Now that the stressful and hectic holiday season is over, lets look at what rushing around, last minute shopping, late night celebrations and skipping meals may have done to your body (along with all those sweets and hot toddies Im sure you enjoyed!)
All this stress is bad for your body composition, especially right around your tummy area. Chronic stress causes the hormone cortisol (a long-term stress hormone) to be released, which elevates blood sugars because it selectively breaks down muscle fibers for an energy source to get away from the stressful events. This was an evolutionary benefit 5000 years ago when we were gatherers and hunters at risk of attack by wild animals. However, for so many of us today the stressful events are only in our minds, theres no actual physical threat, therefore these extra calories are then stored as fat around the abdomen.
Stress doesnt just make you fat it also:
Makes you feel hungry when you shouldnt.
Decreases the action of thyroid hormone, therefore decreases metabolism.
Increases cravings for sugar and carbohydrates.
Increases anxiety, depression and memory loss.
Increases calcium loss from the bones.
Suppresses your immune system leaving you at risk of infection.
Kills your libido.
Disrupts sleeping patterns by causing waking around 2-4 a.m. or insomnia.
Causes other hormone imbalances: PMS, infertility, thyroid disease, abnormal blood sugars, and impotence.
What you can do...
Lifestyle habits to decrease stress:
Breathe deeply at stop lights when you are driving or walking. Take four deep belly breaths it will trick your body into the relaxation response!
Spend 10 or more minutes at night winding down, pondering your day, writing a letter, or light a candle. Be sure to take time for yourself.
Get a massage every two to four weeks; it lowers cortisol.
Exercise, but be sure to balance cardiovascular exercise with weight training to ensure you build muscle mass. If you are under high levels of stress, try to keep your workouts short so as not to exacerbate your high stress hormones.
Learn to say no! If theres one thing thats really stressing your life that you have to do each week, try to get out of it or delegate!
Laugh every day (and kiss someone too!) both of these activities lower cortisol!
Supplements for stress reduction:
Relora: The typical dose is 250mg three times per day away from food.
Vitamin B complex: 50-100mg twice per day is very helpful.
Vitamin C: 1000mg two to three times per day is great to prevent deficiencies of vitamin C (within 20 minutes of being under stress, vitamin C levels are depleted.)
Calcium/magnesium combination: This can be useful to help replace the calcium that may be lost from bones under chronic stress, as well as assist with healthy sleep patterns and relaxation. Calcium has also been found to help with weight loss, while magnesium decreases sugar and chocolate cravings.
Antioxidants (A, C, E, selenium, zinc): A good antioxidant combination (like that found in TruePROTECT) can help to prevent colds, flus and the accelerated aging that happens with chronic stress.
Conjugated linoleic acid: 1500mg taken twice per day can help get rid of that stress-related belly fat for good!
Have a happy and healthy year!