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21 Healthy Dinner Recipes to Lose Weight and Gain Muscle Strength

21 Healthy Dinner Recipes to Lose Weight and Gain Muscle Strength

Dietary habit is just one, albeit very important, pillar of losing weight and building muscle. Some may argue it’s actually less important than consistent quality sleep as the actual building and repair of muscle is primarily done during the deep sleep (R.E.M) rapid eye movement state.

You may be hitting the gym hard, and eating a balanced diet, but considering the importance of a 7-8hour minimum sleep night will greatly improve your weight loss goals and ability to gain muscle strength.

In this article, we’ll be simplifying the process of preparing a meal by examining ‘meal-prep’ days in conjunction with the ability to throw something together on the fly..

Meaning, you’re scrambling for something to make, and considering hitting one of those fast food chains.

Let’s talk about avoiding that with preparation, and creativity!

What you need to know about eating healthy to lose weight

It’s fair to say many people in our information driven culture are familiar with macro-nutrients such as protein, carbs and fats. In fact there’s several very popular movements in regards to no-sugar, no or low-carb, and the Ketogenic (“Keto”) diet which is rising in popularity.

It’s fair to say with all of this information, one can get quite confused and wonder what the hell to make for dinner? It has been an evolution for me as well over the past 6 years where my diet has gone from strict Intermittent Fasting (daily) with very high protein consumption and little regard for carbs/sugar, to now a more Keto-adaptive diet.

Basically I fast every other day for at least 16 hours, and sometimes up to 18 hours, which means remaining in a state of state of ketosis – metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply is derived from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides energy (from food consumed).

This approach yields loads of muscle building benefits which we won’t be discussing on this article, but I encourage intermittent fasting with the following dinner recipes for muscle strength.

What it takes to lose weight

You need to be consistent. It may sound cliche, but it’s 100% true.

Your body doesn’t adapt well to inconsistencies in terms of its ability to lose weight, and gain muscle strength.

To truly be effective in your efforts, consistency in diet is preparation of meals is key. When you have your meals already planned, either the day of, day before, or week before, you’re setting up for success.

What I have found to be the most effective is three approaches to meal preparation:

1. Preparing large quantities of protein 5 days in advance

Be it meat, or ensuring I have the adequate peas, beans, or vegetables on hand. This approach requires choosing a ‘meal prep day’ and setting aside 1-2 hours to prepare meals for the proceeding 5 days.

My wife and I often prepare meals on Sundays, as it leaves us Mon-Friday worry-free of what we will be eating.

2. Preparing smaller quantities of protein 3 days in advance

Same rule applies, but I have also found this approach to be convenient.[1]

Why prepare protein in advance? Because its a staple of your daily nutrient requirement. Muscle growth and development is predicated on several factors including the absorption of Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) – an amino acid with aliphatic side-chains with a branch (a central carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms).

The body needs proteins to survive and thrive, and of course to lose weight along with build muscle – let’s make sure it’s ready for ya!

I sense you’re picking up a trend here of meal preparation.. and you’re correct! How do you think bodybuilders, celebrities/movie stars, and all these fitness people stay in shape?

One of the key factors is consistency – in diet, and activity levels. You consistently move your body, eat right, and you’ll lose weight – simple as that!

3. Hydration is also a key factor

I need not go into detail on this as you can check out my other article on the importance of water and weight loss:

How Much Water Should I Drink to Lose Weight? Find the Answer Here

Buy your fruits and vegetables 2 days in advance, or 3 if the particular type of ingredient permits (without going bad).

Bonus tip

Now here’s a true life hack – You don’t need to spend extra on buying pre-prepared (chopped) vegetables, salads, and more.. Download a coupon app such as Flipp , or start looking at the local grocery store flyers and when you see those ingredients go on sale

Buy them 2-3 days in advance, and save yourself money AND time in preparing your carbohydrates and proteins.

Pro tip #2, you can also push your grocery shopping times to when the local grocery store has dropped their perishable product pricing typically by 20-60%. Checkout this grocery haul youtube video I created demonstrating this exact approach to buying groceries:

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How muscle and strength is gained

Working out and exercise is clearly going to yield muscle and strength gains, however back to my point of consistency – this will be a huge factor.

You should be moving your body at least 3 days of the week intensely, meaning increasing your heart rate and building up a sweat, and moving with low-intensity for the remaining 4 days.

Now you’re probably thinking wait, 3 + 4 = 7.. common now, I need to exercise 7 days a week? Well, yes and no.

Yes you do need to have low impact cardio movement such as walking at a brisk pace, or hiking/trekking, or even basic body weight squats or Hindu squats.

When you move your body, you are activating all sorts of neurotransmitters in the brain, and chemicals dispersed throughout the body as well.

With even a couple 10-15min brisk pace walk each ‘off-day’ from training (20-30min of total walking each day), you will notice significant improvements in circulation, breathing, weight loss, muscle development, and overall happiness and well being.

Your brain functions better when you move! When your brain functions better, you make better decisions, and allocate energetic resources properly.

Healthy recipes for weight loss and muscle strength

Now let’s get into the 17 delicious recipes for weight loss, building muscle and healthy living! Keep in mind you may want to skip breakfast on those intermittent fasting days – or just push that breakfast eating time according to your eating window.

Breakfasts

1. The Breakfast Bowl

I’ve had some back and forth social media engagements with a fairly popular dietitian for the UFC – Mike Dolce. He turned me on to this concept back in 2013 through his podcast.

I LOVE this idea because it doesn’t require much preparation at all, and you can throw it together any time of the day – not just breakfast! It provides you with all source of macro nutrients in one bowl.

Visit your local bulk foods store, or grocery store using your fancy new coupon app, and pickup some of these ingredients! Here’s what you need:

Base

  • Plain Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese

Protein/Fats/Carbs

  • Nuts; whether sliced almonds, chopped cashews, or hazel nuts should you feel so inclined

Hint of sugar 

  • Fruit; whether blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, mango, or dates – you can add a touch of deliciousness to this dish quite easily

Here’s an example breakfast bowl I showcased in my Instagram:[2]

    And here’s breakfast bowl on the go example:[3]

      2. The Hearty Bowl

      This is really simple and will fill you up for the day while covering your bases in terms of nutrients and energy source

      Base

      • Oatmeal

      Protein/Fats/Carbs

      • Nuts; very similar to the Breakfast Bowl, you can add more nutrients as needed

      Hint of sugar

      • Pinch of Raw Honey; not just delicious, but also packs a whopping amount of immune system boosting benefits.
      • Make sure you are using Organic Raw honey for this. Otherwise you can use Organic Cain Sugar for that added kick.
      • I also like to use a staple – Bananas and/or Strawberries.

      3. The Heavy Hitter

      If you’re like me on the non fasting days, you’ll want to really pack in some macro nutrients and energy for the day.

      I also consider this as catching up from previous days of fasting – caloric intake to me isn’t just in a 24 hour period, but can span 48-72 hours, and this is actually a non-conventional way of approaching ‘calories in, calories out’.

      This breakfast also serves as a lunch and even snack or dinner because you’ll want to make it in bulk.

      Base (protein)

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      • Scrambled Eggs – prepare with 10-12 eggs

      Fats/Carbs

      • Hashbrowns; this is the heavy part where I pack in the carbs and it’s great for recovery

      Fats/Cholesterol (optional)

      • Chopped Bacon or Ham

      There’s many misconceptions about cholesterol, however eating this type of food in conjunction with regular exercise can be beneficial. The general understanding is that there are two types of cholesterol carried by different types of lipoproteins.

      Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are sometimes viewed as “bad” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries, causing heart disease if you over consume and are inactive.

      High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are referred to as “good” cholesterol.

      In my case personally I load up on The Heavy Hitter breakfast around my deadlifting or squat, or any heavy lifting days for a number of reasons.

      4. Steak and Eggs

      Just as it says.

      Base (protein)

      • T-Bone Steak preferred, but you can use a PrimeRib or Top Sirlion
      • 2-3 Over Easy (Sunny Side up) fried Eggs – don’t overcook them!

      Fats/Carbs

      • Much like the Heavy Hitter, I’d typically have a side of Hashbrown or in some cases no side carbs at all!

      The purpose of this dish is to simply have a large 8-18oz steak and place your beautiful fried eggs over top.. then with each cut into the steak you’re letting the egg yolk poor out onto the steak.

      I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! Make sure you cook the Steak medium to Medium rare for the tastiest result.

      Lunch

      The afternoon and evening should be ready to go in terms of your meal prepping. Otherwise if you’re scrambling to come up with something we’ll address that below.

      5. Mixed Nut Salad

      This one is pretty straight forward, but it will give you all the macro nutrient and micro nutrient density required for maintaining energy levels throughout the afternoon.

      Base (protein)

      • Spinach
      • Lettuce or Arugula

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Here’s where you’ll pack on the toppings! Personally I like to mix nuts, seed, and grain.
      • Example of this would be Pistachios, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds.

      This combination will yield high return in terms of your overall health and longevity.

      Sometimes I throw in Dried Cranberries or Dates for a bit of sweetness.

      For dressing I’m not too picky, but I certainly don’t overdo it – a light splash to add more flavor is more than enough.

      6. Tuna Wrap

      So simple, yet so delicious!!

      Base (protein)

      • Tuna
      • Spinach
      • Lettuce or Romaine

      Fats/Carbs

      • You’ll want to tailor this Tortilla wrap to your own desire. Personally I like Avocado, Cucumbers, Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes
      • Pinch of Olive Oil

      This wrap is delicious and you can also substitute standard mayo with avocado mayo as a great lower-carb alternative. This wrap is packed with omega-3-rich tuna.

      7. Spinach Hummus

      This is derived from the chickpea or chick pea – a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It’s a high protein, high fibre source of energy that’s easy to digest and great for lunch!

      Base (protein)

      • Hummus

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Personally I enjoy baby Spinach as my leafy green on this dish, along side Red Peppers, Green Peppers, Pinch of Parsley
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
      • Pinch of black pepper
      • Consider adding some hemp seeds for extra protein and fibre

      8. Lentil and Carrot Soup

      This is a hearty and budget friendly Vegetarian dish.

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      Base (protein)

      • Lentils

      Fats/Carbs

      • Start with 1 sliced white onion
      • 2 tsp olive oil
      • 2 scrubbed & diced carrots
      • about 80-90g red lentils, pinch of chopped parsley
      • 1 crumbled vegetable stock cube.

      Soup is one of those dishes you can throw everything into, but need to taste as you go to ensure it’s delicious along the way!

      9. Tuna & Rice Salad

      A neat take on Tuna Salad!

      Base (protein)

      • Spring Water Tuna
      • Brown or White Rice

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Chopped Tomatoes
      • Red Peppers
      • Finely Sliced Onions
      • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      • Chopped Stone Green Olives

      Since this is a salad bowl you can get creative with toppings and always change them around if you get bored.

      10. Turkey Cranberry Sandwich

      One of my absolute favorites due to its flavor contrast savory and sweet.

      Base (protein) 

      • Turkey

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Throw in Mixed Greens, Mature White Cheddar Sliced or Swiss Cheese (my fav)
      • Pinch of Cranberry Sauce and even consider a few dried cranberries to really give it a sweet kick.
      • Next layer a bit of butter or mayo, but don’t overdo it!
      • The bun is entirely up to you, however I really love 9-grain honey oat, or italian herb and cheese, or anything that’s not plain jane white bread.

      This one boats simple ingredients that pack a delicious punch!

      11. Couscous Salad

      Doesn’t feel like a salad, but it is! Keep it vegetarian or add chicken.

      Base (protein)

      • Couscous or Quinua

      Fats/Carbs

      • Chopped Cucumber
      • Chickpeas
      • Mixed Vegetables
      • Feta Cheese.

      For the couscous:

      • use 1 cup whole wheat or plain couscous, and 1/4 teaspoon salt – don’t overdo the salt because that Feta cheese will be salty enough!

      *Tip*

      Consider adding chopped chicken to this dish for more protein!

      12. Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich

      Yum! Goat Cheese!

      Base (protein)

      • Goat Cheese
      • Veggies

      Fats/Carbs

      • Multi-Grain bread preferred, or a Panini is a delicious option!
      • Thinly sliced Eggplan
      • Sliced Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
      • Thin cut Red Onion
      • Thin cut Zucchini
      • 1 small chopped Garlic clove
      • Mixed Greens
      • 1 tbsp extra Virgin Olive Oil.
      • Add a thin layer of butter to the bread for extra flavor kick.

      Dinner

      13. Pesto Pasta

      Hearty and delicious!

      Base (protein)

      • Pesto Pasta

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Chopped Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes
      • 1/2 cup chopped onion
      • 2 tablespoons pesto
      • Your preferred pasta
      • Pinch of salt and ground pepper
      • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
      • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

      14. Stuffed Chicken

      Chicken can get dry, so we stuff it!

      Base (protein)

      • Chicken

      Fats/Carbs

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      •  Stuff chicken with Feta Cheese, and Asparagus, Red Peppers, and a pinch of ground pepper

      You’ll need to wrap the chicken breast with string so it holds together. Either Barbecue this one, or Pan fry, but keep a close eye on it to avoid overcooking and drying it out!

      15. Steak Dinner

      Simple but super effective!

      Base (protein)

      • RibEye Steak, T-Bone Steak, Top Sirloin, Prime Rib or many other options

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Side dishes as roasted Potatoes, Garden or Ceasar Salad, or some Brown Rice

      The steak is the star of the show, and where you’re getting a whopping amount of protein and amino acids, that will sustain you quite well.

      I personally like to season my steaks at least 24-48hours in advance to allow them to soak-in all of the delicious seasoning.

      Consider using Ground black pepper, sea salt, and even a hit of Chili flakes for a kick.

      Make sure you add a bit of Extra Virgin Olive oil if planning to leave it to marinate over 24hrs – that will help soak in all the deliciousness.

      16. Salmon Dinner

      One of the best superfoods around!

      Base (protein)

      • Fresh Atlantic Salmon (not frozen!)

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Keep your side simple and light, such as Garden or Caesar Salad, or Quinoa Salad (as we discussed above).
      • The salmon itself requires little effort in terms of seasoning – a pinch of Sea Salt, Pepper, and Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice, and you’re good to go!

      Much like the steak dinner, you don’t want the side dishes to outshine the Salmon.

      Snack

      17. Chicken Nachos

      Very quick but tasty!

      Base (protein)

      • Chicken

      Fats/Carbs 

      • Nacho chips
      • Mexican Salsa (store bought) with Peppers and Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Parmesan Cheese

      This is something I throw together in the evenings when hungry because often there’s chicken prepared from earlier meals, and throwing it on top of nachos is extremely quick and easy!

      Cook to reach your weight loss goals!

      Meal preparation is your friend! Scrambling to prepare food last minute is not fun, and personally I don’t do it.

      At minimum, I will prepare meals one day in advance to avoid the risk of not reaching my caloric or macro nutrient requirements.

      Also don’t leave yourself with an empty fridge and being forced to consider ordering some fast food which will most likely be filled with gluten, enriched wheat flower, and other ingredients which may taste great in the moment, but will have you paying for it later with weight gain, inflammation, and much more.

      I don’t get overly complex when preparing meals because I’m not that ‘into’ cooking. I do it to ready my meals and reach my goals, but I don’t enjoy cooking as a hobby.

      If you enjoy cooking, then that’s great! You can get really creative with your dishes and have fun while doing it.

      In either case I’m sure if you try some of these recipes you’ll not only start experimenting yourself with ingredients, but you’ll start seeing some serious gains in terms of weight loss, or gaining muscle strength.

      Good luck and bon appetit!

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

      [1] Adam Evans: Meal Plan
      [2] Adam Evan: Breakfast Bowl
      [3] Adam Evan: Breakfast Bowl On the Go

      More by this author

      Adam Evans

      BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

      I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

      1. The Inner Critic

      This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

      • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

      The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

      Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

      2. The Worrier

      This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

      The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

      3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

      This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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      This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

      The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

      4. The Sleep Depriver

      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

      The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

      How can you control these squatters?

      How to Master Your Mind

      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

      This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

      For the Inner Critic

      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

      You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

      • They rile up the Worrier.
      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
      • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
      • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
      • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

      Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

      For the Worrier

      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
      • Muscles tense

      Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

      Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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      For example:

      If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

      For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

      • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
      • Muscles tension

      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

      Breathe in through your nose:

      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
      • Focus on your belly rising.

      Breathe out through your nose:

      • Feel your lungs emptying.
      • Focus on your belly falling.
      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

      Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

      For the Sleep Depriver

      (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
      2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

      From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
      • Shut down your thinking.
      • Calm your feelings.
      • Simply focus on the present moment. 

      The Bottom Line

      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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