Stress may be the roadblock in your way to losing weight.
I have heard the following statement from my clients time and time again.
I am following the meal plan as well as I can. I feel like I am making good choices, but I am so disappointed with my weight. I have gained weight this month!
Work and life have been stressful and busy. I am working two jobs at odd hours of the day. I find myself drinking more alcohol as well.
Many of us lead hectic lifestyles and often forget to take care of ourselves. Stress becomes a heavy burden that impacts health.
Let’s take a look at what happens during stressful times.
The following video does a great job of explaining what happens in the body during stressful situations.
- Adrenal glands secrete many hormones including adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol.
- These chemicals cause the body to stay alert to stressors. We breathe faster, our pupils dilate, we increase sweat production, and they slow the metabolism.
- Glucose becomes readily available and the body’s blood glucose spikes. Insulin can not work as effectively.
- The body is focusing on the stress response and less on other healthy bodily functions.
- When the body calms down, the stress response slows, but can take many hours (days in some cases). Cortisol, the more damaging stress hormone, is last to diminish.
How this Affects Weight Loss
- Stress eating due to hormones and as a stress coping mechanism
- Increased belly fat due to cortisol
- Slowed metabolism due to cortisol
- The body craves glucose (carbohydrate sources) to help with the fight or flight response. This can also lead to altered blood glucose levels and abnormalities making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
- After having repeated stress exposures, it seems normal and routine to deal with stress. This leads to dealing with stress in negative ways (or not at all) and continuing the vicious cycle.
People React to Stress Differently
Not everyone who has stress will have to monitor their weight. Some people lose weight when they are stressed.
Regardless, stress is never healthy. It can cause other health problems including memory loss, aging, headaches, and decreased immune system just to name a few.
Resources to Manage Stress
These websites offer a long list of stress reduction techniques.
How do you manage stress?
A few of my favorites are walking, yoga, and reading.