Is Stress Making You Fat?
I’m writing this not only to help you but also to reiterate the information to myself and drill it into my head so that I also follow the advice too! Sometimes we all need a little reminder – kick up the a**e in some cases!
Throughout the years you may experience many stressful situations, and, if just lately you have experienced more stress than normal you might have noticed your waistline slowly expand. Your sleeping patterns may have been affected; you may go through spells of overeating or not eating enough. You may find yourself drinking more alcohol than usual or eating more sugary or quick fix foods. You also notice you have high-energy one minute then massive dips and experience some very low points too. I know from my own experience I have gone through much of the above, still do at times, if you’re reading it and are recognising these things in yourself then you may want to read on.
Ever notice during times of stress you tend to reach for the sugary snacks or quick fix foods? There’s a reason for that. During a stressful situation our body will go into fight or flight mode, you’re either going to tackle the situation or you’re going to run from the situation, now back in the caveman days this would be a normal response and the energy output would be used accordingly. Fight the beast or run from the beast. Here’s what happens in the fight or flight response.Your brain will identify the stress and send a message to your adrenal glands (situated at the top of your kidneys) to release hormones to prepare you for fight or flight.
This is the adrenalin response, your blood pressure will raise and the heart rate will increase. Glucose is released into the blood stream (as well as protein and fats), and cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is produced. Our body hasn’t evolved much since the caveman days but our lifestyles have changed dramatically, we have jobs, family stress, everyday stressors, dietary stresses and for many increasing money troubles.
As we don’t always get to fight the situation or run away from it, during these times of stress the energy is often wasted and very soon afterwards your body will want to replenish its energy stores which is why we may reach for the sugary snack or starchy foods. When we experience these stressful situations on regular occasions we could be doing damage to our bodies and be on our way to some serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney failure and much more. Having increased cortisol levels will make it very hard for your body to lose fat, especially around the abdomen area.
So what can we do to help to regulate our cortisol production and bring our hormones back into balance?
Change the way you react to stressful situations
We all know that you cannot change the stressful situations that happen but changing how we react to them will make a huge difference. Stressful times happen all the time, no matter whether you shout and scream or whether you stay relaxed it will still be there, so why not try the count to 10 approach and try to act in a calm manner. Believe me I need to be reminded of this all the time! Life throws us daily challenges, that’s part of learning and growth so embrace it. If you’re in an unhappy situation, change it, we all have choice and if you’re in an unhappy relationship, unhappy at work, etc. then only you can do something about it, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.
Getting a good nights sleep:
Those of us who need to regulate our cortisol levels will need to get a good night sleep as often as possible, that means no TV after 10pm and no lap top either, aim to have a nice bath before bed and have a night time wind down for bed, reading is a great way to help you to relax. Reduce intake of stimulants such as tea and coffee, which contain caffeine and cut down out sugary foods.
Turn off all electrical equipment where you sleep
Electrical equipment and mobile phones can have a huge impact on our sleep patterns so turn all electric off in the room where you sleep and try not to sleep with your mobile phone beside your bed. If, like me, you use it as an alarm clock, have it a few meters away from your bed so that you have to get up to turn it off or if it won't wake up the household put it just outside your door.
Exercising will help to regulate cortisol production within the body but rather than long aerobic workouts, short fast burst workouts such as interval and weight training may help, 30-40 minutes 3-4 times per week is great. Also short runs of 20-30 minutes may help to help relieve stress. Include yoga/Pilates too as this is great for mind and body relaxation. Believe it or not just by slowing things down and spending time doing this sort of exercise you might lose quite a lot of body fat.
Include anti stress supplements and drinks
Vitamins and minerals are an important part of our daily lifestyle and when we are under stressful situations we may deplete our body of the essential amino acids so include foods that contain the essential amino acids, lean protein, eggs, green leafy vegetables, green drinks such as chlorella, barley and wheat grass. Take a multivitamin with vitamin C too. Ensure that you include fish into the diet or take a fish oil supplement each day.
Adaptogens such as Rhodiola, ashwaghanda and holy basil can also help to bring our body into balance. Try Tulsi tea as part of your sleep routine.
Meditation and relaxation
Practicing meditation is a great way to help to relax the body and mind, or give why not give meditation or breathing techniques a try, by practicing relaxation techniques such as these will help your body relax quicker following a stressful period.
Whilst we can’t always get away from the stress, just by following this advice it will make a difference to your health and well being.
Have a great day,