Do you find that you are eating better, exercising more consistently, but you are still not losing weight as you think you should be? Do you find yourself tired, and even less energetic after the end of the day? There is a reason and most likely you have heard about it or read about it.
There is a scientific link between stress and weight gain. Although we all handle stress differently, researchers believe that when handling life's stressful periods, people change their eating behaviors and usually NOT for the better. Food is not the only factor that influences stress-induced weight gain, a persons gender, the type of food they eat, and whether or not you are already over weight or obese are all contributing factors. This explains why some people gain more weight under stressful circumstances while others may gain little or even lose.
It is obvious to gain control over our weight loss, we have to gain control over the stress in our lives. Sounds simple, but it is not, however there are things we can do to help manage our stress.
First we must understand how our bodies react to stress physiologically.
Stress serves an evolutionary purpose. Think back to the early caveman days when bills were not an issue but sabor-toothed tigers were. In preparation for an attack our bodies neuroendocrine system would send out a "fight or flight" set of hormones. Adrenlin, corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. Adrenlin gives us instant energy, CRH decreases appetite initially, but later after the threat is gone; Cortisol can increase appetite to make up for that burst of energy that was lost fighting the tiger or running away.
Today tigers are not attacking us, but we are facing huge stressors that effect our bodies in the same way as they always have. Even though today's stressors are not usually physical in nature leading us to burn calories, cortisol does not know this and it keeps coming - and making you hungry for simple sugary carbs that provide you instant energy. Making matters worse moving the sugar we just ate from our blood to our muscles requires the hormone insulin. Our bodies are filled with sugar and insulin right after stress, this is a fat storing combination. Even worse fat storage due to stress eating is usually centered around the midsection or visceral fat. This has been linked to diabetes and heart disease. This is not good news for those of us who suffer from chronic stress.
Many of us experience stress when we feel like life is out of our control or that we can't do what we need to do because of time or situational constraints. We may eat to fulfill emotional needs or to procrastinate. You may not have enough time to fit in your workouts, or the lack of energy to exercise as long or to the intensity that you would like. You may forget to pack a lunch, or not have enough time to go to the grocery store, or find you have frequent cravings for high-fat, calorie dense foods. Fast food may seem like the only option that is both tasty and quick enough to scarf down over lunch.
However, just like everything else, eating when stressed is somewhat a learned behavior. Yes there is brain chemistry involved, but over time, we can rewire our brains to not let stress effect our eating or energy levels. We can follow a simple plan to hit stress head on with positive reactions. When you have control over your life, you find it easier to maintain your healthy eating and exercise lifestyle. Make a stress reduction plan; you have to identify your stressor's and then decide how you can make them go away or reduce them.
Some ideas are:
Playing with a pet
Take a nap
Take a bubble bath
Take a walk
Read a magazine
Play a game
Get a massage
Once you begin to take 5-10 minutes a day for stress reduction, you will begin to feel better. Then you need to focus on the signs of stress that you may not be paying attention to, are you irritable or anxious? Are your muscles tight? Is your appetite increased? Are you breathing quickly? Pay attention to these hidden signs of stress and how they may affect you. If you find you are having cravings remember that your bodies hormones are being tricked, and this too shall pass. Take a walk, drink some water, make a cup of hot tea to help get you through the craving.
These things can help to make you a happier and healthier person, and it will also help you to eat healthier and keep your high energy levels for your workouts.
I know that life is crazy for most of us, and stress is everywhere. I firmly believe that once you recognize stress and identify it, you can beat it before it packs on the pounds, or sabotages your weight loss program.
We had a great weekend with Nichole and the boys. Nichole and I went to Zumba on Saturday and ShBam on Sunday and let me tell you we worked our asses off! Have Zumba tonight with Jose` and I am not sure how that will go as I am sore as all get out. I am however, looking forward to it! I am down 2 more pounds and I feel in control again! That in itself is amazing!