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15 Things People Who Go To Therapy Never Told You

15 Things People Who Go To Therapy Never Told You

Society seems to be biased about mental health and those that go to therapy. Even Tony Soprano saw a therapist during most of the popular show The Sopranos, but he definitely kept that fact from family and friends for fear of being judged or ridiculed. There seems to be quite a few generalizations about people who go to therapy. Some might think we are crazy, or that we all need medication. We take a look at all the positive things about therapy and how it really can change our lives for the better. Here are 15 things people who go to therapy never told you. The basis of this list is to break the societal stigma that somehow there is something wrong with people who go to therapy.

1. We are less stressed.

Sometimes it is hard to keep everything that might be going wrong in our lives bottled up. The more it stays inside our head and heart, the harder it is to relax. After talking to a therapist, life seems less heavy and after sharing something important with another person while receiving a few useful tips and pointers, we are able to improve the way we currently choose to live our lives. It is definitely helpful when talking to someone regularly about any issues in our lives.

2. We are learning new tools to combat future issues.

Boundaries. Communication Tools. Staying out of codependent patterns. Most of these points might sound like “therapy talk”, but setting boundaries with others that are hurting our emotional health are necessary to be able to protect ourselves from further harm. Most of these ideas and tools are not widely taught outside of therapy or recovery circles, but they are common conversations when talking to a therapist.

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3. We are not doing it alone.

Isolation can be detrimental. If we go into our head and spend days there ruminating about negative thoughts, feelings or problems it usually makes the problem feel bigger. Many times isolation just makes the already bad situation worse. The fact that seeing a therapist means that we are not going through life alone, it definitely helps.  Using a professional to help with our mental health issues, we have made that first vulnerable step to go to therapy and share parts of our lives with someone else.  There is healing even in taking that first step to seek out and set up an appointment with our therapist.

4. We are actually utilising someone unbiased in our lives.

Sometimes taking our problems and issues to a best friend or family member can damage the relationship. The other negative of sharing our issues with others that know us pretty well could end up hurting more than helping our situation. The friend or family member might tell us what we want to hear, not necessarily what we need to hear. It is helpful to have someone that has no previous bias about who we are or how we have lived our lives. The more our therapist gets to know us, they can offer sound advice and sometimes point out when we might be playing the victim or not fully owning up to our own responsibility in any given situation. It is good to have someone that will help us discern the truth in our situation and not our own perceived reality.

5. We are getting out of denial.

Denial is a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad or painful is true or real. In some situations, it is a defence mechanism to shield us from severe abuse or harm. It works for a while, but it has no long term benefit in our lives and it eventually will surface sooner or later. Seeing a therapist helps us sift through our past hurts and negative events that might be affecting our current lives. The more time spent talking to a therapist, the easier it is to realise when and where we might have been using denial to avoid certain feelings. The most important thing is that once we are aware of our own denial, we can finally begin to change.

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6. We are changing the way we do things, for the better.

Going to therapy helps improve communication with others, helps with how we choose to react in certain situations and figuring out what we truly are responsible for in our own lives. The longer we are in therapy, the more we figure out healthy ways to react to negative or complicated situations.  A licensed professional can give us sound and important suggestions on how we can improve the way we choose to live our lives.

7. We are taking care of our mental health.

When we a have a cold, we go to the doctor. When we need help with our fitness goals, we hire a personal trainer. When we need help with our finances, we go to a financial advisor. Why would it be any different when we need help sorting out our thoughts or problems in our lives? Seeing a therapist helps us take care of our mental health so that we can live our lives in a more positive and balanced way.

8. We are not afraid to be authentic.

We get out of therapy what we put into it. Being authentic and truthful as best as we can with our therapist only benefits how we can improve our current situation. A therapist is a safe person to share past and current experiences with, and the more we trust our therapist, the more authentic and real we become with family and friends. The truth is that no one is perfect, it is not possible to be perfect. The more forthcoming we can be with others about our own issues or struggles, the more trustworthy we become.

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9. We are letting go of our past hurts.

Most people believe the only thing talked about in therapy sessions is our past. The past is important because many of our belief systems were formed while growing up. When talking to a therapist, the past is only the main topic for a certain amount of time. Once it is realised that some of our bad habits are directly related to our negative past experiences, that awareness alone allows for better reactions and choices to be made with future issues or struggles.

10. We know that it’s not a shame to go to therapy.

After talking to a therapist for a while and getting some answers and healing in certain areas of our lives, we feel good about our decision and start talking to family and friends about the successes we have had from going to therapy. This doesn’t mean we are talking about the person we share that information with during our sessions. We also don’t expect the person we tell to feel sorry for us because we are in therapy. We are taking care of our mental health and all we want from friends and family that we share the fact that we go to therapy with, is love and support.

11. We go for as long as we need to.

Going to therapy does not mean we go forever. Everyone is different and many issues can be worked through in a matter of months, or we occasionally can check in every 6 months after working through the majority of what we came to work on to begin with. We do form a bond with our therapist so it is hard to just stop going altogether because we respect and form a safe and trusting relationship with our therapist.

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12. We are still in control of our own thoughts and decisions.

When we go see a therapist, we are not told what to do. We are actually asked many questions in return and most of the time we are nudged in the direction we need to go. Many answers we are looking for, we find out after sharing important bits of information and getting back suggestions that help us figure out the answers. We are not controlled by our therapists, they are just there to help us reach the goals we wanted to reach when we first started.

13. We are more accepting of ourselves and others.

Once we realise a few of our faults and habits that have currently held us back, we realise that we accept the good and bad of who we are and we can enjoy our lives and others around us even more. Negative self talk and low self worth can be detrimental to our happiness. The sooner we fully accept the good and the bad within ourselves and others instead of holding others to certain expectations, the sooner we can move forward and live our lives without anything holding us back.

14. We are open to trying new things.

We learn new things in therapy. We learn to journal our thoughts, to ask ourselves hard questions so we can find out the very important answers. We sometimes do ‘homework’ assignments and we are sometimes asked to do things a little differently and report back on how our new attitude or reaction worked out for us. If we struggle with anger or resentment toward certain people, we are asked to consider exploring the possibility of forgiveness. We agree to try new things even if we may not want to at first, we know in the long run it will help us learn how to have positive and healthy reactions instead of our old negative patterns.

15. We are not weak.

Some may view us as weak because we seek out professional help for certain issues or situations we can’t quite tackle on our own. We realise that admitting we need someone else to guide us in the right direction is the best decision for us and going to therapy was not an easy decision. We decide that society’s view of “sucking it up” and “figuring it out on our own” is not the best advice. We realise in the end, we are choosing to make positive changes in our lives instead of staying in our previous mode of insanity which was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. We are strong for deciding to change our lives for the better, and we finally realise we no longer care what others think about us anymore because we know that going to therapy is the best thing to do for our own mental health.

Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via photos.jdhancock.com

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Wendy Redden

Digital Advertising Account Manager, Music Blogger, Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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