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Friday, 7 January 2011

Stress and your weight AND waist!

You've HAD IT! You've really really been watching your dietary intake and making sure you're eating all the right foods, practicing portion control, disciplining yourself not to snack or eat junk foods,watching your alcohol intake AND you've been exercising regularly -- at least 3 -- more like 4 to 5 times a week for at least an hour each time to include cardio- and weights. BUT, you're not budging on the scale and you even think you may be getting thicker around the middle!!!! You've been so UPSET about this and super bummed out and even lie awake some nights wracking your brain as to what you're doing wrong. You scour the internet looking for answers. Even during your work breaks, you buy and read magazines, often while eating your lunch, frantically searching for articles on why you can't seem to shift your weight. You're SO worried about it because you're hearing about all the awful illnesses associated with extra weight == diabetes, CVD, cancer, stroke, etc == especially if you have a big waist.

You're even down on yourself about it. Some days you really feel outright depressed about it. And every now and then, you don't like to admit it to anyone -- even yourself -- you DO say, "heck with it" and pig-out on cookies, cake, donuts, ice cream, chips, crisps, Doritos, whatever -- or maybe a few glasses of wine or beers too many.

Does this sound like you? If so, read on.....

It's the STRESS, stupid!

Well, I don't mean to really call you stupid because you are NOT stupid -- just UNAWARE that being STRESSED out -- TOO stressed out and depressed and continuously obsessed and STRESSING about your weight is the VERY reason WHY you're not dropping the weight, especially around your middle. You see.....

Stress, INDEPENDENT of diet and exercise, has been found to cause the body to secrete hormones that make it MAKE FAT, HANG ON TO FAT, and PREVENT FAT FROM BEING LOST.
On top of that, even in the presence of adequate kcalories and carbohydrates, if you are STRESSED OUT, your body THINKS it has to break down whatever muscle tissue you have and the body will use the substances from the broken down muscle tissue to make the glucose it THINKS it's not getting! AND, the fat that the body makes has a preference to store itself around your vital organs -- your liver, kidneys, pancreas, and the adrenal glands (where the hormones are secreted from, in the first place) to PROTECT you. Trouble is -- you don't need 'protecting' -- especially when it results in you having a big old belly!!

Cortisol causes this. Hypersecretion of cortisol also causes increased inflammation, decreased immunity, bone weakening, fatigue, bloatedness, and distension, frequent colds and flu, and infections of all kinds -- boils, acne -- possibly.

And those OCCASIONAL splurges you take -- a bit of nibbling on junk and a wee tipple too much -- just adds to the hypersecretion of cortisol.

And if there's a MAJOR STRESS in your life (moving, job loss or change, divorce, sleep deprivation/disorder, death of a parent or loved one) -- your cortisol level can REMAIN ELEVATED for MONTHS!!!! YIKES!!! ALSO, it seems that if you are not really a fit, conditioned person and you go on a kick to get fit for, like, a couple days -- sweating your guts out and working your muscles to your max -- you add to the hypersecretion of cortisol EVEN more!!! YIKES!!

Also, if you go on a rigorous fast or crazy starvation-type diet, it makes cortisol spike, too! YIKES!!!

So, what do you do?

Firstly, FIND whatever it takes for you to DE-STRESS -- breathing exercises, meditation, music, exercise. But, please work UP to an exercise regime that enables you to get conditioned before you put your body at stress while exercising -- TOO MUCH stress, that is. Exercise is stress, but GOOD stress, if done properly.

Proper exercise releases endorphins, and enables epinephrine and nor-epinephrine to be released, too, which competes with cortisol and acts to induce lipolysis and release glucose and fatty acids appropriately to fuel your body's needs -- rather than the catabolic products of cortisol hypersecretion. Some cortisol IS necessary. It's the OVERsecretion that is harmful.

Hire a personal trainer! This is an investment that will work wonders for you as you strive to tweak out an exercise program that suits you. Any really good PT won't gouge you for months. A few key sessions and then a few more AFTER a few months on your own to monitor your progress, ought to do the trick.

So, proper exercise can, then, cause EXACTLY what you want it to cause -- weight loss, fat loss, and the reduction of your waist, and the improvement of your health and well-being -- Yaaaay!

So, chill, everyone!! Don't undermine your own hard work by stressing about it. All good things take time. The most important thing is to stick with it and be happy with the journey. The results will come and will be more glorious than you could have ever hoped for!

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