I am 100% serious here when I say stress is the number one reason women have a hard time losing weight. Yes, diet and exercise play a big role in a healthy lifestyle..but none of that matters if we don’t manage our stress. Notice how I said “manage”, not “get rid of”. In this day and age, no one is getting rid of stress, it just ain’t gonna happen. But we can find ways to manage it; so that instead of stress being the driver, it takes the backseat..or better yet, the trunk! Doctors are calling stress the next black plague! This is because our lives have become so consumed by social media, judgement, toxins, life changes that we never get a break. We brag about being busy, hustling and grinding to reach your goals, when in reality we should be talking about meditation and shutting off!
While going through this blog post, I want you to have an open mind. Because as much as we think we are doing great, most of us are actually pretty stressed out. If we find ourselves running through our day in our heads, writing down 15 tasks on our to-do list, trying to figure out how you are going to get from point A to point B at the end of the day..and who is going to cook dinner; I am going to say you are stressed out. We need to find time to relax and take a load off, even if that means asking for help! Here is why managing stress needs to be the next weight loss tool!
the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.
What is Stress?
Stress is basically…everything. Anything and everything that goes on or changes in your life causes stress, and the body reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional responses! We assume stress is negative like losing a job or moving across the country, or a family member being sick. But stress can also come from happy things like having a baby and getting a job promotion! Our body interprets any change from your regular routine as stress…even things that keep you healthy, like exercise!
Let us also realize that getting stressed is not bad for you, but staying stressed is toxic.
Effects of Stress
When a threat is perceived by the body, the CNS responds in a fight or flight manner. This means adrenaline and cortisol are going to be released into the blood stream and will cause a sequence of events. The heart rate will rise, the blood vessels will dilate and the core temperature will rise. This is your body’s way of dealing with the threat immediately.
But overtime, when we are under prolonged periods stress, we don’t realize the responses are happening and it just becomes another normal day for us. Not to mention the toll it takes on the body both mentally and physically.
But this is where the problems begin.
Too much secretion of cortisol is the main culprit of weight gain, you can learn all about Cortisol and weight gain here!
Stress is making us fat, sick and stupid.
There are also different stressors that can cause epinephrine receptors to shut down, a sympathetic nervous system response of fight or flight, which leads to slowing down the digestive and reproductive systems to conserve energy.
This then causes problems absorbing nutrients or making hormones, which can stress the body out even more. As you can see, it is cycle that once it starts it is difficult to stop from spiraling out of control.
High levels of cortisol is also linked to increased appetite and sugar cravings, which is where the weight gain comes from. When stress levels are high for an extended period of time, our body is constantly craving bad foods (refined sugars and carbs). Therefore, as the body becomes more and more stressed, we as humans tend to eat more and more foods to satisfy our cravings. When we eat too much refined sugar, we cause a spike in our blood sugar levels and store more fat than normal.
So now we have cortisol relocating fat to our belly and decreased insulin sensitivity storing excess sugar as fat.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
This means a chronically activated stress response causing “distress” and “overworking” leads to:
• Increased inflammation – which can lead to chronic disease
• Decreased brain function – it has been proven that too much stress actually inhibits brain function
• Increased risk of anxiety and depression – because how can you be happy when you are constantly in a state of overwhelm?
• Hormone imbalances – not just from the constant cortisol release, but also from the lack of sleep and relaxation.
• Decreased sex drive – yes, being chronically stressed can prevent female orgasms.
Ways for Managing Stress
Even though almost everything we do causes a stress response, we can still manage it by finding ways to slow down.
Managing stress can look like:
meditation, sleeping, breathing techniques, time outdoors, doing your favorite activity (like cooking or reading), indulging in intimacy, digital detox, journaling, oils or natural herbs, and so many other things!
People like to talk about how they “don’t have time” for these techniques or they “don’t know how” but it takes a lot less time to practice and relax, than it does to manage a disease or sickness in the future. We need to stop thinking about reactive medicine (meaning doing something about it once it’s too late) and start focusing on preventative medicine, so that it never gets “too late”. Let us also not forget that chronic stress is going to lead to decreased productivity. So the more time you put into working long hours/days, the less productive you are going to be…which actually means a lot of wasted time and not a lot of productivity. So find the time to shut off and fill your cup, because that down time benefits you more than the 15 hour work day.