How Stress Hinders Your Weight Loss Efforts
We get over 100 times more stress in our lives than our grandparents did and they’re only a generation before us. We have cellphone towers everywhere for a massive and constant dose of EMF, our e-mails come in on our phones, texts beeping. You must be available whether for family or work, for “emergencies”. 20 years ago, wireless communication was rare. Car phones were only for the select few who felt important. Heck, computers were hard to find in offices, let alone in people’s homes. Watch a movie made before 1990 and you’ll notice how computers are missing from desks in offices.
On top of technology, we have added pollution to deal with. More and more chemicals are being added to our drinking water to make it “safe”. Safe from what? You guessed it, safe from the debris and waste, companies pour into our waters. Our human waste also goes right back into our waters which needs to be treated with more chemicals. Sadly our drug (also called medicine) consumption has gone through the roof, just in the last 40 – 60 years. Studies show birth control pills, antibiotics and other drugs showing up in our already treated and filtered waters. Then there are the agricultural chemicals that grow our vegetables and fruits in record times for higher yields. Sadly these fruits and vegetables can only contain minerals that they were given rather than the myriad of minerals and trace minerals they would get from a healthy soil.
The point of the above paragraphs is merely to illustrate what extra stressors our generation is dealing with. I could write pages and pages of examples but I’m sure the above will suffice (and some of you have already stopped reading.)
Our central nervous system has no idea whether stress comes from an angry, big, muscular and salivating tiger chasing us, scorching heat with no shade in sight, a hacked website which is our livelihood, a realistic horror movie, lack of adequate and regenerative sleep or the foods we eat to which we’re sensitive without us even knowing. To our system, it’s all the same, it needs to produce more stress hormones to deal with it all and our bodies go into self preservation mode. Ok so you must be asking, what does all this have to do with weight loss????! Let me tell you.
We all have our own “comfort zone”. Where our body feels safe because it’s been there for a long time. It’s become the norm. If you’ve been overweight for a few months/years, your comfort zone is being overweight, if you’ve been underweight, your comfort zone is there. When we have an over abundance of stress, our bodies gravitate towards that which it knows. If you drastically cut your food intake, your body will initially react by dropping a few pounds, then it adapts and slows down those initial gains. If you increase the amount of exercise you do, you’ll get the same initial drop and your body adapts to that as well and becomes more and more efficient at using energy (becoming a very efficient furnace) and keeps everything it can. This is why doing endless hours of cardio rarely gets people lean unless the lifestyle factors also match the efforts.
If there’s anything our bodies need is optimal stimulus for the desired outcome. Too much will backfire on us and too little will produce abysmal results. So the answer is balance. If you have a stressful day, adding more stress to it by pushing your body beyond its limits will shut down progress. Same goes for the opposite (which rarely happens in our western culture) if you sleep all day and fail to give your body enough stimulus to make progress, it will also stagnate.
Awareness plays a really big role in finding the right balance for each of us. Knowing when we’re doing too much or doing too little is priceless. The good news is most of us already aware of the signals our bodies give us except we choose to either ignore them or misunderstand them. For example when you hit the wall between 2 – 4 pm, the first thing you’re probably thinking is you need coffee (or a coke/pepsi, or a red bull or a muffin, or a donut…) because in the past when you had one, you got a jolt of energy and could go on. Rarely do we think to investigate the preceding events and the cause of that slump. Could what we had (or forgot to have) for lunch caused the low energy? How about going a little further back in time, breakfast? Maybe our sleep the night before (too little, too much, too restless or maybe we woke up to go to the bathroom…) All of the above could cause low energy and when you combine and stack them, you’re almost asking for it. The problem is, we often know at first and will only do it this once, then the next time comes around and the third and before you know it, it becomes a habit.
OK, I can hear you thinking, “Enough about the doom and gloom! What can I actually do to maximize my weight loss efforts?!?!”
The first step is always getting honest with yourself. Are you doing everything possible to reach your goals?
Here are 8 tips you can do daily (consistency is KEY) to reach your goals:
1) Get to bed early – the biggest bang for your buck is to be sleeping by 10:00pm (latest 10:30pm) every night
2) Get your bedroom to be as dark as possible – this helps lower stress hormones that cause restless sleep
3) Remove all electronics, lamps, cell phones and so on from at least 3 feet from your bed in all directions (unplugging everything) – to lessen the electromagnetic radiation (stress) you get while you sleep. This will allow deeper and more restful rest as well
4) Get hydrated! – The best source of hydration is through your food (raw foods contain easily absorbable fluids) the next best thing are broths that are full of minerals that allow the absorption of water, freshly juiced vegetables are also great to keep you hydrated and aid your digestion. Drinking straight water is my least favourite way of getting hydrated, simply because water on its own, without proper electrolytes just goes right through the body. When you drink water, make sure you put a pinch of sea salt or squeeze some lemon juice or lime juice in it to make it more absorbable. Dehydration is another form of stress that prevents you from losing weight.
5) Exercise the appropriate amount for your daily stress levels. If you had a really stressful day, projects were due, big presentation, calls, meetings or what have you, the last thing you want to do is beat yourself up physically at the gym. This would be a great opportunity to do some gentle restorative yoga, Tai Chi or meditation. Practicing slowing down your breathing and allowing your body to catch up with the stresses of the day. It will thank you by shedding the unwanted storage (fat.)
6) Avoid eating grains – Unfortunately today’s grains are far from grains from our grandparents’ grains. They’ve been crossbred, genetically modified, sprayed, grown with harsh chemicals, washed with acid and fumigated all in the disguise of our benefit. The truth is, they are done to improve yield and extend shelf life. Regardless, the human body has no natural way of processing grains, they’re very hard and time consuming to digest, therefore it becomes more of a stressor in the body
7) Eat at least 50 grams of protein by noon and avoid carbs in the mornings – 50 grams of protein is roughly 8 oz of meat (beef, chicken, fish) or you can have a 4oz piece of meat with 4 eggs. Avoiding carbohydrates (yes, even fruit and fruit juices) in the morning and having mostly meat and fat (fat being old fashioned butter or coconut oil) will ensure a steady level of energy throughout the day
8) Supplement with high quality fish oils – Due to the media hyping low fat diets for the last 40+ years, we’ve been getting less and less high quality omega 3 in our diets. This is essential in keeping our weight stable and our cells strong and able to withstand the daily stress they’re dealt.
The more of the above you can implement, the faster and healthier you’ll reach your weight goals.
What other tips do you have that have worked for you? Share them below in the comments.