Why stress and anxiety make you gain weight and how to control it

Por qué el estrés y la ansiedad te aumentan de peso y cómo controlarlo

You may feel frustrated or lost. You are fighting to control your diet, stay healthy and transform your body. You know you want to feel better and you try hard, but maybe you don't realize that you lead a life full of busyness that causes you stress and anxiety.

And most people know that moving regularly, eating and sleeping well contribute to losing weight; However, many do not take into account stressful and anxious states when it comes to eliminating those extra kilos.

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

Stress and anxiety can affect your body, mind and emotions

Most people think they know what stress is and what it feels like:

  • A pounding heart when you are woken up at 3:00 am by the sound of breaking glass.
  • The need to urinate five times before giving a presentation.
  • A temper bomb that explodes when your entire day goes off course.

But there is another type of stress within you, a little more subtle, that stalks you and appears when you are continually exposed to different daily factors:

  • The thunderous noise of construction.
  • The uncertainty of a pandemic.
  • The scars of childhood trauma.
  • The never-ending pressures of parenthood.
  • The job.
  • The finances.
  • And more.

These hidden stressors can be so constant that you don't register them, because they are mostly woven seamlessly into "normal."

However, as they build up they can wear you down and make you feel listless, tired, bloated and sore.

There was a time when this feeling used to be called "adrenal fatigue."

The theory of adrenal fatigue was this : Chronic stress depletes 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 that I mentioned have to do with something called HPA axis dysfunction, which means "hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal," and the word "axis" means that they are 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 the hormone adrenocorticotropin (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 turns off the stress response.

That's how it's supposed to work, but when you're faced with too many stressors together for too long, this complicated system can malfunction and the end result will be cortisol production staying on when it should be off.

Stress and anxiety make you out of shape

Stress and anxiety make you out of shape

Are you overworked and underappreciated? Do you face problems maintaining consistency between nutrition and fitness due to the demands of your routine? Wondering if you'll 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.
  • The time you used to invest in self-care has disappeared.
  • The clothes that fit you before 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 you can:

  • Feel 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 when you're trying to get healthy and stay fit

How stress and anxiety get in the way when you're trying to get healthy and stay fit

It doesn't matter how you feel now; the type of exchange 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 leave your 20s and enter your 30s, 40s and 50s:

  • You tend to sleep less and wake up more tired and sore.
  • Your sex hormones peak and then slowly begin to decline.
  • Your creaky ankles, knees, and wrists remind you that you are getting older.
  • You tend to snack and overeat more frequently, especially at night.
  • You drink less, but you do it more consistently.

While everyone's life experience is different, there are some things that remain constant. For most, getting older generally means:

  • Greater responsibilities at home.
  • Increased stress at work.
  • Less time to take care of yourself.

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 overtake your health.
  • You set big fitness goals, but you think that only with a miracle could you achieve them.
  • You continue to add body fat and punish yourself for not making any changes.

Solution: focus on yourself and your health

  • Adopt exercise minimalism, that is, doing the fewest exercises possible that involve the greatest amount of body.
  • You don't have to spend thousands of hours in the gym to get in better shape.

When it comes to nutrition, the idea is that you choose the practice that has the greatest positive impact on your body and health, and leaves you with time for yourself.

Here I leave you as an example, a brief list that will help you 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 prepared with chicken.
  • Goal: reduce carbohydrates.
  • 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 see a nutritionist who can tell you what fits your needs.

2.Wanting to have a better relationship with food

2.Wanting 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"

Solution: exercise "Break the chain"

Simply observe and record what happened before any food craving. When you overeat emotionally, overeat, and/or any other time when you feel “out of control” with food.

Those feelings and behaviors don't arise out of nowhere. Something always provokes them.

Follow these steps and discover what causes you to overeat. Be your own detective:

  • Start with any recent meals or eating-related episodes that have worried you. (For example, eating too much, eating foods you didn't want, etc.).
  • Write down what was happening around you right before that episode happened. Ask yourself: where were you? what were you doing? what were you thinking about? 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 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 to notice what was happening in the days or hours before you had a craving or emotional eating episode.
  • If you find patterns, dig deeper. 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 at all. You probably feel stuck noticing patterns, but aren't sure how to change. Either way, it's okay. The important thing is that now you are 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 workouts.
  • Fitbit, Apple Watch and other wearable fitness technologies.
  • Popular diets like intermittent fasting, paleo , and low carb, uncontrolled.
  • Exercise books and magazine articles.

Of course, these are not "bad" options, but eventually, many of these methods and tools stop giving results. Why does that happen?

Because they only help solve a problem on a surface 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 pace 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 should follow a structured plan, but have room to move at your own pace when necessary.
  • You require a daily reminder to practice whatever nutrition, exercise, or lifestyle habits you're working on.
  • You need it to be customizable based on your skill levels, goals, and how much time you have available.
  • Make yourself responsible to a person.

Personal responsibility is more important than motivation for one simple reason: no one is always motivated to go to the gym or make healthy eating choices. But if you believe in your reasons and your goals, there will be no one to stop you. Believe in yourself and you will achieve it.

4. Wanting to be consistent with your diet, exercises or healthy lifestyle habits

You've probably tried doing something to get and stay in shape. Most people always try:

  • Checkweigher.
  • MyFitnessPal and other calorie counters.
  • Jenny Craig and Curves.
  • Crossfit and other group workouts.
  • Popular diets like paleo, juice fasts, cleanses, and low-carb meals, out of control.
  • Exercise books and magazine articles.

The challenges with these options are that many people end up struggling to stay the course, despite having good intentions and working hard.

And that happens because they do not offer a significant change, step by step, that you can make in your daily life.

Solution: Join a program that actually works and be accountable

Solution: Join a program that actually works and be accountable

5. Make yourself accountable to someone who really cares.

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 move forward and achieve the goal you have in mind.

If until now you have not achieved your goal of losing weight, there is time.

Observe how stress and anxiety are in your body and put into practice the solutions we provide.

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... Don't give up!

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