When it comes to weight loss, stress plays a significant role. Whether you suffer from physical, emotional, mental or psychological stress, learning to manage your stress can often be the difference between reaching your weight goals and stagnating.
When our bodies are under stress, certain hormones such as cortisol are elevated which can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. Elevated cortisol and insulin levels can also increase our food cravings and appetite, disrupt our sleep patterns and encourage our bodies to store excess glucose as fat, especially around our waist.
Learning to manage any stress in your life is an extremely vital practice to focus on.
If you feel under pressure at work, are you able to ask for help? Can you manage your time better? Do you need to turn your phone off after 8pm?
Are you exercising too much? Too much exercise can cause what’s known as overtraining syndrome, a condition caused by chronically elevated cortisol levels.
Are you sleeping well? A lack of good quality sleep is another stress for our bodies. It can lead to an increase in levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, a decrease in levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin, as well as disrupting glucose and insulin metabolism. It affects our performance, concentration, energy levels, mood, immunity, and has been shown to contribute to weight gain. It can also lead to making the wrong food choices. When we are tired, we are more likely to opt for take-out or a frozen meal.
Do you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day? It’s important to develop a consistent sleep schedule as your circadian rhythm (internal body clock) functions best when you have a routine.
Do you watch television or use electronic devices just before going to sleep? The blue light emitted from televisions, iPads, etc. suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone produced by your pineal gland that regulates your sleep/wake cycle.
Do you get plenty of sunshine or natural light during the day? Being exposed to fluorescent office lights for long periods of time can also suppress melatonin production.
Do you spend time in nature? Being in nature is a natural anti-depressant and can help increase feelings of calmness and serenity.
Do you exercise each day? You don’t need to run a marathon, simply going for a brisk 20-min walk, especially in a park, can do wonders for your stress levels.
Do you need to learn to let things go? If you dwell on your problems or any issues you may be experiencing as soon as your head hits the pillow, then it may be time to learn how to change your thinking or perspective. If you can’t improve a situation or walk away from it, perhaps you need to learn to accept it. Most of the time it’s our own negative thinking that can be our worst enemy and can contribute to increased stress in our lives.
Do you meditate everyday? Many people think that they need to join a monastery in Thailand to be able to reap the benefits of meditation. In reality, focusing on your breath in a quiet place for just 5-10 minutes each day can significantly reduce your cortisol levels while increasing your feelings of well being.
Do you live a balanced life? Does your life consist of all work and no play? Do you take regular holidays? Even spending a few days away from home can help to contribute to a less stressed you. Do you have any hobbies or engage in any activities that you really enjoy? Finding the time to switch off and to immerse yourself in an activity where you can ‘lose yourself’ can make a tremendous difference to how stressed you feel.
Ensuring that you maintain a high intake of vitamin C can help your body combat the effects of stress by reducing your body’s levels of cortisol. Consider supplementing your diet with an extra two grams during times of increased stress, and as vitamin C is water-soluble, any excess that your body doesn’t need will be excreted not stored in your body.
Vitamin B, magnesium and omega-3 fats are also great nutrients that can help reduce cortisol levels.
Eating well is a big piece of the weight loss puzzle, however, make sure that you give yourself every chance of reaching your goals by learning how to manage your stress hormones.
Many of us want change in our lives but we aren’t really prepared or willing to change things. If you keep doing the things you have always done you will keep getting the things you have always gotten! It’s a simple concept really.
If you keep talking about starting an exercise regime but never do, or you talk about wanting to eat healthy yet you still hold onto unhealthy eating habits, how is your body going to improve? Through wishful thinking or by throwing magical fairy dust into the air?
Our dysfunctional, negative and destructive habits can cause us a lot of pain, grief and unhappiness, and unless we are willing to do things a little (or a lot) differently, it’s impossible to move towards a life that feels better.
Do you often complain about your finances, your relationships or your health? What things are you actively doing to change your current situation?
The great thing about change is that you only need to make small gradual changes in order to help propel you forward towards your goals.
For example, if you normally drink a cup of coffee as soon as you wake up in the morning, drink a glass of water first in order to rehydrate your body and kick start your metabolism.
If you normally eat a muffin or something sugary to help get you through your afternoon slump, perhaps choose an apple and a small handful of almonds instead to help stabilise your blood sugar levels.
You don’t need to become a new person overnight. Slowly starting to change your habits and embracing a new way of living is the secret to creating a new life for yourself.
Most people are so afraid of change that they make excuses and come up with all sorts of reasons as to why they can’t achieve their goals. Why would anyone not do what’s needed to move forward? It’s because change can often feel uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.
If you’re used to getting up at a certain time and having a particular routine, getting up one hour earlier to go to the gym or to go for a run can be uncomfortable.
If you’re used to grabbing take out or a packaged meal when you get home from work late, preparing a quick, healthy meal can seem like too much effort.
The clients that get the best results from my meal plans are the ones who take full responsibility for their lives and are open to doing things differently. They don’t complain about having to change their routine or having to eat in a way that they perhaps aren’t used to. They know that change is inevitable if they are to enjoy the type of body that they want.
We are creatures of comfort and tend to become conditioned to act and think in certain ways, even if those actions and thoughts hinder the realisation of our goals.
If you haven’t already read my previous post about motivation, you can read it here: www.onelifeonebody.net/blog/how-to-discover-your-motivation-for-success as without motivation you will be missing the catalyst needed to begin the process of change in your life.
The first step to change is to find YOUR motivation and the second step is to embrace change.
Stay tuned for the third step!