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Stress and Fat Loss


Does the amount of stress you have in your life make a difference in terms of fat loss? You may be surprised just how much of a role stress plays in weight loss - both making it more difficult to lose fat, and making your body store more fat on your stomach.

by Ed Scow, NSCA-CPT (aka The Fit Dad) - Fitness and Nutrition Expert to the true superheroes - busy Moms and Dads! and Author of Fat Loss To Go

Stress can come in different packages. Some stress is good, while other types of stress are bad. Exercise is an example of good stress. I know it may not seem like it, but to your body it is. On the flip side, having a new child is an example of good AND bad stress. does stress make you gain weight


I’m not going to focus on the good stressors here, however.   I’m going to focus on the bad stressors, the things that upset you and tie your stomach in knots and what they can do to your body as well as ways to help you relieve those stressors. 


Your body’s natural reaction to stress is very simple…fight or flight.   When faced with a stressor, your body instinctively prepares to fight like your life depended on it or run…well like your life depended on it.   The problem is that most of us have no need to fight or run away when presented with a stressor.   Do you really need to prepare to fight when your baby is crying for hours on end?   Well, I guess sometimes you do feel like running to catch the next flight to some far away beach, but you don’t. 


So when this “fight or flight” reaction occurs a few things happen.   The first thing that happens is adrenaline floods your system which causes fatty acids to go into your bloodstream for quick energy.   Your breathing becomes rapid and shallow (sometimes you may not notice this), your heart rate quickens which increases the flow of oxygen to your muscles.   Some other things happen too, like your pupils dilating and some sweating.   You may not notice most of these reactions, but they do happen. 


These things may be necessary if you’re out in the jungle and are being chased by a tiger, but don’t really serve a purpose if you are stressed because you are stuck in traffic. 


Instead those natural reactions can, over time, increase your risk of stroke and heart disease due to increased blood flow and pressure that your blood vessels can’t handle for long periods of time.  


Not only that, but it causes your body to store more belly fat because it needs to get rid of the unnecessary fatty acids that poured into your blood stream for that quick boost of energy. In order to rid your system of the fatty acids, your body releases a hormone called cortisol to store the fatty acids, around your belly.   Lovely, isn’t it? de-stress and lose weight


Our digestive systems can also be affected in the form of ulcers.    Plus your absorption of nutrients will be hindered.   Constant stress can also give you headaches, back pain and make it hard to sleep.    It also weakens your immune system which will leave you vulnerable to diseases. 


The good news is you shouldn’t feel a prisoner to your stress because there are ways to beat it.   You just need to figure out which things work best for you.   For some, exercise is an excellent stress buster.   They can step into the gym and take the stress out on the weights or hit the road and run the stress off. 


Exercising to beat stress doesn’t have to involve a gym or running, though.   It can include things like yoga, Pilates, or walking with a friend or loved one (which is a double-whammy because you get the social support in there too). 


For others, a good massage helps to relieve the stress.   I have had clients tell me that the best sleep they get all week is during their massage and the night after their massage.    Plus, massage aids in circulation and helps to lower blood pressure which can help alleviate stress’s bad effects. 


You could also find a hobby.   I have had people tell me that they take their stress out in their artwork.   They can come home, put on some music and paint for hours and they feel totally relaxed when they are finished. 


Meditation often gets poked fun of as some “new age” freaky deaky thing that only aging hippies and yogis participate in, yet it can have a huge effect on your stress levels and overall health.   It doesn’t have to be performed in some yoga studio or Buddhist temple or involve you chanting “Ohmmmmm”. 


Meditation can be done in your bedroom, office or just about anywhere you can escape the noise that infiltrates your everyday life.   All you have to really do is shut out all the noise, close your eyes begin deep belly breathing and try to relax.   Do this for 10 minutes a few times per day and I guarantee you you’ll feel your stress melt away. 


A recent study published in the American Journal of Hypertension actually showed that meditation alone can drop your blood pressure 6 points and lower your medication use by up to 23%. 

The point is to find something constructive to beat the stress. Don’t turn to food or drinking alcohol to beat the stress because that opens a whole new box of worms. Not to mention that if you eat to beat stress you double your weight problem due to the extra fat storing that happens when you are stressed (as mentioned earlier).

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The preceding article was written by Ed Scow, aka "The Fit Dad". To learn more about Ed's story, click here.

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