Something very easily overlooked when it comes to weight loss and weight gain is STRESS. Stress is often underestimated. I don’t mean just the huge stressful events in life (although it does include those) but I really mean, the stresses of daily life.
What is for dinner?
How are the kids going to get to the 5 different things we have this evening?
Why am I always running 15 minutes late?
Why can’t I get these pants to fit?
Where is my water bottle?
What am I going to do about XYZ?
How come I am so exhausted?
I could go on…
This is stress.
It’s the stress of everyday life and it has a big effect on your body – whether you realize it or not.
You may notice a few extra pounds creeping on, despite no drastic changes in your diet, or you may notice you need the next size up and wonder why. Stress may be the culprit.
Here are 4 Ways Stress May Be Keeping You From Shedding Pounds
When we are stressed – big or small, our body goes into fight or flight mode. This happens because our flight or fight response (survival mode) kicks on to protect us even though we are not in real danger. When the adrenaline wears off, cortisol comes into play and stimulates us to eat to protect ourselves for next time.
Many of us become overeaters when we are feeling pressure or stress. Once this starts to happen on a regular basis, it can create a habit of eating when we are stressed or holding onto calories we have eaten. This also causes us to crave more sugary, fatty foods.
Space is so important when it comes to shedding weight and keeping stress down. When your spaces, like your kitchen or bedroom are cluttered with papers and clothes or toys, your brain has to go into overdrive to process the stuff. The more “stuff” you have in your life, the more your attention and thoughts are consumed, and the more your stress is triggered. Not only does this leave less mental space for thinking, it also has a huge effect on your willpower and motivation. Having too much stuff around is a huge trigger for stress and snacking.
Cravings of Junk Foods
When we are chronically stressed, we crave “comfort foods,” such as a bag of potato chips or a tub of ice cream. These foods tend to be easy to eat, highly processed, and high in fat, sugar, or salt. We crave these foods for both biological and psychological reasons. Stress may mess up our brain’s reward system or cortisol may cause us to crave more fat and sugar. We also may have memories from childhood, such as the smell of freshly baked cookies,, that lead us to associate sweet foods with comfort. When we are stressed, we also may be more likely to drive through the Fast Food place, rather than taking the time and mental energy to plan and cook a meal.
Anxiety can be a big trigger for emotional eating and also for lack of sleep – which affects weight loss. When you are anxious, you eat more “mindlessly” as you churn around worrying thoughts in your head, not even focusing on the taste of the food, how much you’ve eaten, or when you are feeling full. When you eat mindlessly, you will likely eat more, yet feel less satisfied.
You may notice that when you are more stressed, everyone in your family is more stressed.
I notice this with my family. My mood often sets the tone of my family.
One way to really get a handle on this common situation is to minimize the stressors of everyday life.
This can include things like making dinner, getting regular exercise in, having less clutter in our environment and understanding what stress management activities feel good to you!
When you decrease the daily stresses, you can feel more relaxed, more in control, less chaotic and happier so your body can shed excess weight and allow you to feel more energy.
This can have a huge effect on you and your family.
Credit: Ali Hively; Fitness instructor here at The Wembley Club, and owner/founder of Kijia Living!