“Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women.
HOW STRESS AFFECTS WEIGHT LOSS
Let’s start with the source of your stress.
You’re stressed because (check all that apply):
– You’re trying to control everything and everyone
– You’re always doing for everyone else
– You don’t know how to speak up for yourself and so people take advantage of or ignore you
– You’re always striving for the next _______(promotion, weight goal, money goal, etc) and you can’t relax until you achieve it
– You over-think everything
– You worry about everyone, everything, and every ‘what if’
– You’re always re-hashing the past
– You’re afraid you’re not doing enough
– You’re not in a relationship or are in a bad one
– _____ treats you like crap
– Your boss or co-workers are jerks
– You never have enough time
– Insert your own ______
Which leads to (check all that apply):
– Not sleeping well
– Burn out
– A bad attitude
– Feeling out of control
– Being grumpy
– Eating poorly
– Insert your own _______
And here’s how your body processes all of this mess:
Stress produces bursts of adrenaline which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee (think back during the caveman days when stress was real, like a lion chasing you!)
At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol (destructive stress hormone), which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories.
This can make you hungry…very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.
So when you’re stressed and not taking care of yourself guess what? You typically reach for and crave chips, donuts, buttery bread, and gooey pasta instead of the veggie tray. Right? You know why? Because these types of foods, laden with sugar and fat, release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension.
Do you see the vicious cycle here?
Continuous production of cortisol slows down how much of the muscle-building testosterone hormone you produce.
“Over time, this drop causes a decrease in your muscle mass, so you burn fewer calories,” explains Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection. “This occurs naturally as you age, but high cortisol levels accelerate the process.”
Cortisol also encourages your body to store fat—especially visceral fat, which is particularly dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and releases fatty acids into your blood, raising cholesterol and insulin levels and paving the way for heart disease and diabetes.
Do you see the importance of addressing stress at the source?
HOW YOU THINK ABOUT AND REACT TO EVERYDAY SITUATIONS PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN HOW STRESSED OR CALM YOU ARE AND IF YOUR EXPERIENCE WILL BE VIEWED AND HANDLED MORE POSITIVELY (OR AT LEAST MORE NEUTRAL) VS MORE NEGATIVE AND STRESSFUL.
So what can you do?
Address your source with a better mindset and better tools.
Wayne Dyer says, ‘Change the way you see things, and the things you see will change.”
I remember when everything used to stress me out and overwhelm me.
As a result I stress-ate sweets, lots of chips, and other rich and gooey meals.
When I learned how to look at situations and life from a healthier perspective and started practicing more productive thinking and other action-oriented tools I became much happier and calmer even when I found myself in situations that were very stressful. That’s the ironic point I’m making: Stressful situations don’t have to be stressful.
If you find yourself stressed by situations, work, or relationships you may be interested in the upcoming MindBodySWEAT Course.
MBS is my signature course that builds stronger, healthier, and more vibrant bodies and minds. I offer it twice per year and the next kick-off is this September for a limited number of women who want to work in-person (there is also an online option.) Get on the first-to-know list here.
If MindBodySWEAT isn’t for you but you want a solid tool to help you reframe how you look at and deal with stress, here it is:
It’s the best keystone habit I know. I write more about it here.
Let me hear from you in the comments below! What do you practice that curbs your stress?