Is stress keeping you from losing weight?
Have you had the experience that you’re doing all the right things, but you can’t seem to take off the extra pounds?
You’re eating right. You’re getting your movement in. You’re checking off all of the health boxes.
And yet, your weight either hasn’t budged or has stalled … and you know you still have unhealthy pounds to lose.
There’s one sneaky little health robber that may be keeping you from getting to a healthy weight:
This may seem like a paradox. If stress is keeping us on the go, wouldn’t we lose weight by burning a bunch of extra calories?
It would seem this should be the case, but it isn’t.
This is because stress produces the hormone cortisol. And when we have an excess of cortisol, our body holds onto extra fat as a way of protecting us.
To our bodies, stress is stress. So, whether we’re being chased by a tiger or dealing with a rebellious teenager, our body just knows that something is wrong and it holds onto fat (especially around our middle) to protect our organs.
It’s amazing how God has built safety features like this into our bodies. But it’s also really tempting to ask why He didn’t design our bodies to grow skinnier under stress so we can run away from danger faster!
One way that extra stress affects our weight is that it can keep us from sleeping well at night. Increased cortisol can cause poor sleep. Our bodies are amped and our minds are racing. This can even progress into a cycle of poor sleeping (insomnia).
Additionally, our bodies burn fat in the deep part of our sleep cycles. So, when we aren’t sleeping deeply, our bodies miss this opportunity to burn fat … and keep trying to protect us with that not-so-awesome spare tire around our middle.
What can we do to get our cortisol down so our bodies will relax and burn fat?
We have to get our chronic stress under control.
This may seem like an impossibility to you. You have a full life and you can’t imagine cutting anything out.
There’s one simple health trick that can help you to find more calm in your day:
But not just any breathing … deep, intentional breathing.
You see, when we engage in deep breathing, our body relaxes, and our parasympathetic nervous system takes over (which helps our bodies rest and digest). Conversely, when we’re in panicked, short/quick-breathing mode, our bodies stay hyper-aroused and cortisol stays up.
I’d like to challenge you to be on alert for when you’re experiencing stress over the next week. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, or you notice that your heart is racing, or your anger is raging…
And then breathe. Take a count of 4-5 seconds breathing in, then hold your breath at the top for 5 seconds. Then breathe out for a count of 7. Do this for at least 5 rounds.
This quick intervention should put your body into a more relaxed state and help you to proceed with a clearer mind, calmer emotions, and a renewed energy.
You can even do this when you’re lying in bed, trying to wind down for sleep.
And the great thing is, you can use this anywhere and most people won’t even notice you’re doing it! Which can’t be said of meditating, yoga, or some of the other relaxation techniques.
Life is tough, but so are you. When you can’t change things in your schedule, give yourself breathing breaks throughout the day to experience less stress … and increased weight loss!
To your true health,
Want even more tips on health so you can fully step into the life you’re called to live? My book TRUE Health can help you get there! Click here to read more.