When working with women who want to lose weight, I hear all the time “I don’t have enough will power”. I can’t help but to notice that it is an undercover way to let ourselves off the hook or to beat up on ourselves. Will power isn’t the key to achieving a goal or losing weight because it is completely at the mercy of how stressed we are feeling. If you were feeling down or stuck because of not having enough will power, please let that be put to rest right now.
If you think about times when you were stressed or under a lot of pressure, how much more likely were you to go through drive through, reach for that packet of chips or skip the gym? So I want to talk about stress and the impact it has on our lives because I don’t think we acknowledge properly the effect it has on us and the results it produces. It is only through the awareness that we are able to be empowered to overcome it.
Stress is a natural reaction, as the body tries to deal with any negative pressures placed on it.
Sometimes it’s good. It can make us more productive and get us through tough situations (like when that assignment is left to the last minute :P). Other times, it’s not so good. It is a pressure that builds up and feels almost overwhelming.
When I work with someone, I don’t just want them to lose weight. I want them to be happier. Stress has a big impact on your mental, emotional wellbeing and your weight loss efforts. I know there is nothing worse than putting your all into something and feeling like you’re not getting results, so here is how stress is affecting you and your weight loss efforts.
Not having enough will power is not true. Will power is like a battery. If we have proper rest, we start the day with a full battery. Throughout the day the battery starts to drain. Dealing with stress drains the battery quicker, just like your phone battery if you were scrolling through social media all day. A lower battery means you are more susceptible to binge eating, drinking, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.
When you are stressed, the liver produces extra blood sugar to give you a boost of energy. Any unused blood sugar is absorbed back into the body in a very similar way as if you had a chocolate bar. All this sugar is commonly stored around the tummy area. This is why this area is measured to see if you are at risk for diabetes.
Stress also affects the way food moves through the body meaning it can cause constipation (not clearing out the waste) or diarrhoea (not absorbing nutrients properly).
The muscles are also affected during times of stress. Muscles tense up to prevent injury. Once stress is gone, the muscles relax. If you are under stress for a prolonged period of time, the muscles never get a chance to relax. This can lead to head aches, back pain, shoulder pain or simply an aching body. Usually in these situations, motivation for exercising is decreased.
Now we come to the immune system. Stress actually stimulates immune system which is great in the short term. In the long term, cortisol starts to take over. The immune system becomes weakened and you become more susceptible to contagious viruses like the common cold.
Our mind only holds 5 plus or minus 2 chunks of information. If you are feeling stressed this will take up many of these spaces. This commonly causes feelings of anxiety, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, sadness or depression. To put it simply, if you are stressed, you literally do not have the mental capacity to try and focus on all the things it takes to remove the problem, work, relationships, family, working out, eating right etc. Something has got to give, usually this means skipping the workout and reaching for the most convenient food.
How To Relieve Stress
As you guessed, the solution is to de-stress. But how do you do that?
This relates a lot to what I wrote about last week by, taking extra time for self-care. I recommend reading that blog right here.
Other things that are really helpful are:
It is inevitable that stress will cross our paths, but it does not have to derail out efforts towards our goals. I trust this helps when those times occur.
Ellisa Haddad as a Personal Trainer and Life Coach, servicing the Cranbourne, Narre Warren, Lynbrook, Clyde, Berwick and Pakenham Areas. Ellisa focuses on obtaining balance between physical, emotional and mental health, for all her clients, and is particularly passionate about supporting women in achieving their goals.
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