Stress and Weight Loss
Weight loss and weight gain are legitimate concerns, and there’s more than just dieting and exercising that goes into successful weight loss. Recognizing the ways that stress affects the body can help to clarify why weight loss can be challenging for many individuals.
Stress = Weight Gain
Weight gain can be one of the body’s most significant and protective reactions to almost any type of stress. Duration of stress levels is also factored into how the body reacts. Once stress is recognized by the body, signals are sent to the brain to respond to stress. That means the sympathetic nervous system and hormones begin to take quick action in order to help the body cope and recover. Stress makes the heart work harder, depletes neurotransmitter supplies in the brain and forces adrenal glands to pump excess hormones to try to keep up with the demand of protective responses required for survival.
These reactions are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the body’s guarding strategies during stress. Overall, stress makes the body work harder, hold on to fat, and can actually encourage fat storage simply for the sake of survival. While this may disrupt our image in the mirror, this design is actually a way to preserve the body’s integrity and well-being. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can largely benefit from self-awareness and making better choices that guide away from stress.
Weight Loss Goals
When the body enters “fight or flight” mode, or in a state of anxiety or hypervigilance, emotional changes happen that affect our better judgment and the choices we make. Stress asks the brain to quickly replenish a calmer overall reaction. Sugar and simple carbohydrates, like doughnuts, are great examples of poor fast-fixes that tell the brain to calm itself, thus sabotaging weight loss efforts. We tend to reach for these types of comfort foods and convenience foods when we need to give our brains a break.
General weight loss and better physical and mental health overall are more likely to occur when we pay attention to these factors. Learning your stress triggers and how you can navigate away from stress can give you more energy and help you to lose those unwanted pounds.