-break, etc. These emotions need to be addressed, not repressed. When trying to get your feelings out, make sure it is done in a productive way. Yelling and venting to a friend is not going to be very beneficial. Instead, many experts suggest writing as a means of therapy (2). When you write, you take time to form your thoughts instead of thinking and speaking irrationally. Writing also gives you the chance to go back and analyze your feelings and to see how far you have come from where you were immediately after the break up.

Another way to cope with these feelings is to stay active. Not only is physical activity beneficial to the mind and body, staying active will keep you busy, which means you will have less time to dwell on the break up. Another helpful idea is to find someone to confide in. But don’t pick just anyone – make sure it is something that you trust to give you sound advice and comfort.

Socially

Depending on where you met your significant other, the social aspect may be a problem. You may have mutual friends, making it difficult and tense to be around those friends. You may work with him, making work more stressful and awkward. However, this problem may give you a chance to branch out; meeting new people and trying new things may be just what you need.

Personally

Because relationships can give a person meaning and purpose, a break up might cause you to feel less satisfied with your life. Discontentment can lead to bitterness and will not have any positive outcome, so do your best to avoid it. A person’s reaction to a break up can greatly affect the future. Those who have a positive outlook and desire to look for someone new are less likely to be affected by depression and low self-esteem. Remember also that a break up can actually benefit you in many ways. Being newly single gives you a chance to re-evaluate your life and what is important, and it can help you find your identity as an individual. Finding the positives in a break up can make your future relationships even stronger.

No matter how you deal with a break up, there is one essential: do not let your break up define you.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Statistics and effects of a break up, 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21517174
  2. Break Ups Aren’t All Bad, Ways to cope, 2009, http://www.apa.org/research/action/romantic-relationships.aspx

 

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