It can be more than frustrating when you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly, to feel like your not getting anywhere or noticing any fat loss results. You have tried several diets, but can’t seem to shift the ‘middle age spread’.
Did you know you have other lifestyle factors that can contribute to weight gain, like stress and hormonal imbalances?
Let’s take a look at what stress is and how it can effect your training goals.
Stress is caused by a situation or event in your life that forces demands upon you greater than your ability to cope. This can be work related, your personal life, illness or trauma. It can make you feel overloaded, emotional, tired or tense and will effect you at some point in your life.
Your physiological response to feeling this way is the secretion of Cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline from your adrenal glands. It’s your body’s natural flight or fight response that will either gear you up to fight for your life or run from danger.
Imagine a gazelle in the African desert. It really only has to deal with those scenarios. Running for it’s life to avoid being eaten or fighting a predator that comes into it’s path…. There’s never any overweight Gazelles in the desert either, so this is pretty evident of normal hormone function as it should be.
Humans however are quite different. It has become the norm to get up in a morning and rush to work, often at the expense of eating any breakfast, as well doing the school run and battling rush hour traffic. Next is a morning of responding to emails, checking Facebook a few times and attending meetings it’s time to think about lunch. Damn, there’s only 10 minutes to grab something before then next teleconference or spreadsheet to complete….. My goodness I’m exhausted just typing that.
This sends Cortisol and adrenaline on a rollercoaster ride, spiking up and down all day long. This is the worst combination of hormones to be released together as it encourages fat storage, especially in your belly as there are 4 times more receptors there.
So how can you reduce your stress levels?
- The most simple and effective step you can take is meditating first thing in a morning. You don’t have to spend an hour doing this, just 10 minutes is sufficient enough to set you up for the whole day. Try using guided meditation via youtube or through an app or website like calm.com
- Keep a mood journal and record your emotions through out the day. `You will become aware of any re-occuring feelings you will have that crop up at certain times or in certain places. You can reflect upon your findings and make amendments from there.
- Get plenty of sleep. I know it can be tempting to stay awake to get things done but your future self will thank you for making a conscious effort to relax and recharge.
- Eat well. Cortisol can cause cravings, especially for sugar, so try to consume lots of fibre, vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids each day.
- Exercise. Being more physically active can reduce your stress levels immediately and is a good distraction away from the causes. Try to surround yourself with nature as that’s very beneficial to clearing your mind and rebalancing.
- Supplement with vitamin C. Evidence suggests taking vitamin c daily can reduce your cortisol levels. My suggestions is to take first thing in the morning when cortisol is released naturally after waking up.
These simple changes are easy enough to implement each day without adding extra stress to your already busy lifestyle. Taking time out to recharge and refocus maybe the best thing you can do for your fat loss goals right now.