Have you noticed that your weight loss efforts seemed to have stalled out lately, or you aren’t getting the results you wanted? We often think of weight loss in terms of restricting calories or changing the type of foods we eat. But there are other aspects of your lifestyle that can impact weight loss, such as stress.
Stress is practically unavoidable for most of us, as we juggle work, school, kids’ activities, and our own social lives. Add in your weight loss regimen, and it’s no wonder you’re stressed out! But if you want to lose weight, it’s more important than ever to learn how to mitigate the effects of stress on your life.
Any time you feel stress, whether it’s day-to-day frustrations or more major life events, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Your adrenal glands produce cortisol, a stress hormone which is responsible for storing fat and triggering food cravings. While you can’t prevent your body from ever reacting this way, allowing chronic stress to continue can harm your overall health in the long term. Aside from holding onto excess body fat, you’re also at risk for chronic high blood pressure and diabetes.
So how do you de-stress your life? You’ll need to take a two-pronged approach:
Prevention. Identify your stress triggers and learn to avoid them. Hone your time management techniques, learn to say no to additional responsibilities (when possible), and set realistic expectations for yourself and others. If you have trouble managing your chronic stress, talk to a counselor about possible solutions.
Work it out. While it’s possible to avoid or minimize some of our daily frustrations, stress will always be a part of our lives. But regular exercise will go a long way toward treating your stress. Tai chi and yoga have been found to be especially effective, although any form of exercise will be helpful. Choose an activity that leaves you feeling refreshed (but not exhausted) afterward, and make an appointment with yourself to practice this activity once per day.
You may find it most helpful to start your day feeling energized, or the activity may be more helpful in the afternoons when you’re feeling most stressed from your day. Experiment to see what works best for you. And remember: Exercise burns calories and helps you lose weight, anyway! Combating your stress is just an extra bonus side effect – one that will help you feel better both mentally and physically.
If you’re feeling frustrated about your results, come in and see us. We can help you work through your challenges.