How Stress Makes You Fat

stressed-646457_1280 Y’all know stress is bad for you, right? Like, d’uh. Old news. But do you know exactly why it’s bad? Or how it derails your weight loss attempts? Let me shed some light for you, sister….. When you perceive an imminent threat or danger (aka stress) your wise, wonderful body releases a downpour of stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine (amongst others) – designed to help save yo’ life. Cast your mind back to when we were all dirty, hairy, cavemen and women (FYI – so hot!); there were predators around us that could end our life in an instant! If one of these were to approach you, looking for it’s next meal, your body would experience the fight or flight response. These stress hormones would surge through your body, increasing your awareness, focus and energy, and shunting blood to your muscles to allow you to either stay and fight, or flee, for your life. So, stress response = super important, powerful and life saving, and those stress hormones? Imperative for this process.

So what’s the problemo here?

Usually, this process is self limiting, meaning that once the perceived stress has gone, all your bodily systems and functions would return to normal, and you would continue on with your peaceful life. Sounds good right? Except, when the stress is ongoing and continuous, such as what you feel in your crazy, hectic life on a minute to minute basis, this life saving response doesn’t switch off, and you live in a state of chronic, low level stress. Those stress hormones that were designed to save your life, now wreak havoc on it. When under the stress response, blood is shunted away from your core, and away from any processes that would be considered non-essential if you were being chased by a sabre tooth tiger. Cause let’s be real here, it’s quite irrelevant if your reproductive system is working effectively if, in 3 minutes, your butt is going to be chewed off by that tiger. Your digestion, your immune response, your reproductive system and any growth processes are effectively put “on hold” as blood is taken from them and flooded into your muscles in preparation for your fight or flight.

Over time, these elevated hormones:

  • Decrease your immunity
  • Muck up your digestion (bloating? burping? farting? heartburn?)
  • Increase abdominal fat production and storage (beer belly? love handles? Here’s your culprit)
  • Break down your muscle, bones and connective tissue (sore joints? brittle bones? yep, again, these guys!)
  • Inhibit thyroid hormone activation (your thyroid is the gland that controls your metabolism)
  • Increase blood pressure and sugar
  • Decrease your libido
  • Can produce acne

YIKES! Bad news right? This nasty little situation you’ve gotten yourself into is why, even when you are are eating the most high quality, nutritious meals, in the correct portions for you, you can still gain weight, or fail to lose weight. Yep. No matter what you are eating, if you are eating these meals under stressful conditions, and therefore, whilst your body is in the throes of the stress response, you are guaranteeing your digestion, assimilation of nutrients and your metabolism are minimised, at best, and practically switched off at worst. 

Bugger

So what are you supposed to do about this? Cause you’re busy right? You have deadlines, and kids, and bills to pay and places to be. You just don’t have time to not be stressed, do you? I get it. I used to be you. Sometimes I still am and it sucks. Big time. Here’s the great news – it actually doesn’t take that long for you to switch that stress response off, and to activate relaxation. You can even do it right now, right where you are, no crazy yoga tights required.

Breathe, honey

Simply taking 3-10 slow, deep, easy breaths, right down into your diaphragm, floods your body with oxygen, switching off the stress response and activating your relaxation response. Simple right? Oh so freaken easy. But I bet you still don’t do it. You want a magic pill. Something that you don’t have to actually bother to do; something you can just take and it will fix all. Sorry to burst your bubble, beautiful, but it doesn’t exist (like, seriously, how long have you been hunting for that pill?!? Give it up girlfriend!) Save your money. Save your energy. Save your time. Just breathe. Like, actually do it. For realz. Right down into your belly.  Taking just a couple of minutes before every meal to close your eyes, and take 10 slow, deep breaths, all the way down into your belly, will ignite your metabolism, activate your digestion and will increase your awareness, making it easier for you to stop eating when you’re full, rather than overeating because you’re not present. 

Simple. Easy. Powerfully effective. But only if you DO it. 

JustBreathe

Love, Brooke xox

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