Managing Stress and Weight Loss
For many people weight loss only depends on calories consumed and calories burned. Even though this could be useful when designing a weight loss plan it is not the only factor we should consider.
Losing body weight is a process that is also affected by psychological factors such as stress. In this article we are going to explain how stress can negatively impact our results and make it harder for us to lose weight. Then we will take a look at different ways to manage stress or avoid it.
Does stress cause weight gain?
Stress is indeed related to weight gain mostly because of the natural stress hormone: cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by our body; it is called the stress hormone because it is released when we are under stress but is also responsible for regulating our metabolism.
This hormone is essential for our survival, but it can become harmful when its levels are too high. When we are under stress, cortisol creates a surge of energy into our body, it slows down our metabolism and it increases the levels of glucose on the blood, that’s why we crave sweet, fatty, and salty foods. High levels of cortisol in our body can also slow down the testosterone production and this can lead to muscle mass loss.
To regulate cortisol levels, we have to learn how to manage stress and thankfully there are plenty of ways to do that.
Ways to manage stress
Breathing is something that we all do, and it seems like something quite obvious. However, most people are not aware that there are breathing exercises that have a number of benefits which can affect our entire body.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the center of the practice of meditation, and it helps us to lower our stress levels, reduce our blood pressure and improve our core and muscle stability.
To start practicing diaphragmatic breathing, we can just sit in a comfortable place or lie on our bed. Relax our shoulders and place one hand on the chest and the other hand on our stomach. We take a big breath through the nose and try to inhale slowly for two seconds. The air should make our stomach expand. We exhale slowly through the mouth and repeat this process several times.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleeping is something that comes naturally when we are tired, and it is essential for our existence. However, nobody teaches us how to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is the moment that our body repairs itself, regulates our hormones, processes data and information that’s why sleep deprivation has such harmful effects.
When we get less hours of sleep it is hard for us to concentrate, we have poor memory, increased stress, and mood swings. Apart form that poor sleep leads to increased appetite and weight gain.
Taking care of our sleep is crucial. That means creating a relaxing environment for us before going to bed. Shutting down all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, taking a hot bath to relax our muscles or a cup of chamomile tea can improve the quality of our sleep.
Practicing yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation are ancient relaxation techniques that can help us reduce stress and be more present. In order to start practicing yoga or meditation we don’t need an instructor or fancy equipment. We can just use a towel, a yoga mat to start our yoga practice or just our apartment’s floor if we are meditating.
We might feel lost in the beginning but there are plenty of podcasts online like headspace (www.headspace.com) with guided meditation. If we prefer to focus alone on our thoughts, we can just choose an audio with nature background sounds like the sound of the ocean and the wind. A free application we can download to our phone is Calm (www.calm.com).
Body and mind balance
Managing stress and dedicating time to our relaxation should be an important part of our self-care routine. Afterall, body and mind are connected, and we have to take care of our feelings the same way we nourish our body. Bringing body and mind to a balance is the only sustainable way to achieve our fitness and weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
To learn more about stress and how it affects your body go to WeightLoss-Solutions.