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Insulin and Cortisol

You may not like the tummy fat that jiggles when you try to zip up your jeans, but it’s not the worst kind of belly fat from a health standpoint. The kind you really have to worry about is deeper fat that lies beneath your abdominal muscles and increases the risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This form of fat called visceral fat becomes more common with age, especially around the time of menopause in women and in men as they approach the age of 40–no fun at all if you ask me! Let’s see what we can do about that, shall we?

There are two primary hormones that play a role in visceral abdominal fat and reining in these two belly-boosting hormones can help control a deep belly fat problem: Insulin and Cortisol.

Insulin, produced by the pancreas, regulates how your body handles glucose. Insulin has a lot of jobs in your body:

~it helps carry glucose into cells where it can be stored right after you ate

~it helps muscle cells take up amino acids, which is important for muscle repair after a workout

~it increases the synthesis of lipids and prevents the breakdown of stored fat to be used for energy

~it encourages cells to take up potassium

~it increases blood flow through arteries by relaxing blood vessel walls.

Pretty serious stuff if you ask me.

Cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, is the one hormone we often call the “stress hormone” because it rises during times of mental and physical stress. Here are some common conditions that increase cortisol levels: prolonged exercise (yikes!) , starvation, calorie restriction (bye-byestupid diets!)  and sleep deprivation. Cortisol has many functions, but one of its main functions is to simply maintain blood glucose levels in response to stress. One way it does this is by promoting gluconeogenesis, a process by which the liver makes glucose from amino acids. To supply the liver with the amino acids it needs to make glucose, cortisol encourages the breakdown of muscle tissue, which isn’t a good thing when it comes to health or body composition–triple yikes! Who wants to lose more muscle mass as they age? In addition, it suppresses the immune system and promotes bone breakdown – another not-so-good thing from a health standpoint.

So why are insulin and cortisol such a bad combination when it comes to visceral belly fat? Well, cortisol activates a hormone called lipoprotein lipase that stimulates fat storage, but it also increases the activity of hormone sensitive lipase, a hormone that breaks down fat. Taken alone, these changes might not be so bad since the fat storage effects of cortisol would be cancelled out by its effect on fat breakdown. But then insulin enters the picture. Insulin promptly turns off cortisol’s effect on hormone sensitive lipase, and the breakdown of fat grinds to a halt. Now cortisol’s effect on fat is to promote its storage, and it does so primarily in the deep abdominal region to form visceral fat. There you have it! The solution? Reign in these two hormones.

Here is some good advice to help you deal with the belly fat problem, you need to lower levels of these two belly-plumping hormones:

~eliminate processed carbohydrates and sugary foods that send blood sugar and insulin levels into overdrive. Choose fiber-rich carbs from vegetables and whole grain sources. The fiber in these foods helps to reduce insulin spikes.


~add regular, moderate to high intensity exercise program that includes both strength-training and aerobics. High-intensity exercise boosts release of growth hormone, which helps take a bite out of belly fat.

~ eat regular meals that contain lean protein and fiber-rich carbs to maintain blood sugar levels, and don’t overly restrict calories to lower cortisol in your body

~keep exercise sessions short and intense. Some research shows that prolonged endurance exercise boosts cortisol levels.

~sleep! Sleep deprivation raises cortisol levels.


~get enough B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium in your diet since these vitamins and minerals help to lower cortisol levels.

~limit caffeine

~find effective ways to manage stress

There you have it!


Who do you want to be?

There is so much pressure in today’s world about how we ought to look, behave, think… I am personally being told the best way to attain happiness and most of the time it involves spending money. Come on!I am happy and comfortable with myself; I am living intentionaly, which is so big these days.That’s what life coaching is all about, by the way: living on purpose.  Do not be bullied into being something you are not. If you are not happy with any aspect of life then it is up to you alone to change it. Life is what you make it and you can be the person you want to be.

Here is how to start:
Take a good look at yourself. Do you like what you see? Are you happy with the person you have become? Is there anything you would change? Don’t ask the opinions of too many people because it is what you want and like that matters. If you feel it is time for a hair-cut, do it! If your weight leaves you feeling negative about yourself, then start doing the rigth thing with a healthy diet and exercise. No one can stop you from eating too much or exercising too little except YOU. If a fashion revamp is in order, then get rid of those pieces of clothing that really don’t fit or suit you. Wear those pink hot pants while cleaning the floor, if you don’t think they are appropriate for outdoor wear but you just can’t give them up. Wear what you feel comfortable in and what reflects your personality, not what you want other people to see. Dress for yourself. Are you starting to feel liberated?


Forget about the past, put it away, thinking about it won’t change a thing. Never mind  the future because it never comes and plans often go awry. Take time to think about what is important to you today.   Keep your thoughts and actions in the moment.

Think for yourself.

Be true to yourself.

Do not follow the crowd because everyone else is. Listen to that little voice inside called intuition and if something does not feel right, don’t do it just because others are.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It is. The secret is in doing it!  Until it becomes a delightful habit.

Try it–you won’t regret it! And by the way, you are not being selfish. You are just being real. And that is very attractive. Just sayin’

Can you Coach yourself?

Step 1: Know What You Want
It’s very easy to identify things you’re NOT happy with and to get stuck in that negative state of mind. At this stage, coaches often hear comments like “No one at work takes me seriously”; “I need to lose weight, but I can’t”; or “My boss is so frustrating.” But if you want things to change, then you need to identify what you DO want and WOULD be happy with.
Unfortunately, while “know what you want” is easy to say, a surprising number of us really don’t know this – and simply telling us to figure it out won’t help. And if we don’t know the direction to take, where we end up may be no better than the place we left! Other people have only a vague idea of what they want, and they never take the time to be more specific. This means that they have a certain amount of success, but, because they’re never fully committed to one particular direction, they can only get so far. To get past this, coaches encourage their clients to explore this problem to find its real root cause. For example, Sally may feel that her career is going nowhere because “no one takes me seriously.” She might discover that this is because she takes on all of the small tasks in the team, and, because of this, she doesn’t have time to work on the big ideas that would show her potential for promotion. Often, people start out feeling that they’re “victims,” and that the source of their problem lies outside their control. For instance, a frustrating boss won’t go away, or weight can’t be lost. But these people may find that their own attitude or response is contributing to the problem. With the root cause identified, “what you want” is the reverse of that situation. Your new thoughts become “I am focused on important tasks”; “I am clear about what I should and should not do to lose weight”; or “I am relaxed about my boss changing his mind.”

Step 2: Set a SMART Goal
In “The Little Book of Coaching,” Ken Blanchard and Don Shula say, “A broad target that’s easy to achieve leads to the puddle’ of mediocrity.” So, the next step is to express “what you want” as a clear goal. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s really important. A properly defined goal statement will act as a motivator. It will help you prevent yourself from backing out of things you SHOULD be doing, but perhaps don’t really WANT to do. Use the SMART acronym to help you structure a goal. SMART stands for:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Achievable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time-bound.

Setting a time frame is particularly important, because it’s easy to delay dealing with difficult issues. Choose one that’s both realistic and challenging: if it’s too easy, you’ll get bored and give up, and if it’s unrealistic, you’ll feel overwhelmed… and give up. The secret is to choose a date in the future that you know you can reach – this should be a date that will stretch you a little, but not add to your stress. Write your goal down. This helps you clarify your thoughts, and it helps you see your progress as you look back over the various steps you’ve set for yourself. This way, you can see if you’re on track or not.
For example, Melanie is frustrated by her boss. She might set this goal: “By the end of the month, I’ll have learned how to respond calmly and positively whenever Alex asks me to rework something. Then I’ll do the work, understanding that it’s an opportunity to impress him.”

Step 3: Take Action

Determine what needs to happen to move you toward your goal: Do you need to get a particular qualification, or sign up for a course?

  • Do you need help from someone like a personal trainer or mentor?
  • Do you need to let go of someone or something?
  • Step 4: Be PassionateMake sure that what you’ve chosen to do is something you really care about, and really want to happen – otherwise, you know you won’t do it!
    Also, notice if you’re holding back a little. Sometimes, we can stop ourselves getting too excited about an outcome because we doubt we can do it. If a lack of self-belief or the fear of failure is holding you back, try the following exercise:

    • Think about how you react, feel, and think when you’re worried and uncertain. Notice how you stand, the thoughts that go through your head, the language you use, and the feelings you experience.
    • Think about how you react and feel and think when you’re certain of success.
    • Notice the differences between the two states – they will be very obvious!
    • Now think about your new goal. While you’re doing this, breathe, stand, and talk the way you do when you’re certain of success. You should find yourself approaching your new goal with much more conviction and determination.
    • Keep replaying memories of successes from the past, and focus on those while you plan your goal. Until you see yourself as successful, and until you remind yourself that you’ve achieved many things in the past, you’re unlikely to achieve your goal to the degree you really want. This is because many of us seem to have a natural tendency to focus on the negative, and on our perceived failures.

    Step 5: Be Persistent
    Do you often give up when you hit an obstacle? Do you see it as a sign that you’re not meant to continue, so you stop?
    If this is the case, then it’s worth remembering success stories from the past such as Colonel Sanders, who created Kentucky Fried Chicken. He didn’t fulfill his dream until he was 65 years old. It’s said that when he tried to sell his chicken recipe to restaurants, he was refused 1,009 times before he heard his first yes. And what about Walt Disney? He was turned down 302 times before he got financing for his dream of creating “the happiest place on earth.” So, if you hit obstacles and doubt whether you should continue or not, decide if your goal is worth having. If it is, then be persistent. If it isn’t, go back to Step 1.


What is it and how can it help you?

When you exercise, levels of various hormones rise, and some of these hormones play a role in fat-burning and muscle growth. HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is one of those. HGH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, and its increasecretion is stimulated mainly by sleep and exercise. Growth hormone doesn’t directly boost muscle growth but increases the size of the connective tissue, which makes the muscle look larger. It also doesn’t increase muscle strength, but it does increase the rate of fat-burning, so it helps with fat loss.

Growth Hormone Increases with Exercise

ropeHere is the good news: when you exercise, levels of HGH naturally rise. But moderate-intensity aerobic exercise doesn’t have the same effects that high-intensity exercise does. High-intensity exercise leads to the build-up of lactic acid., which in turn  boosts growth hormone secretion. Resistance exercise also increases growth hormone levels both directly and through another growth factor called IGF-1. A single high-intensity exercise session of 10 minutes or longer can increase growth hormone secretion by up to 300% and keep it elevated for up to 24-hours afterwards. A good reason to kick your workout up a notch!

The bad news is this: over time, training can reduce the amount of growth hormone the body releases during exercise–maybe because  tissues become more sensitive to growth hormone with training and less of it is needed. Growth hormone release also decreases with age, and this contributes to some of the negative effects of aging such as loss of muscle mass, increased body fat and reduction in energy level.

Can You Increase Growth Hormone Levels Naturally?

To increase HGH naturally, sleep and exercise–particularly do some resistance training and work out at a high enough intensity to tap into the anaerobic energy system. Interval training where you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise like sprinting alternating with recovery intervals is a great way to do that. Lifting heavy weights, especially compound exercises and exercises that target the larger muscles in the lower extremities will do it too.

The other way to maximize growth hormone levels is to get an adequate amount of sleep. Growth hormone secretion rises during deep sleep. This may partially explain why people who don’t sleep enough at night are more prone to weight gain…

What about diet? Insulin inhibits the release of growth hormone, so eating high-glycemic carbs that trigger a strong insulin response can reduce growth hormone release and increase fat stores. Eating carbs before bedtime isn’t a good idea since it can blunt the normal release of growth hormone during sleep. Protein foods increase the release of growth hormone.

So here is the bottom line:Growth hormone helps to preserve lean body mass and increase loss of body fat. Levels decline with age, but high-intensity exercise, adequate sleep and a diet that contains moderate amounts of protein and few high-glycemic carbs will help maximize growth hormone levels – and keep you leaner too.

There you have it!


Making Goals Work, part 1

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with goals. We love them because they are such a great idea and a wonderful way to motivate us to evaluate our progress and achieve what we set out to do, but we hate them because they more often than not go unattained and make us feel like failures. And that is totally backwards. Goals should inspire us and make us feel great about ourselves. After all, what good is a goal if it isn’t something you achieve?

So let’s talk about some simple steps that we can take to make sure we see the changes that the goals intended:

Narrow your focus. That’s right, start small. Pick two or three areas tops, that you want to work on. Too many people say to themselves, “I want to do this, and this, and this, and this…” and they end up doing nothing! Most of what you do throughout your day can be done without a lot of mental or emotional exertion, but change isn’t one of them. So focus down to a couple. This way you can get some victory in these areas. Here are some areas to think about: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, and Relational. What areas need some work? Now, what one thing should be the first item on the change list? The others will come later, but for now, you should focus on two or three total.


Keep the long term in mind, but set your sights on achieving your goals in the short term. Do you want to lose 75 pounds? Good. Long term, you will. But for now, think short term. Don’t think about losing 75 pound by the end of the year. Think about losing 3 pounds in the first two weeks. This does two things. First, it makes it urgent. Instead of blowing it and saying, “Oh well, I still have 10 months to lose the 75 pounds” (because eventually that becomes 2 months to lose 75 pounds), your goal is only two weeks out. This is better in terms of reaching your goal. Secondly, as you reach these shorter goals, it gives you regular victories instead of regular progress. Progress feels good, but achieving a goal is awesome!

Reward yourself when you achieve the goal. When you lose the 3 pounds in two weeks, treat yourself to a hot stone massage. Then get back to your goal for the next two weeks. This puts a little fun back into the process of self-control and self-discipline. You will look forward to the reward, and when the going gets tough, you will say, “two more weeks, two more pounds, then…”   It can be that simple for you.

More on this subject in the next post…



Stinking Thinking

We really are what we think. Not one of us lives above his or her thoughts. That is a very sobering realization, let me tell you.

The next step is to accept that the most powerful influence in our lives is the input we feed our minds. Because at the end of the day, the results in our lives have everything to do with our mindset, which stems out of our thoughts. So if you want to produce different results in life, you have a different mindset. Even Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Bottom line: if your thinking stinks, so will your results… You create what you are thinking about. t’s not so much that you are what you think you are; it’s more this fact: what you think, that you are! The information you feed your mind is truly the most constant influence of conditioning affecting our lives, our results and our ability to achieve.

stinky face

Our minds operate as simply as a computer, which, even though they are complex systems, work rather simply: what you input is what it outputs. It doesn’t judge or discriminate; it simply acts on the input. And your mind is just the same: it does not judge or discriminate the information you feed it; it simply acts on the input. This is why it is crucial that you are careful what you feed your mind.

Here are some good ideas to do just that:

1—Protect your mind:
Stand guard at the doorway of your mind. Every input matters. All input is processed and shapes your view of the world and yourself in it. Be vigilant about what you expose yourself to. Here are four little keys: (1) Television: The hours that you will spend watching TV this year is 1,704 (4.7 per day). And everything you hear molds you. Are you hearing what you want to be hearing?

(2) Selective listening is a key! You don’t need to pick through the trash can looking for a crust of bread when I can have the bread I want delivered to my doorstep.

(3) Low information isn’t that bad… Limit your intake of news and information. You don’t need a text update on every Wall Street Journal financial crisis. You don’t have to be informed of all the local news crime stats. Don’t overconsume news!

(4) Evaluate yourself: How much time do you spend on entertainment and how much on education? The imbalance of this equation could be the reason your life isn’t where you want it to be.

Unsuccessful people think about what they don’t want most of the time. They talk about problems, listen to news and gossip, and spend their time blaming circumstances, situations and others.Successful people think about what they want and how they will get it. They are intensely focused on their goals and the information needed to help obtain them.

2—Feed your mind:

feed mind






If you want to think differently, you have to constantly and continually feed your mind the thoughts, ideas and inspiration it needs to help you achieve your ambitious goals. Your mind needs a regular diet of nutrient-rich food—“bread for the head.” There are limitless ways to educate ourselves and continue to grow–instructional CDs, books, webinar, online classses, etc… A person who dares to learn is still growing.

So, your dreams… are you moving toward them, or are you letting time and information swallow you?

Let’s Get it Done!

As a life coach, I help people figure out what they really want, and then I guide them throug the process of getting it done. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? In many ways, it really is. In others, it is not…

First, we work on discovering what the want/need is. But that is not enough. I have found that people also need to understand why they want what they want if they are going to follow through when the everyday actions that will ensure their success get boring, mondane or feel just too difficult. Lastly, together, my client and I figure out their how: what actions are necessary to get there. So, at base level, we are really talking about outcome, purpose and action.

The “action” part most often lookes like a long list of things that should be done, some just once, some every day, or week, or month. Or hour maybe.  That list can seem quite intimadating for some. Or most.

So we look at it.


1,which one will make the biggest difference? What is my must?

2. give it real time of how long it is going to take?

3. where is my leverage? Find out who can help me or what or when; way to get to my outcome…



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