Ok, it may seem crazy. . .blaming our weight problems on stress, but it’s not as far-fetched as you might think! While we can’t blame our weight entirely on stress, it can in fact be halting our fat loss efforts and I’m here to tell you, there’s something WE can do about it!
First, lets talk stress. . . you see, most people think of stress as anxiety or bad stress. Things like losing a job, divorce, a family or friend passing away or a fight with a co-worker, BUT stress comes in many different forms. New moms experience a ton of stress. . . in the blink of an eye, the thought of sleep seems like a lifetime ago. Everything is new and unknown. . . new routines, expectations, fussy baby, pressures to be a good mom, and the list goes on. While this is an amazing time for any parent, it is also stressful. . . it’s good stress, but nonetheless, still stressful.
Our bodies don’t know the difference between good and bad stress, the body just knows we are in a stressed state, therefore, our bodies enact the “fight or flight” mechanism of survival. This is good for short-term stress, but when it comes to long-term stress, this is BAD NEWS!
Now how does this relate to weight loss? Over-exercising and/or under-eating are other stressors on the body that often times we don’t view as stress. When most people think about losing weight, they think EXERCISE MORE, EAT LESS. Seems logical, but this puts a lot of undo stress on the body. Doing this for long periods of time can not only damage our metabolism, but it can also lead to elevated cortisol levels, which when elevated long-term, can halt our fat loss efforts!
Cortisol isn’t always a bad thing. First, let’s look at the function of cortisol. . . the main functions of cortisol are to aid in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, increase blood sugar, and suppress the immune system. When cortisol is released alongside Human Growth Hormone (HGH), it’s the perfect combination for our bodies to build muscle and burn fat. This occurs when we do high-intensity weight training or sprint type exercise. When cortisol is released with low levels of Human Growth Hormone (usually due to lack of sleep) and high insulin levels, it has the reverse effect and causes our bodies to burn muscle and store fat. Another reason cortisol levels may rise without the presence of HGH is when we do too much long-duration, moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio (aka Cardio Queens)
Here are 5 things you can start doing today to help lower your cortisol levels and start losing fat:
- Stop over-exercising! Instead of spending hours doing cardio, spend your time doing short-intense workouts, such as sprints!
- Start lifting weights! Swap your cardio sessions for Metabolic Conditioning style weight training workouts in order to get HGH levels to rise alongside cortisol.
- Get some sleep! Shoot for 8 hours a night if you can get it.
- Go for a leisure walk! Relax, and do something you enjoy whether it’s a walk, bike ride, gardening, etc.
- Drink BCAAs (I love Metabolic Nutrition’s Tripep. . . if you’re local, stop by The Studio to grab some!). BCAAs not only lower cortisol, but they also have the ability to suppress hunger and cravings brought on by stress!
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I’d love to hear your comments. . . do you think stress could halting your results? Comment below!