We have been conditioned to believe that if we eat in moderation or reduce our intake of food, we will either maintain or lose weight. To lose weight, it is suggested that we count calories, adjust portion size, cut out certain foods that are empty of nutrition or heavy in calories and sugar, and begin an exercise program.
These strategies can work for some people, some of the time, but definitely not everyone, always. Maintaining or losing weight is just not as simple as that. There are many other factors to consider. One of them is stress.
Stress plays a huge part in how we process food and whether or not we pack on pounds.
Stress from a variety of origins can impact us on mental, emotional and physical levels, such as:
Mental pressures from work, finance or our commute.
Emotional and life changes, relationship, marriage, death or divorce.
Physical changes related to age, lack of sleep, illness or injury.
Environmental stress: such as polluted air and water, noise, additives in our food, toxins in our homes and EMFs everywhere.
If you’re one of those people who eats like a sparrow and feels like a hippopotamus, you will be delighted to know that, if your weight gain is due to stress, you may be able to lose weight by eating more, not less!
When we are in danger or stressed, adrenaline is released.
Here’s the reason why. When we are in danger or stressed, adrenaline is released to activate and support our inner resources so that we can escape danger and be alert. The adrenaline rush is meant to stop immediately we are out of danger and we are safe again. But, in present times, there are so many stressors in our lives that many people have a continuous flow of adrenaline that causes hormonal imbalance, increased blood sugar (turned into fat cells) and weight gain.
Running away from or fighting off a burly monster would use up the increased sugar and, after the emergency has passed, our bodies would return to balance. But, we seldom have physical monsters to fight or run away from and, as mentioned, we frequently live in a constant state of low level stress.
Here are some suggestions to address your stress, return to balance and manage your weight:
- Be aware of your stress levels: mental, emotional and physical.
- Take conscious and consistent action to reduce your stress by addressing the cause, finding ways to improve the present circumstances, or how you think and feel about them differently.
- Check your thoughts; when necessary choose a better thought.
- Ask yourself: Am I prepared to lose my health over this?
- Create a mantra that works for you, such as “I can handle it.”
- Become aware of how your body feels: lethargic, energized etc.
- Create a healthy eating regimen to follow that will help maintain balance and prevent a build-up of sugar/fat in the body. See Note below.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day.
- Appreciate yourself: “I am good enough”, “I am worthy”, “I always do my best.”
- Regularly meditate to calm your mind and emotions (grab extra time to meditate when pressures are high).
- Feel love for yourself and others.
Really notice what is going on for you; your triggers and responses. You are unique. Seek solutions and you will find them.
Note: For further information on adrenaline, I highly recommend Adrenaline Dominance: A Revolutionary Approach to Wellness by Michael E. Platt. It is simple and easy to read and includes a recommended method for eating. At a time when my stress levels were high and my weight wouldn’t shift (except upwards), I adopted some of Michael’s suggestions. By eating recommended foods, far more frequently than I would normally have done, I lost weight, gained energy and greater clarity of mind. The result has been a powerful dose of “feel good factor” that I definitely won’t sacrifice for a donut or fries!