5 Hidden Causes That Could Be Making You Fat: STRESS (Part 5)
This is Part 5 of 5 in the series: 5 Hidden Causes That Could Be Making You Fat
STRESS – The Muffin Top Monster
If you missed the previous posts in this series you can check them out at the links below:
Stress is a HUGE and often overlooked factor in the weight loss game. If you eat well, exercise and detoxify your environment, but still are under a significant amount of STRESS…you will often find it VERY difficult to lose weight.
I repeat…you will find it VERY difficult to lose weight.
The stubborn belly fat around your middle that won’t go away is a sign that stress is involved. Our body secretes a hormone called cortisol (and a whole cascade of other hormones) in response to stress that helps us effectively deal with an acute stressful event. It’s a beautiful survival mechanism. However, when this response is ongoing due to chronic stress…it begins to create imbalances. When we have too much cortisol being secreted in our bodies, day after day, it causes a raise in blood sugar, makes you crave sugar, impairs your ability to burn fat, creates hormone imbalances, causes your body to store fat around your midsection, and ultimately can create dis-ease in the body.
The reality is that in these modern times it seems most people are operating in a perpetual state of stress.
Most people think of stress as being psychological or emotional…this is one element of stress that can impact our lives and waistlines in very real ways.
Yes…the soul-sucking job that you loathe, the volatile relationship you’re in, juggling being a super-mom or dad and working full-time, or caring for an ailing parent can all be examples of stressful situations that may have the potential to create psychological or emotional stress.
“Stressful” events happen and will continue to do so. There are things like earthquakes and accidents that may not be in our control, but many things are. Consider YOU are the one that continues to stay in that soul-sucking job versus creating a new possibility for yourself and taking action to create something different. Yes…you have the power to do that even though it may seem impossible at times!
Consider you may not be able to change the circumstances of having to care for your ailing mother, but you can change the way in which you perceive the situation. It could either be a dreadful burden or an opportunity to soak up the last remaining years with the woman who gave you life…same event but two different ways to look at it. One creates stress and resentment, the other peace and fulfillment. Each creates very different outcomes within your body and in the quality of your life experience. What matters is how you perceive the “stressful” events in your life and how you choose to respond to them.
Your mind is powerful and can create a stress response in the body, which in turns changes your physiology. This cascade of events can ultimately cause you to pack on the pounds or even perpetuate into a disease condition.
In order to de-stress your life and ultimately lose weight, consider implementing some stress-reducing strategies:
- Watch your thoughts and watch how you perceive the events of your life. You have the power to choose which thoughts you will entertain and how you respond.
- Slow down. Take time to BE STILL. Meditate. Pray.
- Spend time in nature, go for a walk.
- Practice yoga , qi gong, or tai chi.
- Engage in some kind of exercise you enjoy.
- BREATHE. Take a few minutes to belly breathe or engage in various breathing exercises.
- Use therapeutic grade essential oils to help your body relax and decrease cortisol levels.
- Do more of what you love.
- Make time to play. Play is not a luxury…it’s a necessity. (More on this in the upcoming weeks!!)
- Connect with others and make time for the relationships that matter to you.
- Spend time being creative or enjoying the arts…paint, dance, listen to music, plant some flowers, etc.
Although psychological and emotional stress is typically what one thinks of in terms of stress…this isn’t the only type of stress that we’re dealing with here.
Other types of stressors that effect your body include:
- Toxins in the environment, in your food and in your water
- Poor digestion or leaky gut (*)
- Chronic infections (*)
- Inflammation (*)
- Liver congestion(*)
- Not enough sleep (*)
- Being sedentary
- Exercising too much
- Musculoskeletal imbalances & poor posture
- Hormone imbalance (*)
Consider working with a functional medicine practitioner to address hidden internal stressors which are the ones denoted with this symbol (*). Work with a physical therapist, chiropractor or CHEK practitioner to address musculoskeletal imbalances.
Otherwise, do what you can to make some adjustments in your schedule, your surroundings and in the way you think, live and perceive the events of your life. These may be crucial factors in your ability to lose the weight you want and have the body and life you love.
The beautiful thing about everything I mentioned here is that addressing these issues not only helps your waistline, but ultimately helps you create a healthier, happier and more fulfilled life.
Happy New Year!!
Brenda Walding, DPT, FDN
P.S. Nutrition is part of the puzzle if you are looking to lose weight and/or get healthy…no doubt.
Check out our Paleo Secret 30 Day Challenge e-book and get started in the New Year!