In this fast paced Valley, moving through our day-to-day life in a stress state seems to be the norm. But from a weight loss perspective, which is what 80% of my clients come to see me for, living in a stress state is definitely the best way to assure that you will never lose weight. If some “expert” tells you to ‘eat less and exercise more’, at best they’re only giving you a small piece of the story.
The levels of chronic stress we live with every day creates a very specific “stress chemistry” in the body, and from this place it’s next to impossible to lose weight no matter how hard you try.
Many of my clients who “are doing everything right” tend to be so stressed out about how well they’re doing it right… if there’s something more they could be doing to make it happen faster…. and then internally beat themselves to hell when they’ve “messed up”. You must understand that all that internal turmoil and drama (ie: self-inflicted and unnecessary stress) creates the perfect storm for your body to NOT lose weight.
The stress response sets off a cascade of hormonal responses (like increasing cortisol) in order to prepare your body to fight. This would come in really handy if you were actually about to be attacked by a bear or chased by a lion. While there may not be any bears or lions here in our Silicon Valley World, we create the same stress chemistry through our sleepless nights, stressful jobs, nutrient poor lifeless food choices, and (especially with my female clients) a constant negative internal dialog.
Living in this state of “stress chemistry”, digestion and metabolism shut down, because the only thing your body cares about is survival at all cost. And survival equates to storing every extra ounce of fat (thank you insulin) that it might need at a later date. And just to make sure your most vital organs are cushy and safe… all that extra fat will accumulate around your middle.
Here’s exactly what happens in your body when you are in a stress state:
- Heart Rate and Blood Pressure increase
- Blood is shunted away from your organs (ie…you digestive system)
- Blood is rushed to your extremities (to fight or flee from the perceived threat)
- Blood rushes to the head for sharper thinking
- Digestion breaks down
- Blood flow to your gut is decreased at least 4 fold
- Therefore decreasing oxygen flow into the gut
- Enzymatic output is decreased by as much as 20,000 fold
- A certain amount of die-off with healthy gut flora (which is integral to your immune system)
- Excrete nutrients like minerals and water-soluble vitamins, while you’ll mal-absorb fat soluble vitamins like D, E, & A
When you’re body is experiencing a stress-state (whether it’s high level, or chronic low level doesn’t matter), and all the above bullet points happen in the body, there is no possible way you will be giving your body what it needs in terms of nutrition. So even if you are eating the healthiest diet on the planet, it’s benefits will be lost.
Contrary to the stress response is the relaxation response. When you are in a relaxed chemical state, the Parasympathetic path of your Autonomic Nervous System is in charge. And when this happens, you are in a prime state to heal your body, fully digest your food, increase thyroid and growth hormones while decreasing insulin and cortisol. It is from this state where full-force digestive power, weight loss, and health will thrive.
Weight loss, (or as I prefer to say, revving up your metabolic engine) has more to do with creating a hormonal environment that naturally cascades to send your body into an almost effortless weight loss response.
How do you do that? When your body believes that “life is good” (read: isn’t in a stress state), it doesn’t want to carry excess weight. And if you give it the opportunity by chilling out a little (most people are so caught up in counting calories and freaking out), your body would easily and happily release the weight.
If you’re in the process of losing weight and creating a healthier you, learning how to manage, and even get rid of unnecessary stress before it gets out of control should be top on your list.
Use the three tips below and you will be well on your way to creating an internal environment that will allow you to easily lose weight.
- Decreasing unnecessary stress in your life. I’m not here to say all stress is bad. I am here to say the unnecessary stress that we put on ourselves from negative self-talk to constant roller coaster “diet-then-binge” eating cycles keeps us from reaching our goals.
- Be nice to yourself. Stop with the crazy drama, mama! If you’re going to go out and enjoy a big ol’ p.h.a.t. dinner with your friends, you’re better off enjoying every second of it, not beating yourself up, and then getting back on track the next day.
- Move your body in a way that you love. Although I do believe in having a well thought out fitness plan, often times just moving your body and enjoying it is most important. Right now, I’m in love with mountain biking and surfing. A few years ago it was competitive salsa dancing. One of my nutrition clients loves boxing while another loves “outdoor boot camp” and yet another can’t wait to get to her Zumba class. Moving your body in a way that you love is one of the fastest ways to rev up your metabolic engine and create a hormonal environment that will easily release excess weight, moving you into a body and life filled with health, happiness, and vibrancy!
But it doesn’t end here, my friends. The real party is happening below on the blog, where I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Do you find yourself stuck in a constant stress-state?
What strategies do you use and are willing to share with our community? We need your help!
With deep love,
Audra : )