If you’re a driven person it’s because you’ve found your purpose.
Your purpose is what gets you up in the morning. It gives you something to work towards.
This is why looking after yourself is even more important.
Because you’ll need the energy to to propel you through the day and work on your mission.
And you don’t want to let your health tear you away from your purpose and see you miss out on achieving what you wanted.
There are many ways that health factors can take you off course.
Stress is one of the biggest obstacles. Chronic stress can derail even the best health intentions.
New research shows that stress and obesity are more intertwined than previoulsy thought.
I’ll break this research down. And give you actionable steps to make progress, despite a stressful environment.
How stress can lead to weight gain
Stress can affect a bunch of “systems” that are involved in weight control.
What’s more, these aren’t isolated effects. Each system is a feedback loop that can affect all the others.
Let’s get into the details.
*Cognition Stress can mess with your mind; executive function and self-regulation.
Combined these include mental skills like thinking, planning, and organizing. As well as the ability to focus and manage your emotions.
*Behaviors Stress influences eating, physical activity, and sleep. And these behaviors all have their own feedback loops too.
Lack of sleep can hinder physical activity, and lack of physical activity can disrupt sleep.
*Physiology The research outlines three ways stress might affect you physiologically:
- It ramps up stress hormones. This can make you want to eat more, and can also tell your body to store fat.
- Stress can increase your brain’s appetite for “rewards”. Feel good chemicals, like dopamine. Which can drive you to eat foods that are highly palatable (fun food), or seek out alcohol or drugs.
- Stress may affect your microbiome, which could make you more susceptible to weight gain.
*Biochemistry Stress may also impact blood chemicals related to weight control.
Specifically, leptin, ghrelin and neuropeptide Y, which affect hunger, appetite, and fat storage.
*Weight stigma The researchers define weight stigma as “the sum of prejudice, discrimination. And negative attitudes aimed at those perceived as overweight.”
And guess what? It creates another feedback loop!
Obesity leads to weight stigma which then creates… more stress. And round we go.
You might call it a vicious cycle. Or a nasty web. Or one big giant cluster $%#!
So… what’s this all mean for you?
And what can you do about it?
Part 2: Important takeaways
1. Look beyond eating advice and nutrition plans. If stress is wreaking havoc in your life, there’s a good chance you’ll struggle to make progress toward your goals. No matter how on point your nutrition or workout program may be.
2. Work on the biggest problem first. Find your or have a professional find your “bottleneck” or “weakest link” so you can unlock the fastest and most effective path toward your goals.
This often means going beyond nutrition and fitness.
So if working on food first isn’t working, dig deeper. Look at how you might develop stress management. Stress tolerance, and emotional regulation skills.
3. Work towards healthy stress-reduction strategies. When you, or your coach, identify that stress management is your biggest problem, here are some strategies you can use:
- Meditation. Even a few minutes can have a measurable effect on stress levels. Apps like Headspace, Calm, or Waking Up are great tools.
- Nature walks. Simply going for a daily park walk can work wonders.
- Massage. Whether it’s self massage with a foam roller, or paying a professional, massage helps you relax, and fast.
Simple methods that can see huge changes.