The other day I wrote about what I call the "slowdown syndrome" and it's effect on fat loss and your overall fitness goals.
In the first article I mentioned about outside factors besides exercise and nutrition that can impact your progression in a negative way. I mentioned 3 of these: SLEEP - STRESS - GROUP ENVIRONMENT.
Today we will focus our post on STRESS. If you haven't read how lack of sleep can prevent you from losing weight, burning fat and making gains in the gym, read it here.
When stress levels are high you may find yourself lacking energy and craving all sorts of unhealthy foods, and/or just an increase appetite that leads you to eat everything in sight. I know of what too many people when stressed out tend to reach for chocolate, alcohol and many other foods... heck I'm even guilty of doing it.
But stress also disrupts your sleep pattern, of which how we learned in part one of this discussion can too lead to weight and fat gain.
Too much stress and your body releases excess cortisol (a stress hormone), which in turn makes you release and store more fat and breaks down your muscles as an energy source. I don't intend to make this a science discussion, so I won't bore you with all the lengthy terminology. However, you must understand that high levels of cortisol have been linked to low levels of testosterone which can be detrimental to your muscles, as it may lead to muscle breakdown, impaired immunity, vitamins, minerals and nutrient depletion, among other things.
Cortisol tends to promote visceral fat storage, A.K.A. your gut. So then not only does cortisol promotes fat storage around your belly, it increases your cravings and the overeating of many unhealthy foods, all while disrupting your sleep and killing your muscles. That leads to weight and fat gain.
The key then is to stay on top of it by feeding your body the proper foods day in and day out, improving your sleep and controlling your stress level. Easier said than done.
I won't go into nutrition on this post, and we already covered how to improve your sleep on our first part of this discussion.
HOW TO CONTROL STRESS?
Start by looking around you and the things that provoke your stress levels to go high. Is it your daily commute, your type of work or the environment at work, are you experiencing problems at home - be it in the relationship, financial or health related? Are your kids struggling at school? Do you have past deep emotional issues that you are dealing with?
Listen life is not a joke, our lives are all crammed up with pressures, obligations and crazy schedules. Sure for some its boils down to bad behavior and being irresponsible; but for many this is deep shit. We are constantly faced with our deepest fears, regrets, disappointments and many other things that brings us down and makes life extremely stressful.
I honestly believe that if you wish to control and reduce stress you must work on your state of mind. Just like physical exercise can help improve your mood, amp the endorphins, improve self esteem, confidence and give you that kick ass feeling; having the proper mindset can have the same effect.
Think about it? How do you feel when you are next to people who suck the life outta you with their negative ways? They bring you down, they make you feel bad and overeat.
Don't let this happen, make the decision to better yourself and stick to it. Get all the negative junk out of your life.
Create a home environment where it is pleasant to go to just "chill and relax". I'm not going Tai Chi on you but this stuff works, there's a connection between how you feel and the things you chose to surround yourself with.
Take time to organized your life, work, family....
Eliminate fear and doubts, rather focus on the positive things you can control and the things you can change for better.
Exercise!!! This is such as stress reliever. Its the place where you can toss weights around, kick, grunt, lift, push yourself and beat yourself (as weird as that sounds) but also to meditate in good things and to fight inner demons; it's a time when you connect with others who are just like you, but also a time where you can focus solely on you. Its a time and place where you can let your emotions out, all in a safe and control way that leads to a better body, a better mindset... a better you.
Finally I believe you must laugh more, learn to forgive, and always pray.
Don't let stress get the best of you.
Always be better.
In my next post I will talk about how your GROUP ENVIRONMENT can be a factor that either contributes to your overall fat loss goals or on the contrary one of the factors that leads to weight gain.