Drop the Stress, Drop the Pounds

If you feel that your stress is making it hard for you to lose weight – you may be right.  Science has found a definite connection between stress and excess body fat.  However this doesn’t give you an excuse to be overweight.  All it means is that stress may make it harder for you to lose weight, even if it’s those nagging last five pounds.

When your body feels stressed it pumps out a hormone called “cortisol” that gets you ready for a fight or flight reaction to the stress.  50,000 years ago stress meant running away from a predator like a sabre-tooth tiger.  You either escape the predator and then relax, or…  well let’s just say in either case you’re no longer stressed.

Stress Is Like Carrying A 50 lb Backpack All The Time

Today, stress isn’t usually about fight or flight which is short term and then done.  Nowadays it’s more like carrying around a 50lb backpack all day.  Instead of a quick burst of cortisol (like you were designed) you get a constant daily flow.  Over time this can sabotage your fat loss with:

  • Impaired thyroid function
  • Loss of lean tissue (your fat-burning muscle)
  • Poor blood sugar usage
  • Extra fat stored specifically around your stomach area

If you’ve been doing everything right with eating and exercise and are struggling with your body fat (especially in the stomach area) then you may want to look at new ways to handle (or reduce) the stress in your life.

Some stress is unavoidable, but a lot of what we internalize as stress is more about how we deal with a stress-causing situation.   Here’s a few common examples of what I mean:

Someone just cut you off in traffic.  You honk the horn, ride their bumper as you do a slow burn.   What does this solve?  Within a couple of minutes that driver has already forgotten about you.  Instead, find a good song on the radio, crank it up and sing out it loud, by the time you’re done the song you’ll be feeling a lot better.

You’re stuck in a long express checkout line.  As you stand there you count at least 4 people who are well “over limit” for being in this line.  So you stand there glaring at them while you seethe.  Instead take your mind off of it by looking at the ridiculous tabloid headlines.

In both these situations you can’t change the initial stressor.   Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t react to the stress.  I mean there’s NO WAY I’m not going to get pissed-off when I get cut-off in traffic.  It’s just going to happen.  However how long I continue to seethe after my first reaction will determine how much cortisol I crank out and that I can control.

What You Can Do

You can’t completely eliminate all the stress in your life.  Instead pick your battles and let things that don’t really matter go.  I mean is it necessary to get all riled up because your teen didn’t make their bed or the Leafs missed the playoffs (again)?

Chronic (sit and seethe) stress creates a constant flow of cortisol and means a chronic blood sugar and insulin build-up.  This creates the PERFECT state for belly fat storage even if you’re eating the right amount of calories.

There are many ways to relieve stress.  For instance rather than hitting the hooch you can schedule a relaxing massage, soak in the tub with a good book or hit the gym for a hi-intensity group workout (like at Punch Gym).

If you choose this last one, give me a call – I can help.