Can Stress Make You Fat?

Can Stress Make You Fat?

Hey….. it’s been a while…..It’s not you – it’s stress.

One of the biggest factors affecting weight loss that is often overlooked is STRESS.  Science shows that stress can have a serious impact on your weight. Sometimes it can lead to weight loss and other times, it can lead to serious weight gain.

  • Ever been through a relationship breakup and lost loads of weight afterwards? Then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
  • Been in a job you hate and noticed you’ve somehow gained weight? Yup – that was me too. I thought I ate well but was literally ‘eating my feelings’ and there’s a huge amount of science that supports why this happens.

There’s a number of reasons emotionally and chemically why these changes happen and it’s worth becoming mindful of both circumstances to check in with where you’re at – particularly if you’re at a standstill with your weight loss and wellness journey.

Behavioural changes: Stressful experiences can often lead to a change in habits without you even noticing. Someone going through a tough time may lose their appetite and skip meals or it can trigger episodes of bingeing. In my journey, I’ve experienced both.Chronic stress may lead to an increase in appetite—and an increase in cravings for unhealthy food – particularly chocolate, chippies, doughnuts, cakes, biscuits…… you get the idea.  Before you know it, you’re having to upsize your wardrobe…….

Chemical changes: Weight change may also result due to hormonal changes triggered by stress. The body’s response to stress has been linked to changes in metabolism, insulin, and fat storage as stress triggers a fight or flight response in your body. This response releases hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol while adrenaline prepares your body to take action and minimises your desire to eat.

Once the adrenaline effects wear off, cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, hangs around. Cortisol temporarily suppresses functions that are non-essential, such as your digestive, immune, and reproductive responses. When you have more cortisol in your system, you may crave less healthy food options like snacks containing high sugar and fat content. For some of us, that can be an all out binge.

Are you starting to see why finding balance and calm amidst a world of stress is so important?

Surround yourself with good people. One way to make a change – particularly if it’s a ‘friend’ giving you grief, is to have what me and some of my friends refer to as a ‘friend-ectomy’. If someone in your life is dragging you down, delivering back handed compliments or blatantly creating chaos and stress that affects your life, and you notice you’re ‘always walking on egg-shells’ (which is another way of saying ‘living with low grade anxiety’) then do YOURSELF a favour. Limit your time. Be busy. Say NO. A good friend will leave you feeling better, more alive, happier or with sore abs from laughing too much. YOU are the sum total of the people you surround yourself with, so do a stocktake and see how you feel. Surround yourself with good people and laugh more.

Become mindful about what you eat. Paying attention to your eating habits can help you gain control over your food consumption. I often recommend to people that when you diarise WHAT you eat and the emotions that govern WHY you eat you have a clearer idea of what’s going on. So whether you use an app to track your food intake or you write down everything you consume in a food diary, being more mindful of what you put into your mouth could improve your eating habits, resulting in a better and more productive weigh loss experience!

Exercise. I used to hate it. Now I’ve learned to embrace it because not only does it help me physically, it helps my brain too. Whether you go for a walk during your lunch break or you go to the gym after work, incorporate regular exercise into your routine. You will literally LOVE the difference.

Try stress-relief strategies. Whether you enjoy yoga, meditation, blissing out to a calming Spotify playlist, doing a jigsaw, or finding solace in reading a good book, incorporate stress relief strategies into your daily routine. Find a hobby! Get a dog! Go and get a massage or your nails done! Find your calm place EVERYDAY and enjoy that space. It’s just for you. Not only will this help you regain balance, it can reduce your cortisol levels and may also help you manage your weight. WIN

So there you have it. The answer is YES: Stress sucks and can literally damage all the good work you’re trying to do with your weight loss and wellness. The good news is, it’s fixable. Take one step to make a change. If you did just one thing differently a day, imaging how amazing your life would be in a week, a month or a year……

Stay fabulous and always remember….you’ve got this.

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