I learned a new word for good stress – hormesis.
Hormesis is the biological principle of “no pain, no gain.” Good stress is a short term challenge to our cells that lead to a protective response that makes us stronger. Some examples could be short term intense exercise for your muscles; exposure to cold and heat; and cardio training to get your heart rate up.
Stress got us here. The stress response is very much part of our survival. When we sense fear (wooly mammoth charging) adrenaline rushes in our body, breathing gets fast and shallow, our heart pumps faster, and our gut becomes inactive. We don’t have time to eat, let’s run!
In our modern lives, the ‘fight or flight’ mode can still help us survive dangerous situations, such as reacting swiftly to a person running in front of our car by slamming on the brakes.
The challenge is when our body goes into a state of stress when we are upset with a sibling or partner, or you overbook your calendar. Then we ruminate on it, worrying, thinking, spinning over and over. Stressing about a daily task or freaking out when you can’t remember your password . When blood flow is going only to the most important muscles needed to fight or flee, brain function is minimized. This doesn’t help us find solutions to problems, it just keeps us stuck in stress.
Bad food, toxic thoughts, and addictions to phones, the internet, world affairs, plus skyrocketing cases of Alzheimer’s, autism, ADHD, depression, diabetes and weight problems; just reading this sentence is stressful.
Weight-Loss & Stress
Chronic stress causes high levels of cortisol which increases appetite and ramps up your motivation to eat. When we ruminate, blame, judge and criticize this also creates a negative emotion which we don’t like to feel, and want to push away, resist or distract ourselves from. Additionally, chronic stress raises insulin levels and messes with our appetite hormones – ghrelin and leptin. Cortisol delays your circadian rhythm which has a negative impact on your ability to lose weight
When you are stressed, not only is your appetite, and sleep impacted, but stressed people tend to exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight.
These are not morality tales, just basic biology. .
Can we agree chronic stress doesn’t support sticking to your plan and achieving you goal weight?
Understand Stress is Happening in Your Body
Notice how you feel when you are stressed. Are you tensing your muscles. Are you grabbing junk food to stay awake?
Outmaneuver Stress With Stress Busting Routines
Breathing – 3 to 6 deep breaths.
Eliminate flour and sugar, eat healthy fats, proteins, and lots of plants.
Mindset. Identify what your stressful thoughts are. (Journal Writing)
Exposure to light – 30 minutes after you wake up – go outside – sets your biological clock. (14 hours from now you will be sleepy!)
Meditation. Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress.
Exercise. Low-intensity exercise seems to reduce cortisol. NEAT activities will create blood flow. NEAT plus weight training and cardio is the perfect combination to keep your body moving.
Get 8 hours sleep.
Drink lots of filtered water
Take a break from technology
Guard your personal time.
Social support. Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience.
Are you having fun?
Essential Oils. Taken internally or breathing in, support immune system and relaxation.
Take your health seriously, take chronic stress seriously. It will help you choose to stick to your weight-loss plan, get to your goal weight and stay there. Your body will love you for it.