How Stress Can Impact Your Weight

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We all have some amount of stress in our daily lives. The stress in our lives can be as small as what outfit will I wear tonight to the dinner party? Or as big as having a flat tire on your way to work this morning. Since stress will always be a part of our daily lives it is important to understand how this impacts us mentally and physically when it comes to our weight. Once you learn what your stress is you can then find ways of coping with it.
Stress can impact your body physically which can lead to weight gain or the inability to obtain weight loss.

When you are in a state of stress your body secretes extra cortisol.  When cortisol is secreted in high amounts it will also increase your insulin levels. The higher insulin levels will, in turn, drop your blood glucose levels, causing you to become hungry for carbs, and if you end up eating more calories than needed that insulin will then store that energy as fat. People in a chronic state of high cortisol usually experience: suppressed immunity, hypertension, high blood sugar levels, carb cravings, metabolic syndrome, weight gain.

Stress can also impact your weight loss in an emotional/mental way. I am sure we have all experienced a stressful day and all we wanted to do when we got home was eat an entire chocolate bar. When we are chronically in a state of emotional stress sometimes people cope with food. When we try to deal with the stress in our lives with food this will lead to destructive eating habits. You might find yourself saying “I had a very stressful day at work, I deserve to have a dessert tonight” or “I’m so stressed that I can’t find the energy to make a healthy meal.” This is the emotional toll that stress can make on your diet and derail weight loss.

That leads to the discussion of ways you can cope with stress in a healthier way. Below I have listed some simple ways that you can reduce stress in your daily life.

1.) Physical exercise: Even just adding 20-30minutes of exercise most days a week can reduce our stress levels. Examples of exercise are: biking, walking, hiking, running, Zumba, pilates, yoga.

2.) Yoga for stress management: Yoga is centered around breathing exercises and stretching your body so that you can quiet your mind while strengthening your muscles.

3.) Breathing exercises: doing breathing exercises throughout the day will help you calm your central nervous system and reduce stress. Breathing exercises also help to reduce anxiety. An example breathing exercise is breathing in for 5 seconds and then out for 5 seconds. Ex: Pranayama

4.) Meditation: the act of clearing your mind will help you relax while also giving you time to “reset” your thought patterns. There are many phone apps that you can use that can take you through a daily guided meditation. EX:  Calm App