It’s no secret that people are stressed the F out.
In fact, when I surveyed women in my community, stress was the #1 issue they said they were struggling with.
And it’s understandable, given the unattainable standards we try to live up to.
Stress is a huge problem.
Because not only does chronic stress take the joy out of life, it also has a huge impact on how your body functions and feels.
And even though many women want to lose weight, stress can make it damn near impossible to actually reach your goals.
Stress Messes with Your Hormones and Metabolism
When you’re stressed, stress hormones flood your system.
And you either end up very grumpy (in “fight” mode,) or making you do whatever you can to run away from the stressful situation instead of dealing with it head-on (what we call “flight” mode).
But while these stress-hormones can be really useful for quick stints like running away from an oncoming bus, they’re not so great to have around on the regular.
This is because they pump all the blood out of your core and into your muscles.
So your body is less focused on digestion and more focused on getting through whatever stressful situation you happen to find yourself in.
The problem is, you need blood in your core in order to absorb nutrients and process food properly.
And that’s why if you’re stressed out all the time you could end up with a slower metabolism.
Stress hormones also interfere with other hormones in your body, like insulin, which can result in blood sugar imbalances and cause you to crave carb-heavy foods that aren’t so great for your waistline.
To make matters worse, studies have shown that stress might actually cause you to gain belly-fat, which is already a problem area for many women, especially after having kids.
Stress Makes You Less Motivated
Stress is also exhausting.
It makes you feel like you’re trying to swim up-stream all day long.
Not only do you have to do all the things on your to-do list, but the fact that you’re stressed out makes everything on that to-do list seem harder.
So it’s no wonder if you’re too tired to get up early to exercise and unmotivated to shake the booty in the evening.
Making healthy food choices ends up feeling like another chore when you’re stressed out.
Because it definitely takes more effort and creativity to cook delicious healthy meals than it does to go to the drive-through.
And when you’re stressed out you just want to do whatever is easy to take the edge off.
Which leads me to the third point.
Stress Steals Your Willpower
When you’re feeling energized and joyful it’s usually pretty easy to make choices that are good for you.
Because when you’re feeling good, you want to do things that keep you feeling good.
But when you’re stressed you have a much harder time making those healthy choices, especially later in the day (hello afternoon doughnut and late-night bag of chips!)
You only have a certain amount of willpower to use every day.
Once it’s used up you enter survival mode, which means you just do whatever you have to do to make it through the day, healthy or not.
So what can you do about it?
If you think stress is sabotaging your attempts to get healthy, then you’ve got to prioritize stress-management above everything else.
One of the best ways to do this is by creating self-care systems in your day-to-day life.
And no, I’m not talking about manicures and bubble baths.
The self-care I’m talking about is the kind where you treat yourself like you would treat a toddler.
• Stick to a strict bed-time and bed-time routine. (Sleeping and waking at the same time every day -including weekends!- can help regulate your hormones so you feel less stressed.)
• Create a meal-plan at the beginning of the week so you eat healthy foods.
• Keep healthy snacks in your purse or desk so you have them when you need them.
• Schedule at least 5 minutes (but ideally 20-40 minutes) of quiet time for yourself every day, free from technology and even books to just give yourself a moment to decompress.
• Go for a 10 minute walk or stretching session every day before dinner (if you have kids you can take them with you!)
• Create a capsule wardrobe, and/or have an outfit rotation for the week so you don’t have to choose what to wear every day.
You’ve got to create a routine around self-care and put yourself in auto-pilot mode so you have less choices to make every day.
Because when you have less choices to make you automatically reduce your stress-load.
And when you reduce your stress-load, magic happens.
Your hormones have a chance to regulate themselves
You increase your motivation.
And you stretch your willpower further so you make more of the choices you want to make and are less likely to sabotage your goals by the end of the day.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Do you already have stress-management strategies built into your routine? If so, what are they? If not, what’s your biggest obstacle to making it happen?
Leave a comment, I’d love to know!
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