Maintaining your body at a healthy weight sounds simple: Eat enough to power your daily activities, not more. Maintaining a healthy weight really can be as simple as that, but making that shift when you are already carrying extra pounds can be daunting.
When you feel stressed, your body produces cortisol. Cortisol lowers your metabolism and stimulates appetite, making it harder to lose weight.
Stress and Cortisol
Dr. Dominique Fradin Read emphasizes the importance of body and mind biochemistry in maintaining health and preventing disease. When you feel stressed, your body produces cortisol – a hormone that plays a role in the “fight or flight” adrenal response. Cortisol lowers your metabolism, making you more likely to gain weight. Cortisol also stimulates appetite, which contributes to people seeking comfort food.
Comfort food typically delivers a high dose of calories from carbohydrates and fat, and calories eaten while in a high-cortisol state tend to stick around.
Stress and Sleep
When your biochemistry is disrupted by stress you may find it difficult to relax for sleep at the end of the day. Unfortunately, not getting enough quality sleep could be contributing to your overall stress level. Sleep is the body’s time for repair and rejuvenation; if you aren’t getting adequate sleep (8 hours per night) you aren’t giving your body time to clear the previous day’s stresses from your cells. You are more likely to repeat the cycle of stress chemistry that leads to weight gain the following day.
Stress and Exercise
If you are fatigued from stress and lack of sleep, you may avoid getting the exercise you need for optimal weight and better health. Fortunately, exercise is one factor you can easily control, which in turn has a positive effect on the other three: exercise can reduce stress, promote weight loss, and encourage healthy sleep.
Because stress chemistry, sleep, comfort eating, energy, and exercise are so interrelated, it can be difficult to untangle the knot of feedback loops keeping you from losing weight.
Stop the Cycle
Because stress chemistry, sleep, comfort eating, energy, and exercise are so interrelated, it can be difficult to untangle the knot of feedback loops keeping you from losing weight. If you are struggling to get these factors under control, a weight loss specialist may help you to identify priorities and begin to make changes for better health.
The prospect of losing weight should not add another stress to an already challenging day. When you begin to make positive changes in your health, better sleep, more energy, and less stress can be the result. With new, positive feedback loops established, maintaining a healthy weight becomes the natural result of your healthy lifestyle.
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