Did you know that when we become stressed the body triggers the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day. It should be high in the mornings when you wake up (this is what helps you get out of bed and start your day), and gradually taper off throughout the day (so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep).
We also know that chronic stress can not only increase absolute cortisol levels, but more importantly it disrupts this natural cortisol rhythm. Once this cortisol rhythm is broken, that so much havoc on your body is wrecked on the body.
The effects stress can have include:
– makes you hungry and crave sugar
– raises your blood sugar
– makes it harder for glucose to get into your cells
– reduces your ability to burn fat
– causes hormonal imbalances
– increases the rate at which you store fat
– makes your cells less sensitive to insulin
– increases your belly fat and makes your liver fatty
– raises the level of fatty acids and triglycerides in your blood
Quite simply our bodies aren’t made to cope with chronic stress.It’s our bodies response to stress that leads to increased fat storage, abdominal obesity, tissue breakdown, suppression of the immune system, and all of the other effects I listed above that directly cause you to put on weight and become fat.
So how can you beat stress and lose weight? Simple- sleep, dieting and exercise.
Numerous studies show that sleep deprivation elevates cortisol and makes it more likely that you’ll get fat and develop diabetes. Sleep restriction is associated with impairment of carbohydrate tolerance, and research has shown that a loss of 3 hours of sleep each night causes a weight gain of 4-5%.
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you and one of the best stress combatants available; however the amount of times I hear “I’m too busy to exercise and too up the wall to fit exercise it into my day”
Not only does working out keep the heart healthy and get oxygen into the system, but it helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals which help us cope with stress better.
Endorphins: Any form of physical activity leads to the release of these feel good neurotransmitters. The increase in endorphins in your body leads to a feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite, the release of different sex hormones and an enhancement of immune response. This helps combat the negative effects of stress.
All types of exercise relaxes tense muscles and tissue. These can strongly contribute to stress-related aches and pains such as neck or back pains and headaches. Yoga in particular is great for stress, my clients enjoying boxing and giving the pads a bit of a beating, But whatever exercise you try, you will soon discover its major benefit is that it allows you to forget your problems. Exercise helps you to shed the day’s irritations and the focus you place on your feel good exercise results in higher energy levels and optimism can help you feel clearer and calmer. Not only do you become completely absorbed in what you are doing at the time. But the positive endorphins that exercise releases will also help you maintain a more positive outlook afterwards.