Stress, Weight Loss, and Advice for a Peaceful Mind

Welcome to part two of my IG TV video, “Why Eating Less To Lose Weight Does All Harm and No Good.” In this post I’m going to be chatting all about how stress is the sneaky culprit that sabotages our efforts to lose weight. For most of us, when we have some weight we’d like to lose, our thoughts immediately go to possible changes that should be made in our diet and exercise routines. While this is of course important to transforming our body both inside and out, I challenge you all to think more about your approach to weight loss and your mental state in the process. When we push ourselves too hard, don’t eat enough, over-exercise, get obsessive with food rules and guidelines, and compare ourselves to others, stress comes out to play- not to mention whatever stressors are in our daily lives.

When we get stressed, our adrenal glands release cortisol, triggering our fight or flight response. (1) The "fight or flight response" is our body's primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from perceived attack, harm, or threat to our survival. This mechanism, in times of real danger, like being attacked by an animal, for example, is a (literal) lifesaver! However, our body can’t tell the difference between that kind of threat, and a danger we cause to ourself like under-eating. In wanting to defend itself, our body holds onto weight that could protect us in the event that we go into starvation mode. Our body doesn’t understand the difference between under-eating, and there being an actual famine or shortage of food in our environment.

I want to touch on sugar cravings for a second because I know from personal experience how it can feel like you’re a slave to those out of control cravings. The release of cortisol from a stressor causes a spike in insulin, or blood glucose (sugar). Sugar is viewed by the body as a source of fuel that is easily accessible and quickly metabolized for an instant spike in energy. My dears, the cravings for sugar are most likely not a lack of will power, but simply a symptom your body is giving you as a silent cry for more energy. Other hormones like ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the satiation, “you’re full now,” hormone) work with cortisol and leptin to manage appetite levels. When you’re constantly obsessing about food, body image, and exercise, cortisol becomes a runaway train that wrecks everything in its path. Because of this intricate connection of networks, when cortisol is constantly being released, cravings and appetite levels get out of whack, which can cause us to gain or retain some belly fat.

A quick side note on your belly. It’s okay to have rolls! It’s normal to have the area below your bellybutton curve out a bit and not be as flat as the rest of your stomach. That’s where your vital organs are! This is something my sister and I talk about all the time. It’s so beautiful so have shape in your body! Okay, anyway, let’s move onto some points I want to make before finishing the post out.

  • Losing weight does not mean starving yourself and dying in the gym for hours everyday. Eat nutrient dense foods that you enjoy with a focus on clean sources of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, rice, and quinoa. Don’t forget to incorporate as many colors from fruits and veggies in your diet as you can! Eating the rainbow ensures that you’re filling your body with essential vitamins and minerals.

  • There are so many different types of exercise to try. If the gym isn’t your thing, explore other training styles! Group fitness classes, boxing, martial arts, an at home program, HIIT, plyometrics, and swimming are all examples of things that you can get involved in not only to lose weight, but just to make you a stronger and happier person! Also, choosing to walk and take the stairs are little changes that make a big difference in mood and overall health and longevity.

  • Your body talks to you all day long. Appetite, cravings, energy, and sleep are all symptoms of their correlating hormones needing some love and attention.

  • Set small goals with your nutrition and fitness, like having a big serving of leafy greens with every meal and being able to do (#) pushups by the end of the month. Let this type of motivation fuel you instead of placing all of your self-worth and progress in your reflection in the mirror and the number on the scale.

  • Drink all of the water! Drink. All. Of. The. Water. It is nature’s perfect detox formula. A lot of times, we think we’re hungry when it’s actually our body needing some hydration. Water is life!

  • Enjoy your life right now. Know that you have the freedom to go out for dinner with your friends and still be healthy and “on track” to lose weight and reach your health goals.

  • Don’t compare.

We all deserve to feel our best, strongest, and most beautiful selves. Maybe for you to feel that way, you have some weight to lose, or maybe not. Either way, I encourage you all to nourish your body with good food, fitness, a supportive community, and digital detoxes. Where you are right now on your journey is EXACTLY where you need to be…things are about to get really good!

Much love.

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