Stress & your weight

Your thoughts matter

What you think becomes your reality.

If this seems a little woo-woo to you, just take a moment to imagine something that scares you (eg spiders; snakes; small spaces).
How did that make you feel?
Maybe your stomach clenched or your heart started racing.
Maybe you felt anxious or jittery.
No matter what you felt, it was simply a thought, an image in your mind, that made you feel like that.

Thought = physical reaction

It then stands to reason if a “scary” thought can cause a negative reaction then a “good” thought can cause a positive physical reaction.

These days there is a lot of talk about practicing gratitude and positive thinking. There’s a good reason for this – it has a profound effect on how you feel and experience life.

Whilst there is a time and a place for stress – to escape danger (like running away from the lion for example) – these days many of us spend much of our time in a heightened state of stress which means we have too much cortisol pumping through our body.

THE SCIENCE-Y BIT: Why stress makes you gain weight… it’s a little scary!

When we are in a state of stress, our body releases adrenalin – the fight or flight hormone which is made by cortisol.
Cortisol uses glucose (sugar) to give us the energy or power boost needed escape our stressful situation (running away from the lion).
Constant high stress leads to constant cortisol production. As it needs glucose, we start to crave sugars to feed that cortisol production.
If we don’t then run off that sugar (escaping the lion), it converts to fat.
This can cause more stress and so the cycle continues…. ARGH!

BUT wait – there IS something you can do!
Your Choices Matter
Think back to thoughts and the effect they have on the body… if thoughts can make your heart race, then thoughts can also create calm.
A calmer body needs less cortisol and craves less sugar…
It also sleeps better and makes better decisions.

Now there’s as good a reason as any to practice deep breathing and meditation. Read on for a simple technique you can use throughout the day – and it only takes about 5 minutes.

There are many ways to manage your stress – find the ones that work for YOU and put them into practice. EVERY DAY.
– exercise – yoga; running; boxing…. you choose what works
– sleep
– mindfulness
– time management
– learning that “no” is a complete sentence (practice this one!!)
– self care – this is a non-negotiable
– take a break – get up and walk, preferably in nature

It really works!

Mindfulness exercise: STOP technique

Sit in a quiet space and close your eyes

S = Stop and step out of autopilot
T = take a few deep breaths; notice that you are breathing.  Notice where in your body you feel your breathing – chest, abdomen, nose. Intentionally take slower deeper breaths than normal.
O = observe. Observe how you feel physically – legs; tummy; chest; head; notice tension/relaxation.  Observe how you feel emotionally: calm; happy; agitated; stressed.  Don’t analyse or try change it.  Be aware of your mind – don’t try stop it, learn relaxed awareness
P = pause before you proceed wisely

Life is getting busier and busier so taking the time to stop, breath and just “be” is becoming more important.
Not only does constant stress affect our weight, it can affect our health too.

Remember – your choices matter and self care is non-negotiable. Not only will you benefit, but your family, friends and colleagues will too.