Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Stress Affects Your Weight - And My Top Tip To Reduce Stress Immediately

In this two part article and video series I'm going to tell you the surprising reason that relaxing and having fun will actually help you lose weight. I'm also going to share with you my top tip for physically lowering your stress immediately and one for keeping it down for good.

I recently did a survey to find out what was missing from women's lives. Here are some of the answers I received:

Connect with more people
Feel satisfied with what I accomplish
Stress less
Wake up early, do yoga, hike
Spend more time with other women and feel less lonely
New and exciting

I see this often with my clients. On our never ending to do lists, stress, work and "shoulds" dominate the top of the list and fun, relaxation and self care fall to the bottom. And let's get real - the bottom of a to do list is a grave yard for dreams. 

Relaxing and having fun aren't just a bonuses for getting your work done. It's actually super important for losing weight and being physically healthy. When you stress, your body pumps a hormone called cortisol into your body. Very basically, it's a physical response evolved to help you outrun something that is trying to eat you. It kicks your body into survival mode. To your body - the best way to survive is to pack on weight. It's a physical response that made a lot of sense when our only stressors were starving - or becoming something else's dinner. 

Cortisol is also used to help control blood sugar levels - which directly impacts your weight. So when you stress out all the time - your cortisol levels are all over the place - which means your body will have a tougher time regulating blood sugar levels and therefore weight.

This is a pretty simplified explanation of a more complex process but the takeaway is this:

Today - our stressors are different,but the response is the same. Less stress helps control cortisol spikes which in turn helps your body better regulate blood sugar levels and this directly allows your body to release stored fat - after all, you're no longer in survival mode. You don't need to save that muffin top for later...

So let's do it. Ditch the stress right now. When we're all worked up and stressed out - it's not enough to just "not stress" or change your thoughts - you have to change your physiology and lower the stress response and get your brain back. Here's my number one trick for getting your body out of survival mode and into fun fat burning mode in 2 minutes. 

It's called 5-5-7 breathing. 

Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, inhale for 5 seconds, hold the inhale for 5 seconds and then exhale for 7 seconds.This is one cycle. Repeat this cycle 5 times. Notice how much calmer you feel. Breathing deeply actually physically lowers your body's stress response. Repeat this several times a day and each time you'll be taking your body out of survival mode and into thriving.

My top tip for staying relaxed:

Now take this zen body of yours and keep that stress response down with my top tip for keeping stress down. Plan at least one thing each week that gets you out of your routine and doing something unproductively fun. Seriously - get out your planner and schedule it in - non negotiable time for fun. When you have it scheduled into your week you don't end up not doing it because you thought of it too late and it fell through. You also can use it as fuel to get through the week knowing that you have some stress free, non productive fun to reset you for the next. I'd love to hear what you do for fun - share below or invite me next time!

In the follow up - I'm going to talk about how having fun and relaxing actually changes your relationship with food - putting an end to emotional and bored eating for good.

Join me the 18th of July for an hour and a half to destress with an easy yoga hike


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