Stress Management is KEY For Fat Loss
Welcome to the first episode in my 10 part fat loss series! Today we're talking about how stress can be a huge inhibitor on fat loss. It's honestly shocking, how impactful stress is on our lives as a whole, but for the purpose of this article, I'll be talking specifically about how chronic stress deters fat loss.
So what is stress exactly? A stressor is something that makes you feel uneasy, nervous, anxious and activates your fight or flight response. This reaction is key because it causes your body to release hormones into your bloodstream to react to these stressors.
Specifically, cortisol is one of the main hormones released to help aid the body to deal with the stressors that life throws it's way. There's nothing wrong with having cortisol being released. It's a normal, healthy reaction that is later mitigated once the stressor subsides. However should the stressor become CHRONIC and reoccurring, that's when we have repeated cortisol release and the issues start to arise. Let's take a look at common stressors:
- Financial Issues
- Family/Relationship Conflict
- Lifting Weights/ Intense Exericse
- Issues at Your Job
These are going to happen at some point, right? NO ONE lives a stress-free life. It's just a part of how things go. In fact, especially for fat loss, exercise induced stress is actually important. The body needs to go under some stress to grow, build strong muscles and bones, burn fat and increase the efficiency of how your heart and lungs work together to pump your blood. However, should you not find a way to manage all these stressors that life throws at you, that's when we get to why you're here: it messes with fat loss.
CHRONICALLY elevated levels of cortisol in your body is associated with HIGHER visceral fat or fat around your stomach (so cya abs for the summer) in addition to a craving for sweet and fried foods that are usually high in calories, particularly fat. And we don't usually have a little, WE BINGE. If you're trying to lose fat, especially for aesthetics, these binge episodes KILL YOUR PROGRESS.
We're constantly in this nervous, anxious and unsteady state of being. Our mood is all over the place and we can snap at any point going off on someone or even something. And when you're seriously stressed the hell out, it can mess with your sleep, your stomach, give you headaches and make you exhausted.
Stress needs to be balanced with recovery. When we experience stress we need a way to let the body settle down and lower the cortisol levels to get back to a normal state. When we stay in the fight or flight zone for too long, everything is so out of whack.
In the context of exercise specifically, especially if we're really puttin' in work in the gym, being in this fight or flight state for too long doesn't allow our body and brain to recover effectively. We're more likely to overtrain and more likely to get hurt. If we get hurt, depending on the injury, fat loss may take a back seat to just recovering from your injury!
If this sounds scary, it doesn't have to be. With the proper know-how, help and execution, you can recover from stress and get back to your fat loss journey.
Here's my top 3 ways to help you manage your stress right now as you're reading this article:
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Just breathing is one of the most effective ways to combat stress. Take a second and slow down your breathing. Take a big inhale all the way into your diaphragm, hold for a few seconds, then exhale very slowly. This style of breathing will release serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your mood, anxiety among other things, and will help relax you. Most of us just kind of breath subconsciously. But if you're feeling really anxious, worked up, or stressed out, just take some time to really focus on breathing and relaxing. You can give yourself 5 minutes to breath.
I'm having a whole article on meditation and it's benefits for fat loss because there's PLENTY, but for stress management, meditation is HUGE. Meditation allows your brain to get some mental space and also a break from all the crap you got going on. Like a muscle your brain needs rest when it's been worked out hard. I know, it's hard to do. Start out with 2-3 minutes of not even trying to clear your mind, but just feeling. Feeling your breath go in and out of your body. Feeling the ground or chair beneath you. Hearing the sounds around you. And it's totally okay if your first time meditating looks like this. With practice like any skill, you'll have meditation under your belt. But you have to do it everyday!
3. Go Do Something Fun
Take a break and go enjoy yourself for a little bit. It doesn't have to be anything crazy! It can be listening to a song you really like and dancing like no one is watching, or checking out your favorite Netflix show or playing with your dog. Anything that will allow you to de-stress and feel good again is what we want here. Go do something you enjoy.
Life is going to stress us out in someway. We just can't let it get the best of us and keep us from striving for what we want!
If trying to manage your stress for more fat loss, is stressing your out more, let's talk. I specialize in helping people mitigate the crap life throws at us and still stay on track for their goals. It can be difficult at first for sure. But in time, with the right tools and knowledge, you can really lower your stress, live a better life and lose some fat along the way!