How Stress Affects Weight Loss

Over the past few weeks I have been struggling to lose weight. Despite staying pretty much on track with my diet and getting regular exercise, my weight has been stubborn to lose. Many people call this a weight loss plateau and I have followed the advice of decreasing my calories and mixing up my exercise to try to overcome it. This morning at my weekly weigh in my weight was…

186 lbs

Well, at least I’m a couple of pounds down instead of up – that’s positive.

Stress can cause weight loss to become very stubborn. Try stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, to get your diet back on track.

Stress can cause weight loss to become very stubborn. Try stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, to get your diet back on track.

Last week I spent a good amount of time re-evaluating my diet and exercise routine. This was the first time since losing almost 50 pounds that I did this and in hindsight I should have done this more regularly (perhaps monthly). One thing I noted, however, is that just before I was hit by my most recent weight loss plateau I had more stress than normal in my life. Granted we all have stress in our lives to some extent or another, but there are some times when stress is greater be it because of problems with family, friends, work or children. I never really considered how stress can affect weight loss, but I think that it can be a root cause of a weight loss plateau. Thus, if your body is being stubborn about losing weight, then not only change your diet and exercises but find ways to reduce stress.

Have you ever noticed that the times in your life that cause the biggest challenge to losing weight are often those that bring the highest levels of stress? This is not a coincidence. Even if you continue to exercise and eat a proper diet, when you’re stressed you’ll not only find it harder to lose weight, but you’ll also discover that it’s extremely simple to begin gaining weight when you typically wouldn’t be. There are many reasons for this.

Whenever the body is under a larger amount of stress, it changes itself so that it is most prepared for survival. In this mode, cortisol (more commonly referred to as the “stress hormone”) is secreted into the body. This hormone is one that accomplishes many goals, among which is blood sugar regulation. This is a very powerful hormone, one of the side effects of which is to cause a large increase in appetite. When both stressed and hungry, you are far more likely to reach for the fun foods and comfort foods than to go for the steamed veggies.

Furthermore, when you’re feeling stressed, you may not make as much time for exercise as you usually do. You don’t feel like going for that walk, heading for the gym, or going to an exercise class when it feels as though your world is crashing in around you.

The thing is, if you can break the stress cycle, you can actually lose weight much more easily, and the things you do to lose weight are exactly the same as the things you should be doing in order to decrease your stress level. To start, you should work on getting a better sleep at night. Studies show that people who get a good amount of sleep will lose weight much more effectively than those who don’t. Similarly, a proper night’s sleep is also the key in being able to keep your stress levels under control.

To get your exercise routine off to a good start, give Yoga a try. Many people find it very relaxing, allowing you to tone your body and decrease your stress levels at the same time. In that same effort, introduce light aerobic exercises into the mix. Even if you aren’t ready to go jogging, try going for a brisk walk after you get home from work but before you eat your supper. This will boost your metabolism while decreasing your stress.

With all of these efforts, you’ll knock back your stress (and cortisol levels) and start losing weight much more effectively.

Other Related Posts and Articles You May Find Interesting: “Weight Loss Foods that Improve Your Mood“, “Sleep and Weight Loss” and “Five Ways to Naturally Increase Metabolism“.

1 comment to How Stress Affects Weight Loss

  • Linda Connors

    People who are experiencing stress or anxiety should consider reducing the amount of coffee they are consuming or eliminating it completely from their daily routine. The mind and body connection is very strong, we all know that when we are excited we feel butterflies in our tummy or when nervous we feel our stomachs churning away.

    Drinking coffee can lead to our heart beating faster, and in terms of the mind and body connection our minds are thinking “what’s going on here I must be feeling more stressed and anxious because I can feel my heart palpitating”.

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