Stress: The Reason You Aren’t Losing Those Pounds
Written by: Barb Marco
Have you ever experienced any of the following in your life: injury, illness, financial stress, job stress, child stress, grumpy people, traffic, long hours at work, surgery, infections, pain, having a baby, taking meds and/or eating junk food?
What all of these have in common is this: they are all stressors. We accept them as a natural part of our everyday life, but they are all contributors to emotional, physical and mental stress, which . And these stressors aren’t going anywhere… They are only mounting and becoming more frequent for many.
So, what does this have to do with weight loss?
Your adrenal glands pump out a hormone called cortisol in times of stress, which has many effects on your body. This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response and this is designed to help you when faced with short term stressors, pumping cortisol to help keep your body balanced as needed. And this is where the problem lies… when stress is constant, you’re signaling to the body that you need more cortisol, which creates an unhealthy stream of continuous flow of this important hormone, which overtime, causes the adrenals to fatigue.
In an emergency, this response can mean the difference between life and death, but in our modern world, it’s also a constant assault that results in health issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and blood glucose, decrease sex drive, result in acne and, of course, contribute to weight gain.
Stress vs. Fat
Let’s talk about belly fat. This is a result of chronically high cortisol levels, which makes you more likely to store fat. The stress hormone helps release sugar into your bloodstream (in order to combat the stressor) and, with all this sugar pouring into your bloodstream, the fat-burning hormones from your liver basically stop doing their job. In the meantime, insulin stores the extra sugar as fat to keep your blood sugar from reaching dangerous levels. It’s a vicious cycle.
In other words, these stress hormones can prevent you from burning fat, thus making counting calories, strenuous workouts and/or eating more protein not helpful to you at all.
So now that you understand this, here are 5 things you can do NOW that will help you to keep your stress hormones balanced.
1. Let yourself recharge: Excess cortisol causes fatigue and exhaustion. So, just as you need to charge your smartphone each day, you need to re-charge your own personal batteries. Sleep is the key! Tidy up your sleep by unplugging from devices 1-2 hours before bed and keep your bedroom cooler and darker. You might want to try some herbal teas with soothing chamomile or lavender as well to help you relax. Even a quick 20-30 minute nap can be a great boost.
2. Cut out processed foods, refined sugars, starches and grains: ALL of these foods raise blood sugar and insulin and can create an almost compound effect. Increase the green veggies, low sugar fruits (dark berries, green apples, lemons and limes are best), raw nuts and seeds in your diet.
3. Eat at regular intervals, every 2-3 hours: It doesn’t have to be a meal, it can be what I call a “fueling snack.” Consume at least 100 calories of a healthy protein and complex carb combo. Celery with almond butter and hummus with bell pepper slices are great options. Doing this helps balance blood sugar and prevents excess hunger later.
4. Don’t hang on to stress: This is a tough one! Learn to identify your triggers, deal with each one and then let them go. Meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises all help you focus on your mind-body connection and can help you release inner stressors.
5. Get support: Find someone who truly understands your conditions and can help hold you accountable towards meeting your goals. Don’t try to balance your hormones by yourself. Work with a practitioner that understands the intricacies of this and who will listen to your concerns.
So, now that you have a starting point, take an inventory of your life and start addressing the stress. Remember, you only get one body and it was designed to last your entire lifetime, so take care of it!
About the Author
Barb Marco is a Registered Nurse (RN) and a Certified Health Coach with a passion for helping individuals reach their health goals while focusing on improving their overall well-being. She specializes in weight management, pre-diabetes and managing excessive stress. Barb leads nutrition, health and wellness seminars and workshops. In addition, she offers health and nutrition coaching to individuals, groups and families. She is also a Certified Personal trainer and teaches group fitness, including Yoga, Martial Arts, and Resistance formats. Her approach encompasses the entire scope of wellness, which goes beyond just the food we eat and the habits we hold. She supports her clients to engage and integrate a healthy lifestyle program for long term success.
Connect with Barb: Website, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn
Image Source: Body Hackz
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