We all know stress is well, stressful. Stress comes at us from home, relationships, work, school, our family, friends, and even pressure we place on ourselves. All that pressure adds up to a lot of tension on our minds and bodies. And as our bodies don’t understand the cause of your stress, it reacts in ways to protect itself. Your body will prepare to battle your stress and remove the unwanted fear the only way it knows how.
Fight or flight.
When we feel stress, it triggers the age ol’ fight or fight reaction. Our bodies haven’t changed how it reacts to stress, regardless of the cause. Whether a lion is about to attack or you received a nasty email, it causes the same reaction.
When we feel stress, we release a hormone called Cortisol. This hormone kicks in and will help you stay alive if you really are about to battle that lion!
Cortisol does a few things simultaneously for us in stressful situations.
- In stressful situations cortisol rises
- This causes us to eat (and usually over-eat) because it wants to prepare your body to have enough calories for battling whatever you are about to face
- It slows your metabolism so that you don’t burn through your energy source too quickly
- Cortisol encourages your body to store fat
- Again, so you can be prepared for and sustain through whatever you are about to face!
This one hormone has just prepared your body for your fight or flight. In America though, our battle isn’t with a lion or neighboring village. Our battle is a computer screen, where we sit and no longer need the additional calories and fat stores to stay alive. Meaning we consume more calories than we burn, and chose unhealthy choices to help us cope.
Cortisol isn’t the only culprit here though, stress can sabotage you in other ways too.
- If you eat when you are worried or distracted, you aren’t focusing on eating. Meaning we tend not to realize ourselves becoming full and over-eat. We also are more likely to want a snack more quickly and eat more during that next snack.
- Salty, sweet and fatty foods release pleasure chemicals in your brain which reduce tension. Your body will crave these more than a healthy snack to combat unhappy feelings.
- Over time any and all of the above actions will become habit and we do them each day without realizing it, adding additional, unhealthy calories to our daily routine.
- Stress causes us to lose sleep which is also a powerful factor in weight gain.
Feeling stressed about feeling stressed?
Take a long deep breath. Here are ways to beat stress and it’s impending weight gain.
- I know this seems obvious but common sense ins’t common practice in a busy world. Exercise releases all sorts of chemicals in our brain to help us relax. We also are more likely to chose healthier foods after we exercise and moving our bodies will help us get a good nights sleep! With a full calendar, start with 20 mins a day or one of Emily Langlois’ FIT Guide programs to guide you through a full total body workout on YOUR time.
- Stop Strict Dieting
- You have enough stress to deal with at work, home, and your every-day life. Putting your body under extreme pressure only adds stress in this area as well. Yo-yo dieting is stressful for our bodies and our minds. Eat a clean, healthy, balanced diet as laid out in this Nutrition Package, to keep yourself on a stable, weight loss plan you can enjoy forever! And that allows splurges! 🙂
- Eat Mindfully
- I’ve covered this in a few articles now but the idea of eating mindfully could NOT be stressed enough. Our bodies won’t recognize that we’ve eaten too much until we’ve over-eaten 500-1000 calories! That’s half or MORE of your whole day. Gone.
- Before you sit down to eat, take a deep breath. Notice how you feel. Are you eating because you are hungry? If yes, turn everything off and sit down to eat.
- Eating should be enjoyable! Taste your food! Enjoy what you’re eating! Don’t play games, don’t watch tv, read, scroll social media. Just eat. By being present and eating, you will recognize when you’ve had enough and stop 2.5 times sooner than if you were distracted. So slow down the world around you and enjoy your meal! Everything else will still be there 10 minutes from now!
- Move Your Body Every Hour
- Our minds can only focus on one task for about an hour before our output decreases dramatically. We become drained, unfocused, thirsty, restless and our creativity worsens. After 50 minutes of deep focused work, stand up. Move around and grab some water. Stretch, walk, jump, whatever feels natural to you. Just move your body and drink water at least once per hour. Then sit back down and tackle your next task!
- Write in a Journal
- We boil our worries up in our head until they become so massive that we think our heads might explode! Write down all of your stresses and write your plan to work through it. By writing your thoughts on paper, you extract them from growing in your mind and see how manageable it really is!
- Find non-food activies you enjoy
- Choose a better stress relief than happy hour each night. Try yoga, painting, writing, photography… Something you can do to relieve your stress, that you enjoy and isn’t centered around food or unhealthy habits.
Choosing new habits and ways of dealing with stress will be your way to beat the weight gain stress can bring. Unfortunately I can’t remove all of the stressful people in your life, but I can help you to find healthy, positive ways to keep yourself sane and slim among them.
A great way to become healthier is with a supportive group who are fighting the same battle as you! We’ve created a community to support you through your goals and celebrate your wins as you push through each week. These women complete the FIT Guide program and exercise around THEIR busy schedules, any time of day, anywhere! Take the FIT Guide to the gym, your home, work or hotel. You will see results quickly and love how you feel.
Visit FITonYourTime.com to learn more and start your transformation today!
Emily Langlois is a Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist and Group Fitness Instructor. She trains hundreds of men and women to lose weight, see definition and LOVE their bodies.