You may feel frustrated or lost. You're struggling to control your eating, stay healthy, and transform your body. You know you want to feel better and you work hard, but you may not realize that you lead a busy life that causes you stress and anxiety.
And it is that most people know that moving regularly, eating and sleeping well, contribute to losing weight; however, many do not take stressful and anxious states into account when it comes to shedding those extra pounds.
In this post you will learn how stress and anxiety can harm your weight loss and what to do to combat it.
Stress and anxiety can affect your body, mind and emotions.
Most think they know what stress is and what it feels like:
- A pounding heart when you are woken at 3:00 am by the sound of breaking glass.
- The need to urinate five times before giving a presentation.
- A temper bomb that goes off when your entire day goes awry.
But there is another type of stress within you, a little more subtle, that haunts you and appears when you are continuously exposed to different daily factors:
- The thunderous noise of the construction.
- The uncertainty of a pandemic.
- The scars of childhood trauma.
- The endless pressures of parenthood.
- The job.
- The finances.
- And more.
These hidden stressors can be so constant that you don't register them, because most of them are seamlessly woven into "normalcy."
However, as they accumulate, they can wear you down, making you feel listless, tired, bloated, and sore.
There was a time when this feeling used to be called "adrenal fatigue."
The adrenal fatigue theory went like this : Chronic stress exhausts the adrenal glands and reduces their ability to pump out the stress hormone cortisol. After several studies, they determined that "adrenal fatigue does not exist."
All of those stressors I mentioned have to do with something called HPA axis dysfunction, which stands for "hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal," and the word "axis" means they're all connected.
That's how it works:
- There is an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which interprets stress and secretes a hormone called "corticotropin-secreting hormone (CRH)."
- CRH tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH).
- ACTH instructs the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline).
- Once your adrenal glands have pumped out some cortisol, they tell your brain "we did our job" and your brain shuts down the stress response.
That's how it's supposed to work, but when you're dealing with too many stressors together for a long time, this complicated system can go awry, with the end result being that cortisol production stays on when it should be off.
Stress and anxiety make you out of shape
Are you overworked and underappreciated? Do you have trouble maintaining consistency between nutrition and fitness due to the demands of your routine? Do you wonder if you will ever have time to achieve the healthy body you want?
Most of the time we put other people, tasks and occupations first, forgetting about ourselves and our health.
And little by little, after months or years it usually happens that:
- You are mentally and emotionally exhausted.
- Gone is the time you used to invest in self-care.
- Clothes that used to fit you feel a little (or a lot) tighter.
- Cravings for sugar and junk food seem much stronger.
- Exercise classes/workouts are postponed and then cancelled.
- You avoid the bathroom mirror and the scale.
But this does not have to be like this. You have to let go of stress and anxiety, so that you can:
- Feeling healthy, fit and good about yourself.
- Regain control of your schedule and your body.
- Overcome emotional eating and cravings.
- Show love and appreciation to others while still taking care of yourself.
How stress and anxiety get in the way of trying to stay healthy and fit
It doesn't matter how you feel right now; the type of change you want is possible. The important thing is that you know how to face obstacles so that you can overcome them and achieve the body and life you want.
1. Your life is busier than ever.
Some interesting events start to happen as you move out of your 20s and into your 30s, 40s, and 50s:
- You tend to sleep less and wake up more tired and sore.
- Your sex hormones peak and then slowly start to decline.
- Your creaking ankles, knees and wrists remind you that you are getting old.
- You tend to snack and overeat more frequently, especially at night.
- You drink less, but you do it more constantly.
While everyone's life experience is different, there are some things that remain constant. For most, getting older generally means:
- Increased responsibilities at home.
- Increased stress at work.
- Less time to take care of you.
And that's how you end up with a gym membership you rarely use, a healthy cookbook you rarely open, and a body you're not particularly proud of.
This is what you do when you feel busy, stressed and anxious:
- You let your busy schedule get the best of your health.
- You set yourself big fitness goals, but you think that only with a miracle could you achieve it.
- You continue to add body fat and punish yourself for not making any changes.
Solution: focus on you and your health
- Embrace the minimalism of exercise, that is, do the fewest number of exercises possible that involve the largest amount of your body.
- You don't need to spend thousands of hours in the gym to get in better shape.
When it comes to eating, the idea is that you choose the practice that has the greatest positive impact on your body and health, and leaves time for yourself.
Here I leave you as an example, a short list that will help you to be more focused:
- Goal: drink less beer.
- Action: Instead of drinking two beers every night, have one. Or better yet, none.
- Goal: eat less junk food/fast food.
- Action: Instead of eating a hamburger or taco for lunch, buy a salad made with chicken.
- Goal: reduce carbs.
- Action: Instead of ordering fries for dinner, buy a salad. Instead of eating a breakfast sandwich, order scrambled eggs.
If you need help deciding on an ideal eating plan for you, we recommend that you consult a nutritionist who will tell you what suits your needs.
2. Want to have a better relationship with food
At some point in your life, you struggle with overeating and emotional eating. You love your wine, chocolate, sugar, or whatever your "I deserve this" or "I need a break" treats are.
Once the "food rush" wears off, you're left with the same stress and health problems you started with. You also feel guilty, ashamed, and even out of control.
This cycle is more or less like this:
Solution: exercise "Break the chain"
Just watch and record what happened before any food cravings. When you emotionally overeat and/or any other time you feel “out of control” with food.
Those feelings and behaviors don't just come out of nowhere. Something always provokes them.
Follow these steps and discover what causes you to eat more. Be your own detective:
- Start with any recent food or eating episodes that have concerned you. (For example, eating too much, eating food you didn't want, etc.).
- Write down what was happening around you just before that episode happened. Ask yourself: where were you? what were you doing? what were you thinking? who was with you? what were you feeling
- Then see if you can go back even further, perhaps a few hours earlier. Repeat the same questions to yourself and try to capture all the details.
- Look at your data, are there patterns? If you don't see any connections right away, don't worry. Try this exercise a few times and start sensing what was happening in the days or hours before you had a craving or emotional eating episode.
- If you find patterns, dig further. Don't worry about fixing them right away. Just look at them, observe them and analyze them in depth.
- You may notice solutions right away, or you may not notice them. You may feel stuck noticing the patterns, but you're not sure how to change. Either way, it's fine. The important thing is that you are now aware of what is happening to you.
3. You know what to do, but you are not constant
This is the mother of all problems when it comes to weight loss – most have a hard time staying consistent.
In general, they usually try:
- P90X, Insanity and other exercise DVDs.
- CrossFit and other group training.
- Fitbit, Apple Watch and other wearable fitness technologies.
- Popular diets like intermittent fasting, paleo , and low carb, out of control.
- Exercise books and magazine articles.
Of course, these are not "bad" options, but eventually, many of these methods and tools stop working. Why does that happen?
Because they only help solve a problem at a superficial level, they work for a while and mostly do not take into account the ups and downs of everyday life, that is, they do not adapt to your rhythm of life. And because of that, they don't help you stay constant.
Solution: lean on your deepest reasons for wanting to change.
Join a program where you feel committed to yourself, to your change. How do you know if a program will help you stay focused?
- You need to measure your progress and track it daily, weekly and monthly.
- You must follow a structured plan, but have space to move at your own pace when necessary.
- You require a daily reminder to practice whatever nutrition, exercise, or lifestyle habit you're working on.
- You need it to be customizable based on your skill levels, goals, and how much time you have available.
- Be accountable to a person.
Personal responsibility is more important than motivation for one simple reason: no one always feels motivated to go to the gym or choose a healthy diet. But if you believe in your reasons and your goals, there will be no stopping you. Believe in yourself and you will achieve it.
4. Wanting to be consistent with your diet, exercise, or healthy lifestyle habits
You've probably tried to do something to get and stay in shape. Most always test with:
- Weight controller.
- MyFitnessPal and other calorie counters.
- Jenny Craig and Curves.
- Crossfit and other group training.
- Popular diets like paleo, juice fasts, cleanses, and low-carb eating, run amok.
- Exercise books and magazine articles.
The challenges with these options is that many people end up struggling to stay the course, despite good intentions and hard work.
And that happens because they do not offer a significant change, step by step, that you can make in your day to day.
Solution: Join a program that really works and be responsible
5. Hold yourself accountable to a person who really cares about you
Social support is important. Whether it's a friend, a training partner, your spouse, your child, your dog, a co-worker, your personal trainer.
Don't try to do it alone. Independence is great, but for a project like this, you need a tribe of like-minded people to help and support you.
Without a doubt, they will be that extra boost and motivation to keep going and achieve the goal you have in mind.
If so far you have not achieved your goal of losing weight, you are on time.
Observe how stress and anxiety are in your body and put into practice the solutions that we provide. It will also help you to have the ebook on hand: Stress and the immune system, a complete guide to control it that will keep you away from diseases.
I hope this post has been very helpful to you. And remember that there are many ways to reduce or eliminate what does not serve your life... Do not give up!
Let us know how it went!