STRESS! … And How it Affects your Weight Loss

I'm back! I'm sorry! I keep doing this to you guys... This time, it was a long hiatus than before, but if you only knew...

Between moving last September, and my job duties increasing shortly after, I was swamped. I moved, I got settled; I had more responsibility, then got used to it; I got into a new relationship... and then that got complicated. To top it all off, my job changed again, two weeks ago to the date! It's been STRESSFUL! Which, conveniently brings me to my first post since November... 

STRESS!

We all know it – we feel it when it creeps up on us and then balloons into this giant mushroom cloud out of our heads…but is that the only way we feel it? Hell No!

Sometimes, when I’m stressed, I eat! Okay okay, not sometimes, MOST times. I don’t exercise and sink into the stress and eat more than my normal portion size, or I tend to eat crap and succumb to cravings. Isn’t that how everyone deals with their situations? I mean, why would anyone want to do anything else? That’s why it’s called “comfort food”.

When you’re stressed AF, it makes sense that eating well and working out regularly aren’t high on your to-do list and of COURSE you would think that alone would make you more likely to gain weight. NOPE

If you’re a freak (and I say that in the most loving nature because I’m similar to this too) and you love to exercise your stress out of your body, I’d say go for it – BUT stress alone can make the number we all despise from that black square on the bathroom tile read higher and higher.

Wait, what? Stress makes you fat??

Yep - You heard me!

If you thought you were done thinking about hormones when we graduated high school, you’re wrong. Let me tell you about a snappy little chemical in the brain called cortisol. They don’t call it the “Stress Hormone” for nothing. This little bugger rises when you’re feeling any type of pressure or tension, and turns portion control into an afterthought. It increases insulin levels as a result, and your blood sugar drops and you CRAVE sugar and fat to make up the difference.

Your body is trying to ward off an unseen threat during long periods of time where you have chronic stress – the kinds where you’ve gone through a break up or the kind when you get laid off from your job… not just one bad day at work. This increases visceral fat, deep in our midsections, and it’s tough to get rid of it later.

So, how DO you stop stress from stopping your goals?

  1. Eat mindfully
    Combat your urges to binge (I know, I know – I get how hard it is). I see you, and I know what you want. I want cheesecake… or Pho, or sourdough bread. BUT is that going to derail me? YES. Is that going to make me feel more tired later? The cycle perpetuates, here, piggies! Eating mindfully helps you stay on course and removes the increase in *later* stressors, like not being able to put on that dress you used to feel slim in (believe me; it happened to me three weeks ago)!
  2. Distract Yourself
    Create a routine where you won’t be within temptation’s reach for that pot of macaroni and cheese (enter favorite comfort food here if other) and maybe go for a walk every day after work or on your lunch break.
  3. Meditate
    Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of this before, but I SWEAR between yoga and therapy, I really got used to mindfully breathing. Taking a minute to stop, inhale slowly for fifteen seconds, hold it, and exhale for fifteen seconds REALLY helps. My apple watch reminds me to take a moment and breathe every few hours. I was in a therapy session once trying to explain how difficult this was for me at the time. I was so preoccupied with the tasks flying across my desk in the Athletics department that I didn’t have the luxury to stop for a few minutes and breathe directed by my apple watch. I told her “I don’t have time to breathe!”, but she stopped me right after my exclamation, and repeated it back to me – “You don’t have time to breathe?” I felt silly but it’s true – you need to make time for the things that give you a moment of relaxation. You have to.
  4. Make time for your hobbies
    I know I tend to lose myself in the mundane. Make sure that you're taking the time to garden if that's something you enjoy. Make sure that you carve out time to get a mile run in here and there (or any distance you prefer). I stopped running for a while, and let me tell you - that made me crabby and feel like i was walking around the office with a forever tense hold in my shoulders... Do the things YOU enjoy in order to remove the vice grip you've put on your body.
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Honestly, all of the above is just how I deal with stress and what helps me... But If you need to treat yourself in other ways, make sure to do it positively - Eating a grip of cheese wont help you in the long run.

Make healthy choices and the rest will fall into place...

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