Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 100 company or a dad coaching 3 little league sports teams, stress creeps into our lives from many different sources. Unfortunately, many cope with this stress in ways that ultimately prove unhealthy, with one of these ways having an effect on the size of our waistline.
Is There a Link Between Stress And Weight Gain?
A study conducted recently looked at the link between stress and obesity, and the results probably won’t surprise you. The participants who dealt with a lot of stress had much higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is incredibly important to our bodies, as it can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. Cortisol helps overcome stressful situations by working with particular parts of your brain to control or balance mood, motivation, and fear. In addition, cortisol can affect your appetite and can lead to cravings for fatty foods and foods with a high sugar and calorie content. As added stress leads to added cravings, the weight begins to ‘pile’ up, with many showing this extra weight around the abdomen. Now, the results of the study didn't prove that stress makes you obese, but it did show that there is a connection. So whether stress is making you obese or you’re stressed because you are obese, the fact is a change needs to be made.
How Can I Deal With Stress Without Eating?
While stress is inevitable, you don’t have to let it keep control over your life. The following are a few ways you can deal with stress without eating and ultimately having to go up that extra size (or 3!) in clothes.
Physical activity can have a tremendous impact on your body, including on your stress levels. People who exercise have a tendency to feel less anxious along with having a more positive view of themselves. When your body feels good, your mind often follows. Try exercises like biking, running or jogging, going for a walk, lifting weights, or even swimming. Listen to some of your favorite music or podcasts and use this time as a sort of escape from the things causing stress in your life. If you can’t find the time to carve out to exercise, try and find some other ways to be a little more active. Use the stairs instead of riding the elevator. Get up from your desk and take a walk around the office or outside on a break. Being active, even for a few minutes, can help clear your mind and lower your stress levels. In addition, it can counteract the excess bad calories eaten during stress binges.
Your body actually craves sleep, and giving it the rest it needs can help your stress levels take a dive. Sleep is incredibly important to your body, as it is the means by which your body recovers and also how it restores its energy reserves. If you're not getting enough sleep, your body will use stress to keep you active and alert in the absence of stored energy. A good night’s rest can help one think more clearly and have a more positive outlook on tackling the things that add stress to your day. A lack of sleep can have an adverse effect on productivity, as your mind simply won’t be as sharp and able to process information quickly and accurately. Doctor’s recommend that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
There are many relaxation techniques available that can help lower stress levels as well as your desire to stress eat. One of these techniques is yoga. While yoga could be classified in the exercise category, it also has a profound impact on your mind. Practicing the deep stretches and the controlled, slow body movements helps change your focus from the stress or stressor and allows your mind to be cleared. Meditation is another technique that has been practiced for thousands of years and has been a great aid to overall health and mental clarity. Practicing controlled, deep breathing exercises when faced with stressful situations is another technique that helps relax the mind and body, alleviating stress and its effects. It allows one to change focus, practice self control, improve oxygen intake, and calm the body.
How Can GI Associates Help?
Whether you experienced weight gain due to the effects of stress or due to poor lifestyle habits, excessive weight gain can have a huge impact on your overall health and can lead to more serious health conditions. If you are concerned about your weight, contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our doctors. We can help identify the root cause of your weight issues and help you get on a plan to take back control of your health.