Did you know that stress can make you fat?
We usually think that a lack of exercise and poor diet constitutes weight gain but stress is just as important.
Does this story sound familiar to you?
It’s almost midnight and you’re up watching TV, you go to bed late but find it hard to sleep waking up a few hours later in a cold sweat before the alarm clock goes off and it’s 6am! Jumping out of bed, you pour a massive cup of coffee to wake up so you can get the kids dressed for school and get yourself ready for work.
En route you’re caught in the morning rush and fuming with the traffic. It’s so busy at work that when it’s lunchtime you decide to stay at your desk before realising you haven’t eaten anything all day so make a trip to the vending machine for some candy and a Diet Coke.
After a long day in the office you rush out to take the kids to an after-school activity and grab something else from the gas station as you are now starving and could eat a horse.
Once you finally get home, you make the kids their dinner before slumping in front of the TV and before you know it, it’s midnight again… Is this how you are going to live the rest of your life? Like a Lion is chasing you all day?
On a biochemical level, our body thinks it’s next on the Lion’s menu. This is because our Autonomic Nervous System is broken up into the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).
Our SNS is known as the ‘fight or flight’ system as it prepares the body to react to all the daily stressors listed in my story. The PNS known as the ‘rest and digest’ system controls rest, repair, digestion and reproduction. We need to balance out both these systems during our day to eliminate all this stress. Most of us are constantly in a ‘fight or flight’ state!
Our body is always talking to us. Simple signs of stress include anxiety, fears, ADHD, breathing difficulties, digestive problems, increased muscle tension, elevated blood pressure and fat accumulation around the middle of the body.
If you experience any of these signs then don’t stress…I will explain how to overcome it all on the next page.
Everyone has to deal with stress. Our nervous system is specifically designed to cope with it to some degree. It’s when we are constantly stressed that problems arise.
When we’re in a stressed state, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is activated which forces most of the blood flow in the body to rush from the digestive and reproductive organs and give it to the muscles, brains and eyes in preparation for fight or flight.
This slows down or stops the body from digesting and eliminating food causing constipation. It also suppresses the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which controls the tissue building hormones such as DHEA, growth hormone, testosterone, and estrogen leading to a reduced sex drive and low libido.
If that wasn’t bad enough, our body has stress hormone receptor sites on our belly. The cortisol receptor site is located at the front of the belly and the insulin receptor site is found on the sides of the belly.
Cortisol is the fat storing hormone and insulin allows the cells to store excess sugar and fat all in a bid to help provide fuel in a stressful situation. This forces body fat to accumulate around your middle and hips.
But worst of all is the fact that chronic stressors elevate stress hormones and suppress the immune system leading to an inability to heal and manifestation of disease in the body. This is where the saying ‘Stress Kills’ comes from and it does.
Outlined below are several suggestions that will help you overcome the stress in your life:
- Try Mind-Body exercises like Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and meditation to stimulate the PNS.
- Eat the right food for you body. If it wasn’t around 10,000 years ago, can’t pronounce the ingredients and didn’t buy it from the perimeter of the grocery store then don’t eat it!
- Only drink water. If you do drink tea, coffee and Diet Coke then drink even more water. Aim for 3 litres a day.
- Don’t run away from the stress in your life. Try to identify the area causing you the most stress and read self-help books, watch videos and find material that will give you the tools to reduce the stress. A CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach can help you overcome this.
- Get to bed by 10.30pm and stay in bed until at least 6am.
Take responsibility for yourself. If you don’t, then who will?