Harmonize Fitness
Harmonize Fitness



How stress and junk food cravings are related

07 stress and junk food

Have you ever wonder why is it harder for you to avoid sweets, junk and foods high in sugar when you are stressed out? You are not alone, this happens to almost all of us but don´t freak out there are some tools you can use to reduce this cravings.

Most of the times when you have cravings specially for sweets and highly process foods full of sugar you are stressed out and it´s hard to control them and a couple minutes later you´re done with the entire bag of cookies or chocolate that was in front of you. You feel great for a couple of hours but then before you realize it you have cravings again, this is a vicious cycle and it´s tough to stop it.

We´ve seen in posts before that stress increases cortisol and reduces neurotransmitters that make you feel good like serotonin. When you eat junk and processed foods full of sugars, unhealthy fats and chemicals the contrary occurs, this foods reduces cortisol and triggers the neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good. This is why when you eat them and sometime after you feel good but hours later you feel down again, stressed out, anxious and you have cravings again. This is just part of the problem.

When you are under stress your body needs energy in case you need to run (the fight-or-flight response) this can increase your hunger and stress triggers a hormone called ghrelin which control your appetite so you will have cravings specially for foods high in sugar which are the best source of fast energy that your body “needs” in that moment. Finally, stress also affects sleep, a lack of good quality sleep also increase cravings and makes it almost impossible to avoid unhealthy foods.

So if you think about it what our body is doing is what it is supposed to be doing, it is reacting to stress so it needs to be ready to save you, it needs a lot more energy so you have cravings for unhealthy foods and it stops unnecessary systems in your body. The problem is that we have a constant flow of stress day in and day out.

Most of us live with chornic stress and some of the ways we use to deal with it is by smoking, drinking, comfort food and social media which causes a lot more problems. We´ve all have difficult times in life and on a daily basis we need to deal with the teacher that don´t understand us, the kids that spend most time bullying us, the boss that hate us and never likes our job, coworkers who make our job harder, all the work and projects we need to finish, the bad relation we have we family or friends and our financial situations but the way we deal with all this is what makes all the difference.

Now, there´s another problem, every time you eat highly processed foods full of sugars, fats and chemicals the reward and pleasure center of your brain is triggered so you feel great for a period of time and sometime later this same foods make you feel depressed, anxious and you may feel guilty for eating them, you may get anxious and angry for not being able to avoid them which creates more stress.

This are some tools you can use to lower stress and keep cravings in check. Exercise is my go to, it has a lot of benefits but related to lowering stress it triggers endorphins that make you feel good and improve mood, this is why you may don´t want to hit the gym but after you´re done with your workout you feel great.

Another way to stop cravings is to keep hunger in check, if you eat highly processed foods full of sugar and chemicals you tend to be hungry most of the time, having meals high in simple carbohydrates and low in fats won´t keep you full for a long period of time so what you can do is increase healthy fats in your meals, avocado is a great option and use olive oil to cook. Also add foods high in fiber, this will keep you satiated for a longer period of time and it will reduce cravings.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



How stress and hormones are related

05 stress and hormones

The effects of stress can be very damaging in our entire body and it has a direct impact in your hormones making it harder for you to achieve any fitness goal and causing health problems.

When it comes to health, fitness, looking for programs or strategies you can follow to live a better life I haven´t seen someone giving the right attention to stress. For weight loss nutrition and exercise are always the key, for health problems it´s very common to look at the symptoms and go from there, we need to go deeper and find the cause in most cases our lifestyle is the cause of many diseases and stress plays a big part.

What happens when you are in an stressful situation or any moment that can be consider dangerous your body activates the “fight-or-flight” response which means that your hypothalamus located in your brain starts a series of functions to help you survive that situation, it sends signals that triggers cortisol and andrenaline. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and energy, cortisol increases sugar in the bloodstream.

When you are stressed out your body stops certain functions in your body to deal with that stress, your body needs a lot of energy in those moments, that energy comes in the form of glucose or carbohydrates which are the fastest form of energy so by stopping certain unnecessary functions your body makes sure that is has all the energy it needs but you are more prone to get sick and when this is sustain for a long period of time diseases start to appear.  Along with the functions your body stops it also blocks some neurotransmitters like serotonin which makes you feel good.

With chronic stress the “fight-or-flight” response keeps going and never stops while the functions on your body that are stopped remain that way, this is when health and mental problems begin. With chronic stress which is what most of suffer some functions and systems of our body remain turned off which makes us prone to diseases.

If cortisol levels remain high for long periods of time which is what happens with chronic stress, mental health problems like depression, anxiety and even suicide increases because it affects certain areas of your brain that control mood. When you are stressed out you may get angry more often and you tend to be more aggressive.

Since cortisol increases blood sugar if it remains high for long periods of time it may cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Being insulin resistant means that your body is not able to use carbohydrates efficiently so your body will store them as fat in your belly.

For people with diabetes it is harder to maintain blood glucose levels under control, even watching a terror movie or getting in a roller coaster can make glucose to get out of control. When you are experiencing emotions like fear, anxiety, tension, anger your body is reacting to an stressful situation. This is the result of your body releasing adrenaline and cortisol your body use glucose for energy but in people with diabetes their bodies can´t convert that glucose into energy so it stays in the bloodstream causing blood glucose to raise for a prolonged period of time.

So it´s not only about losing weight it´s about health, our lifestyle is killing us people in the industry focus on symptoms and treat symptoms but if we focus on the cause everything changes. Chronic stress is one of those causes and combined with bad habits create an unhealthy lifestyle. Everything we share in this website are tools to help you develop good habits and live a better life based on a healthy lifestyle.

Talking about hormones can get very complex and it´s impossible to get deeper in just one post so I´ll be sharing with you more information in separated posts trying to keep it as simple as possible, our goal with this website is that you understand how things work and give you tools or strategies you can start using today.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



How stress impacts our fitness results

04 how stress impact our fitness result

The negative effects or stress impact all areas or our lives and also our fitness goals making it almost impossible to get lean and stay lean.

We´ve seen that stress has a lot of negative effects on health, physical and mental but I´ve seen people who still don´t consider its impact on fitness, they´re doing “everything” right and for some reason they just can´t lose weight and keep it off.

You may be following a healthy nutrition program with the right macro nutrient ratios and calories to give your body nutrients, energy and sustain your weight loss goal; you are doing resistance workouts 4 days a week and the other 3 cardio; your mindset is right you are focused on your goal by using tools like meditation and visualization but you are not sleeping enough or your sleep is not good quality and you don´t even think stress is important so you don´t work on managing it.

Or they find it difficult to make the right choices at every meal, they don´t have the motivation to workout out, they´re not sleeping well and it´s almost impossible to follow any fitness program.

Weight loss has a lot to do with hormones, we need to manipulate certain hormones in a good way to help us achieve our goals. There are two hormones that are important; insulin and cortisol. Insulin is the fat making hormone and cortisol is the stress hormone if this two hormones are high you won´t lose weight.

Since cortisol is the stress hormone this means that every time you get stressed your body releases cortisol to keep you safe but if stress has become part of your life it means that cortisol is high so your body is not working properly because it turned off some functions to deal with daily stressful situations. Some symptoms are feeling tired, overwhelmed, unmotivated and it causes headaches, digestive problems, inflammation but the way it stops your weight loss is the connection it has with insulin.

Our body cannot handle stress for long periods of time so if you have chronic stress, if you live the kind of life that most people do which is wake up, go to your 9 to 5 job and get back or you go to school but in both cases you are dealing with stressful situations then your body is triggering cortisol all those times to deal with those situations which increases insulin.

If insulin is high your body won´t use stored fat for energy and it´s not efficient using carbohydrates either so almost all carbohydrates are going to get stored as fat, when cortisol is high your body uses sugar or carbohydrates for energy which are a more efficient source of energy instead of using fat. This makes it so hard for you to lose weight and stay lean.

The effects stress has on hormones is just one way it impacts your results, there are negative consequences you will face on your workouts like a lack of concentration; have you heard about mind-muscle connection? every time you workout you need to be focused on what you are doing and when you are stressed your mind keeps wandering on other unrelated stuff so you won´t be training with the intensity needed and in some cases it may cause injuries. Another point to consider is that it slows the recovery process, right after you finish your workout your body starts to recover and the more stressed you are the more time it will take for your body to recover.

In some of the posts I´ve written about fat loss I mentioned that the hardest part of any fat loss program is managing stress if you don´t find ways to lower it you won´t get the results you want. You may have a lot of willpower and you stick to the nutrition and workout program or you won´t be able to stick to it.

Stress affects negatively your sleep and it creates cravings specially for sweets and refined carbohydrates,  you tend to be in a bad mood which keeps you away from the mindset you need to be, all this creates a negative cycle and you need to be really patient and take one step at a time to start changing habits and adopt tools that help you lower stress and stay more calm and relax in tough times so that you can think and make the right choices.

Now, even when stress can impact negatively your fitness goals specially if you are working really hard to lose fat and at some level for gaining lean muscle mass, exercise is a great way to manage stress.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



How to manage stress

06 How to manage stress

Stress is one of the causes of a many health and mental problems we´re dealing nowadays, since most of our time we´re dealing with stressful situations and it´s become part of our life we need to know how to manage and lower it.

In school, job, family, neighbors, traffic, sleep there are always situation that can be highly stressful, in some cases we´re so use to them that we´ve learnt to live with chronic stress and we think it´s normal.

Many diseases nowadays are related to high levels of stress for a long period of time or what´s called chronic stress so considering that in many cases it can be hard to avoid those situations we need to learn how to react or handle them and how to manage stress to avoid most negative effects on our health physically and mentally.

Knowing where stress come from makes it easier for you to manage it, if you can avoid certain people or environments that are not only stressful but also negative . In some cases it will be easy to identify what caused stress; losing your job, problems at school, being bullied, relationship problems with family or a loved one, a break up, losing someone. This are all events that trigger stress and are easy to recognize. Daily stress can be caused by working too hard, dealing with a boss and coworkers that don´t seem to care about you, being bullied at school, traffic from home to your job or school and back again, not having enough time to do what you need to do, financial problems. We´ve learned to live with this daily stress and we think it´s normal but it´s not, we need to know how to manage it.

One way to manage stress is with meditation, every morning when you wake take some time to meditate, 5 minutes is enough if you like it you can do it for 20 or 30 minutes. If you want to keep it simple you can find a place where no one will disturb you, sit straight and close your eyes. Start breathing deeply, breath in…breath out… focus on your breath, now focus your attention on every muscle of your body and relax them from your feet all the way up. Let go all negative emotions, thoughts and feelings, all worries and fears and focus on your goals, who do you want to be? what do you want to achieve and imagine yourself getting over any obstacle. Now visualize yourself being who you want to be and feel that emotion as strong as possible. Now focus on your breath once again and slowly open your eyes. This is the end of a small and simple meditation, everyone has its own way to meditate so you´ll need to find out what works for you.

Another way to manage stress is to stop trying to please everyone and don´t care about what people say and think of you, we spend so many time thinking about what people say and think of us that we don´t enjoy what we´re doing, we also spend too much time trying to please everyone just to feel accepted that we lose sense of who we are. All this puts pressure on ourselves that end in stress.

Another great way to manage stress is with exercise, any type of physical activity will help you lower stress. Exercise improves mood, lower symptoms of depression and anxiety and it can help you sleep. It also increase the production of endorphins which make you feel good. This is why you finish your workout you feel great, with more confidence and it´s easier to stay focus and in a positive attitude the rest of your day.

Another way to manage stress is following a healthy nutrition program, what you eat also affect your mood so if you are stressed out and you eat junk and processed foods you will feel worse, instead focus on eating meals cooked with real, fresh ingredients. This way you are able to eat almost any dish and you are giving nutrients to your body without all the excess sugar and chemicals.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



How our days are full of stress

03 How our day is full of stress

A couple years ago I lived the most stressful time of my life, I was working in a 9 to 5 job where all employees needed to register when we arrived to the office and leaved, if we arrived late or if we leave before time a percentage was discounted from our next check. The Director was disrespectful and made everyone feel bad, it was a constant fear of being rejected, that our work is not good enough, being made fun off in front of everyone. It took me 2 hours to get to this job every morning and 2 hours to get back home.

Nowadays many people talk about stress and mental problems with more freedom knowing that all of this deal with them and it´s normal but if you don´t know how to manage them it will get worse but we don´t spend the time needed to identify what is causing stress and taking action, in most cases mental problems are caused by stress and most of our life is full of stressful situations.

We´re living in a very fast paced world where you have too many responsibilities and not enough time, too much pressure and not enough support from school, your job, traffic, neighbors; there´s too much stress and it we don´t take the time we need to manage it so our body starts to work overtime and use more energy to deal with it.

A lot of us work in a job and a place we don´t like with people we don´t feel comfortable and in school you may have problems with some teachers or people who like to make fun of you and never stop bullying you. If you are late for school or your job you won´t receiver your pay for that day, there are too many things to be done and projects keep coming in and time is just not enough.

Most of our day is full of stressful situations and stress has become part of normal day, we´ve learnt to live with it and think that´s the way to live. This is not true, we´re not suppose to live this way, this stressful life is what´s causing illnesses and diseases a lot of health and mental problems are linked to stress so this lifestyle is making us sick.

Of course if we spend most of our time doing something we don´t like just to receive a paycheck that is not enough to pay bills and in a place where most coworkers spend most time criticizing and blaming and the boss don´t care about the team we will live with chronic stress. To make things worse, nowadays we´re more interested on what others say and think of us, we want to please everyone, we live paying attention to the outside instead of the inside.

We´re also surrounded with negativity, the news talk about negative stuff and when we talk with our coworker, friends at school or neighbor we talk about that negative information we watched or read before. Most people spend a lot of their time blaming, complaining and criticizing about everything that happens to them and how bad or terrible the world is and life in general. This has a negative impact on your health also.

If you feel related to some of the points I made you may be thinking that your life is full of stress and negativity and since you need the job to pay bills there´s not much to do. Since we grow old we´re educated and thought to follow some rules, go to school, get a degree, find a 9 to 5 job and even when this system works for some people it may not work for everyone. When we´re kids we see older people stressed out thanks to their jobs and bills so when we get older we think that this is how things are supposed to be. Not everything is as bad as it seems, one of the most important things you can do is learn to manage stress and have some time for yourself every day, spend that time for yourself to meditate and exercise, this are great tools to help you lower stress.

We´re meant to live a life of purpose and fulfillment, the only way to live a happier life without stress is to do something you love, to work in a place you love and with people that cares for you, that feeling of belonging and acceptance is key. Imagine waking up every morning excited about the day to come, for everything you need to do and going to bed knowing that you had a great day and there´s still a lot more awesome things to do.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



How stress is making us sick

11 How stress is making us sick

One of the reasons why we´re dealing with many different health and mental problems nowadays is stress.

In the last posts we´ve seen that stress can be good but most of us live with chronic stress and this one is unhealthy and it affects negatively your physical and mental health in some cases it can be very damaging.

A very simple explanation about how stress make you sick is this, stress is a survival mechanism, it´s the “fight-or-flight” response to keep us alive when we are in danger. When we are in a stressful situation our body releases cortisol which is the hormone that turns on the “fight-or-flight” response and with this it comes a series of reactions like heart rate goes up, your muscles get tense but while this reactions of cortisol are on, other functions of your body are turn off, so your body can´t protect you from diseases. So if we spend most of our time with stress, this means that cortisol is high along with all the reactions and some functions in your body are off most of the time and it can´t protect us from diseases so we get sick.

Stress has become part of our days for most of us and we´ve  learnt to live with it without realizing all the damage it is causing on all aspects of life, from health to relationships. From school, job, traffic, unhealthy diets, lack of sleep, a lot of negativity all this accumulate over and over every single day causing chronic stress and it affects the body and the brain.

Trying to satisfy and please everyone also increase stress, doing something you hate and dealing with negative people and many other stuff we live every single day are also causing a lot of damage to our body and brain.

Many people talk about mental health but I don´t see most of them doing something to reduce the problem, our environment has a lot to do with the way we feel and how we process and react to circumstances and each of us have also a lot to do with the way we feel and react to what happen to us.

High levels of stress for long periods of time weaken your body, all systems of your body are not able to function properly and its ability to defend you from diseases lowers so it´s easier to get sick. Some of the symptoms you can notice in a short period of time are constant headaches, your weight fluctuates, you have skin problems, your hair falls, inflammation, you feel tired almost all the time, it´s impossible to focus and finish any activity. Things can get worse and cause more problems like obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, suicide.

It also has a negative impact on your hormones making it harder for you to have good quality sleep and making you eat more specially unhealthy foods. High levels of stress increase cortisol which can lead to craving sweets and refined carbohydrates, this is a reason why it´s harder to avoid junk and processed food, this may be why if you are following a weight loss program you can´t stick to it so finding ways to manage stress will be very helpful.

Cortisol also cause insulin resistance which means that your body is not able to utilize carbohydrates properly so your body stores them as fat instead of using them for energy. Being insulin resistance makes it harder for you to lose weight and stay lean.

For the last years we´re hearing a lot more about mental health and all the negative aspects about depression, anxiety and other problems. Stress is also highly related to all this issues, it triggers certain chemicals in the brain and create imbalance between regions. There are studies that show that stress can kill brain cells.

Stress can also affect your mood getting you in a negative state of mind and making everything seems worst, you tend to over think, and make your worries and fears bigger because it triggers an area called the amygdala which is your brains fear center. It also makes you more emotional because your brain associate events with memories. Stress lower serotonin which is the “feel happy” neurotransmitter and dopamine which is the one for pleasure-reward so you feel sad, you take your phone and send a bunch of whats to some friends and upload a picture to your social media to get some likes and get this two neurotransmitters up to “feel good” for a short period of time.

When you are stressed it´s harder to have enough good quality sleep which causes a lot of problems on your day to day and all this continues an unhealthy cycle which can be very tough to get out off.

For me it´s clear that our lifestyles are causing a lot of health and mental problems so it´s crucial to start developing good habits that help us live better.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



How sleep and stress are related

01 sleep and stress

There are nights when I can´t manage to fall asleep, my mind just keep wandering on everything that worries me and everything I need to do the next day and thinking about the worst case scenarios of a certain event. When I could fall asleep I suddenly wake up and when I watch the clock just 2 or 3 hours had passed, it´s clear that all the stress of the day won´t let me fall asleep.

All 5 elements of fitness (nutrition, training, mindset, sleep and stress) work together to help you live a better life. The relationship between sleep and stress need to be consider if you want to make changes to your life.

You may be one of the millions of people around the world that are not having good quality sleep and the cause of it is stress. You may be sleeping around 7 or 8 hours but when you wake up you feel tired or you´re not having enough sleep; both of this are a big problem.

Sleep disorders are increasing and in many cases the root cause is chronic stress. The reason why is because our body responds to stress by shutting down unnecessary systems and keeping you in an alert mode so if you are constantly stressed your body stays in this alert mode so you are not supposed to sleep when the night comes you may fall asleep for short periods of time and you are constantly waking up or your body is not resting, cortisol is high, adrenaline is high your muscles are tense and in case you´ve forgotten why you are stressed your mind doesn´t stop, you keep thinking about the problems at work, relationships, finances.

We all have to deal or cope with stressful situations every single day, things like getting stuck in traffic, financial problems, bad relationships with coworkers or your boss, maybe problems in school with teachers or classmates make fun of you and you´re bullied all this scenarios we live every day create chronic stress which makes it hard for us to relax during night which lead to poor quality sleep.

Our everyday problems are the ones that keep us awake at night, all this stress create negative thoughts and our mind love to think of the worst things that could happen and it creates tension in the body plus the high levels of cortisol and insulin remains high it´s impossible for you to let it all go and give your body the rest it deserves.

How many times have you gone to bed ready to get some sleep and your mind start wandering in all the problems and though situations you had? You start worrying and get anxious for all the stress of your day you won´t have good quality sleep and your body won´t be able to recover and restore all systems and hormones. The problem is that lack of sleep or poor quality sleep creates an imbalance in hormones like leptin and ghrelin and some neurotransmitters of your brain which creates more stress.

Chronic stress won´t let you have good quality of sleep and lack of good quality sleep creates more stress. If you have problems at your job, at home, financially or any other you may not be sleeping well, if you don´t have good quality sleep you’d find it hard to make the right decisions and you won´t be able to deal with though situations in the best way possible which creates even more stress. This cycle will continue and it get worse. Chronic stress is linked to insomnia and both of this have been linked to the increase of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

All of us can suffer nights of bad sleep from time to time and we´ll all experience the short term consequences that day but when it becomes consistent

To have a good quality sleep your body and mind needs to be calmed and relaxed otherwise the high levels of stress will keep your body in arousal. When you are calmed and relax your body can get into deep sleep going through all phases without waking up in the middle of the night.

If you want to have good quality sleep you need to know how to lower stress, to get calm and relaxed this is why some doctors give patients drugs or medicine that help them relax before giving them other medications and in most cases that´s enough.

The way to lower stress is to turn off your mind, your mind always create negative scenarios to your problems and it shows you the worst think that could happen you need to block all this stuff from your mind and the way to do it is using a tool called meditation.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



Why fitness matters


I´m trying to remember the day I decided to lose weight and get in shape, I was really excited but a couple of days after I started a program I didn´t feel like working out and for some reason I couldn´t control my cravings for sweets, junk and all unhealthy food. After many years being lazy and eating all kind of junk it was hard mentally to make different choices and in many cases I ended up eating the whole bag of chips, cookies or chocolate and skipping workouts.

I think this is something everyone who wants to get in shape deals with and it´s normal, the way you get through that hard time is what makes all the difference. Being mentally strong to break the pattern of old unhealthy habits and develop new ones is what´s all about. Once I found out what the truth was and I created a program based on that true information I convinced myself that my mind was playing tricks with me, it wanted me to fail but I won´t let it, from that point on everything changed.

Getting in shape and sustain it is about lifestyle, you need to develop healthy habits that make it easy for you to achieve any fitness goal in an effortless way.

As in everything in life taking the first step and getting momentum is the hardest step, it is not just one step, in fitness you may take that first step by eating healthy and working out but in this first days you realize how physically, mentally and emotionally though this is so you give up.

You need to take that first step and continue, keep doing it until you get momentum, once you got that momentum going then don´t stop. Most of us begin our fitness journey to get in shape and lose weight but this is only the beginning and the reason to get involved in fitness but the goal must be to make it part of your life.

If you are following the right program you´ll get results every week and those results keep you motivated, once you get to your desired goal you have several options, you may want to sustain those results, staying in shape is not that hard once you develop the right habits, you may want to go one step further and get leaner or you may want to gain some muscle mass.

Depending on what you decide to do not next is how you´ll need to adjust your new healthy habits, specially your nutrition and training to fit that new goal and since it´s now part of your life it´s easier to follow through.

Most of us wait for New Year’s Resolution to beginning our fitness journey, I think there´s something about New Years that make us want to start the right way but you we can start this journey any day. Actually there´s no reason to wait until New Year, it´s February 2019 but it can be April, July or any other month and you can set your goal for Christmas, Instead of waiting for New Year start today and set your target for Christmas or Thanksgiving, your goal is to be in the best shape of your life for Thanksgiving.

Keep something in mind, the first weeks it´s going to be difficult, you´re going to be making different decisions and you´re mind will try to take you back by bringing all kind of negative thoughts and excuses, when this happen don´t contemplate those thoughts just get up and do what you need to do. The only way to develop new habits is by doing them over and over and over again so don´t think twice, if you need to get up earlier to work out don´t let your mind take control of you, instead take control of your mind by getting up and exercising.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.