Since hitting my 20’s I have always seen my weight go up and down, and while I know I wasn’t the best at doing exercise, nor did I particularly eat well on the odd occasion, last year I did eat very well and did exercise regularly. So why on earth did I not lose any weight?
Honestly, it was down to stress. Last year there was so much going on in my personal life. It wasn’t bad though, just hen do’s, 30th birthdays and secret holidays to organize, as well as having a full time job and trying to get my business off the ground.
So on top of my mini spiral into depression, I was suffering from major stress to get things perfect for others. Go figure…!
I thought running was going to help me shift that muffin top as well as help to clear my head and my diet was pretty good, but I was getting more and more frustrated that I wasn’t losing weight ready to be bridesmaid for my friends wedding!
Though this isn’t true for everyone, there is actually a scientific reason why most people tend to gain weight when they are experiencing stress over a long period of time. It is because stress initiates a fight or flight response in the body. Your body thinks that it needs to prepare for the worst, so it starts to not only crave foods that are high in fats or sugars, it also starts to store it on your body more readily!
Understanding the stress response…
When you are experiencing high levels of stress your sympathetic nervous system kicks in and you experience a fight or flight response. Part of this is your body producing too much cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. Increased levels of cortisol overtime, raise your insulin levels, which actually causes your blood sugar levels to drop. This is why your body starts to crave sweet or fatty foods, because it is trying to counteract this effect and bring your blood sugar levels back up again.
The problem is that because your body is also preparing for the worst outcome, it starts to store energy (fat) more readily. So this is why it is common for people who are experiencing ongoing stress in their lives to gain weight.
So what did I do?
Stress is something we all experience from time to time; however letting it build up can be unhealthy. This is why it is important to incorporate relaxing activities and techniques into your everyday life. Even though everyone is different and what you find relaxing might not be the same as the next person, there are some general tips that tend to apply to everyone. Here are some ways you can help reduce stress in your life:
- Say no – I actually said no to so much stuff going on. Rather than going out every night of the week catching up with friends, I took a night to myself to read a book and get a good night sleep. Reading is great way to unwind, especially not looking at your phone. Have you heard that the little ‘blue’ lights in your phone actually stimulate the mind, rather than let it unwind? A nightmare before bedtime!
- Exercise and preferably outside – I continued to run while I was stressed, as it was the only thing that helped me clear my head. Exercise is an excellent way to release tension, stimulating endorphins and other happy hormones, improving your quality of sleep and helping you to relax and unwind. Being cooped up inside all the time is bound to cause stress and get you down. So, pencil in a daily walk or activity that has you out in nature and breathing in the fresh air.
- Express yourself – who says singing in the shower and acting a fool with your significant other isn’t fun? I started to let lose a little and just be me. Whether it was dance, sing or be creative I made sure I spent 5 minutes a day doing something ‘nutty!’
- Laugh with loved ones – I already mentioned I had to say no sometimes, but honestly that meant I was spending quality time with my friends and being able to relax more. I no longer felt guilty for not being productive, because I was able to do that on another night that I said ‘no’. When it comes to stress, laughter really is the best medicine. Make time to spend with family and friends so that you can let your hair down and have a good laugh.
Hope this helps everyone! Have a great week.