Stress and Better Choices

OMGs DFW Food - Better Choices Sunset

Stress is real, people. And, the truth is last week was a stress-filled week.

I didn’t post this weekend because I was out of town, and when I started to pull together my thoughts about posting, the only thing I could think of saying was that my better choices journey sucked this week, and I wanted to leave it in the rear view mirror.

I didn’t go completely off the radar, but I certainly made some allowances I haven’t made in awhile.

Sure, I can justify the types of better choices I made (best I could do with what I had, etc.), or I can just step up and say that I basically survived off black coffee, Baked Cheetos, sandwiches, and fast food salads last week (mostly Baked Cheetos).

One night, we even ordered ramen, and it wasn’t that I ate ramen because #eatwhatyoulove, right? It was that I didn’t even consider another option, a better choices ramen option. I went full chasu without even thinking twice. Full chasu, y’all.

So, after dinner, Bear and I had a discussion about how we had handled the week and how we had treated our bodies differently based on the external stresses of the week. (This is just another reason why I love Bear so much – he totally gets it.)

We went to sleep having pinky promised to remember that making better choices is exactly what it says, a choice. It’s an action one must choose every single day, whether or not the stress monster comes knocking on your door. It’s the active piece of every moment of the day, like choosing to brush your teeth or deciding to drive in the right lane. Those are choices.

Truly delighting in your meals but ensuring your body doesn’t pay the price in the long-run is a choice. It’s a better choice than just eating blindly for the sport of eating – something I’m all too familiar with and don’t miss all that much.

Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, stress is real and it can cause some serious cray-cray in your body. Stress may not feel like stress on the surface, but your body will start asking you to do out of the ordinary things (like buy extra Baked Cheetos) when you can usually bypass the Cheeto altogether and do so very easily. That’s how it gets you. You “feel fine” but are full of cortisol that is screaming, “Feed me, Seymour!”

I used to be the worse at “I can do it – no problem” because I didn’t feel stressed at all. I still don’t! I never feel overwhelmed or like I’m tightening up or can’t breathe or anything you read regarding physical symptoms of stress. I’m perfectly fine… especially after having calmed the cortisol monster with pork belly ramen and noodles. I mean, who wouldn’t be, right???

Thankfully, our pinky promise has held, and I’m feeling so much better after a couple of days of actual better choices. Cinnamon tea in the mornings with a good breakfast – chicken sausage, kale, and white bean soup for dinner last night – it’s amazing how your body realigns with its better self when you treat it well.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience last week – hope my stress and better choices observations help you if the cortisol monster ever sneaks up on you:

  • Stress doesn’t always show up as an outward physical symptom. You may not even “feel” like anything is wrong, but if you’re aware, you’ll notice the little behavior changes.
    • I skipped breakfast and started depending on coffee for my jump start – no bueno.
    • My lunches went from homemade to fast food for a week, and I didn’t question it.
  • If you’re not actively making better choices, you can blindly justify a poor decision. It’s that whole “reaching into the M&M jar without thinking” habit.
    • I didn’t stop at Baked Cheeto #34 because I didn’t bother counting. I’ve been counting happily… every single Baked Cheeto that I consume… a la The Count on Sesame Street but with orange fingers. It’s the enjoyment of every bite! But, when I was stressed? No counting, just crunching. A lot of crunching.
  • Once you feed the stress monster garbage, it craves more garbage. When you feed it FOOD, it shuts the hell up.
    • I had a week of not-so-healthy sandwiches, and what balances out not-so-healthy sandwiches when you’re trying to justify your crappy eating adventures??? Yep, you guessed it… Baked Cheetos! A plethora of Baked Cheetos! However, after recognizing what was happening and getting back on track with my tea and eating actual cooked meals, the desire to shove copious amounts of orange-powdered sticks of happiness in my pie hole just went away entirely. I swear. It was that simple. Note: I love me some Baked Cheetos – in moderation. Ain’t nothing wrong with them – just in moderation.
  • Doing things you love is the great enemy of the cortisol monster.
    • When we traveled back, we stopped at a store (for sandwiches and Baked Cheetos – I know, I know), and a boy and his dog were waiting outside the store. I absolutely love animals, and I spent about 15-20 minutes just loving on that puppy and talking about animals with that kid while we waited for our peeps to buy food. I felt so good after having that time with the dog, and when we got home, I loved on our furry panthers and felt even better. Pets are some of the best stress relievers. It was like happiness washing over the stresses of the week.
    • Most helpful of all was that I started to cook again. I had gone a full week without cooking one meal – I know! Horrible!!!! So, I made roasted garlic and cooked an amazing spinach chicken sausage, kale, and white bean soup under 350 calories. I’ve never felt better. I was doing what I love, and it placed me in my own personal zen moment. Working with my favorite knives and cooking meals that fill my home with fantastic aromas makes me happy. So, that’s what I did – I executed things that I love most, and the stress monster melted away.
    • Today, I’ll be having a dance party in the garage again, and you better believe exercise (however it comes to you) is a phenomenal stress reliever, as well.

So, I hope sharing my week of stress and better choices helps you in some way. Changing your lifestyle and making better choices on the regular can be tough if you’re not truly invested in loving yourself and being around for the long haul. When you’ve gotten to that point, you’ll still make mistakes, just like I did, but the important thing is that you recognize your behaviors and act immediately to get back on course. I used to throw away a day because I blew breakfast or grabbed that handful of M&Ms as I walked by a desk, but now I realize that making better choices is your own personal reset button that goes wherever you go. You have a choice. Make it a better one.

Can’t wait to talk to you about what I’m cooking up this week! See you this weekend!

LET’S KEEP IT REAL: First and foremost, I do everything for the love of food. Most of what I write about is because I love it! If I don’t love it, I tell you about that, too. From time to time, I may receive monetary or product compensation for mentioning products, offering recommendations, providing endorsements, or including links to products or services when I blog. While that may be the case for some posts, it is not the case for all. When it’s sponsored, you’ll see #sponsored when I post. When I’m just sharing the love, I won’t use that particular tag or hashtag. What you need to know is that I only give shout outs when I actually use the product or love it so much it deserves a shout out, sponsored or not.

Author: Olivia M. Gonzalez

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