Stress is one of the main factors that can derail a good weight loss plan, when your stressed it’s hard to be motivated to make the effort to organise healthy meal after healthy meal when something quick and easy is just around the corner. When your stressed it’s hard to find the time or the energy to exercises or get to training. Within a few days we haven’t trained once and only had 1 or 2 proper meals.
Easier said then done but it is these times that we want to focus on healthy and fitness, training will help blow off some steam, clear your mind and regulate feel good hormonal levels while healthy food choices will give your body the sustenance it needs to deal with the internal struggle high stress causes.
What is stress?
Stress can be bought on by more then just a bad day at the office (psychological stress), stress can come in many different forms and sometimes can be hard to tell if you are actually stressed, it becomes more a feeling of being run down. Other forms of stress are
- Malnutrition from not eating enough or not getting in enough vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, causing vitamin deficiency
- Dehydration from lack of water, especially in people who train
- Insomnia or not getting enough sleep
- Inflammation, chronic infection and environmental toxins
- Poor diet of sugars, processed foods and pro inflammatory foods
- Too much exercise with not enough recovery
The body is well adapted to handle short periods of stress but the long term chronic stress not so much, it is this stress that cause us a lot of problem when we are trying to lose weight
So how exactly does stress lead to weight gain?
Simple answer is cortisol, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is a lower grade of adrenalin, designed to be high in the morning to get us up and going and then slowly taper off as the day goes on so we can unwind and relax at night.
When we are chronically stressed by any of the issues listed about the body will continually tell the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, pumping the body full of low grade adrenalin to help battle the negative effect of the stress that is causing the body to be run down. This constant production of cortisol can lead to
- Increases blood sugar by making it difficult for glucose/sugar to get into the cells, in turn increasing insulin resistance
- Increase fat stored in the abdominal area
- Increase fat stored in the liver
- Decrease metabolism
- Increase hunger hormonal levels
- Causes sugar cravings
- Reduces your DHEA, testosterone, growth hormone and TSH levels which all have a negative effect on your metabolism
As you can see, each one of these things by themselves can make weight loss difficult, but when added together you have an almost perfect recipe for obesity.
Signs of stress?
- Fatigue, slow to start in the morning, cannot fall asleep or stay asleep
- Headaches brought on physical or mental stress, blurred vision, anxiety and unstable moods
- Weak immune system & allergies, on and off cold and runny nose
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, gastric ulcers, feeling full or bloated
- Strong cravings for sweets, caffeine or cigarettes
- Dizziness when standing up or sitting down
What can we do?
Sleep - Aim for 8 hours a night and relax before bed, try meditating and stretching
Eat - Eating a natural food diet with a good mix of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, while avoiding to much bread, rice and pasta, processed foods, sugar and trans fats
Drink - Water goal (0.039 X Body Weight = L) 0.039 x 75kg = 2.9L of water a day
Exercise and train - Exercise daily by getting at least a good 30 minute walk in before work, lunch break or after work. Train by lifting heavy weights 2 to 3 times a week
Enjoy life - play, have fun and laugh whenever you can. Do your best to avoid people and situations that drain and stress you.
Practice saying NO
To Healthy Living