De-stressing is a very important component of weight loss.
Unfortunately, in the western world we experience so many different stress triggers that the body never really turns them off. We become anxious, fearful and feel like we have no control over our safety. Often, we turn to something we know we can control, like what we eat, drink, or smoke, and use that behaviour to remind ourselves that there is at least something we can control. This can lead to harmful addictive habits that offer ‘in the moment’ reprieve.
The chemicals involved in the stress response are very corrosive and can increase the risk of several diseases, drastically reducing physical and emotional health if not corrected. When you are stressed you release cortisol, which blocks the fat-burning process. So even if you are being careful about what you eat and drink but you are not paying attention to your stress responses then you can be holding onto fat.
When it comes to exercise too, If you blast away like a bat out of hell on the treadmill after a hard day at the office, you put your body under a different kind of stress. Even if you enjoy it, it’s still a form of stress and can reduce the amount of fat you can burn.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t do aerobic exercise – far from it. It’s a balance and you must also find a way of exercising, or some other technique, such as meditation, that relaxes you and doesn’t over-stress your body. It may be that you do the aerobics class, but then finish with some yoga or meditation to relax and balance your hormones. I’ve had clients take up yoga and think that it must somehow be burning more calories than aerobics because they start to lose weight despite having been previously ‘stuck’!
When you are able to manage anxiety and stress levels you’ll also sleep better, and your body will be able to complete the valuable process of growth and repair undisturbed by stress hormones. Learning to meditate and doing it for just 10 minutes before you go to sleep, can be a great way to de-stress and balance your hormones for the body’s night-time processes. Some of the growth hormones responsible for fat burning are produced by your body at night, when you are in restful sleep. If you don’t achieve restful sleep, you produce very few of these hormones and long-term fat metabolism is impaired.
Stress isn’t a physical part of us, it’s a transient chemical response to a perceived threat and an automatic response. If it is not addressed then the automatic response becomes stronger and stronger.
Even a thought can have a stressful response in the body, we don’t have to actually be in front of the person or in the situation that we find stressful to cause the reaction and damage, just the thought is enough….this can have a constant negative impact on our body and hormone levels, and be damaging to our health. The key then, is to change the response and learn to not do it. and the good news is that it can be managed with a few techniques.
Try this tapping exercise to de-stress:
Write down three things you can do every day that will reduce your stress levels and therefore increase your ability to burn fat. For example, practice regular deep breathing. Take time for yourself.