Stress Less and Slim Down
There really isn’t one area of your world, body or life that isn’t impacted by stress. Some people feel like their lives aren’t that stressful, and others feel overwhelmed all the time. We all experience the day-to-day pressures of getting to work, making it to an appointment on time, and navigating conflict. These feelings need active management to ensure that you can be your most healthful version of you.
As an author of health and weight loss books, I always stress (ha!) that you can be doing everything right when it comes to food and eating, but if you are not managing your stress, the weight will not come off as effectively. In fact, I have devoted a whole chapter in my new book “The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever” to just this one super important subject.
Our bodies respond to demands and pressures. Some of the responses are visible through our actions and often direct our tone and content of conversations. Inside though, the body responds in invisible ways to stress with hormonal reactions, impacting: headaches, immunity, muscle tension and pain, chest pain, fatigue, lowered libido, digestive issues, disrupted sleep, anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, depression, overeating, under-eating, substance abuse and social isolation. The hormones that are firing all the time when we experience life's challenges also sabotage our weight loss efforts. Yes, stress can make you fat.
Here's the deal with hormones: while the two major stress hormones - adrenaline and cortisol - are phenomenal in situations such as when you meet up with a bear in the woods, they are less helpful when chronically circulating in the blood. We may not meet bears often, but we do get stuck in lines, double book ourselves in meetings and appointments, and experience traffic; our bodies respond to all stressors, big and small, the same. Adrenaline will make your heart race, raise your blood pressure, and stress the cardiovascular system. Cortisol will increase your blood sugar, and enhance the brain's use of glucose. With all of these responses going on, trust me, your body is not working hard on bumping up your metabolism and focusing on your weight loss efforts - it is working on getting your pulse back to normal!
The long term consequences of stress are hard to measure. Stress is subjective and somewhat qualitative. While we cannot say that a certain amount of adrenaline is linked to heart disease, we do know that stress has a direct relationship with cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, digestive problems, psychological issues such as depression and memory loss, weight management and skin disorders. We do know conclusively that cortisol, which is secreted by the adrenal glands is linked to tummy fat. Bottom line: we need these stress hormones, but we also need to clear them out of our systems to prevent disease. That's where most of us need some work.
We hear it all the time that we should take time to relax, de-stress and unwind, but this concept is so much easier said than done. Taking control of being a less-stressed person is something you can work on a few minutes a day - you don't have to go for a massage or book a spa weekend. Take a few extra moments to read for pleasure, rub some fancy lotion into your skin or sit quietly with a cup of tea. These small gestures should empower you to feel better. Here is one of the many tips from “The New You and improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever”: practice mindful breathing. Breathe in while counting to eight, hold your breath for a heartbeat or two and then exhale, slowly, while counting to eight. Repeat. You feel better already, don't you? I can almost see the stress (and weight) melting off of you. Find more stress-less tips and health and weight loss gems in my new book.
Keri chatted with Al Roker about her new book, The New You and Improved Diet, on the Today Show last week… Press “play” to find out how having sex can help you lose weight!
Keri is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women's Health Magazine, and is the Nutrition and Health contributor for NBC's New York Live. She is regularly featured on national television programs including NBC's The Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America, Access Hollywood Live, The View, The Talk, The Chew, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, The Rachael Ray Show, The Steve Harvey Show, MSNBC, The Fox News Channel, and CNN. Keri hosts an original series called "A Little Bit Better" which is featured on Youtube's LIVESTRONG Woman channel.
Keri resides in New York City with her children, Rex and Maizy. Whether she is training for a marathon, going to the farmers' market, or drinking her nightly cup of herbal tea, Keri lives and breathes a Nutritious Life while inspiring others to do the same.